Had a conversation with Nora yesterday about all the sadness and anxiety I’ve been feeling. She had some good advice, namely, get pissed off. That’s far more energizing than being sad and depressed, and if the way I’ve been training the past couple days is any indication, I’m already headed in that direction. So I’m getting in touch with my inner bitch. Not that angry = bitchy, but “tapping into my inner angry self” doesn’t have the same ring to it. Plus, for most of my life I’ve been afraid of being called a bitch, to my own detriment. I am definitely a people pleaser, which is why doing things like my trip, telling people I’m upset with them, or otherwise rocking the boat is very hard for me. I’m just now realizing that I don’t like to get angry at other people because I don’t like them to be angry at me. Whoa. Doesn’t sound very deep to realize that, but that’s kind of huge for me to recognize.
But it’s time to be pissed off, both because the anger and frustration I’m feeling are starting to slip out, and because I am in the remedial class when it comes to expressing those particular emotions. So I have some work to do, both at being angry at others and at letting them be angry at me. I know mentally that having someone angry at you doesn’t mean the end of the world, but feeling that is a completely different thing.
Let’s see what I’m angry about:
1. I’m lonely.
2. I’m homesick for a home that doesn’t really exist, and unsure about whether LA is right for me.
3. My tournament performance two weeks ago was pretty crappy and reminds me that, frequently, training BJJ makes me feel like a right idiot.
4. I feel an imbalance—maybe it’s too much training and not enough of the other stuff that used to be important to me. So I have to figure out how to strike a balance between BJJ and the other parts of me.
5. I thought I’d have a lot more answers by now about what’s right for my life.
So let’s see what I can do about that. But first, here are some interesting things.
1. April 3 will mark the one-year anniversary of me quitting my job. I have been gainfully unemployed for almost a year. I say “gainfully unemployed” on purpose; when I stop being sad about what I don’t have, I really can look back and see that I’ve made some strides in life. I’m much closer to living a life based purely on my own choices, and while that’s still scary when I don’t know what I want to choose, it’s far better for me than just slogging away at that job that had started to destroy my soul. I feel like I have worked harder this year—on myself and my life, and for free, no less—than I ever have at any job. I just keep reminding myself that I have to take care of today, and tomorrow will take care of itself. One day at a time. Just like alcoholics. Just like feisty Ann Romano, her daughters Julie and Barbara, and their loveable superintendent Schneider.
I will say that I’m intending to go back to the same work trough for the time being, just not in the same way. I may have mentioned this; my old company offers masters and doctoral level education courses online (among others), and I’m qualified to teach them. So I can take on a course or two every 7.5 weeks and bring in some money. I can log in at whatever time, in whatever place, as long as I spend some time 6 days a week. It’s fairly good money, and it gives me flexibility so I can continue to train during the day as well as at night. I’ve been approved to be an instructor, so I just placed an order for my undergrad and graduate transcripts. I guess I could be teaching within a few weeks, depending on when my transcripts arrive.
2. The PanAms is this Fri-Sun. For those of you who don’t know, the PanAms is one of the two world grappling competitions that’s open to anyone (the other is the Mundial, which is usually held in Rio in August but this year is going to be in Long Beach). I’m signed up to compete in the gi division (no gi had already filled up by the time I registered). And I’m ready. Been training a lot, been getting more aggressive—and more pissed off—and am going to go out there and do my thing. Natasha is arriving on Friday and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ll pick her up at the airport around noon, and then we’ll go to the venue to watch Felicia compete in the women’s no-gi division. Then I’ll move in with her to her hotel room for the weekend and a couple days after—she gets to stay till Wed! I’m so looking forward to seeing her! She’s competing in the blue belt division, and the girl is gonna throw down.
Lots of people are coming to town for the PanAm, so I should be getting to see a bunch of friends and acquaintances: DAB, Heather and her fight panties, Andrew and Tommy, Ryan, Jen, Wil, countless others. I’m excited and freaked all at once. I was hoping Moike, Chuong, and other Chicago types would make it, but it looks like they aren’t going to. Talked to Moike yesterday and he’ll be in Chicago. Bummer.
This past weekend was fun; I was in Richmond again for another US Grappling tournament. This one was for kids, complete with superfights and everything. I reffed again and made a mistake or two, of course, but different ones from the other ones. So I must be progressing. One mistake was that I called a match after the score became 12-0 (mercy rule), but it was in a division where the kids were allowed to do submissions. I shouldn’t have called it because the kid who was down would have had the opportunity to win if he had submitted his opponent. Well, live and learn, and I didn’t make the same mistake twice. I also missed a half guard pass and only gave points for the mount, but it didn’t affect the outcome of the match.
There was a lot of crying at this tournament; the kids are really really tough, but they are also kids. So some of them cried because they lost, others because their matches were called when they were in submission holds but didn’t tap, and still others because they didn’t tap in time and hurt their elbows or whatever. The kids were amazingly well behaved, which is more than I can say for a smattering of the parents, including one who yelled “Neck crank! Neck crank!” at his son despite the fact that absolutely no neck cranks were allowed. Soapbox rant: People need to stop living vicariously through their children and worry about their safety first. End of soapbox rant.
But for the most part it was a fun day. At the end we loaded up the mats as usual and then grabbed something to eat at Max and Erma’s in Mechanicsville, VA. Seph (Lloyd Irvin purple belt) and I had a sketch-off on a bunch of napkins—Snoopy, a Christmas tree, a Buddha, a pineapple, all smoking cigarettes, for some reason. He’s definitely a better artist than I am, but you can still tell what I’m drawing. I’m probably good for Pictionary, which I haven’t played in a while.
The next day was a nice thing: Andrew had arranged an open mat for people to come to if they wanted to help defray the cost of my trip. Initially, I had decided not to come because the ticket was too expensive, but Andrew, Chrissy and Brian decided they wanted me there enough to figure out a way to make it possible for me financially. So that was really gratifying, especially because over 30 people showed up to the open mat. I was almost able to cover the cost of the ticket with the money they donated. Thank you so much to everyone who showed up and helped me out! And did I mention that we trained for about 4 hours straight? I was exhausted afterward and very, very happy.
Unfortunately, I forgot to get a picture of the whole group, but here are a couple of those of us who stayed till the bitter end.
Andrew, Eoin, Rosie, Brian (in back), Chrissy, Seph, Jennie
Me, Rosie, Brian (in back), Chrissy, Seph, Andrew, Jennie. Looks like Andrew looked at Seph's finger ring, or whatever you call it. That's at least one punch.
And here's a random pic for Marcel from a restaurant in my new hometown. Apparently Sunday brunch includes a small college town in downstate Illinois:
Okay, back to the anger stuff. What am I angry about, and what can I do about it?
First, I’m lonely. I want a relationship and I want community. I’m working on the latter but have a ways to go. I think I felt this way when I moved to Chicago too, even though I had friends there as well. It might just take some time. Part of the problem is that the people I know are scattered here, there, and everywhere, so it will take some effort on my part to see them. I guess I’ll just work at it. For instance, Wen called and I think I’m going to hang out tonight with him and some Yamasaki guys who are flying in for the tournament. And if not tonight, definitely tomorrow at Eric’s open mat at noon. So that will be fun. I’m picking up Andrew and Tommy at the airport tomorrow night, depositing them at Jimmy’s, and probably having dinner with them and Felicia afterward. Then I get Natasha at the airport on Friday and we hang out at the tournament, which will be great. So that takes care of the entire week this week and next, because Natasha will be here. And then, true to my mantra, the days after that will take care of themselves.
As to the former, I want a relationship. Well, here’s what I’m gonna try. You may recall that I listed all the things I want in an apartment in an earlier post. Here are the things I listed.
I want an apartment that I can sublease for 3 months (March 1-June 1) that:
1. is furnished
2. costs less than $1000/month
3. has ample parking
4. is in a safe neighborhood
5. is within 20-30 minutes from the academy on the San Fernando Valley side (so, west or northwest of the academy. Long Beach is okay too)
6. is a single occupancy unit (no roommates)
7. has no smokers living in the area
8. has laundry facilities in the unit or on the premises
9. is near some good restaurants and coffee shops
10. has wireless access
The cool thing is that it is after I took care of business (made arrangements to stay in a hotel when this apartment fell through even though the thought of spending that much money made me nervous) that I got what I wanted. The apartment I’m in has everything listed above. Okay, the wireless is spotty and it’s a little northeast of the academy, but I’m willing not to quibble. It’s closer to the Valley than Santa Fe Springs. I have a feeling that since I’ll be spending lots of time in Hollywood training with Shawn Williams, I am not destined to stay here for a super long time (I’ll want to find a place that’s closer to halfway between), but the point is, at the time I wanted/needed this place, I got it after I took care of business. I’m realizing that TCB = doing the thing that scares you if it stands between you and what you want/need.
As far as a relationship goes, lately I have definitely done the things that scare me. I have taken care of business. So now it’s time to make the list of things I want in a relationship. I did this a long time ago and don’t have the list with me, which is a shame. It was pretty comprehensive. But maybe things have changed since then. Here goes. I intend to enter into a relationship with a man (yes, he must be male) who, in no particular order:
1. is intelligent
2. is witty
3. is loving
4. is compassionate
5. is considerate
6. is sensitive and willing to talk about his feelings
7. trains BJJ seriously, both because I want him to be physically active and because it is such a big part of my life that I want to start with that common ground
8. loves my family and friends and vice versa
9. takes a genuine interest in the things and people that are important to me, even if only because they are important to me
10. is physically attractive to me & finds me physically attractive
11. is self aware
12. is financially stable
13. has his shit together emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically to a degree compatible with the togetherness of my shit so that we can challenge each other
14. likes and wants kids
15. is tolerant (though I hate that word) of people of all races, colors, creeds, orientations, genders (makes it sound like there are multiple genders rather than just the two) etc.
16. makes me laugh and vice versa
17. makes life fun
18. makes me feel comfortable, safe and loved, “gets” me
19. is committed to being in a relationship (with me)
20. can get along with all different kinds of people
21. is the same maturity level as me
22. is a non-smoker
23. considers himself blessed to be with me and to be loved by me
24. is committed to being happy and doing what he needs to to stay that way
25. values people based on their character and personality rather than their looks or possessions (had to put that in here; I am in LA after all)
26. understands that his life is the result of his choices and takes responsibility for those choices and their consequences
27. is supportive of me
28. is an appropriate age for me, whatever that happens to be
29. makes my heart sing because I am in love with him
30. loves me unconditionally
Maybe there’s more, but that covers the important basics. So since I have taken care of business, let’s see how long till this guy comes along! I’ll keep you posted. BTW, please excuse me if this is TMI. Again, I’m writing mostly to my primary audience: me. So I hope you didn’t just waste 10 minutes you’ll never get back. Now on with the Countdown of Anger.
Item 2 that’s pissing me off: I’m homesick for a home that doesn’t exist and not sure that LA is right for me. Okay, so here I can be pissed off at myself. I already made a deal with myself that I was going to make an honest go of LA until my birthday. So I hereby must stop complaining about how LA isn’t home until at least then. And there are these things called airplanes that I can use to visit my family and friends. And I plan to do that. So for Jeebus’ sake, I’ll stop worrying about that one.
Item 3 that’s pissing me off: My tournament performance two weeks ago was pretty crappy and reminds me that, frequently, training BJJ makes me feel like a right idiot. Okay, this is another one I can give myself a dope slap for, to borrow a term from the Car Talk guys. I know from past experience that this one is simply a matter of changing my perspective. I have been getting more pissed and more aggressive in training lately, and it’s definitely helping, both my performance and my feelings about jits. So the key is for me to be energized and moving all the time and to remember why I’m doing this. I’m doing it because I love it. That hasn’t changed, even though my attitude sometimes needs adjusting.
Item 4: I feel an imbalance—maybe it’s too much training and not enough of the other stuff that used to be important to me. So I have to figure out how to strike a balance between BJJ and the other parts of me. Okay, good. I think part of that will be helped by my online teaching gig. Despite the fact that I don’t want to go back to that world full time, I do appreciate the life of the mind. BJJ definitely requires brain power, but I also like contemplating my navel and reading interesting theories. Call me dorky (or something worse). So I think the teaching will help with that. Nora also thinks I’ll want to get a dog soon, and if I do that, I will become one of those dog park chicks. And then there’s still Trader Joe’s. So I have some options there about how to strike a balance. It even felt good to go to the movies one night last week rather than training. I’ll focus on the teaching and the movies for now, and the rest will take care of itself. But that will be a good start.
Item 5: I thought I’d have a lot more answers by now about what’s right for my life. Dope slap time again. I know already that I don’t get all the answers at once. I get the information I need to take my next step and not much, if anything, else. I know that. I just need to remind myself of it and be okay with it, which I normally am. And I’m getting back to feeling like that makes things an adventure.
Okay, I think we’re good for now. I’m taking care of business and trusting that the universe will do the rest. Watch this space for further details. Right now it’s time to go to sleep. Big day tomorrow of training and sitting in traffic to and from the airport.