Tuesday, November 10, 2015


For the first time in 27 years, I got fired. It was a part time job, that I was doing for “fun.”

I attempted to teach boxing at a new gym. It was a crossfit kind of place with energetic instructors who wear headsets and bark in sing songy voices over speakers to get people excited.  They teach boxing off an app.  Yes, an app. 1 minute on airbikes, 1 minute, combos on the bag.  Sounds easy, right?  Well, yeah, once you figure out what group goes on the bike and what group goes on the bag, it is easy. But, not easy for me.

I was told I was not energetic enough.  Even after they coached me extensively about how to make my voice change octaves, talk louder, softer, faster, slower.  They taught me how to “walk with purpose” when approaching a client; to kneel down next to him to show how determined I was.  They showed me how clapping your hands next to a person gets them to move faster. 

However, I was unable to generate genuine excitement during the class. I couldn’t yell at them like Richard Simmons to do their combos faster.  I guess that’s what happens when you put a depressive in a high energy job.  To my credit, I told them this when I first saw the class. 

Matt, the instructor, was a pretty blonde man with pretty muscles and pretty sparkly blue eyes.  He was over the top exuberant when teaching combinations and danced to the music playing in the background while he blasted out commands on the speakers.  He liked to high five people as they made their way from the bikes to the bags.  He seemed like a nice happy guy.  Next to him, I was Wednesday Adams.

I took Matt’s class and when I saw his energy, I knew I would never be able to teach that way.  I’m quiet.  Low energy, unless I’m drunk.  Or angry.  I am unable to get so excited about encouraging a bunch of people that I will try to high five every single one of them.  When I train, I don’t get high fived, and I’m going to high five these people for their shitty boxing?

I told the manager that I am not a cheerleader type and would never be able to teach like that. He said maybe there was something else I could bring to it.  He liked the fact that I was a real boxer.   A female.  A Golden Gloves winner. 

What I do offer is a good knowledge of proper technique, fight experience, nurturing, and compassion.  I’m repulsed by seeing terrible technique and will make it my business to work with people until they get it right.  The reality is, seeing a room full of 20 people who don’t know how to box, whaling on the bags wildly, was going to drive me bitchcakes. 

So the bigger question here is, why did I even try to do this?  Don’t I know my skillset?  I’m a grown ass woman.

As a struggling actress in New York, I had the romantic notion of waiting tables.  After getting fired three times, I realized it wasn’t for me.  It’s too fast paced; too many moving parts. I get overwhelmed. I was “in the weeds” most of the time.  I’m forgetful.  I don’t remember the onion rings or the dressing on the side. And I don’t think it’s okay for people to talk down to me.  I’m also not ... perky.  Not that you have to be, but I hear it helps with tips.

Does that make me a complete fuckup? Hardly, but that feeling is familiar.  The fuckup feeling.  It’s more distant now, but I remember when I got fired from my third waitressing job. It was in Gramercy Park in a place that had high ceilings and a jazz brunch and I immediately befriended the first gay waiter I saw, which was... immediately.  I felt bad for him because I knew I wasn’t fast enough in my section and he had to take over some of my tables.  I messed up too many times, so I was canned. 

For some reason, this destroyed me.  Why couldn’t I do a simple waitressing job? Even though I wasn’t “trying” to be a waitress, it attacked my self esteem. It was like a solid punch to the solar plexus. There must be something deeply wrong with me, I would think. 

I tried to become a temp soon after that, but when I couldn’t type fast enough to pass the test, I did the only sensible thing.  I became a stripper.  Fuck waitressing. 

After my meeting with the gym manager, reverberations of that insecurity resonated deep down inside me. But it was a very faint feeling. My biggest feeling was of relief.  Being a drill instructor is not my dharma.

I have success in other jobs that require patience, thoughtfulness, being good with people, one on one and overseeing others in a quiet commanding way.  I know I bring a sincerity to everything I do and I just can’t sincerely yell at people, who are not professional athletes, to train like their lives depend on it. 

The manager and people who work at the place were uber nice and welcoming and cannot be faulted with anything; except trying to get me to be something I’m not, without knowing that I’m not cut of that cloth.  My cloth is darker, a little rough, and fraying at the edges.

The bright side: It’s still normal for me to push myself out of my comfort zone to try to have different experiences.  I’ve failed so many times in life that it’s not a big deal anymore; especially doing something I would prefer not to.  The best thing that came out of this experience is that what I used to equate with self-esteem, is now self-realization; a story to be told, and later, become a memory. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Backwards and in High Heels

This saying always makes me smile because it is relevant to women on so many levels.  For those of you who don't know the saying and may be too young to know who Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were; they were amazing dancers in old Hollywood films.  Fred Astaire would constantly be praised for his dancing.  Finally, it was brought up that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did except backwards and in high heels.  Why weren't we praising the woman who was equally as mesmerizing?  It's just how it goes sometimes.

I don't mean this in a bitter way.  I actually find it amusing and accept it on some levels.  Am I an angry feminist?  Sometimes.  But in reality, I just want everyone to be treated equally.  I guess I am an angry humanist.

I was talking with a famous MMA fighter recently and we bonded over how difficult it can be to train with our periods.  She said she would get overly emotional and not be able to control it.  I would get fatigue so badly, I would walk into punches and my sparring partners would ask if I was hungover.  I try not to spar during that time of the month because not a lot of good will come of it.  There might be a day or two before, when the hormonal anger can push me further, but for the most part, I get dizzy and tired and weak pretty quickly which frustrates me.  I start telling myself that I am too old or not good enough and will never be able to compete again.  Perhaps I won't, but these feelings pass and eventually I get back into the groove.  It's a constant struggle not to believe the negative thoughts during these times.

Fortunately, even though my last two fights were about a week before my period, I didn't experience the symptoms as badly.  I think it could be the adrenaline in my body knowing that it had to be prepared to fight.  Or maybe I was lucky.  Either way, I realized that not many people talk about this because it is hard enough to be a female fighter, without whining about your period.  We just try to tough it out.  Let the sparring sessions suck and the new moves we are trying to learn not stick.  We hope the next week it gets better and it usually does.

My recent cycle knocked me for a loop.  In sparring, it was as if I thought my head was supposed to aim for the glove. I had to convince the guys in my group that I wasn't drinking whiskey the night before.  They were all men so I don't know if they completely understand this feeling.  When I told them I had my period, they were grossed out.  Sorry, it's just the truth!

Anyway guys, please remember we are doing everything you are doing, except backwards and in high heels!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

National Women's Golden Gloves- Ft. Lauderdale

The Decision to Go

Three weeks ago, my friend Traci and I went to the National Women's Golden Gloves tournament in Ft. Lauderdale Florida.  We both knew we would have matches so it would be well worth the trip.  I was already planning on attending/shooting the Women's International Hall of Fame event which was to happen on the last day there so this was an added surprise.

I found out through a Masters Boxing FB page that there was a woman named Angela Woody Huffman, who was also a Masters at 106lbs.  While she has had some smoker fights, she never fought in a USA sanctioned bout against another "Master."  I put quotes around Master because to me, it's deceiving in reference to amateur boxing.  A Master is someone who has been doing something so often, for so long, with such passion, they have owned it.  They explored every part of the thing they mastered from the inside out and have a savvy execution.  The Masters division in boxing is basically people who still want to fight who are over 40.  We often started way later in life (in my case 40) and are still trying to get the hang of a "young man's/woman's sport."  Because we started the sport so late, we have not mastered the sport at all.  Not. At. All. But I guess it's better than being called "Seniors."

Angela's picture on Facebook looked friendly and sweet.  I could see she was a wife and a mother and liked to bake cakes and cupcakes with artful icing that looked amazing.  She also had a little spark in her blue eyes that showed me she was much more than a happy homemaker.   I agreed to fight her, so she would have the experience of a real USA boxing sanctioned match, but of course, I wanted to see how I would fare against another boxer of my stature who has been training a good amount of time.  My confidence with fighting was still a bit shaky.  I didn't perform so well in my last fight, even though I won, and I wanted to make up for that.  My nerves got the best of me.  I never fought in a tournament out of town and I like to do things that frankly, terrify the shit out of me.

I would be going with, Traci Konas, an emergency room nurse who has been competing in the amateurs for almost two years.  She is very strong, tough, has great head movement, amazing cardio and a incredible heart.  She fights at 112lbs.  She is pretty with kind blue eyes, a fair complexion and dark hair. Her body is strong and toned and compact.  At 39, she is still eligible to qualify for the Olympics.  She did go to the trials in Colorado and lost a close fight to one of the top girls.  Traci is attempting a Herculean task - fighting at an elite level at a later age with less years of training than the women who have been competing at that level for several years.  She always gives them a run for their money and her heart can never ever be questioned. We train together at Wildcard, spar together and give each other support.

Getting There

We decided to make the trip together, share a hotel room and make it a girls' vacation, complete with fighting and meeting other women of the same feather.  We would be each other's corners and find a licensed coach to help once we got there.

After our extremely uncomfortable redeye flight on Spirit Airilines (*cough*) we got in at 7am.  I was completely stoned from Ambien for the next 24 hours.   Never again.  The Ambien didn't even get me to sleep, just made me loopy like a mental patient.  Traci also couldn't get comfortable on the plane and we were laughing at how sore our backs were by the time we made it to the hotel room bed. It would be a couple of days before we would get on East Coast time and our bodies would unravel.

Once I made the tournament plans and posted them on Facebook, I found out Susan Reno, one of the women from my film was going to be there, coaching some of the New York girls from the Metro team.  She agreed to corner me if she didn't have to coach one of the other girls from her team.

Strong, confident and beautiful, Susan is a great role model for female boxers.  She is another compact strong little woman (I seem to collect them) with a great spirit.  She won the NY Golden Gloves during the making "Fight Like a Girl."  She is a pro, and along with her husband, Mike who is head coach of the Fire Department Boxing Team, now coaches the top amateurs in New York. It was fun introducing Traci to Susan.  Since both of them are in our tribe, we all speak the same language; which means we could talk for hours upon hours about our love of boxing.  Of course, Susan is more of a veteran and commands that respect.  It was a treat for the three of us to have lunch together at a restaurant by the water away from the Florida humidity.  Of course, we still had to make weight so it was salad city for us.

Making Weight

Traci likes to walk around near her fighting weight.  Even though many of us tell her it is too light, I think she is afraid of not making weight, so seeing the numbers on the scale close to that weight gives her relief.  I on the other hand, don't see the point as I enjoy ice cream.  I trust that my body will drop to 106lbs even if I typically walk at 110lbs.  Pro fighters have to make much more drastic weight cuts than that and do it all the time.  Also, I know if I am a pound or two over, it's easy to just sweat it out.  Not fun, but easy to drop.   

On the first day, we had to weigh in no more than two pounds above our fighting weight.  At that point, even after the plane ride (you retain water on the plane) I was 108lbs.  Traci was 111lbs.  We ran, shadowboxed, split salads with chicken, ate rabbit nibbles of Cliff bars and after a couple of days, I had only dropped a pound.  Still, I wasn't worried, since I remember losing a pound by jumping rope in heavy sweats for 20 minutes at the NY Golden Gloves weigh ins years ago, but Traci was worried for me.  

We decided to go to Bonnie Canino's boxing gym to really sweat.  Bonnie runs the tournament with her partner, Yvette and offered the fighters her gym to train in.  Traci and I Ubered there and worked  drills in the modest ring.  There was a tall, lean, lanky girl with short dark hair jumping rope, talking with the guy that worked there.

We found out she was also fighting in the tournament at 132lbs.  Her name was Kim and she was from Chicago.  She and her husband, Mark, came out for the tournament.  They rented a car so she offered us a ride back to the hotel.  This was one of the best things that happened to us on the trip; meeting Kim, a savvy vegan with a wry smile and a cool wit.  She had won the Golden Gloves in Chicago and wanted to give it a go at the Nationals.  Immediate bonding began at the gym and continued in the car.  I need to mention that I love tall girls.  At 5'1", I accept my height, but tall girls get me excited about what life could be like a foot higher.

I found out that when Kim first started boxing, she read this blog!  She was excited to find other "crazy women" who did this.  She followed the same women in the sport that I follow and even read an article written by my husband about what it's like to be the husband of a female fighter.  She remembered it from two years ago and shared the crap out of it.  

Once back at the hotel, Kim made smoothies for us.  Since she is a self described OCD vegan she brought her blender, protein powder and had all the makings for delicious smoothies.  AND her room was right next to ours!  Her husband Mark was another tall drink of water and like my husband, he is a smart, cool Asian dude.  He agreed to shoot our fights with my HD camera.  Yes, we were able to get high quality videos of our fights and he framed them very well.

While walking around the hotel, from a corner, I heard, "Hey Jill." It was the sweet blue-eyed woman from the Facebook photos with her two adorable daughters, son, husband and coach.  Angela came up and gave me a hug.  I have to admit, I felt a little weird meeting her daughters and family face to face in such a casual way.  Usually, I don't know my opponent or speak to her.  It makes it easier to let go, hit hard and crave the win.  Looking into her children's adorable eyes made me feel a little....awful.  On the other hand, it is a sport, just like tennis.  I used to have to play my friends in tennis and I would be just as competitive as playing someone I didn't know.  Of course, I wasn't punching them in the face but we all know what we are signing up for when we agree to get in the ring....right?

Since we were to weigh in the next day and I still wasn't breaking 107 point whatever, Traci and I split another salad with chicken and at night, I went on the treadmill and ran for 20 minutes with my sweats on.  After a good sweat, I tried to just drink little sips of water until the morning.  Kim had a scale so I went next store so we could check our weight.  I was 106lbs even.  Kim was 129lbs, way under what she needed to be.  Relieved, we went to the weigh ins.  I saw Angela on line with her family and coach there to support her.  She was was so laid back.  What will she be like to fight?  I stood next to Angela and waited on line for my turn.  My nerves got my stomach churning, sent me to the ladies room and when I returned to weigh in, I was 105.4lbs on the scale.  Boom! (drop mic)

Yay!  Kim and I were victorious in making weight!

At lunch, I ate Susan's hamburger bun, my fish tacos, and Traci's pita she had left over.  Bread never tasted so good.  I asked Susan what I should do if Angela was not very good.  What if she just didn't bring it? She was so sweet and laid back.  Would I have the heart to really take it to her?  With her family there watching?  Susan said, "It's your responsibility to bring the fight.  The ref will stop it if it gets too rough.  Don't worry if she thinks this is just a family vacation.  It's not.  It's a fight." She was right, if I respected her, I would bring it no matter what happened. It was only fair to both of us and God knows, no one ever took it easy on me in a fight.

The Fight

I can't even say how grateful I was that Susan was there to wrap my hands and that Traci stayed with me for my warm up.  The support was so necessary.  Nerves were bubbling up inside and I was somewhat numb.  Once again, as my hands were getting wrapped I wondered, "Why the hell am I doing this?  This is definitely the last time."  I have thought that 9 times now.

As I went to the bathroom for my fifth pee, I saw Angela hitting pads outside in the front with her coach.  I suspected she didn't want me to see her.  She was hitting hard and fast with a lot of energy and great technique. My heart sped up and I started sweating.  I don't think it was a hot flash this time, just nerves.

I went back and told Susan and Traci what I had seen.  I assured myself that everyone looks good when they are hitting pads.  (At least people who are good)  They agreed and told me to concentrate on my own game.  Traci and I moved around.  I had her charge at me so I could practice dealing with a charger.

Kim's fight was on before mine so I took a break from warming up and cheered her on. Six feet tall, lanky and strong.  She boxed her girl with nice movement, kept her back with the jab, hit her with powerful right hands and easily won the fight.  Somehow it was a split decision, but I am still figuring out how they judge these things.

Then, it was my turn.  Susan and Traci walked me to the ring and I got inside. My heart was pumping, but my nerves weren't as bad as the last time for some reason.  Maybe because the girl wasn't a personal trainer/weight lifter who was 8lbs heavier like last time. They announced Angela who got in the ring and raised her hand like she had done it a million times, and then they announced me.  I also raised my hand, playing the part of a boxer who wins.  In the middle, we touched gloves and went back to our corners.

My intention was to practice being calm, feel her out and fight my fight.  When the bell rang, she immediately charged at me and pushed me to the ropes.   I got out of it and started boxing her.  Moving around, making her miss and coming back.  She was a force to be reckoned with and any thoughts of taking it light went out of my head as she came at me.  I came right back at her.  I wanted to punch her as hard as I could with my right hand so she would think twice about coming in.  Uncharacteristically, I brawled, pushing her back with punches and force. "Nobody puts baby in a corner," was an actual thought that went through my head.  In fact, at one point, I accidentally pushed her down.  In the movie screen of my mind, I remembered seeing sparring sessions and fights where the other person was able to push me around and I was not going to let that happen.  Especially, since in the amateurs, they usually award the aggressor.

After the first round, Susan and Traci told me to breathe. Susan was grinning and telling me I won that round but not to brawl.  Box. That is what I do best.  My coach, Rich, called Susan earlier to tell her not to tell me to put my hands up.  For some reason, I breathe easier when my left is down blocking my body and my right is used to block punches and throw hard.  Not sure why that stance speaks to me, but it does.

For the next two two minute rounds, I boxed and moved and sometimes pushed back.   I ate more punches than usual since I was choosing to mix it up.  There was definitely an uppercut in there that I felt! I landed a few good right hands that sent her head way back and whenever they landed, she would laugh hysterically!  The little fighter in me vowed to keep her laughing.

She aggressively put me in a corner, I turned her and put her in the corner throwing non-stop punches.  Ugly, but effective, I suppose for the amateurs.  In the last round, we were both feeling a bit tired, but fought our hearts out.  At the end of the round, I was getting upset with myself for feeling the fatigue and yelled when I threw my right hand as if to force myself to keep going. At that moment, the bell rang.  Fight over.  Big hug to Angela.  What a warrior.  Toughest unassuming mom I ever met.

Susan and Traci were grinning ear to ear.  As they were taking off my headgear and mouthpiece, they said I did what they told me to do.  I listened and dropped body shots when they said, moved around, doubled the right.  Whatever they said, I did.  I was hoping for a good outcome.  No matter who's hand was raised, I actually felt like I fought a good fight.

When they announced my name as the winner, I was so happy and relieved.  For anyone who knows where I came from and how I started, winning the National Golden Gloves, even for the Masters Division did not look like it was ever in the cards for me.  Even though I had more fights than Angela, my confidence was not there the way it should be.  I told Angela she was a tough MFer, hugged her again, got my medal and left the ring.  My friend, Malissa Smith, a writer from New York who had seen my film and knows how far I have come, hugged me and complimented my skills.  I said something self effacing and she assured me that she saw skills in there.  Again, I know it wasn't a beautiful fight, but I did do a lot of things right in the heat of the moment.  It was better than the last one against a challenging opponent.  Any time I improve is a win.  My rule is if this fight is better than the last fight, then you won.  I hope Angela sees it as a win as well.

Overall, the whole trip was a win because I got to fight, meet amazing women, work the corners of Traci and Kim for their competitive fights, bond with weirdos like myself, and gain just a little more confidence in myself as a fighter and as a coach.  My run of training hard and fighting is coming to an end for now, as I need to concentrate on my film work; but I will keep doing light sparring and stay in decent shape for my mental health, as well as coaching others.  Please reach out if you want to learn to box.  It's the best thing ever.

Watch Fight Like a Girl if you want to see my very modest beginnings!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

RIP Maxine

So much to blog about.  So little energy to do it.

To start with, Gary and I put our sweet Maxine to sleep yesterday.  We decided the cancer had eaten her up long enough.  The grapefruit sized tumor on her front left leg constantly oozed blood and puss and we would have to mop up wherever she decided to lay down.  Maxine would feel bad about it and sometimes amble down the stairs to the basement where she liked to punish herself.  The open wound/tumor also stunk up the whole house with this rotted flesh, zombie death smell.  I would force myself to tolerate it at night when I would lay behind her and pet her for hours while watching television on the hard wood floor.  She loved being pet and cuddled so it was the least I could do as her days became numbered.  The stench was a part of her.

Until a few days ago, she was still eating pretty heartily, but as the days went on, her tail wags got weaker, less enthusiastic.   Her eyes weren't as bright and sometimes, she looked uncomfortable even though she was on a steady diet of Tramadol and wet food.  Her life energy was slowly escaping and we couldn't watch it anymore.  She wasn't as happy as she almost always was.

So yesterday, Gary came home from work early.  We took the dogs outside and sat  on the grass with Maxine, Rocky and Lola for about an hour.  Rocky and Lola were uncharacteristically calm and quiet.  Gary and I took turns cuddling up to Maxine and telling her how much we loved her and what a good girl she was.

We were glad we got a portrait of the three of them done before she got too sick.

The artist perfectly captured all three of them.

Maxine had permanently soiled our L-shaped couch; so for the last few months, we covered it in plastic and canvas tarps.  We had to put her in diapers at night so she wouldn't piss all over the dog beds.  We would cut holes in the diapers for her tail, put them inside custom made cotton doggie pants and velcro them closed.  In the morning, we would take out the soggy loaf of diaper and throw it out.  At dinner time, I had to mash up four different medications in her food and make sure that she didn't spit any out.  Again, the smell of the tumor was intoxicatingly foul.  It also was probably one of the most hideous things I have ever seen; knobby, bloody with sprinklings of brain like matter and puss, but even with all this, we wanted to keep her alive as long as she seemed happy.  When she didn't eat her breakfast yesterday morning and laid down sadly, we knew it was time.

I don't feel like walking through the process.  Let's just say, Gary and I watched her go to sleep.  Peacefully and gently, she laid down.  Tears rained down my face and I breathed through a very heavy heart.  Gary's eyes were red and I saw some tears drop from his face as well.  We hugged and kissed her body and left her sleeping on the shag carpet on the floor at the Vet.

Depression hits me in waves of fatigue.  I need more naps than usual.  Yesterday, between sleep and naps, I slept a good 14 hours.  I usually need 7.  Working through the grief actually isn't as bad as having a depressive episode for no reason.  At least I know I have a reason why I am sad and slow and foggy headed.

I keep thinking good thoughts of Maxine.  When we adopted her, she had been returned to the foster parents twice.  She snapped at us, pissed on our furniture out of spite.  We finally "loved the bad out of her" and she became the sweetest most loyal dog.  She would gaze at Gary with her big soulful eyes as if he were the dreamiest man she had ever seen.  She was enamored by him and always wanted to make him happy by obeying him.  We would laugh at how protective she was.  When we first got her and Rocky, I would go on a business trip, come back, and she would growl at me like a jealous lover when I hugged Gary.  He of course, loved this and encouraged it.  Maxine was Gary's first dog. We adopted her together, were responsible for her life and made the decision together to let her go.

People's outpouring of well wishes has been sweet and healing.  We know it was the right thing to do. We will miss her.  But, that's part of being a dog parent, giving them the best life you can, constantly outliving them and giving them over to the other side; letting them go, wishing them well and allowing yourself to heal on your own time.  We have two other dogs we are still responsible for, but if we didn't, I'm pretty sure we would start the cycle again when we were ready.  After all, for the most part, a rescue dog doesn't always mean that you are rescuing them.  It's often the other way around.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Hot Flash

After three years of not being in the ring, I took a fight against a girl who was 115lbs.  I weighed in at 108lbs.  She did not have any fights and I was hoping my years of experience would get me the W.  They did and I won.  However, the win wasn't as satisfying as I wanted it to be because when I saw the video, I recognized a lot of mistakes - which is typical for me.  To be critical.  I felt that for my years of experience, I should be much better.  Then, I remembered where I came from and how it started.  In the beginning, I couldn't get through a sparring session without freezing, crying, and hyperventilating by the second round.  I was fighting through other issues.  It took a long time to overcome that and to get where I am today.  With a little more work, I can get further.  And I will.
June 12, 2015

This time, I am a little older and not as strong as I was when I started.  I can still hit hard, but not that really satisfying pop I would feel 8 years ago.  On the day of my fight, I could feel myself getting very hot and sweaty.  This happened again when I was getting my hands wrapped.  I don't know how many other boxers have experienced hot flashes on the day of their fight, but I can tell you it is disconcerting.  I knew this month was going to be tougher because my cycle was coinciding with the fight, but did not know how it would pan out.  It panned out in hot flashes.    I tried to imagine Mayweather having a hot flash.  I decided to laugh at it because....what are my choices, really?

The biggest task of the day was to relax and try to be calm enough in the ring so my training paid off. This was difficult when I looked to the other side of the gym and saw a bigger girl who, when she hit the pads, popped them very loudly.  To make matters worse, my coach knew her from his days of training at Gold's.  She was a fitness person, into lifting weights.  She could be a lot stronger than me.  7 lbs heavier and 7 years younger.  Why did I agree to fight a bigger girl?  I must have been delusional.  This is all stuff that can get into your head if you let it and it was knocking on my mind's door.  I knew from experience to let it keep knocking until it was drowned out by another sound.  My confidence in my movement, my boxing.  I have sparred bigger, stronger girls and I still do.  I can hold my own for the most part, even against the pros.  I had to practice letting those thoughts pass through my head.  Those thoughts of "What if? She looks strong," etc.  For every fighter, our minds play tricks on us leading up to the fight.  Some worry about their weight, others worry they will get too tired, some that they won't be able to relax.  It's a constant practice of letting go of these thoughts.  None are helpful.  None will do you any good.  

The fight came upon us quickly as we were the fifth bout.  My coach, Rich, had me practice defense, movement and hit the pads.  He wanted me to go in warm and relaxed.  At least I was warm!

The first round he told me to take it easy and feel her out, but when the bell rang, I started jabbing and felt the need to engage. We exchanged and I got some good shots in, but it was chaotic.  After the round, I sat on the stool and Rich told me my heart rate was too high.  My other coach, Cliff, was calmly telling me to breathe and relax.  I locked eyes with him and drank in the calming energy.  Then, Rich said that I was making it too hard on myself.  Just stay with my style and box in and out and it would be an easy fight if I did that.  In the second round, I was able to get into a groove, get a little swag on and fight my fight.  I could tell I was winning.  In the third, I continued on and went in for some more combos.  Even with my mistakes and awkward moments, I felt like I won.  When they announced that I did, I made sure not to make a dorky face because whenever I win, I seem to make a dorky face like I am surprised.  Then I have to look at the picture and regret it forever.  I congratulated my opponent for getting in the ring.  It takes giant balls to do your first fight and she was just initiated into the club.

Now, because of a delay in the schedule for my next film, it looks like I will be fighting in July at the National Golden Gloves.  There is another "little old lady" as I like to say, who is willing to get into the ring and fight.  She will be exactly my size.  It will again, coincide with my cycle and I will be flying on a redeye to get out there so it will take a while for me to feel rested.  Nothing like stacking the deck against yourself.  But I do know, at the end of the fight, that even with mistakes, fatigue, even a possible loss, the fight will give me confidence. In the beginning, I didn't know if I would be able to survive three or four rounds, let alone win a fight. I didn't know if I would be able to relax or breathe or work through my demons enough to be present.  With four wins behind me now, I beat those odds.  Everything else is a hot flash of gravy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cougar Hooters

Whenever I see "Energetic! Outgoing go-getter!" in a job description, I take a deep sigh and don't read any further.  I actually am a go-getter at the end of the day, but I don't want to have to act like an overzealous television host in order to get a job.

It's weird looking for work, when you are a person that does many things.  I can shoot, write, edit, produce, direct, box, teach boxing, teach tennis, and take care of dogs.  I am  a Jill of all trades - master of nothing.  My best trait is being able to work with people to come up with creative ideas to achieve what they want and problem solve like a motherfucker.  I think that is a good skill, but I still struggle with how to make money doing it.

My birthday is tomorrow and I am in a serious mid-life crisis.  I have my own business, but my corporate videos, events, instructional and weddings have slowed down to a heart stopping lull.  Most of my contacts are in New York and I haven't lived there in eight years.  I still have clients there, but since I don't see them regularly, maybe they are moving on to other vendors.  I finally finished a film that got worldwide distribution and won some awards, but it will be a while before I see any real money from it.  My other projects that I am trying to get off the ground are dream jobs that will take a while to develop. This "job limbo" is a place I have been in several times before, but it was when I was much younger and was willing to put myself through a lot worse in order to make a buck.

I actually saw an ad on Craig's List that was looking for "attractive women" and I used to explore those options when I was younger.  But now, I live in LA and a lot of people think attractiveness and youth go hand in hand so I could be fucked just by showing up.  Besides, but I am too old to take the bullshit that goes along with those jobs.

Back when I was an actress and in between jobs, I would call the go-go bars and strip clubs and get myself back in the mix.   There were no major commitments besides showing up for your shift.  You made cash right then and there and took it all home with you at the end of the night; stacked the sweaty bills in your drawer and lived off it until it was time to dance again.  I started to write and go on auditions in my downtime.  I wrote a play and even though it got published in "Women Playwrights: The Best Plays of 1998," it only paid $50, so I needed to be a stripper.   However, stripping became soul sucking and I got to the point where I couldn't bring myself to do it anymore.

At one point, I considered selling my eggs for $3000, but I struggled over the idea of it. I would be nervous because I'm not sure I would want a child with my genes in the world without me to handle it.  I feel like I would need to be there in order to explain why the child throws a shit fit when she loses pin the tail on the donkey or why she refuses to use a spoon or fork when eating, choosing instead to put her face in the bowl, lapping food up like a dog.  I cautiously began going through the process and wrote about it in a novel that lives in my drawer.  After finding out I am a carrier for cystic fibrosis, selling my eggs was not an option.

One time, I considered getting spanked for $10,000 by another girl for a rich guy in his hotel room.  I was told that I would be provided with valium and xanax to alleviate the pain.  However, the woman who was setting it up died of a heroine overdose before I ever agreed to do it.  I hope it doesn't sound  awful when I say, I am very grateful for that.

After stripping, I would do liquor promotion jobs.  I would show up at a bar for a liquor company and promote the drink they were featuring to the people in the bar.  It was kind of like stripping, but I got to wear clothes and retain a modicum of dignity.  It was only two hours and would pay $100.  Plus, I got to drink hard alcohol at work. One time, while peddling some rum, I had an ovarian cyst burst and passed out at the bar. I was taken away in an ambulance and the promotion never hired me again.

It was then that I revisited my tennis past.  I played while growing up, was First Team All-State for my high school and played for a division 1 college team.  I remember teaching privates and heading a kid's tennis camp when I was 21.  Even though I hadn't played in years, I started applying.  I called up any and all friends who played tennis so I could shake off the rust and get back into the groove on the courts in Central Park.  Finally, I got hired at a club on the upper Eastside and was able to teach until I started getting serious with video.

When I finally invested in a camera and learned how to shoot, I shot in comedy clubs with a Vietnam Vet/videographer as my mentor, recorded comedian's sets and made their DVDs.  Of course, weddings were profitable, but more stressful than stripping, teaching tennis, or probably getting spanked.  Still, I was cutting my teeth on shooting and editing and learning a skill I would hopefully be able to use later in life.  And I did.  And I do.  I made two award winning feature films and several shorts with the skills that I learned.  I also ran a very profitable company ...until we moved to LA and the jobs started to dwindle.  Still, I trust that the next thing is coming, whether it's another video job, a writing gig or Cougar Hooters.

Saturday, February 28, 2015


So many of my friends train for fights and the week before the fight, they are exhausted, weak, sore, and more run down than Keith Richards.  I know.  I have been there.  You think you can't possibly train enough.  That if you miss a day, you will forget everything.  That you need more cardio, more cardio, MORE CARDIO!!! You spar when you are tired just to get the work in and wind up taking more shots than usual and you think this is the way champions train.  It isn't.

I know we hear stories about fighters who train in the middle of the night because they know their opponent is sleeping while they are getting the work in.  We hear the phrase, "No pain, no gain."   We know that successful people put in more hours than less successful people.  This is all true, but some of those valuable hours are spent resting, replenishing, letting your body re-invigorate itself.  I'm sure this is true of all sports and many professions.

The champions I know, value rest.  They are experienced enough to know that when they are fatigued, they shouldn't spar or keep pushing themselves.  They trust that they won't forget how to punch, move their heads, grapple, or whatever they have laid the groundwork to do.  Of course, you have to push yourself, but at some point if you aren't giving your body time to heal, you are just draining yourself and wearing yourself out.

This rigorous regimen plus dropping weight will lower your immune system and I know several fighters, including myself,
who get sick either right before or right after a fight.  If you are a true fighter, you will probably have to learn this lesson the hard way like we all do, but I am hoping these words won't fall on deaf cauliflower ears.

"There is a time to fish and a time to mend the nets." -- Kahil Gibran