Sorry for the long radio silence here.
To summarize: had an awesome time with the fam, made it back to the states, am currently enjoying the last of five blissful, iced-over days with the house to myself. This is what the front walk currently looks like--
--which I am taking as a sign that God wants me to stay home and work on my book. (Can do, Lord.)
I did finally venture out yesterday, though, to watch my sister test for her black belt. LOOK AT THIS GIRL GO. (And yes, that's cement under the towel.)
I know, right. I am RELATED to that. (Don't ask me how - maybe we flipped a coin in the ovary. "Right: heads, I take squishy, sedentary and sarcastic, tails, you get relentless ass-kicking aptitude and a knack for cleaning up anything that can come out of a dog.")
It was a hell of a time, too. There were four other people also testing for various degrees of black belt, and the Master really put them through their paces. There was five-on-one sparring, brick-smashing, board-breaking, throws, holds, and more weapon forms than you could shake a kwan dao at. Here's the one that always makes my eyes pop out, though:
It's called the horse stance, and if anybody ever tries to blow you smoke about what a total martial arts bad-ass they are, you can pretty much call them on it by having them drop into a horse stance and clocking how long they can hold it. It is hard - sweat-beading, arm-shaking, butt-quivering HARD. (How hard, you ask? Well, to give you some idea, people testing for the black belt - which you tend to earn after about ten years of serious, solid work - hold the stance for five minutes. Ten years. Five minutes. Yeah.)
I think this is my favorite of all their skill tests, though. More so even than the brick smashing. Because, like...yes, there are those moments in your life when you do have to rise to the occasion and do something jaw-droppingly amazing. Like lifting a car off a child, or schooling the hosts of "Crossfire" so hard the show gets cancelled. But man... SO OFTEN the biggest, hardest, most epic battle in a person's life is the struggle just to stand it. Whatever it is. You're not trying to win any medals. You're not out to save Metropolis. You're just staring down the absolute toughest thing in your world, and holding the line. It's amazing to see that struggle given physical form.
(Please don't take this as any dire personal allusion, by the way. I can assure you that my gluteals are quivering only in happy, positive ways.)
Anyway, hope all you local yokels are staying safe out there. And if anybody DOES happen to need someone who can snap a man's neck between her ample liquid-titanium thighs... I'll be glad to get you a referral.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure every woman in the room spontaneously ovulated at the sight of that.