Driving, training, eating sushi
Today I took my friend Brian on a wild goose chase. Chrissy had to get to work, but Brian, her husband, was arriving at LAX in the morning. I happily agreed to go get him, because he’s as cool as Chrissy, and that’s saying a lot. Everything was fine for a while: I found LAX, Brian’s flight was on time, we found each other, his luggage came off quickly, etc.
That’s when all hell started to break loose. Well, I should say that all heck started to break loose, because while what happened was a nuisance, it wasn’t a huge tragedy or anything. It’s just that I ended up taking Brian on an impromptu tour of southern California. Somehow I missed the highway I needed and we drove in a big circle around a lot of the city.
This was another indication that the highways in this state are not as hospitable as in others. My first couple of indications were back in Sacramento, where there aren’t always listed exit numbers on the highways—the lack of them made me realize how much I had come to rely on them—and where the exits don’t tell you what you can find there. In other words, in other states an exit sign will have a picture of a knife and fork if you can find a restaurant there, a bed if you can find a hotel or camping, etc. In Sacramento, I drove around for about an extra half hour because I wouldn’t see any pictures and then by the time I saw that there actually WAS a hotel, I was past the exit. Then I took an exit that, of course, didn’t have any hotels and had to get back on the highway.
Add to this the fact that there are about 20 highways in the LA area, all of which must be called “The” X (like “The 5” or “The 710”), and it makes me pretty sure that when you establish CA residency you get a secret packet of information that helps you navigate the entire state without any problem. Those of us who are just visiting are major suckers who may as well have “Loser from out of Town” stamped on our foreheads.
So that took up most of the morning. In the afternoon, I did laundry while Brian took a nap. He had had to get up at the ass crack of dawn to catch his flight, and wanted to rest up a little. We were hoping that Chrissy would be able to come with us to train at Hollywood BJJ with Parker, but no such luck. (It’s really irritating how work gets in the way of the important stuff.) So it was just me and Brian, driving down Wilshire Boulevard. Knowing that we were in THE Hollywood (no, not mistaking it for a California highway, just emphasizing that we were there) left both of us kind of cold/unexcited, other than the getting to train part. I mean, there are famous people and things, but I remember having the same feeling when I saw the Mona Lisa in person: Wow, this looks like all the pictures I’ve ever seen of the Mona Lisa. So we were definitely not starstruck.
When we arrived, Parker introduced us to the main instructor at Hollywood BJJ, Shawn Williams, a black belt under Renzo Gracie. My friend Darin, whom you may remember from the Submit Pit in Somerset, KY, had told me that if I didn’t stop by Shawn’s academy he would never speak to me again. He and Linh spent a month living in LA so he could train there, he liked the instruction so much.
Shawn did not disappoint. There is a debate among jiu jitsu dorks about whether the Americans who are up and coming are better instructors than the old guard Brazilians. I don’t know the answer, but I do know that Shawn’s instructional technique is very detailed and descriptive; things stick when he explains them. Plus, he’s a nice guy (are you sensing a pattern here re: BJJ people??). I got to spar with Brian and Parker, as well as a tough young blue belt named John.
Here are the obligatory pics. Shawn had already changed into his street clothes, but just imagine him in a gi and a well-deserved black belt and you’ll get the idea:
Me, Shawn, Brian:
Me, Parker, Brian:
After class, Chrissy, Emmee, and Emmee’s lovely 11-year-old daughter met up with us for a Friday night sushi ritual. No it wasn’t a weird ritual, just something Parker, Emmee, and Emmee’s daughter do every Friday. They have been there so many times that Emmee’s daughter gets to ring up their check, and the sushi chefs are constantly cooking up (pun intended) new things they think they’d like. I am allergic to/dislike fish, though I do like veggie sushi, and the chef who made my hand rolls put as much care into them as the other chefs did into the amazing creations they put forth for the rest of the group. I also had some green tea and black sesame ice cream. Amazing!
On the way back to the hotel, Brian, Chrissy and I realized that we have crushes on Parker, Emmee, and Emmee’s daughter; we like the real them (in addition to the forum them) so much that we want to go on a third date. Fortunately, we will all be at a BBQ tomorrow that another forum member, Rude Boy Johnny, is throwing. We hope they like us as much as we like them and are tempted to ignore them a little so they don’t know how bad we’ve got it. Please don't tell.