Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Yes, I thought I was done with it, but as I said the other night, for some weeks the matter preyed on me. Some vague uneasiness. It was that I felt a bit cowardly. I hate that feeling. I identified it finally, and immediately sat down to write the little missive of, uh, why, it was only Sunday night. That was as much closure as I needed, or expected. With my former bjj academy.

But just now I did get a phone call, from someone I really do consider a friend. Acting as a sort of intermediary. They, you see, these two, R and K, refuse to have any contact with me. Understandable. Hurt pride. That's how I understand it, anyway. I was probably a bit abrupt, getting the conversation started. I knew of course why he was calling. He was trying to warm up to it, with pleasantries, and I'm all, like, "yeah, so what's up ... fine, so what's the issue ..." But he helped lay out their position. Nice to have clarity. They'd made a brief written statement, that J read to me. Poor guy.

The biggest issue for them, as it was explained to me, was of course the blog. R was offended by the term "passive revenue generator". Well, so would I be. Even if it was true. I had been clear that the phrase was not mine. Not good enough. The fact that I wrote it at all was intolerable. J did consider it harsh. So did I. I even wrote that it was harsh. Is it true? It's not so very very passive. Just sort of. The ugly fact is that I never gave my son any input that would have given him such an opinion. It would seem that this is an opinion that students at other academies have. It's a reputation. One, actually, that I made efforts to downplay, without actually apologizing for. No matter.

That's the big thing. Smaller things? I wasn't a courteous student. The brief written statement didn't spell it out, but J was able to be specific. It has already been noted that I seem not to have said thank you. For what, I asked. For instruction, of individual techniques, from the instructor. Ah. And it is true, I don't have the habit of repeating "thank you" endlessly. I find it annoying and unnecessary when people do it to me. I nod, in what I think, thought, was a friendly acknowledgment. I must be wrong in this. I'll try to be more aware of it. And another perceived discourtesy was that I didn't warm up with the other students. I did my own thing, off to the side. My knees. I can't run in little circles. J asked if I'd ever told K this. Yes, I had. Once. Wasn't that enough? I know he heard me. Must have slipped his mind. I don't run at my new academy either. Oh oh. Better speak with the instructor. Lots of eye contact. Lots of words, repeated over several days and weeks. That's the ticket.

Something else, a bit embarrassing. And inexplicable to me. My gi smelled? I washed it every single time. One time a young man complained to me about it, in a not very polite way. I was offended and unbelieving -- not because of the information, but his manner. It seemed meant to be insulting. I don't know. Maybe a cat pissed on it. Maybe it was me. I don't know. I actually did ask several other people at that time if this was an issue. I was told that it wasn't. I asked J tonight. He said he hadn't noticed anything, but added he was "low-maintenance." Suddenly that seems less clear. If it is an issue, there's not much more I can do about it. Wash the gi twice? But I will go out of my way to ask, from now on. I've rolled with guys who sometimes have that issue. It's no big deal, but courtesy would let them know.

As for the blog, I never wrote anything here that I wouldn't have said to anyone who might have asked. I mean anything that wasn't satire. J said there were indeed some harsh things here. What, I asked? Well, that I felt that I didn't get to roll with the black belt enough. I don't see that as harsh, at all. I see it as just a bald fact. Because it is -- not so much rolling with me, as with students in general. Not a lot of that, and it would be good for the students. Am I wrong? (My issue with K in this regard was real, but I've covered that already: I would have liked to roll with a higher belt, but he simply wouldn't. Sometimes I dealt with this through satire, sometimes directly. I did speak once to K about it. No change. Should I have nagged?) It must be that the very expression of such facts amounts to harshness. How then could they ever be spoken without giving offense? Rather a double-bind, eh? I said -- and it wasn't on poor J -- that I could have been much harsher, and gave some examples of how some blunt truths could be harsh. But it's not my purpose here to be harsh with R, or to make any characterization beyond the immediate issue. I still do respect R, although certainly not in this particular. And he's allowed to be offended.

And I called someone an asshole here. I recollected using that word once. A search informs me I've used it 7 times. The instance in question is one of my hypothetical rants at a theoretical person. Someone who read this blog and didn't quite understand it and misrepresented it. Hm. I can see how it could be offensive. Ironic, though, given the context, which I won't bother to link to. Ironic. Ah well. Either you get it or you don't. And as J said, it is, after all, their academy. They make the rules for it. Blogging the way I blog breaks those rules. So be it. Think though how much sooner this collapse would have occurred, if I had spoken there what I've vented here, as I certainly would have.

I was going to ask J to make my farewells, to specific individuals. I cut myself off. It's not on him. I did say that I had no idea how much I was disliked. They did a good job, hiding it, those two. I haven't been given reason to believe that the students felt that way. Some must have. They will have hidden it well, too. Good job. You got me. LOL.

They changed the locks. They took down my medals and put them in storage. They said that if I came to the academy, they would consider it an indication that I was looking to start trouble, and they'd call the police and say I was trespassing. That's just funny. In a sad way. Ah well.

I do have regular readers, here. I've reported this in detail not to make myself seem right. There are certainly ways that I'm wrong. For example, I keep on insisting that what was offensive was satire. Well, yes -- but satire is just a slightly exaggerated offensive truth. The emotional excess I reveled in was perhaps too savage to be merely satire. J was right. I'm harsh. And he's right in saying I should have known better. I choose to remain blind to this, however. I've recorded this, at length, because I do think it holds inherent interest, as a study of human folly, theirs and mine, and because it does offer an outside perspective on the intricacy that is Jack H. A sort of external validation. Isn't it odd? What they think of me? The pettiness they think they see? We're all petty, sometimes, in our thoughts. You see it in me, sometimes. But my actions? I find it amusing.

I'll explain it, what that place meant to me. For three years, off and on, my son, in Iraq, was in daily and immediate peril of death. Bjj is how I coped with that reality. It's complicated. I came to that studio having lost two sons already, to circumstances that need not be detailed. And the son of my body was in harms way, often, or would be. So bjj and that group of men became important to me. That time is past, now. This will not be a new grief. I am better for the overall experience, and thankful, and this foolishness will not poison it.

There. I'm done. I'm feeling pretty good, now. Three weeks. That's pretty good. I like the clarity. R and K come close to loathing me, or do. One of the ways that I myself am an asshole is that I find this amusing. I'd apologize for this fact, and I'd mean it, but I'd still think it was funny. Sorry I think it's funny. It must have to do with stress. For my part, their duplicity surprises me, but I feel they are for the most part honorable men. Qualified, of course. None of us are ever going to get what we'd like. I'd like to feel that I could freely associate with people I care about. They'd like, most probably, to feel assured that they are above valid criticism. I smile. I could arrange to meet with just about any of these guys, say, for coffee. K and R could take a sober look at themselves, and correct any vulnerabilities. We are prisoners, most cruelly, of ourselves.

I do wonder about some of the fellas. Not the politics of it -- some may actually think I'm right, and some will be offended by my blog or my conduct -- but the politics doesn't really matter. I wonder if the guys that I liked, loved, even, held me in any kind of respect. I've heard from two, three of them. That was considerate, and I think it showed class. Perhaps some of the others feel the same, but don't want to involve themselves. Understandable.

Anything else? Just this:

Go in peace.

Alas. The last time that phrase was operative in my life, I was later betrayed almost beyond human endurance, and tragedy overtook me and my household as the wolf takes the lamb.



indiana joan said...


As one who has been misunderstood more times in my life than I can count, I deeply empathize with what you're going through.

As one who treasures what you write here, I hope you will continue posting your wisdom (in whichever format pleases you most) on this blog.

Socially ineptly yours,

Jack H said...

That's very kind and amusing of you. And thank you for not being repulsed by my self-obsession. I hardly ever read anyone else's blog, for that very reason.

But last night, when I'd finished the autopsy, I felt unspeakably relieved. It wasn't coming to terms with K and R. It was a sort of leaving behind the morose awareness of my son's peril. You know how things can get all gnarled up together. Alas, that place had suffered from having to entertain me during a time of utmost stress. Not me at my best, if I have a best anymore.

Point is, the relief is almost unbearable. The bjj melodrama will pop up now and again -- my dignity after all has been impugned -- but it is so small now. Perspective.

I may be changing the name of this blog. How does "Self-Fulfilling Prophets" sound?


Anonymous said...


Sometimes when people do this sport, they feel they know each other when they really don't. Perhaps you had expectations of them and them of you; both parties feel their expecations were valid but unmet.

One thing's for sure though. This may be a blessing in disguise for your training. If your needs weren't being met there, this exclusion was the best thing for you.

Good luck with your bjj.

Jack H said...

Thank you for your kind thoughts, gentle stranger.