You’re waiting for the 61D. A 61A goes past. A 61A goes past. A 61A goes past. A 61A goes past.
The closer you get to the Squirrel Hill tunnel, the slower everything moves. Cars. People. Particles. It’s cold. Oh god, you’re so cold.
It was raining this morning, now it’s sunny outside. You check the thermometer, and it reads sixty. Better salt your sidewalk, gonna snow tonight.
You dropped a rock in that pothole on Brookline, and waited to hear it hit the bottom. You’re still waiting.
The sidewalk is getting steeper and steeper. Now there’s stairs. You climb and climb and climb. Look, a mountain goat.
Your GPS tells you to take a sharp right to stay on Forbes. Your GPS tells you to take a slight left to stay on Forbes. Your GPS tells you to hit the man in the suit to stay on Forbes. Hit the man. Hit him.
No one goes to Carlow University.
Bleeding? Buildings don’t bleed, don’t be silly. That’s just the steel rusting.
An orange sign just ahead of you reads “End Road Work.” You laugh, and see another sign. “Please. Please, I have children. End it.”
They built a bridge under the bridge to keep the bridge from falling on the other bridge under that bridge. The trolls are confused. Where can they live?
Someone said that if you fall in the Mon, when you climb out, your skin will peel off. Ridiculous. No one escapes the Mon.
You’re trying to get home, but every single street is a one way that takes your further and further away. Where is home? What is home?
They say the steel mills poisoned the air and killed the sky. Is that why it weeps? Whenever thunder roars, you swear you can hear a sob.
A man is stabbed with a bottle outside the bar, and ichor the color of tar drips from between his fingers, flecked with gleaming yellow. He bleeds black and gold. The gutters overflow with black and gold. Steelers going to the superbowl.
You woke up and found U P M C etched into your wrist. You went to UPMC physician, and he sent you to UPMC Shadyside. They checked you out and said it’s nothing serious. Good thing you have UPMC healthcare, could have been pricey otherwise.
The guy at Phipps laughs when you ask him what they use for fertilizer and shows you big bins of mulch in the back. Pitt students keep disappearing. The bins are never empty for long.
The treasure map reads “Turn left at the big church, then go straight till you see a PNC.” Thirty souls set out to find it, each took a different path. None returned.
One morning, Thor awoke to find his hammer, Mjolnir (“Lightning”), missing. This was no small matter; without the thunder god’s best weapon, Asgard was left open to the attacks of the giants. In a rage, he searched everywhere for his most prized possession, but it was gone.
The goddess Freya owned falcon feathers, with which one could change one’s shape into that of a falcon. She lent these to Thor and Loki so that the hammer could be found. Loki, who knew how to shift his shape, donned the feathers and flew off in search of the treasure. He quickly surmised that it had probably been stolen by the giants, so he rode the winds to their homeland, Jotunheim.
Upon his arrival, he changed back into his god-form and approached the chief of the giants, Thrym (“Noisy”). When questioned about the hammer, Thrym answered that he had indeed taken it and buried it eight miles below the ground. And, added the lonely, ugly giant, he had no intention of returning it until the goddess Freya was made to be his bride.
Loki flew back to Asgard and told this news to his fellow gods, who were alarmed and furious – especially Freya. As they sat in counsel, Heimdall put forth the following solution: that Thor go to Jotunheim disguised as Freya, and thereby win back his hammer and take vengeance on its thieves. Thor protested, saying that this was a dishonorable and unmanly thing to do, and that all of Asgard would mock him for it for the rest of his days. Loki pointed out, however, that if he didn’t consent to Heimdall’s plan, Asgard would be ruled by the giants, so Thor agreed.
No detail was spared in assembling of Thor’s bridal dress. After the humiliated god had donned the costume, Loki, whose specialty was tricks, offered to go with him as his servant.
The pair climbed into Thor’s goat-drawn chariot and made their way to Jotunheim. When they arrived, they were welcomed by Thrym, who boasted that the gods had at last brought him the prize he was due.
At dinner, Thor and Loki found themselves in trouble. Thor single-handedly ate an entire ox, eight salmon, and all of the food that had been prepared for the women – as well as many barrels of mead. This made Thrym suspicious, and he declared that he had never in his whole life seen a woman with such an appetite. The trickster Loki quickly devised a response: “The fair goddess has been so lovesick for you,” he claimed, “that she hasn’t been able to eat for a week.” Thrym accepted this answer, and was overcome by a desire to kiss his bride. When he peeled back the veil, Thor’s eyes glared at him so intently that they seemed to burn holes right through him. He exclaimed, “Never have I seen a maiden with such frightfully piercing eyes!” Loki, the master of deceit, explained to the giant that while Freya had been unable to eat, she had also been unable to sleep, so fierce was her longing for him.
The ceremony soon followed. As was customary, Thrym called for the hammer to hallow their union. When Mjolnir was laid in Thor’s lap, he grabbed its handle and slew first Thrym, then all of the guests before contentedly returning to Asgard and changing back into his preferred clothes.
Chinese pagodas (Chinese: 塔; pinyin: Tǎ) are a traditional part of Chinese architecture. In addition to religious use, since ancient times Chinese pagodas have been praised for the spectacular views which they offer, and many famous poems in Chinese history attest to the joy of scaling pagodas. (Wikipedia)
My eldest-ranking student, a red sash I’ll call Doc, waxed surprisingly poetic today during his private lesson. He is one test away from prepping full-time for his black sash examination and as he related his struggle to remember old material (and as I assured him we would not progress any further until I had done my due diligence in assisting him in all areas of training he found himself lacking) he stated he wanted to climb the pagoda. Context gave away his meaning as he explained that in the course of training one day, months ago, with a second-degree black sash, Doc was challenged to recollect and perform all his material beginning from the first chamber (white) onward, to “climb the pagoda,” as the second-degree black belt called it.
Training that way definitely has merits, and we’ve all done it before. Run your material from the ground up for memory’s sake, and endurance training. But listening to him, I fell in love with this new phrase, this new title for such training. Climbing the pagoda. I was reminded of an online MMORPG that I played when I was younger and was issued a quest called “The Pagoda Gauntlet” which demanded that I enter a pagoda and battle my way from the ground floor to the top floor, where I was to win a fight against four bosses who, I’m not proud to admit, kicked my ass every time. If I logged back into the game now, that quest would still be there, incomplete and taunting me.
(715-770) I climbed a pagoda that touched the highest heaven I stood at the edge of the sun I could see ten thousand courtyards below And the dismal smoke of
Beyond the railing the
looked low The Wei seemed small in the window If I had known such detachment before I would have served the golden immortal
The next round of red sashes are eagerly prepping for the summer black belt exam. My own instructor, The Dragon, has his own gauntlet ahead of him: he will be testing for his second-degree rank in a trifecta of trials: a board-breaking exam, a secretive outdoor test in which he will perform his material with the elements working against him, and the traditional in-school exam surrounded by his biggest fans and all the red sashes testing for their first-degree ranks.
There is tremendously less pressure on me than there was six months ago. I have time to be introspective. Climbing the pagoda, to me, perfectly summarizes the conquerer’s attitude one needs to have if they’re trying to reduce their martial arts-related stress. Curriculum is hard enough, right? Once you progress to a new rank, you want what you learned previously to be in your back pocket, available to you via instant mental and physical recall. Of course, you continue to practice it, to retroactively apply what you continue to learn to what you already have learned. But it doesn’t feel awesome to be, for example, me getting ready to test out of Snake, my fifteenth chamber, and not feeling confident about what I learned in my twelfth.
I don’t know if I always have time to climb the pagoda. I wish it was like the poem - scale it once and see the view and never have to scale it again, but that’s not exactly right. To really know your material, to get that instant recall, you have to scale it over and over again, if only to dust off the cobwebs. You have to maintain your pagoda, defend the territory that is yours. In our school, curriculum is printed out and divided by degree. Each degree has it’s own curriculum board and these are hung on the wall. It’s easy to think of each board of printed material as a pagoda.
And when you have a mind like mine, which is terribly prone to entwining itself neatly and comfortably around poetic words or poignant metaphors that can be used to describe the universal experience that is training, it’s easier to get through all of that when I imagine myself climbing the pagoda. You gotta latch onto those little things, the things that make you smile, refresh your training a smidge. Things that make you think, ‘hey, I like that! That’s cool. I’m going to use that later.’ Thanks for enthusing about it with me.
hey throwback to the time i was playing a word game called Articulate with my friends, one of whom was also hip w the tumblr memes. she had a card with a word on it, and her goal was to get me to guess it without anyone else guessing it before me. to encourage her, i was like “ok think tumblr, think meme trash” and she immediately goes “oh! goats climb on the side of the mountain because they crave this” and the word was “mineral” and everyone else was confused
i know this story isnt as fun out of the moment but this is important so