About two months ago, I finished up reading The Girls by Emma Cline. The book serves as a parallel/allegory to the Manson Family and the women that made up his cult. Like, the history of the Manson Family and subsequent murders, The Girls is set in California during the late sixties and is told from Evie’s perspective through a series of flash-forwards and flashbacks. Evie is 14 years and a bit of misfit. She doesn’t have very many friends and has slipped through the cracks of her parents’ divorce, while each parent if focused on new romantic pursuits. The loneliness that is born of this situation makes her vulnerable to the charm of Suzanne and the societal outcasts she lives with on an abandoned ranch.
I don’t really feel the need to delve too much into the plot since the story is so widely known. Suzanne’s character is clearly a parallel for Squeaky Fromme, one of Charle’s Manson’s most devoted followers. The fictional cult leader, Russell that is embittered after being unable to land a record deal, is Charles Manson. The book was a quick and light read and did a good job of capturing the feelings of isolation that begin to settle in during adolescence. I’m not sure if those feelings ever go away but you do become less vulnerable with age.
I think I would have found the material more engaging if I hadn’t listen to Karina Longworth’s summer series on the murders, Charles Manson’s Hollywood. It is part You Must Remember This which is easily my favorite podcast. The podcasts delves into the secrets and forgotten stories of Old Hollywood and is incredibly well done. In Charles Manson’s Hollywood, Longworth immerses the listeners in the various players and intricacies operating around Manson. I would definitely recommend checking out the podcast in addition to the book.
In BJJ news: NAGA is coming up in a few weeks. I still need to register.
Well it happened and it’s over. I have so many mixed feelings about how it all turned. Going into it I didn’t have the same frame of mind that I had with the previous tournaments. A lot of my personal relationships have shifted and I think my feelings about that definitely came into play and distracted me but it wasn’t all bad. My dad was able to watch me compete and that was a delightful surprise. The morning of the tournament he called and told me to cancel my plans with my friends for the ride to Phoenix because he would be taking me. My sister also joined us!
We got to the tournament early and ended up with a lot of free time. My family got to eat and I just got to deal with more anxiety about my match. I just felt so much more nervous this time. As I’ve had time to think about it, I think that nervousness may have come from pressure I had put on myself to do well based of off how the last two tournaments had gone. They went well and honestly, those successes felt like flukes since I’m so used to not doing well athletically. I played basketball and softball as a kid and was never that good but that may be because those weren’t the sports for me. Anyhow, back to the tournament! So all the time I had before the match evaporated once it was time for weigh ins and everything was a whirl wind.
I was where I needed to be with my weight but my gi was too short! Luckily, thanks to the advice of my coach, I packed an extra. As soon as I passed my check, I was up. I hated running late and was still readjusting my belt. Then it was time to get on the mats. The match started off alright. I pulled guard and tried to arm bar my opponent from there. Details are hazy but the first half of the match went well. I wasn’t able to get the arm bar but was in control and managed to take her back. I couldn’t get my grips right to complete the choke we had been working on in class. I lost my position and may have moved into side control and then mount. I need to watch the video again but at some point I decided to move from being on top to bottom and everything went south after that. I was pinned in side control and mentally a switch went off. I just didn’t want to be there. I started to feel like I was going to throw up and cry. I think all the stress and anxiety I had going into the match got the best of me. From what I heard after, it looked like I totally forgot the basics, like how to shrimp! My opponent then got an Ezekiel choke on me. I was able to sweep her and get on top but she still had the choke and I was beginning to cough and gurgle. I tapped and placed second in our division. We were the only competitors.
I still feel weird about the whole thing. I hated disappointing my coach and not having a decent answer for when he asked me, “What were you thinking when you went on bottom?” One of teammates volunteered answer for me and suggested I probably felt more comfortable on bottom. This is true. I still don’t feel very confident in my top game even though that teammate has been helping me with my arm bar from mount. Besides all of that, I think the loss was a necessary experience. I’m still figuring what I’ve learned from it besides confirming my suspicions that I don’t love competing. Even though it’s not my favorite thing, I still plan on competing in the future because I think it’s really important for me to push myself out of my comfort zone and take risks. I hate when I feel like my life has become stagnant and competing helps keep those feelings at bay and gives me a chance to test what I’ve been working in class. At the end of day, I feel so lucky to have found something that I’m passionate. I love how deeply humbling jiu jitsu can be and how that humility feeds my drive to learn more and continue to improve.
I’m still working on Far From the Madding Crowd. It was finally picking up and I was making progress and then, I don’t know. I feel like I got really busy and was coming home from the gym too late and exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I also fell into a bit of Netflix rabbit hole and that definitely contributed. I didn’t step away from reading anything completely though.
I got my hands on a copy of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, thanks to my friend Rachel, and read that in an afternoon and still had time for no gi. It was a fast read but not necessarily because the story was compelling to me, but rather that it is a copy of the script for the stage production. So the pages weren’t filled with text and the parts were spaced out.
Anyhow, I didn’t really like it. Initially, I was excited for a chance to say hello to my friends again and was let down at the water downed versions that this book presented. I feel like there could have been potential for something that was less lackluster. Scorpious Malfoy was my favorite character. He was so sweet, smart, and earnest. Albus Severus just seemed like the Harry Potter that was presented in the “Wizard Angst” episode of The Potter Pals, Just so whiny.I also hated how it reduced everyone to the most basic obvious traits of their respective house. There was so much focus on how evil people sorted into Slytherin are. Maybe I’m just a little sensitive since Pottermore sorted me into Slytherin and it was a member of Gryffindor that sold the Potters out to Voldemort.
In other news, I didn’t train this last week. I ended up with a really bad sinus infection and couldn’t do much besides sleep. I’m excited for this week. My gym is hosting it’s first women’s only intro to BJJ class. Hopefully more women will be interested and I won’t be the only girl, not that’s is that terrible. 🙂
I decided to name my blog Books and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu because prior to taking up BJJ, whenever someone would ask me what I like to do for fun or what my hobbies are, my answer was always reading. This was usually followed by one of my least favorite questions ever, “What kind of books do you read?” Internally, it’s followed by a groan but usually end up muttering something about reading a little bit of everything which isn’t untrue.
Lately, I haven’t been doing much reading at all. I read several books at the end of last year and this year have only managed to complete one so far, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. It was my introduction to Hunter S. Thomas and I really enjoyed it. I just hate that it took my so long to read. It’s a short book but I spent about four months on it, just reading a bit here and there. I’ve been a weird reading funk lately.
Right now I’m working my way through Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. This is one of those instances were I saw a movie and absolutely loved it and was delighted to find out it was a book. I loved the movie and was pleasantly surprised to see how this story compared to Tess of the D’Urberville’s, also by Hardy. Tess of the D’Urberville’s was a good story and my reading of it also had it it’s origins in a movie I had seen based on it but it was so depressing and took forever to read. I had to keep taking breaks. Anyhow, I’ll update more on my current when I finish and perhaps go into further depth about both novels and their accompanying films.
I haven’t wholly decided how I’m going to incorporate books into this. I don’t think full on reviews would be very fun to write but maybe I’ll stick to my observations of the book, how it makes me feel, and things that I can relate it to. I may also delve into some of the books from last year that I still think about it.
Hopefully, my postings will be more regular. I had intended to chronicle my adventures in BJJ and post about my first tournament and the lead up to and a round up of my first year. I’ve since competed in two tournaments and jiu-jitsu birthday has already passed! They may still be worth a post .
I took my first jiu-jitsu class last June. I feel like a lot of thought and trepidation went into decided to finally take a class. My first introduction to the sport was through my friend Nick. He had started training in 2012 when we were still in college and was instantly hooked. Nick likened jiu-jitsu to human chess and said that it would suit personality. At the time the interest was there but since I was a broke college student, affording a membership was a bit of an issue.
Flash forward to 2 years later: I had a real job and my friend Christina convinced me to take a trial boxing class with her at Rise Combat Sports! I absolutely fell in love with boxing and muay thai and the gym itself. It truly is a second home but that is for another post. Anyhow, after even more deliberation and my coach saying I was ready, I finally made up my mind for my first class.
My first class was great. That day ended up being a very small class and I received a lot of personalized instruction from Coach Chris and was really glad that my sister, Bianca, had decided to stay too. That first class was a lot of basics and fundamentals. We learned: shrimping, tactical stand ups, kimura, and kimura sweep. At first everything was a little awkward and nerve-wracking but by the of the instruction portion of the class, I was super happy I stayed. When it came time for the live training portion of the class, Chris said it was okay for Bianca and me to sit watch since it was our first class. But that didn’t really happen. One of the guys in the class, Marv, asked what we were waiting for and basically said to jump in. We ended up going over different positions with Janel, my role model and only woman in the class at the time. Overall the class was a success and I couldn’t wait until I could take my next one!