Journal Entry: December 1, 2006
As printed in Proteus, the Journal of the Delaware Valley Mensa (Apr 2009)

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           During my 2nd degree brown belt examination, my big toe had a little disagreement with my opponent’s knee. Knee 1: Toe 0. Other than that loud “pop” I’d say  the exam went very well; I advanced one half-level, but was out for four months before I could enjoy it. Two cortisone shots (one for each joint), one surgery (to remove a floating bone), and one post-surgery recovery month later, I was free. This journal entry from my first night back is dedicated to my friend Edina, who faces months away from her favorite activities due to a torn ACL. May this encourage her to trust that, for her, there is hiking at the end of the tunnel.

            • The day arrives when I am officially allowed to return to my normal activities. +1
            • Friday night is advanced karate class. I'm not eligible to take it due to my temporary "back to white belt" status, so I will have to train on my own. -1
            • Because of last week's holiday, the end-of-month Friday exam was moved to December 1. All ranks can attend this class on an exam day. +1
            • I arrive at the dojo and head for the locker room. I open my bag. I pull out and unfold one uniform piece. It's the pants. I put them on. I pull out and unfold the other piece. It's the pants. When folded, the top and bottom are identical. I am sure there is a time and a place for topless karate, but this was neither. If I go home for the jacket I will be late for my first class back in four months. -1
            • Someone else offers me her spare. She sniff-checks it, and retracts her offer out of love for humanity. -1/+1
            • I decide to buy a new uniform. At this point, 33 bucks is worth the chance to stay. Besides, who can't use one more? I put it on, tie my white belt proudly, and head upstairs. +1
            • Class goes well. I am rusty, and getting tired quickly, but am not in pain. I am careful, but for the most part can move well on the foot. +1
            • During sparring I am petrified that someone will step on my toe. I am not concerned about nearly getting punched in the face, but the toe, please, not the toe. I warn each opponent about it in advance, and no one bumps or steps on it. +1
            • I emerge unscathed, and feel good. So good, in fact, that I might just push it and get my salsa on. I stop home to get ready, re-pad my toe, pack the shoes and head out to the club. I'm going dancing! +1
            • As soon as I get my dance sneakers on, I get asked to dance by super-advanced man. I warn him. He nods and smiles. I don't think he hears me at all over the music. It's quite a re-initiation, and I flub a couple of moves as I get the hang of following again, but you couldn't get the smile off my face. +1
            • I've gotten the kinks out and am having a really good time by now. One guy who is a great dancer and is also about 5'4" (for context, I am 5' 9 1/2") approaches. He always asks me to dance when we're at the same club. We are an advertisement for "height doesn't matter in salsa dancing." Someone actually comes up later and gushes about how much his table of people all enjoyed watching the two of us. This is nice to hear after being away for so long. +1
            • Another guy asks me to dance. He is an ass. After about 30 seconds of his attitude, I politely ask that he not grip my hands so tightly because I am recovering from finger sprains (true). He said that he has to hold tightly to make me follow. Dude was still talking when I patted his shoulder, said thank you, and walked off the floor. -1 for the dance, +1 for my choice to end it. Life is just too short.
            • Another song. This partner is fun but elaborate. He keeps bumping into the couple behind him. Other guy is miffy. -1
            • I see the girl from that couple a minute later, and stop to sit next to her. We become friends. +1
            • I offer her a ride since we're both leaving soon and she's going in my direction. We get to my car and she asks, "Was your window like this already?" Like what? Oh. SOMEONE HAD COMPLETELY SMASHED MY REAR PASSENGER SIDE WINDOW. -1
            • It's a good thing my partner kept bumping into this woman's partner on the dancefloor, or I would never have met her to offer her a ride, and would have been alone to assess the situation in the dark next to a car that had just had its window smashed. +1
            • No other damage, nothing stolen, and heck, the car is still there and operational. Tires not slashed, lights not smashed. It's somehow funny when more glass falls out each time I open or close the door. +1
            • Drop her off, then call insurance company on my way home. They take good care of me. +1
            • I get duct tape and garbage bags to cover the empty window. Other than getting a sliver of glass stuck in my finger, I think I do a nice job. +1
            • There's a guard on patrol nearby, so I am not out by myself at this hour taping up my obviously compromised car. +1
He hits on me. Are you serious? -1
            • I finish up, find a parking spot, pray that my car will still be there in the morning, then I get inside safely and collapse, exhausted, safe, warm and happy. +1
            • The plus side wins.