The One Where I Train for a Year as Judoka

I was promoted on Feb. 22, 2018.  On Feb. 25, 2018, I completed the item, “Train for One Year as a Judoka.”  Which is very cool.

I probably have no real business doing judo.  It is hard on the body, and let’s be honest, I haven’t done a real good job of taking care of this body over the last 38 years.  Busted up knees, busted up ankleS (yeah, the right one is pretty much garbage now), busted face and head, messed up pinky finger.

Plus it is a sport of repetition.  It really is something you start getting good at after 10,000 hours.  Which is frustrating.  When I am at training sessions, I see these teenage kids… basically toddlers, who are fast and quick and confident and fearless and strong and it’s hard to imagine a world where that could be me.  These kid brownbelts have put in so much time.  Some of them are judo training 5 days a week.  I just really wish that I had picked it up 10 years ago.


I am not really sure why I decided I wanted to start doing judo.  Other than, that with Dave and Nico doing it, I felt like this would be a good way for us to hang out as a family.  And it has been.  Going to tournaments, while stressful when all of us are competing, is fun.  Like little mini-vacations together.  I am glad that I started doing judo.  I hope, deep down, that my desire to learn new things will help keep me “young”.

So, I had a pretty successful tournament at the end of January, in Milwaukee.  There were four women in my division (three white belts and a black belt).  In my first match, I tried to throw taniotoshi, but my opponent was a bigger than I was, and I ended up pulling her on top of me and she won by ippon.  In my next match, I fought another white belt and went for my osoto.  I ended up with a wazari before ending the match with a pin. I remember getting into osekomi and feeling like I had to switch my legs into kesakatame.  In a rare moment, I heard a coach yelling at me to move my legs and when I did, I could also feel a huge grin come over my face, because it was my first competition win.


In my final match, I fought a black belt from Chicago.  The match went on for a while, which was new.  Up to that point, most of the matches I had been in, competitive and exhibition, were over in a minute.  But ours kept going.  The thing is, that I felt more and more confident, the longer I was in the match.  I had been looking forward to matches going longer, because I feel like I am a lot stronger on the mat than standing, so I felt like I was going to get a chance to do newaza.  The problem was,  that this blackbelt was good on the mat.  I wasn’t going to turn her.  She played smart defense and basically just let me tire myself out.  Finally, with about a minute left to go in the match, I just yanked her sleeve and drove to the mat.  I don’t remember or understand the physics of how it worked, but all I know is that I had her in a pin and was using every single muscle in my body to keep her there.  She ended up tapping and I am still, a month later, in disbelief. Because three of us ended up going 2-1 in the division, we ended up tied for first, which was awesome.

Because of the result and the time that had passed, our sensei was basically, “It is time.” Dave had been off of training for a couple of weeks, while he rehabbed his pulled groin. At the next session, he was surprised that I was in the mix in terms of taking falls- which I didn’t even realize that I had started doing.

I was nervous about the test- I was going to be tested on techniques I hadn’t done.  So, I had to learn them quick and I actually had to do some book learning.  So, I sat for my yellowbelt test.  And I passed.  Now I am the same rank as Nico.


So, that is done.  It’s weird though, because I feel like some of my technique, even on the things that I am supposed to know, is garbage.  I feel like it should just always work.  And I still get frustrated- especially when the very few things I know how to do don’t work. Like, on Saturday, in our training session, I got manhandled by pretty much everyone.  Nothing I tried worked.  At all.  But I was also going against black belts and bigger athletes.  Which I have to remember only makes me better, unlike the rare occasions when I get to go against smaller women, who I often just muscle around.

I am looking forward to the next year.  Right now, we have a couple of judo events on the calendar: a tournament in Kentucky in mid-April, and then the Indiana State Championships in late-April.  We’re also planning to do one of the national championships in Grand Rapids in the summer.  I have also decided that when I go to tournaments, I need to be more fit, so that I can do multiple divisions, when they are available.  So, for right now, I am backing off of only weight-lifting and am adding more crossfit style workouts.  I am hoping to also start playing in the field some, when I play soccer.  Not for the teams that I am on now, but for pickups. Jesus take the wheel, JBR playing in the field… like the good old days.

The Winter Doldrums

I am feeling a certain kind of way.

I can’t decide what my funk is right now. The house is a disaster area. Like it hasn’t been properly cleaned in months. Nico’s room looks like a tornado hit it. I don’t want to do any work. I want to create, but I have no space to create.  I want to garden, but its winter. I want to cook, but I am trying to eat keto and keto is boring AF. I hate the music I have been listening to, but I don’t want to listen to other kinds of music.  I really hate the books I have been reading.  I want to go camping, but it’s winter. I want to watch baseball, but its winter.  I want to pick berries and ride my bike, but again, winter.

Frankly, I have been struggling with this blog and the extent to which I am wasting time.  If I don’t think about this particular space and think more broadly about how people do what I want this blog to be, then I would have to answer truthfully that people don’t do this anymore. Blogging. It is such a holdover from the 2000s.  Like, what was a blog even? What a weird thing. To write your thoughts and ideas in a specific place with no limits… with the general expectation that people would read it and would comment on it and you could build a little community of people who read blogs like yours.

I also came across Mighty Networks, which made me feel even worse about wanting something big from this blog. There was an article or something I read on the site that was like, “Don’t start a blog in 2018” and I was like, “What if I started a blog in 2017?” Uh.

I agreed with so much of it. I just… I don’t know. I don’t see myself being an Instagram celebrity. I mean, I think you’re probably doing it wrong if you follow more people than you have followers. But, it feels self-indulgent to write a blog now- particularly when much of what I am interested in is doing stuff that is on my life list. I get hyped as shit to think about and do that. Work on SEO? And network? And make Twitter and Instagram friends? Ugh. God. No. Please.

And ultimately, what I bring to the table here, isn’t anything really ground breaking. It is not novel.  And it definitely isn’t creative.  Basically I am an aggregator of ideas: take Maggie Mason’s interest and efforts toward her life list.  Add Tim Ferriss’s hacks for life (pay people to do shit that doesn’t help you do stuff you want to do. Also, say no.) Add that to my mom’s method of: don’t know how to do something? Figure it out, bitch!

What I want? I want a community like Go Mighty was (I don’t know if there is a relationship between Go Mighty and Mighty Networks. It is probably worth finding out).

I don’t know what is wrong with me right now.  At work, I fluctuate between being like, “Holy shit, I worked 10 hours today.  And could easily have worked another 10 without even noticing” and “Have I really been at work for only 2 hours?  I feel like I have been there all day.”  At home, I fluctuate between, “I have so much time to do things” to “Ugh, its 6pm, almost bed time.  I can’t get anything done today.”

Maybe the problem isn’t me.  Maybe someone is messing with my timeline.  That could happen.  Right?

Getty Images

When people in the past have asked me what kind of insane person I am to move from Florida to here, I have confided, conspiratorially, that the trick to surviving Chicago winter is to GTFO in February.  February is definitely the time to leave.  Because with a shot of some place warmer, some place greener, some place beachier, and sunnier, one can make it to summer here, which is when the fun starts.

Maybe it would be good to remember my own advice.

Ice skating

There is a little ice rink at Wrigleyville where I took Nico and his friend last month.  Nico bombed around the rink, going a million miles an hour.  I was ready to go after two laps around the rink.

This is a familiar pattern.  I think ice skating seems like a good idea.  I go.  I do a few laps before I am ready to be done.  It’s really hard.  Like on your feet.  And ankles.  My ankles are pretty garbage.

But I did manage to get off the wall for a few brief moments.

But serious question: why is it so damn hard?  And why do ice skaters make it look so easy.  Like- I should be landing jumps, that is how easy they make it look.  And I can’t even stake without clinging to the wall for dear life.

I think we can safely say that my ice skating career will remain on hold for a while.

Taking Stock: December 2017

I am doing a series of extended list posts à la Pip and Maggie Mason.

CookingPeach and Bourbon Handpies from Smitten Kitchen.  That is a lie.  I WANT to make the Peach and Bourbon Handpies, but it’s winter and ripe peaches in winter isn’t a thing.  We’re going to a New Year’s party and I would like to take something new.  But…  I envision a struggle getting my ass to the grocery tomorrow.  Plus, it’s single digit temps right now, which makes me feel like I want to swan dive into a lake of Warm Beef Stew or New England Clam Chowder, but the party is an appetizer party.  So, you see my dilemma, right?

Drinking: Deep Eddy’s Ruby Red Vodka.  It is a grapefruit flavored vodka.  And it’s not bad, not bad at all. In fact, I used the occasion to kick off my first of 100 Cocktails: Grapefruit Vodka and Soda (Item #37).


Reading: Right now, I am trying to finish several books: A Brief History of Seven Killings, the 2017 O. Henry Prize Collection of Short Stories, and Hamilton.  I recently finished the Life of Pi (which is part of Item #28 the Booker Man Prize Challenge).  Weeks later and it continues to blow my mind.

Playing: My sister got Dave an Amazon Echo Dot.  We are having a lot of fun playing with it.  I didn’t know this, but Alexa can rap.

Loving: Not working right now.  Of course, it is nice for an introvert such as myself, to have an excuse to go to an office and close the door and avoid human contact.  That’s great, don’t get me wrong.  But right now, my soul has the ethereal lightness which only comes when the day to day responsibilities of work life are not there.

Pondering: a yoga class app.  There was a stretch of my life in Tallahassee, where I did Yin Yoga fairly often.  In Yin Yoga, there is a lot of focus on the lower body- hip openers and such.  It is done in a cool room and each pose is held for several minutes, which is how yoga should be, in my opinion.  Like, don’t ask me to do hot yoga or anything where I am going to have to do Warrior pose or Sun Salutations.  NO.  Give me sleeping pigeon and happy baby and I am quite happy.   I found a class on Yoga Studio (an iOS app) that looks pretty much perfect.  And only 22 minutes: SCOREBOARD. Also thinking about getting a membership to 24 hour gym.  I would *really* like to be able to workout early in the morning, make it back to the house to take Nico to school and head to work, so that I can leave at a reasonable hour.  The problem with my gym set up (at work) is that I feel like if I go for a 2 hour workout, I can’t justify leaving at 4 pm- which is what I prefer to do when I am taking public transit, because being on an overcrowded, warm train makes me want to VOMIT (because motion sick).   I know, it IS complicated.

Considering: So, I think that 2018 might be the year for me to do a Craft Bazaar (item #25).  I thought I had stumbled upon a fantastic venue for it, and thus spent 6 hours last night trawling Pinterest for ideas.  The downside to the venue is that it would require a great deal of organizational work and talking with people.  But, it could be really sweet.  But on the other hand: Organizing people.  More on this later.

Buying: All the succulents!!  My aunt gifted me a great distressed organizer from a cool boutique in Rockwall, Texas (Website: Mint Julep Rockwall Instagram: mintjuleprockwall).  I think I would like to make it a combination desk organizer and succulent planter.

Marvelling: My mom made a whole passel of these cute little zipper pouches for stocking stuffers for Christmas.  I think she may have meant for each of us to have two or three.  Good thing I do what I want.


Isn’t that a really great design?  Each is lined with a matching fabric and she also moved the tabs around too, to color coordinate.

Smelling: Dave got me a big bottle of Bath and Body Works’ Cotton Blossom as a stocking stuffer.  To this day, even though its been YEARS since I did college preseason, I can’t smell this scent without thinking about three-a-days.  It was tough at the time, but I would give just about anything to go back to then and have one more season, knowing what I know now.  I wish I had more appreciation for life as a college soccer player.

Wearing: I got a bunch of good, thick socks for Christmas.  They are perfect. Reason #45 I love winter: thick socks.

Admiring: My sister.  She has four kids, I am not sure how she does it- they all play sports and get good grades and her house is cute.  She has her shit together on a level that I aspire to.  I have one kid, a small house apartment and it’s a disaster.

Disliking: Several of the books I am currently reading are just annoying me.  Like, I get annoyed with one and I put it down, but then I pick up another book that just annoys me.  Next thing you know, I have ten books I am currently “reading” on GoodReads- but I am so annoyed at all of them, I am just procrastinating with dealing with them.

Snacking: I discovered Takis, y’all.  Only like 10 years after they became a thing, I actually tried them.  My tastebuds aren’t legit enough for the whole shebang (the hot ones), but they dealt with these guys just fine.  Delicious with Shiner Bock.

Happy New Year!!


A Jacket as Ultimate Travel Clothing and Other Revelations

I have had a very strange concurrence of events that have lead to the most jam-packed fall schedule I have ever had.  Friends getting married, work trips, fun trips, brain trips, basically have resulted in me traveling a lot from September -November.  I am also a terrible combination of super nerdy about stuff and processes and also hella smug.  So, the result is that I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about my stuff during travel.

And I will now share these thoughts with you in the form of a list of 10 things that I consider necessary when traveling with only a personal item.

All this travel has been made possible by the fact that I live in a big city (serviced by two international airports and a well-developed mass transit system).  My last two air travel trips were shortish flights (to Tallahassee and to New York City), for short trips (2-4 days).  My normal MO would be to bring a roller bag and pack probably too much stuff or check a bag.  Both of these are bad, because I cannot even with checking in at airports anymore.  But also, I hate roller bags in airports.  Seriously, if I were running shit, the first thing I would do is ban roller bags in airports.  Really, most people are terrible about being aware of themselves in space and time, we’re not even considering what they are like dragging a roller bag behind them.  Oh,  you’re just going to stop in the damn middle of Concourse B in Atlanta, Carol?  You and your husband are going to argue about where the gate is, right here, outside this Starbucks?  Fantastic, allow me to hurdle over your stupid bag so I can make it to my plane.

Since my flights have been leaving super early (because cheap) and I refuse to give an extra dollar to the major discount airlines (because reasons), I have been experimenting with packing into a “personal item”.  This is based on one of my major anxieties coming to life last year at Thanksgiving, where it took us so long to check in at the counter with a bag that we almost missed our flight.  So, I don’t do that anymore, if I can avoid it.  If you want to avoid standing in that line, and that extra $$ for the carry on bag fee, you’re pretty much left with carrying ONLY a personal item.  Tangentially, this shift for me has been HUGE.  It’s quite a feeling to whisk from your front door through security in an hour, by passing checking in at the counter and dropping your bag.  It’s fantastic.

Some things I would recommend that have changed my travel life:

Light athletic jacket with zippered pockets.

Seriously- the athletic jacket with the zippered pockets is my go-to travel apparel for several reasons.  You can throw your small stuff (wallet, keys, phone, earbuds, chapstick, etc.) into the pockets and zip them up.  When you go through security, you don’t have to worry about your shit spilling out all over the belt or anything.  Plus, sometimes pockets are good for holding bigger items like Kindles or bottled drinks or snacks.  Being able to have all of this stuff ON YOU means you can have more clothes in your personal item.  Even awesomer  is that by having pockets that zip, you lower your profile as an easy target for pickpockets.

My favorite is a black Adidas jacket that zips all the way up, so it is great for when that plane fan is blowing on you- and works as another layer when you get to your destination!! Here I am wearing my jacket while fishing!!


Headphones and Cord Management

I know we are throwing it back these days and a lot of people are going back to the over the ear wireless headphones, because we are living in the damn future. However, for me, the over the ear head phones aren’t always worth it (granted, I don’t have the super swanky Beats headphones).  Having them on your head and trying to rest your head against the bulkhead to sleep is not great. Having them down around your neck like a professional athlete looks cool, until you realize that they’re all up on your face.  They are big and annoying and don’t fit nicely into a pocket (even if they are foldable). Plus, depending on what your travel situation is, maybe you run the battery down in your headphones, and now you’re dealing with a dead piece of tech, hanging around your neck. ANNOYING.

My system? I go with in-ear buds bluetooth headphones, so I can still rest my cabeza against the bulkhead.  If necessary, those bad boys can go in my pocket.  In fact, this is my cord set up.  I have four cords/wires (in addition to my computer charger):

-micro USB (charges headphones, external battery, kindle)

-IPhone charger

-wireless headphones

-backup set of earbuds

-double charging block

-backup external battery

Twisted together in a little nest of cords, it doesn’t take up much space.  I like to stash them into a soft/flexible little case.  It can go into my jacket pocket (if necessary) and also squishes down well to fit where it needs to fit.File Dec 07, 7 59 08 PM

Water bottle

I am trying not to buy garbage anymore.

As a hippie liberal socialist pinko (my parents’ words- not mine), you know I gotta be all about reusable water bottles, because environment.  Also, I live with people who seem not to concern themselves with where bottles and caps are in relation to each other.  This usually results in constantly having to search for a water bottle when I need it.  I also *really* like nice travel mugs,  but realize that I don’t bother with travel mugs for drinks I don’t really like (tea and coffee).  If we’re talking about hot chocolate, I am all about THAT life, but let’s be honest, I can’t be trusted to only drink one (1) hot chocolate in a given day, so its better if I just abstain.  But I appreciate a hot drink when I am watching my son play sport on cold days.  It just feels ridiculous to have a travel mug dedicated to one activity during one circumstance (watching my son do sport on a cold day outside).

So, when I saw this Swell bottle at the New York Public Library, I bought it, thinking it would be perfect for my life.  It actually is turning out to be perfect for my life.  It holds water most days.  And on days when I am watching sport outside in the cold, hot cider goes into it perfectly.  I like taking it when I travel because I can take it empty through security and fill it with water at a water fountain. thus saving myself from $2.99 a bottle water purchases.

Pocket (app)

I am not going to lie- I am afraid to think about and analyze whether or not I am actually addicted to my phone (mostly because I think we know the answer: YES).  The thing is, its not just social media.  Don’t get me wrong, I like my likes and mentions like the next girl.  But I LOVE LOVE LOVE all the reading a person can do (not books).  Pocket is an app that allows you to collect links.  What I love about it is that I have the browser extension, so when I am slacking working really hard at work, when I can save links so that they all go in one place.  Even better is that the links download and save on their own when the app is open.  In Chrome, when you open a new page, the top trending stores are there, along with the Save to Pocket button.

Screenshot 2017-12-02 15.43.38

My last computer session before getting on a plane, I pop on and use the “explore’ option to find the latest articles on something I have been thinking about; hiking, writing, time management, productivity, etc.  Then, I can scroll through the page adding things to my pocket.  If it is the night before, when I go to bed, I open the app and make sure the stories are downloading.  If it is the day off, I open on the way to the airport or at the gate.  Easy- and I don’t run out of things to read on the airplane.

Texture (app)

I subscribe to my share of garbage things that waste my time and money every month.  But, the $14.95 I spend each month on Texture is ABSOLUTELY worth it.  Texture  is a magazine app that works best on something like a Surface Pro or an iPad.  I say that because I have used it on a Kindle Fire and I don’t like it as much (it requires a LOT of pinching and zooming).  On the Surface Pro, Texture is about the size of a magazine page.  It has a fantastic selection of magazines (Outside, New Yorker, Money, ESPN, Bon Apetit, etc.)  Before a flight, I will download several of the latest issues and have them on the ready for being on a plane.  Even better is that I can get access to most of the magazines that I read without necessitating a stop at a magazine stand or a subscription and without accumulating a stack of magazines that makes your heart hurt for the environmental damage that you can see sitting in your foyer.  Seriously, I once traded “about to expire” airline miles for magazines and it was a disaster.  At one point, I had a stack of magazines over 12 inches tall.  That is too many.  Too many magazines.

Springsteen on Broadway

New York, was New York.

I remember how impressed I used to be with New York.  The first couple of times I went I was living in Florida, and was literally awestruck by everything.  Trains.  The sheer number of people who lived there.  The assumption that everyone I saw on the street was in glamorous and famous in some way.  Which is totally not true.  Most the people you see in New York don’t live there.  And many are just straight up annoyed that you are there, from Florida.

But the less impressed I became with New York over time (especially since I live in Chicago now) the more amused I become by “born and bred” New Yorkers, people who believe it is the best city in the world because it is the center of the universe, it has the best everything.  New Yorkers who don’t even learn how to drive, because why bother?

One thing I continued to be in awe of are the NYC cabs.  They reminded me of schools of fish, moving quickly and smoothly down the street,  merging and stopping as if choreographed.  

My sister had the cool idea to take my mom to New York to see Springsteen (who is playing at the Walter Kerr theater on Broadway). She entered into the lottery and got two tickets, which was unfortunate, because we were three.  I rolled the dice and went, thinking that I could scrape up a ticket.  Surely I could.  Just one ticket?  Just one poor bastard who ended up having to work?

Narrator: JBR was not able to get a ticket, despite extensive efforts on Craigslist and standing in the “lucky seat” line at the theater.

Which ended up being fine.  I left and had a drink near Times Square (which is still an awe-inspiring experience). Then I had a fantastic dinner and headed back to the hotel. My mom and sister had a fantastic time at the concert.  Which was cool.

img_4134We ended up getting to do some fun things while we were there.  We went to Mood (of Project Runway) and saw Swatch.  Having not seen much Project Runway, I didn’t realize that Swatch was a big deal.

I know, its blasphemy to say that.

It was a lot like the old days, with Nicole and me toting and fetching for my mom.  The only thing we were missing was JJ picking out thread for various projects.


I got to “run” the Brooklyn Bridge. I say “run” because there was no running involved- since the weather was nice and 384745758594940482 people were on the bridge.

Ugh.  So many people.  So many people not being aware of their surroundings.  So many tourists.  I don’t know why I got it in my head that I wanted to do this- but I just did.  I guess I thought that this was “real” that crossing the bridge on foot was what “real” people in New York do, when they are going about their daily lives.

FALSE.  Mostly just tourists do this.

Oh well.  It was a nice walk, except for all the people.  But New Yorkers probably say that all the time about tourists.  And if I am being honest, I should note that at the time, I was a tourist.  Sad face emoji.


Just to complete the “total basic bitch” look, I am totally listening to “New York State of Mind.”  As one does.


Also, for the first time EVER, I got to go inside the New York Public Library.  Which was FANTASTIC.  It is a beautiful building.  But again, with the tourists.  Not a fan.  Not a fan at all.  Note to self: next time I go to New York, find a special event at the library at night, so I can enjoy the best library in the world without all the damn tourists.

I said what I said.


In all, it was a really fun time. I wish that we could do a trip like this once a year.  Different places, not always New York or big cities- but something with my mom and my sister, because I don’t see them enough.

The Judo Update

I have competed in my first judo tournament.  Actually, I have competed in two.


To recap- I started doing judo back in February.  If you remember, it is one of my life list/bucket list/ apocalypse list items, to do judo for a year (by husband and son both do the judo).

It’s really fun.  And it’s a ridiculous workout.  Seriously, sometimes, sweat is just dripping off of me.  But, I also like it because a lot of it just makes sense.  And there are a ton of good analogies for thinking about life.  Explaining these would require their own blog post, which will happen at some point, just not today.  Because today, we are going to talk about competitions.

Before we talk about competitions, it first merits discussing weight.  First, in judo, we talk about weight in terms of kilograms and weight classes.  The two heaviest weights for women are under 78kg and 78kg+ (spoiler: 78 kgs is 171.6 lbs).  The way I see it, I have to “realistic” options, given my height and proclivity for not being weak AF: stay in the 78kg+ weight class or attempt to get into the under 78kg weight class.  There are pros and cons to either of these.  But the long story short version is: the 78kg+ weight class is open ended, so it is possible for a person who is 172lbs to fight someone who is 250lbs or 260.  Or 300lbs.  But, also, there aren’t many women to fight in this weight class (not that many women+judoka+that weight class).  Some might read this as like, “scoreboard! less competition!”  Which is true.  But it also means less competition- because generally, people like to try to compete against players that are the same size.

In judo, they try to keep more advanced players going against more advanced players, and novices going against novices.  But in the 78kg+ weight class, there aren’t enough judoka, so you might, as a precious baby white belt, end up fighting against a black belt (more on that later).  Even in the under 78kg weightclass doesn’t necessarily mean there a lot of judoka to compete against, but there tends to be more.

It is no secret- but I am in the 78kg+ weightclass.  I think about what it would be like to be in the under 78 kg weight class.  Like, obviously, I would have to drop a lot of fat for that to happen.  But what about my ass?  Also, what about my muscles?  Would I have to get rid of those?

So, being in this weight class meant that when we went to Cleveland for the Rock and Roll tournament, there wasn’t anyone for me to fight.  No big surprise there (it was quite a small tournament).  In the Cohen tournament a couple of weeks ago, there were ladies for me to fight (a green belt from texas.  And a black belt former World Youth Champion.  NBD.)

Now here is where it gets real: When I showed up for the Cohen tournament, I hadn’t ever practice fought with anyone (we call it “rondori”).  There are a lot of reasons for this, but they are all kinda boring.  But that did not stop me.  Keep in mind that I am not expecting that I am going to make an Olympic team in my first match.  I was just looking forward to working with other ladies my size(ish).

Nico was also competing in the Cohen tournament and the whole morning was just a practice in hurry up and wait.  And also, make sure you’re paying attention so you know when you’re up.  Finally they call my division and I get suited up.  They call us onto the mat.  And my opponent (the former world youth champion doesn’t show up).  WHAT?

I am dying.  I win by disqualification- but am highly annoyed.  Turns out, my opponent was five mats away (she didn’t speak English and didn’t realize it was party time). I mean, its cool that I get points for that “win”, but I really just want my first match.  My next match up, I am fighting the green belt from Texas.

She throws me in about 30 seconds- after I pick up a penalty for being too defensive (spoiler alert, I wasn’t being defensive, I was just watching our feet, since watching my feet is pretty much how I walk everywhere).  It was incredibly frustrating.

So, after a short break, I step up and get ready to fight the former world champion, who is from Cuba.  For those of you who don’t know, Cuban judo is legit.

Now, here is where I should explain what happens when you have to fight in the elite division when you are a novice.  Basically, the elite divisions has some extra requirements.  Like, you have to wear a plain white shirt under your gi.  And you have to have a blue gi and a white gi.  Well, why in the hell would I know any of that?  I am just a little baby white belt novice.  So, I get on the mat to  fight the former world champion and she has to deal with her gi and shit and we’re ready to go when the referee says, “You need a blue gi.”  And I say, “Yeah, I know.  This one is reversible.  I just dont have my blue pants with me.  I’ll get it under control for next time.”  To which he replies, “No, you need a blue gi now.”


So, long story short, Dave grabs the texas girl, who strips down and lets me borrow her pants, because she is a goddamn angel, while I turn my gi around (remember, its reversible).  All of this is happening while there are about 100 people in the vicinity, watching what is going on.  Here is the thing…. in a gymnasium full of movement and action and activity, with five mats going on, no one would have noticed if we were fighting.  But since we weren’t I just felt like all the attention was on us.  And if you know me at all, you know how good I am with undue attention on me (spoiler: I am not).  In all, it seemed like it took 49579 minutes to get into a blue gi- so much anxiety.  Which was great, when the match started and former world champ threw me and pinned me in 40 seconds.  Like, if I had another 10 seconds I *might* have busted out of the pin.  But probably not- because she wasn’t even trying hard to keep me there.


So, when I come off the mat, I am fairly annoyed (read: upset- like trying to keep it together, but not understanding why I am so upset trying to do a sport for what is damn near the first time and not being good at it- but if you know me, I don’t like it when I practice and try to do things and that doesn’t work out for me).  Also, in total at this point, I have had less than two minutes of competition judo.  Which, to me, is really annoying to pay as much $$ and spend as much time doing the tournament, to have such a short amount of time (maybe next time, don’t get thrown so quickly?  Just a suggestion).  But, apparently, that is how judo is.

22538574_10110706373822883_1047917198943403094_o.jpgUltimately, I took 3rd out of 3 people.  The former world champ beat the Texas girl, so at least I was in good company.  The tournament director got me an exhibition match against another girl (KW), who is lighter than me, just so we could get some matches in.

With my knickers  sufficiently twisted, I stepped on the mat against this KW girl, outweighing her by a solid 40-50 lbs, but totally outclassed belt wise (she is a green belt).  So, the match starts and I am trying to not look at my feet, not get thrown, and not  violate any of the other rules I don’t really know.  She gets in close and is on the verge of throwing me.  Like, I feel like I am about to be thrown onto my face and I start to panic a little.

Here is the problem for me: all the things that I know intellectually how to do work very differently in practice.  Like, I have been working on a couple of throws, that should work, if I could just think through it (read: they require require that your brain is not in panic mode).

Narrator:  JBR’s brain was in panic mode.

Now, there is a move in judo called an ura nage.  It is a pick up, where you just wrap your arms around the person and pick them off the mat, and throw them over your shoulder.  For those of you familiar with wrestling, it is very similar to a souffle.  It’s a strong man’s move- because it doesn’t really require timing or skill, just being strong AF.

So, my brain, which is in panic mode, just thought, “Just pick her up and throw her over your shoulder and maybe that will be a thing.”

Yeah, I literally thought, “maybe that will be a thing,”.

Narrator: It was a thing.  In her third match ever, JBR thrown ura nage for ippon.

Ippon is “match ending point”.  It’s when a throw is so good that there is no need for the match to continue.  This can also be achieved by pinning opponent for 20 seconds or forcing their submission through a choke or an armbar.

There are a lot of times in a judo match when the referee will restart the match- like if someone is breaking some of the rules or there is a failure to progress in grappling on the mat.  So, when the referee stood us up in our starting spaces, I thought we were going to keep going- I didn’t realize that I had won.  Which was cool.

The lesson: there is almost always a way, as long as you’re in the fight.  So the trick is to be in the fight.

I was really glad to get the exhibition.

Ultimately, KW  talked me into fighting in the Halloween tournament in Minooka last week, where she beat me twice.  One of these was me not understanding how physics works.  22688074_147304212679471_1514927869203751786_n.jpg

But, I played better judo (apparently).  We’re going up to Wisconsin in December and I hope to get some more matches in.