The Neapolitan Novels

For the first time, in a very long time, I inhaled a set of novels. The last time I did this was right after graduation in 2012 when I read Game of Thrones. Within three weeks I was done with the entire series and anxiously awaiting Spring 2013, one of the first dates I remember as a supposed release of The Winds of Winter. This never transpired and I’ve given up hope of that book every becoming a reality. That aside, I was late to the game in getting around to reading Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, and OMG. They were amazing. I would finish one book and then head over to Bookman’s for the next one. I ended up having to order The Story of a New Name because I couldn’t find it where it should have been. It ended up being part of their summer beach reads display at the front of the store and went home that day with a copy of Jim Harrison’s Legends of the Fall.

I was just so happy I didn’t have to wait for the next book in the series! They are basically the ultimate bildungsroman and it was amazing to follow the lives of Lenu and Line from grade school to old age. The books meant so much to me and really resonated with me. Elena struggling to keep up with her studies and her relationships with her friends in the neighborhood, contrasted with the people she meets at school reminded me of the difficulties of being a first generation college student. Essentially, you have no idea what you’re doing and there isn’t really anyone to go to for advice.  I just really loved Lenu so much. She tried so hard to be good and do her best and not be undone by the feelings of inadequacy that Lina would impose on her. Her climb out of the neighborhood to published author was reminiscent of the “American Dream” that centered on education being a means of social mobility, which doesn’t seem to really exist anymore (yay! student loans!). So much of that also depended on luck and Lenu having someone in her life to guide her.

I also really loved Lina even though she scared me. Her need to constantly be moving from one thing to another to as a means of maintaining control preventing the boundaries of her fragile reality from dissolving felt too familiar. Lina’s intensity was so captivating that it’s easy to see why Lenu was drawn to her despite how harrowing the friendship could be. All of these books were so good and I wish I had taken notes while reading them. I’ll probably have to go back and reread theme eventually. They covered so much beyond the tenuous relationship between Lenu, Line, and their environments. They served as a primer for Italian politics, feminism, and cultural legacy and environment. I’m just in awe of what Ferrante was able to accomplish.

My brain and recollections of the books are a little scrambly. I let too much time lapse between reading them and writing them out of fear. Anything I write feels so feeble in comparison but I suppose the key is to not compare myself because that is just ridiculous. I’m also at the tail end of a weight cut and as my coach would say, I have weight cutting brain. I zoned out during class yesterday was I was supposed to be leading our break clap. I’m competing in the Las Vegas Open on Friday and it’s my first IBJJF tournament. I’m excited to try a bigger tournament despite not having the best time competing locally this year but it feels like less pressure because of the anonymity. Usually I’m a nervous wreck at this point before competing but I feel right now. This might be a result of not really having had the time to think about it. I’ve been working so hard to be prepared for this tournament. I started dieting earlier than I did for the Cope Bella and have been smarter about it. I’ve also been running more and we have a new coach who is phenomenal. He’s breathed new life into the program and his game is the opposite of Chris’s but also complimentary. I’ll have updates about the tournament approximately two months from now. JK! I’m hoping to update sooner and also go over Legends of the Fall.

The Neapolitan Novels

NAGA

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Where does the time go? I competed in Naga almost two months ago. As usual, I got super busy with training and work and a little scared about posting. Writing here, still makes me feel a little nervous and vulnerable. Anyhow, back to the tournament. For the most part, competing went much better than the last time. I still lost my match and ended up with third place but the overall experience and my head space was much better! I was excited just to be there and wanted to have fun.

I got to watch the kids team compete and it was the first tournament for a several of my drilling parts. Being there for that was exciting and it was fun to watch them roll with strangers and different motivations than rolling at your gym. A couple of days after the tournament one teammate observed that competing requires an entirely different skill set.

Even though this competition was more fun than the last one, it was fun and games. I decided to cut weight for the tournament so that I’d be competing in a smaller weigh class (130-139lb v. 140-159lb). I started dieting about 3 weeks out and weighed 146 and was able to weigh the morning of at 138. Cutting weight was not fun and I didn’t have to lose that much compared to what some of the fighters have to deal with at our gym so hats off to them. I was so grumpy and tired and probably won’t be cutting again. Mostly because there was no in my weight class and I was bumped up to the one I was trying to avoid. One of my teammates was also bumped up to that class and division. We both lost our matches and decided not to fight each other for third. It didn’t feel right and I had started eating chips immediately after my match.

The match itself was tough. Even though I felt better going into that match than the last one; I felt weak and tired from the weight cut. My opponent was also heavier and definitely stronger than me. I felt that I may have been more technical but could not get past her strength advantage. I also learned that I need to work on mount escapes. I do not want to get trapped there again during a match.

I’ll be competing again in two weeks and am looking forward to that. Hopefully it goes well despite training becoming more difficult due to the heat. Spring just started and temperatures are already hitting the low nineties in my city. Living in the desert is fun!

NAGA