Fall woods

Fall woods

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Another Loss

My high school class’s Facebook group blew up this afternoon with news that a classmate died by her own hand today, a consequence of years of crippling depression.  Apparently she posted a goodbye note on Facebook (I did not see it) that included instructions of what to do with her animals but nobody got to her in time, and if that isn’t just horrifyingly awful I don’t know what is.  (Mom and Dad, nobody you know...don’t think you would recognize her name if I said it to you.)

The friend of hers who shared the news with the group also shared the news that she herself suffers from severe bipolar 1 illness and survived a suicide attempt last year, which was news to me despite the fact that she (unlike the other woman) is actually a Facebook friend of mine.  The candor of her post blew me away.  The most amazing thing, though, was some of the supportive comments from other classmates.  Several are fighting depression themselves and on medication for it.  One lost her mother to suicide a few years ago.  Another lost a friend to suicide.  All things I had not known before today.  And most of these people I would have considered the ‘cool’ folks back in high school, proof (if any was needed) that mental illness respects nothing including social status and strikes across the board.

The first post included words to the effect that awareness is what makes the most difference to someone who struggles; having friends and loved ones to check in, to help, to support, to listen.  So, for what it’s worth, here’s my tiny candle in the darkness, and if anyone needs to talk, I am here to listen.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On The Increasing Usefulness Of My Eldest

It’s been one of those days.  Tomorrow will be another.  And per Mrs. Murphy’s Law, Himself is out of town yet again.  Both Thing Two and Petunia have math homework due Monday and not much time tomorrow to do it, so I had them working on it after dinner tonight. Thing Two’s was done but needed to be checked over, while at the same time Petunia (who had a sleepover last night, which I suspect from her behavior afterward involved very little actual sleep) was completely melting down over her inability to understand hers.  

Given that I have not yet managed to clone myself, the next best option was to grab Thing One off the sofa in the family room and send him to the kitchen table with Thing Two’s homework.  He’s three years ahead of Thing Two in school...figured he could handle checking sixth grade high math.  He caught the few errors and explained how to correct them, which left me free to calm down the crying fifth grader, make sense of her homework (why, why, WHY do they so often require diagrams for problem solving these days??) and then put her to bed.

Teenagers...not just for babysitting anymore. Gotta love it!!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Yeah, I’m Still Here

It’s just been a tough couple of weeks and I’ve been too darned busy and tired to blog.  Crazy kid schedule, crazy schedule for me, status quo around here.  The big news is that the belt test went fine on the 30th and I am now an official ITF-certified first degree black belt in taekwondo, but that actually isn’t what prompted me to finally sit my butt down at the computer, at least not directly.

I went to lunch today with a big group of my ninja girlfriends, one of whom is the Egyptian former instructor who started studying taekwondo to show her then-tween daughter that the headscarf she wears as an observant Muslim does not limit her.  Love this woman.  Her daughter is now a college sophomore at a major state university and pursuing a teaching degree.  As a function of their conservative religious beliefs and her gender, they require her to live at home during college,  although she is free to participate in whatever activities she is interested in at school and it sounds like she is away from home most of any given day.  I can understand and respect that as a compromise given where they are coming from.  The interesting thing, though, came up when we started discussing the elder of their two sons, who is currently a high school senior.  I asked where he was looking at for college next year, and she listed four universities that are in our general area, although some would be a further drive than others.  This made me wonder if they were requiring him to live at home while he attended college as well, so I inquired.

Turns out that the answer is yes, but not for the reason you might expect.  They recognize that they are asking a lot of their daughter, who is American-born and -bred, in the name of their religion by requiring that she live at home while attending college, so in a spirit of fairness and solidarity they are extending the same requirement to her brothers.  They don’t want her to feel singled out simply on the basis of her gender, so they will be treating all three the same way.

I can’t even imagine the tightrope she and her husband walk daily as conservative Egyptian Muslim parents trying to raise three children in an overwhelmingly Christian, white-bread part of America without losing their cultural identity.  It must be tremendously difficult for them, and I give them all kinds of credit.  They are good people and they are raising three fine children.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sign Of Increasing Maturity

Or possibly of an impending apocalypse, who knows.

Thing One, out of the blue to me last night: "I almost missed the school bus this morning.  I'm going to set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier tomorrow morning so I have time to wake up in peace."

And then he did.  And he made the bus with no issue.

Proud Mom here.  As we say in this house for historical reasons, "That's how the big boys do it."

Saturday, September 23, 2017


I've spent a good chunk of every Saturday this month at the dojang (I have to remember to stop using the Japanese word dojo--in Korean the term is dojang) because of the upcoming taekwondo belt test.  The highest belts in our school are third Dan (aka third degree) black belts, but because of our switchover to pure ITF taekwondo, we've been training for about two years under a fifth Dan black belt from another nearby dojang.  We will actually be testing next week at his school, under the joint review of both him and his own instructor, who is seventh Dan.  Gulp.  To put all of this into perspective, although the first Dan black belt for which I am testing may sound high ranking, I will be the one of the tiniest fish in the pond at this test!!  Assuming I don't royally mess up, I will, however, walk out of the test wearing a black belt that has my name (in English and Korean) and the Roman numeral "I" embroidered on it and that is pretty damned cool.

At any rate, the fifth Dan instructor has been working with us every weekend at our school this month fine-tuning our group for this test, and he generally brings two of his students with him to help out, a male red belt and a female third Dan black belt.  She's an older woman, I would have guessed in her mid-fifties.  I was talking to her after the class today and commented that I wish I'd started training before the age of 38, which is not exactly an ideal age to start training in a martial art.  Younger is better, I'd say age 6-8 would be optimal.  She replied that she started training again (!) at the age of 50 (!!) and is now 64.  I.e., a full TWENTY years older than I am.  Granted, her knees are in pretty rough shape and she has to modify some of the techniques (particularly those involving jumps) accordingly, but holy hell, the woman is 64 years old, a tremendously knowledgeable third Dan black belt and gearing up to test for her fourth Dan next year!  I want to be like her when I grow up.  Guess I'll start learning my second Dan material at the beginnng of October...I have no excuse not to now!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Can't Believe I Forgot To Mention This Given What It Has Done To My Stress Levels Lately

September is not a good month.  You would think, with the kids back in school, that it would be quieter, but nope.  Yes, during the day I can get things done or relax for a bit, but the evenings and weekends are absolutely insane.  Especially because of the high school soccer schedule involving either practice or a game every single freaking day of the week after school and some Saturdays as well.  Anything that I need to get done (dinner prep, shopping, errands, home maintenance, etc) has to get done during those few blessed hours while all are at school, since there's no way it's happening once the kids get home and have places to be and/or homework to be helped with!

Two years or so ago now, our taekwondo program began transitioning to pure International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) style from the TKD-based mixed martial arts hybrid we'd previously been doing.  The powers that be apparently decided about a month ago that we're finally ready to officially assimilate into the ITF fold. On September 30th, all of the instructors in our program (which includes me, gulp...) will be either regrading for their current belts or grading up to the next one in front of a fifth Dan black belt and a seventh Dan black belt!!  No pressure there.  Since my current plain black belt does not exist in the ITF world, I am one of those grading up.  If all goes well at testing, I will walk out of it a first Dan black belt, with a proper ITF black belt card and everything, assuming that I don't self-destruct from stress between now and then!!  Wish me luck, please...

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Jesus, Mary and Joseph. This Already??

Found a really unexpected message on my cell phone the other night: a girlfriend of mine from taekwondo asking if Thing One would be willing to go with her daughter (as a friend) to her daughter's Homecoming Dance next month.  The two kids are both freshmen but go to different high schools.

My first thought, given that this girl is both absolutely stunning and a sweetheart, was to wonder why she was having trouble getting a date to begin with. Before I called my friend back, I ran the idea past Thing One, who to his credit, did actually consider it, but clearly the thought was giving him a panic attack, and you can't blame the kid.  He's never been to a high school dance, doesn't know this girl well, and doesn't know anyone else from her high school at all...I'm sure there are a few 14 year-old boys in existence with the social confidence to pull off going to her dance under those circumstances, but he just isn't one of them and he knows it.  Like I said, I don't blame the kid.  I expected that to be his answer and I fully respect it.  As did my friend when I called her back, I should add.  She said that if the tables were turned, her daughter wouldn't have agreed either.

The upsetting part of the conversation came when I asked her why her daughter wasn't able to find a date herself.  Apparently it was because half the kids at her high school are already on drugs, and many other boys won't go with a girl to a dance if they don't think she'll "put out."  At *fourteen*, FFS.

I told my friend that I deeply appreciated the implied compliment to me, that she knew I wouldn't be raising a son who was either on drugs or pressuring girls sexually at 14 (Jesus god I can't believe I am typing those words.)  Worst part is that she is an ER nurse at the county hospital nearest to Thing One's high school, so she sees the kids coming in pregnant and with STDs and post-overdoses and knows that her daughter isn't just making this stuff up.

Needless to say, as soon as I hung up the phone, I had yet another conversation with my son about respecting women and staying away from people who use drugs and calling me to come get him at any time if he finds himself somewhere he doesn't want to be.  What a world.