Monday, July 22, 2013

Insatiable hunger

There are times when I have such an unrelenting feeling of anxiety that I'm not doing something that I should be. This feeling always drives me to write a post because if I don't, I'll miss my chance to write something that I need to put down. My mom always told me, "do it right now before you forget." She still tells me and while it might imply that it's better to have something done before the opportunity expires, here the part of remembering serves a purpose that records thoughts that may pass. 

"No I am not, where I belong." Dallas Green otherwise known as City & Colour sings genius songs that put together words that seem to be such common thoughts, feelings, issues, but his patchwork of lines always seems to create such richly unique situations. That line stays with me because I never feel like I am where I am supposed to be. Am I simply avoiding a to-do list or am I really not following through with goals? Am I in a position to be working toward my best version of myself? Sometimes going to New York just means a simple visit to see my boyfriend. It means that going there could mean anywhere-- anywhere that he is. I'd follow him anywhere but New York is becoming more than a meeting place. I have reasons to be in LA of course but now that I've spent so much time there in NY, I find replacements for such bonds or at least reasons that allow me to leave here for large chunks of time without feeling bad. Perhaps a lot of my friends and family fear for the day I make such a move however they're already becoming accustomed to my absence.

The way I see life is by purpose and functionality. Emotion plays a large role and I'm often lead by emotions that I don't question but self-awareness is always present. I'm driven by making people think as much as I do. I never write articles that claim to hold truths or information that isn't found in the text. I wouldn't write a title that didn't accurately link to an article that elaborated everything indicated just as I wouldn't claim to be something I'm not. What I am is a seeker of bigger and better things constantly. I may not finish my dinner before my dessert or complete a goal before setting a new one but I will always seek to improve myself and my situation.

I bought a plane ticket to return to New York the night before I left to return to LA after a month and a half of being gone. I already bought a different outbound so I can get back there sooner. It's not about escape. It's not about ignoring priorities. I talked to a college advisor while I was in New York. I set up my fall classes. Before that I made the decision to enroll in an online summer class. I got my books mailed there and even started my class. I worked from there. I trained when I wasn't drenched in sweat from simply being at a standstill. My life resumed and I even took on more responsibility. New York isn't a vacation for me. I'm not lucky to be there. I'm working hard to be there and I deserve to be there, living there as I was and will be for the three week trip I chose to use as the remaining time of my summer break as it dwindles.

I won't get sappy but being away from Gianni hurts. It's that sadness that comes from missing out on important events mixed with heavy nostalgia and tossed with a side of insatiable hunger. There's a point in time after being with one person for awhile that you lose part of yourself and that person fills the hole that was left. You accommodate yourself with who they are, what they do and what routine you have together. So as much as you gain from being with someone and building a strong bond, the more you have to lose. And not only that, it makes it that much harder to separate yourself from them mentally, emotionally, physically. When you find someone who picks up what you lack, who evens out your odds and balances you, it's a shock to split yourself from that. I'm not just leaving someone who makes me feel good, I'm leaving a part of my life. I guess that's the best way to explain his role.

School for fall semester starts August 26 here in LA and I'm finally a senior after six years. If I cram in lots of credits I can graduate by Spring, or more realistically next summer. It's motivating yet still a burden to be working towards my degree. I just want to finish it. As far as Jiu-Jitsu, I failed at Pan Ams losing my first match to a great girl from Scandinavia specifically Norway and I placed third at Worlds losing to a girl from the Netherlands. Although I passed guard in my first match, it was a disappointing run where I gassed from a weight cut that should have been easy and both important events were overshadowed by covering the event for Graciemag. School, Graciemag, training. Ill be out of competition for awhile until I can work out a happy situation that doesn't require me to fail at one to secure success in other fields. I want to say that I'm an advocate for multi-tasking and going for many things at once. But right now I'm torn. Failing at one thing to me is failing at them all and I've cried, hit my head against a wall, thrown shit everywhere, yelled and felt extremely lost, disappointed and run down over it all. I can't stop but I've yet to figure out a solution. I refuse to believe that working for Graciemag is detrimental to my training, enough to cost me the world title, pan am title and the other golds I want. I'm slowly being forgotten as one of the top competitors at my rank and because losing a championship feels worse than losing a job or failing a class, I know I can't give up competing. I swear I will have a solution, just not yet. Ill post about Denmark and Sweden another time, this post is too long.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Invest in yourself not things

Sometimes I don't sign into my blog because it forces me to log out of my existing google-related websites. My email gets logged out and I have to reopen the gmail AND reconnect the graciemag email. It also logs me out of the google+ page and I have to go through three different windows just to get back to the setting that lets me post as graciemag. But eventually too much time passes, I have done a lot of work already in a day and my brain is working in a way that lets me write like myself.

I have all my tabs open all the time. The essential ones, anyway. The ones that remind me of my daily or weekly or even monthly tasks. I always have my email up because it's essential I'm reading it and using it often. Facebook is a no brainer. Flickr stays for when I need a picture for an article which is nearly every day. IBJJF stays up for references to dates, tournaments, results and all that important stuff I post about. Graciemag site stays up, one window for writing posts and another for either fact-checking, research or grabbing the picture in a portuguese article because I'm posting the translation and giving credit to the original author. Twitter and google+ stay up so that when I have to do the publishing and promoting of a post, it's easy to the article posted at facebook and those two quickly and easily. Mailchimp is up to remind me that I need to keep up with the autoresponder emails for Inverted gear.

I was told the other day that I'm no longer needed for that last tab. I was actually waiting for that because I'm not even technically sponsored by them anymore even though Nelson is my friend and stuff. They've been moving forward and I'm sort of left out of the loop anyways. It was only a matter of time until they figured out that as long as you're consistent and can think of interesting and useful advice/topics, email marketing is easy. I'll finish my last email today about how to handle yourself when losing a match and call it quits.

I've been in New Jersey at Gianni's house since I left home on June 8th. It seems like a long time and it feels it but then in the grand scheme, maybes it's not that long. We went to Denmark and I taught my first class ever at a camp led by BJJ Globetrotter Christian Graugart. I owe this subject much space in this post but it won't get much info because it happened awhile ago.

I'm not the type of blogger that wants to tell you everything that happens or every place I go to or every single thing I do. It would take the meaning out of writing here and I'd quit. Like I quit my travel blog. If you don't keep up with it, content racks up and you start being so overwhelmed that you no longer want to even post anymore. It's like falling behind in a class without a teacher to tell you to shape-up. But it's okay, I just need to talk about main points.

I covered an event this past weekend but not for graciemag. I just took photos. I feel like an asshole for writing it here and maybe I should tell them, but it's obviously not that important for them. There was a lot of hype for the event. With superfights and a whole conference of top guys to discuss how the rules and setup should be, you could expect a big event. Well, they never posted about it online once the event came. There was nothing on who won the superfights even though it would have taken two seconds to post it on social media from a phone. The photographs I took haven't been requested yet, there's no email saying where to post them like they said they would send. That's fine, and I don't care but as a person who covers events, it's a wrong move. No one will care about the event if you don't tell people about it after. If there's no press how is anyone supposed to figure out whether they are sad they missed it or decide they'll join in on a future event?

I applied for a job while I've been here in NJ and they responded no less than 8 hours after it was sent. My resume has grown and much more, my confidence. I can write content and I can build an audience through social media because it's what I've been responsible for. I'm not an expert and I can't make claims like "I'll get you 3,000 likes on facebook in a week" but I understand the value of my work and that's super important. I'm understanding the hard work that I do even if others might look at it as small, not serious of that I'm "living the dream."

I work remotely and I travel but I didn't see one thing in Abu Dhabi because I was busy working the event the entire time. The only things I saw were whatever was by the highway we drove on between one hotel and the other and the inside of said hotels. I didn't train as much as I should have for Worlds and Pan Ams because I was writing more than I normally do, visiting gyms to film/take pictures of their camps, traveling to IBJJF tournaments that I elected to take on as an effort to do more field work. I had to drop a class in this past semester of college because I knew I didn't have the resources to manage four classes so I opted for three in which I earned two A's. Now I'm taking a summer class, a full load next semester, a class in the winter session and a semester of five classes if I want to graduate next spring, marking seven years in college.

I'm in New Jersey because I know when school starts that I won't have much time to travel to NY and see Gianni. We've been together every single day since he came to LA on May 19th and the thought of leaving his side to go back home is something I avoid thinking about. I'm spending money while I'm out here, the money I should be using to pay off my credit card. I should be home training at Cobrinha's with my team and spending time with my biggest supporter, my mom. But the time here is well spent and I'm doing whatever I can to indulge before my time is up.

I've been thinking a lot about my career since I'm finally an official senior. It's hard to imagine living the life of a journalist where the work never ends and you're married to your job unless it's a really great position working for a well-known company. Desk work is not for me unless it's a desk that moves and travels along with me. I guess I have a lot of thinking to do in the long-run but for right now, I'm grateful for the position I have at graciemag.

Right now my biggest role model is any person who works hard towards something they're passionate about because it's usually against the grain, far from the beaten path and lonely. Luca, my boss, is constantly working towards new projects, bettering the company, working super long hours and fueled by excitement of what he's creating. That's admirable. People who don't rely on help from others to get where they are and understand that hard work is not just working long hours using your brain, hands or both. Hard work is having a goal that you're personally invested in that benefits you and betters you that reaps rewards. To me, I admire people who aren't driven by money as I've never been that way. Money gets you money. If you have no passions, you will use that money to find ways to get more money to use that money for things that society believes are good to have. Or you will sit on a lump sum that really does nothing but give you security that you have money should you ever need it.

I don't want to merely exist, or have goals that I'm "supposed" to have like that of owning a home, creating offspring, or traveling to resorts that have great reviews in magazines. I'd rather invest in experiences and have whatever keeps me able to do what I want.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I am living a life I previously joked about having.

Much like most people, I learned a lot about Jiu-Jitsu by reading Graciemag. At my first gym we had it at the desk and I used it to figure out who was who in the sport, especially after realizing over time how important my first instructor, Romulo Barral, was to the community. I began taking notice of who else was the "Michael Jordan of Jiu-Jitsu."

Luanna Alzuguir was one of those people. I can't even count how many times I had seen her face before I really knew who she was. Turn the first page of a Gracie Magazine and most likely she'll be there in a Koral ad.

My first gi was a Koral gi. I was given a large judo gi when I took my intro class and learned about Jiu-Jitsu Pro Gear not long after I started training. When I took a trip down south, I saw the Koral navy MKM gi and wanted it bad but didn't have the money for it. So I bought a white Koral light gi instead. I eventually bought my dream gi and it was my competition gi for as long as it would last, holding up for a loooot of training sessions, through multiple patches, a switching of teams and at least 6 competitions that I can remember.

Not long after I started this blog I created Pulling Guard Zine out of necessity. I needed to talk about more than just personal issues on my blog, I needed to take the information I was getting from Romulo and put it to use. So I interviewed him in my first issue along with my friend Beneil Dariush. That was my first issue. As I noticed how easy it was to network within the Jiu-Jitsu community and how often these black belt world champions would answer messages on facebook, I branched out. For my second issue I contacted Luanna Alzuguir for an interview. She accepted and through a friend who translated, she became my first interviewee who wasn't already a friend.

While I was training and competing as a blue belt, I worked a full-time job. I sat in a cubicle and took phone calls to sell travel packages to rude travel agents who were ironically almost always named Deborah. I kept sane by putting up constant reminders of my life outside of those cubicle walls. I put up medals and made my desktop background pictures from competing and Jiu-Jitsu logos. And I ripped out pages from Graciemag issues to use as posters. At one point, it was Luanna in a Koral ad, even.

After a gap of time where I worked my ass off in training, in hustling for writing gigs, in building my site, in networking through the Jiu-Jitsu community, in finding jobs to fuel my lifestyle, in my college classes, I got to a point where I saw some results. I won some tournaments and I got some sponsors. I got some gigs for covering press at bigger events and my pictures and articles were getting noticed. I had such pockets of depression and disappointment and then I had pockets of success that were sometimes just random. A person like Tom Callos would find me on facebook and help me out with a paid writing gig. A guy from Brazil would offer me a paid gig to write articles for his website. I'd meet people who owned Jiu-Jitsu companies, have meetings with them and IBJJF where my opinions were heard and maybe, just maybe they mattered. My skills were being utilized.

Then I got a call about Graciemag wanting to interview me for a position. And I was exchanging emails with the CEO discussing options, hourly rates and a date for an interview. I got the email confirming my interview date one day during training. When class was over I discussed with my teammates about what was going on and how I was getting to work for Graciemag. And then I got in the shower and cried really hard as if I was sad but I wasn't sad, I was almost relieved. It was a weird feeling but intense whatever it was.

Back when I was first starting out with interviewing and writing, my training partners would sarcastically say, "oh you're gonna work for Graciemag, huh?" and it seemed like such a far fetched idea. But now I am a large part of the team here and I work every single day posting content. And I went to Abu Dhabi because of it. Abu Dhabi!

And by networking and getting my foot in the door, I'm getting a sponsorship with Koral, my favorite gi company. It's a form of support that, while I'm not a black belt world champion, is suitable for my needs at this point as a competitive purple belt.

This week I've been training with Luanna on my mats at Cobrinha BJJ. We roll and she treats me like a peer, giving me advice and letting me know when I do something right when I roll with her. For the time being she is my training partner and we're helping each other prepare for worlds and she's helping me more than she realizes. It is a dream.

If someone told me I'd have Rubens Cobrinha Charles as a professor, training with the best black belts in the world including my idols, getting support from my favorite gi company, working for Graciemag as a traveling writer, reporter, journalist, videographer and photographer and dating Gianni Grippo, I'd laugh. I'd laugh hard and I'd say, "yeah, okay. cool story, bro."

It's a sappy self-reflecting moment for me and you're probably mocking me as you read this but nothing can change the fact that I reached goals that I didn't even set because I never imagined they'd be realistic. At least not within this time frame. I think I can set some solid goals from now on knowing that I'm on a real good path already. I'll start with purple belt world champion.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I am constantly learning about myself. Sometimes I spend hours on google looking up information that suits me and branching off from one topic to another. Mental issues, like the ones I sometimes google, all correlate and the fact that there are lot of theories and studies in place of fact it makes it even easier to assess multiple possibilities.

Figuring yourself out is a constant journey. You know that already. You know, it's the journey not the destination, that whole thing. You can change. People change but not unless they want to and so self awareness is a requirement. I think about how I am with other people, why I do the things I do and why I have so much trouble in certain areas. Knowing yourself in terms of mental disabilities is a whole nother genre. I mean anyone can take their downfalls and "flaws" and put them into the right holes and come up with a category. But it does help in most cases with me.

"You could be ADD or you're just smart." That's what my therapist said when I asked if I could possibly be ADD since I have a lot of symptoms. My brain moves faster than normal. I do everything fast. I drive fast, I eat fast, I talk fast, I walk fast, I take exams fast. I've gotten in two separate fender bender accidents where I was the one doing the rear-ending. I eat more than I should because I'm too busy stuffing my face to let my body tell me when I'm full. I often interrupt people and have conversations with the intent to reply rather than to simply listen because I want to and I do butt in as soon as I know where they're going with their sentence. I usually can always tell before they've closed their mouths but it's not courteous to cut people off. I found out people rarely want a solution, they just want someone to listen.

I signed up at the Disability Resources and Educational Services office at school because I found out I'd get a better registration date for classes. I was asked what other ways they could help me but I didn't need it. I've found ways to cope but it's the whole loss of enthusiasm that gets me. He said he couldn't help me with that.

I'm a big picture kind of person. I don't pay attention to details because in the grand scheme they rarely matter. What's the purpose of something? That's more important in the long run. I don't really care how exactly it happened, just that it did and the impact it made. Maybe that's why I hate history so much. Just tell what we've learned so that we don't repeat the mistakes and let's move on with our lives, shall we?

I didn't get my ADHD diagnosis until last Friday. I got an ADD diagnosis when I started going to my psychiatrist 8 months ago. Being impulsive and hyperactive makes me extra distractible, giving me the "H." It took me a long time to choose the path of medication. But traditional talking therapy once a week wasn't doing it even after 9 months. I still will never take anti-depressants despite being recommended them multiple times but Ritalin in its slow-dosage form has less side effects and doesn't make me feel like a whole different person.

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder a long time ago. That still lingers but who knows whether it's a real behavioral problem or a side effect of some other personality disorder. It's all a spectrum, really.

Either way, I'm here researching ways to be organized. Constantly figuring out why I'm not and ways I can help myself. Ways to feel fulfilled, too. It takes a lot of effort on my behalf to feel happy even though I still can't tell you exactly what that is. There's happy as an emotion and anytime I drink starbucks, win a Jiu-Jitsu match, eat Korean BBQ, hear a good joke, etc., I feel that. But that's temporary. 

Happiness is a state defined by stability and confidence. It means you are where you are meant to be without any regret or apprehension. "There's nowhere I'd rather be." And while I've said that before, it was again just temporary. 

Cobrinha once told us that winning a world championship is easy. Winning a world title for the second time, the third time, fourth, fifth, sixth. That's hard. I take it that he means it's hard to maintain that top spot. And so happiness is similar. It is a constant struggle. Money can't take you there but without it you may have a more difficult time getting there. A balance between personal relationships, financial stability, existence of goals, ability to find and feel self-worth, reaching of goals and a slew of other things. Now consider mental disabilities and it could make happiness virtually impossible regardless of attaining every other ingredient necessary.

Jiu-Jitsu gives you a lot of those parts. With certain circumstances it can bring you financial stability. But in the beginning it gives you the network of support in terms of relationships, it gives you the physical means necessary to get and stay healthy, it provides the goals and ability to find self-worth. It gives you something to constantly work towards regardless of being a black belt or world champion. It puts everything in line and shapes someone into a worthy recipient of that great gift called happiness. 

I can't preach it enough and I can't tell you how many times my depression, anxiety, ADHD all of their side effects have not only been relieved but also given a chance to surface through Jiu-Jitsu. You can't fix something that isn't there and you can't address something that doesn't always surface. But given the right atmosphere like, say, the competition mats, you give yourself the opportunity to face your inner opponent and deal with it. With that network of support, physical exertion and achieving of goals.

What an evolution of a post. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

I am where I am because I was an attention-seeking idiot.

I have my own life. This may or may not be my redeeming quality. A redeeming quality is one that makes up for flaws and faults. Probably a phrase used mostly in terms of describing another person, referring it to myself just reinforces my transparency. Learn from it, take what you can. In terms of my redeeming quality, the fact that I have my own individual goals and successes now makes up for the time I spent living for other people through attention-driven behavior. That's where my new quality picks up where I lacked-- true identity and self-love.

I lived for and through others. Not in the way that I did what others told me to do regardless of my own opinion. I mean, growing up that was the gist of it but moving further towards adulthood requires more subtle attempts at acceptance. You can only follow someone for so long until they notice. You move on to groups or cultural trends. The motivation to be liked, to have attention no matter how negative was strong. Maybe it's still strong but I go about it now through traveling the high road. I can't say, however, that this was the case up until last year. But I'll give you some insight starting early on:

Middle school was the floating era in-between where I was lost. Elementary school was easy to gain respect, just bring cool lunchables and be okay at handball. After that it takes a little more effort and perhaps an early puberty to be cool, both of which I didn't have. During those years I gelled my hair back in a ponytail everyday and wore army green zebra print shirts with track suit pants. I was entirely oblivious to the ins and outs of fashion at the time, but I slowly realized through eighth grade when I found out thong underwear was definitely in and that what you wear can be a good shortcut to becoming popular. I was actually gifted a few pairs from an older member in my girl scout troop. I wore them behind my mother's back since she did all of my laundry and her lack of "cool mom" reputation would have deemed them inappropriate-- especially for a thirteen year old. I hid them from her by washing them by hand and cycling through them during the week so I would never be seen with granny panties again. 

At my school, being pants-ed was a way for girls to look cute with a shocked face at school while really gaining attention from the boys by exciting them with flashes of their butts. I was pants-ed one night while trying to look cool in front of some popular girls and bad-ass boys. I had totally ditched my mom during back-to-school night which I thought gave me cool credits but as I was pants-ed by a fellow frenemy, my granny panties were revealed and I felt the immediate sting of horror. "Ew she's wearing granny panties!," my crush said and that was all it took for me to hoard three pairs of thong underwear in a small box on my desk at home. It paid off, though, when the guy who dumped me in fourth grade, the one who gave me my first kiss through a game of after school truth or dare, noticed the g-string peeking out of my pants in 6th period history class. From then on, I got to be made fun of but in the way that thirteen year old boys flirt and it felt good to garner such "respect."

I spent my high school days wearing outlandish outfits and never situating myself with any one crowd. Being uncategorized helped me feel like I could avoid the comparisons within a group. I could never be the dumbest one in the AP classes crowd, the sinful of the girl-next-door crowd, the uglier in the popular cheerleader crowd or the least athletic in a sports team crowd. I meandered and at first wore slutty clothing, enough to have my parents forbid me from wearing certain skirts and my 9th grade Physics teacher tell my sister about the inappropriate size of my shorts. I moved on to wearing different colored shoes on each foot, bathing suit tops over shirts, multiple tube socks and bright pink dickies. That blew over and I eventually started going to shows, wearing cut-off gloves and hanging out with meth addicts on house arrest despite being "straight edge." Having to hang out at a friend's house and invite people over for entertainment because she was on house arrest is usually a sign that you're hanging out with the wrong people but it took my parents' interference to bring me back to reality-- the only way for me to snap out of my obsession for attention if only for a little.

When crazy rigid haircuts, facial piercings, multi-color dyed hair and shitty tattoos were the qualities of my chosen culture, the most willingness I had to rebel against my parents was a self-done haircut. In attempts to make my hair big and choppy on top, I tied a bandana how I normally would when going out. I grabbed the scissors without any hesitation and I started cutting around my head in front of the bandana. This was the farthest I went because piercing my face, coloring my hair beyond the weave of highlights I was allowed and getting an underage tattoo would only encourage my parents to worry even more than they already did and possibly disown me. So instead of looking like an unruly, rebellious and "scene" hipster daughter, they were forced to live with one who wore shitty layered outfits with atrocious band hoodies and had hair that resembled a 24/7 yamulke.

See here:
This was a joke picture but not really..

It took me a couple years to grow from that trend, slowly evolving into a more normal looking human being but my attitudes towards myself still triggered negative behavior. Guys were always the "wrong" type despite my adherence to them like glue. Even through obvious signs, I always gravitated towards disrespect. As soon as I found Jiu-Jitsu at the age of 20, my identity was again defined. I obsessed over it but this time it was something of my own and it didn't revolve around others' opinions of me. It revolved around a healthy way for me to lose the weight I never realized I needed to lose, an outlet to become competitive in an organized sport, stay active and constantly be working towards goals. I never had goals or wanted to be the best at anything but competition, like I have said many times before, motivated me like no other. By my first year I was beginning to dissolve the self-esteem issues by adding in writing but I still made many mistakes in ruining a reputation I wasn't even concerned about at the time. Writing about Jiu-Jitsu gave me the voice I needed and the focus it took to get me where I am now alongside the mentors I've had in Jiu-Jitsu. Gold medals and well-received articles get me the high I crave instead of one-night stands, name dropping and attention-seeking outfits.

Today I get the attention through living a Jiu-Jitsu-centered life and writing about it. I'm given opportunities to cover events to which I can give insight through my own experiences. Of course I can't and shouldn't always take it personally but generally speaking, people are using me to get to what they want to know. Having the opportunity to go to Abu Dhabi and be the only person with information as to what it's like being there was a dream. Sure there were outlets to give you limited results, a live stream so you can watch one out of the ten active mats and some photographers to show you some of the action. But my efforts went into giving you the experience. I wasn't witnessing the training on the mats in the hotel by watching from a chair with my shoes still on, I wrote this article on a piece of paper while still sitting on the mats after rolling with Luiza Monteiro at the request of Gabi Garcia. Sure, I got my guard passed 7 times during the roll but being a part of it and regardless of competing while there or winning a ticket to get there, made all the difference. Being in the athletes' world instead of in the crowd makes all the difference in my writing. 

I may have rushed into things at the start of my Jiu-Jitsu journey, gotten involved with people in the wrong way, acted out in behaviors that showed self-hatred, but it was the combination of these downfalls and setbacks and overall bad decisions that led me to the opportunities I have today. I'm not kidding. People don't become wise by accepting everything they're told. You don't become revered for having said without doing and you certainly don't become respected for never risking anything. A weathered and worn person can teach you a lot more than an unscathed one.

I understand the importance of reputation and attitude but leading by example, mistakes and all, makes you a far better influence than anyone who pretends they're perfect.

Thursday, April 4, 2013


I made a list of pros and cons of living on each coast. I'd probably really worry the people closest to me if they knew I was considering such a trade-off. But then again they probably wouldn't be too surprised.

Last Tuesday I sat in my three hour linguistics class while Gianni found something to do in the library on campus. The library isn't too bad, I mean it was used as part of the set in the most recent Star Trek movie and the school setting for that movie Sky High (which I love). But still, it's three hours I was without him. Our time is always short and I worry that it's never well-spent.

Writing this entry makes me angry. It's not me. I always hated reporting and I hated the fact that every article without personality or emotion that I wrote would be a downgrade on my job as a writer. I have no emotion when I write anymore. I listen to music, I go to certain places, I try to be alone and it doesn't flow out of me like it used to. I simply try to recall non-biased facts but when I'm talking about my life, my job, the people closest to me, the love of my life, it's utter bullshit that I can't say what I feel.

Constant posts where I'm just trying to remember the who, what, where and when have plagued my writing style and I'm craving some sort of work that has meaning. I can do it, nothing is stopping me except for the rush. There's always the rush and the stress to produce and no real time to enjoy what I do.

I want to enjoy Gianni. I can honestly say he's the best person I have ever met.

I am annoyed, I really am. I'm at the mercy of all my authority figures, my friends, my family. Not training is not only costing me horrible performances at big tournaments, it is placing a guilt and stress on me from Cobrinha. I want to be the best, of course I need to train. But I have a job. I have to produce a constant stream of articles, cover these events that take me away from home every weekend and I have to be outgoing at these events and write and write and write and interview. My job is never ever done. It never stops. I have to spend time with my mom. I can't remember the last time we spent our usual time in her room watching a movie. Those times never happen. When I have free time I try to spend it with Gianni. He is the light of my life.

I am never in the present. Perhaps I was always like this but it really holds true these days. I'm currently using a mental thesaurus and phrase book to write this post. It isn't me. I can never relax. I am always required to be somewhere and I am always always always letting myself down. I have an essay due in a class that I am way way way lost on and it's due April 19th. I haven't brought myself to even look at the prompt because I probably won't even understand it anyway. I should be studying always. I should be getting article ideas always. I should be dieting and working out and training all the time, twice a day. I did that yesterday. I'm trying to do it today. I'm trying to do that but I am neglecting things. I am spread too thin.

I thought so hard about getting to the east coast. I really do love it there. Sitting in my linguistics class last Tuesday I could not bear the thought or the weight or the pain of dropping Gianni off at 4am the following morning. I worked the whole time he was there and when I wasn't working I was at school for two classes on Monday and one on Tuesday. So I chased him. I looked up plane tickets on my phone in class and saw they weren't too bad. When I got my home I told my mom was I was going to New York the next day and that I would be gone until next Tuesday. I thought she'd fight me on it but she not only accepted it, she offered me a ride to the fly-away and said she would leave work early on Tuesday just to make sure she can pick me up from the fly-away, take me to my linguistics class and then pick me up when it ended. I'm a horrible daughter.

You know that movie I Don't Know How She Does It? The one with Sarah Jessica Parker as a busy mom with a full-time job? Oh you don't? I don't blame you. I saw it while on a plane once and related to it. Thank goodness I don't have kids but I still feel similar to her. She thinks about her to-do lists constantly especially at night and that's what I do except I feel like I never get to check everything off. It's always overlapping to the following day, week, forever.

I chose for this. I chose to do these things but I don't want school anymore. I like the idea of school. I like the idea of being in school and constantly progressing and working towards something. I want a degree. Everyone wants a degree, it ain't bad to have. Surely, I want to graduate but not at the cost of my job, my life, my sanity. Maybe I'd be a lot more sane if I didn't have school right now.

I went to the east coast on a whim and it felt good. In my Monday class last week was when I wrote a pros and cons list regarding living here or there and I also wrote an apology letter to Gianni for not being physically, mentally or emotionally available all weekend during his trip. It's always about me and I try to do things for him as much as I can but laying my stresses and bad moods onto him is not okay. It's not.

I want to be all there. I want to separate my life from my job and feel like I'm doing enough again. Enough for my mom, for Gianni, for my boss, my coworkers, my teachers, Cobrinha, my training, my professors, my classes and for myself. But I am in my twenties. This is the time for me to stretch myself thin and find myself and put all of me into my work in every sense of the word "work." Life is work, relationships are work, work is work. If everything was easy I'd be one miserable camper. I need to always be working towards something but I just feel that I am not doing enough anywhere. It is time for some changes.

Gianni, I love you. I've never met someone so forgiving, kind, understanding and easy-going. Not the type of easy-going that you have no preference for anything. Not the understanding where you agree with everything I say. Not the kind type that walks on eggshells to avoid upsetting me. Not so forgiving that you let me treat you like shit. You are the right type of everything, the type of person that makes me feel like I'm not alone in anything. That my anxiety or my issues aren't issues at all. Thanks for being you.

I leave for Abu Dhabi sometime next week. I don't know when exactly because I haven't gotten my tickets yet. I have no idea what to expect. This is simply just another work trip where I won't see Gianni much, I'll be working all day covering events then trying to find time for bathroom breaks and eating and then I'll go back to my hotel room and crank out articles by some sort of mental will before I pass out and do it all over again. I want to ride a fucking camel.

Everyone deserves an apology. I owe an apology to everyone that is expecting anything of me. I hope to make it up to everyone soon. That's how I feel, anyway. Don't tell me I don't otherwise I'll fight you on it and have this mental stress that I don't have time to deal with. Food doesn't make life better like it used to. Watching T.V. instead of working doesn't do it. Sudoku helps a little. Sleeping next to Gianni helps. But waking up to his absence brings me about 10 steps backward on my LIFE gameboard. It will all be better soon. It will all work out. Everything will be fine. Those are my trite sayings that don't ever work. Those are just the phrases in my head that I somehow conjure up to write in my posts to make people happy.

End on a good note they say: I'm going to Abu Dhabi.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

One break for self-awareness

I am always busy. Busy is good. Busy has always prevented me from getting into a mode that people don't like. Busy keeps me happy and productive because I am like a terrier. This is mostly why I want a rat terrier. Basically, they need a job. They're loyal and full of energy and eager to please. But if they don't have the attention they need and deserve, if they aren't being exercised and exerting energy each day, they turn into a terror. I am a terror when I am without a path. So I swear, being busy is good.

I have three college classes. This is one less than I normally take. While I did have four, I stuck with three after the first week when I realized my Thursday night class was a poetry workshop, an advanced one. Like, there's complete freedom in the poems you turn in to be workshopped. I was immediately chosen to be a lead proofreader for a guy whose poem look and read like a schizophrenic e.e.cummings and I dropped that class. I don't do poetry. I write prose full of run-on sentences, alliteration and summaries.

Anyways, I have three classes a week that I can't really miss even though I do. After my December trip to the east coast, I realized I wanted to do more field work. Going to the GMA academies to showcase the classes, atmosphere and meet people, I realized it was a lot more easy to write. I'm not an office person and coffee shops, where I am right now in Montreal, Canada, is where I do my best work. I asked my boss at GRACIEMAG if I could do this more often and even cover the IBJJF tournaments on weekends as a way to boost our live coverage. It didn't take long before he was asking me which cities I could go to.

Here is where I've been so far:

Jan 26/27- San Diego WPJJC Trials I drove down Saturday and came home Sunday night.
Feb 7-11- Traveled to meet my boyfriend Gianni again for the weekend in New York/New Jersey where I experienced the blizzard. Got home after missing Monday morning class but got to Monday evening class.
Feb 15-17- IBJJF Houston Open, flew in Friday and left Sunday while competing with a 102 degree fever. Got second in a combined division of light feathers to light weights.
Feb 23/24- IBJJF San Francisco Open, flew up with my mama on Saturday, watched the Ronda right that night then worked all day Sunday and came home that night. Didn't compete, still sick.
Mar 1-4- IBJJF Boston Open, flew into New York and drove up with Gianni on Saturday. Double gold in both featherweight and the absolute. Flew home Monday morning in time for Monday evening class.
Mar 9/10- IBJJF Chicago Open, flew in on a red eye where I got about 3 hours of sleep only to compete and work all day Saturday. Got gold after one match in my division and flew home on Sunday after waiting in the rain for 30 minutes when my cab didn't come. Denied a cab by 5 companies, ran back to IBJJF crew who drove me to the airport where I was initially denied a boarding. Thank goodness they found me a spot.
Mar 12- now: Fight for Charity 2 and UFC 158. I'm in Montreal, Canada for press and I competed at the charity event in a supermatch that I lost due to an advantage against Alison Tremblay. I think she's a middle heavyweight but she won world last year. Used my spider guard but wasnt aggressive enough.

In a couple of hours I'm walking back over to the Bell Centre to cover the UFC 158 fights tonight with headlining fight GSP vs. Diaz. I could not have asked for a better fight to cover as my first big press event. I never even thought I would get here. I never thought that I'd be transferring into MMA at this point in my training. And it's on the sidelines.

When I was a blue belt I traveled up to San Francisco for some training at the Pleasant Hill Gracie Fighter academy to train under Caio. I had met some amazing people on my last trip up there and knew it'd be a great trip. The day I got in my place to stay fell through due to a roommate feud and Cesar Gracie lent me a place to stay at one of his houses since his nanny was gone for the weekend. In the process of hanging with Cesar that first day I was thrown into a plan that I let take over everything I had wanted to do that weekend. I was going to train with Nick Diaz instead and that was pretty damn cool. Cesar had him come to train on that Saturday and I was able to get armbarred by him a bunch and tag along with everyone after. That night Cesar told me I'd be going to Stockton with Nick and his friends so I did just that. I got to spend some time with him that weekend and my journalistic side wanted to kick in so bad to write about it. At the time, my zine was still a xeroxed piece of paper that I tried to stuff into pockets. I think I was writing interviews for Budovideos at the time but there wasn't an outlet for me to "sell a story" so to speak. Nothing was ever really talked about after that weekend and it feels like something I shouldn't talk about along with other things in my past. But being able to exist in Nick's element even for some days was enough to make me believe that his rebellious attitude is simply just who he is.

Being around him and learning about his feelings towards fighting would make most people decide on another life path but for me, it introduced me to the fighter life that sounded enticing. For once I was opening up to the idea of MMA and somehow I conjured up an answer for those who asked me if I ever wanted to get into it:

"When I'm a solid purple belt," I'd tell people. I guess I figured that I could branch out to other disciplines, or at least begin to, when I had gotten a grasp on Jiu-Jitsu. I don't even know what a solid purple belt is but I'm going to assume that I'm getting pretty close.

Being at the press conference and the open workouts were very different. Media members in Jiu-Jitsu aren't really different from the competitors because most people who take pictures and write, also train. We aren't guaranteed WIFI and we aren't designated a place to put our stuff each tournament. We exist but kind of on our own. In the UFC world, there is a "media world." Dana White used this term. At the open workouts I walked around feeling like a bum wearing my uggs and graciemag hoodie looking like a rag-a-muffin because I had just gotten off two red-eye flights. I hadn't really slept and I had no idea what I was supposed to do except shove my way through to film the fighters answering questions with my iphone. Many guys were in suits and besides those standing around, everyone seemed to have an idea of their jobs. They looked important in their suits. After talking to a few people I realized that most of these dudes had never trained in their life, they don't understand fighting or any discipline of martial arts and they have a huge ego because they happen to run a small MMA podcast in Ottawa after 20 years in a cubicle that made them so miserable they finally "took the plunge" and are now "following their dreams." Most of them remind me of forum trolls and half of them still work their 9-5's.

Being addressed as media made me feel disconnected from the real reason I do this. Maybe I don't fight MMA and maybe I don't know what it's like to be in the spotlight for that reason but I identify with the fighters a whole lot more than those sitting in the chairs asking the same questions over and over again. This is what I was afraid of, really. I never wanted to be so absorbed by my job that it completely took away from my training. I want to be the do-er, not just the talk about-er.

I love this job. Editing pictures, writing articles and getting to travel and compete like this is a dream. It doesn't feel like work, I just don't want it to ever feel that way. I know that I have to work my ass off to get anywhere. I have to train hard and stay focused to win Pan Ams next week. I have to pay attention to my school to pass my classes. I have to keep up on deadlines and find wifi and ignore tourist opportunities in order to get my work done and keep my job. It's not a bad trade-off, but it's not easy.

I have people remind me how much they want my job. They want to travel and compete and have Jiu-Jitsu on their mind 24/7. This helps me move forward. Not because someone else can easily take it (because they can't) but because it's time-consuming and will prevent me from being the absolute best at any one thing for awhile (except multi-tasking). There are negative effects. They aren't negative to me really, but they would be for the average person.  My job is perfect for me. I don't have a family. I don't have kids, nor do I want them before I'm 33. I don't have friends outside of Jiu-Jitsu. Really, I don't. I ended the last friendship last summer because it didn't help me in anyway. Sitting around talking about how depressed we are and egging on each other's road rage was hardly supplemental to my lifestyle. I have a long distance relationship that matches well with my lifestyle given that I get to spend time with my boyfriend at tournaments we both attend. I like being a nomad, I don't mind traveling alone or sleeping on couches or sharing beds with Jiu-Jitsu dudes who snore (wait, I do mind). I'm not high maintenance, I just need coffee.

I've made a lot of improvements. My photography is getting better and it's getting more noticed. My editor and boss have both complimented my writing lately, stating that I've been cranking out content well and the quality is improving. I think I'm passing my classes so far. I've been drilling when I can with Daniela, Cobrinha's wife. I've been racking up some gold medals. I've gotten to be a pro at traveling. I'm getting more and more opportunities and networking like crazy. I'm working on a sponsorship with a big gi company that hopefully I can secure after Pan Ams. I'm drinking less starbucks at home. I dumped the negative people in my life and I have the most supportive, kind, loving, patient, talented and accepting boyfriend. Oh and did I mention I'm going to Abu Dhabi?

I was chosen by Luca to be a half of the Graciemag team to cover the World Pro in Abu Dhabi. Telling my monday evening professor why I might miss class the day after spring break felt awesome and she obliged to helping me out despite ignoring my initial request for support at the beginning of the semester. "Yeah, the sheikh wants me there." HA!

Taking the time to analyze how far I've come and and what I've made of myself thus far is a tough feat these days. Every day is comprised of a cramped to-do list with leftover items constantly making their way through out my weeks. My planner helps but there are just too many things for me to do minimally. Don't even ask me to do my best on everything. I am doing my best within my current abilities and that's been a good amount for most to be impressed with although I'll forever be hard on myself. Never thinking I was the competitive type, I'm a different person now. Except it took me awhile because I'm not competing against others, I'm simply competing against myself to continuously one-up my previous performance.

I have to pass my classes, I have to keep up my coverage on all these events, I have to win my tournaments and I have maintain healthy relationships in my life. So far so good.