Thursday, April 29, 2004

Finally! Four days after Provincials, and my body finally works again this morning! Walking is no longer a chore! The pain has subsided to normal levels! I still feel a little dehydrated, but I've been that way for a couple of weeks. So, physically, I'm back to normal. Hallelujah!

Of course, now I want to start going to the gym (finally!), so watch for half-serious moanings and complainings about the frailty of my body. Despite being an active fencer for six years, despite losing 60 pounds, I'm still woefully out of shape. No cardiovascular strength to speak of. My left leg is more flexible than my right. And I'm sure some of the pain is due to unbalanced muscle development brought on by fencing. So, time to do something about it.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Alberta Provincial Championships Report - Women's Foil, Team Women's Epee - Sunday 25 April 2004

The day dawned early, very, VERY early, as registration for WF closed at 0800. I am not a morning person. Anyway, Nathan and I got down there, and I changed as was able to warm up a little before the competition started. There were 15 women registered, which equates to three pools of five. I lost all my bouts (5-0, 5-1, 5-3, 5-4), and came out last. I then had to fence Heather Willette from AAA, who came out second from the pools. Needless to say, it was a massacre: 15-2. But those two were pretty good, and I'm not displeased with any of my pool bouts, except the 5-0. I should have had a couple there. Following WF, I began to think about lunch, and then Nathan suddenly got a team together for Team Sabre, so we had to rush back to his house to get his gear. I grabbed lunch on the way. Upon our return to the Soccer Centre, I got myself together again for Team Women's Epee. Mary McNabb from Edmonton Fencing Club, Karren Liver from Red Deer Fencing Club, and myself were one of four WE teams, and the only one that was not from one club. They called us the "Mixed" team, but we much preferred "The Old Gals." Our first round was against the Gladiators B team, which we took 45-32 (at least, I belive their score was somewhere around there). We then had to fence the Gladiators A team, who had just sucessfully trounced AAA's team. We lost by a score of 45-22. As a result, our team came out second. It was much fun! I'm definitely doing team events again.

As an update to Saturday's results, I came out 10 of 12 in WE.

I am now very tired, will have to stretch all day, and am very much looking forward to my massage tonight. My back is killing me. I'm soooooooo out of shape!

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Alberta Provincial Championships Report - Women's Epee - Saturday 24 April 2004

There were twelve women registered for the open event today, a rather small number considering the scope of the tournament. Our pool of six ran on one piste, which drew it out some. I won two (5-1, 5-0) and lost three (5-3, 5-1, 5-0), which placed me seventh out of the pools with an indicator of -2. I drew Sarah Morrison, who (surprisingly) placed 10th out of the pools, and after a very long wait, we were on. The bout made it through one and a bit periods, and I lost 15-11. To be honest, I feel okay about how I fenced. I pushed her, made her work for it, and I know that next year, I will be able to beat her. I believe that my final placing is 9th, but I didn't want to wait around any longer to pick up my passport, so it is waiting for me there tomorrow. I will confirm when I have it in my hands. Foil and team epee tomorrow; I'm looking forward to the latter, and will deal with the former as it happens.

And let us all welcome my new friend, Magic the Lucky Fencing Dragon, who told Sheila that she should take him along for my last tournament of the season! It's not everyone that gets a Lucky Fencing Dragon, you know... I'm very special!

Tonight was the Provincials Banquet, which was good except for the fact that I couldn't hear what anyone was saying when the speeches started. Next year, we will hopefully be in a dedicated room, or if we are not, I will pick a chair that isn't next to a fountain. I will also not overdo it on the food. Bad, bad, BAD Ness! On that note, I will drink three glasses of water, turn in, and let it work through my system, so I can be ready for tomorrow.

Friday, April 23, 2004

There was an editorial printed in the Calgary Herald over the weekend that’s still with me. They’ve been printing letters in response to it, and I’ve been following it closely. Both the editorial and some of the letters make me uncomfortable. I know why the editorial makes me uncomfortable, but I’m not quite sure about the letters. Before this gets very vague and confusing, you can read the original article here, or when that link doesn’t work, here. You can read the rebuttal letters here.

Am I a feminist? I’ve never defined myself as such, but the way I live my life might make it seem that way. I live alone, take care of myself, earn my own living, and participate in a very male-dominated sport. I prefer to be treated as my personality dictates, not my gender (as indicated in my post last week). And I have a lot of problems with people telling me I can or can’t do something on a basis beyond ability. I am perfectly willing to admit my deficiencies of skill, but I refuse to be stereotyped by my gender. But is this why this article makes me uncomfortable? And it makes me uncomfortable, not livid…

I believe my discomfort might come down to procreation. One of Hannaford’s arguments is that women are supposed to be givers of life, not takers, nor in a position to have it taken away from them. But, despite advances in medical technology, we still need both sexes to keep the species going. Granted, there are no artificial wombs yet, but neither is there artificial sperm, and cloning is still in its infancy. In the letters of rebuttal, much is made of the parent/child relationship, and of the husband/wife relationship, both of which have a great deal to do with procreation (especially in the case of the former).

In my twenty-six and a half years on this planet, I can count the number of times I’ve felt the urge for a child of my own on one hand, and all of those were before I hit puberty. In all the time where having a child has been possible for me, I’ve never felt it was something I wanted. Despite my gender, I somehow doubt that I will ever be the giver of life in Hannaford’s argument (sorry, Sheila, that leaves it up to you to provide the grandchildren). If Hannaford would continue to argue against my right to face death in defense of a principle I believe in (whatever that might be), then he objects to my going to war based on my potential to have a child. Now we’re starting to get into The Handmaid’s Tale territory, and that is something best avoided.

Would it not make more sense for me to go to war in place of a young man, newly married, with a child on the way? He has shown the ability and desire to procreate, to give life. Why should he go off to face death while I stay home, simply because I am female?

I do not dispute the fact that women are physically weaker than men. That’s simple biology, and I have no qualms admitting it. If women cannot cut it physically, they should not be on the front lines. But if they can… If they can, why should they not? I do not pretend to be in excellent physical condition, but I have no doubt that in the First and Second World Wars, men who were in as good or worse shape than I were drafted and sent overseas. Such is the nature of war; you make do with what you have. And it wouldn’t take long for me and other women like me to be trained up alongside men to the same physical condition.

These are moot points, of course. I believe, or I hope, that the world has learned enough that the new wars will be like the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq, fought by soldiers and reservists, not draftees. Indeed, it will be a moot point for me until I get off my rear end and join the CAF Reserves, as I have been thinking about for over a decade. But in the meantime, I’m still going to be thinking about this article, and how it made me feel.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

In honour of the Flames proceeding to the next round of playoff hockey, I thought I would relate how I knew that they had won Game 7.

Monday night, I spent most of the night reading, then watched a show from 10 to 11. As I was reading, I heard this cheering from some other apartment, likely the one across the hall. It made me smile, because I knew then that the Flames had scored a goal. After watching my show, I thought I would flip over to the CBC to see what the score was. 2-1 with five minutes left in the third. "Oh," I thought to myself, "I'll just watch the rest of the period. The Flames are leading." And indeed, it almost happened that they won. But with five seconds left in the third, five on four, the Canucks scored the tieing goal. It was 1130, and I was beat. Remembering that, on Saturday, the game went through two complete overtimes before the winning goal, I turned off the television, telling myself I could read about it the next morning in the paper. I tidied up, got ready for bed, and shut off the light. I settled into my pillows, slowly relaxing towards sleep, but suddenly this raucous cheering interrupted me! It came from everywhere, it seemed; not just the apartment across the hall, but echoes from upstairs, and outside. I fought, but it was futile. I got up and went out to the living room to watch the replay. Oh, what a sweet goal! Satisfied, I went back to bed, and fell asleep to the sounds of the celebrations outside.

And that is how I knew that the Flames had won Game 7. Even this occasional hockey fan is excited by the prospect of the next series.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I keep expecting my blog to update itself. I know this is silly, because it's my blog, and will only be updated when I write something in it, but I fight the urge to click on the link from Jen's blog to mine to see if there's anything new. I check Jen's blog almost daily, so you can imagine how odd it is for me not to have learned by now. And yet for some reason, I expect something new and witty to have appeared with absolutely no effort on my part! Silly Ness…

It's not that there isn't anything going on in my life. But does it make for a good post? Today, for example: it's barely noon, and I could comment on the fact that, after over three months of working at Hitec, I finally decided to take advantage of the "Casual Fridays" and wear jeans with a nice shirt. Of course, I would pick the Friday where the people who usually do take advantage of "Casual Friday," didn't. Not that I care, but what a coincidence. Or I could mention that yesterday night, I fenced an epeeist from Holland (I hear rumours he was/is on their national team). It was a wonderful bout; I despair at ever being that fast. However, I don't believe he was going all out against me, as I kept getting single hits. I'm torn between being honoured by his gentlemanly behaviour, or being annoyed because I want to learn something. It's not because I actually have the skills to take on an Olympic fencer. I'm absolutely not that good! But what does one say in that situation? "Listen, I know you must be holding back, I've watched you massacre all the guys you fenced tonight. Can you please just trounce me? I learn better that way. But thanks for being so kind and generous; even I like being treated like a woman sometimes." On two hours acquaintance? Not likely…

These kind of random thoughts cross my mind, and when I get to work in the morning, and am quickly checking my email and Jen's and Steve's blogs, I consider checking mine to see if they have sprung fully written into existence simply by me thinking to myself, "I should post that in my blog." Of course, I doubt I'll be alive the day they invent a cybernetic implant that would make that possible.

My current obsession is the Thirty Years' War, brought on by the library finally cycling through all the holds on Ring of Fire to get to me, and me reading it and not remembering half of what happened in 1632 and 1633. The series is such a lovely blend of the fantastic, the historical, and the "what ifs?" of alternate history. Not only that, but there is a great deal of military and political strategy that comes out of the works. So now I'm itching to learn more about all these historical figures, most especially Gustav Adolf of Sweden, Cardinal Richlieu of France, and the Danes of the period, who have only been mentioned briefly as a significant naval power, but will undoubtedly crop up again as the series progresses. My imagination is fired. I can't stop thinking about it. The story and the history have enthralled me, in much the same way as the Hornblower series has. I need more information. Time to head to the library, I guess. It's funny; I was never much of a history buff. I guess you reach a certain point in your life where you just need to know where you've come from.

Oh, and if anyone knows anything about Blogger, maybe they can tell me about the archiving. If I delete a post from the main page here, will it remain in the archives? I just don't know, and I can't find the answer... I don't want to permanently delete any of my posts. Email me!

Thursday, April 15, 2004

There’s a certain degree of cloud cover that’s just perfect, and we had it this morning. Sometimes I don’t like driving east to work, but today was a treat. Today I could look at the sun. It was a great glowing disc in a field of dirty white. At one point, the clouds just below it thinned, and although the disc itself stayed muted and viewable, there was a bright aurora beneath it that I had to squint against.

It’s not the first time I’ve been able to stare at the sun (who sings that song? I don’t recall…), but it always gets to me when I do. No wonder the sun figures so prominently in most religions and mythologies. It feels like you’re looking into the eyes of a god. Normally, you have to turn away or risk being blinded, hurt, struck down. It’s uncomfortable and exhilarating and wonderous to look up at that ever-present entity and examine it, even for a bare moment.

This morning, the sun was jubilant, burning off the clouds and attempting, in its singular way, to bring spring back to Calgary. I’ve also seen the sun angry, bloody and aged, filtered by wood smoke into reds and umbers. I was saddened those days.

It struck me this morning that it is such a happy accident that life developed on this planet, and that we can enjoy moments like this. I’ve been working on crocheting placemats, and yesterday I got to thinking that our lives are similar in nature: one thread weaving in and out to form a pattern, a whole of some kind. Occasionally, you’ll drop a loop, and it will unravel a little, until you can pick it back up. I’ve been feeling a little lately that I’ve dropped a loop or ten, and pieces of my life are starting to come unwound. But looking at the sun this morning relaxed me a little. Coming face to face with the eternal really puts all the little stresses and issues of my life into focus. I think I’ll be able to start picking up the loops now.

I fenced for the first time in two weeks on Tuesday. I’m out of shape and out of practice, but I can still get in some practice before Provincials in a week and a half. Tonight is the last UCFC practice of the term. It should be fun!

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Oh woe is me. I do so hate being sick.

In other news, the wind is blowing today, blowing very hard. And I am unfortunately stuck inside. I love the wind. I love the way it presses my clothes against my body. I love the way it shouts in my ears until I can't hear anything else. I love the way it chills exposed skin. I love the way that, if it's steady enough, I can almost lean against it and have it hold me up. I love the way it makes me search for breath, find the right angle so I can draw air into my lungs.

On the other hand, I'm having trouble enough breathing today... Oh, but to be out in the wind!

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