Friday, December 22, 2006

Remembering Ruby

Sometimes you meet people that really make a difference in who you are and how you look at the world. Ruby Olar was one of those people. His list of accomplishments is long, but perhaps the thing that affected me the most was that Ruby Olar was Ruby Olar. There is nobody else that will ever be like him, a devout Jew and Tai Chi Master and Professional Ballroom Dancer and professor at (baptist) Baylor University.

I was blessed to take dance lessons from Ruby through the Baylor Social Dance Society for the first three years of my undergraduate degree, and just recently to be a student in his Fall 2006 Tai Chi class. He was the kind of dancer that could make me, an off balance sophomore, pass through some of the more complicated waltz or foxtrot or cha-cha steps like I knew what I was doing - the kind of teacher that would take hold of my belt loops and send me flying back and forth until I really *FELT* rise and fall, and sway, and waltz suddenly made sense. And when it came to Tai Chi, Ruby lived it. Each day he would take the time to explain a little bit of Lao Tzu or Confucious - looking at us mischeviously and asking "And so the teacher asks the students: What does this mean?" and truly wanting to know what we thought. I learned more about myself than I did about Tai Chi in his class, and I learned a good bit of Tai Chi too.

Ruby was passionate about teaching - and he taught students, not Tai Chi or dance. His love of life and G_d and his students shone in everything that he did. The lessons that we learned from him will not fade away, even if someday we find that we can't remember exactly how to Part the Horse's Mane or Wave Hands Like Clouds. Yesterday when I did form, though, I found that his memory will indeed live forever - as the small voice saying "in, out; shift, twist" and in the way I look at the world. Thank you, Ruby, for all that you meant to me and all of your students - and thank you, Olar family, and especially his beloved wife Sherry (of whom he spoke often, and for whom his love was immediately obvious) for sharing him with us. I hope someday that I can be as in tune with myself and the world and G_d as he was.

Flow like a River; Still as a Mountain


Ruby was found dead in his classroom (he was "meditating" - also known as sweeping the dojo floors) of apparently natural causes on Dec 14th 2006 at the age of 59. Because I was graduating, I had the opportunity to say goodbye and thank you, though I wish very much that it had not been this kind of goodbye. His memorial service was Wednesday, Dec. 20 (though I did not find out about it until today, and so was unable to attend) Ruby was the second mentor and martial arts instructor that I have had the fortune to study under. Sensei James Melton, from whom I learned a lot about life and Shotokan Karate, passed away suddenly in the summer of 2005 from cancer. I found at the time that I could not write a memory for him, and only wrote a little about his passing and memorial service that, in retrospect, does not do him justice. I'm not sure if this is worth putting out there, but I need to say it, at least for my own sake.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

On Graduation and December

I have now finished my last semester, walked across the stage, and received my little 8.5x11 piece of paper that says "hey, you graduated with honors, so we had to reorder your diploma."

All in all, graduation was about how I expected, though Jon Hager's performance really did make at least part of it more enjoyable. He really is almost sickening. For those of you that don't know him, Jon is tall, blonde, and athletic, a virtuosic violinist, a trick fiddler, a rodeo clown, graduated with a 4.0 GPA with a degree in Violin Performance Pre-med, has a full ride to medical school, and can ride a unicycle. (he can do trick fiddling WHILE RIDING the unicycle). He's also just incredibly nice. At graduation, he played a scherzo that was VERY impressive and really got to the "joke" aspect of a scherzo.

Moving out of the batcave was interesting - mostly because i had three boxes to do it with... but I managed, and everything is now moved into Houston permanently, even if I don't get to really live anywhere until after the beginning of February.

Somehow, though, all of this has transpired, it's less than a week until Christmas, and I've never felt less "holiday-ish" in my life. Sure, I'm playing the soundtrack to Charlie Brown Christmas (<3 Vince Guaraldi), but the warm weather and the busyness and everything seem to be conspiring against any sort of "happy expectation" that usually comes with Christmas and this time of year. I've not even been in enough stores to want to murder people at the first sight of a blow-up Santa. If anything, I'm missing the almost nostalgic feelings that come from smelling fresh pine garlands and pinecones and wassail. From enjoying the long evenings. I barely noticed the change of seasons from fall to "winter" other than the addition of a coat - too much time in front of a computer writing term papers.

Maybe also my utter lack of "home" right now. I've packed up and shuffled myself back and forth nearly every weekend since August - going to Ft Worth, going to Waco, going to Houston, going to Mercedes. My computer actually got put back IN my desk, and all plugged in with real speakers since it's not getting moved again. I don't have "home." Not that I like to go all gaga for Christmas, I think that's kind of hokey, but Christmas has an element, much like Thanksgiving, of family and home and peace and warm fires on cold nights with hot chocolate. Perhaps I'm just sentimental. But then I guess that means I"m waxing sentimental about not feeling as sentimental as I usually do.

Perhaps it will be better in New Jersey next week, with my grandparents and the possibility of a live-ball Christmas tree that we will then attempt to plant in their frozen back yard. Heck, I even get to see my cousins and meet Emizael and Arlon in person. Perhaps I will even make a pie. But as yet, not even wrapping presents - the ones that I have, that I've planned to get, that I know people will really love - with pretty paper and raffia and ribbons... not even that seems like Christmas this year.

Oh well - regardless, I've got to drive to Ft Worth tomorrow, and get on a plane on Saturday, so back to packing I go.

Monday, December 11, 2006

almost done! one more final, and then a real post from me - hooray!

but until then - - this is really cool! (work safe too)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sunday, December 03, 2006


*pant, pant*

ok. I'm going to go to sleep now, and work on this paper some more tomorrow.