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Relaxing into the New Year

oil

So what about that late resolution from March 2015 about decluttering and getting rid of books? Well, it went so-so. We are still in the process of getting rid of things and while our possessions are shrinking it doesn’t really feel like it. Mostly because a lot of the things we are getting rid of are already in our hidden stashes, so the stashes might get emptier, but it’s not really visible. Oh well. At least I know it’s gone.

How did we do with the other ones from the actual beginning of the year? You be the judge. Resolutions for the new year? Not that much different, short and sweet:

  • Find a new job.

  • Spend more time with friends.

  • Travel more.

That’s pretty much it. We did better doing these things this year, but it really needs a conscious effort and planning to do these things and it’s so easy to not do it and then months go by that you haven’t seen a friend that lives in the same town!

This was the first year at my new gym and I’m not regretting one second that I switched. The training is great, I got my blue belt, people are very nice, it could not be better. Unfortunately this was also a year of injuries, including aggravating the slipped-disc situation in my neck and one incident where I thought “Holy shit, I think I just broke my collar-bone!” (I didn’t). But it’s all worth it, which is a little bit crazy. And I think I might be having a bit of a hard time accepting that I’m in my late thirties and not late twenties and that I have to start to be more aware of things when I’m rolling and to tap when I’m in a position or situation where I can get injured again (stacking comes to mind) and not only to submissions. Lame, but that’s going to be my project for 2016.

We did end up buying a condo this year, which was an insane process but now we are property owners and don’t have to worry about cleaning the gutters, haha.

This has been a terrible year for blogging and I know it’s been terribly quiet. I can’t force this stuff and I know the motivation to blog comes and goes in phases for me and that’s okay. I’m much more wordy on Twitter, in case you crave more regular updates and want to check if I’m still alive. Again and again, I wish more people I know would be on Twitter, which I still prefer over Facebook. Oh well, a grumpy German can dream.


This year I tool the Goodreads challenge of reading, what 20 books this year and ended up reading 46. More or less, because I also counted the ones I started and stopped reading because I didn’t like them, but those were really just a handful. There where some great books and some terrible ones, but I really enjoyed, in no particular order:

  • The Rifters Trilogy by Peter Watts

  • The Power of the Dog by Don Winslow — holy shit, what a ride. I’m currently reading the sequel, The Cartel. If you are interested in decade-spanning narco thrillers, this is amazing.

  • Dreamsongs I & II and Tuf Voyaging, all by G.R.R. Martin and they are all great fun and so good you don’t want them to end.

  • I’m going to throw Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy in here, as well, simply because the first book is amazing and while the second and the third grow progressively weaker, in my opinion, it’s a great, visceral ride.


Not a lot of movies this year that stood out and no, I haven’t watched the new Star Wars yet. Neither Mad Max. I’m dependent on when these movies come out on Netflix or any other streaming service and frankly, I don’t really enjoy seeing movies in the movie theater anymore. I did watch some great shows this year though, and again, in no particular order, Hannibal, Narcos, and True Detective all blew my mind.


I’ve doodled around with some video games — as far as my computer is actually able to run them — and enjoyed playing Guild Wars way more than I thought. I also have a fledgling party in Wasteland 2, where I thought I’d go ahead, make a character based on me, and try to actually role-play myself. I’ll let you know how that goes. And despite exciting new and ‘fun’ developments in Dwarf Fortress I didn’t have any patience for it this year…


So, to avoid having this post sit here for another three weeks, off we go, happy 2016!

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Baby blues 

Three years after I walked on the mats for the first time, I got promoted to Blue Belt a couple of weeks ago. Do I feel like I deserve it? Nope. Do the same people still wipe the floor with me? Yep.

So, taking stock of the process so far:

  • I’m in better shape now than I have ever been and I can probably go ahead and call myself athletic, but it is a trait that was never realized in my teens or twenties, which is a shame and I try not to think about it too much. It also turns out that I’m a kinesthetic learner (a good thing to realize at some point I guess) and that means that I just have to embrace the grind. I tried taking notes, watching videos…nada. I have to do stuff again and again and again. And again until I finally carve it into that part of my brain that processes motion.

  • Turns out that I’m physically stronger than I think and feel. Granted, several years of grappling and kickboxing before that probably have something to do with that, but it’s just now dawned on me that I’m not ‘weak’. Regardless, I’ve started a kettlebell strength program about 5 weeks ago, mostly to address imbalances and an injury-prevention measure, because hey — there is no such thing as being too strong!

  • There is always someone who has your number, regardless of your belt. And if you have a good day and feel too good about yourself, don’t worry, next class you will roll with someone who will just grind you into the mats for five minutes.

  • Switching to a BJJ school from my previous school was the best decision and I should’ve probably done it earlier.

Anyway, it does feel good to not be a n00b anymore and leave the white belt behind, even if that only means wrapping a different colored strip of cotton around your waist.

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My belt is demoting itself…

As you might or might not know, a lot of BJJ gyms give stripes on your belt. You start out with not stripe and then collect your four stripes and then get your next colored belt. Not all gyms do it that way, but the one I’m at does. I’ve received two stripes at my old gym last year and fairly quickly got two more at my new gym after I switched.

Expectedly, if you wash your belt at least three time a week those stripes will come off at some point. No big deal, you just but them on again. However, lately it feels like my BJJ sucks and my belt loosing stripes feels like a very fitting metaphor for where I feel I am at right now. I’m trying new things, work on stuff, but I’ve received some major beatings over the last couple of months and don’t feel like I’m improving at all. More the opposite, really.

Now, that could be because I’m trying out new stuff and make an effort to break old patterns that I’ve picked up and developed, but now everything seems muddled and chaotic.

And of course I’m back on the mats two days later. Where else am I going to be?