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Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Recently, my life is like this. Eat. Sleep. Work. Play with dogs. Tae Kwon Do. Jujitsu. Tae Kwon Do. Yoga. Repeat.

That's right. I'm going back for my black belt. I am rocking it too. I am sore and bruised, but I haven't been this happy in a long time. It's like anger management and zen therapy. It's energy transformation. It's something that I almost forgot that I was good at. And ..Im REALLY good at it. In fact, as I look back on my life, I don't know how I could have forgotten. Every good decision I have ever made was because of my training.

When I was in Portland, some of you may know this, but I was robbed.
I spent 6 months trying to get a job, and when I finally did, I was ecstatic. You have no idea the kind of depression you make for yourself when you are unemployed for so long. And the funny part, I actually WAS trying to work. Every day I would fill out at least 3 applications. I was going insane, quite literally, because I was running out of options. After about 5 months, I was just kind of giving up. I lost hope, and if it wasn't for Jen, I don't know what I would have done. I would wake up depressed, and the weeks would fly by without me even realizing. One day was the same as the other. That is, until I got the job at the Plaid Pantry convenience store.

And boy, was I excited. I got my best outfit on, shined my shoes, wore my skull and cross bones derby cap, walked straight up to the manager and had the biggest smile on my face.
My manager was an aloof kind of guy. His name was Devin. He had long black hair that he wore in a pony tail, deep brown eyes and a smile that seemed to say some explicit words to the devil himself. He was made of iron. His teeth were messed up, something about fighting his way through life even from the womb. Oh and did I mentioned his two girlfriends? He was a lady killer. No one messed with Devin.
And here I came, ready to work some 10-12 hour night shifts protecting his store. He must have thought I was some kind of goody-two shoes coming in there all clean and polite. He saw that I had a beast of a truck, though, and that was good enough for him to see me hired on. Yea, that's right. My bad ass truck got me the job (well...that and my amazing neighbor Lindsey). He just kind of shrugged his shoulders and mumbled, "welcome to the Plaid Pantry"

Now, when I took the job, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I didn't think twice about it's location, what kind of people shopped there, how big it was, or any logistics. I had my blinders on, I was ready for work.

And I was in for the surprise of my life.
Plaid Pantry store number 29. On the corner of 50th and Division in SE Portland. Right across the street from the North Bar, 2 bike shops, a crepe restaurant, a burrito stand, Barely Worn used clothing store, a mental institution, a Retirement Community, Tabor Park and a high school. I lived 20 blocks up the street, and on good days I would bike to work. On bad days, I walked home in the rain. I usually slept all day (much to the annoyance of my friends and family), because the 9 pm to 7 am (depending) shifts would really drain my batteries. And of course, it was in Portland, so it was almost always raining.

On my first day I discovered a lot of what would be going on for the next 5 months that I worked there. First off, people are crazy for lottery tickets. I can't tell you how many people (even in the wee hours of the night) came in for that winning scratch it of Powerball. The most I ever cashed out was $120.00...out of the thousands that I saw, almost everyone either lost money or barely made even. Or they used it to buy beer.
Second, people get pissed off when you stop selling beer. I just had to get used to this. It really turns you into a cunt, yelling at people to stop swaggering, that no you weren't going to risk your job to break the law and let them buy booze. No matter how cute they were, or how old, or how angry or upset.
Third, and this is just a general fact of life, most people just don't care, nor are they willing to care about anyone else but themselves. Most of the time I watched people, I was an invisible entity, like an automated machine behind the counter. I didn't have feelings, I didn't really exist. It bothered me for about the first month, but then you grow skin. And it keeps growing.

The truth is, I could probably write a novel about my brief 5 month excursion at the Plaid. I saw every kind of person from every walk of life. Old, young, rich, poor, sick, healthy, addicted, religious, insane, thieves, happy didn't matter. They were all human.

But the REAL turning point was when I was robbed. It was around 4:45 am when I was making my rounds and cleaning the store, when it came out of nowhere. I person in a beige ski mask and glasses came into the store, around the corner and into my face with a gun in a matter of a few seconds. I mean, that bitch was right in my face. Here's where the Tae Kwon Do came in. Instead of being scared, I was annoyed. Angry even, but I kept my cool...because. That's what you have to do. If your world caves in on itself, what good is it to be scared. Fear is something we all have, it is something intangible that we must come to appreciate and love like everything else. It is normal to be afraid, but it MUST not control you.

So here I was, with a gun in my face, with some asshole trying to get me to open the register. I calmly and slowly complied, gave him the 13 some-odd dollars that were in the till and 40 out of the safe(I couldn't open the whole thing, I wasn't authorized). He told me to lay on the ground as he left. I heard the door bell chime, I methodically locked the doors, called 911 and waited for the officer.

Now, you ready for the funny part? This whole series of events was apart of something so much bigger than myself. How? Well check it out

First off, this robber was a 60 year old man who had to wear glasses. His gun was fake, and his escape vehicle was also in turn stolen. When I went in to testify, there was another man in the room who was also a victim. He was a tall, older and somber looking fellow, who apparently had that Nissan truck stolen the week before the robbery and had JUST got it back from Portland police before it was robbed again.

The robber was an ex-prison inmate who had done time before for theft.

They caught him within minutes of me calling 911, because in part due to my accurate and calm description, and in part due to luck with the officer who caught him.
As he left the scene of the crime, he was going down Powell Blvd taking a right hand turn on 39th, when he failed to use his blinker. The cop pulled him over and kept questioning him until he got the call. Turns out he was suspicious because there were no keys in the ignition. Sha Boom.

So there's a story- in part. I think where I was going with that there is hope in being calm, but you must train yourself. I unconsciously remembered my training, and without it I would have panicked. That is the worst you can do in any situation.

I guess I should go back to work lol.

Here's some stuff on TKD :)

Taekwondo (태권도; 跆拳道; Korean pronunciation: [tʰɛkwʌndo])[a] is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae (태, 跆) means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon (권, 拳) means "to strike or break with fist"; and do (도, 道) means "way," "method," or "art." Thus, taekwondo may be loosely translated as "the art of the foot and fist" or "the art of kicking and punching."

In 1989, taekwondo was the world's most popular martial art, as measured by the number of practitioners.[1] Its popularity has resulted in the varied development of the martial art into several domains: as with many other arts, it combines combat techniques, self-defense, sport, exercise, meditation, and philosophy. Taekwondo is also used by the South Korean military as part of its training.[2] Gyeorugi (pronounced [ɡjʌɾuɡi]), a type of sparring, has been an Olympic event since 2000.

Formally, there are two main styles of taekwondo. One comes from the Kukkiwon, the source of the sparring system sihap gyeorugi which is now an event at the summer Olympic Games and which is governed by the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF). The other comes from the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF).[3]

Separate from the various taekwondo organizations, there have been two general branches of taekwondo development: traditional and sport. The term "traditional taekwondo" typically refers to the martial art as it was established in the 1950s and 1960s in the South Korean military forces; in particular, the names and symbolism of the traditional patterns often refer to elements of Korean history. Sport taekwondo has evolved in the decades since then and has a somewhat different focus, especially in terms of its emphasis on speed and competition (as in Olympic sparring), whereas traditional taekwondo tends to emphasize power and self-defense. The two are not mutually exclusive, and the distinctions between them are often blurred.

Although there are doctrinal and technical differences between the two main styles and among the various organizations, the art in general emphasizes kicks thrown from a mobile stance, employing the leg's greater reach and power (compared to the arm). The greatest difference between various styles, or at least the most obvious, is generally accepted to be the differing styles and rules of sport and competition. Taekwondo training generally includes a system of blocks, kicks, punches, and open-handed strikes and may also include various take-downs or sweeps, throws, and joint locks. Some taekwondo instructors also incorporate the use of pressure points, known as jiapsul, as well as grabbing self-defense techniques borrowed from other martial arts, such as hapkido and judo.

The oldest Korean martial art was an amalgamation of unarmed combat styles developed by the three rival Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo, Silla, and Baekje,[4] where young men were trained in unarmed combat techniques to develop strength, speed, and survival skills. The most popular of these techniques was subak, with taekkyeon being the most popular of the segments of subak. Those who demonstrated strong natural aptitude were selected as trainees in the new special warrior corps, called the Hwarang. It was believed that young men with a talent for the liberal arts may have the grace to become competent warriors. These warriors were instructed in academics as well as martial arts, learning philosophy, history, a code of ethics, and equestrian sports. Their military training included an extensive weapons program involving swordsmanship and archery, both on horseback and on foot, as well as lessons in military tactics and unarmed combat using subak. Although subak was a leg-oriented art in Goguryeo, Silla's influence added hand techniques to the practice of subak.[citation needed]

During this time a few select Sillan warriors were given training in taekkyeon by the early masters from Koguryo. These warriors then became known as the Hwarang. The Hwarang set up a military academy for the sons of royalty in Silla called Hwarang-do, which means "the way of flowering manhood." The Hwarang studied taekkyeon, history, Confucian philosophy, ethics, Buddhist morality, social skills and military tactics. The guiding principles of the Hwarang warriors were based on Won Gwang's five codes of human conduct and included loyalty, filial duty, trustworthiness, valor and justice. Taekkyeon was spread throughout Korea because the Hwarang traveled all around the peninsula to learn about the other regions and people.[citation needed]

In spite of Korea's rich history of ancient and traditional martial arts, Korean martial arts faded into obscurity during the Joseon Dynasty. Korean society became highly centralized under Korean Confucianism and martial arts were poorly regarded in a society whose ideals were epitomized by its scholar-kings.[5] Formal practices of traditional martial arts such as subak and taekkyeon were reserved for sanctioned military uses. Civilian practice of taekkyeon, however, persisted into the 20th

During the Japanese occupation of Korea, all facets of Korean identity, including folk culture, language and history, were banned in an attempt to eradicate Korean culture and identity.[6] Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names and worship at Shinto shrines; Korean-language newspapers and magazines were banned; and during the war, hundreds of thousands of Koreans were forced into service to support Japanese war efforts.[7] The Japanese efforts ranged from damaging alterations to monuments of Korean conquests/achievements to facile alterations such as changing the image of Korea's traditional map from a tiger form to a rabbit form.[8] The Japanese leadership of the time believed that by blocking the knowledge of younger Koreans, they could be led to believe they were not warriors in history but a passive race, and so the occupation would be easier.[8] Historians of the time have stated, "Teachers of Japanese martial arts were the only approved instructors. This situation began the amalgamation of Japanese martial arts with the remaining fragments of the Korean systems still in general circulation."[8] Martial arts such as taekkyeon (or subak) were banned during this time.[9]

During the occupation, Koreans who were able to study in Japan were exposed to Japanese martial arts—in some cases receiving black belt ranking in these arts.[10] Others were exposed to martial arts in China and Manchuria.[11][12][13] When the occupation ended in 1945, Korean martial arts schools (kwans) began to open in Korea under various influences.[11][14] There are differing views on the origins of the arts taught in these schools. Some believe that they taught martial arts that were based primarily upon the traditional Korean martial arts taekkyon and subak,[15][16][17][18][19][20][21] or that taekwondo was derived from native Korean martial arts with influences from neighboring countries.[11][22][23][24][25][26] Still others believe that these schools taught arts that were almost entirely based upon karate.[27][28][29][29][30]

In 1952, at the height of the Korean War, there was a martial arts exhibition in which the kwans displayed their skills. In one demonstration, Nam Tae Hi smashed 13 roof tiles with a punch. Following this demonstration, South Korean President Syngman Rhee instructed Choi Hong Hi to introduce the martial arts to the Korean army.[31] By the mid-1950s, nine kwans had emerged. Syngman Rhee ordered that the various schools unify under a single system. The name "taekwondo" was either submitted by Choi Hong Hi (of the Oh Do Kwan) or Song Duk Son (of the Chung Do Kwan), and was accepted on April 11, 1955. As it stands today, the nine kwans are the founders of taekwondo,[32] though not all the kwans used the name. The Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA) was formed in 1959/1961 to facilitate the unification.[10][17][33][34][35] Shortly thereafter, taekwondo made its début worldwide with assignment of the original masters of taekwondo to various countries. Standardization efforts in South Korea stalled, as the kwans continued to teach differing styles. Another request from the Korean government for unification resulted in the formation of the Korea Tae Soo Do Association, which changed its name back to the Korea Taekwondo Association in 1965 following a change of leadership.

One source has estimated that taekwondo is practiced in 123 countries, with over 30 million practitioners and 3 million individuals with black belts throughout the world.[36] The South Korean government has published an estimate that taekwondo is practiced by 70 million people in 190 countries.[37] It is now one of only two Asian martial arts (the other being judo) that are included in the Olympic Games; it became a demonstration event starting with the 1988 games in Seoul, and became an official medal event starting with the 2000 games in Sydney. In 2010, taekwondo was accepted as a Commonwealth Games sport.[38] It is therefore now included in all major multi-sport games except the Island Games.


  1. I remember being unemployed, for me it was only 3 months though. It drives you nuts you feel helpless and worthless.
    Its funny I had completely forgotten that you did Tae Kwon Do...
    Its nice to read your stuff Jess, makes me feel like I'm getting to know you again.

  2. Thank you for those kind words Sariah. I like this blogging thing, and I like reading about your exciting and crazy life too! WOW hawaii must be a blast!

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