Saturday, April 29, 2006

Epee girls just want to have fun!

Schermaonline interviewing the World number 1 epeeist Sherraine MacKay about her balance of technical, mental and physical: All I know is for myself I have about equal share of all. Of course, on each day it changes... especially for women. Sometimes we are stronger physically, superior technically, sometimes we are unbeatable mentally. It really depends on the day which is why it is important to have all three at your command. Maybe the day of the Olympics you won’t be able to do a parry-riposte but you will have the presence of mind to attack into their preparation to avoid having to do a parry!

Can’t say I’ve had that problem at the Olympics yet. But I agree with Sherraine; it’s good to realize that things are going to be up and down (emotionally too!) and to plan for it. On Monday, my first day fencing since my little tantrum, I was not in good form. Two different people asked me if I was sick. No! But thanks for the compliment!

During the bouts I practiced what I call “fencing blind”; feeling in my fingers the pressure on my blade from my opponents blade in order to know which way the opponent is about to parry so I can slip around their guard for a touch. If I ever get it, I will be a fencing genius, particularly if it can be done while attacking/lunging. Someone once told me that parries are just your opponent telling you where they want to die: on your original attack line or in the new one they are opening up for you. Like many sports sayings, it takes seconds to say but years to learn how to do it.

I could not get my epee tip to hit where I wanted. That’s just the way it goes some days. Most people have to do multiple attacks on the hand or arm for each point, Brian does one. Brian credits himself as the world’s laziest fencer. He hardly moves, he only gets arm hits but he has five years practice at seeing and hitting the slightest opening. My problem: I don’t have enough different attacks. I have worked weeks on arm attack precision, a couple weeks on lunging and timing and pretty much, that’s it. I’m a builder who has...a hammer. What’s that? Need a wrench? Uh, let’s try hammering it. I try an arm attack. Missed. Okay, how about long lunge to the arm? Missed. Leg hit? Missed. Repeat after me, “I’m not getting humiliated, because it is all good practice.”

The rest of the bouts? “It is all good practice.”

On Friday I do an hour of speed drills and lunging/retreat lines in the parking lot. People close their windows due to prolonged gasping and grunting. I follow up with a half hour of ping pong hits. My heart feels fine (my body feels like roadkill). Two hours and two pain pills later I am at the YM/YWCA: 150 minutes of fencing!

I expect to be sluggish but instead my epee has a magic point. My brain is lightning fast. Does this mean God loves me, or that my hormones or stars are in alignment? Does it matter? I chastise the other fencers up and down the strip, and my two bouts with Amanda are 4-5, 4-5 (During the last point I gave a little scream after I got past her guard but missed the winning touch, just in time for her to recover and get the point).

Gerald’s leaving the next day for three weeks in Havana, Cuba and I wanted to give him a present: total defeat (otherwise he’ll just drink wine, eat rich food and generally have a good time). Unfortunately, other than Amanda, no one can touch him, including me. After our five point bout where he outsmarted me with timing I step in close and lay down the challenge. “You owe me 10 points.” He looked at me with steel and amusement in his eye. “Before you leave.” He promises.

An hour later, after vowing to the slumped and defeated shoulders of William and Steve that Gerald WOULD go down, we faced off. Gerald had already turned down my offer that he might want to sprint around the block to get sufficiently winded. The last week I have practiced retreating attacks (watch out, she has claws!) which starts to come in handy along with a bit of “fencing blind” from last monday. Gerald pulls a running fleche out of somewhere but I keep whittling him down with arm and shoulder attacks.

I’m leading 9-7, one point from victory, when the milk goes sour. It’s not like I’m not getting past his guard; I see the point on his arm, shoulder, and chest but must have hit too soft as Gerald recovers and gets the light. Three points to Gerald. “Remember my burning eyes.” I called after him, “All your trip I’ll be working on your defeat!” He laughs.

William immediately comes on and I can’t get a point on him either. It’s odd because we usually get doubles (hitting each other simultaneously). I’m down 0-3 when I hit William’s chest hard enough to lift him off the ground; no light. “Halt!” We test the blade. Totally dead. Dead for the bout with William and maybe longer..... I raise my head up to see Gerald staring at me with a look of half apology and half laughter. Did I actually beat him while fencing the last three points with a dead blade? Too late, he’s escaped again. Enjoy your wine and Cuban food Gerald.

I switched blades and spent my frustration on William. “Ow” he said, holding his side. I wiped the blood off of the blade of Maria the Disembowler (figuratively). I have no remorse, I am the warrior queen; fearless and painless (thanks again pharmaceutical’s).

I had a good night. I had a good time. Especially as NO ONE offered me “advice.” Getting the body, the brain and the training to mesh is not a given, it’s a gift. I have a simple philosophy: Work hard to be ready for the bad times, and when there are good times; work harder (while laughing manically and yelling, “I love my blade”). Sometimes, epee is just great.


Friday, April 28, 2006

Fencing, Epee, bruises and swimsuits

As part of my continued efforts to try and get more women interested in epee, here is what one hit on the lower thigh looks like 4 days later (quarter for comparison). Want to never wear swimsuits again? Or short skirts? Or shorts? Or short sleeve shirts? Want to have doctors and people in changing rooms think you are a victim of spousal abuse? Then fence epee. Click the link to see the mightiest of all epee bruises. notes that one of the problems for women in extreme sports is that “women bruise easier” So just view this as just an incentive of speed training: Summer’s coming.

A new heart, exercise program and pain

The results from the echo-cardiogram and the EKG came back today: Normal. Odd because the last time they took the echo, several years ago, they said I had leaking valves. Tremble mere mortals! I have a self-regenerating heart. The truth is: I am a vampire.

So, while there is nothing wrong with my heart, there still seems to be something wrong with the beating of my heart. It’s kind of a medical Zen question which goes: If there is pain and erratic heart beats but the heart is normal does anyone feel it? Answer: I do!

Next I will be getting a stress EKG which means running half naked on a treadmill (sportsbra!). And I will be getting a Holter Monitor, which is a portable EKG to monitor electrical activity of the heart for 24 hours. During this 24 hours I am to try and create as many and as painful heart problems as possible. That sounds really fun.

Getting a “normal” echo has given me the blues. If they found something, there would be options and choices. Now I still have pain but with uncertainty. If I am going be hurting, I like control.

So begins the Elizabeth “I am going to be the fittest Epeeist in the world or Dead” exercise program (patent pending) which involves pushing myself far beyond my limits at least 3 times a week to see what triggers a cardiac fun-session. Possible upside: Totally fit and able to leap tall buildings with a single bound. Possible down side: Dead. Other possible down side: Not dead, but just really, really wishing I were.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Catholic school, Zoloft & lesbian pirates

Ug....Summer. The constant daylight and jovial atmosphere is threatening my bitch-hermit nature. I have been trying to stack my manga and lesbian DVD’s high enough to blacken the windows.

Thanks to Brian from Book of Epee for directing me to Yu-me, an online manga about the journey of a friendless girl in a catholic school as she gets a next door neighbor, some friends, sexual orientation anxiety and young lesbian love. Not only does the protagonist have delicious full red hair but also some great writing (“We’re just glad he’s dating someone with ovaries”). A breath of fresh air in a country where bullying LBGT students is now seen as part of “God’s Will” (Operation Save America packed 900 Christians into a Rowan County School Board Meeting to oppose THREE students trying to start a Gay-Straight Alliance).

After giving pirate-obsessed fencers (particularly Epeeists – you know who you are!) a hard time, I now join their ranks with the discovery of Boobs Ahoy!, a web-comic about lesbian pirates. Let me just say that again: Lesbian Pirates! It is rather “adult” in content (that just got every 14 year old boy madly clicking the link) and you may need a friendly lesbian to explain some of the ruder jokes. Though I can already hear pirate purists screaming “Fighting lesbian pirate captains aren’t supposed to start making out!” Ho ho ho, how wrong you are: the two genuine historical lesbian pirates Anne Bonny and Mark/Mary Reed not only joined forces but were found in intimate circumstances by pirate Calico Jack who burst into their cabin in a fit of jealousy over Anne. Pirate lesbians are hip. There is even last year’s short film The Song of the Lesbian Pirates with two determined artists trying to continue Gilbert and Sullivan’s tradition with a lesbian pirate musical, because "everyone loves lesbians" (trailer here). I’d go.

Another online manga about dysfunctional lesbians, university and drugging your children is April and May. I already want to turn one of their comics into a t-shit: “I’m on Zoloft. I don’t care about anything.”

In print manga I have been reading the recent release, Never Give Up, about Kiri, a girl who is stunningly attractive, but in a butch/masculine way. In love with Toyha, a short and pretty boy, Kiri has vowed she will become his “princess.” When Toyha is recruited into the world of male modeling, Kiri follows disguised as a male in order to keep Toyha out of the clutches of the gay boys who want him. Of course she’s forgotten that now she’s a male model, they want her too. Kiri, realizing that maybe she can’t be a “princess” has vowed that she will become the best “prince” for Toyha she can be. While not lesbian, it is a fun gender-bending romantic comedy which shows a strong non-traditional female learning to accept herself as she is.

So remember: sunshine, birds chirping & summer breezes=Bad (just keep saying to yourself – “I’m not a joiner!”); lesbian pirates=good.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A lesbian, A princess and eyelash curlers

What is obedient, always accessorized, and compliant in becoming what men desire? A) Barbie B) Lesbians or C) all of the above. According to Exodus International, a group dedicated to “freeing” lesbians from...being lesbians, the thing a lesbian most desperately needs for both happiness and heterosexuality is: A MAKEOVER (cue 80’s music, PJ’s and a pillow fight).

According to Willa Moberly who gives the Exodus makeover sessions, the traditional 60’s sex roles are the appropriate roles and characteristics for each gender. It is through creating these external roles that with “a more secure feminine identity…they (lesbians) will be able to choose heterosexual relating.” These sessions of make-up, hair styling and polished and painted nails is an attempt “to show them how pretty they can be” so they can “break free… from an appearance which would cause men to back away from them or to not even want them.” Sexual orientation isn’t about YOUR sexual desires, it’s about who desires you; well for women at least. The type of makeover Moberly suggests for gay men: a softball game.

As Exodus International testimonies from women detail, becoming a straight woman has far less to do with accepting yourself and far more to do with gender roles. As 35 year old “ex-lesbian” Melissa Fryrear found out: “I also began to learn about this thing called womanhood. Goodness! Who knew there was so much to learn: plucking eyebrows, hair bleaches, hair waxings, facial mud masks, eye lash curlers, manicures, pedicures, push-up bras, tummy tuckers, rear-end boosters, last year’s colors, and next year’s fashions?” Does joining Exodus International comes with an automatic subscription to Cosmo? I suspect so.

But it isn’t just Evangelical ex-gay ministries that hold out this pink-ruffled unicorn and rainbow painted dream of what being a woman SHOULD be; the Atlantic monthly writer, Caitlin Flanagan, famous for her quote “When a mother works, something is lost” told a LA Weekly reporter of her newfound enthusiasm for evangelical Christianity. Does this have something to do with her view that a modern and fulfilled woman is one who stays at home, has dinner ready and ever sexually available to her husbands needs (somehow ignoring that there are currently only 27% of mothers lucky or rich enough not to work)? In doing all this is she the perfect woman? When asked, Caitlin acknowledged it was so.

And Caitlin's lucky hubby? Rob Hudnut, an executive at Mattel whose job is....making Barbie movies (writer AND producer). He even gets part lyric credit for the Barbie song, “To be a Princess.” During my work at a video store, I often saw Barbie indoctrination films….I mean, DVD’s. Besides occasionally being found slumped over the counter from a sugar coma and calling every animal I walked by Princess for the next three days (Hello Princess Kitty!, Hi Princess Bluebird!) what leapt out was the overwhelming enforcement of gender stereotype, particularly the male villain Preminger. We clearly know he is evil because he is prissy and feminine, complete with poodle (The DVD received Christian Movie Review’s highest rating: Mostly Moral). One can only assume that diabolical dykes will show up in a later Barbie film.

As for me, I have no wish to be a plastic replica. Barbie, I reject you. I love women, in all their diversity and strength. If Barbie, makeovers, eyelash curlers and making sure your “man” is satisfied are the expectations of being straight or a woman or both then we have handed our brains and identities over to Mattel and the Evangelical Alliance. These are not people I trust with my identity.

To quote the lesbian singer Melissa Ethridge: Mothers, tell your children: be quick, you must be strong. Life is full of wonder, love is never wrong. Remember how they taught you, how much of it was fear. Refuse to hand it down - the legacy stops here.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Epee Fencing and the Angry Bitch

Last Monday, due to Y being closed, I went to the Capital City Fencing club for the second time. This time, instead of a warmup footwork workout from hell, it was announced we will be playing the “glove game.” In this game we are partnered up and lie on opposite sides of the gym. At the “go” we leap up and race for the glove at the middle line, then race back to our line without being caught. The loser of the pair has to do 15 burpys (some sort of combined pushup-jumping jack and squat) and it starts all over again. I look around in panic. Not only am I the oldest person here by at least 10 years but this is the exact sort of game our sadistic PE teacher would play when she wanted to see how many of us would throw up within 45 minutes. I made many life/dignity affirming vows at the end of high school that I would never do such things again. Was this a nightmare? I started checking to make sure I wasn't naked for confirmation when Jeb, the coach, came up and asked if I wanted a lesson. YES!

The lesson was on how to hit the shoulder of an attacker while retreating. It requires precision in retreating, point control and keeping the arm protected. Doing three new things simultaneously with at least two limbs isn’t my strength. “A well trained fencer can do whatever I tell them” Jeb told me. “I’m not that well trained.” I informed him. An intense 45 minutes where over the strain and the concentration I am singing: “This will make me better”

I spent the next hour fencing four different guys non-stop as they rotated on to try the new Epeeist. One sixteen year old boy simply refused to back up, ever. In the 20 minutes we fenced he never once took a single step back. After 15 minutes I decided that if he wasn’t going to back up neither would I (“Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you” Annie Get Your Gun is such a stupid role model). So we stood there like heavyweights slamming each other with epee blades. It wasn’t pretty. I think we invented something called “street epee.”

I fenced Meiko, the world cup fencer, next. “Do you back up?” I asked him. “What?” As it turned out, he did, but only after launching an attack. After five warm up points we did a bout and I suddenly had “magic point” which is when your blade tip not only goes where you want it, but manages to do so even when you are throwing out a hail-mary panic defense. I won the bout but Meiko is the better fencer. He took chances and I was lucky; next time he won’t take those chances.

In the last 15 point bout I was so tired I almost cried when I made the final arm hit. I had finished without collapsing. At home I counted 19 bruises on just one thigh.

Over the weekend I had experienced some heart pain and arrhythmia which my partner Linda told my father, my father told my doctor and on Wednesday morning my doctor’s office called to tell me I had an echo-cardiogram at the hospital on Friday. With waiting lists three months long, this means that my doctor must have some heavy pull at the hospital.

On Friday I was a bit freaked, particularly when I asked the woman doing the echo-cardiogram if it was an interesting job and she said, “yes, if every heart was perfect then it would be boring but I only see people who have problems with their hearts, like yours.” What? Hello! She didn’t expand. I get the results next week.

From the hospital I went home, picked up my stuff for fencing and headed to the Y. With my training over the long weekend I was going to blow everyone away. Think again. William was smoking me, Gerald was smoking me, Everyone was smoking me. But worse things happen. Then Amanda hit my neck, the exact same place that Bruce hit it seven days before. OW! When Gerald also hit my neck something snapped inside me. I was so going to get Gerald, and prepared myself to run the length of the strip and launch myself horizontally in order to get the touch. Like most kooky plans, it failed spectacularly and Gerald got the point.

That evening I had been chasing Amanda, doing all out 15 pointers to force myself into fencing her tired (that's me tired, she never seems to get tired). I tried bribing the judge after a 15 point match to get a successive 10 point match. I was, in plain words, kinda scary. It was clear that I ate, slept and worked for beating Amanda. And after getting hit on the neck a second time, I was angry.

I don’t know how other fencers deal with getting smacked repeatedly. At camp two boys almost dislocated my shoulder because I wouldn’t say “uncle.” During the mile run at school track meets other parents would try to get me stopped because they thought I was going to pass out. I ran my first marathon in six hours. I don’t even remember two hours of it. I’ve never come in first, or second, or third in any event from elementary school till today. But I won’t quit, I won’t let up.

Somehow, that triggered on Friday and all I wanted to do was fence harder and faster and longer until I vomited blood. “Fence until I drop, I will not leave the strip” was what was going through my mind. I was scary/angry bitch incarnate. I fenced Amanda and made all the anger cold, so that all I could think about were the touches. I thought nothing, I felt nothing but that instant and that point. My blade was light and precise and I had the best bout against her ever (course that might have been that she was freaked out, I couldn’t say).

In retrospect, I should have walked away. I probably should have walked away 10 minutes before that, gotten a drink of water, taken some fresh air and come back when I didn’t feel like I need to prove to God and the universe that they would have to beat me a lot harder in order to make me stop.

Instead, a few barbed comments about my “attitude” later and I crumpled like a kindergartener, ripping off my kit, kicking my helmet with a statement about “men” and stomping off. I’d like to say I left with dignity, but we both know that wouldn’t be true. At least I refrained from threats, name-calling or vows to “tell the teacher.”

Later, I asked Linda what she would have done. “Oh, I would have quit epee long ago.” She told me, “I don’t have the capacity or patience you do with being beaten up.”

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Friday, April 21, 2006

Female Masturbation, X-Box 360 and Lipstick

A recent study has “proved” that sex for guys is 400 times more enjoyable than masturbation. But how does masturbation compare to the strange look guys get on their face while stoking their new X-Box 360, or better yet, killing a friend online with a head shot? Is it better than when you cyber on World of Warcraft? Better than blogging? How much?

Enough about you. Surveys have shown that 41% of women find masturbation BETTER than sex. When Kinsey did his survey 50% said they masturbated, now 82% do. Hooray! Particularly as studies show that for a woman, knowing yourself sexually only helps in mutual sexual satisfaction with a partner. On that note our 126 boxes of stuff arrived from the UK yesterday; including the small but varied collection of vibrators (dug them out of the boxes in hour).

I’m not going to talk about The Rabbit except that one woman’s magazine in Britain found just over 50% of women had one or tried one. Who thought before Sex and the City that vibrators could be hip? Here are some insights from a journalist who worked as a Good Vibrations clerk if you aren’t getting the “Wooooohoooooo!” experience.

My favorite vibrator is my Lipstick Vibe which is small, compact (great for taking on vacation, on roadtips, on boring trips to the doctor's office, etc) and can be easily directed to different areas. Plus it allows you to make endless innuendo about wondering if you need some “lipstick”. It makes me giggle. Just turning it on and off is fun: Lipstick out, lipstick in.

This fav vibrator spot may soon be taken over by the waterproof Rubber Ducky which vibrates all over when you press the switch in his back. This was suppose to be a present for someone else which I just couldn’t give away (it’s so cute!). You can watch it twitter about the bath water, use it for neck messages or get busy with the beak.

A lot of women (and men) are hung up around the idea of female masturbation. It’s “not nice.” Well (insert rude swear word here) that! The idea of the virginal maiden waiting for a guy while not ever thinking sexual thoughts is not only outdated, it’s unhealthy. It comes down to this: “The main reason a woman should masturbate is because it feels good.” Female sexuality isn’t something permitted under the watchful eyes of men, it’s a right; you were born with it. Stop feeling guilty and start feeling good. It even burns calories.

Next time we can talk about that addiction which causes intense guilt, can break up relationships and is often chosen over sex: Chocolate.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Stunts, Males and Stupidity

While other feminists are examining laws of Congress or underground zines I am busy with……stupid videos. Yes, a site of stupid videos; which are primarily either guys doing stupid things or guys destroying their own stuff in a “cool” stunt and then cheering.

Take for example the short video Basketgirl: 4 guys convince a 14-15 year old female gymnast to be thrown into the air where she does a full back-flip before coming down THROUGH a basketball hoop, including her arms. Now while I have not done a full layout backflip through a basketball hoop I do know that the most likely outcomes are a) full or partial paralysis, b) dislocated finger/shoulder or c) something bad.

But how she was convinced to do this doesn’t interest me as much as what happens AFTER she lands. Okay SHE has done the back-flip hoop thing which is why all four GUYS immediately drop her and run to each other in such a fever of excitement that they are literally climbing over each other to slap each other on the back (as well as climbing into each other’s lap). But wait, look at the girl again. She is rubbing her head. Yes, that’s right, she’s INJURED and yet these four guys ignore her in their orgasmic congratulations of....convincing her to do it the first place (hey guys, you didn’t actually do that back flip!).

After close watching I have come to enlightenment: while I can’t run over guys in my car, if I convince them that they can make some sort of Kevlar suit in their garage and that no one has done it before, they will run themselves over while videotaping it.

On a final note take a look at this Darth Vader Prank. So far the responses follow this pattern: Guys – “Hahahahahahahahaha” Girls - “He is SOOOOOO dead.” Is that couple having a child soon? I don't think so.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Parkour, Luc Besson, and Urban cool

I have rediscovered a sport which combines urban landscape with individual athletics and creativity (plus good for escaping knife wielding maniacs); Parkour. 10 years ago Belle, a teen in Paris, with years of experience in martial arts and his father’s Army obstacle courses decided to start treating the entire urban landscape as one big obstacle course and invented Parkour. His street video called “City Jumping” is here, which includes his trademark parabolic jumps of 30+ feet from one building roof to another rooftop lower down.

Luc Besson, the father of all things cool has teamed up with the director of Onk Bak to make a film called District B13 (click the link and download it, you’ll thank me). Of course such a vision of urban hell with martial arts, Parkour and little girls giving the guys a major smack down all combined to make me mewl in anticipation. You may notice the final scene of the film trailer is similar to a scene in “City Jumping”. Yup, that’s right, the second protagonist in the film is Belle and they let him loose on his favorite playground to make this film.

My early days with urban obstacles occurred when my parents moved to LA and into a large tenement building. I was 8 and soon managed to piss off the head of the junior girls gang (she was probably 11) and thus spent the next months racing up stairwells and down hallways in escape attempts. The things our parents never know, eh? Belle does me better in trying to escape a gang of thugs in this extended scene from District B13; what inspiration this would have made for me when I was eight.

In the last few years Parkour has gone from a couple semi-insane guys treating their bodies like a cross between skateboards and shock absorbers to modern cool. Even the BBC did a Pakour ad (available to view here). Parkour groups are popping up all over the world. Canada has a contingent including the video of this guy from last year. Watch it to see a guy make going striaght up walls and monkey walking look easy (and the special ending bonus: the banana roll). Apparently the real skill is keeping the same pace so no matter what move you make, everything is fluid.

You may have the same question I did at this point: Where are the women? Like giant wave surfing (another fantasy hobby of mine) there is a small but growing contingent of women, including groups in both Brazil and the UK. In fact there is a short film called Space Chase going round the UK film festival circuit starring one of the rising Parkour female athletes in a Parkour race across the city. Female Parkour’s do exist and if you love screwing with the urban landscape, escaping girl gangs or make the very act of going from here to there one of artistic defiance then join me as a female Pk’er.

Hold on now a minute Beth, don’t you already need knee braces to, you know, walk? And didn’t you almost kill yourself in high school trying to do a handstand layout? How are you planning to leap buildings and climb up sheer walls? Hey, I have a plan. All it requires is daily Divine intervention. Just a steady supply of constant miracles and I too can Pk. So start the Elizabeth Parkour prayer network today (Get your churches involved, PLEASE!).

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fitness Test, a Hickey & Handmaiden of Epee

On Monday Amanda and William came back from Provincials full of vinegar and aggression. William (won bronze in epee) chased me all over the strip. He also charged into my lunges and stopped my blade, making the tip bend upwards, the wrong way (some people, like Mr. Ho & William, may say that I did not have the correct hand position; but in a choice between my fault and William’s; I choose William). So my lovely blade, which I had named “Maria the Disembowler” had to be rebent 6 times (all in bouts against William) plus my blade was mocked as having “a D&D name.” Don’t listen to them Maria.

I did manage to win a 10 point bout with Steven ENTIRELY with arm hits; thereby assuming the self appointed title “Queen of arm hits”. I owe it all to my trusty ping-pong ball.

After telling William that I wanted him to fence me “Totally 100%”, he promptly hit the vein in the soft tissue of my neck so hard I collapsed to the floor and played, “Oh my God, this is how I going to die, with my face pressed up against the hardwood of the YMCA?” for a few seconds. William felt very bad, which was odd because I told him repeatedly that I would have made the same hit if I could have (and I will, oh I WILL!). I was disappointed to find out that my counter to his arm missed. So, all in all, William gave me a hickey!

Because the Y was closed for the four days over Easter I followed up a tip from William and checked out the Capital City fencing club. They were kinda scary; for example no one talked, smiled or joked for the hour I was there. But they were open over Easter weekend and do have a coach who gives lessons; for $1 a minute.

I came Friday night, changed clothes, chatted a bit and then joined the fencers as they started their footwork drills. Previous to the start of drills I had been feeling pretty good about myself: after Amanda I was the fittest person in the Y club, I did lunging practice every day, I did hand-eye practice every day, did some walking, some running, I was a fit trained athlete right? As it turns out: NO!

First exercise: take one of the lines running the length of the gym and do step-step-lunge all the way down the line, retreating back to the baseline in “position” and do the same set of lunges on the next line, and the next line (three lengths of the gym forward and back). Then do the same with step back-lunge, then with balistra-lunge, then lunge-recover forward-lunge (the most painful), then jump-back lunge, etc. On and on for 40 minutes.

I was sucking oxygen while my heart gave me that intense burning sensation which means you are voiding the warrantee. One guy, whose face looked it was about to explode from blood pressure tried to stagger away. “Don’t leave” I wheezed out almost clinging to his legs, “or I’ll be the slowest.” (Nice, I ask him for a favor and insult him at the same time) He stayed but later when we following a leader playing “keep the distance…and lunge” they asked for another leader and he caught my eye and started shaking his head. Did he think I was going to try and lead, or worried I would volunteer him?

So, with my lunges now a half second later than everyone else I realized: I am the slowest, out-of-shape, embarrassing klutz of the class. You think after high school PE that you get to leave that feeling behind (curse those presidential fitness tests). WRONG!

There were only two other epeeists that night; John and Bruce. I fence John for 25 points in a 5-10-10. John does foil too and is 16. I can tell this because in one of my attacks he parries in 4, in 6 in 7, in 2 and finishes by pulling my blade above his head in a saber parry in fifth position. His stance is bad, his arm position is worse but he is fast and his entire points are based on: parry, parry and hit on the counter-attack. His epee is not clean or beautiful. As one of the sacred hand-maidens to the Guardian of Epee, I feel it is my duty to bring him back to the pure epee ways by crushing him with arm hits. That didn’t happen then. But it will.

Next was Bruce, the pentathlete. I guessed that after he did his 40th fleche (a leaping attack pictured below). No, I am not kidding. First Bruce warmed up and I was getting two points for his three. Then he goes, “Okay” and does fleches for the next 50 minutes. ONLY fleches. After 45 minutes he told me he did fleches because he heard I wanted to work on my fleche. That’s true Bruce, MY fleche, the one as slow Hentz ketchup. Instead I have Bruce, the human arrow lunching himself full force between 60 and 80 times.

I have: a black spot on my right leg the size of a loony, which matches one on my left thigh, two or three bruises up the right thigh finishing with a bruised scrape running 5 inches long from the upper thigh right into the groin (you think I would remember that one), I have two chunks chipped from my stomach (one felt like someone dragged a hook into me. I stopped to see if I was bleeding. Nope. Bruce fleches again.) I have an uncountable cluster of bruises which start at my upper arm and go over until my breast bone (thank you Leon Paul for breast guards!). The part between my shoulder and collar bone is so tenderized from pounding I suggest to Linda it would make a good streak dinner. The soft part of my neck by the vein got a hit but the best was the blow so hard to the side of my throat that it not only drove me to my knees and knocked my helmet half off but left a two inch gouge of ripped skin on my throat even under the Neck Guard. Bruce waited till I stood and then we did it again.

I am not sure what Bruce wanted to teach me. Did he think I was going to come up with some brilliant insight in the 40 seconds between one hit and the next? During the last 15 minutes I was punch-drunk and thought I was Rocky: “Do it again, I can take it!. That all you got Bruce!” Maybe I was hoping his beating me up would tire him out. Except when he took off his helmet, I was the one who had the “post-monsoon” look while he was “warmed-up”.

Bruce, as it turns out, goes to the World Cups, as does Meiko who has 21 years of epee experience. I fence Meiko on Monday. In fact Monica has the least experience in epee of the whole club, only nine years (I am going into my tenth week of epee, woo hoo!!).

Last Monday I wrote an email to an epeeist saying that if I could, I would love to fence a bunch of world cup athletes, to really force myself to improve. Oh, how God loves to punish me and my big mouth.

I am depressed and I don’t know why. On Monday at the “Y” I won some and was blue because I thought I wasn’t challenged enough. On Friday I limped home thinking about the cartoon “Bambi V. Godzilla” (no, the film really is just those 10 seconds long): I had no question which role I had played that night (hint, I’m the one with dewy eyes removed off the street with a spatula). Am I motivated? Am I going on Monday? I actually started to ask myself if I was having fun. Then I asked myself a more important question: how many pain pills do I have left?

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Lesbian Jesus and the baby-dyke Ishmael

Okay, as a lesbian Christian who was raised keeping the Passover and has now been kicked out of most churches (“oh, a same sex couple? Let me get back to you”: I’m still waiting, buddy) what does Easter mean to me? For this year, I’ve decided it’s about becoming something different. Look at Jesus, who died a human but rose something which could understand and be all people (and also technically “a zombie” as this 'toon "Passion of the Zombies" will explain). So for me Jesus may have died a 33 year old Jewish guy but in my life (since all of humanity revolves around the fact that I would one day exist and now here I am) was resurrected a lesbian; actually kind of one of those nice earth-goddess lesbians who are just really calming to be around. (the patriarchal church cut those last versus after the fish dinner where Jesus told everyone; “later guys, I’m heading over to Mary’s and we are going to the Judean Wymyn’s Festival”)

This got me thinking about the corresponding symbolism by the lesbian writer Herman Melville (After reading Moby Dick, I decided that the two main characters Ishmael and Queequeg are actually women and a lesbian couple, that the book is a early lesbian classic and thus the writer, though regarded by the world as male, must also be a lesbian). Moby Dick, the great butch/femme relationship novel, uses the same symbolism as Easter: the three days of battle with the white whale before all is carried ito the sea of darkness. In Moby Dick, the butch heroine Queequeg, black and tattooed is “the other”, seen and judged based on appearance. Queequeg, however is the forgiving and generous spirit personified, even saving the life of one who scorns her. She turns her coffin, a symbol of death, into a sea chest, a symbol of ongoing life. It is this life that saves her baby-dyke Ishmael when all others have chosen to follow their blood and fury down into the darkness.

So, rebirth; walking away from all those fixations and obsessions, sounds like a good plan. Course this from the person who found another fencing club so I can fence on Good Friday and Easter Monday. But I will challenge myself to assume that not all straight guys are either active or dormant brain-washed jerks who are always moments from saying stupid things out loud (like the guy this week who told me with a puzzled look on his face that “yes, women are naturally better at changing’s because they can multitask”). Sister Jesus says that all are equal and beautiful in their potential. Okay, I’ll go with that. But I am storing all my rage here in a can, just in case I need it later.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Early Feminist Blogging: Toilet Graffitti

The only graffitti in the stall closest to the door at the Vic Theatre was right under the "bog roll": Unite to end racism and homophobia today!

Will see if they updated in the adjoining stall on my next trip there.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Harvey Manfield, Manliness and Suffragettes

This weekend I pondered my debt to the women who fought so that I could be recognized as a full human being; capable of thinking and voting for myself. This morning, I was confronted with Harvey Manfield’s views of Manliness (A manly man can accomplish big things because "he is good at ordering people to get them done."). You may be mistaken to think that Harv is interested in gender studies, nach. He is a professor of government, of manly men government where men are naturally suited to be in charge because democracy requires it: “Does democracy then, tend to produce, and require, manliness?”

If this wasn’t on the cover of Oprah Winfrey’s O reviewed in The Washington Post, the New York Times and immediately championed by everyone from the Neo-conservatives to Evangelical Christians, it would be humorous. When Harv thinks of women at all, it is to ask them to consider how their disobedience of men have really hurt men; “the modern woman above all does not want to be a dependant. She may not have thought what her independence does to the manliness of men.”, “To resist rape a woman needs more than martial arts and more than the police; she needs a certain ladylike modesty”, “Men need deference (from women)”

When Harv states that unlike men who are born to self sacrifice and intelligent thoughtful action, “Certainly women reason and sacrifice too...but their participation in these things in not “equal”” my first response is to ask him what I asked the Christian Theologian who told me that women who qualify for heaven they are turned into men for eternity as a reward; “Have you told this to your mother?”

Ignoring the fact that Harv’s ideas are about as useful as the old bachelor in the back of the church which mutters on about “only buying your car with cash, no credit,” his view of manliness is one which is obsolete, including the word, which was last used, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, in 1879. Even his heroes are all dead, or fictional: John Wayne, Tarzan, Theodore Roosevelt, Earnest Hemingway (nothing more manly than sucking a shotgun?).

Harv states that “courage” is a term reserved for men. This statement among all others generates my second response: Epee lunge to the groin! Courage and sacrifice are not concepts of competition. Every human being practices them and is capable of the greatest acts under their banner. Harv seems to have forgotten that Hero was a woman.

Women have gone to war with men for the right to equally exist, and won, not because men were naturally suited to seeing the obvious, that it was their own prejudice and fear which was making decisions, but because 51% of the population can not be held down without their own agreement. In 1905 the British police and men of parliament thought a tinge of violence would shut up the suffragettes; “The Suffragettes refused to bow to violence. They burned down churches as the Church of England was against what they wanted; they vandalised Oxford Street, apparently breaking all the windows in this famous street; they chained themselves to Buckingham Palace as the Royal Family were seen to be against women having the right to vote; they hired out boats, sailed up the Thames and shouted abuse through loud hailers at Parliament as it sat; others refused to pay their tax. Politicians were attacked as they went to work. Their homes were fire bombed. Golf courses were vandalised.(a)”

Oops, I guess they were “nice” or “modest” either, they were angry, frustrated and desperate. Hey you freaked out old men; Women don’t want to be men; they want the chance to be what they are able to be - pass it on.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Epee training, exhaustion and blue hair

Today is the BC Provincial Fencing Championships. But I am not there. Mr. Ho told me that I could not go.

I went to practice last night feeling pretty confident: I fenced well the previous week (including a 8-11 bout with Amanda) and had put in time practicing lunges and precision attacks on my ping-pong.

I fenced a couple foil bouts for warm-up. Mr. Ho was wandering around as he had neither Monica nor Amanda to train. I wondered if I should ask Mr. Ho for a lesson. The other fencers thought that a bad idea; he could decide not to give you any lessons ever, one fencer hadn’t had a lesson in four years.

I asked Mr. Ho for a lesson. “Why not?” he replied.

We started the lesson at 7:45 with arm attacks and lunges. Amanda told me that he tells her, “hit the opening, hit the opening” even when she can’t see the spot just behind the epee guard bell, but over time, she has learned to hit it, unseen.

We practiced forearm lunges but he suddenly leaves telling me to practice until he returns. Lunges in front of the mirror become tiresome without the terror of Mr. Ho watching. Gerald wanders over and wants a few bouts. I promise them after the lesson if he will let me use him as a target. I am back in junior high worried that the teacher will come back and find me goofing off.

Mr. Ho comes back and finds us practicing lunges, he announces that we will BOTH have a lesson. We each get 5-10 minutes with Mr. Ho before we alternate. Mr. Ho seems to spend more time with me than with Gerald but then that might be the time altering tunnel of focus, fear and fatigue talking.

The first exercise is to hit a series of eight targets on Mr. Ho’s wrist and forearm by only moving my arm, but also getting a perfect and sustainable arc when you hit. This is very hard to do, particularly on the top and bottom of the wrist as the epee tip skids up the cowhide training guard. “One hit!” Mr. Ho yells, “You don’t get more tries when you throw darts.” I extend, and extend, and hit and hit. I am “in position” the whole time; knees bent and arm parallel to floor, elbow 8-9 inches from my body. This is what I hear: “No, hit the first time.”, “Don’t go back until I push with my arm.”, “Don’t move your body.”, “Stick the point.”, “Hit here! The wrist!”, “No! You are moving your body”, “The arm follows the point, always the point.”

My heart beat is above 200 bpm by the time I step aside and Gerald steps up to the drill. Mr. Ho is showing Gerald his weakness in arm stance and lunge. Gerald doesn’t practice out of hours like I do. I get a little pouty. But I realize that if Gerald becomes a better fencer, I will have to push myself more; the more I push myself, the better I fence. I am reconciled with Gerald getting a lesson.

My turn again, long lunges to the first four targets, then the second four. “Make it one smooth motion.” Mr. Ho tells me and I focus so much on my arm and body that my point is all over the place. Six lunges later I hear, “Go back to two motions.” I’ve never lunged to the sides of the arm or under the wrist and I start thinking about the target; bad idea. I lunge and lunge and lunge, 4 lunges to each position, each lunge two seconds apart – 16-24 lunges a minute for five minutes. Straighten arm, explode with the leg, hit, hold, return to enguard and again.

Gerald steps in while I suck air, blood pounding in my ears. I calm down, I remind myself; these are the lunges I have practiced for the last two weeks. I know these lunges, I can do these lunges. I step back in and do a quick 16 lunges, and another 16; all perfect. Mr. Ho puts down his arm. “Of course,” he says “Lunges are easy, this is exercise that beginners do best.” Yeah.

I think Mr. Ho is bored, or lonely as we keep going, 8:30, 8:45, 9:00 – mid-lunges, step-forward lunge, step-backward lunge. I haven’t practiced these much; my point and form wanders. Every time I step off the training strip my exhaustion body slams me; soon I have to lock my knees to stop my legs collapsing. I am nauseous and I can’t seem to cool down. Yes, these may be signs of heat stroke, but I am NOT LEAVING the strip. I will train as long as Mr. Ho stands.

At 9:05 my en-guard arm is shaking so hard that I can’t keep the tip still. It is the last series of attacks, back to arm attacks and step attacks to the wrist. I asked Amanda on Monday which is greater; her desire to win the Provincials or her fear of facing Mr. Ho if she doesn’t win. She said that if she makes it to the finals she will definitely not want to come back and explain to Mr. Ho why she didn’t win.

I paid a hairdresser to have steaks of blue put into my hair today. The sweat pouring off me has left trails of blue across my white fencing jacket. I look like the victim of a rogue smurf attack.

After training Gerald and I bout under the eye of Mr. Ho; some bouts full attack, some just arm attacks. I lose all of them la belle (by one point).

By the time I get home my back has locked up and even pain pills can’t help me sleep. Once I reach 6 am, I know the worst is over. Linda wonders how it can be worth it. This morning I practice lunges and will do ping-pong practice in the afternoon. I will be the best epeeist that my body will allow.

I am not at the Provincials. I am not competing today. I will be soon.

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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Manga, innocence and kissing dead men

I used to feel very guilty about reading manga; something about how everyone else reading it seems younger than I. But then I found out that “the greatest sports movie ever” Ping-Pong was created by a manga writer. So now, manga isn’t my inappropriate addiction but writing research and a big left-brain wack to the side of the head.

Take for instance the hot series Vampire Game in which a reincarnated shapeshifting Vampire king Duzell inhabits the body of a cat adopted by Princess Ishtar, the great granddaughter of the man whose reincarnatation he has vowed to kill. If this was Hollywood, we would already know the plot, and the ending. But this is manga, so when Ishtar finds out that Duzell has been masquerading as her (her face but with a slim male body) and why, she offers to take him on a tour of her relatives to find out which one he needs to kill; after all, she’s not so fond of them and she really likes her cat! Over the series Duzell not only picks up feelings for Ishtar but also the hearts of several princes and an engagement to a captain of the guard. As Ishtar tells him while pushing him out the door in a dress: “Remember, soft music, candles, and lots and lots of Vaseline. Good luck!” This definitely isn’t a Hollywood plotline, or romance. The princes’ attitudes of “I’m in love with a guy? oh well, guess so.” is a welcome break from the daily panicked news about Brokeback Mountain/Walmart bans.

An quiet but Award Winning Manga is Nodame Cantable featuring the tension between Nodame, who is a sort of lazy kooky female genius and Shinichi, a piano student and conductor with promise but who is too serious for his own good. Of course Nodame is determined that Shinichi will be hers but now Masumi, the gay self proclaimed “Queen of the Timpani” has decided Shinichi MUST be his. What is better than music college, sexual triangles, dreams, hopes and sub-stories revolving around the double bass players (I play double bass).

Aria, is a beautiful manga series which explores the myths and magic of Venice through the eyes of a young female Gondola trainee. Set in Neo-Venice, a reconstruction of Venice on another world, this isn’t high drama or romance, but the gentle day to day wonder and innocence at working in a city which ever unfolds. Linda and I both love Venice in the winter and spring recommend the book, Daughter of Venice, for anyone who wants to know what 16th century Vencian life was like for a woman. Aria nurtures that small part of innocence which still exists inside me (after reading my dreams, if you don’t want me in a clock tower with a rifle in your town, you'll encourage me to read this too!).

And now that I am all wholesome and innocent again, I will be spending the morning watching Kissed, the Canadian film from 1997 which explores a young girls’ childhood fascination with death as it plays out in her adult sexuality. She has to choose between the cold perfection of the mortuary or a fetish attracted living boyfriend. I could never find this in DVD in the UK, something to do with Blockbusters unwritten policy on films involving necrophilia no doubt.

Have you ever kissed a dead man?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Why I don't blog about the novel I am writing

I had a dream last week. I was in a concentration camp. In other death camps the guards would use the prisoners to grow vegetables or do heavy lifting. Here, one guard told me, they didn’t need us, and we would die.

So I organized everyone, and we taught people how to do little tasks, things like making sure the guards hut always had wood, or cleaning the compound. I assigned two prisoners to each guard, to study and see how they could make the life of the guard easier. Then, after a time, when it seemed that the guards were becoming accustomed to help, I would kill the prisoners helping them. And we would start again.

I had to teach the guards to miss us, to see us as human, to want us alive instead of dead. To do that, I had to kill what was precious to me, to show them what was precious to them.

When I woke up, I started editing my novel again.

This is my writing; to write so engaging and with such an interesting plot that you don’t see me reaching into your head to kill your innocence and cut off your eyelids so that you can never close your eyes again to what I see.

Linda says that darkness is my gift. I don't blog about darkness. I want it to sneak up on you (buy my book Zed, and have a nice day!)

Back to work.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Life, death, vampires & bad drumming

Last week the bad, bad drummer across the street practiced three days in a row. Dogs were seen running away for a five block radius. I did not think kind thoughts about the little drummer boy/slacker drummer man. I made a little voodoo doll and smashed its little drum sticks.

Just now, the ambulance has pulled up in front of the house across the street. If I was Ms. Marple I would already know the motive.

The EMT driver got out of the cab with a BULLETPROOF jacket. Hmmmm? Within 120 seconds people had drifted in from the sidewalk and houses to create a smoking pit at the end of the ambulance. Now they stand, sucking down smoke and speculating on the vast array of potential deaths and/or injuries. And people say there’s no community spirit anymore.

I don’t have community spirit, I won’t even go over to the smoke pit. I am a bitch-hermit. Someone has even made a short online cartoon about my life (no really, click the link, you'll thank me). I showed my mother.

“Did you write this? Are you sure they don't know you?” she wanted to know. No, unlike the goth girl writer-hermit in the toon, I don’t have a TV. If I had a TV I might accidentally watch a Hallmark special or something life-affirming. I might start feeling all snuggly. Then the goth police would come and take away all my Tom Waits CD’s, my entire DVD collection of Dead like Me & Six Feet Under and my Laurell Hamilton vampire/lycanthrope fiction. They would tell me to stop fantasizing that dead people are more stimulating and fun than living ones. They’d say Vampire and Suicide Girls are actually very needy and emotionally clinging and not nearly as complex/invigorating/sexy as they are portrayed.

It’s odd because now that drummer dude may be dead/near dead, I am starting to like him a lot more.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Faking Epee is harder than Faking Orgasms

I have found what type of fencer I wish to be: Perfect. I want my fencing to be so pure and with such grace and movement that as I fence I begin to glow, like Moses returning from the Mount. I want people to walk away from my bouts going, “It’s strange but I think I was fencing Jesus...with boobs.”

Last night was not perfect fencing. Last night I felt like I had an On Switch/Off Switch, one which I couldn’t control. For the first hour I was off, horribly off. I was Zombie fencer; making slow grinding, lumbering movements accompanied by “uuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh” sounds.

By the third bout of Zombie fencing I was getting frustrated. Steve said after our match: “Don’t worry, you’re not warmed up.” Amanda wanted to know what was going on. I told her that I can handle practicing, but I can’t handle working hard to improve and instead getting worse.
“Are you going to quit?” She asked.
“No! I don’t quit.”
She looked a little surprised at my vehemence. I guess she isn’t yet aware of the whole prideful, arrogant, and never give in to the laws of nature, age, and physics thing yet.

Gerald tried to cheer me up by telling me that all fencers have times and weeks when they are just off and that’s the way it is.
“Even if they train and practice at home?” I asked.
“Oh yes.”
“Gerald, are you trying to tell me that ALL epeeists have periods? That they get cranky and bloaty and besides a craving for chocolate are just unable to connect?”
Gerald laughs, “Am I?”

I got Amanda to show me what I was doing wrong with my arm. People were hitting my arm, a lot. My problem: I was extending from a covered position INTO a covered attack instead of being covered AS I extended my arm to attack. Okay, two weeks of practicing the wrong way. Better than two years.

Suddenly, going into a 10 point bout with William, I was On. He has a long outside guard, who cares! He can throw his body back to jump out of harms way, well take this bucko! I hit his wrist, I hit on a high extended guard, I hit his thigh. I was there, really there, not just fencing my own bad form but seeing the openings, making the opening and HITTING the openings. Plus at 8-6 I started feel bad for William; started getting a little soft and I CRUSHED that feeling down. Willam shook my hand with a grimace. That might of been from the thigh hit.

Gerald came next and I was still ON: I took the arm, did bindings and then, for no reason at 6-5, the switch went off. And there I was standing there with this epee blade in my hand with NO idea what I was supposed to do. I was literally out there asking myself, “What would Beth do?” So I started faking it, I tried to speed up the pace, I started doing lunges, why? Because it seemed like something a person who did epee would do. Did I see a target, or even have an idea of hitting something? Not at all. Gerald quickly dispensed with me as I leapt, cavorted and found that while faking an orgasm can be quickly learned on a high school bus trip (the seats on the bus go up and down, up and down), faking being a fencer with a clue is an entirely different matter.

I stumbled through the next hour, faking it for all I was worth, but that was it; I was imitation Beth. Gerald had me on my knees, literally. He parried my blade in a long lunge and no matter what I did, I couldn’t get it back. After 20 seconds I just wanted my blade back; give it back you meanie! It finally came free and did a Hail-Mary thrust to his side. Gerald squirmed and it missed. He slowly planted his tip on my foot: point Gerald. I drop down to my knees and start pounding the floor in frustration. I look like a child? Oh well maybe that’s because I haven’t felt this frustrated since 1st grade when Jimmy McKrew stole my light-blue crayola and I couldn’t finishing colouring in the sky. Gerald’s finishes the bout by somehow getting a point while 2/3rds of his blade is trapped between my closed thighs (yes we are upright, you gutter minds).

There is still 30 minutes left and Mr. Ho has finished Monica and Amanda’s lessons. Will he give me one? I ask Amanda. She’s not sure; he might be tired, or cranky. I decide to ask him “Can you show me that epee lunge again?” 15 minutes later I am covered in glow (SWEAT!) from advance-lunge, lunge-retreat, step back-lunge. He notices that I overlean my lunge, and that I sometimes expose my arm when recovering from a lunge. I do it again, perfect; arm perfect, body perfect, leg at 90 degree perfect. He asks, “Why are you so tense?” as I lunge and recover. Then continues, “No, no, why you expose your arm, that’s dumb.” I don’t care, I have four new lunges and maybe, after I practice them a week or two and show them to him, I will get another 15 minutes; maybe.

I come back just in time for the last bout of the night, with Amanda, who has already cracked one of my toenails in a foot strike. Mmmmm blood. I ask her, “Am I getting alpha-Amanda or beta-Amanda?” Definitely beta she tells me; she’s tired. Well my switch is back to On and I open with a clean hit to her thigh. I try out my new lunges and she catches my body just before my blade hits. I’m getting inside her guard, just not quite fast enough. The bout ends 5-3 for Amanda. It’s the best I’ve ever done against her, and I did it with good form. That means I should be able to do it again sometime, right? Earlier I told Amanda she should get one foot strike in every bout against Steve and me. “Why?”

“Because the Provincials are next week and you need the practice.”
She grimaces and puts on her helmet.

She’s being lazy. “You just don’t want to do those lunges do you?”

She gives me a guilty smile. All night she gets one foot touch during every bout with Steve, and most with me.

I want to motivate her, because the way she fences motivates me.

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