- Walking the mile or so to the dojang before my test, by myself, with Kate Bush's "Aerial" on my iPod. A clear, crisp morning, the sun shining and not a cloud in the sky. 30 minutes of solitude for focus and clarity. I think I will do this before all of my future tests.
- Preparing to test, and slowly seeing the room fill with the faces of people I know from the dojang, including several friends I train with who just came in to encourage and support me and my fellow testers.
- Beginning the test, and then having to hold front stances, like a statue, for what seemed like 3 or 4 minutes at a time, while the judging panel corrected the errors that the other students that were testing had made, but which I hadn't. My weak left leg shaking and throbbing, and thinking over and over that I want to relax. And then ignoring that desire and just persevering.
- Making my first mistake -- blowing a punch combination -- and realizing that Mr. Pfaff was right: once you get your first error out of the way, it gets easier.
- Beginning my foot techniques, knowing that my messed-up hamstring would prove problematic, and then managing to nail nearly every technique anyway. Yeah, it hurt, but I managed to do nearly everything correctly anyhow. Well, aside from a left-leg inside top outside downward heel kick, but even so I managed to fake it pretty good.
- Realizing that once the leg techniques were done, I was already home free.
- Blowing through my one-step sparring techniques so quickly that my judge, Mrs. Nicholson, had to ask me to do them again, because I'd gone so quickly she missed a few. And then realizing with some amusement that this was, in fact, a really good thing.
- Doing wrist grab techniques with Mr. Hill and realizing, half-way through, that he was hurt and I was really messing up his jammed finger because due to my nervousness I was using way too much force. He gave me a good-natured punch in the chest later on as payback, and it felt amazing.
- Acting as the ringer for the testers when it came to Tang Soo Do terminology, and thereby enabling all of us to avoid having to do push-ups for screwing up answers.
- Being soundly mocked for pronouncing "Tang" like the orange stuff the astronauts drink.
- But most of all,the biggest highlights was when, after I began testing, I glanced at the door and saw my brother, sister-in-law, nice, and nephew enter the dojang, to join my wife and kids and my mom in watching me test. Everyone came! My heart went straight to my throat. And then I had to pretend none of them were there because I knew if I looked up and saw all them over there, watching me, I would have lost it.
Now Playing: The Hold Steady, "Separation Sunday"