seven weeks in… !!!

Tomorrow, I head to Columbus for my second surgery. I didn’t consciously plan for it to be halfway through the semester, but of course, God’s got it all covered, and somehow I was able to get all of my midterms out of the way before this. It’s now our post-midterm chill-out-slightly period, so I won’t actually be missing anything terribly pressing, assuming that the recovery period is as short as I’ve been told it will be.

Considering how relaxed I am this semester, it’s hard to believe that I’m at 17 credit hours, and that the last time I had a load like this was Spring of 2011, when I was at 20. I think that it’s because I’ve switched up my priorities a bit this year. My health’s had a lot to do with that, and while I’m frightened sometimes, since I got past that initial extreme scare phase, it hasn’t been difficult to see all of positive things that have come around as a result.

I think that I finally understand what it means to live each day like it could be your last. I’m not saying that I’m good at it =) but I think I’ve gotten a bit better, because I understand now that it’s not about fear, and it’s not about rushing. I think that as teenagers, our interpretation of the saying just causes us to be worried and anxious – too anxious – to do all of the things and say all of the things that we think we can’t die without doing or saying. We’re not necessarily less prone to those fears as we get older, but as we grow in our faith and trust in God’s goodness, His timing, His will, we hopefully will slowly grow in mastery, too, of ourselves, and not foolishly try to use the excuse of living life to the fullest to justify impropriety. My own health and the health of those around me has intensified that feeling of being short on time, but age has also gifted me with a lessening of fear of lack of time. What is time to He Who holds eternity in His hands?

So it is that with Michigan being a sure thing next year and Senior Project to focus on, my experience of senioritis has not negatively affected my grades – I am happily running straight A’s in four out of my seven classes – but rather, positively affected my relationships, with my family, with my friends, with God. In short, I’m not working this year. It’s strange, since I’ve worked through all of the past four years, but I am so much better for it, and I rest in the knowledge that it isn’t out of any sort of dislike of work – I can’t wait to get back to my line. But I put my foot down and I’ve committed my free time this school year to everything that I haven’t previously had time for because of work. Like…

Students for Life. We’ve been having meetings every week since the beginning of the semester, and I haven’t missed a single one; this upcoming Thursday’s will be the first. We’ve successfully pulled off a beginning-of-year kick-off event, started a 1Flesh Bearcats page, gone ice skating, attended the Cincinnati Right to Life banquet, participated in Xavier’s Pumpkin Memorial, are participating in 40 Days for Life with two time slots weekly, and have planned and prepared for our participation in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity this Tuesday.

One of the biggest blessings for me is seeing Ashely so happy at the numbers. She told me that at this time last year, there were three people attending meetings. Our meetings so far have averaged at eight attendees, and our record attendance so far being thirteen.

Paco has been attending meetings with me. In fact, he’s been spending Thursdays with me at school. I’ve had the pleasure of spending so much more time and having better conversations with Paco than I have in years. It has been a privilege to begin to introduce him to college life. Our typical Thursday includes Intro to Japanese Culture class, 40 Days for Life vigil with the Greater Cincinnati Young Adults for Life, UC Students for Life meeting, and then we usually close out the day with coffee at Highland. Paco and I still have our rough spots, of course, but I feel that we’ve regained that closeness that I remember from before Migs was born.

Thursday nights at Highland have become a regular ‘thing.’ Half of the meeting attendees go, and we usually play Scrabble. Ashley commented that she liked going to Highland because it was a nice complement to the meeting; all business at the meeting and all social stuffs at Highland. I agree. It can be hard to get to know people while trying to get business done, and I’ve been able to concentrate better on the business stuffs because of the relationships I’ve been able to build outside of the meetings.

Back in May, when we went to watch Iron Man 3 and Kuya Josh commented that I’d managed to get a really big group of people together, it hit me that God has gifted me with an amazing number of people who make me a better person. I resolved to work on those friendships in a way that I’ve never made time for before. The result is that I’ve probably had more group adventures in the past seven weeks than I have had in the past four years. I think that I’ve been to twenty-one new places in Cincinnati that all have the potential to become regular haunts – in fact, a couple of places, like The St. Clair, already have. I might have missed a few in that count.

My adventures have not been limited to Cincinnati. I’ve had more time to devote to Kali, and last weekend, I went to Charlotte for the 2013 World Balintawak Camp. It was delightfully spontaneous; I decided to go a week and a half before the camp, didn’t even know what time I was leaving [with Guro Michael] until the day before, and the craziest part is that Teresa spontaneously decided to come with me to visit an old friend. It was truly the most amazing martial arts experience I’ve ever had in my life, and I cannot get over all of my new Kuyas. Notes:

Dinner last night… Snap… all the tagalog… and I was sitting at a table with masters, legends, the baddest guys in miles…. they were already taking swings at each other. Freaking incredible.

Some of the instructors were invited to bring their groups to the dojo at 9am today and get some training in before the official beginning of the camp. When we arrived, the group was going through Level II, so I was able to jump in. Then there were some Level III combinations that I wasn’t quite able to follow as quickly as I liked… There are some minor differences in terminology that I wasn’t able to catch on to right away. Fortunately, Sharon walked me through stuff.

We took a short break and moved to counter-to-counter. This training was geared more towards instructors. It taught how to feed more efficiently in terms of time and safety for the agak. GM Taboada took us through groupings and introduced different techniques and variations with each grouping.

Guro Michael encouraged me to partner with Sharon. I’m super glad he did. She’s teaching me things that Guro Michael can’t teach me, being a guy. Guys can muscle things out, but I’m learning that, as a woman, I need to alter my stance and habits to compensate for what I just don’t have the physique to counter. Unfortunately, my old Tang Soo habits are getting in the way a lot, specifically the long, deep stances and the flat back foot. It’s a little frustrating, but constructively so, I think.

I made my first purchase on Friday. My sticks are just too heavy to play with. Good for form training, but not for playing.

One of le Titos said something that really struck me… that the point of all this training was control, and that as soon as you use it to kill people, you lose control, and you ultimately lose the art, because you’ve betrayed its essence. Deep.

Humility pervades the air. It’s the most incredible thing about all of these men.

Lunch on Friday was even more crazy cool than dinner the night before, because GM Taboada started telling stories… Training in secret, village challenges, bar stories, instructor egos, sticks and blades and guns. Schools that wouldn’t let you out the door until you were bloodied up properly. Insane. They’re the old way. They’re our heritage. And we all share a deep, deep desire to pass it all on. The majority of the group at lunch were Pinoy, so a good portion of the conversation was in tagalog. Happy heart. The best part of the stories was when GM grabbed Kuya Eugene’s straw out of his cup and wielded it like a stick to illustrate a technique.

A bunch of the guys are staying here at the Holiday Inn; they recognized me as a fellow-camp-mate by my sticks when I was sitting in the lobby waiting for Guro Michael. They offered me a ride, which I declined, but then Guro Michael was stuck in traffic and called one of them to give me a ride… so they turned around and got me.

The meet-and-greet was punctuated by more highly enjoyable story tangents. GM Taboada took the time to introduce pretty much everyone one at a time, say where they were from, and a little bit about how he knew them if he was particularly close to them.

I don’t recall doing a whole lot on Friday night. Probably some more play, just to start getting comfortable with all the different hands.

We put five huge tables together in an L shape for dinner that night. Almost all of the conversation was Kali-related… a little bit about food and sleeping patterns. We didn’t get home until 11 or something.

On Saturday, all of the QI’s were allotted fifteen minutes each to teach us some of their own techniques. It’s highly amusing, hearing the guys go around switching partners and asking, “Will you play with me?” I was a little scared, but I’m super glad that others forced me out of that. The only part that I deemed prudent to sit out was one that required straddling the person you’d just taken down and of whom you’d just broken the arm and tailbone. The next move was to “deanimate” them by cracking open their cranium with repeated strikes with the puño. Um, no. But I got some great pictures…

I’m learning to feed. I don’t think I like it very much, but I do want to master it. It’s considerably harder than being the agak.

Dinner on Saturday was a Chinese buffet. Om nom =D

I opted not to test on Sunday, and I’m glad that I did. I was able to take lots of pics and vids and I can’t wait to show Dad.

I have so many new Kuyas!!!!!! from NC, Seattle, and Florida. It just makes me super *happy.*

I tested for Level II with Yena on September 14, and I was given the option to test for Level III at Camp. Guro Michael had me checked out by others, but I just didn’t feel ready, and I’m perfectly content with that decision. I really really want to get a lot better at the Level III material before testing with it. And if I leave for Michigan training for Level IV, I’ll be ok. I just need to get this feed thing down and then work on that drill where one feeds one’s self. At least then I won’t forget the groupings while I’m gone. Once I no longer have obligations on Mondays, I fully intend to train in Cinci on Monday and Friday nights. According to my Spring Semester schedule, I should be able to attend up to five sessions a week.

My Monday nights are currently given to my Ad Altare Dei boys, and I’m so much better prepared for our meetings now than I was in the Spring. I’ll be sorry to lose them, but it’s been an amazing experience, bringing them through this program. Our discussions just keep getting better, and this past Sunday, we went to Adoration and Mass together. They’re such an inspiring group of young men, I’ve loved getting to know them, and it’s brought me closer to Migi.

I’ve taken a few naps with Nino, and as he’s gotten so good at amusing himself and knows what he can and shouldn’t touch in my room, I’m able to leave my door open more and let him hang out with me while I’m doing my homework. He usually likes to play with the rainstick, and I just have to make sure that he doesn’t start taking out the toothpicks… I’ve had more time in general to spend with the kids, and I’ve been home for lunch a lot more. Yesterday, I brought all the kids with me to Xavier’s Pumpkin Memorial. Nino amused everyone immensely with his antics… He pointed to the stage at some point and whispered loudly to me, “Ate, it looks like Purgatory!”

I really can’t do all of my adventures justice at this point, but let’s go through the calendar. Pictures speak a thousand words, after all…

8/25 Hofbrauhaus & Sidewinder
8/25 Hofbrauhaus & Sidewinder

I finally got a stein from Hofbrauhaus. I was pretty happy about it. And I finally managed to get Mike to Sidewinder.

8/26 Bronte Bistro, Joseph-Beth, Yagoot
8/26 Bronte Bistro; Joseph-Beth; Yagoot

Yagoot just never gets old, and Marybeth and I never run out of things to talk about. Bronte Bistro was awesome; I had the Bronte Benedict… except it totally wasn’t, because I had it sans eggs and english muffin. But they did a great job adapting the dish to my dietary restrictions!!!

8/27 Catskeller w/ Paco, Jordan, Paul, Jeremy & Joe

Would you believe, I’ve never been in Catskeller? ‘Bout time… and I haven’t been back. I just need people to go with…

8/29 Highland w/ Teresa, Pat, Ashley & Jennifer

Highland nights began here. We’ve discovered that Tere’s a bit of a lightweight =) She had a grasshopper that night and was gone after the first half inch… The best part is that she’s all smiley when she’s inebriated and is even sweeter than ever, if that is at all possible. And then of course, Scrabble is awesome. It’s always awesome.

8/30 – 9/2 Vacay in St. Louis

9/2 The Grandmaster w/ Daddy

INCREDIBLE MOVIE. Not that Dad and I agreed with all of the philosophy… we had a good laugh afterwards… but we highly enjoyed the cinematography, and there were some pretty boss fight scenes. I hadn’t been on a movie date with Dad since the premiere of The Return of the King in 2003! We were due for one =D

9/4 Which Wich w/ Cory

We spent a good ten minutes trying to figure out how it all worked, and another five minutes filling out our sandwich orders. Cory paused and asked, “Can I just circle all of the vegetables?”

9/5 SFL Kick-off, Highland w/ Paco, Teresa, Pat, Ashley, Jennifer, Peter, Travis, John, Andrew & Ella
9/5 SFL Kick-off; Highland w/ Paco, Teresa, Pat, Ashley, Jennifer, Peter, Travis, John, Andrew & Ella
9/12 Blue Ash Veterans Memorial Park
9/12 Blue Ash Veterans Memorial Park
9/13 Skyline, Cinci Beerfest w/ Teresa, Cory, Pat, Travis, Chris, Steffy & Brett, after-party @ Jennifer's with Peter, Regina & Ashley
9/13 Skyline; Cinci Beerfest w/ Teresa, Cory, Pat, Travis, Chris, Steffy & Brett; after-party @ Jennifer’s with Peter, Regina & Ashley

9/14 Balintawak Level Testing; birthday partay @ Guro Paul’s

9/15 P&G Dividend Day @ King’s Island

I really only enjoy King’s Island because of the kids now. What’s hilarious is us four big kids got a picture… on the second-smallest roller-coaster in the entire park…

9/18 The St. Clair w/ Meaghan, Pat, Teresa, Julz, Brad, Joe, Pedro & Alejandro
9/18 The St. Clair w/ Meaghan, Pat, Teresa, Julz, Brad, Joe, Pedro & Alejandro

Pedro wins the award for longest and most elaborate screenplay of a failed Catholic pickup line. Alejandro was great… He looked a bit like Nathan. I wouldn’t mind running into that guy again.

9/19 Big Boy, CVS, Walgreens, Blue Ash Veterans Memorial Park w/ Bobby, Brad & Joe; dinner @ The Summit w/ P&Gers;  Scrabble @ Pat’s apartment w/ Jennifer, Peter & Teresa

I was supposed to have lunch with Bobby, but the night before, I spontaneously invited Joe and Bradley to come crash lunch. So they did, and we had wayyyyy too much fun walking around Blue Ash. Especially at the convenience stores… walking around, making fun of food products, enjoying an obscene amount of lollipops from Big Boy.

9/20 UC & NKU SFL Ice Skating @ Northland, Cock & Bull w/ Pat, Jennifer, Travis, Meaghan, John, Aaron, Ashley, Ella, Peter & Annmarie
9/20 UC & NKU SFL Ice Skating @ Northland; Cock & Bull w/ Pat, Jennifer, Travis, Meaghan, John, Aaron, Ashley, Ella, Peter & Annmarie

It should be noted that this was the night that we introduced Travis to The Fox. His face was great. It was just great.

9/21 Easter Rising @ Molly Malone’s w/ Pat, Travis, Jennifer & Ella

9/25 The St. Clair w/ Kim, Andy, Abby & Teresa; Lime; Arlin’s w/ Joe

It was Kim’s birthday!!! So I took her out for a birthday drink =D

9/26 Highland w/ Paco, Pat, Ashley, Jennifer, Peter & Justin

We didn’t play Scrabble for a change… We played Pekwa. Lol. Travis should’ve been there, since he hates Scrabble…

9/27 The Bow Tie Cafe, Tavern on the Hill, Blind Lemon w/ Cory & Anthony
9/27 The Bow Tie Cafe, Tavern on the Hill, [Next Chapter,] The St. Clair, [Brass Tap, Adriatico’s, Arlin’s,] Blind Lemon
Ok, so, we went to a bunch of bars and didn’t stay at half of them. Lol. We also took Anthony through campus just to see Nippert and Moeller was playing St. X. Too funny.

9/28 Maggie's Sweet Sixteen @ Book Bums
9/28 Maggie’s Sweet Sixteen @ Book Bums
10/2 Music of Two Cities @ Old St. Mary's w/ Teresa; J. Gumbo's; Tavern on the Hill w/ Pat, Joe & Mike
10/2 Music of Two Cities @ Old St. Mary’s w/ Teresa; J. Gumbo’s; Tavern on the Hill w/ Pat, Joe & Mike
10/4 - 10/6 2013 Balintawak World Camp in Charlotte, NC
10/4 – 10/6 2013 Balintawak World Camp in Charlotte, NC

10/8 Cilantro’s w/ Pat & Aaron; Pacific Rim w/ Cory & Teresa; The Brass Tap

Pacific Rim… was… some weird mix of Transformers, Star Wars, Avengers, Godzilla, Prometheus, Wolverine, Jumanji, GI Joe, predictable cliche lines, and Tom and B’elanna floating in space sharing oxygen and confessing truth before anticipated imminent death. I was super glad that it was only $2. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy it… but I enjoyed it not for itself, but because I was sitting between Cory and Teresa and laughing my head off at all the wrong times for all the wrong reasons. We should also document that Cory’s 4 problems with the movie are as follows: that you do not build a bridge from the outside in; the ghostbuster graphics; and that both Obama and the UN were both grossly misrepresented and hilariously misrepresented… neither would approve super killer robots, right?

10/10 Highland w/ Pat, Nathan, Ashley, Jennifer, Patrick, Erica, Emily & Teresa

10/12 St. Gertrude's w/ Yena; Pinoy Party @ Mr. Gus' w/ Nino; Yena's AHG Award Ceremony; YACHT Bonfire; Easter Rising @ Molly Malone's w/ UC SFL & GCYAL
10/12 St. Gertrude’s w/ Yena; Pinoy Party @ Mr. Gus’ w/ Nino; Yena’s AHG Award Ceremony; YACHT Bonfire; Easter Rising @ Molly Malone’s w/ UC SFL & GCYAL
10/13 Adoration & Mass w/ AAD; Xavier Pumpkin Memorial w/ Ashley, Marty, Jennifer, Pat, Paco, Migi, Yena & Nino
10/13 Adoration & Mass w/ AAD; Xavier Pumpkin Memorial w/ Ashley, Marty, Jennifer, Pat, Paco, Migi, Yena & Nino

Yes, life this school year has so far been very full. Well, a little break from all of it this week – not because I particularly want one, but because I’m sure to be bedridden again for at least a few days. As He wills, of course. As He wills.

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