Taking Stock: January 2020

Making: I bought some cotton from Joann’s back in December. It was the first trip I had made to Joann’s since Mom died, and I found cotton for the English Football clubs we support in our house.  That is amazing, right?

Cooking: I made a french silk pie for NYE and it was amazing.  I don’t think I remember this, but, french silk pie has raw eggs in it.  Isn’t that nuts?  It was so good.  Also, I decided at Thanksgiving, that I am no longer going to be bullied by recipes calling for garbage pie crust.  Honestly, everyone hates traditional pie crust; no one is brought to the pie plate with traditional pie crust.  It is NO ONE’s favorite part of the pie.  So, I am resolving to make pie crusts that either go with the pie or pie crusts that I like; which is to say, graham cracker pie crusts.  I am all in on this for the rest of my life.  Fight me.

(Turns out that this isn’t all that of an innovative idea, Ree Drummond (the Pioneer Woman) makes hers with a graham cracker crust.  Which means that I am not, in fact, special.)

Sipping: Smoothies.  Like everyone else back on their bullshit in January, I am trying to increase my fruit and veggie intake.  I bought some special smoothie cups for Nico and me, but it turns out he doesn’t like smoothies that don’t taste like milkshakes.  I *kinda* feel bad about blending them up at 630 in the morning, because my blender is hella loud and it takes a long time to get the job done.  But when I let it blend to completion, they aren’t bad.  Also, it lets me be super judgey… like, yeah, ya girl getting her spinach in, before you even woke up.

Reading: Not as many books in 2020. I went hard in the paint with books last year. At the expense of my Pocket App reading. Basically with Pocket, you can save articles on the internet to an app for reading later. Despite having thousands of articles saved, I haven’t done a very good job clearing them. So I need to take it down a notch with the books and kick it up on the articles I’m reading.

Looking: at all the single use plastics I use in my life. I mean, it won’t have THAT much of an impact in the grand scheme of things. The internet is full of think pieces about how we aren’t going to reuse, repurpose, and recycle our way out of our plastic problem. But I’m starting to feel that guilt that comes from purchases that come in plastic. Thinking about what it would take to change the WAY we buy stuff, reminds me how absolutely hopeless this feels. Things like contact solution. Sold in plastic bottles that are NOT refillable. Can you even imagine the kind of consumer model that would make it possible to have refillable contact solution solutions? Like you go to your no packaging store and get contact solution on tap, that you dispense straight into a reusable squeeze bottle? That would be cool. One thing I did find that might be a game changer for travel are these little squeeze bottles from REI:

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Maybe that would at least eliminate the small travel bottles of contact solution I buy when I travel and don’t check a bag.  That is probably going to solve the plastic problem, yes?

Listening: To Post Malone lately.  I’d once heard that he makes music for people who are stressed, tired, hungover, and burned out.  And honestly, I get it.

Wishing: I hadn’t screwed up the Etsy order for a custom cover for my Hobonichi planner. It was from a seller in China and I accidentally included the wrong zip code. Technically, the cover has been in Chicago for two weeks and I’m just hopelessly tracking it around the Chicagoland area’s different mail facilities. To be clear- I think it’s fair to assume that the city and the address are right. I mean, would it not make sense to try my address in Chicago? Getting real sick of your shit, USPS.

I do hope I get it… it’s a cloth cover of Van Gogh’s Starry Night and it has a PVC cover.

Watching: I finished the Anne of Green Gables reboot on Netflix. I was a little skeptical at first- this Anne was a spazz. But I got over that. I kind of thought of it as Anne of Green Gables in an alternate timeline- one where Anne and Gilbert look like kids, Matthew doesn’t die, and there are people of color in Canada.

Hoping: We’re hoping David Ross at the Cubs has a good season.  While I am a huge David Ross fan, I am a little suspicious of the idea of making him manager.  I mean, he has certainly played in enough clubs, with enough managers to have seen some really good management and some really bad management. I think when Joe Maddon was the coach of the Cubs, he benefitted immensely from David Ross; Joe could be the feel good, hippy guy, but David Ross could crack the whip. Rossey could have really high expectations for the guys and want them to do things the right way, so Joe could be chill.   I just really hope that this doesn’t end up being a gimmick- mostly because David Ross is absolutely beloved by Chicago. I mean, he hit a 410 foot bomb to dead center in Game 7 of the World Series… and he is generally a nice guy.  But, I AM spoiled; I want the Cubs in the series this year and every year.

Wearing: Before Thanksgiving, I bought a new pair of warm-up pants.  My go-to pants for coaching and playing outdoor games has been a pair of black Under Armour sweats.  They did, at one point, have elastic in the ankle cuffs, but I cut that out.  They were so comfortable, but had the effect of making me look schlumpy.  If that is even possible (spoiler: it isn’t hard).  I bought a pair of tapered warm-up pants  from Target that are my jam.  I am basically living in these…its great, TBH.

Noticing: my face a lot lately. I can’t describe it- maybe it’s my age (40). Or just how I feel about my life. But I feel like my face makes me look older than I am. Maybe this is just my reality now: dry, pasty skin, dark circles, constantly broken out. In all honesty, all the ads I see on social for Curology, Thrive Cosmetics, etc. are very apropos.

Sorting: One of my goals this year is to go through my craft closet.  Seriously. I need to.  Think Monica’s closet:

TBH, I feel really good about the fact that when we lived in North Park, I had a 10 by 20 foot space that we called “The Girl Cave”, and I have managed to fit all this stuff into essentially a coat closet. But its such a nightmare to get stuff in and out of it, that I don’t. So, I don’t do a lot of crafting anymore, even when I have the time to do it.

Saving: his past holiday season was, in a word, annoying. A combination of stress and work resulted in there being nothing left at the end of the year. I need to do a little better not running out of steam in November. It would be useful to think about Christmas earlier in the year and not be surprised by it, so I have the money, time, energy to do Christmas the way I want to. Also, for all intents and purposes, I should not be leaning into the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That should be wind it down time, not kick this year in the face time.

Coveting: A house.  So badly.  Words cannot describe how ready I am to NOT be renting anymore.  I need more space… I realized this week that when you live in a small space, you absolutely must spend time and energy putting stuff away because if you don’t your space just gets messy and the messiness of a space can be draining.

Feeling: I feel really squirrely on Sunday nights.  This is likely due to the combination of adderall and pre-workout, combined with the adrenaline from playing in games late(ish).  But lately, it seems that I can’t shut it down.  So I come home from my games and am basically up all night.  At some point, I ought to just make hay out of that… and decide that is when I am going to work on papers, read articles, etc.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

The Judo Update

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

WHAT?

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.”

WHAT?

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.

FFS.

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.

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Basketball Season

Do I even keep this blog anymore?

I know.  I know.  I have no good excuses.  So I won’t.  We have a lot of ground to cover, so Imma break these up into a couple of different posts.

Nico’s basketball season ended.  He had so much fun with it.  About half-way through the season, one of his coaches (Ira- the one in the middle above) asked if Nico wanted to hang out and play in the session following ours.  Well- we’re a coaching family.  We know what is up.  So, we did- and Nico loved it.

Nico is #7 in the grey above.  We’re working on him not running away from the ball.  Turns out, this is the same in soccer as in basketball.

The best thing that Ira told us?  He told us not to focus on the baskets- at some point, all the kids’ shooting abilities will likely even out- and average shooters are a dime a dozen.  Ball handlers?  Now, that is a different story.  A good ball handler?  In demand everywhere.  Which is great, because one doesn’t have to be very big to be a good ball handler.

Birthday Ski Trip

This weekend, we headed up to Wilmont (in Wisconsin) for skiing  (for Dave’s birthday).  It was a great place to go, because overall, it was pretty mild.  Also, we didnt have to board the dogs anywhere, so that is a bonus.

Nico was pretty much a gem all day.  He listened to his instructors and tried hard.  After he realized that he didnt need to hit the deck all the time, he actually ended up being a not bad little skier.  

We let Nico do a kids’ ski class, which put him on the right track to try the tow rope and the bunny hill.  He hit that hill a bunch of times, by the end, pretty much having the hang of skiing, which was cool. After, we hung out in the lodge with the ipad and let Dave ski some more.  He reported that the lines weren’t that terrible for the 6-7 lifts that were running.  There were some steeper parts, but largely, it was a very comfortable experience for people who hadn’t skied in 10 years.  
We had Cracker Barrel for dinner on the way home.  Even though it was his birthday, Dave humored me and let us have CB, which was okay.  Even though I didn’t eat what I normally would (because I am doing this gym Whole30 challenge.  Funny, when they told me about peer pressure in high school, I just assumed that there would be more booze, sex, and drugs involved.  And less “healthy eating”. )

Basketball Boy

Wow, we have been busy, so busy.

Nico is reading.  Really reading.  It’s awesome.  He is still into just about every sport imaginable.   As I write this, he is running around the living room knocking a ball at a goal with a hockey stick narrating with a play by play “Henry runs the ball down, but he can’t hold on to it.  Lauren is onto it now, she’s hit a shot onto the back post, but now Nicholas brings it back…”
It’s pretty great.  
We also started basketball.  
Dave has been hired by a company that staffs charter schools with subs.  During the interview, one of the interviewers picked up on his real mission (to get back into coaching) and called him on it (in a good way).  She suggested that he use this as a way of figuring out if there are any coaching gigs out there.  
Me- I am not teaching this quarter- but I am no less busy.  I have the incredible ability to jam pack my schedule with stuff.  A lot of it is stuff I like doing, so it’s not too bad.  

My First CrossFit Competition

I participated in my first CrossFit competition this weekend.  It was weird/cool/fun/weird.  It was a really good competition- because a bunch of my friends and my main coach were there.  Nico and Dave showed up for two events- including the one where I set a new personal record.  On Saturday, during the competition, we had 5 minutes to find a max clean for both me and my partner.  

I had already hit 125, and got to the bar with 130lbs on it and 15 seconds left on the clock.  I must have had some adrenaline going because when I cleaned it, it felt likes it weighed 10 lbs.  So that was cool.  The above photo isn’t the best, but you can see the weight and the time left on the clock.

Overall, it was a pretty fun experience.  
 

Nico’s first soccer game

So, it is that time of the year.  The weather is starting to get nice.  Not today, (it is a bit cool), but generally.  There is no snow, so I guess I shouldn’t complain all that much.

I have three more class meetings before I am done with this quarter.  While this is the second time I have taught this course, it feels hard because I overhauled the course.  So, I feel like I am constantly on the grind.  Will be very glad when the quarter is over.  I, will have to start prep for a new course that I have been asked to teach in the fall.  It’s on the edge of my area of interest, but I never let not knowing much about something keep me from acting like an expert.

When I went to sign Nico up for soccer two weeks ago, they asked if we might want to finish out the rest of the spring season (3-4 games left).  We said yes and got Nico signed up, so he had his first game last weekend.

Let’s just say this: there were three goals scored: and Nico had a hand in two of them, and his team lost. By three.  One of the goals, he scored, straightaway.  The other he took a goal kick and kicked it to the other team.  Who then scored a goal.

In all, it was pretty fun.  They started with like 30 minutes of “practice” where they warmed up and then just did fun little games.  For some reason, this kid was OBSESSED with his jersey and with sticking his tongue out.  It is very Michael Jordan, which is cool.

What is completely crazy is how completely unprepared Dave and I were for this day.  No water coolers, no water, no chairs!  It was almost like it was amatuer hour.  ALMOST!!

I think Nico might not have really understood what was happening with the game.  And he definitely lost focus for a bit.  On throw-ins, he’d zone out along with all the other kids on the field.  So, we will have to work on that- but overall, it was a pretty fun game.  I think he is going to like playing!