Note: The pics are taking FOREVER to upload. So I've just posted a few (including yours, Jared--I got your back! Well, not really. Unless you give it to me, which is unlikely. But you know what I mean.) and will post the rest later.
First, HUGE congratulations to my teacher, teammate, and friend Pete the Greek, who was awarded his black belt by Carlson Jr this past weekend! Pete is a natural at BJJ, both in terms of doing it and in terms of teaching it. He has been nursing a neck injury lately, but is coming back strong. Pete, congratulations to you, and I’ll look forward to seeing the new belt on my next trip to Chicago!
Second, happy early anniversary to my parents! They get second billing after Pete because the day is actually tomorrow. I’m hoping/planning to post then too, but in case I don’t, have a great day! It’s 42 years of wedded bliss, I believe. Holy crap. I will get to celebrate with you in person on Thursday!
And third, a friend of mine just recently had a birthday. She is a private person, though, so I’ll just say happy belated birthday and she will know who she is! Unless she gives me the go-ahead to mention her name. Hope it was great, friend!
This morning I am being assisted in my typing by Mimi the pug. Mimi is my friend who lives with Jennifer*, my other friend. Jennifer* (whose middle name is Starr, hence the asterisk) pays the bills and buys the food, but Mimi runs the show. She is curled up on my lap with her head resting on my arm. She is snoring. Sometimes when she wakes up she sits with her paws on the keyboard, searching for le mot juste. I get to take her for a walk later. Right now, I am taking pains not to disturb her rest, even though I want breakfast, some more tea, and a trip to the euphemism, as Dr. Seuss would say.
Mimi would probably like Puggy very much. Puggy is one of Karen’s dogs, the one who pooped as I was bringing him up the stairs to her. Some poop got on my arm. Ruddy is Karen’s other dog. Ruddy did not poop on my arm, but has a styling sweater for when it’s cold outside (as does Puggy. As does Mimi, I believe.) Anyway, I have been hanging out with some cool dogs lately. It’s sort of making me want one of my own. That would probably require that I have a place to live. Here are Puggy and Ruddy:
Okay, so last time I wrote I was in Philly, getting ready for class with Jared and Sharon. BTW, here’s a picture of Rick, Anahi, me, and Sharon at Chinese food. Rick and Anahi come to this place a lot, so they did all the ordering. It (the ordering) was obviously at the black belt level. Duck, pork, dumplings, hot and sour soup, fried shrimp with some kind of cream sauce. Seven thumbs up. (BTW, people who do BJJ joke about how black belts can do things that other people can't, like turn water into wine and pancakes into waffles. For example, when Rick was driving yesterday, he made an illegal U-turn, and he, Anahi and I all agreed that it was a black belt move--and he is a black belt, so while I, as a purple belt, should get a ticket for doing something like that, he should not).
Sharon lives in a cute row house with their dog Flash. Jared asked me when we met whether his dog was nice to me; I told the truth: that Flash had tried to hump my leg without buying me dinner first. So it wasn’t a completely rocky start to Flash’s and my relationship, but there are some communication issues for us to work on. Sharon and Jared have Flash on the raw diet, which means for breakfast he scarfed down two raw turkey legs, bones and all, in about 3 minutes. It was pretty incredible to watch. Crap, I’m just realizing I didn’t get any pictures of Flash. I may have to ask Sharon to send me some. He is a sweet, enormous-headed love.
Anyway, Jared taught a couple of cool half-guard sweeps. Well, one sweep, and then if the opponent defends, a transition to a double-leg takedown. Since I’m being lazy about maintaining my training blog, I’ll write the details here: I have her right leg and left leg is on my right shoulder. I feed the gi lapel under the right leg, pass my left hand under the leg, and then grab the other lapel around/under the left leg. My left leg slides down the right leg to the calf. My right foot plants, I rock back and forth, and roll her to the right. If she underhooks my left arm, I grab the cuff of the right leg with my left hand, grab the gi belt around the back, and toss her to the left. She posts with her other foot, and I keep my grip on the cuff (let go of the grip on the belt), spin around to the right and do a double leg.
So I got to drill the sweeps with Sharon; I’ve mentioned before how few women train, and how much rarer still brown and black belt women are. The other night I actually had a conversation with Josh and Nate about this. Josh doesn’t think women should train. Of course I disagree, but wanted to hear him out. I guess most of the women he has encountered who train are doing it to meet guys. I agree that that’s not the best reason to train, but since I spent about 7 years training and never getting romantically involved with any BJJ guy, I must have a different reason for doing it. Nate said it’s because I want to dominate men, which is different from wanting to get dates. He said that’s the reason he does it too, but that we all should just be honest about it. (Nate is also an attorney who thrives on “debate,” which consists of repeating the same sentence to you over and over, louder and louder, until your head explodes or you kill him. I’ve seen both happen.)
Anyway, so while Sharon and I were drilling the sweeps, we plotted our world domination of men. So it was great to train with her because I’ve been looking for a partner to help me with that. She also happens to be extremely cool.
As does Jared. I got to train with him during the sparring session, and he laughed the entire time. I like to think he wasn’t laughing at me, but because he loves BJJ, which it’s clear he does. It’s like the time Aiazbek threw me like a sack of potatoes and I popped up with a big smile on my face. It’s just so fun for me, even if I’m on the receiving end of a terrific throw. Of the elite BJJ players, you can sometimes tell who is still passionate about this stuff after many years of working hard to get a black belt, and who has begun to just phone it in. Jared is definitely still passionate, and it’s fun to be around him because the passion is contagious.
Dan and I had a conversation about this. (Dan is a brown belt under the Migliarese brothers; I stayed at his and Rick’s place on Saturday night with Anahi and Dan’s girlfriend Karen, a white belt). His favorite fighter is Roleta, who hasn’t been on the scene recently. I guess he really did burn out. Dan showed me a Roleta interview where he explains how he just lost the fire to compete and was quoted as saying, “Jiu jitsu demands professional dedication and gives amateur returns.” And when you hear about people getting their black belts, their stories almost invariably include accounts of how they had no money, battled serious injuries, sacrificed relationships, friendships, etc. It can be harsh. I took a year off myself some time ago because I was burned out. And I thought I’d never come back. So I can see how people would become disillusioned.
But that’s why it’s great to surround yourself with people like Jared and Sharon, who know their shit and love to share it with others. (Not their actual shit, mind you.) I was happy that Jared and Sharon wanted to be featured on the blog; they have both been following it, and Jared said I’d probably be surprised at how many people are along for the ride. So if this blog inspires even one person to try BJJ or reminds somebody of how much s/he loves it, that would be cool.
Here are pictures of me with Jared and Sharon. What's my hair doing? Nobody will ever know.
I promised Jared I’d name this post “Two Days of Jew Jitsu” because he is Jewish and represents with twin Star of David tattoos on his shoulder blades. But then he promised that if I did, he’d start a thread on the forum accusing me of being racist. So while I write this, I’m in a quandary. If I don’t name the post what he asked me to, he’ll say it’s because he’s Jewish. If I DO name the post what he asked me to, he’ll say I’m an anti-Semite and make jokes in poor taste. It’s hard being the whitest person around besides Josh Griffiths.
After Jared’s class, Sharon and I stuck around for an open mat she had set up. Medora and Shavonne from the forum and a woman named Stephanie came by to train. I also got to spar with Sharon, and we discussed attacks and guard recomposition from the turtle position. Sharon has been working on rolling to the omoplata and kneebars from there, and now that I see the set-up, I’m gonna try it too, especially the omoplata! I like that. No pictures of the open mat because I forgot. I’m forgetful. What was I doing here?
Oh yeah. Blogging. Okay, so after the open mat (thanks, ladies! Thanks, Sharon!), I moved my stuff over to Rick and Dan’s to stay with them and Anahi and Karen for the evening. We hung out a bit before going to the Grace Tavern for some drinks and food, including spicy seasoned green beans that were served like fries. They were really good. Here are pics of us at the tavern.
Ken (brown belt under the Migliareses), Dan, Rick
Anahi, Karen, me. Anahi and Karen are growling like cougars, which in current pop culture means women who are significantly older than the men they date. Anahi and Karen are both in their mid-30s while Dan and Rick are both in their mid-20s. I am in my mid-30s and act like I am in my mid-20s.
Rick and me showing off our gentility; note the raised pinky fingers. Jeez. Why do I always look like death in pictures lately?
When we got back to the house, Dan (who had already gotten home with Karen) was snoring on the couch. We talked and laughed around him and he did not wake up. Karen and Anahi were soon down for the count too, so I listened and sort of contributed to Ken and Rick’s conversation about BJJ, though I can’t really remember much of it. Then I fell asleep in my clothes.
Then we went to brunch on Sunday at the Penrose Diner, me still in my same clothes. (All about class right here.) Sharon joined us, though Jared was at a Hanukah breakfast. Happy Hanukah, by the way!
I left Philly in the early afternoon, after saying good bye and thanks to everyone for the great time! Anahi, Sharon, Jared, Rick, Dan, Karen, and Ken, thank you for your hospitality and technique! And know that you are always welcome to visit me, as soon as I decide to stay in one place for longer than a couple days. Happy holidays!
Then it was on to DC. The drive wasn’t too long, and it brought back memories of when I lived there and would go home to NJ to visit my parents. Being here in DC, where I am now, is bringing back memories too. I arrived in the afternoon at Jennifer*’s place and shot the breeze with her for a bit before we met up with Noah, Chris, Natalie, and Chris & Natalie’s daughter for dinner at Spices (sushi place in Cleveland Park). All of us, besides the 5-year-old, of course, lived in DC right after we graduated from college, so we became adults together. I took a walk today and passed by two of the places I lived, both on Connecticut Ave in Woodley Park, and just remembered being 22 and 23.
Here we are now, at Spices: Jennifer*, Natalie, Chris, me, Noah
It was great to see Noah. (Of course it was great to see everyone else too!) He and I have been friends for about 14 years (met in DC right after college) and dated a couple years ago. It didn’t last, which made me really really sad. And this was the first time we had seen each other since the breakup, though we had talked on the phone and emailed since then. It was strangely normal, though. He has been following my blog a little, and told me that when he was watching the footage of my match against Emily, he got to say to one of his supervisees, “That woman with the Team Donuts patch across her ass is my ex-girlfriend.” It’s nice that my experiences—and my ass—touch so many lives.
So, Noah, I was a little wistful today that you and I didn’t work out. But it will pass, and I’m so happy that you seem to be happy. I’m getting there myself. Good luck with everything.
Today I’ve been collaborating with Mimi on this blog post, walking in the unseasonably warm weather (60s, at least), trying and failing to avoid getting parking tickets, and doing laundry. In a few hours I will meet up with Jennifer* at the Verizon arena for her office holiday party, which is a box at a World Wrestling Entertainment event. Jennifer’s fiancé Pat is in London right now, and the free alcohol and crudités ain’t gonna consume themselves, so I’m pinch hitting as Jen’s date. It should be a pretty hilarious thing, and of course I’m bringing the camera. Rumor has it some of the wrestlers will be paying a visit to our box. (Todd, eat your heart out.)
Okay, more laundry, more chilling with Mimi (who is asleep sitting up on my lap), more tea drinking. More on the WWE after the fact!