Saturday, September 29, 2012

Shark Girl Submits

He came at me.
            “Really? You really want to do this?” I asked.
“Let’s see what you got, Shark Girl.” (Although he didn’t call me Shark Girl, because Shark Girl remains anonymous.)
“Okay, then. Bring it.”
We closed the distance between us, from the desk to the sink, both of us crouching and cautious. Yes, there were some onlookers. Might they think it strange? Unprofessional even? Perhaps it was both. But my colleague, who has some vague wrestling experience and a strong unrequited desire to train jiu jitsu, has taken an interest in my training. At various points in my jiu jitsu career, he has “tested” my progress. Today was one such day.
He reached out for me and put his hand on my shoulder. I reached out for him and grabbed behind his neck, pulling him down. Then, as he moved forward, I threw my left leg over his back, climbed up and slid my left arm around his exposed neck. As we tumbled to the ground, I adjusted my grip and put on the rear naked. He hit his heel on the floor in submission. Or something like that. It was all too quick to remember.
At that point, the others in the room took notice, and I heard, “Oh, my God. Did you see that?”
I went out for drinks with a teacher after work. We were discussing our profession and our loves and dislikes, our growing edges and where our craft is taking us. Amid the prosciutto and mozzarella di buffala appetizer, while we were delicately dipping focaccia into creamy extra virgin olive oil and sipping pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon, I told her about my morning spar in the Teacher’s Room. “I know, it’s not very professional,” I said.
“Um, it would be unprofessional,” she replied, “if it weren’t so awesome. You should write about that!” And then we shared an order of fried artichoke hearts.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On Money and Success

Shark Girl doesn’t like to get political, but . . .

Today I saw this post on Husband’s Cousin’s Facebook page. I was deeply offended and contemplated writing back. Husband restrained me. He is, really, a voice of higher wisdom most times! Anyway, as he said, “You’re not going to change her opinion.” And he’s right. I’m not. No response I could possibly make would change Husband’s Cousin’s mind. In fact, she might back-pedal a little and then try to explain how she really was right. But I, for one, think she is really very wrong. So, where can I go to vent my frustrations? Yup! You guessed it! To the captive audience called My Blog.

Here is the quote. Shark Girl doesn’t like to get all politicky, but I think the comment is offensive no matter what side of the political spectrum you swing on.

“. . . I don't care whether a President is wealthy or even ‘disconnected’ from the average American when it comes to money. I would rather vote for someone who has been incredibly successful (and wealth typically reflects success in some form or fashion) and can transfer that knowledge and skill to improving the country's situation than someone who is or has ever been poor or middle-class.

Harrumph. So money = success? Was Mother Theresa unsuccessful? Did she have no skills or knowledge to transfer to improving a country’s situation? Does this mean that only those who know how to turn a buck are worthy of running anything? What does this say about all our hard work at jiu jitsu? Should we run to the gym with the wealthiest instructor, because surely his wealth is an indicator of worth and success? Where do generosity, integrity, compassion, hard work, honesty, come in?

I have to be in class in 40 minutes, so Shark Girl apologizes for the crudeness of her post. No proofing, no editing, no pictures today. I don’t have time to spend on that anyway. My blog doesn’t make any money, so clearly it’s not successful.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Chess Hot

I’m going to give it to you straight. I’m not unattractive. But I’m not a looker, either. Most of the time, I walk through life unencumbered by the burdens of the beautiful—no one tries to pinch my buttocks, there are no demands for phone numbers, no jaws drop or heads turn when I walk in a room. I’m in my 40s now, but it’s been this way my whole life. I’m quite comfortable with being average looking, at most, kind-of cute.

However . . . put me in a chess tournament and suddenly Shark Girl is hot.

Oldest Son plays competitive chess, so I find myself in chess contexts a fair amount. At the last tournament, I was “hit on” more times than in the entire previous ten years of my life combined. “Hit on” in a chess context encompasses a broad spectrum of weird compliments, strange confessions, and awkward put-downs of my absent husband.

Apparently in chess circles, Shark Girl is smoldering.

Perhaps it’s because I come from good chess stock, and these guys think I will breed good chess babies. (I do, by the way . . . both my boys got trophies today!) At one tournament, a chess enthusiast hovered around the edges of my personal space, complimenting my son’s prowess until he found out he knew my brother and nephew who are both high profile chess players. Then, he went in for the kill. Chess Enthusiast entertained my restless children, mercilessly showing me how “good he was with kids.” He bragged of expensive chess accoutrements, and even let my clumsy son play with them, feigning not to be really angry when Son spilled a drink all over the high-end wood. He questioned where Husband was and commented that he, Chess Enthusiast, would never leave a woman of my caliber’s side (presumably until his chess match was called).

I’ve had someone tell me, “Hey, I was looking at you from behind and I thought you were a teenager! You’ve got quite nice hindquarters for a woman of your age!” Let’s not get into why he was checking out teen-aged behinds.

Yes, I am what you call “chess hot,” meaning that most of the male populace passes me by without notice, but for some reason, chess nerds find me irresistible. Is there something about my jiu jitsu physique that drives them wild? Do I have some heady BJJ pheromone exuding from my pores, alerting all nerd-type men in a hotel-lobby radius that “I play chess, baby, but horizontally”?

I guess I’ve got to take what my average-perhaps-cute-and-aging person can get. So today as I prepared to take my sons to another chess tournament, I pulled on my best Land’s End sweatpants and a ratty fleece pullover, threw my shoulders back and strutted into the lobby prepared to lean over the skittles table like some super-sexy chess diva. Take that, soccer moms!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Shark Girl Is Sad

sniff sniff . . .

Or am I just . . .
jealous?     feeling sorry for myself?
over competitive?     overworked?
                all of the above?

I’m a busy gal. You know, mom-of-two, spouse and full-time teacher. And I run three times a week and do BJJ three times a week.

Lately, some younger, spryer folks who started around the same time as me have been going to class more often. And getting better. Than me. You can see why I’m upset, right? Oh, I mean sad. Jealous? All of the above?

I know I’m supposed to concern myself only with “my own progress,” not “compare myself to others,” leave “my ego off the mat,” blah, blah, blah.

Let’s get real. I’m competitive and have high standards for myself. I work hard. I try to cut myself some slack and learn at my own pace. But when my ass gets handed to me by some young teether whom I previously trounced (okay, maybe stalemated), well, I’m not too thrilled. Intellectually I know they don’t have the pressures and commitment of spouses and children. They don’t have the same weight of years on old bones. But I don’t feel this inadequacy in my head. I feel it in those old bones.
Don't let the cute face fool you. He's a killer.

I have mixed feelings about this.

Part of me says, “Chill out, Shark Girl. You’re a forty-two year old lady doing righteous jiu jitsu. You should just be happy you can drag your AARP-solicitation-receiving ass on the mat.” But another part of me wants to embrace that unsatisfied part of me. Isn’t it those very “fighting” feelings that got me on the mat in the first place, the lone girl confronting men much larger in hand-to-hand combat (really, who does that?), convinced that I could have a shot at winning? If I “chilled out,” I would have been long gone after the first lesson.

In the end, I suppose I need to strive for that balance between competitiveness and reality, jealousy and satisfaction, hard work and rest. I need to find the happy medium that will keep me on the mat and striving to improve without feeling overwhelmed. It’s sort of like what I try to do everyday in my roles as mother and teacher. Jiu jitsu is so much like real life, isn’t it?

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