The first track on Say Anything's '...Is A Real Boy": "And the record begins with a song of rebellion". Utter classic. Powerful introductory riff full of rage and resentment. Of course I've worn belts. When I used to take martial arts, I remember when I got my white sash. But I think after that the studio switched to belts. I still have the protective equipment and bag. The white sash still exists somewhere in this house. Sweat has probably become dust by now. I got all the way up to purple stripe - Three belts away from a black belt. I'm very proud of that fact. I was thinking the other day about sparring and how at such a young age I was fighting other kids and other kids were fighting me - more boys than girls from what I remember because that was just the make up of the class. And I wonder sometimes that what if I didn't physically fight on a regular basis at that age? What if I didn't spar or take karate at all? How much of my personality would be different, my confidence? Would it, could it be for better or worse? What negative things have I brought into my life or become by sparring? I remember the headgear. White with black protective plastic lattice at the front, I think. Like an umpire. I remember the gloves were so worn they were falling apart and showing the foam inside. The "boots" or foot coverings were made of the same material. Velcro straps to keep them tight. It all smelled like nasty sweat. There was also the big chest / torso protector; White with a red dot on the front. There were some days I loved karate, some days I hated it. A thread throughout my life has been socially awkward moments trying to fit in and failing; Failing to figure out how to do so. Occasionally being bullied or picked on by older, attractive boys. Their laughter was demeaning. They never saw me as an equal. I knew it, I felt it. I would sometimes fake sick so I wouldn't have to go. I remember our belt tests, early in the morning. We also must have a VHS tape floating around somewhere of one test or other. We were taught combinations.