Sunday, December 30, 2012

It's Just Me.


Yesterday in the mail Shark Girl received six dollars in savings from CVS! Not having time to look at the coupons closely, I put them aside and went to jiu jitsu. Shortly after I returned, Ten-Year-Old Son came up to me.
            “Look, Ma, it’s for you.”
In his grubby hands was that CVS flyer, with this emblazoned on it:

Is it hot in here or is it just you?
We’ve got cool news to share with women over 40.

So Consumer Value Stores, spying on my buying habits, finally figured out that I am over 40. What could have tipped them off?

Was it the armfuls of half-priced wrapping paper that I couldn’t resist yesterday? Because I’m not shy about that at all. So I did have a little trouble carrying it all to my car. So what? And maybe I did tell the checkout lady, while I brandished a roll like a lead pipe, that I was all set if attacked in the parking lot. You know what, I am totally good with paper now for the next few Christmases, and it is way cute stuff, with Santas hauling trainloads of presents and dancing snowmen. If spending too much on wrapping paper is under 40, then count me out. 

Maybe it was the oral hygiene products? Our Santa thinks tooth maintenance is a top priority. He leaves floss and electric brush heads and toothpaste in our stockings. Perhaps the Under-40 crowd worries less about impending tooth loss?

Most likely it's the fact that I know what the letters "CVS" stand for. (I also know why they call that thing in the car that you charge your iPod with a cigarette lighter. Some of my students did not. Yep. Shark Girl is old.)

Whatever breadcrumbs I left, I was now curious. What were these products for hot, Over-40 women like Shark Girl? I scowled at Son, snatched the flyer out of his hands and opened it.

Poise--that was the company logo I recognized. Don’t they make adult diapers? I thought. That’s not hot.
But apparently Poise is branching out. Inside this purple, specific-customer-targeted flyer were all sorts of products for the mature woman. From fresheners and washes to gels and lubricants, Poise has decided that they can help spare senescent Shark Girl all sorts of age-related embarrassment with their “new line of wellness products.” I will spare you the product names and functions, not because I worry about your prudishness, but because, frankly, Gentle Reader, it’s more fun to wonder exactly where Poise wants me to put their towelettes than to actually know.

So, this is it. This is over 40. Dry, dirty and hot. But not that kind of hot. Thanks, Consumer Value Stores.

Postscript
If anyone wants $6 in feminine wellness savings, I’m happy to send it your way. I’m not sure I’m ready to admit that I’m over 40!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Hair Wins the War


I change for no man!

That’s right—I said it. I have never changed my hairstyle to suit a man, well, directly that is. I have adopted a new do hoping it would be more generally attractive, and that could mean more pleasing to men in general. But I have never listened to any man tell me what my hair should look like (except that one fabulous stylist I had when I lived in Boston and I paid him too much money but damn did he make me look good!).

Honestly, no man has ever had the audacity to tell me what my hair should look like. Perhaps I exude “punch you in the face” too much, or maybe the hairstyles I choose don’t attract guys that would tell me how to wear my hair. Either, way, I have never changed my hairstyle for a man.

But, like so many jiu jitsu women, I have tampered with my hair countless times in the past two years in order to get better play on the mat. I’ve tried long, short, long with one pony, long with two ponies, bangs, no bangs. (I have never done the bathing cap thing—I’m not sure I could get used to it.)

Just how common a concern this is for fighting ladies can be seen by a quick google of “jiu jitsu hair” and of course, taking a look at MegJitsu’s “hair club for women” and reading Megan’s efforts to tame her grappling locks.

But did you know that “fighting women” have been worrying about their hair for many generations?

During WWII, women stepped up en masse to work in factories for the war effort while men were away fighting. Let me acknowledge that poor women of any generation have always had to work, but the conditions of war made a swift culture shift for most middle class women (one that was promptly reversed upon the return of their men). And this shift in culture demanded a shift in style. If they were going to fight the war from the factories, their old hairdo just wasn’t going to cut it.

Here we see Veronica Lake pioneering this change (although I’m pretty sure all she did was change her hairstyle, not work in a factory). The whole campaign was called “Hair Wins the War.” It’s so true, right? You really can’t win anything if your hair is constantly being pulled.


This fall I had another jiu jitsu hair “makeover.” Husband, who usually doesn’t notice that I’ve even have hair, said it looked like a helmet. But one of my training partners said, “This hairstyle’s working for you.” TP didn’t mean he liked it. He was saying that, as a training partner, my hair was not getting in the way as much. This hairstyle is a better jiu jitsu fit.

To be fair to Husband, he now insists that it was just the way my stylist blew it dry that was distasteful to him. I’m glad he got used to it, because if hair wins the war, it looks like this hairstyle is here to stay.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Shark Girl’s Top Ten: Biggest Jiu Jitsu Mysteries


It's the beating of his hideous heart!

No, it's just Shark Girl with her newest Top Ten . Some things about jiu jitsu are just . . . inexplicable.

1.  The Never-Drying Gi Collar.
You have taken the time to wash and air-dry your gi like you are supposed to. Yet when you go to put it on, that darn rubberized collar has somehow retained moisture. Sure, you can tell everyone, “No, it’s cool—I just washed it,” but you know they think you’re a sweaty mess.

2.  The Untieable Belt.
You just got a new belt and the damn thing won’t stay tied. Don’t worry; it will break in just in time for you to move up to your next belt rank.

3. Blood of Unknown Provenance.
You’re rolling with a partner and he spots fresh blood on your gi. Everyone checks to see if they are cut, but no one is.

4.  The Errant Hair.
Much like #3, everyone wonders where it came from, but most times it’s best not to find out.
5.  Backward Roll Stage Fright.
If you are like Shark Girl, you can (now) pull off your backward rolls. That is, except when everyone’s watching.

6.  Video Exertion Distortion.
You were just videotaped in the fight of your life. Sweat was pouring off of you, and you were all over the mat, giving your opponent hell. You can’t wait to see the video and show your friends how exciting, demanding, and strenuous jiu jitsu is. When you fire it up on YouTube, you and your partner look like you are dancing to classical music. During-Roll Perceived Exertion Level? 100%. Video-Distorted Exertion Level? 13%. The camera may add ten pounds, but it really does make jiu jitsu look easy.

7.  The Disappearing Dude (or Damsel).
He showed up to every class for three weeks straight. He bought some expensive gear and a dojo sweatshirt. Then . . . poof! He disappeared. No one knows why he didn’t come back, but he’s still on the Facebook fan page.

8.  The Time Warp.
You are sure your instructor said they were three-minute rounds, but it feels like you just slapped hands when the buzzer rings. Conversely, if a Big Dude is sitting on your chest, those three minutes seems like eternity.

9.  Magical Potions
Or Wolfman Jack?
Wolf-Man?
One of your gym mates drinks a strange-colored liquid before and after class. He swears it’s a protein and electrolyte replacer, but you can’t help but wonder: Is he really a lycanthrope? He’s certainly hairy enough.

10.  The Magnetic Mat.
You started out rolling all the way across the mat from your classmates. Before you know it, you are butting heads with them. What makes us gravitate toward each other on the open mat? Is it some sinister magnetic force? Or are we like heat-seeking leeches?
Ew! Gross!!!!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Jiu Jitsu Submits Migraine!


Yesterday there was a war going on in my mind.

A sinus headache was pressing down on my back teeth. There was also a dull presence in the front of my skull. Not a pounding, but a just-enough-there-to-cause-discomfort throb—the steady reminder that a migraine could blast out at any minute.
It's important to get your Latin verbs right!
To battle this, I downed 600 milligrams of ibuprofen and went on with my day, just as I always do. I am thankful that, while I get hormonal migraine headaches, I usually manage to beat them into submission with ibuprofen before they send me to bed for three days or make me vomit all over the place. Shark Girl uses ibuprofen more than prophylactically. I can’t afford to let a migraine hit while I’m responsible for getting a roomful of twenty-something teens to learn their Latin verbs. So, Shark Girl admits to popping ibuprofen at the slightest hint that a migraine might pay a visit.

But I do try not to use ibuprofen too much. They say that, in the end, ibuprofen will betray you. After years of valued service, it will make your migraines come back more fiercely. I think they call it “rebound,” but it seems more like a pact with the devil—ibuprofen will give you relief today, but then you owe your soul to it tomorrow.
That's me on the left . . .
 The previous night I had gone to sleep with the migraine, hoping it would disappear in the morning. When I woke, that dull feeling was still there, promising me that, with a too-quick turn of the head, or a louder than usual scream from Youngest Child, or perhaps not enough food or the wrong kind of food, I would be relegated to a dark room for the rest of the day. So, I did what any good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioner would do: I took the ibuprofen and went to class. 

I could feel all that sinus- and migraininess as I warmed up and drilled. When we stopped to spar, I contemplated, Should I take an ibuprofen booster? I keep a little bottle of it in my bag. In fact, I keep ibuprofen stashed everywhere—a little Ziploc pack in my coat pocket, a refillable bottle in my work bag, some in every purse. People at work know that if they need some of the good stuff, I can hook them up.

No, I decided. No more ibuprofen. The impending migraine did not seem bad enough or imminent enough to test 800mg, a threshold I’ve never crossed (I think). I crossed 600 after giving birth. They gave me a refillable scrip for these giant 600mg horse pills that conquered any pain I could imagine, and I loved it, and I loved that hospital in Boston for it. When I gave birth a second time, my new hospital tossed me a small bottle of Motrin 200mg. each. “What the hell is this?” I screamed at the top of my lungs in my beautiful, new birthing room to no one who would hear or care. “A train just ran through my vagina and you are giving me OTC ibuprofen?” That’s when I remembered that 200 x 3 = 600. Hooray for math. It really does come in handy.

Back to yesterday. Having decided on no more drugs, I put in my mouth guard, returned to the mat, and sparred. [Insert great video or dramatization or narration of Shark Girl totally kicking ass for about thirty minutes. Oh, hell, just find something cool on Youtube.]

When I walked off the mat and got ready to leave, guess what? No pain. I felt great! No headache or threat of headache. I smiled and skipped out of my dojo. Jiu Jitsu had given my migraine the smack down. I entered my home ready to embrace my perfect nuclear family. Life is really good. I heard the sweet sounds of my lovely children. Sigh. Kids are the best, aren’t they?

I’m playing with it!”
“No, I’m playing with it!”
“Don’t hit me!”
“I didn’t do anything!”
“Yes, you did.”
“Ow!”
 And then, no, please God, no . . .
 “Aieeeeeeeee!”

. . . the scream. That first-grade, piercing screech. It had a direct line to my frontal lobe. I placed my cool palms over my eyelids for relief. And ran for more ibuprofen.

Shark Girl Faces a Change

It is a turning point for Shark Girl. I haven’t written in a while. When I was a white belt, everything was new and curious. And being ...