Archive for February, 2008

The Stone Rolls On

Nothing can grab you by the balls like irony can. One moment you’re talking to your friend, in all your smug attitude explaining how you think you’ve made it in life because you can do anything you want and don’t have to do a thing you don’t. Two hours later, in the same friend’s face, you get a phone call. "One month and we tear your building down." Sweet fate why must you torment me so.

So! As I’m looking around, I see our kitchen, living room, veranda in the back (yes we have a veranda). Within another month all this will be rubble. Within a few years this will be industry, a truck factory. God that’s painful…
Anyhow. This leaves me with 25 days to go look for something else. Since the only option similar to my current situation is located in Brasschaat, which is near Antwerpen, I’m pretty much stuck. Either I will be renting (shudder) some tiny studio in or near town or squatting. And to be honest I’m pretty much done with squatting, it was nice and all when you have something to fall back on but since it’s been a few years I pretty much lost touch with the "scene".

As a good little boy who would sleep in the park before going back to knock at his parents’ door, I’ve been looking high and low for a new place. Internet, immo offices, neighborhood scanning.
"Students only"
"I am sorry, we don’t have anything in your price category."
For you it’s a home, a roof, for them it’s a "price category". They can go fuck themselves half a dozen time over. Either way, I’m screwed. I will have to give up a great portion of my aforementioned freedom that I’m so fond of, OR find some "alternative" way out. Stating the obvious, this sucks.

So will this be my first few steps towards a productive citizen life? Will I find happiness in getting a "real" place and a decent job to fund it? Or won’t I, and is this basically my fall into marginality? I used to look at certain people and feel my heart shrink. I don’t want to judge them but lonely as they are, making some cafe their home and ogling others from their usual table, I just couldn’t handle it. And now I get that same feeling, knowing that I’m on the edge of situations I won’t be able to return from. Our safety net is very forgiving but that doesn’t mean you can’t fall through.

Additionally, I’m close to being bankrupt. I Have roughly €1500 that was supposed to fund the plane Norway, the far east or the US. Might seem enough and it is, for -goddamn it what’s it called that you give your landlord and is returned when you leave the place intact- and the first month of rent. And then what? A girl’s got to eat, you know.
So, no more impulsive purchases, I may even sell a thing or two. Back to dry waffles and soluble tea. If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s saving cash. At least, I used to be.

I have had the privilege of feeling at home somewhere, for a couple months. It’s addictive, but whatever I do, it’s about to change once more. Where it will lead, I don’t know, but it will go fast. The urge to hide in a corner and hope it will blow over is almost overwhelming. I don’t want to leave. I don’t know where I will end up. I don’t know if I’m able to deal with this, try as I might. What’s more,
I’m scared.

That doesn’t mean not going to meet this head on, however. For a little while it’s back to a "fuck you anyway" attitude that at least keeps a shell standing.
Got any info? Looking for a roomy? Drop me a note.
And fuck you.


Black Capoeirista, White Trash?

Well, the batizado was everything I expected it to be, and more. I played against beginners, mestre’s, kick boxers and ballerina’s. Though the whole event was one turbulent climax of events, a few stood out:

  • I took a Meia Lua de Compasso (spinning heel kick) to the face. I don’t really know how it happened, it was near the end of day 1 and I was exhausted, I guess I was just not paying attention. Rule number one: look at your opponent at all times, since the list of counter-attacks is endless. It’s a newbie mistake to make, even I should know better. Luckily for me though, I have a slight advantage: I learned how to take a punch before. Might sound stupid, but it’s something they don’t teach in capoeira class. I stayed standing and we continued, but I did have to wash the taste from my mouth afterwards.
  • The Kick boxer! I just stepped into a random roda, taking it up against a white belt: should be a breeze. Little did I know, I would be doing little more than deflecting, not even dodging, one kick after the other. In short, he just stood there and tried to kick the shit out of me without even bothering with rhythm. Not even close to good enough to deal with this, I had to switch to a different stance, resulting in a boxing match or some such.
  • The square twins. Why square? Because they were at least as broad as they were tall. I’m not sure if they were related at all, but to me, they were one and the same person: They looked very much alike, even wore the same black shirts, and both had the habit of turning any roda into a punch-out. Quite literally, even: someone got a fist in the face, having to leave with a bleeding nose, and my formado had to step in and split them up when they had to fight each other. They will ram you into the row of people behind you, plant a knee in your face, and play with the actual intent of hitting you out cold. I don’t care if they were black belts – to me, it was a disgrace. Punching and kicking without any show of respect towards your opponent.
  • The Red Belt. There was only one man present there with a red belt, which puts him in the ‘mestre’ rank. He stood out somewhat because of this, and an otherwise very quiet demeanor. We were told in advance to watch out when playing against a high ranking capoeirista, they make it a game among themselves to tackle you. I took someone from my group aside earlier and we exchanged tackles, dropping into negativa stance each time and rolling away quickly and unharmed. Nothing could have prepared me for his move, though. The speed and efficiency, trapping my leg in the air and kicking the other right under the back of the knee. I just lost all form of balance and landed flat on my back, uttering a little couch as I heard the whole roda around me go "Owww got his ass served on a platter right there." Completely confused, I just crawled to my feet instead of saving some face by doing a nice roll or flip. All this is filmed by the way, I’ll post it as soon as I get a hold on it.

Now then! Instead of getting my white belt as is common on a first batizado, I got white-yellow. I am very aware that it’s a newbie belt and it means very little, but I am damn proud of it. I see it as a beginning, and it shows an outsider that I know what I’m doing, without claiming to be something I’m not.

By the way, for those who care to check it out!
Lousy quality but sort-of artsy pictures:
More to come!


Having spent an entire weekend as "Punk, le capoeirista noir" (I tend to wear black at trainings instead of the usual white) I noticed my behavior was somewhat different than usual. Nothing to worry about or even be surprised with, but it did make me think. I can’t tell for sure of course but I get the feeling that people’s habit of describing one another with a few words can never be fully correct. Every person has so many masks, and in time will adopt a persona he "plays" as one that he "is". So who am I playing, and who Am I?

Enter Maarten, a most often poorly shaven twenty-something boy with a khaki cap. Poor taste of clothing, and quite (over?)opinionated. Somewhat of a cynic, though usually it merely serves to put things into context. Fragile ego, inflated as easily as it is shattered. Brother, son, lover and friend, no enemies to speak of. Would do everything for his friends but far too little for his girlfriend – tends to take her for granted, dumb ass.
Turtle – Roadie. Rather big mouth, but easily put in place. Is called ‘Turtle’ only by travelling crews who seem him wear his helmet, which are very few. Other names are Maarten, Martin and ‘you there’. Loves his job despite any complaints he may spout. Loves all who speak English and a minimum of responsibility and thought-provoking work. Hates repetitive chores and stupid co-workers. Main difference with Maarten persona are his (even) less polite manners. Belching, cussing and sexist jokes (behind their backs obviously) are quite common. Good team worker though.
Punk – Same face as Maarten but different in character. Named after the mohawk he lost on Halloween 2007. Quite energetic, will prefer rhythm and speed over accuracy and grace though a balance is being sought. Tends not to care much about protocol, will challenge a monitor as quickly as a newcomer, though of course he is not stupid. Still, often gets in over his head because of this. Nevertheless, bears a great respect towards high ranks and will remain quite humble with them, despite his tendency to challenge their superiority.
Vermin – Faceless internet persona, the most cynical bastard of all. Friendly towards friends, suspicious towards all others. Will cast aside acquaintances to focus his energy on closer friends, which often clashes with real life situations. Basically, Vermin is there as an axis between all other persona’s, logging their highlights on the net while making a fool of them with childish jokes and sarcastic remarks when ever possible. Not necessarily a bad character however, mainly serves as an earlier mentioned method of putting things "into context" and relativating them, confronting the others with the unimportance of their accomplishments, perhaps to plainly keep their, also mentioned, ego’s in check.
James – Pure version of Maarten, quite the opposite of Vermin though also a non-existing being. Has changed names repeatedly in the past, depending on his environment as he is taken from one fictive location to the next. Cares, loves, has more patience than all others combined. Is, for safety reasons, rather hard to trace back towards the others, unless you go from them to him.

So who are you? One of these, which will undoubtedly seem familiar here and there, or some common being behind all these masks? I can tell only for myself and it’s kind of awkward to go and ask this to someone else. But undeniably, everyone is a different person among certain friends, when they are alone, or when they are on the internet. Would you give your parents your myspace password? Would you want your girl/boyfriend to know what you say to certain people? The differences start off quite simple, but they go very deep. What is your core? What is you?

Alone at last, Sugar.

Our housemates have left, gone to live in a place of their own. The place is suddenly a lot cleaner and calmer now, but with it far less eventful and once in a while just plain damn lonely.

Something I had forgotten about, was the sharing of responsibility. Sure, they made quite a mess, but they also cleaned up sometimes. More than once I got home from work and the house was just, spotless. They happened to love cooking, as well, just how fantastic can a housemate get. I hate cooking, I swear I do.

So now there’s no more escape. I have to do my part of the dishes, cleanup, washing and who knows what else. No big deal of course, just fucking annoying once in a while.

Living on your own comes with all sorts of important decisions. It’s got to do with the loads of freedom you gain by moving out. From one day to the next, you’re the one who decides what kind of yogurt comes into the house. That expensive strawberry kind suddenly doesn’t taste so good, anymore.

The lack of a driver’s license is becoming painfully inconvenient, too. With a bike and a backpack you find yourself having to go to the supermarket up the street twice a week. As a result, long days are spent hungry simply because I’m too fucking lazy to get up and go shopping Again. It’s a time consuming thing, involves more decision taking than anything enjoyable and I come home feeling strangely empty. I hate shopping, I swear. Makes me feel like a consumer, someone who wouldn’t know how much shit he crammed down his throat this week to save his life, let alone just how much ended up in the trash. And with it, I detest the kind of people who have turned into a pastime, who buy things because they are cheap. Guess what? You are what is wrong with this world.


So why haven’t I been writing anything lately? Plain and simple, nothing’s been going on. From early December to late January, Not a single thing has happened. Perhaps that’s not true: I lost my cellphone, I lost my girlfriend a few times but I found her in the kitchen. Also, I went wall climbing with a few friends and halfway through January capoeira classes started again. I swear, those were the only highlights in a 60 day time span.

So, I promised myself I wouldn’t, but I went and got myself addicted to another computer game. What’s more, I recently joined the staff and I am now helping out with ideas and coding for events and upkeep. I can die happily now.
Thing is though, after a whole lot of nothing, small things suddenly get very exciting. Work is picking up again after months of radio silence, and I just joined a girl scouts camp as a cook (I am the meat man. And I’m not even trying to make any sexual references here) and and and, my very first Batizado is coming up!

A Batizado (literally baptized in Portuguese, and borrowed from the religious tradition) is normally an annual event for a Capoeira group in a region or country. The practice of Capoeira Batizados originates from Capoeira Regional, but has been extended to other styles.

Batizados are large events and are very important for the group organizing it. It is the point in the year where the new members will be baptized officially into the group and receive their first cords and where the other members depending on their progress will get a new one. A typical batizado will take several days and consist of workshops, the actual Batizado itself and a Troca das Cordas. Often many groups from more than one region will attend a Batizado for other groups. This allows for development of the game by contact with other players, teachers and styles.

Normally the Mestre of the group must be present during the proceedings, but historically this is not required.

– Wikipedia –

In short, ladies and gentlemen, a batizado is a two-day event of dancing, partying, capoeira and downright (and I don’t say this easily) ass-kicking. I’m so damn excited about this, I sort of feel like a manga "fuzzy" girl hopping up and down excitedly with clapping hands and panties showing underneath a school uniform. You might think you know, but seriously, you have no idea how much I’m looking forward to this. Clapping hands, right arm up, duck, roll, counter, jump, flip. I swear it’s so addictive, to be sparring in the circle with fists and heels passing millimeters from your head as you writhe to match your opponent’s movements and at the same time lash out with your own. When you’re in a roda, you see nothing but your opponent, reading his/her eyes while planning your next move behind your own.
The adrenalin, the fear, the excitement, the pain, and life makes sense. You’re no longer hungry, sad, emotionally challenged or ugly. You’re dancing, fighting, one with your opponent and the rhythm until your lungs burst or you see the hand of the next person buying the game from you. It’s beautiful, it’s passionate yet so serene. I’ve been trying hard to get friends of mine to join but for some reason they just can’t see it the way I do, which is a dead shame.

Anyhow, to the point. I will be earning my belt there, which color is for my teacher to know and me to bite my fingernails over. I know I can play at white-yellow level, I can even stand my ground against white-orange. ( belt colors, though they are usually just used symbolically, it is much harder to progress than it seems here) I would absolutely hate to get just plain white because this is my first batizado, even though I know I can do better. It’s one thing to be overestimated and turn out to suck, but really pride in your accomplishments is an important thing when it comes down to things like capoeira. You want to be recognized for what you can do.

Of course, all that is not for me to decide. As I just mentioned, the situation I want’ to avoid is have a teacher from another Grupo asking me how on earth I managed to get that color belt, and therefor embarrassing myself, my teacher and even my mestre. I can tell when my teacher is proud of me, and he is very strict and anal about getting it right so that means a lot. To many people, capoeira is all about showing off and acrobatics, but not to me. It’s been way too long since I’ve been really been proud of something, let alone myself.