Quitting Taekwondo

It happened.

I called Kwanjangnim back in September and told him I wouldn’t be able to attend for a while because my new job and my grad schedule were too much for me. (Which was true.) I asked him to freeze my account and told him I hoped to come back in January or May. He said he would.

Much to my surprise, considering he’s practiced some Creative Bookkeeping more than once in past, he did freeze the account. (I could only cancel it; he had to be the one to freeze it.)

And then, a few days ago, I checked my banking account and discovered that he’d drafted my account in January. He hadn’t called, texted, emailed, sent a letter, or talked to me in person to see if I’d be back.

I was livid.

I emailed him immediately telling him that I wasn’t coming back and he needed to fix the problem. When I hadn’t heard from him by the end of the day, I called the company and canceled my account. (You need to give 30-day notice and if I’d waited even one more day, it would’ve been drafted again next month.)

That was the nail in the coffin that proved to me that this “kwanjangnim” was far more interested in my money than in having me as a student. I’d let the creative bookkeeping slide in the past (surprising for me, I know) but this solidified my opinion entirely.

Of course, 15 minutes after I canceled the account, I got an email from him saying he’d fix it. Which made me feel guilty. (He drafted my account hoping I wouldn’t notice. Why do I feel guilty?)

I am disappointed and pissed, primarily because I believe I gave this school—and myself—more than enough time. I thought my original problems were because he wasn’t Master and I wasn’t in Korea. I thought my original thoughts about him were tainted by my own reverse culture shock.

But it’s been over two years, and the fact that he drafted my account without even talking to me first was final proof that the school owner was only interested in my money. (Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, well, I’m not that much of a damn fool.)

I ended up in tears, I was so upset about it.

In Korea, Master really did care about mind, body, and spirit. He cared about his students, and that’s why so many of his students were so loyal to him. He taught us all. He’d scold the boys over their schoolwork, he taught me Korean. He soothed broken hearts, and threatened to beat up bad hogwon owners. He encouraged us to do and be our best inside and outside of the studio.

I feel like I had an extremely honorable Master in Korea and I was hoping I would find that in America. I didn’t.

Two years ago, when I saw his Creative Bookkeeping for the first time, I checked out other schools around here. All of them wanted accounts, all of them had high fees. I don’t know that I can find the kind of taekwondo studio I want to find around here.

And that makes me extremely disappointed and sad—for myself, of course. But it also makes me pissed off because a whole slew of people are being brought up to believe that this is martial arts, and this is taekwondo. I know full well that it’s not.

It’s a Curse

One of my students handed me a form his mother had filled out. On the second. Of December.

“How long has this been in your bag?”

He shook his head slowly and grinned, “It’s a curse. A very, very bad curse that no adult will ever understand.”

Lonely Married Teacher Seeks Companionship in a Dog. Or Video Games.

“Ms,” said one of my students, “you need a dog.”


“Well, I just worry about you at home.”

I smiled. “Why’s that?”

“Don’t you get lonely? You don’t have a TV. I think you need a dog to keep you company. I mean, what do you do when you get bored?”

“Study Korean—”

“But that’s like school!”

“It’s fun to me,” I said, “And I go bowling, I read, I write, I knit, I garden… I talk to my husband. We go for walks. And when I want to watch TV, I can watch it online.”

“But you don’t have video games, right?” he asked.

“Right. No video games.”

“Hmm. Maybe you can have fun without a TV and video games,” he said.

He sounded rather doubtful, though.

The Storyteller

When I was in third grade, I wanted to learn how to do counted cross-stitch rather than doing the pre-stamped patterns. My mom taught me how, and I did several fairly small projects before putting down cross stitch in favor of crocheting in junior high and high school.

At a Michael’s store in high school, I found a leaflet for an amazing design called “The Storyteller” by Teresa Wentzler.

The pattern used about 85 colors of floss, but had hundreds of symbols because the designer used one strand of one color and one stand of a second color. I had only done one page (at the most) designs and this one was four pages long. It had gold cord (huh?) and beading and I hadn’t done either.

Still, I wanted to stitch it. I was captured by the design.

It called for linen fabric—something else I’d never used. Mark, being the amazing friend that he is, drove me clear across town to a specialty cross-stitch shop so I could buy the fabric. The fabric alone ran something like $25. I couldn’t believe it.

I started the pattern in December 1998. By 2006, I’d had three full pages of the project done. I brought the work to Korea, expecting to get some work done on it there, but I don’t think I even took it out of the bag.

This summer, I finally decided I needed to finish it or throw it away. I hadn’t really thought of the project over the years, but it had been hanging over my head. So I dug it out and worked on it.

And then…I ran out of floss. No problem, right? Except DMC had discontinued a primary color that I needed for the border. So I channeled Tim Gunn and “made it work” by doing some fancy stitch-work.

When I was done with the back-stitching (outlining the major elements of the design to help them “pop”) I wanted to stop. I wanted to skip the gold cord and beading. But I went on, and I’m so glad that I did, because the gold cord made a huge difference in the piece! In the photo below you can compare the corded and uncorded border.

Gold Cord and Beads

Once I decided to get it done this summer, I really did get it done. I even worked on it in the car while on a road trip in Minnesota. I finished it in September and finally got it framed last month. It’s hanging on our bedroom wall and I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

The Storyteller

I thought after finishing this, I’d be done with cross-stitching. And then I discovered Cross Stitch Collectibles. In a fit of insanity, I decided to order Waterlilies II (and Red Waterlilies, but we’re going to pretend that didn’t happen).

For our first date, Good Man and I went to the Monet exhibit in Seoul. And that Waterlilies was one of the paintings there. The Storyteller pattern was 200 by 144 stitches. This one is 355 by 350. It’s four times larger, so at my established rate, this will be finished around our fiftieth wedding anniversary.

What was I thinking?