The Plant Community

Tbh, I didn’t see what the big deal with plants were–I just awlays liked beautiful, scented flowers, but that’s it. I just knew that they die quickly unless you were growing them in a garden.

But for some reason, I never had trouble with plants. I guess I just always went by that simple lesson being taught in my elementary school science class about how plants, “need water and sunlight.” Nothing else more complicated.

I remember getting my first plant (I think it was a begonia?) during undergrad because Mount Holyoke had this tradition of giving a free mini plant to their freshmen (and apparently there is an urban legend that if your plant dies, you won’t graduate!), and how I was like, “bleh, that’s it?…this is just…a leaf..” and I just left it by the Eastern-facing window and had it grow. Damn, that thing just kept growing, while my roommate’s plant died in a week. I just kept watering it and leaving it there. That’s it.

But I forgot what happened to it lol.

I then remember going to the Netherlands and seeing ppl just buy plants and orchids as if it’s no big deal. I loved the flowers, so I began to get addicted and bought a buttload of orchids from Home Depot and put them in my dorm room during my first year of grad school. Loved it, and was able to keep a consistent watering schedule (that’s the trick!)

I guess I just never grew plants growing up because I lived on a low-floor building in NYC (so all the sunlight would get blocked by the skyscrapers).

Then last year, I saw this ‘pink princess philodendron’ somewhere and I just got hooked. I saw some real cute houseplants in some Nordic interior decoration posts and just started to search there.

One plant led to another plant, which led me to see this whole new world: The Online Plant Community.

I remember when I would post some questions on some orchid forms, a while back, that the people were friendly and actually were nice enough to share info (this is totally the opposite of the budo community, where you have that whole ‘ego thing’ going on and also the tradition of ‘stealing the waza’). I also posted on this monstera albo Facebook group about my first albo that wasn’t getting a new leaf, and had so many nice, thorough responses that helped (I also met one of my albo dealers there, even though I was already following her Insta).

Corona has definitely made me pay more attention to the plants, since I don’t have my dojo and stuff to go to. Upon observing the posts from others and seeing their form of ‘drama,’ I cannot help but to think about how different it is from the budo world.

Mind you, I may have these opinions now because I am still pretty new to it (so everything is still in that lally dally phase), but I did notice a few things:

The plant community doesn’t seem to be competitive in the same way as the budo world, and I think it’s due to the nature of the activity; martial artists are historically always fighting and competing, resulting in having different types of human relations skills, while plant people are used to minding their own activity in nature, and really just quietly introverted.

In the budo world, if you want to learn something, a lot of times you would need to be fake and suck up to the higher-ups, because a lot of people are so egotistical. Unfortunately, it is very common for a lot of backlashing at other teachers about their methods, their students’ faulty techniques, as well as a lot of people happily wanting to teach their, ‘RIGHT WAY AND THE ONLY WAY’ to people because they equate it to them feeding their ego.

I haven’t seen this in the plant world. There are different methods to growing plants, but people are not aggressively pushing their opinions onto others about what the best method is.

Because the supply and demand are always disproportionate, you do not have people aggressively trying to steal customers from some sellers, and they don’t do the same aggressive smacktalking in the same way I see higher up budo ppl do, where they are always trying to poach new talent to add a good rep to their school etc etc…

Now, I’m not saying that all budo people are like this, but unfortunately, there are so many of them that I’m starting think that it’s turned into the mere expectation, which really makes you search hard and treasure those people who actually are good-natured and about the art (those are the people I tend to get along with and the only ppl who tend to like me anyway).

I guess with plants, you’re not fighting—you also are not pushy because you know that you cannot control how the plant grows (lol reminds me of that Kung Fu Panda quote), so ppl who take on that hobby for the long-term tend to fit in that personality profile.

A lot of these thoughts and this current quarantine time-period where I’m spending more time with my plants, reminds me of that scene from Fearless, where Jet Li was out in the mountains and in nature as a way to reform himself:

It’s like being out of that competitive, egotistical environment, actually made him more powerful. As for why that is, I still have no idea 🙂 Maybe I’ll learn after our borders reopen.

I hope that the budo community can learn a lot of things from the online plant community. I hope that they can be friendly with sharing info and more open to making allies, rather than competing to be the best. After all, it’s just like that quote from Hanzawa Naoki,

“The world is made up of human relations”

You cannot get better without others.  Friendships and allies go a long way, so make sure you stay good natured and uncorrupted.

Quarantine helps with fulfilling shopping bucket lists

Yesterday, I was able to get the IKEA Ilse Crawford Sinnerlig Coffee Table that I’ve always wanted:

IKEA Sinnerlig Coffee Table

The table is made out of light cork (omg my color scheme!) and goes super well with my style. I remember first seeing this on the IKEA website and having it not be available immediately, and I couldn’t find it in the stores. Ugh, it was sold out quickly, I saw a listing on Amazon for like 3x the price, and a bunch of other ppl trying to look for the same thing.

Luckily, I took the advice from some of the posts in the plant Facebook groups that I’m a part of about looking at Facebook Marketplace for some deals–

and OMG, IT WAS THERE.

HAD TO SNAG THAT SHIT IMMEDIATELY.

Was worried that since the listing was 2 months old, that maybe the seller sold it but didn’t update it, but I still took a risk and messaged them.

TO MY LUCK, it was still available!

I even was able to get a nice SOMA water filter/pitcher that I plan to donate to the dojo as well:

I remember Nuda having these and thinking, “OMG I LOVE the design!”

Now though, I”m searching for the rest of the Ilse Crawford Sinnerlig collection…it’s very hard to find it, especially since a lot of ppl have their old listing images pop up on the Google Image Search. But, I’m not giving up.

I am also still looking for these Lululemon Raspberry Glo Leggings:

But I have found other raspberry glo items! I think the quarantine is getting ppl to sell a lot of things they wouldn’t have sold otherwise, so it’s a great chance to makeup all the stuff you missed out on in the initial round (either due to finances or whatnot). I already have a list of other things I’m planning to get.

But of course, there’s always a bunch of stuff that still doesn’t seem to be up…especially accessories..bleh.

My post graduation/thesis haul is gonna be cray cray…I’ll post it up later!

EdM. Zoom Graduation Party

“…despite all the stuff that she was going through, the fact that Katie finished today was amazing—and Katie didn’t finish her project because she ‘had to,’ she did it because she wanted to” – Nich

My Uncle died..

My phone started buzzing at around 12:50am. Shawn looked at it and I saw that it kept ringing and my dad’s Snorlax caller ID photo appeared. It took me a second to realize that old saying, “If there’s a phone call late in the night, then it’s never about a good thing…” so I picked it up.

“Katie, Moto just departed a few minutes ago…”

“….”

“He just departed. Ok?”

“….”

“ok…”

“Ok, bye.”

I wasn’t shocked, I knew it would come eventually. Tbh, I felt as though I “lost” my uncle a few years ago when he had that kidney failure leading to some brain damage due to low oxygen levels in his brain. He just never was the same again, where he would be interacting like a normal person and would be telling dirty jokes and cursing all the time.

But, when I heard that, I went back to bed and couldn’t go immediately back to sleep. I didn’t start crying nor did I feel a heavy amount of sadness–instead, my mind just went through playing a rush of all my memories with him like a projector. It’s then that I got a little sad and wanted to release a tear, but didn’t.

Then the timing today was absolutely GREAT. I had to teach 5th Grade Boys Health and we had to talk about ‘Death’ during our Stages of Life Lesson. Lovely. The kids had some strong reactions about it and didn’t want to talk about it, so I just told them that I had a hard time teaching them today because my uncle died. I should’ve said that, ‘It’s difficult, but it’s just part of the process of life’ but I guess what I emphasized instead was just that others feel the same way and you’re not alone.

Can’t have a funeral either because of the coronavirus.

Ip Man 4

Well, I just saw “Ip Man 4” starring Donnie Yen, and honestly, it was a fantastic movie–I really liked it.

The acting in the American scenes were over-dramatic, but the Chinese scenes were more realistic with subtle human emotion. I liked this movie better than the third one.

So yes, as you would all expect, the scene where the hapa girl gets unfairly bullied by that white teenage girl was definitely something I could relate to—being a minority made you a target of that, and you unfortunately were always in situations where you were an army of 1 versus an army of many. Then what made those times worse, was that the teachers back then were so passive and uninvolved with bullying, and they usually sided with the group of (white) mean girls because there were “more witnesses,” and I definitely felt as though there was always a subconscious racial bias. Unfortunately, being a school-teacher myself now, although there is definitely more awareness for bullying compared to the past, a lot of this non-objective behavior from ineffective authority figures still remain today…it irritates me and even today, I still try to find my way to fight back people like them. Honestly, I was really waiting for that hapa girl to fucken kick that girl’s ass!!! Ugh, Ip Man 4!! YOU ROBBED ME OF THE ULTIMATE REVENGE!!

Anyway, but in all seriousness, the scene that really caught my attention was the “Lazy Susan” scene where all the kung fu masters in the San Francisco area were meeting for tea at one of the sifu’s house. The scene was portrayed many times in other movies (I think “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” had this same scene), but in those other movies I just thought that it was boring and it didn’t get into much detail about the debate on whether or not to teach martial arts to non-Chinese. Ip Man 4, however, went more into it.

They touched on identity and issues of Chinese-Americans immigrating outside their motherland and how Asians who were born and raised in Asia are not empathetic of the struggles, since they are still the “power race” in their homeland. I was impressed with how they eloquently presented the issues from both perspectives.  But the debate that really struck me was the debate on teaching traditional martial arts to “外人.”

My mother always told me about how she hates budo because it’s, “fascist” and has, “the conservative of conservative” people leading it, and that it’s very ‘right wing-like.’ In some ways, I can see where she’s coming from (there’s a long history of that in martial arts anyway), and the other Chinese sifus in the movie had that ‘right wing’ mentality with keeping Chinese martial arts, “with Chinese and ONLY Chinese,” with only Ip Man being the “leftist” and trying to present a more progressive perspective of Bruce Lee’s intentions of spreading the art as a whole. Nevertheless, all the arguments from both sides made sense and it was interesting to hear it

…but what was eerie about it was that I actually..knew what they were talking about…

And that’s when I realized,

That this endless debate about opening classical traditional arts to outsides, still exists today.

…and this film was supposed to take place in the 60’s…

…and this debate still exists today.

…that’s very SAD.

It’s been practically over a half a decade, yet there are still a disproportionate amount of “martial rightists” compared to “leftists.”

And honestly, I do admit that things are a little better now and budo has spread out more than before, but those rightist masters honestly weren’t wrong with some of their arguments.

I guess in some ways, traditional martial arts still keeps this “tradition” alive of debating whether or not it should spread to others 😂 Oh dear, I think unfortunately, there still is no conclusive right answer…

Laziness

So…although I have had more time to be ‘productive,’ I started to sleep in more, feel better, but basically ended up doing less. I think I need to make my wakeup time 8:00am on a regular basis just to be more productive during the day—it truly was a nice feeling.

This quarantine time makes you so…lazy and idle. We could all be doing much more with our time, but instead you just end up watching Youtube or passively browsing Instagram feeds all day…jesus, so much time wasted.

Like, I cannot believe half of my Spring Break is already over! OMG. Jesus.

I didn’t touch my koto nor my calligraphy brush at all this month. I also cannot believe how much time has passed since I’ve last been at the dojo…it’s weird. I’m a bit terrified to see how out of breath I’ll be when I get back to the dojo.

However, I did begin to turn the wheels for a few back burner projects. I have also been making coffee at home everyday and love seeing the lack of coffee charges on my credit card statement—it feels empowering to really be able to actually track your spending,  seeing how much money you can save, and really feeling as though you have total control over your finances. It is nice to have that extra cash to be able to spend it on more fun stuff. As someone under student loan debt in a low-paying industry, it really feels great to finally feel financial empowerment like this.

Although I do admit, grocery bills have been going up 😅 but, it still is affordable.

The other day I taught my first virtual online naginata class via. Zoom—it was great to see Charlotte actually pull this idea together and see how she ran things during her session. I was honestly thinking about doing this with my dojo, but just couldn’t get together an intense enough curriculum and also maybe thinking that maybe everyone needs ‘a break’ so that they are even more motivated to come back once this quarantine gets lifted.

Although the physical training of naginata is limited to someone living in an urban environment, the mental side of naginata training is still available and should be done during this time. Arguably, it’s harder and requires more discipline to get the mental side down during this coronavirus crisis. Maybe actually scheduling it in works?…

Houseplants

One of the most rewarding (passive) activities to do is houseplant care.

Kinda like budo, you have to learn how to ‘nurture’ and take care of others (it’s something that my wise dorm security guard told me); houseplants are a great way to start to practice that.

I never put a crazy amount of work into plants to keep them alive–I always just remembered from Elementary School how plants essentially need sunlight and water…very simple.

I think a lot of people just forget to do it on a regular, scheduled basis, hence why a lot of plants die. My plants at MoHo always lived and grew super big, while my roommate’s and friends had theirs die…

I first got into plants when I visited the Netherlands (a super agricultural country) in 2012 and saw how many beautiful colors the orchids had—I also saw many of the big windows display them so beautifully. I could only imagine how happy those plants were just bathing in the sunlight 😂.

I grew my own…had like 12 orchids at one point. It was real cool to see them rebloom with my weekly watering and fertilizing schedule. I had them for a while until I had to move outta my dorm and had my friend with good windows take care of them..unfortunately, they had too strong of sunlight and didn’t do the consistent watering schedule…so yeah, they all eventually died 🙁 Even my lovely pink ones…

My current favorite plant is my Pink Princess Philodendron (gee, I wonder why :P). I didn’t think I would ever like a houseplant that didn’t bloom flowers, but since this one had some natural pink…hmm…

Philodendrons, in general, are apparently on NASA’s list of air purifying plants…so I figured that it would be a useful plant that can help kill 2 birds with one stone; provide aesthetically pleasing beauty while being healthy 😛

My coworker then began to teach me the whole way of “propagation”–my god, had no idea that you can basically ‘regenerate’ a lot of plants by breaking off a piece…that was so alien to me, because I always thought that if a flower or leaf was picked from a tree, that it would die because of the lack of nutrients…

Nope, not with a lot of houseplants…especially aroids:

I can essentially grow MORE of this pink beauty and even sell it!!!

It was nice to use up my nice pots that I cannot put soil in…A lot of houseplants habits that Baba did made more sense now. It was cool to see this, and this is a completely new realm that I’m starting to get to know and get used to.

The most amazing thing is seeing the new roots grow on a cutting…it’s sooo fucken cool. I also heard that with this particular plant, that once you make a cutting, the new growths on the original mother plant will have MOAR PINK variegation!!! 🤩🤩🤩

This plant also got very expensive, so I’m hoping that this thing will grow and I can sell this to help pay off for some stuff. They propagate rather easily:

I think because of this coronavirus outbreak and the order of being forced to work at home, I have been less exhausted at the end of the day, resulting in me being able to do my chores and maintenance tasks. The daily commute time, the daily makeup routine, etc.. have now been eliminated, so I can actually have enough energy and time to just properly organize and maintain my plants (oh my god, sooo much time wasted commuting!). NOW I can water my plants on a weekly basis and stuff, which helps keep the plants healthy and growing, resulting in me being able to see the positive changes that occur.

It has also been interesting to see how plants adapt and change when you cut it:

If you have a big, nice window, I recommend you getting a houseplant and watering it on a weekly basis. You can just look at the soil to see if it’s super dry–you’ll know. Or, if the leaves are sad and droopy, that means it’s real dehydrated. It’s a lot of fun to see and it’s also a good way to spend time at home during quarantine, without infecting others outside 😛

I have also began to grow appreciation for other (pink) plants:

My god…those beautiful, aesthetically pleasing Instagram posts are dangerous for shopaholics like moi…

But yeah, now that it’s transitioning to Spring and we are having our days longer, I’ll probably notice some more new growths 🙂

Especially from, my god, my variegated monstera albo borsigiana…jesus christ, that thing seriously needs to grow a new leaf…

But yeah, that’s for another time. I’ll also talk about my semihydroponics journey with houseplants and seeing how much easier it is to take care of healthy houseplants with this new growing medium.

Until then, order some houseplants online so that you don’t need to go outside! You can have them delivered to your door and you can order some cute pots to put them in!

For some beginner houseplants, I recommend the following:

  • Pilea pepperomioides
  • Monstera deliciosa
  • Sweetheart hoya
  • Variegated string of hearts
  • Moonstone succulent
  • Phalaenopsis orchid (make sure you fill your sink with water and have the plant soak in it, so that the water can go from the bottom–>up).

These are all plants that I’ve personally had and grew very quickly. Some of my other favorites have had slow growth, regardless of regular care. I’ll go more into those later.

In any case, have fun! I think any plant, even the difficult ones, are manageable so as long as you put the time and energy into the research and care! The internet has also been the best marketplace to buy any plant you want (don’t go basic and just buy that wtvr basic snake plant from Home Depot…come on now…).

Final exam week?…or in-house quarantine?…

…man, this would’ve been an ideal situation had I still been working on my thesis or still working on my master’s…

The dojo was forced to close, now NYC is practically in a complete shutdown. Apparently, we are able to order food and takeout online–but who knows if those deliverymen or restaurant workers aren’t positive for COVID-19?

It is kind of weird not having naginata as my weekly routine…I’m also trying to find ways to train, despite this lockdown. I guess I’ll have to go to Baba’s house or go to the mountains, like the olden days—at least I get the “legit” Musashi experience(笑).

Japan is probably not gonna happen next month, since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get back into the country, resulting in my work being affected, and Hawaii is now out of the question because of the (practical) ban of domestic travel..so yes, I’m stuck here.

I guess I can take advantage of this time by going over many of the things that I’ve needed to do but put in the back burner for ages; organization, more advertising, etc etc etc…I guess I can think of it all.

I guess now I can make my nice aesthetically pleasing budo interior + study for my licensure exams. I was also thinking about maybe pursuing a license in acupuncture and TCM–couldn’t be any more of a stereotypical martial artist lol.

Well, I guess also this budo blog is something that I can get back to working on.  It’s been on my goal list for a while.

I also cannot believe how time consuming chores and life maintenance are…yuck. 面倒臭い。

It was my Sensei’s bday last Wednesday.

Happy Belated Bday, Sensei. It’s hard to believe that the dojo has now been open for 1 year, without you being here to see it. Although it is essential to train under different teachers and different people as a way to develop one’s own Naginata (and to make up for any gaps in some teachers’ teachings), it just isn’t the same thing as having a primary Sensei to go to as your main source of knowledge—-it’s like, “coming home” from college to your parents, sleeping in your cozy, familiar bed, and feeling like you can, “be loose.” The main Sensei is who you check-in with to double check outside critiques, since they are the ones who have seen you from the very beginning and saw your Naginata grow and develop from that initial starting point.

I honestly thought that you would see me through my kodansha shinsas and see your lineage through my students. Never, in a million years, would I have expected you to abruptly get a brain aneurysm at the age of 52 and never seeing how much Naginata grew because of you.

It is very interesting now to talk about my Sensei to my students; I can only use certain examples of things she said, or maybe just compare her to other familiar people or fictional characters (e.g. Pokemon), yet, this doesn’t quite get everything about the true essence of who she was—-it is merely a fraction of who she was as a whole. I do admit, whenever someone mentions something about you, like when my 12-year old student guessed that, “Sensei’s senseiiiiii!!!!” was going to be the strictest judge on the shinsa panel, something in me smiled in nostalgia because I did remember how harsh you were about your promotion exam standards and because I guess people who have never met you before, still was able to capture that little accurate piece of you through my stories. In some ways, I was hoping that your spirit would have been there to hear that, but a part of me also really wished that you were alive to hear it in physical form. I still get sad whenever I realize that you actually aren’t here anymore and I do enjoy talking about your stories to my students as a way to keep you alive.

I am still grateful to you for shaping me into the person that I am today. You have made me goal-oriented and taught me so much.   有難う。

Sumi Sensei’s words on new people

When people first come to this dojo, they usually want to learn about what naginata is and curious about it.

After the 2nd or 3rd practice, these people then want to be accepted (as part of the friend group).

So, it is therefore important to make sure you accept them and welcome them. Side conversations and chatting are very, very important during these times