Friday, October 29, 2010

The Gentle Art

I've been whinging and griping for a while that I have a hard time remembering specific techniques and that I wished for more rules-based grappling. In other words, I'll forget the technique but with basic principles, I can reverse-engineer the technique according to the needs of the specific situation.

I know it probably gets old, but I'll encourage you again to check out Cane Prevost's blog The Gentle Art. Just a good solid breakdown of all the basics, from a rules standpoint. Reverse engineering heaven! :) For example, the 3 P model of teaching jiu jitsu... Posture, Pressure, Possibilities.

A little treat-- Stephan Kesting's 10 minute private on finishing the RNC. Really worth your time if you haven't seen it.

On my way to open mat now.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yummies for dinner.

Dinners in 30 minutes or less, from pantry ingredients. Because I'm hungry :)

Pasta with Tuna and Black Olive Vinaigrette

Serves 4

* 12 ounces regular or whole-wheat rigatoni or penne
* 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained, and chopped
* 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
* 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
* 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
* 2 6-ounce cans tuna, drained
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the capers and olives and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and cook until wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add the lemon juice, pepper, and the remaining oil. Divide the pasta among individual bowls. Top with the tuna and olive vinaigrette.

Chorizo-Potato Tacos with Black Bean Salsa

Serves 4

* 1 pound fresh chorizo or Italian sausage, casings removed
* 1 russet potato (8 ounces), cut into 1⁄4-inch pieces
* 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
* 4 radishes, cut into small pieces
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
* 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* kosher salt and black pepper
* 8 hard taco shells, warmed
* 1 avocado, sliced
* 1/4 cup sour cream

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the chorizo and potato over medium-high heat, breaking up the chorizo with a spoon, until it is browned and the potatoes are tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the beans, radishes, cilantro, lime juice, oil, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Fill the taco shells with the chorizo mixture, black bean salsa, avocado, and sour cream.

Sweet Potato and Brie Flat Bread

Serves 4

* 1 pound frozen pizza dough, thawed
* cornmeal, for the baking sheet
* 1 medium sweet potato, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
* 2 shallots, thinly sliced
* 8 sprigs fresh thyme
* 4 tablespoons olive oil
* kosher salt and black pepper
* 4 ounces Brie, sliced
* 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
* 4 cups mixed greens (about 3 ounces)

Heat oven to 425° F. Shape the dough into a large oval and place on a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet. In a medium bowl, toss the sweet potato, shallots, thyme, 3 tablespoons of the oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Scatter the potato mixture over the dough and top with the Brie. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, remaining tablespoon of oil, and salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the greens. Serve with the flat bread.

And for dessert..

Coconut Ice Cream

Combine 28 ounces coconut milk, 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, and 3/4 cup sugar. Cook until sugar dissolves. Freeze in an ice cream maker.

Sex, condoms, love, biting and political ads....

So I read this great photo/video essay on Slate this morning titled "The European Approach to Teens, Sex and Love" which I HIGHLY recommend...

And then afterwards, stumbled on this on youtube... not related but funny and cute.  It's apparently quite famous, but I'm always the last to clue in to these things...

And, some of the scariest political ads running around America right now.. I just want to say they come from both sides of the political fence and I'm not taking a stance one way or another on the issues, but they ARE effective at eliciting strong emotions.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Taking it out on the whitebelts.

Side Control wrote a great post today about the necessity of training routinely with smaller or less experienced people, with whom you can experiment, develop new techniques, and focus less on your "A" game.

Go read it, I'll wait.

I think his post helps articulate something that's been bugging me lately about my training and my game. I think it might resonate with other small jiu jitsu people out there, and maybe women in jits generally. My theory is this: smaller people and women (less upper body strength, even if you're a big tall lady) develop different games in different orders and at a different rate than bigger/male people. Why? Because for the first year or two or three, you rarely roll with those "smaller or less experienced people" with whom you can play your non-A-game stuff.

Of course we all start out in the same place ("A game? what's an A game?") but I've always felt like I failed to develop an A game at the same pace as my male counterparts. And now, what I view as my A game would still be the B or C game for them, in terms of quality and quantity of execution.

I admit for a while I wandered around feeling disgruntled* at times, wondering when I would get to spar someone and try new, unfamiliar, unpracticed stuff with any success.

Lately I have though... I've triangled a couple people a couple times, I've swept people with new stuff, I've played tons more guards with more success than I thought possible. And they're all whitebelts. Not redshirts-who-should-be-bluebelts but real true whitebelts. So I'm torn between happily mounting experimental assaults on this pool of willing victims for my own benefit (see above) and taking it easy on them, letting them work their stuff, blah blah blah.

I know as a blue belt that I'm really only a short step up the ladder from them, and I know how much I owe to all the higher belts (but especially the ones one rank up) for their untiring generosity to me. I really feel strongly that I should be as encouraging and helpful as possible with all the whitebelts.

On the other hand, I do get tired of having to go close to 100%, A-game only, all the time. I can hear it now-- "Well, G, just say you want to go light!" :)  It works sometimes with some people, but not as often as you'd think.  I totally understand the psychology behind it and I'm not upset by it, I just wish it were different.  And people can't change what they weigh.  If your technique is solid, you can compensate for weight.  Developing solid technique requires forgiving situations where you can sort of play "warmer/cooler" to explore what the right movement should be.

So I lately have found myself doing 3-4 rolls with each whitebelt.  If they're really solid and technical and good I will still have to give it my all to avoid being crushed like a bug (ahem Marc, Zack, etc etc.)  If they're newer, I'll do two rolls where I work my stuff and (happily) doing a little crushing of my own... then two more where I settle back and let them work.

This must seem really lame that someone who's trained two years is happy she can beat some whitebelts (not even all!)  Especially seems lame to me when my cohorts wearing blue belts are hunting purples and browns, and routinely handling other blues with relative ease.  I dream of hunting blues :)  But until then...

THANK YOU whitebelts, you are a big help to me.

*This is a weird word. Where, o where has my gruntle gone?

p.s. Zen Mojo wrote a really nice follow-up post here.

BJJ Anonymous

Hey, I just learned about a new BJJ blog from a post on Julia's...

It's called BJJ Anonymous. I hope someone posts some good quandaries.

The deal is, you email them (anonymously, using an email anonymizer) to discuss issues that would give you a backlash headache if you brought them up in your own name. The blog says : "Have something you want to say about where you train Brazilian jiu jitsu-- who you train with-- or anything else relating to BJJ-- and you want it to be anonymous? Want feedback, advice, a shoulder to cry on? Nonlibelous rants and raves welcome -- email them to and they will be posted!"

Sounds cool to me. Thoughts?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Today, tonight.

Went to lunch class. Got a little frustrated. Ready for class again in an hour or so.

Been listening to Roy Dean's new output... not an instructional, but music! Arc and Shadow, it's called, and so far it seems like... well, different from what I would ordinarily listen to but similar to what lots of the guys at my academy put on to roll to. Professor Dean says "[t]hese cinematic, instrumental songs match the rhythms of Judo, Aikido, Brazilian and Japanese Jujutsu." I'm only a couple songs into the first of four CDs so I will post further on that when I have gotten through it all. I can't help but be curious about some of them though- with names like Triangle, Aikido, Thelonius, and Camarillo... You can buy the collection here.

Donald's competition class tonight. It's good that lunch wasn't so arduous today, or I'd be pooped for tonight.

I want to make this spicy shrimp saute soon. It serves four and is very healthy. If you don't like rice noodles, try this with quinoa or brown rice (though you'll have to cook that separately and add when you would add the noodles.)

* 1 pound tail-on peeled and deveined medium shrimp
* 1 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
* 2 (1/4-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
* 1 teaspoon olive oil
* 3/4 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
* 1/4 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/2 cup sugar snap peas
* 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 3 ounces uncooked rice sticks
* 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
* Lime wedges

Remove shrimp tails; set aside. Combine shrimp tails (NOTE-- not the shrimp themselves!) broth, 1 cup water, and ginger in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes. Strain broth mixture through a sieve into a bowl; discard solids.

Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, yellow onion, and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Add reserved broth; bring to a simmer. Add shrimp, peas, chili garlic sauce, salt, and noodles; cook 5 minutes or until noodles are done. Ladle into each of 4 bowls; top each serving with cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Calories: 236

More purty, for you closed-guard peeps....

Or, if you use this pass, be aware... found this on Chris' blog Reflections on Gracie Jiu Jitsu.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Especially at :13.

And from Journey Jiu Jitsu (Jay's) blog out in Seattle:


I'm trying to decide if I want to train tonight or not. Had a very hard workout at lunch open mat and frankly I'm kind of pouting right now.

So here's my deal: I am friends with most if not all of my training partners. They're like siblings to me, except I'm an only child (shocker!) Only, sometimes they'll say stuff that is obviously intended as a joke (where joke is defined as "something spoken that causes speaker to laugh"; note definition does not require hearer to find it funny as well...) And I get my ego bruised a little. Which is good, it's obviously in need of a trim. I'm trying to combat the ego issue by sharing my stupidity this afternoon with you.

Today while rolling (can't believe I'm telling you this) I actually made a tiny though audible fart.

You have to understand that I grew up an only child with a single mom and I NEVER heard her do that. No brothers. Therefore, grew up blissfully free of fart jokes. I am more embarrassed by "tooting" in public than I would be, say, by a major wardrobe malfunction like my skirt flipping up in the wind or whatever.


I laughed because he laughed (I'm a contagious laugher) but inside I was appalled. It was one of those moments you want to fall through the floor and disappear and have it be forgotten forever. But no... twice more he'd look at me sideways and make the same noise with his mouth and crack up and I was SO MAD I could hardly stand it. And later, he said he pictured me in this fancy office surrounded by important cases, and then made the noise again. GAHHHH!

OK. Never mind. When I read it all written out like that I see that I am just ridiculously blowing this out of proportion. I just need to relax and let things go more. But I'm still pouting.


*sigh* *laughs at self*

p.s. Don't hate on me. I know I'm not perfect. I am OBVIOUSLY not cooler than that either.

p.p.s. I did sweep him once though.

Cool stuff.

Couple things to highlight.... First, Slideyfoot has put together an excellent map of BJJ Bloggers (so, if you travel, you can find a friendly neck to choke on...) Bloggers, contact him if you'd like to add your academy to the map!  While we might not all be able to take off a year and jits around the world like Christian Graugart the BJJ Globetrotter, surely we could take a week or two?

Second, how many times have you griped about one aspect or another of a gi, rashie, or other item of clothing and thought to yourself "I oughta make my own!"  Or marveled at how easy Triin Seppel of Fenom Kimonos makes it seem?  Well, Seymour (of Meerkatsu fame!) interviewed Black Eagle founder Steve Turner for I found it an interesting read with some insight into the difficulties of starting and running your own gi business.

Third, I learned (from Seth, a very cool 4 str purple from Alaska) a flippy thing to conquer turtles.  And pulled it off the very next day against one of my favorite training partners, a smaller guy named Jason who fights MMA and routinely kicks my nogi ass.  (In gi, he has to work a little harder to kick my ass because I burrow into the fabric like... like... a burr.  Hence the term "burrow.")  Anyway, your hipside knee is between their elbow and knee or at least pointing at that spot.  Your headside leg steps over their head so your hamstring is on their neck.  You grab their belt or pants and just haul them over your leg.  Works on big peeps, too.  It might be a little scrambly when they land, but it's not difficult to transition to side control.  :)

Fourth, cool picture of me armbarring a pal at the last Bullshido throwdown... just re-found this picture and I dig it. So, I shares it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.
-- Calvin Coolidge

Royler Gracie in Austin, Jacare in Dallas for seminars

First, Jacare is teaching a three hour seminar near Dallas on Saturday, November 13, from 11am-2pm. $75 if you preregister. It will be Mohler Mixed Martial Arts, 989 W. Sandy Lake Rd. # 400 Coppell Tx 75019. For pre-registration, contact: Allen Mohler 214-738-0640 or email Steve Hall at

Then, Royler Gracie is coming to teach a three hour seminar at our academy on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.

It's only $85, 5:30-8:30pm on November 18. All belt levels welcome. Pre-registration essential because it is limited enrollment.

Check this out for all the details and a pay pal link for pre-registration.

Damn this memory of mine.

I was all excited last night for about 3.4 seconds because I swept my good friend and purple belt Scott in one of those rare-for-me displays of the savant portion of my game.  (Normally, I just express the "idiot" part.)  The excitement lasted until I was in danger again (this time from top halfguard, wtf!) and by then I was already getting fuzzy on the details.  Sadly, this happens often enough to be frustrating-- I randomly combine some muscle movements in some fashion which results in a good thing happening... but what combination? and when? who knows!?


Trained this morning and did a 25 submission drill which was fruitful... last night Giberson did a whole class on various grip breaks from knees (and the submissions you can land from the grip break, which were fun.)  I need to make more of an effort to attend the whole Wednesday night class instead of doing kids' kajukenbo then judo and finally trailing in for open mat... Giberson's conditioning is legendary and it's cool enough now to enjoy a solid hour of exertion before the remaining two hours of class.  Yay.  Gooooooodie.

Yesterday I had a little bit of a falling out, or maybe better to say I found myself crossways, with a training partner who is super important to me.  Couldn't deal with it face to face right away, because of course I was at work, which left me tapping away on IM and not liking the medium very much.  Eventually we did get it sorted out, though I wasn't sure if they felt the same way (the issue was partly something I said, but more was related to some other people, so I couldn't really resolve that chunk of the problem.) 

Tonight after class I'm helping my husband write his "statement of purpose" for his masters in nursing entrance  application, and I'm baking a batch of molasses cookies for some friends to take on a trip this weekend.  Right now I'm so sleepy I can't hardly keep my eyes open.

Lastly, check out the silly venn diagrams on my buddy Dave's blog Angry Hugging.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This masterpiece is just about the funniest thing I've read all day long. All week, in fact.  I challenge you to read it and not laugh out loud.

I will note that I am the goddess of scones.... some of you may know this already.

 And then there's the pterodactyl on Oatmeal. Who knew?

Making ignorance chic.

By Maureen Dowd for the New York Times, found here...

"Casanova’s rule for seduction was to tell a beautiful woman she was intelligent and an intelligent woman she was beautiful.

The false choice between intellectualism and sexuality in women has persisted through the ages. There was no more poignant victim of it than Marilyn Monroe.

She was smart enough to become the most famous Dumb Blonde in history. Photographers loved to get her to pose in tight shorts, a silk robe or a swimsuit with a come-hither look and a weighty book — a history of Goya or James Joyce’s “Ulysses” or Heinrich Heine’s poems. A high-brow bunny picture, a variation on the sexy librarian trope. Men who were nervous about her erotic intensity could feel superior by making fun of her intellectually.

Marilyn was not completely in on the joke. Scarred by her schizophrenic mother and dislocated upbringing, she was happy to have the classics put in her hand. What’s more, she read some of them, from Proust to Dostoyevsky to Freud to Carl Sandburg’s six-volume biography of Lincoln (given to her by husband Arthur Miller), collecting a library of 400 books.

Miller once called Marilyn “a poet on a street corner trying to recite to a crowd pulling at her clothes.”

“Fragments,” a new book of her poems, letters and musings, some written in her childlike hand with misspellings in leather books and others on stationery from the Waldorf-Astoria and the Beverly Hills Hotel, is affecting. The world’s most coveted woman, a picture of luminescence, was lonely and dark. Thinking herself happily married, she was crushed to discover an open journal in which Miller had written that she disappointed him and embarrassed him in front of his intellectual peers.

“I guess I have always been deeply terrified to really be someone’s wife since I know from life one cannot love another, ever, really.”

Her friend Saul Bellow wrote in a letter that Marilyn “conducts herself like a philosopher.” He observed: “She was connected with a very powerful current but she couldn’t disconnect herself from it,” adding: “She had a kind of curious incandescence under the skin.”

The sad sex symbol is still a candle in the wind. There’s a hit novel in Britain narrated by the Maltese terrier Frank Sinatra gave her, which she named “Maf,” for Mafia, and three movies in the works about her. Naomi Watts is planning to star in a biopic based on the novel, “Blonde,” by Joyce Carol Oates; Michelle Williams is shooting “My Week With Marilyn,” and another movie is planned based on an account by Lionel Grandison, a former deputy Los Angeles coroner who claims he was forced to change the star’s death certificate to read suicide instead of murder.

At least, unlike Paris Hilton and her ilk, the Dumb Blonde of ’50s cinema had a firm grasp on one thing: It was cool to be smart. She aspired to read good books and be friends with intellectuals, even going so far as to marry one. But now another famous beauty with glowing skin and a powerful current, Sarah Palin, has made ignorance fashionable.

You struggle to name Supreme Court cases, newspapers you read and even founding fathers you admire? No problem. You endorse a candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat who is the nominee in West Virginia? Oh, well.

At least you’re not one of those “spineless” elites with an Ivy League education, like President Obama, who can’t feel anything. It’s news to Christine O’Donnell that the Constitution guarantees separation of church and state. It’s news to Joe Miller, whose guards handcuffed a journalist, and to Carl Paladino, who threatened The New York Post’s Fred Dicker, that the First Amendment exists, even in Tea Party Land. Michele Bachmann calls Smoot-Hawley Hoot-Smalley.

Sharron Angle sank to new lows of obliviousness when she told a classroom of Hispanic kids in Las Vegas: “Some of you look a little more Asian to me.”

As Palin tweeted in July about her own special language adding examples from W. and Obama: “ ‘Refudiate,’ ‘misunderestimate,’ ‘wee-wee’d up.’ English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!”

On Saturday, at a G.O.P. rally in Anaheim, Calif., Palin mockingly noted that you won’t find her invoking Mao or Saul Alinsky. She says she believes in American exceptionalism. But when it comes to the people running the country, exceptionalism is suspect; leaders should be — as Palin, O’Donnell and Angle keep saying — just like you.

In Marilyn’s America, there were aspirations. The studios tackled literary novels rather than one-liners like “He’s Just Not That Into You” and navel-gazing drivel like “Eat Pray Love.” Walt Disney’s “Fantasia” paired cartoon characters with famous composers. Even Bugs Bunny did Wagner.

But in Sarah’s America, we’ve refudiated all that."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Things I don't have to think about today...

Found this today on John Scalzi's blog "Whatever."  I like it, though it is long.  It makes a number of good points, so I challenge you to read it through to the end.  (And yes, then keep reading... I just put up two other new posts!)

Today I don’t have to think about those who hear “terrorist” when I speak my faith.
Today I don’t have to think about men who don’t believe no means no.
Today I don’t have to think about how the world is made for people who move differently than I do.
Today I don’t have to think about whether I’m married, depending on what state I’m in.
Today I don’t have to think about how I’m going to hail a cab past midnight.
Today I don’t have to think about whether store security is tailing me.
Today I don’t have to think about the look on the face of the person about to sit next to me on a plane.
Today I don’t have to think about eyes going to my chest first.
Today I don’t have to think about what people might think if they knew the medicines I took.
Today I don’t have to think about getting kicked out of a mall when I kiss my beloved hello.
Today I don’t have to think about if it’s safe to hold my beloved’s hand.
Today I don’t have to think about whether I’m being pulled over for anything other than speeding.
Today I don’t have to think about being classified as one of “those people.”
Today I don’t have to think about making less than someone else for the same job at the same place.
Today I don’t have to think about the people who stare, or the people who pretend I don’t exist.
Today I don’t have to think about managing pain that never goes away.
Today I don’t have to think about whether a stranger’s opinion of me would change if I showed them a picture of who I love.
Today I don’t have to think about the chance a store salesmen will ignore me to help someone else.
Today I don’t have to think about the people who’d consider torching my house of prayer a patriotic act.
Today I don’t have to think about a pharmacist telling me his conscience keeps him from filling my prescription.
Today I don’t have to think about being asked if I’m bleeding when I’m just having a bad day.
Today I don’t have to think about whether the one drug that lets me live my life will be taken off the market.
Today I don’t have to think about the odds of getting jumped at the bar I like to go to.
Today I don’t have to think about “vote fraud” theater showing up at my poll station.
Today I don’t have to think about turning on the news to see people planning to burn my holy book.
Today I don’t have to think about others demanding I apologize for hateful people who have nothing to do with me.
Today I don’t have to think about my child being seen as a detriment to my career.
Today I don’t have to think about the irony of people thinking I’m lucky because I can park close to the door.
Today I don’t have to think about memories of being bullied in high school.
Today I don’t have to think about being told to relax, it was just a joke.
Today I don’t have to think about whether someone thinks I’m in this country illegally.
Today I don’t have to think about those who believe that freedom of religion ends with mine.
Today I don’t have to think about how a half-starved 23-year-old being a cultural ideal affects my life.
Today I don’t have to think about how much my life is circumscribed by my body.
Today I don’t have to think about people wanting me cured of loving who I love.
Today I don’t have to think about those who view me an unfit parent because of who I love.
Today I don’t have to think about being told my kind don’t assimilate.
Today I don’t have to think about people blind to the intolerance of their belief lecturing me about my own.
Today I don’t have to think about my body as a political football.
Today I don’t have to think about how much my own needs wear on those I love.
Today I don’t have to think about explaining to others “what happened to me.”
Today I don’t have to think about politicians saying bigoted things about me to win votes.
Today I don’t have to think about those worried that one day people like me will be the majority.
Today I don’t have to think about someone using the name of my religion as a slur.
Today I don’t have to think about so many of the words for me controlling my own life being negatives.
Today I don’t have to think about still not being equal.
Today I don’t have to think about what it takes to keep going.
Today I don’t have to think about how much I still have to hide.
Today I don’t have to think about how much prejudice keeps hold.
Today I don’t have to think about how I’m meant to be grateful that people tolerate my kind.
Today I don’t have to think about all the things I don’t have to think about.

But today I will.

Morning training

I really like our little morning crew.  We get together 2-3 mornings a week and drill whatever we want.  It's an organic flow-- something like a jits lab.  If you don't have anything specific in mind, you can tag along with someone else as uke.  If you just learned something new and need to practice it a bit, you can let it gel here.  Or if you're just in the mood to roll, that works too.

This morning it was me, a newer guy, and two purple belts.  I paired up with a purple named Bentley that I love to work with-- he's very encouraging and complimentary, analytical, patient, and persistent.  We started jacking around with Scott Reed's punishment pass (he gets double unders when he has top halfguard and the rest is.... well, pure punishment.)  That would have morphed into me practicing the halfguard sweeps Mike G taught yesterday, but I got distracted.  We flowed into armbars from side, kimuras from side, Monson chokes, a SICK way to take the back from turtle a la Braulio Estima, catching the arm with the leg from the back, and then lastly an evil guillotine variation kind of like the 10-finger guillotine.  It was so painful you couldn't really drill it more than a couple times.

Oh-- so some people asked about my haircut and how it works for rolling.  Um, FABULOUS.  It's short enough that it doesn't interfere with chokes or arms beneath my head.  It is long enough to be knelt on but that's okay, I really don't want a pixie cut.  

This weekend we had houseguests-- Lawrence and his wife Olivia.  Lawrence was a whitebelt at my academy while he was in grad school at UT... they're both captains in the US Army, and while he was getting his second master's degree, Olivia was stationed in Iraq.  Now, he's teaching at their alma mater, West Point.  The West Point triathlon team was in Austin for a half Ironman and Lawrence and Olivia are sponsors for the team, meaning they ride herd on 20 kids in their late teens and early 20s before and after the races.  Too bad we didn't get to spend more time with them, but dinner on Friday night was nice (and their team won first place!)

Also this weekend, had to skip the Cobrinha seminar.. just too pricey.  Boo hoo.  I took out my frustrations on my bathroom cabinets and my closet, producing three bags to go to Goodwill and purging a lot of junk too.

It's a pretty day outside and I'm hoping I can get my car back from the mechanic's this evening.  The brakes need new pads (and hopefully not rotor turning too) and the power steering was starting to make a "squitch" sound on occasion.  Not happy about spending the money but what can you do?

Hope you're well and that this economy hasn't pinched you too tightly. To close, a little funny..

And some more yumminess thanks to Coach Josh, who will be here Nov 6th for the sambo tournament...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chicago and Florida

So... the long-overdue post about my trip home... the reunion.. the funeral.. and yes, the haircut..

Soon as I got off the plane I met one of my best friends from high school, Heather, and her boyfriend Todd.  Their flight from California got in around the same time so they graciously carted me around with them that afternoon before dropping me off at the Beckers' house where I stayed.

First, Heather wanted to drive by her old house in River Forest.  As always the new owners weren't home.  But this is where I spent many happy hours as a teenager...

This gives you an idea of what the residential streets in River Forest look like..

Later that evening, another best friend, Tashi, and my old friend Rich met me at a bar called the Irish Times in Brookfield.  It was pretty dead for a Thursday night so we changed venues to Molly Malone's in Forest Park, where we met Heather and Todd.  Here's Tashi, me and Heather reunited... it's funny, we three didn't hang out together that much in high school, but we should have.  It was usually me and Tash, or me and Heather, but Tashi and Heather are of like minds.  Too bad people grow up and move away.  I think heaven will be a place and time where all your favorite people are together.

And yeah, there's the haircut.  I like it, it's a lot easier for jits, and since my hair is curly, I don't really have to mess with it.

I am fortunate to call my high school ex-boyfriend's mom a good friend.  Chad Becker and I dated for about two months, give or take, right before my mom was diagnosed with cancer and then passed away... but I pretty much adopted his  family and I'm so lucky that Andrea, his mom, is so generous with her love and affection.  All their kids are grown up and away so I'm sure it was a little funny to have me staying in their daughter Blythe's room and coming and going with my high school pals.  The Beckers don't look any older and it was almost eerie how easily I slipped back into the old roles.  Their house doesn't look any different either.

Friday morning I got up bright and early and hoofed it around Oak Park, checking out the architecture and people-watching.

Aside from the Victorians, most everything is Prairie style, Frank Lloyd Wrighty, four-squarey.  Even the apartment houses are deliciously Prairie-ish.

I meandered through the streets where I used to walk during lunch and after school, stopping for a slice of coffeecake at the Red Hen Bakery and then enjoying a book and gorgeous weather in Scoville Park.  I remember when I was a sophomore I came to this park and rolled like a log down this hill, and played touch football with Chris Fortuna and Kevin Wyrag.  Neither of whom attended the reunion!

This is from inside the park, looking towards some of the shops and restaurants we frequented back then.

The sunshine was heavenly, the air balmy and comfortable, and the trees just starting to turn.

More architectural detail, this from a church on Lake Street...


After a nice lunch with Tashi, her two kids, and her mom, I hit the el (the elevated train) and visited the Art Institute.

One of the guys I train with and a good friend is also an art student so I definitely paid attention to more and different kinds of art on this trip.  And I normally don't take pictures of the art that I liked, but it seemed like the right thing to do this trip.  I took pictures of the placard next to each piece, too.

Some I just know by heart.. like this is a classic by Georgia O'Keefe.

OMG the light in this picture...

After I wiped the drool off my chin, I headed back into Oak Park to get ready for the official pre-party, at O'Sullivan's.  There, I met up with Tashi again, as well as Deno and Allison Andrews (both my classmates!)

Our table: Frances and Ben (Ben was my absolute best friend in HS, and he met and married his wife in undergrad at U of Chicago), Adriana, Chuck, Tashi, Heather, and Joe.

Heather, Chris, Tashi and Bubba (aka James Heyward Murray IV.)

Me and some more girls... can't remember her name, Liz and Elly.
Tashi and Bubba.

Me and Ben.
Joe wanted it.  Did you see how he was dressed?  lol...

The next morning I bounced out of the house full of energy.  I started taking pictures as soon as I hit the sidewalk!  Here's a very typical four-square house.
Very Prairie.

My high school. :)  Alma mater of Hemingway among others!

The main entrance.  (Most everything looks just the same!)

We first gathered in the student activity center for an alumni tour.

Heather, relaxing in the special Hemingway room, reserved for special English classes.

The special room where Green and Latin are taught.  (Yes, my high school was bad ass... they also teach Mandarin, Italian, Russian..)

The student television station..

Ironically one of the girls in my class is still at Oak Park-- as a teacher... Ms. Katie O'Keefe :)

The art department is amazing too.  Here's some of their projects... excuse the glare on the glass.

After tooling around the school, we traipsed through the Farmer's Market across the street.  Famous for a reason!  Here's the bluegrass band..

Heather all glamorous...

Tashi, Heather and I kept a lunchtime tradition intact by visiting Tasty Dog (albeit in a new location across the street from its former digs) and having a burger and fries.  Man, the same guys are still working there.  Scary.

Then we had to shop for something Heather wanted to wear to the reunion, which carried us far enough out of Oak Park that I didn't feel too guilty to ask Tashi if we could run by my old house, out in Westchester. 

Mind you, my mother passed away in April of my senior year in high school.  I have never in twenty years forgotten that she has passed away... until the day of my 20th reunion, when I thought instinctively "I should call Mom and tell her the blah-di-blah store is torn down now."  And then I mentally recoiled-- what the HELL is wrong with me that I didn't remember my mom is dead?!  Don't bother telling me I'm irrational, I already know.  I felt awful regardless of how innocent a thought it was.  It was incredibly bittersweet-- well, just sad, not bitter, and a little sweet... so I guess it was sadsweet-- to go by my old house.

Here's the maple trees I planted from SEEDS when I was around 8 years old.  They're marching down the parkway next to the house, at least 3 stories tall, looking fabulous if I say so myself.

And here's my house... a little two bedroom, one bath Georgian... with a finished basement.  My mom had the garage built, and lots of other stuff was different back then... but it's still the house I grew up in from age 8 to 18.

No one was home when I knocked so I took this picture of the back yard... the gazebo is gone, as is the wooden privacy fence, the peach trees, the Kwanzan cherry, the apple trees, the grape arbor, and so on, and so on...
BUT!  BUT!  Check this out.  My mom sewed these curtains to cover the basement windows.  I couldn't believe they're still hanging in the windows.  I am a sappy sentimental girl, because seeing my mom's curtains made me cry.

The view down my street, standing in front of my house (which is to the right.)

And this is the creek barely 2 blocks from my house... I used to play near it in the summers, and ice skated on it in really cold winters... wearing the skates my mom wore when SHE was a little girl... amazing...

Having cried over everything I could cry about, we headed back to Oak Park for some Peterson's Ice Cream and then the Frank Lloyd Wright tour.  First some houses near Peterson's.

Peterson's is a venerable institution, with an authentic pressed tin ceiling, crystal chandeliers, and delicious treats for your tongue.

Then we just walked up two blocks and back down, on the way to the FLW studio and home.  Can I say again how FREAKING AMAZING the architecture all over Oak Park and River Forest is?????  My head was hanging out. 

This is the Moore-Dugal residence, an actual FLW home.  GORGEOUS.

Then I don't know if this is FLW but it's beautiful.

This IS FLW.

Here's a beautiful FLW...

And here is FLW's home and studio.

And then later in River Forest I saw this house and thought the wooden roof was so cooooool....

After our tour, I went home to the Beckers' and took a little nap.. showered and changed for the reunion, held in Healy's.  Out front they parked the reunion car, driven by two mascot Huskies... welll, they look more like Schnauzers to me, but no one asked...

Me n Heather..

John Rafter, one of the guys who made my life in physics just a little more bearable (except for the brutality with which he played the hand slap game...)

Oh, and Dan Wendt... he sat behind me in Spanish.  Another super smart hot guy.  What was I thinking in high school? Well, I wasn't ever brave enough.

And my buddy Jody Starks :)

These girls were cutting up in the photo booth :)

Heather and Jason Rosado.

I wore my nametag but peeled the picture off.  Ben did not.

But at least I didn't bring a spouse who would have just sat and read.  Poor guy.

Heather, Tashi, Ben and I had to leave at 10:30 because I desperately wanted a slice of French silk pie from Baker's Square, which had long since left Oak Park and now closed at the unseasonably early hour of midnight!  So here we go on my adventure.

But it was a nice quick drive and fortunately I got my pie :)

We were back at the reunion by midnight.  Here's me and Tashi.

I tell you, many many people had had one or two too many!  Dan got very friendly.  He made even Tashi blush.

Who knows what he's doing to Chang here.

Tashi and Heather might recognize this picture and know what it stands for.  No one else will, don't bother guessing.  It has nothing to do with the funeral home.

Anyway, a good time was had by all, and at the crack of dawn the next day, Andrea Becker brought me to the airport and I was winging away to Florida for my Uncle Louis' funeral.  He passed away quietly sleeping in his chair at 93, leaving behind his widow Orie (they'd been married 51 years) and two sons, Jerry and Little Lou.

Here's me and my Oden cousins on the morning of the funeral-- David, me, Carolyn, Liz, and Jerry.

Much family drama was to be had.  Including over the final resting place for my uncle's ashes.  Here's the church's "memorial garden" where my aunt had him interred.

Some pictures in the church foyer.

My Aunt Orie and Uncle Louis on their wedding day... just adorable!

After the sadness of the day, Jerry, his wife Joanne, and I went to the Naples Fishing Pier to get a little happiness by osmosis.

Joanne and Jerry, listening to fishing tales from this Welsh dude.

Then we went driving through Port Royal, a richy-rich neighborhood... here's one of Steven Spielberg's houses.  It takes up the whole block from street corner to street corner.
And I just liked the unusual architecture of this one.

This would be considered a more classic cottage-y style though obviously bigger and renovated more than the older homes.  Very Key West in style.

After driving around, we went back to the country club where my dad and uncle belonged.  This is the palm tree planted in memory of my dad.

And this is the room where the gentlemen play gin rummy in the afternoon.  Many stories were told about my uncle's skill at cards.  And my dad's too, come to think of it. :)

We had a nice dinner out that evening with a family friend, Don Turner, and I called it a night pretty early.  Got up and went to the other coast the next morning to visit my mom's sister, my Aunt Pat, in Boca Raton.  She plied me with French toast and peaches and home made meatloaf sandwiches, and kept me full of family stories too.  It was a delightful visit.  But it continued the theme of missing people who are no longer with me.

So, all in all, a good trip, but a sad one.  And now I'm home.  I didn't train a stitch while I was gone, though I'm playing catchup now.

I miss my mom and dad and gramma and uncle.