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Saturday, May 17, 2003

If it hadn't been for the fact that Eric was doing one of the higher level tae kwon do tests today, I probably wouldn't have left the house at all. His test wasn't until early in the afternoon, so it wasn't hard to get up in time. It just wasn't easy getting out the door. I tend to run at a slow clip on Saturday mornings. (How bad was it? My hair was still wet when I left the house.)

The main reason I would have stayed home is that I'm not eager to drive my damaged car any farther than necessary until after I get the turn signal fixed Monday. It's the front right signal light that's out, which is probably the least critical of the four possibilities. That means I wasn't going to get rear-ended, and I wouldn't be stuck in the middle of a lane with everyone wondering what I was doing, as was possible had it been a left turn light.

It was mostly the embarrassment. I harp on the point that my biggest pet peeve on the roadway is people who don't signal their turn. Now here I am whipping off Gravenstein Highway onto Stony Point Road and the oncoming drivers have no idea what's going on. Except, of course, that I'm in the "right turn only" lane. Still, it's upsetting.

But I braved the embarrassment to be at the school in Rohnert Park to watch Eric perform. This isn't a spectator-friendly event by any means. You can't go inside, so you watch through the window. There are wooden seats all along the outside, but there's also a thick crossbar at eye level, so unless you're very tall you have to scrunch down in your seat.

And the students inside, focused on their tests (as they must be), tend to stand along the window, so you probably have to move back and forth the whole time you're watching. I did, anyway. Plus, the sun shines on the window at that time of day and unless you get up close and make your own shade, all you can see is the reflection of the cars in the parking lot behind you.

Not that I'm complaining. I was just happy to be there, and since I was the only family member who could make it, I think Eric was glad I was there as well.

The great thing about watching tae kwon do tests is that you can cheer on everybody. It's not a competition, except with the student's own mind and body. I sat there for an hour and a half and wished everyone well (even the people blocking my view most of the time).

When Eric's turn came, I made sure I could see. During one part of his test I was down on my knees on the cement, with my face against the glass. I didn't want to miss any of it, and he was amazing. To my eyes he was, anyway. I really don't know what to look for, but it's not hard to tell if things are going well. He was disciplined, confident, and intent but relaxed. I've known him for 27 years, and I can tell when he's being hard on himself.

He went flying through the air and broke the board on his first try, but I could see by his expression he wasn't totally satisfied. He told me outside afterward that he took more steps than he'd been doing when he practiced. I'm sure the instructors could see it, but it looked impressive to me.

He's already a black belt and this was his third midterm test for the next level. Martial arts aficionados probably know what I'm talking about better than I do. I just know that he has another test, a major one, in a few more months, and this was the step before that.

16 May 03

The finch high in the dead birch thinks I can't see it.

I've been watching both of my nephews in action since under-6 soccer. I've gone to baseball, softball games, and basketball games, and I've supported them in the many other activities they've been involved in. It's been one of the great pleasures of my life, and the great thing about today was that nobody struck out, nobody dropped a pop fly, nobody threw a bad pass or airmailed the throw to first base.

Not that there's anything wrong with errors and turnovers. Everybody makes mistakes, and as long as you try your best, then— oh, there I go again. Maybe I miss the old days. The funny thing is, that speech was never really necessary. By the time they cared whether or not they were kicking toward the wrong goal or throwing to the wrong base, they'd stopped doing those things.

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You probably think I should have a photo of Eric, instead of a stupid bird in a stupid tree. But he really looks pretty much the same as the first time I watched him test, which I wrote about here. Different color belt now, mostly.

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One year ago: Better?
"Every time I caught myself doing that, I'd give myself a little pep talk and plow forward with whatever I was supposed to be doing."

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