Monthly Archives: August 2009

First Day Jayhawk & Other Thoughts

I started my new life as a Jayhawk today. I felt all day long like I was out of place. I guess it felt like I should be over at Johnson County Community College, like I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. But I am, because I graduated JCCC. My schedule is pretty good. My earliest class is at 0930, and because I drop my son off at school in the mornings that means I get out on the highway around 0800, so I have plenty of time to catch the Park & Ride bus and get to class.

My Religions of the East teacher is about to retire. He’s pretty energetic, and informed us all that he’s legally allowed to remove cell phones from us and mail them to the police station. When we walked in he had on the overhead projector a teacher evaluation form that said a bunch of nasty things about him, and joked about it. Anyone who starts off like that is OK by me, I guess.

My Geology teacher is German, was trained in English by an Englishman in highschool and spent four years in Australia. His accent is pretty strange, but he says awesome things like “lah-bohr-ah-tohry” like Dexter from “Dexter’s Laboratory”.

My Religions of the East discussion leader is a grad student, and ends every sentence on a rising tone as if it were a question. Until she starts to get excited about a subject. She clearly is into the subject, so I think the discussions should be interesting.

My Intro to Fiction teacher looks to be about my age, and I think she must be a grad student too. The class is in the Military Science building, and is hotter than blazes because the building’s A/C is absent. We actually have window units in the classroom. It’s weird, because a military building always FEELS like a military building when you walk in.

So I have to crisscross the campus from one end of the Boulevard to the other, but I have more than enough time in between classes. The bus system at KU is pretty good, even if the brakes on the new buses work a little too well sometimes. Ran into a couple of people from my last math class at JCCC. It felt pretty neat to have someone come up and say hi. Also, one of my old Japanese classmates text messaged me today, and that was cool too.

I felt pretty invigorated all day. I didn’t get much sleep last night, but was lucky that I was awake when the power went out on account of, for whatever reason it happened, so that I could learn how to program my cell phone to act as an alarm. Living in the 21st Century is cool sometimes. I feel really good about how this is going to go. I made a vow at JCCC that I wasn’t going to drop out or stop, that I was just going to keep going until I came out the other end with a degree. It seemed like a grim declaration at the time, like an order to fix bayonets. I reckon I feel the same way about KU. This is it, no more backing out and screwing around.

Also, I bought a bicycle. I’m looking for alternative means to exercise. It’s not like I’m bored with jogging, I just want to add variety so I don’t ever get bored with jogging and quit exercising. I’m sitting at around 215 right now, and my goal is to get solidly below 210 in the next two months. I lost a lot of weight pretty easy to begin with, but once I hit around 220 I got sort of stuck. I will go down to +/- 215, and then find myself back up again around 220, and then back again. That’s been going on for a while. Everyone said it would happen, so I’m not all weird bummed out about it, just more determined to keep at it. Also, I bought a bicycle today, how weird is that?

And for the purpose of keeping at it, I reckon I’m going to start doing weekly reports on my weight loss. One what day? I don’t know yet. Maybe Wednesdays. Maybe Friday mornings. Yes. Friday mornings. I’ll wake up and do a report tomorrow after I get back from dropping my son off at school.

Anyway, I don’t want this blog to be all about my personal life. It’s not supposed to be like a diary or anything. But today was the first day of me being a junior at a university, and that’s worth talking about. I’m not sure I was ever a junior in high school, to tell you the truth. This is a big deal for me.

I emailed the KU Fencing Club today about if they have a schedule, or even exist, for this semester. I did the same for the KU Kendo/Kumdo Club. If there is no kendo at KU, I plan to introduce it myself. I would need an instructor sponsor and two other students willing to be involved. I’m pretty sure that would be easy to come by. I figure all that I would have to do is go to the Japanese language class with some of my equipment, give a little talk to the students and I’d probably have a starting class of thirty people. And maybe two of them would stay the whole semester, but that’s all I’d need. Then I’d put up some flyers and contact the EALC group at KU to see if there are any exchange students who do kendo. That would be a boon, because then there might be someone with enough rank to teach us something, because my plan would be to offer it as a satellite of the KC Kendo Club and do nothing but kihon introduction and familiarization stuff. Like, “today we will talk about the parts of the shinai, then you will practice men strikes”, something like that.

But I may be way ahead of myself, because the club may still be there, I don’t know. We’ll see, because either way I want to get in a third day of kendo into the week. EDIT (21Aug): Just got an email from the KU club, and they are still going to be active this semester. Which means I won’t have to do any of the above organizational work, which is good. Also, I will be getting to get practice in on Monday nights and maybe another weekend class. So that’s awesome.

I emailed my iaido instructor. This Sunday we’re going to talk about me getting an iaito. Film at eleven!

Also, I have the website business sorted out. Welcome to RomanticAntihero.com, cool logo for the front page coming soon.

Reviresco!

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Filed under Learning, University of Kansas

Introduction to Max

My name is Monty, though a lot of my friends call me “Max”. I’m writing this blog as an overview of my interests, brief history and future direction. I would rather write a blog detailing what I think is important about myself rather than filling out things like “favorite tv shows” in the standard Myspace vein.

This week I start school at the University of Kansas. This year I graduated from Johnson County Community College with an AA in Liberal Arts, and I’m moving on to KU to pursue a Bachelor’s in English (Creative Writing), with a minor in EALC (Japan). I am kicking around the idea of taking the LSAT after getting my bachelor’s, because international law is something I think I might be interested in. I am proud to be a JCCC Cavalier graduate, and I am proud to be a Kansas Jayhawk.

One of my primary interests in school is the study of the Japanese language. I have completed two years of study, and intend to do more. It is my hope to be able to travel abroad for school and study in Japan. I can read, write and speak a little bit, though I’m not all that good at it, and I’m currently out of practice. I had a very good teacher in Kazuyo Rumbach sensei, and I owe her and her class my renewed interest in finishing school, because the challenge of learning in her class drew me back in from being a drop out to becoming excited about learning again, getting my AA and moving on to KU.

My interest in Japanese language study led me into taking up kendo. Kendo means, “the Way of the sword”, and is modern Japanese fencing. I took it up to help focus on Japanese in school, and fell in love with it for itself. I am a member of the Kansas City Kendo Club and study under John Drakey sensei, and through them am a member of the Mid West Kendo Federation and the All United States Kendo Federation. I plan on testing for ikkyu (commonly understood in America as “brown belt”) this October. My club is great, and I love being a part of it.

Through kendo I became interested in iaido. Iaido is the art of drawing the sword and attacking in one motion. I recently started attending the Ginga Dojo and began lessons under Jon Andresen sensei. The dojo is part of the Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, which is an authentic koryu (it means “old school”) that dates back in an unbroken lineage to the days of samurai, when students of the school could expect to use the teachings with real swords in real combat. It’s different from kendo, in that there is no sporting aspect involving sparring. It’s all about discipline and tradition, and I think it’s very interesting and desire to keep attending and learn as much as I can.

I am a member of the Heart of America Japan-America Society. We meet several times a year, and there are lectures on history, culture and current events of Japan, and the JAS hosts and participates in cultural events around Kansas City throughout the year, most notably the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival every September at JCCC, and Kurashiki Week in August. Kurashiki Week is when the JAS, with the sponsorship of the Japanese Consulate in Chicago, hosts visitors from Kansas City’s sister city, Kurashiki, Japan. The JAS also supports KC area high school exchange students with scholarships every year. It is a wonderful organization to be a part of, and I’m always learning something interesting and meeting interesting people.

I currently am not working in order to focus on college, made possible by the generous sponsorship of my parents. Instead of working a job I do volunteer work. I am a registered volunteer at the Veterans Administration in Leavenworth. What I do is whenever I can I help out with the grounds keeping crew at the National Cemetery up on Fort Leavenworth. Typically this involves anything from simply walking around picking up trash, to participating in funerals as burial detail. It is a very rewarding activity, and I encourage anyone reading this to volunteer in their community in some way. I am a US Army veteran myself, and I value the opportunity to give back to fellow veterans and their families. Respecting and honoring the dead is how I choose to give back, but doing anything is good, and again I encourage anyone reading this to find something in their community that they can do to help out, whatever it may be, however much time you have, great or small.

I am a writer. I have one published work, a short story that made it into the literary journal of JCCC. I have completed the first draft of a novel, and while it isn’t a great book and requires a lot of rewriting and rethinking, it was a valuable experience. First, just finishing a full length manuscript is an accomplishment for me. But more than that it was a great learning experience. I plan to focus on short stories for the immediate future, though I am currently working on a graphic novel project, as well. But the short stories are what I intend to “shop”. I write poetry once in a blue moon, but those works are mainly personal, not something I have a professional interest in. I love writing, and would like to make a name for myself with writing some day. Money would be good to, of course, but I don’t know if it is my fate to be a professional writer. We’ll see. Mostly I just love to tell stories and invent people and places to share. It is my ambition to one day be able to tie at least two of my passions together by successfully writing a short story in Japanese.

I have an interest in history, philosophy and religion. I love to read period books on these subjects. In the past I’ve dabbled with living history and reenactment groups. I started off in junior high by joining the Society for Creative Anachronisms. I participated in the SCA doing medieval recreation through high school, but dropped out my freshman year in college. Much later I became involved with military reenactment. I had the honor of participating in putting on static displays for the F co. 58th Infantry Rangers Vietnam War veterans reunion group. As the invited guest of veteran and author Gary Linderer I got to travel to their reunions and showcase the uniforms and equipment they used to help their friends and family to understand their experience. They are some nice fellows, and I enjoyed their company immensely. I’m not currently involved with any living history group from any era, but it’s something that I still have a passing interest in.

Along the lines of being interested in history, philosophy and religion, I am Asatruar/Heathen. Mainly I practice what there isn’t a “good” name for, but what most people who do it call Heathenry. It is the indigenous folk religion of Europe, and comes in an astonishing (and at times confusing) array of variations and flavors. Some versions can be controversial and highly politicized, but I exist and practice at the exact opposite end of that, and I don’t belong to any organization, national or local. This isn’t the place to detail my religious beliefs specifically, but my religions beliefs are a part of who I am, so I briefly mention them here. Directly put, I study the religious philosophy of the historical pre-Christians of Europe. Historical being a key concept. I am not a part of any “new age” system derived from Gardnerian witchcraft or any other breed of lodge ritualists, nor do I practice the universalisms of post-Modern pagans. The main emphasis of religion for me is family and tradition, and is relentlessly practical.

I have a wide variety of craft interests. I have more interests than I possibly have time on this earth to learn, unfortunately. I can do a little hand stitching, and have made a couple of things, and would one day like to know how to work a sewing machine. I am teaching myself to carve wood, and my first project is a gnome. I can and do make chain mail, and in the past dabbled with metal working to try and make the armor pieces I needed for my medieval reenacting. I may come back around to fooling with that eventually, because I still think armor is neat. I have an interest in archery. I would eventually like to get a Japanese bow, and add that to my budo catalog. I like to go target shooting, and am interested in firearms. I’m kind of into vexillology, which is the scientific study of flags. I’m also into heraldry. I have a sizable collection of soccer scarves.

I like sports. I am an on again, off again follower of the Kansas City Wizards. I attended every single home game of their winning 2000 season, and it doesn’t get much better than that. When I go to matches I stand with the Cauldron, because singing and chanting is what it’s all about. I would rather play than watch, however, and like to play soccer when I can. I briefly played in the Lawrence “sunday league” for the Red Lyon Pub. I was a member of the Orlando Griffins Rugby Football Club briefly during 2002 when I lived down in Florida. I worked out with the Kansas City RFC a few times when I moved home, but a knee injury and logistics moved me out of the rugby zone. I would like to play again, maybe with KU, but I’m not sure I will have the time to devote to it. I plan on looking into it when I start the semester. I recently started learning how to play golf. I have my own golf gear and I like to go to the driving range. I haven’t made it out on the course yet, but plan to at least once before the end of the year. I like to go jogging on a regular basis, and sometimes will even strap on a ruck sack and go for a good old fashioned road march, just because.

I am also into motorcycles and scooters. I started off with a 1980 Indian moped, then moved on up to Vespa scooters. I rode both vintage and modern Vespas, and participated in the scooter social scene for about ten years. I sold off my last scooter about a year ago and bought a motorcycle. I am now only interested in riding, not being a part of a riding club or any other aspect of a “scene”. My current bike is a 1977 Yamaha XS 750. It’s wicked cool, and I like it a lot. I haven’t been able to do more than ride it around my neighborhood due to lack of license plate, but that should be coming SOON. After I get my tags on it and fix a couple of minor mechanical issues it’s back out on the road, nothing but the scenery and my own thoughts. I’d like to someday have a reliable cruiser that I can take cross country style trips on. For now a beat up old bike from the 70’s is fine, though.

I have been divorced for eleven years or so, and I have two sons, aged fifteen and twelve. I live in Leavenworth, Kansas, where I grew up. I was born in Savanna, Georgia and lived the first six years of my life as a Southerner. For several years after that I was a “Southerner in exile”, but eventually grew up to be a solid Mid Westerner. I like Kansas, and think it’s a great place to grow up, political battles over education not withstanding. I plan on moving away after I get out of college, because I want to see as much of the world as I can, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the land I grew up in. Politically I’m a moderate, favoring neither of our country’s two major political parties. I believe in reason and science, am not a person of dogma or faith, and I think that a safe middle ground is better to maintain than having our country swing back and forth between damaging extremes. I believe in my fellow countrymen, and I love my country, and my heroes include Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.

Reviresco!

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Filed under Budo, Right Living, The Heathen Gods