Thursday, April 15, 2021

I Can't Drive 55!

What 55 year old uses a Twisted Sister reference?

This one.

Fifty-five used to be the age of retirement, an age where one moves to a gated community in Florida, sits on a park bench and throws stale crusts of bread at pigeons. At least, that's what I thought, as a kid. 

They say 55 is the new 35. 

I never expected to live this long as I have taken a lot of risks in my life and have many friends who did not make it to this age. 

Thank God, because I'm just getting started.  

Instead of playing golf, I'm boxing and coaching boxers.  I have been a student of the sport for fifteen years now, am always learning and still excited to discover new moves and to watch rising boxers make their way.  My students go from no training at all, to having a basic knowledge of the sport and some take it further. Boxing is no longer the A number one in my life, but the love for it is always there and I will always use it to make myself and others feel strong and confident.

For the last five years, I have dedicated myself to learning screenwriting and slowly but surely, keep improving. A couple of these projects are moving along.  Another documentary project also might break and if it does, I will be busy working extremely hard in a new arena that is daunting, but exciting. 

My focus is laser-like in the new avenues I am pursuing and all of it is backed up by years of life experience; years of living my life in varied subcultures, dealing with depression, struggling as a bohemian artist in New York, having early success with my writing and then struggling again. Then, living life in a downward spiral and turning it around; shockingly (to myself) getting married later in life and staying in it for 16 years with a solid guy I wouldn't have dated in my youth because my values were mixed up; learning how to live in a committed relationship. 

Then, pursuing a combat sport when most athletes are winding down or retired; accepting certain things about myself in order to rise above them; learning to have faith even when everything is looking bleak and sharing my darkest experiences in order to encourage others that overcoming adversity is a "thing."

I'm grateful to have met so many stunning people in my life. I'm sad for the ones that departed at a young age and hopeful for the ones that are still moving and shaking. 

While my parents are getting older, they are still alive and I  have the comfort of knowing they are in New Jersey, where I grew up. That part of my life is not gone yet. It's not "Dust in the Wind." 

I am lucky that I can remember the 70's but still know how to use Zoom and Venmo. There are still so many things to look forward to, people to meet, skills to learn and improve on. 

I guess this blog is somewhat of a cliche reflection of the "age is just a number," but that doesn't mean it isn't a degree.   I can see with my parents that their bodies are breaking down; they have physical pains they didn't have when they were young and I have to admit, it's not easy to witness.

Realizing that these aches and pains are just scars from living a long eventful life and focusing on the joy we are privileged to still have, makes it easier.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Long Time, No Blog

Long time, no blog. 

I haven't felt like putting my thoughts out into the world lately.  I didn't post much on Facebook this year or tweet. I don't want everyone to know everything I'm doing all the time. But, I used to. It's funny as we age, the changes we go through mentally.  Now, not so much. I love telling stories about other people, coaching others, putting them in the spotlight, making people laugh (always loved that) and contributing to their "process."  I am more like a big sister or parent than I am a peer to the folks that surround me most of the time, and I don't mind it.  Not having kids of my own has been a blessing in that I can nurture the people around me that need it. My dogs will never hate me for no reason and they always want to cuddle. Not to mention, for some reason I need a lot of sleep or become a dysfunctional zombie. The need to be recognized and adored is waning. A healthy balance of acceptance and striving is what I aspire to.

However, as a contrarian, I'm not sure that I want to become "invisible" as I age. Is that what is happening? Organically, in some ways it is.  One of the characters in a play I wrote was an "old stripper." When I first wrote it, she was forty, but the longer I performed the play, I made her 50. The perspective of age changes as we get older.  50 was impossibly old for a stripper.  As Maggie Estep mused, we have come to a "sobering realization that we'd reached an age when stripping might not be lucrative." Besides being funny as hell, it is actually freeing. We have been on the planet long enough to develop other skills that come from a place inside, that is uniquely us. We are not shells to be objectified, but little suns giving off our own light. The light often shines through a computer or movie screen, but it is our light just the same. This is not to criticize women who are stripping.; it serves its purpose for sure and the material you are gathering is unmatchable, but for me, creating something and seeing it through is much more rewarding. Not being at the center of it is also liberating.

My birthday was last week.  At my age, the hoopla is that I am alive, free of serious injury and can still box. My energy has gotten better so I can do more with the people that I train and I'm actually sparring again. (Light.) No more hard blows to the head as I notice my short term memory getting shorter. I will be watching a TV show and forget what just happened.  I try to watch "Law and Order" so that I can guess the next scene and usually be right, but many times it is like a brand new episode. Boxing or age? That is the question. As I segway into more writing work, I will need my noggin.

Looks and Appearance - something that has always nagged at me through the years.  Now, I didn't want to even address this, because as a "woke" woman, I'm supposed to accept the beautiful aging process - embrace the wrinkles and sagging. Frances McDormand that shit. But, after being a homely, little girl ignored by the male species, I was grateful when feminine things started to happen. I noticed (and still notice) that people are nicer to me when I wear make-up and don't look like a Rjiker's prison guard, which I do, most the time. I'm not above a little botox or filler if I can afford it and I do notice a difference in how people treat me when it runs out. It also just makes me feel better, like getting a haircut, or whitening your teeth. Would love for that not to be true but it is. Not a bad vice. Much better than doing cocaine like I did in the 90's.

My longstanding friendship and family bonds are strong and I appreciate them even more.  That is what will get you through the really tough times and multiply the joy for the really good. Changes are happening. Look at the way I'm writing this. My stories used to be about Jersey Go-Go girls, drag queens, hustlers, drugs, dominatrixes and the Lower Eastside. This blog is like someone who has listened to 10,000 hours of self help recordings. Which is true. At the end of the day, I am embracing my age reluctantly. I still can't stomach the AARP cards that come in the mail, but I did just get my first senior discount.

As Bette Davis said, "Getting old is not for sissies," and I ain't no sissy.

Monday, April 30, 2018

The Mick To Her Rocky

It has been a pleasure watching the women I have been coaching advance way beyond my skills. Of course, there is that little shitty feeling, but it's easy to let go of - most of the time.

Recently, I had a little burst of energy and thought that maybe I could train harder to at least spar  more competitively with the women I have been training at Wildcard or Outlaws in Reseda.

I tend to find myself sparring again because there is another woman at the gym my size who needs it. I'm usually a little smaller than they are so they can gage how it would be fighting someone their size. I have learned to "play tag" in the beginning to show them where they are open. I'd rather them not risk a concussion with real sparring until their defense is much better.  I have become that boxer- the stepping stone.

Three weeks ago, I started running three miles a few times a week, incorporated weight training and more light sparring. The first thing I noticed was the bad habits coming back - Looking down when I was rolling or how sloppy I was in the ring when someone really challenged me - came at me with intention. As long as I was boxing, keeping my jab out and moving around with people who didn't want to hurt me or charge at me, I was fine.  My reflexes and defense are still there after three years of not being in the ring from training people to block and slip. But, the pressure. Oh the pressure throws me off - I should mention this was pressure from a person 20lbs heavier than me, but when properly trained and conditioned, this was pressure I taught myself to deal with when I was fighting. My punches, which used to be powerful for a 106lb fighter are now light tags and I can't legit keep people off me. Everyone is at least 10 to 20lbs heavier or 10 to 20 or even 30 years younger. My muscles have thinned and my energy is not what it was.

I recently turned 52 years old.  Besides trying to accept my face and body changing, (Not easy) I have bouts where I get physically exhausted if I try to train like I used to. One day running and sparring and doing mitts means the next day lying on the couch drained with regret for overdoing it. Since my primary focus these days is writing and developing creative projects, there is no room for days like that.

I always tell my friends to remind me not to train like that anymore and to not let me think I can fight again because it takes so much out of me, but for some reason there is still that fighter who gets encouraged that day when I'm sharp with my defense, hitting the mitts hard with good form. There is that little spark inside of me that wants to challenge myself, test my mettle. I get excited watching experienced boxers with beautiful technique get in the zone of slipping, countering, rolling, doing fancy footwork and putting together smart combinations. I want to get in there with them. Experience has shown me that if I really put in the work, I can get much better. But at this point, why put in the work? What do I have left to prove?  In 2015, at 49, I won the National Golden Gloves in the Masters division, my first time flying across the country to fight in a tournament.

But the bigger win was before that.  I had to overcome panic attacks in the ring from sparring. I used to shake and cry after rounds and had no idea why.  I learned I had PTSD and somehow was able to work past that in order to have 12 fights, winning 8 of them. What is it inside of me that wants to mix it up with the young guns?

Now I truly understand why boxers don't retire when they should. The regimen, comraderie, body conditioning, and focus gives you a purpose like no other. Having blind faith in yourself that eventually pays off is intoxicating.  But as I watch a woman I started training 3 years ago, move like a gazelle, holding her own with a pro boxer, I feel so full inside. Another woman I just started training 8 months ago, is hitting harder than ever and is finally slipping and rolling under big punches and coming back with her own combos. She has the fire that I don't have anymore and it's okay. It's time for me to be a proud mama. To be the Mick to her Rocky.

I'm about to start a new film project that is going to take every little ounce of energy out of me.  It's going to require the fighter in me as well as the filmmaker because I have to get justice for someone.

This will be a mental and emotional fight and I know I still have that in me.

Monday, November 13, 2017



Shy and self conscious.
Didn't even have my period yet.
Secret crushes on boys who did not know I existed.
Infatuated with Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson and Bjorn Borg.
More sporty than girly, but desperately wanted to catch up.
Just started to wear make-up that year.
Wanted to be considered attractive after homely tween years.
Loved to read alone in my room or listen to records with my dog.
Dreamt about moving to NYC and becoming an actress.
Not popular, but had good friends.
Late bloomer.
Never would have considered dating a 32 year old man.
Why is this a conversation?
Not going to write a think piece about this. I swear.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Never Too Old for Mono

They call mono "the kissing disease." You're supposed to get it when you're a teenager from making out.  You stay home from school for a few days while classmates gossip about who you got it from. You heal by watching soap operas, old TV shows and documentaries about serial killers.

While I have always been a late bloomer when it came to my physical development, my first kiss, and first husband, I never thought I would contract mono at such a late stage of my life: a stage where another woman might be marrying off her kids, winning a Nobel prize, be established in a career of her choice or getting ready to retire.  I have mono.

Fortunately, I work from home so the two naps a day thing doesn't get in my way too much as long as I don't leave the house.

The dogs don't like when I go back to bed in the afternoon, so I have to crash on the couch. That way they can sleep in rectangles of warm sunlight. Otherwise, they bark at me, sending waves of guilt through my weak body.  Then, I stumble to the couch and we all peacefully pass out.

Apparently, I have had mono for several months, but pushed through it -  which got me sicker.  I'm used to having a boxer's mindset of just forging through whatever difficulty you are facing.  That doesn't work with Mono.

It's part of the reason why it's been so draining for me to work out hard or stay focused when I am writing.  In a way, this is a relief.  I thought I was just getting "old."  I know some women can keep grinding it out for longer, but others run out of energy sooner.  There comes a point where no matter how hard you push yourself, you don't get stronger and better, you just go further downhill. So you have to listen to your body.  At least now, I believe I can get strong again. I just have to go at a different pace.

In the past several months, I have spent more time outside the boxing ring coaching, than inside battling it out. The idea of getting my cardio up to "fight ready" is daunting and doesn't even seem possible in this moment. The good news is that the two girls I'm training are getting closer to that, have eight times as much energy as I do, and more pop and explosiveness in their punches and footwork.  It's a different kind of pride knowing I helped guide them. Also, I discovered a protectiveness I never had for myself.

Since I never had kids, I am a bit delayed developmentally. (There are other reasons.) I didn't have a reason to grow up or a way to mark time besides the death of my dog. But even then, Gary and I started over again with puppies so we basically became new parents.  Being dog parents is like the movie,"Groundhog's Day."

Gary is the same way. He is a grown man with a light saber.  So we feed into each other's delusion of being 28. Or,in his case, 12.

Coaching these girls is giving me the feeling of a "life cycle."  I can remember when I first learned to box and the way I looked at my coaches and the girls I trained with. I remember the intense hunger to learn and get better.  While I still have that to a degree, I enjoy watching the progression of my fighters- watching them go from that stage to where they are now and eventually to teaching. I look forward to the day they get in the ring and fight.

Being in their corner during a fight will be my version of going to my daughter's wedding.

As Gary and I get ready to move, I have to practice the "Power of Now" and all the other self help shit I read.  We are moving into another stage of life - one with a yard in a grown ups neighborhood;  one where young girls are trusting me with their training, where I am doing more writing and editing and less working out.

As we cross each dimension of life, it's difficult to accept the next one.  But, you really have no choice.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Finding Peace

I purposefully didn't post much about the election. But I did march against hate. And I will march again.

I'm not continually posting anti-Trump articles (although that is easy to do...considering) But I am signing petitions and trying to stay aware of what else I can do to protect the right to be diverse in a country that was founded upon it.

I'm not in South Dakota, protesting against Standing Rock, but I did make a donation, sign whatever petition I could, and pray.

The dreaded Christmas season is upon us, which is stressful as it is. But on top of that, we have so much unrest in the world, fear of hateful ideologies becoming the new "normal," fear of much more, I don't even want to list them because we are bombarded with it every day.

The question is, how do we stay positive and productive without "living in a bubble?" Obviously, there is a balance, but I am finding we are living in a time where I must consciously create that balance. If we live in fear and bitterness, we won't be in a place to make a change. If we completely ignore what is going on in the world, we are becoming a part of the problem.

It was difficult to have a "Happy" Thanksgiving, knowing the people, whose land we have taken, are peacefully protesting their right to have clean water in an area we "designated" them to.  It's difficult to accept that WE are the assholes doing it. But, I am grateful for the life I have created- my family, my friends, the people around me, my health. We have to be grateful every day for what we have; grateful that we live in a country where there are small things we can do to make a change- even if it's just making our voices heard.  I felt some guilt even just writing that. Guilt that I have that choice and others don't.

I don't want to be negative, feed negativity or feel overwhelmed by a situation that I can only do a little about - and that little bit, might not even be doing anything. When I put it out there,  yes, it's annoying to some, but that's not why I don't. I'm used to putting myself out there in ridiculously vulnerable situations and accepting the criticism that comes with it.  I just don't want to feed the fear.

There must be a system to live your life in a way that is not hardened to others suffering, but also where you can find some peace in your daily life.  I guess the key is having faith.
But is that too passive?

That's the challenge. What is the balance?

Perhaps I'm not saying anything unique, but I thought it was worth putting out there. As the Christmas season rushes upon us like a freight train, how do we manage finding peace?

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When the Thrill is Gone...

It's a personal thing, knowing when your fight time is up. For me, I think that time has finally come.

No one wants to be the punch drunk boxer that climbs between the ropes only to get their head knocked off and have everyone feel sorry for them because their time was up a while ago and they never got the memo.  Or the fighter who is no longer in their prime and has to take mediocre fights to look good in the ring.

Mind you, I don't think I'm at that stage.  I just don't want it badly enough, and it's showing.

Even though it will make my parents happy that I am finally not going to compete, that is definitely not why I'm doing it.  Still rebellious at my age, that would be the only reason I wished my heart was still into it.

I felt this day coming.  When I really wanted to fight, even when I was tired, I would push so hard to fight back and work every day to get better conditioning.  I wanted it so badly that I would push beyond my limits just to go three or four - three minute rounds in the ring.  That seemed to be my limit.  This is an exhausting process, by the way.  People with natural energy can do a lot more than that, but I'm not one of those people.  I have to work a little harder. I only have to fight three or four two minute rounds in my division and I could always get to that point.

Even though I started boxing at 40 and just turned 50 last month, I don't think it's an age thing.  It's a desire thing.  I'm grateful for the journey fighting gave me.  I went from freezing and crying in a corner, getting pummeled on to....well, let's just say yesterday, I rested in the corner, but I was relaxed and blocking punches.  I didn't have the desire or the energy to pivot out, throw back, etc.  I don't feel like I have anything to prove anymore.  Is it embarrassing to get that tired during sparring with a twenty-something?  Yes.  Not embarrassing enough to try and make myself the victor.  I don't really need that anymore.  That's when you know the thrill is gone.

Last July, I won the National Golden Gloves in the masters division at 106lbs.  I  traveled across the country, dealt with jet lag, cut weight in the most humid state of America, and fought a worthy opponent.  Was I dying to do that?  No.  I heard this woman, Angela, wanted a fight.  While she did some unsanctioned fights, she wanted to do a sanctioned one against a woman of a similar age.  Planning on being there to film the Women's Boxing Hall of Fame and to possibly work the corner for my friend, Traci, I had the time to train - so I agreed to fight her.  She had more energy, but I had more ring experience and was able to use my boxing to beat her.  Once I was in the ring, I knew I wanted to win badly.

Yesterday, after a long time off, I decided to get in the ring and spar with someone new.  She was a bit bigger than me, maybe 10 - 15lbs; a young muscled MMA fighter.  I knew our coach, Wayne, would make sure that we were not going to war and trusted my defense was good enough that I wouldn't get hurt.  When I arrived, my old friend, Kaiyana Rain, was there.   Four or five years ago, we trained in boxing together.  She went on to be a pro MMA fighter, Mauy Thai fighter and boxer.  I help manage her.  Very athletic, she does all of these things very well.  My first round was to be with her.  I know Kaiyana and she knows she can bully me and beat me easily that way.  She is bigger and stronger and I just gas out at the end of the round so my boxing skills go out the window.

However, it's more of a challenge for her to try and outbox me.  Years ago, this wasn't happening.  Now - it's happening!  But, it's okay.  I want her to be the best fighter she can be.  This is what she does.  Does it sting a little in the ego department? Yeah. But, if I acted out of ego, I would be one hurt puppy.  Besides keeping in mind that this is all she does, while I balance writing, making films and editing, I also know she is just more gifted.  It's just the way it is.   If I REALLY wanted to be the best boxer I could be, I probably wouldn't believe that.  Or, I would just work harder.  Never give up.  That's what has been my saving grace all these years.

After 10 years (on and off) of boxing, I am lucky to have no lasting injuries.  My memory is failing, but it was failing anyway.  I got into the best shape of my life at 40 and continue to keep reasonably fit.  Now, I just want to write a damn good screenplay.

Where is the joy in boxing?

The joy these days comes from teaching others.  It comes from seeing the spark in a young girl's eye when her glove cracks the mitt for the very first time.  It comes from watching my students who used to constantly get tagged in sparring, block and move and counter, using moves they learned in my class.  It comes from working with domestic abuse survivors and seeing the joy that fills their hearts when they realize, they have the power to change their bodies, their minds and their lives.  It comes from the bond with these women that originally drew me to the sport.  We are a bunch of weirdos. Weird, subversive, knock-around women who understand how much we can grow, improve, balance our ups and downs, change our lives and help each other in a sport that is still not embraced by most people.  It's a sisterhood that cannot be explained.  That's what I love now. Time to move on.

I still wish I could like yoga...but I don't.