"Well, I was on my way to this gay gypsy Bar Mitzvah for the disabled, when I suddenly thought, "Gosh, the Third Reich's a bit rubbish. I think I'll kill the Führer." Who's with me?" - Melody Pond/River Song
Ah. Yes. Well. Ahem. It seems I've been a bit....absent. Since July.
I'd like to say that I've been busy and partly that's true. But part of it was pure laziness. I was tired and had a ton to do. So why don't I start at where I left off?
I suppose the first thing to cover was the seminar in Boston. Goodness, it seems so long ago...but it was brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. The McKeons and I arrived early and so we were hanging around at Brandies University (if you've read the book Tuesdays With Morrie, this is where Morrie taught) and got to do a little bit of setup. Of course, because we were there early we got to meet with the heads of the organization early, Dan and Scott Cohen. Of course, the McKeons already knew them so there was much hand shaking and catching up while I tried to disappear into the wall. Surprise surprise, I can be extremely shy around black belts who I'm terrified will break my spine. But of course, this did me no good when Master Dan got a look at me. He walked over and gave me a great big hug and exclaimed how nice it was to finally meet me in person.
Needless to say, I felt right at home. Everyone was exceedingly friendly and wonderful. The first night we had a 3 hour lesson where I learned a new kata (that I sadly don't recall) and got my first experience with a bo staff! OH, and I found out that it is possible to bruise the bottoms of your feet. But it was nothing compared to the next day. From about 9 in the morning to 12 I was in the dojo, working on my kata. There were about sixty of us all told and that first day we were split; a group handpicked by Master Dan Cohen would stay up in the main dojo and practice there while the rest of the group would go down and work on the mats (falling and throws and such) until eleven, when there would be an hour of open gym before lunch.
Guess where I was? If you said down on the mats, shame on you. No, I was terrified to be put in the main dojo where it was explained that if we were up there Master Cohen either wanted to see how we were doing or we were being tested for our next belt. Strangely enough, that actually helped since beforehand Mr. McKeon had told me that they wouldn't test me at the seminar. So I then spent the next two hours practicing kata and Master Cohen was even kind enough to help me refine some of my moves. But of course, me being stubborn, I stayed the entire hour of open gym working on the same kata until it was just me, Sensei Friedman (my other Sensei. He's a doctor and was so nice the whole time, checking if my bad knee was doing all right), and Master Cohen. We ended up asking Master Cohen about the correct way to execute a technique in the kata, which he showed me and then asked if I would show him the whole thing. Before I even started, he remarked "Oh, and remember, you're always being tested."
That was not nice.
But I showed him the kata to the best of my ability, and so he asked to see another I'd been working on, which I showed off as well. Then he asked for another, higher level kata that I had to admit that I didn't know so I got to scamper off to lunch with Jim, who was kind enough to wait. He lamented that they told him that they'd been testing him and three other brown belts since they'd arrived. But our stay progressed in much the same way; wake up, eat, dojo, eat, dojo, eat,sleep, then repeat. Jim and I calculated that over the three days we were there we did 21 hours of karate on 18 hours of sleep. OW. But it was fun. I made a lot of friends.
On the last night the heads of the organization were handing out certificates of participating (WOOOO) and then they asked all the black belts to come up to the front so they could hand out rank promotions. Masters Scott and Dan would hand the certificate to the sensei of the person who was getting promoted and wouldn't you know it, the first certificate of the night was given to Mr. McKeon. I was poised on the edge of my seat, thinking to myself that this HAD to be Jim's black belt. It had to be!
So imagine my surprise when they called MY name.
I jumped up and was presented with a certificate stating that I had been promoted to the rank of Orange belt. As shocked as I was, the only thought that kept running through my head was that Mr. McKeon said they wouldn't test me! As I found out later, Master Dan Cohen had pulled Mr. McKeon aside after the first lesson to ask where I was at in my training and apparently decided to judge for himself (which apparently resulted in rank promotion?) so Mr. McKeon didn't know I was being tested either. But I sat back down and several more promotions later, one more certificate was passed to Mr. McKeon and Mr. Friedman.
I am very happy to say that as of July, I am dating a black belt. It was an awesome moment for everyone involved. And even more surprising was that when I got back, Mr. McKeon gave me his old orange belt (a huge honor for me, even if he didn't really wear the belt all that much) and Jim was given Master Stephen Dunne's belt, our old teacher.
So the next weekend was supposed to be my half marathon, but unfortunately it was so BALLS HOT that we bailed. When it's like, 90 degrees at 8 in the morning, you don't run. You just don't. Still, I'm going to keep running and in the spring I know there's a half marathon/marathon at U of I, so I'll probably run that.
So knitting. I was kinda lazy over the summer with it. I finished Bobert's Jayne Cobb hat and my sister's graduation gift, so now I've got a few projects going on at once. I'm making Jim a new scarf, since the one I made him a year ago is kinda sad looking, I'm making my sister a hat, Beth wants some gloves, and I'm finally making a hat for myself.
But the rest of my summer was spent working and getting set to move into the apartment. Which I am all moved in and while my room is kinda messy, things have been going well! Of course there have been some bumps in the road as far as roommates go, I'm still on great terms with Audrey, and we're starting to talk about a two bedroom for next year.
Classes are intense. I'm taking seventeen credit hours, so one less than last year. But the nice thing is that out of my six classes, I really like the majority of them. There's a lot of work, but I find that I don't even mind getting up for an 8AM class so much. Later this month I'll actually start going to work in a school, which is going to be AWESOME. I guess the hardest class I've got right now is Spanish because it's been a looong time since I've spoken or had to comprehend Spanish and the whole class is in the language. My first exam is this Tuesday, so let's hope that turns out.
Swing has been awesome so far. The kickoff dance was the best I've ever attended, and since I helped with making it happen, that made me really proud. Jim even showed up to escort me home like the gentleman that he is. It's new having him actually on campus but he seems to like it and we don't spend all our free time together, so we have separate lives here as well. It makes me really happy.
In about a month, Sara Bareilles is coming to the Canopy Club and I HAVE TICKETS!! I know last time I posted I said that I was going to see her at Summerfest but we were way up in the stands so we didn't have a good view. But her voice was awesome and I can't wait to see what it'll be like here!
Not much else going on. The Michigan house is nearing completion (I'm serious this time) so maybe in October I'll go up with friends.
Song of the Day: Toes by Norah Jones