My name is Justin Wasson and I live in the small and boring city of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It's been several years since I started tae kwon do and, just like everyone else, I've gone through several obstacles while attepmting to achieve my status as black belt but it was all worth it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A School Assignment

Here is a paper that I wrote for school a few days ago.....

One last day was all that remained of my trip in France. I woke up fairly groggy because the night before was a fun filled night of me and Frenchies doing what any group of guys would do late at night inside. I decided to treat Jonathon, the Frenchie who was hosting me at this time, to a fat filled American breakfast. Bacon, Eggs, and sausage all covered in melted butter because bacon doesn't have grease in France.
"This bacon actually has flavor when you cook it" said Jonathon
I must have had the largest grin in the world when he said that. We ate quickly then got prepared for the day. Jonathon was to take me through Lyon's metro system to the TGV (really fast train) station and from there I would be back in Paris.
After arriving at the station, Jonathon talked the ticket checker into letting him onto the station platform so we could say our last good byes. We had about a fifteen minute wait so we chatted about whatever was on our minds. I started to get thirsty, late June weather was breaching 100* F, so I decided to buy a pop. 2 Euros for a Root Beer, about $2.50, outrageous, but its the best option for the time. As I open the pop it fizzes all over my pants and bag.
"This would have never happened if I bought this pop in America" we both laughed.
The train had arrived and all the passengers rushed on. The two hour train rides was filled with anticipation to see my Paris host family again but disappointment for having to leave Lyon. It went by fast, after having two previous experiences on these I was more prepared to ride a train that breaches 150 mph. It arrived in Paris and people got off as fast as they got on.
After arriving in Paris I needed to buy some more Metro tickets so I could travel across the town to my family's house. I went throught the line to buy the tickets and said "deux billets s'il vous plait" (two tickets please). The ticket vendor realized that I spoke English because of my horrid accent and so she said "That will be 16.78 Euros." My eyes grew wide. Normally these tickets were about one Euro each and I only had twenty Euro's left. I chose to buy the tickets anyways, everything would be fine when I reached my host family. It was a long way from my host family so the trip took almost an hour, the train was filled with twenty or thirty hot sweaty passengers and made frequent, seemingly unnessecary stops. This was very frustrating.
The train slowly lost more and more of its passengers at its regular stop but I was waiting for the 3rd to last stop. The numbers started to dwindle down to about five people in the car when I could finally dapart. I was less than two miles from my host family's house now. I was thinking about how well I navigated the systems of Paris all by myself, how proud I was that my host family was waiting for me and would welcome me into there home for this final day of my voyage.
As I was leaving the station I put my ticket through the ticket check. The doors didn't open. I tried again, nothing. My face turned pale. I started to become frantic. I tried a different door, once again it didnt move. Searching for a different exit was in vain. With two large bags there was no way to slip out like most French people do. There was a button that said "push for help" so I pushed it and a French voice came on and in a blur of french asked me what the problem was. I told the man that I don't speak good French but that I was stuck in the station, my ticket doesn't open the doors. The man said to wait calmly, someone would be down to help in a few minutes.
A feel of reluctance swept over me. Help is on its way and then I will take the bus to my host familys house. A few minutes passed, hundreds of people must have walked by me now thinking, "what's a tourist doing in this section of town" or "what a loser, getting stuck in the station like that." My hope started to fade. After half an hour I gave up waiting for the help and tried the doors again. Finally, a lady with a Metro pass came to my rescue. A random lady that was going on the train for whatever reason saw my struggle and slid her pass to open the exit. Freedom at last. I quickly searched for the bus that takes me to Lycée Richeliu, my host brother's high school which was about 100 feet from his house.
The bus arrived and I bought a ticket. This left me with only 1.60 Euro's left, not even enough to buy a pop. Bus 141 was taking me around to its normal stops. None of them looked familiar. I rode the bus from this train station my host brothers house a few times so I was dumbfounded when it took a different route. It was all in the same relative area so I figured it would be fine. After riding a little longer I got really nervous and got off at a stop that seemed to suit me. There was a sign that said "Lycée Richeliu" and pointed down the street so I started to walk.
With my two large bags rolling behind me, the walk was tedious and filled with doubt. Nothing looked familiar. I tried to talk to two arab men walking in the opposite direction as I was asking them "Ou est le Lycée Richeliu?" (where is High School Richeliu). They didn't understand me with my choppy accent and just walked right on by me. This made me feel ill. "I'M LOST IN FRANCE AND MY PLANE TAKES OFF TOMORROW." What could I do? I decided to walk back to the bus stop and see where it would take me. After getting on I asked the bus driver and a nice lady that was talking with him where I could find Lycée Richeliu and that I speak poor french.
He said that the school was just a few blocks down and to the right. I was headed in the right direction but just didn't go far enough. What relief. I was close to my family's house after all. The few blocks were fairly miserable. Though I knew where I was now, I had been carrying bags that weighed well over fifty pounds for the last several hours and it was starting to get late, almost French dinner time.
I was covered in sweat when I arrived at the house to. Outside was welcoming picnic table dinner set up on the front yard. I opened the gate and felt immediatly at home. My travels for the day were done. I was walking up to the house when Paul, the youngest of the family, saw me. He stuck his head out of the window and with his lousy English said "Welcome back." I returned the greeting and before I reached the front door one of the brothers was there and opened it for me.
The mother and father were in the kitchen cooking up the dinner for that night. The mother came out and told me how worried they all were since my experiences left me over two hours late. They called Jonathon's house and heard that I had left. I told them all why it took so long and learned that I was suppose to take bus 144, not 141. After I was finished talking I quickly changed out of my sweat covered clothes and dinner was all ready. Goat cheese pizza, how....delicious? As all French meals, this one was served in parts, bread and butter, then the appetizer, then the main dish, and finally desert, all of which took up the better part of an hour. The pizza was really good, the only flaw was that it had black olives, and the rest of the meal was also very enjoyable.
After dinner I attempted to take my plates into the kitchen but that was unacceptable, I was a guest so I was to be treated like a guest, so me and two host brothers tossed a rugby ball in an alley next to the house. After an hour or so we went back inside and I changed into my bed clothes. It was still a bit too early for bed so I went on the computer for a while. Vianney, the oldest brother and my age, joined me. I went online and chatted with some friends, both me and them excited to see eachother again soon, my trip was almost over.
After messing around on the computer for a while, a gang a Frenchies walked past the house and made a lot of noise in the process. This was fairly irritating but we both kept our cool and continued what we were doing on the computer. I let my host brother on the computer while I turned on the cd player to listen to the System of a Down cd that I gave them when I first visited.
A little while later I was on the computer again and by this time it was completly dark out. Once again the gang walked by the house while making a lot of noise. I got up out of the computer chair, walked past my host brother, picked up one of my tennis balls off the bed, turned around and pretended to throw it at the group of Frenchies. Wanting to feel tough, they decided to defend thier "honor." After walking past the house the noise stopped and all of a sudden the house was being pelted with rocks. My host brother quickly went to the window and yelled at the people to stop. They walked back in front of the house and they started to talk. Most of it wasn't understandable but I heard my host brother saying, "il comprennes pas, il est Americain" (he doesn't understand, he's an american). Before trusting my host brother, they decided that they should test me to see if I was truly an American. They wanted any form of proof.
How can a person prove that they are an American? Their weren't large quantities of food around, I didn't own a large polluting corporation, George Bush 's phone number wasn't on the tip of my tounge. So how can a person prove that they are an American.
"GIT ER DUN" I yelled out the window with a rather proud tone. Fortunatly, it seems that some French people have heard of Larry the Cable Guy before so they decided that I was an American and left the house alone for the rest of the night. A little while later I fell asleep.
I am glad, and probably fortunate, to have gone through this experience. Getting lost in a foreign country is fairly nevre racking but it led me to be aware of things that I am not normally aware of. In under five months I will be in France again with some friends, will any day this summer be as memorable as last summers trip?

Saturday, January 28, 2006


As if my schedule wasn't hectic enough I've decided to partake in an internship under my dad's accountant, Sonja Dunlap at Advantage Tax. It is an accounting internship so it will be good experience since I want to major in accounting and French in college.

There is another person who also interns there. Her name is Stephanie and she is a junior at Washington High. This is her third year so shes teaching me most of what to expect to do and what time to do it.

These first three days in the office have been pretty fun, mostly moving and preparing files. It's extremely differnet from the outdoor pressure washing work with my dad.

Some office quotes:

Stephanie-I hate wrestling with all these files
Me-Its not so bad when its WWF though
^yawn, one of my lame jokes

Me-So what's the standard dress code here
Sonya-Your fine in what your wearing now, just make sure that you don't wear anything that shows your belly, butt or boobs.
^didn't expect that one to come from my boss

Stephanie-So where do you go to school
Stephanie-Oh, I feel sorry for you
^why does everyone hate kennedy?

Sonya-Just go ahead and use the electric stapler
^electric staplers are SOOOO COOL!!!!!

Me-Hick.....That's an appropriate last name for an Iowan
^there were three people's folders whose last name was Hick in the file cabinet.

Who was that one guy?

Saturday morning was the dreaded SAT's. I arrived at Coe with pencil and eraser in hand ready to take the test. When in line, I noticed that everyone had a piece of paper. This made me a little nervous since I didn't have one. I got to the registration desk and they needed to see my regristration reciept.

"The What?"

"Your registration reciept"

uh oh...... I didn't realize i needed one. They let me take the test as a stand-by taker because they had seen that I registered online but wasn't registered, or something like that. Now I need to register again for my score to count.

I hope I don't get arrested for blogging about the test. They made me sign about twenty times that I wouldn't talk about it. The essay went ok until I ran out of time and didn't finish my conclusion. I also couldn't remember the name of the guy who invented Penecillin so I had to work around it. I'm going to kick myself the next time I hear it. The math was easy as expected and the verbal was pretty hard, but tutoring has helped.

Today was also Kennedy's winter dance night. If I didn't get my tickets free then I wouldn't have gone. It was boring like expected. Oh Well, it killed two hours of the night.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Jimmy the Machine

After tae kwon do on Wednesday was scoreboarding. It had been a long day between school and tae kwon do and I was dreading working that night. I got to score the normal court with the normal scoreboard. Addison wasn't there so David substituted for him, and Chris and Mr. Tsang both got their normal courts.

The game had started.

Two decent teams were on my court so I knew it would be a fun game to watch. One team had all around good players and the other team had horrible players and Jimmy the Machine. Unfortunatly, the other team would make sure to keep two people on Jimmy at all times so he had to rely on the rest of the team. After the first half, Jimmy's team was worn down because they weren't prepared to be relied upon.

The second half started with a tie score but quickly swayed in the favor of the other team. They were controlling the ball often and well. Jimmy's team was losing confidence and rightly so. with five minutes left in the half Jimmy was dribbling the ball down the court and an opponent hit the ball from his hands and it rolled out. Their was a small argument over whether the ball hit Jimmy or the opponent last and Jimmy became furious over this. Every time he'd touch the ball he would shoot it..................and swish it would go in.

His shots were amazing. He was so frustrated yet so intensly accurate at the same time. He would go to just past the half court line and take the shot and swish it. Their team ended up winning by five points and it greatly inspired me to buy a t-shirt that says Jimmy the Machine on it. I thought this story was interesting so I just had to tell it.

Tae kwon do Party

This past Sunday was the ate kwon do party out at Super Skate. Everyone seemed to be having a good time skating, playing limbo, eating, and talking with some familiar and friendly people.

The party was followed up the next day with the welcoming of a decent sized bruise and very unflexible legs at tae kwon do.

Some more pictures
Here's Jim at the end of his form at the last test
Dillon during the same test
John and James at the judges table
Tracy, Gage, and Christian(left to right)

A Week of Updates

One week has passed already.

A busy schedule, lots of homework, and well deserved time for sleep/friends/etc. had left me little time to update. Last Thursday was Master Hughes's birthday. I went to class that night and afterwards he took me out to dinner at Xaviers. The food was really good, I might need to go eat there again some time. Friday night turned into a decent sized party at my house, prank calling people, playing Halo, and whatever else sounded fun.

Saturday lasted forever. After four hours of sleep I took the rest of my friends home and went down to tae kwon do. Taught 2 classes, then went to work. After four hours of work I went home and crashed. Sunday was filled with more work, followed by a two hour tae kwon do party, followed by two hours of working out. What a busy week-end, sheesh.

Monday was a half day at school but still a very busy day. After school, Nikki and Brandon (two of my friends going on the French excursion with me) came over to my house and we planned buying our plane tickets. Next was a visit to Coe College to check out the campus. It was a lot of fun and makes me greatly consider Coe as an option for next year. After that was tae kwon do again. I can't remember anything special that went on there that day.

Tuesday was a work day. Nothing special. Wednesday was a full day though. Ten hours of school, followed by two hours of tae kwon do, and then two hours of scoreboarding old man basketball. Then today was another pretty full day. School, work, then tae kwon do. Fortunatly tonite I was home by 6:45 and have been chilling out since.

I'm going to make two more posts tonite, first about the tae kwon do party, then about a basketball player in the old man basketball league. But for now, Ciao!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Typical Wednesday

What a long day.....
6 hours of sleep left me just enough time to do my homework and take out the trash this morning, and provided me with enough energy to go to school, walk home, take a 15 minute nap, walk back to school for a club, walk back home, go to tae kwon do, scoreboard two hours of basketball, and write this blog.
At tae kwon do today was the celebration of Master Hughes's 49th birthday and so he got a cake and card and there was a small celebration. Jane took pictures of it so I'll make sure to add those to a blog soon. Also, Cavio bought me cookies, but they weren't the chewy kind so i was very dissappointed in her(had to add that because of what she wrote in her blog Other than that it was a pretty normal day. Sunday is Skating at Super Skate, that should be fun.

Some more pictures
Here's Jane
And Alex
And here is Master Hughes with Matthew and Michelle

Sunday, January 08, 2006


A few weeks ago, me and Cavio (a 1st degree black belt at tae kwon do) got into an argument. This is nothing new for us, but the reason for the argument was very ironic.

"Did you know that I'm joining the military?" she said to me

I responded with a brief chuckle which got us into an argument. She never understood why I laughed so I hope she reads this.

Even though our personalities are very different we have a lot in common. We are both in French, play tennis, and are in tae kwon do. But none-the-less, why did I laugh? It's because I greatly considered joining the army last year. How ironic! Am I mistaken?

Another situation like this occured several months ago. I was reading Janes blog and saw that TKDRocker (Pam) left a comment. So I decided to check out her blog. Well, it turns out that she is also in French, plays tennis, and takes tae kwon do. Crazy, isn't it. It's as if I have a secret fan club of people who try to imitate me.

Irony - The contrast between appearance and reality.....A chinese man taught me that definition. Once again, How ironic! But thats enough irony for tonite. Heres a few more pictures.

Jung's tournament picture
Blake on the day he received his black belt
I plan to update about classes tomorrow. Leave comments, thanks!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

A Typical Saturday

Today's classes didn't start out very well because of some unfortunate information that I learned, but I would prefer not to talk about it here so ask me online or in person if you want to know whait is.

Classes went well today. I taught both of them and then went to work for about four hours after that. The kids class was small which is typical for a Saturday. We stretched, worked on forms, sparred, and finally i led a game of simon says to finish off the class. Michelle and Tyler both ended up winning.

The adult class also went well. We stretched, kicked pads, sparred, and finished off with 3 and 1 step sparring.

Well, to finish this blog I decided to add a few pictures:
Here is Arthur, Matthieu, and Frederick, in order from left to right. They came to my city (I don't know how they ever chose this boring place) all the way from France. I hosted Matthieu for about a week and a half this past summer and plan to go visit him in Paris this upcoming summer.
Here is our school's group of black belts this past Augest. Unfortunatly, several of these people have left the school in the past few months. This is from the last tournament that i was attended. I placed 1st in forms, and 2nd in breaking and sparring. Brian took this pic, as well as most that I will put on this blog.
Finally is my senior picture. It didn't scan very well but oh well, here it is anyways.
Well, that's all for today, leave some comments

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Here is a picture of me during my test for 2nd degree last April!
I've decided to include a little bit more information on my life outside of tae kwon do in this blog, but it will still be the main topic at hand. So, what could a 2nd degree black belt like myself possibly be interested in? Well, my main hobbies would include tae kwon do, French and tennis, and I also hang out with friends all the time. What a crazy combination, huh? Tae kwon do, tennis and french....
Well, French is awesome. I encourage anyone that has the oppurtunity to learn it to go ahead try. After hosting a student from France 2 summers ago and going to France and hosting another student last summer I've decided that it would be awesome to travel there again this summer. Its a beautiful country and the people are very friendly.
Tennis isn't going as well as it went before. I played the #4 spot on varsity last year, had the best record on the team and played all the time. Now-a-days I have become out of "tennis shape" because I have hardly played since early last summer and might not even go out for the team this year. We aren't planned to have a good team, and besides, I'm busy with work and a possible internship coming up, plus tae kwon do and school.
So, what about tae kwon do... Things have been going smoothly lately. Their was a mini tournament held last week which was kind of fun. The New Year is expected to bring about some more success to the school since its recent lack of attendence. We are planning on going to more tournaments which should encourage people to work hard. Also, Master Hughes is going to start advertising more, he's been taking pictures of some people to put into the paper.
Well, I wasn't tired tonite so I stayed up late to write this blog but I think it's time for me to go to bed. I'll make sure to update soon, and some comments would be nice!