Friday, December 28, 2007

Role Call

We’re all many different things to many different people: sisters, brothers, mothers, friends. In derby, we’re jammers, blockers, or pivots. These are labels that we can’t really shake – it’s what we are and who we are to those people we know and are related to.

There are, however, some roles we give ourselves that we can shake, but it takes some work. I was talking to a friend of mine last night about the roles she had assigned herself. This friend just recently came back into contact with her estranged cousin, and she was describing to us how she set herself up to be the “fat” and “crazy” one, while her cousin is the “tiny” “pretty” one. Truth be told, they’re both very “tiny” and very “pretty,” but these are the things we do to ourselves.

My friend explained further that she set herself up from the beginning of this renewed relationship. How? By constantly complaining to her cousin about her weight, how fat she felt, and how bloated she was. In addition to tearing herself down, my friend constantly told her cousin how tiny and pretty she thought she was. Now my friend is the crazy one with the weight problem, and her cousin is the pretty, tiny one.

Over the years, I’ve played some good roles, some bad roles, and some funny roles – like that of “T-Bone the Meat Inspector.” Some I’ve regretted (the sad overweight friend), some I’ve been proud of (the strong daughter), and some I’m indifferent to (did I mention T-Bone the Meat Inspector?). Some roles come and go, and some you keep around for a bit longer. These roles you or I assign ourselves have the potential to be positive or negative. So, if we assign negative roles to ourselves (fat, crazy cousin), why do we remain in them?

Some might say it’s laziness, but I think otherwise. As me and my two friends pondered our roles over many, many beers last night, we realized that we often won’t shake negative roles—or assume positive ones—because we’re scared we won’t succeed at something better.

But, the good news is that it’s totally possible to shake those bad roles and assign yourself better ones too. So, what do you want to be when you grow up? A teacher? A clown? How about a confident man or woman who gets whatever he or she wants? The key to playing a role and becoming it is believing in yourself. You can be anyone as long as you own the role, and soon enough, the role you’ve assumed becomes a real part of you.

As for Meat Inspector, that was a one-night role that my friends give an encore whenever they remember that summer night that I came away with that name. Let that serve as a warning: whatever role you take, it’s likely to be remembered!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Derby Regenerist: For That Old, Fat Cunt You Happily Are

As women, we're taught from a very early age to lie about ourselves: suck it in, never reveal your weight, and as you get older, never EVER reveal your age.

When you’re a kid, there’s a period of time where you lack consciousness about yourself. You don’t compare yourself to others, you just exist, and you’re free from all the bullshit that’s associated with being older. Not only do you not judge yourself when you gain weight, but also you’re excited. You’re excited to get shoes in a larger size. You’re excited to go to school. You’re excited, because you can’t wait to get bigger – that’s all you want as a kid.

Strange how things change so quickly. I can pinpoint the moment I became self aware. I was on a summer vacation at the beach with my parents. We had been playing in the water all day, and my dad took us up to the boardwalk to get ice cream. I got sherbet. I was dancing around as my dad paid, and I had ice cream all over the front of my face. I remember my mom squatting down to wipe it off. She was frustrated that I had gotten it on my bathing suit too, and she blurted out, “You’re old enough now to learn to suck it in.” I was confused, and once she explained it, ashamed.

From then on I’ve been self conscious about the way I look, and I can tell you that I let it hinder me in my adolescence. Truth be told, I never really was fat until I hit college. But I think the obsessing about being fat (which I thought I was at the time) led to a cycle of “dieting” from age 11, and that allowed me to pack on the pounds.

Then came roller derby. The great thing posed to me about the sport was that anyone could do it: big, small, young, and old. That made me happy, because I’ve always been athletic, big or not. One thing about derby is that there’s a lot of show-womanship. We all pick derby names and team themes with similarly themed uniforms, yada, yada, yada. I know you’ve heard me talk about this before, and if you’ve ever seen a bout you know that we write taglines for our intro laps too. I had become friends with a woman from DC – a mom, and a very well respected researcher: Lady Quebeaum. We founded the league together with a handful of other women, and I had always really respected Lady Q, but I found even more respect for her when I heard her tagline for the very first time:

“A titanium skeleton wrapped in 175 pounds of whoop ass – Lady Quebeaum!”

I never knew a woman to reveal her weight, let alone give her real weight, and have it be anything over 125. There she skated, her head held high, soliciting cheers from the crowd – all 175lbs of her! Till this day, I smile each time I hear her being announced.

Why is the number on the scale so taboo? Why is it bizarre to shout it from a rooftop – or have it announced to a crowd of thousands? And how are things like this perpetuated?

It’s sad, but true, women tearing down women. If every woman were to give up on the game of “I’m younger and thinner than I really am,” we’d truly do ourselves a world of good. What will it hurt to have the correct weight listed on your driver’s license? Let people know your age? If we all did it, we’d be a hell of a lot more comfortable with ourselves and others. Most importantly, we would no longer be lying to ourselves.

I often wonder what type of person I’d be now if I never had joined derby. Perhaps I’d still be a cowardly 20-something lying on her driver’s license instead of a 199-pound badass woman who will be turning 30 this year. Knowing what I know now, I’d rather be 199 and liberated than 125 and enslaved to other people’s judgments.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Shopping, Food and Excess

Ok, ok, I’ve been slacking on the blog posts this week. Christmas preparations have gotten me in such a tizzy that I’m all out of sorts. I’ve been trying to be really mindful lately – remember that there’s more to life than “things,” but being in frantic Christmas mode has made me revert right back to my ingrained capitalistic materialistic ways. Will I ever be able to break my addictions to shopping, food, and excess? Certainly not at this time of the year. It’s like being a coke addict in the middle of a Columbian block party.

I was doing so well. I had a handle on my food intake and exercise. I felt I was making changes. Now? I’m still exercising quite a bit, but I have succumbed to holiday treats (and non-holiday treats in the midst of an almost daily downward spiral), and I feel out of control!

Endurance practice on Wednesday night was a wake up call. I felt better after having done those 3 hours of endurance than I have since before Thanksgiving. Prior to practice that day, I ate nothing but cookies. It started with a few tiny oatmeal lace cookies but then turned into my eating part of a cookie cake with icing on top (there were parts without icing, but hell, if you’re gonna do it, do it right, right? Ugh). From there my coworker brought me a box of treats: brownies, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, lemon cookies – I ate them all by the end of the work day. I was so sick. I came home and ate salad for dinner, my penance, and reluctantly went to practice (did you know “hair shirt” is a synonym for “penance”?).

As I’m on the floor stretching, I feel something keeping me from the fullest extent of my stretch: my stomach. Eek! I was shocked. I haven’t felt (or seen) that in a while. Shit. Shit, shit, shit. Well, all I could do was bust my ass that night, which I did. My ass and knees are still sore, but it feels good. Is all this hard work I’ve done worth blowing for some lemon bars, cheesecake, cookies, cake, chocolate, sushi, steak, Chinese food, and alcohol? No. Yet I still do it. Why?

I could blame “the holidays” (as I do above) or our culture (as I also do above), but I have to think that I’m stronger than that. I must, or I’ll never improve as a person. Still, self control is a long hard road, and I feel as if I’m walking on it barefoot with blisters. I made a promise to myself several blog posts ago that this upcoming year was my year to excel at derby, and I won’t get there if I can’t get my shit together. I must get my shit together.

From this point on I’m not going to stress out about Christmas. If my house isn’t perfectly clean for our team holiday party tomorrow, then so be it. As for food, I have to act like this is any other day – and take it one day at a time. Same with exercise – I need to keep up with it, so I won’t be sucking air at practice in January. I need to commit to do core-strengthening exercises every day for 10 minutes – that’s not so long. And, finally, I need to take time for myself – quiet time where I’m not just vegging out to E!, but instead, sitting alone in a quiet place so I can gather my thoughts.

What really matters is not getting the perfect gifts or giving them. It’s not eating a shit-ton to “celebrate.” It’s not making yourself so frantic that you paralyze yourself. What does matter is respecting and enjoying yourself and others, making meaningful connections with people you love and new people you’ve just met, and I don’t need sugary foods or sparkly presents to act as my security blanket.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Denied (Happy Holidays)

I hate crowds, especially when I’m shopping, so it’s no wonder that my anxiety level has risen in preparation for the holidays. I know my limits, so I refuse to go anywhere other than the gym (which is dead) on weekend days. I know I can’t handle the people; the wandering children, the people who ram you with their baby strollers, the women who don’t give a shit what you’re looking at and plant themselves right in front of you and what you were looking at because they’re rich and think they’re better than you. I can feel my blood pressure rising as I type this – the muscles in my shoulders and neck tensing up…

I’ve tried to remain calm this holiday season. I know getting all worked up only hurts me, so I’m trying to be nice to people and let the annoying encounters go. But it’s hard.

Last week I went into Best Buy to get a set of presents for my boyfriend, J. I was lucky in that one of the three items I needed was actually in stock – it was the last one in Maryland, and I was ecstatic. I waited in line, got up to the register, paid, and was denied. It was my bank card, and I had been using it earlier in the day. I knew my balance was fine, which then threw me into a blind panic that someone got my card info and drained my account.

I left the store and called my bank from the parking lot. According to them everything was fine. They gave me a number to call – the number for the credit-processing service Best Buy uses to confirm all payments. These people were obviously not in America. It took them 10 minutes to get the correct spelling of my last name (GEBHARDT) with us going back and forth to confirm each letter and then the name in its entirety. I think we did this no less than 5 times. Forty-five minutes later they confirm everything is fine – why don’t I go back in and have the cashier try and process it again?

I go back in, several employees staring my down like “you ain’t got no money,” and I tell them what the bank and their processing company said. We try it again, and again it’s denied. They’re on the phone with their processing company, I’m on the phone with their processing company and then my bank. Everyone on all ends assures us that everything is “fine” and should be going through. Again, denied. Again on the phone. Again. Again. I walk out of Best Buy (Target is next door) to see if they have what I need – they have everything but that one component that is at the Best Buy store I just left and nowhere else in Maryland. I talk to my bank.

“I know this is an inconvenience, Ms. Gebhardt, but there is a bank branch within a mile of the Best Buy you are at. You could just go and get cash.”

Fine.

As I enter the Best Buy for the 3rd time that evening, all employee eyes are on me. Cashiers are whispering to each other, the manager won’t look at me. I’m an outcast. I wanted to scream at them at the top of my lungs, “Do you want my fucking money or not, assholes?!” Instead, I got in line. The cashier snickers as he called me to his open register. I looked him in the eye.

“I have cash.”

“Ok,” he said as he giggled.

I made sure to write his name down: KEGAN. That little shit. Don’t you want my fucking money?! Don’t you?! Then shut your fucking face. Alas, I didn’t say these things to him either. I sucked it up, thanked him, and wished him a “nice day.”

I somehow felt I needed to explain to everyone the situation – that I actually had money and that this was all a big mistake. I needed them to understand me. I needed them to not think of me as a crazed idiot. Being “denied” hurt. I was embarrassed.

Perhaps it’s just retail karma. I use to work retail in high school and college, and I was a cunt at Christmas – a real asshole, and sometimes for no reason other than that I had heard the same lame Christmas song one too many times playing overhead.

Luckily, I’m almost done my holiday shopping. Deep breaths. Relaxing mantras. I will not hurt anyone this holiday season, I will not hurt anyone this holiday season, I will not hurt anyone this holiday season.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Missing: IUD, Reward: $1,000

As if my last blog post wasn’t random enough, today it’s TMI time, and we’re going there with my lady parts.

This week has been a complete bitch. It started out awesome with CCRG All Stars beating Minnesota’s league by 4 points last weekend (bragging rights earned!), but it quickly went to shit. It’s been gray here in Baltimore since I don’t know when. I swear to God I haven’t seen the sun in over a month (even though it’s likely only been a week or two). It’s the same fucking color outside from the time you wake up until the time the sun goes down: gray, which adequately sets the mood for the rest of my week.

On Tuesday I had my annual GYN exam. As I’ve gotten older, I don’t rack up the anxiety over the GYN like I use to. You have to do it, and it’s not really that bad – just uncomfortable for a few minutes. Well, on Tuesday I find out that my IUD has gone “missing,” and as I’m imagining a picture of it on the side of a milk carton, I’m beginning to wonder where the fuck it could have gone. Maybe it went on vacation? Took a trip to the Bahamas, visited Anna Nicole’s grave, got a tan…

Missing? What the fuck? Apparently IUDs can migrate (like birds, no less) out of one’s uterus and chill out in one’s abdomen. Sweeeeeet. So, an appointment had to be made with the radiology clinic to have an ultrasound. More on that in a few.

Now, you may be asking yourself what an IUD is and why I have one. Well, it all goes back to my being a big girl (doesn’t it always?). Birth control pills make my blood pressure skyrocket (something bad for us big girls), so I was taken off of them 2 years ago and told now may be a good time to start having kids. Only, I don’t want to have kids. The doctors were baffled. Why? Everyone wants to have kids. Nope. Not me. Don’t get me wrong, I like kids, but I don’t want one of my own. I’m a selfish bitch with life goals that quite frankly don’t involve my having children, so why should I have them? Oh, right, because I can’t be on the pill anymore and am allergic to latex. Oh, doctors. Lucky for them (ha!), I wasn’t giving up there. They were going to find me a birth control method I could use, hence the IUD.

In the wonderful US-of-A, docs here don’t like to give IUDs to women who haven’t had children, whereas IUDs are the main form of birth control for women in many European countries and in South America. I suspect it’s because your uterus has to be a certain size to accommodate an IUD, and it’s just easier to deny them to women who haven’t stretched out their uteri (is that plural of uterus?) by having children than to perform the 10-minute (albeit very uncomfortable) measurement of a virgin uterus with a metal rod. In the end, my doc agreed to get me one, measured said uterus with metal rod, and inserted the ParaGuard copper IUD.

Really, having the IUD has been great. There’s nothing to take daily or weekly, and no pre-sex prep, which is nice – if I want to do it in the bathroom at the after party with my skates on, I can. (Ha! I couldn’t resist giving you all that evil image.) Better yet, since the IUD is hormone free, my sex drive came back… BIG TIME. It was great, because I hadn’t even realized it had left. Getting it back was a big bonus. So, really, things have been great. We’ve been one big happy family: me, J (bf), our dog, and my IUD, until the Amber Alert went out for the IUD on Tuesday.

This morning was the ultrasound. Great, piece of cake. Had the wand on my tummy – could make something out. Seemed promising. Then I was told the “first part of the ultrasound” was over.

“What’s the second part?” I asked, knowing full well what it was. Fuck.

It was 7am, I still had to go to work and sit here for 8 hours (soon to be in a puddle of KY), and the last thing I wanted was a non-latex condom-covered probe up my hoo-ha… for 20 minutes. This is bad karma for something. What did I do to deserve this? There was no saying “no” though. The probe had already bought me dinner and a movie, so I had to put out.

Luckily, the IUD appeared. It is in fact inside my uterus and not taking a holiday in the Bahamas (whew!) – the string just got sucked up. So now I’m wondering how they’re eventually going to get it out. It’s no Bahama cruise, but it will be a fishing trip. Luckily, the IUD is still good for 8 years, so I have enough time to anticipate that joyful moment of removal.

It’s Friday. I have 3 hours left at work. My panties are full of KY, and I’m wondering how long it will be before the probe from this morning calls. I’m not holding my breath though. I don’t really want to go out with him again anyway.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Finding a Balance

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog entitled, “Relinquishing Responsibility.” Today, I looked up antonyms for the word “relinquish,” because I’ve gone and taken on another responsibility, and that’s what this blog was going to be about. But after I thought about it, I wasn’t entirely happy about the idea of rescinding my responsibility relinquishment (say that 3 times). And, honestly, I don’t feel like this is a case of “one or the other.”

More and more, I’m finding that decisions I make don’t have to be all or nothing. They don’t have to be categorized, and sometimes they can’t. For me, it all has to do with finding that thing or things I’m meant to do – using the abilities I’m meant to use, because I know, at least for me, that doing those two things will make me happy and enrich the lives of others.

GOD (!), this all sounds so cheesy and new-agey and unlike me. It’s so hard for me to surrender any sort of control. I’ve always held the belief that you can do whatever you want if you set your mind to it. And I still agree with that 100%, but I’m also seeing in my own life that doing certain things that I “want” to do is often easier if I’m already being drawn near them. And, to me, I’m thinking this “drawing near” is the “fate” or “destiny” aspect that I’ve denied ever existed for my entire life. Does this mean I can’t do something, anything, if it’s against my “destiny”? I don’t think so, but I do think the path I take to accomplishing my goal may be harder. Then again, it may not be. Perhaps I’m just realizing I’m the type of person who likes to help others and all this, including the above thought process, is bullshit.

In any event, I’m just now toying w/the idea that there’s an innate nature in life where things – all things – want to turn out right (and good and positive), and if you take advantage of that you may find yourself doing something that makes you happier and really makes an impact on others (perpetuating the rightness).

Lately, I’ve been giving up responsibilities. Are these all dead-end paths? Not necessarily, because they’re part of who I have been and have helped shape who I am at this present moment in time. I guess I’m seeing things kind of like a monkey swinging through the forest (we just got an HD TV and The Smithsonian Channel which is all apes all the time, so bear with me). I’m making my way to my destination, but as I’m doing it I’m grabbing a bunch of different vines and branches to get me there. Maybe my being Treasurer (and captain and other things) was one of those branches. It’s helping me get where I need to go. I can’t just say those things I did were mistakes, because they weren’t. I also can’t say that relinquishing those responsibilities was a mistake, because it wasn’t. If I hadn’t done so, I wouldn’t have room or time in my life to grow into other things.

Last week I accepted the opportunity to head a Sponsorship sub-committee for WFTDA. And I know it’s the right thing to do – even though it’s going to suck up my free time. I know it’s right, because I’m happy about it. Every time I step back and watch roller derby grow, I get the feeling I have now, just having accepted this job. I’m astounded by the snowball effect derby has had on the world in the past 5 years. I feel like by helping out in this small way on this sub-committee that I’m doing something so right and good for women everywhere. I know it’s going to be hard, and I know I’m not going to have all the answers, but I know it’s going to be worth it. And I’ll find a balance to make it work.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Rollergirls Don’t Think Their Shit Don’t Stink

It’s about that time that I write a blog about one of my favorite topics – if you know me, you know this topic comes up way too often: pooping. That’s right, like many of you out there who are not involved in roller derby, I use to be afraid to talk about pooping. No more.

I was one of those people who acted like they never did it. Not only does my shit not stink, but I don’t even poop! Once, my old roommate, Dave, convinced several of our friends at a party that he, in fact, did not poop – he had it sucked out of him once a week. It was actually quite believable coming from Dave – the man who was obsessed with his hair, the way he smelled, and the plastic surgery he had had on his nipples. He was too good for pooping, and so was I. But that all changed when I became a rollergirl.

What came first, the urge to poop or anxiety? Well, like the children’s book title, “Everyone Poops,” everyone does poop. And rollergirls who are anxious about bouting seem to poop an exponential amount. I’ll never forget our first bout. Everyone kept running from the dressing room to the bathroom and back again. Nerves make you poop, and we all had a bad case of nerves. And when you’re all in the same situation, there’s no hiding it. The smell from the bathroom hits you when you’re 5 feet away from the door. Everybody’s pooping.

At first I thought maybe it was just us rude girls from Baltimore. There’s something in the city water and perhaps we’re just crass enough to talk about it openly and all the time. Then came the East Coast Extravaganza in Philly last winter. As soon as I set foot in the arena, I had to pee, so I got in line. There were rollergirls from all over the US, but mainly the east coast, and that bathroom was more blown up than a Wal-Mart bathroom run by male gas station employees. For many ladies, this was their first time playing people from other leagues. You’re in a new place, you’re anxious, and there’s a line for the bathroom that’s longer than the line for beer. Everybody poops.

Three years in, and we’re still all talking about having to take a poop, having a weird poop, or guzzling an entire bottle of Pepto to stop pooping. Every once in a while a very surprised photog or reporter is at a practice where they overhear conversations like these. The best is the young guy reporter who gets to hear about someone’s period poop.

It may seem weird, gross, or without tact to an outside observer, but we’ve all just become so comfortable with each other that it’s the same as talking about what you had for lunch – just in another way. Really, it’s quite amazing to be able to break down such a taboo. Does it make us lesser people? No. I think it’s great that we’ve bonded so much that we can be so open with each other. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’m asking you to tell me about your poop, but if you want to, I’m more than happy to listen.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Square Peg, Round Hole?

Some of you may have read my last blog entry and wondered, “What does this have to do with challenging the misconceptions of women and size?”

To answer the above question: everything.

I often feel the need to justify the direction the blog has taken over the last month or so. As a big girl, I face the world looking through the eyes of a big girl. Always. So hopefully my perceptions and reactions to the situations and stories I’m relaying in this blog serve as an inspiration of sort to big girls everywhere – any anyone else who feels like they’re viewing the world from anything other than a “normal” perspective.

For example, in my previous entry, “Parading About Town,” I could have relayed a different experience – one I may have had and felt, say, 5 years ago. Naturally, the situation would have been different (the story as well). I may not have even decided to participate in the parade for fear of people looking at me, let alone in a short hot-pink skirt. But I didn’t choose to let my insecurities get in the way of what turned out to be a really great experience.

In every aspect of my life I challenge myself to conduct myself with the respect and dignity I deserve. Whether you’re fat, skinny, pretty, ugly, tall, short, modest, tenacious, rich, poor, smart, or have an intellectual disability, you deserve dignity and respect, and there is no reason to invite anything other than that by allowing your insecurity to rule your life.

So, many entries may pass before you hear me talk about poking at my pooch, weighing myself, obsessing about eating, or anything else that has to do with the label people who don’t know me may use (even though I do and think about these things privately every day). It’s pointless. One of the great things that has come out of derby for me is the ongoing acceptance of my body and inabilities and celebration of my abilities. Great derby players aren’t made overnight, and great derby players aren’t great at everything derby. Many of the ladies who are considered “greats” have shed their inhibitions, found out what their strengths are, and used those strengths to both succeed and launch improvement of skills that they lack in. Many people who are considered “greats” in history have done this as well.

I’m hoping that by reveling some very personal and honest thoughts and feelings here that you can identify with me in some way and find that silver lining that you’ve been overlooking, the strength to keep pushing forward, and the ability to treat yourself with respect and dignity. It’s something you deserve.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Parading About Town

Cheesy IT School commercials and people who think they’re witty have often said that there’s two kinds of people: those who do, and those who get passed by. I don’t necessarily agree with that statement, but it seems to be a good place to start talking about the Christmas parade I skated in on Sunday.

There’s something about a parade. I wiki-ed “parade” to try and find out more about when and how parades started, because they’ve always seemed odd to me – the participants walk or cruise along in a procession in the middle of the street while people tailgate on the sidewalks and watch the participants go by. The kids are there because their parents brought them, thinking it was something the kids would enjoy. If they get lucky, they’ll be thrown some candy and come away with more than a runny nose and sensory overload. Some of the adults drink, which can make anything more fun than it actually is. So, what’s the real purpose of a parade?

This past Sunday I skated with my league in Baltimore’s annual Mayor’s Christmas Parade. It was our 3rd year skating in the parade, and my second year skating it (I missed last year). I hemmed and hawed all day prior to the parade about whether I was actually going to go or not. The weather forecast called for 30-some degree weather and rain – ugh! Still, I made the commitment to attend, so in my predictable manner I skated in the freezing rain on Sunday.

We stood on the corner of the meet-up lot waiting for our turn in the procession for close to two hours. Our vinyl banner was lost (again), and the marker on the home-made banner quickly ran in the freezing rain, so we ditched it before the procession even started. And, we forgot candy. Ugh, how unprofessional, I thought. Here we are supposed to be supporting and advertising for our league and we have no sign letting people know who we are or candy to bribe people with. What was the point?

The parade finally got started. The convertible tops came down on the cars, reveling “Little Miss” this and “Queen” that, all decked out in their fur coats, sashes, and crowns. There were floats with holiday characters on them, people with gigantic ornament balloons like you’d expect to see in NY, horses (that we were behind…), high-school drum corps, and just about every ethnic group in Baltimore representing with dancers. As we got moving, I began to forget about the missing banner, people who promised they’d be here, candy, and rain.

It was quiet at first. People staring at you from both sides… Then I got into the parade spirit (aka, the only spirit I know of when I’m uncomfortable): I got loud. “HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!” I shouted, at first just from left to right. Then, I realized the people watching the parade really liked it when you personally wished them a happy holiday – with eye contact. There I was, waving with both hands, smiling, and wishing every single person on the route a happy holiday.

It’s funny. I noticed that a lot of the people I greeted from the street are not the type of people I would normally talk to – not even at the grocery store. They aren’t the type of people I would even ever see in the course of my daily life. The kids waved back. The teenagers were surprised by the eye contact and afraid to then say anything negative (like, “fall!” which I’ve gotten before) – several of them even smiled. I wished the drunken 20 and 30-somethings a happy holiday. I wished the old ladies sitting on their steps, covered in blankets, a happy holiday. I wished it to all the employees of McDonald’s, the police trafficking the parade, several friends, and even the owners of a neighborhood funeral home. Many people seemed surprised by the personal attention – that I was looking them in the eye and sincerely wishing them a happy holiday. I realized after that first person I directly addressed that this was the meaning of the parade, at least for me. Maybe that elderly lady sitting alone on her steps wouldn’t have had anyone else say that to her this year. I had the chance to personally wish people from all walks of life happiness – what could be better than that?!

So even if I my cough came back, my bearings are ruined, and I pulled my groin by slipping on the wet street, I think it was worth it. As for those two types of people, the ones that do and the ones that watch, I think that’s a bunch of horseshit (which I also rolled over during the parade). If it weren’t for the people watching, the doing would be pointless, and in my case, I actually learned something from the interaction I had with the parade goers. Really, we’re all the same. Sometimes you're in the parde, and sometimes you're watching it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Relinquishing Responsibility

I’m a really responsible person. I’m the person at work who you know will get something done, and fast at that. I make budgets because it’s fun. I like writing business plans. I like planning, period. My boss calls me the “Events Planner” and my boyfriend calls me the “Events Coordinator.” I’m the one who organizes bagels at work on Fridays and the Twelve Days of Christmas food-a-thon each December at work (each person participating is assigned a day to bring in a home made sweet!). I’m also the kind of person who signs up for everything. In derby, I think I’ve been on every committee known to woman. I’m a founder and LLC member, a board member, the Sponsorship Director, I’m on the Merch Committee, and I’m announcing for the Travel Team this season. In the past, I’ve also been the Treasurer, a Travel Team member, on the Art Committee, Fundraising Committee, and co-captain of my home team, Speed Regime. We just recently held team captain elections for my home team, and I did the oddest thing: I pulled out.

I love my team. I take pride in the fact that we’re the only team in our league who hasn’t been plagued by drama. Not that it hasn’t presented itself, but because we choose to be drama free and none of us buy into it. Two years ago, when our team formed, no one wanted to be captain, so my best friend, Betty Beatdown (the person who introduced me to derby), and I said we’d do it. Only, I said I’d be CO-captain, since I was doing so much in derby already.

Our first year came easily. We did no outside practicing, not really knowing what it meant to be part of a roller derby team. We knew we loved the game and were stronger as a team than any one person ever would be. We grew together. Our first year passed, and we remained undefeated until the championship game where we lost by 2 points in the final 2 minutes. We learned a valuable lesson that year about game strategy and when to use time-outs properly to stack a roster when it’s needed.

Consequently, this past year we really focused on strategy and game play. At the same time, there was a real struggle within the league to step up our game – everyone’s game. Prior to the season, there were a lot of complaints made by people who couldn’t keep up with the fast pace of the practices. I spent a lot of time talking with and encouraging some larger ladies who were really struggling – mentally and physically. Some made it through, others didn’t. In the end, the majority of us stuck it out and became better people for it. And Speed Regime? I think we even surprised ourselves by our final performance, which we again lost to the same team as the year before. This time, it was just their day to win. We did our utmost best, and on another day, we would have won that championship game. The past year was full of cultivating upcoming superstars on our team and teaching new players, so they could be the returning, reliable vets we had been the year before. This past year I really began to feel comfortable in my co-captain leadership role. So, why did I give up something I was so proud of and liked doing so much? Why did I take myself out of the running for captain?

Prior to our championship game this past year we had our players fill out a survey about their playing preferences and people they felt they worked well with. We then looked over all the responses before we built the final roster, because we felt it was best to put people in jams together who felt they worked well together. That’s when I realized I had become “coach” or “captain” and no longer “teammate.” No one, not a single one of my teammates put my name down as someone they worked well with. I was shocked and devastated, but once I stepped back from it, I realized what had happened. I was too busy directing others to be a real part of the team. I hadn’t really improved much in the last season. I had become that person who sacrificed themselves for everyone else. This was in no way my teammate’s faults. They didn’t ask me to do this. It’s a role I just assumed. And by doing this, I think I was actually hurting the team more than I was helping them. After all, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I’m tired of being tired and feeling better suited for “management” than playing. Is this why I got into derby? No. It would be nice if I could find that balance between helping my team via captaining and helping myself, but I know from experience that I cannot do that – at least right now.

This coming season I want to shine. I want to get back to being that bad-ass player I was before we even split up into teams. I want to focus on myself and push my own physical limits to see what I can do – without any distractions. I feel a bit like Babe Ruth (the man, not the candy bar) in that I’ve stepped up to the plate and am pointing to the stands where my yet-to-be-hit home run is going to go. It feels kind of scary, but also kind of exhilarating. I can’t wait to see where this year takes me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thanksgiving Leftovers

As I trolled through the fridge today looking for my morning protein shake, I once again made a mental note of which leftover Thanksgiving items in which Tupperware containers needed to be combined, so the stuffing stops falling on the floor each time I open the refrigerator door. White meat, dark meat, turkey-stuffed stuffing, vegetarian stuffing, stuffed acorn squash, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and a container of gravy that has turned from a liquid to a solid… It’s really difficult this time of year to do anything (aka, laundry), let alone keep up with recombining the Thanksgiving leftovers in the fridge.

I sort of realized the other day that with all the distractions surrounding “The Holidays” I hadn’t done my annual mental checklist of everything I’m thankful for. I think that kind of thing gets drilled into your head when you’re a kid in school – trace your hand to make a turkey, followed by making a list of things you’re thankful for. So, in no particular order, I’m thankful for: my car not dying…yet, new skates, fun coworkers, my dog, my boyfriend, my mom, my friends, and my ability to cook a Thanksgiving dinner. I’m sure there are more things that I’m forgetting, like how I was thankful that I didn’t crap my pants after eating an entire bag of sugar free cough drops earlier this week (“excessive consumption may have laxative effect” was in very small print) or how I was thankful that the junior-size sweater tights I just bought fit even though I’m 35lbs over the weight/height limit. Really, I guess I’m more thankful for the little things. After all, those are the things that get you through the day, right?

Yet, it’s funny how those little things get looked over so often. Instead, I usually judge how my day went by one or two negative interactions with coworkers or some asshole who cut me off on the way home from work. And then I take all that negative energy home with me and take it out on my dog and my guy, whether it’s in the form me being short-tempered or just drinking an entire bottle of wine on the sofa and ignoring them. And that’s not cool.

So, as I’m realizing this blog has almost nothing to do with roller derby or size (except for the sweater tights comment above!), I must apologize. I haven’t done this sort of mental inventory in a while, and I’m now entirely off topic.

For me, the holidays are fun because of the anticipation – the preparing food, buying presents, getting ready for parties. But then they pass and what’s left? This year I’m going to make it my goal to not file away the good memories I make like I’ve done with the congealed gravy. I will not let myself be “let down” by the day after. And if I am, I’ll make a great, big turkey sandwich with mayo and stuffing and cranberry sauce and drown my sorrows in tryptophan… And then I’ll scoop myself onto the elliptical and sweat out whole berries.

If you’re in Baltimore this weekend…

Friday the Charm City Roller Girls travel team, CCRG All-Stars, will be guest bartending at Lulu’s off Broadway.

Then on Sunday the Charm City Roller Girls and I will be skating in The Mayor’s Christmas Parade at 2pm in Hampden. We’ll be heading to Common Ground, one of our league sponsors, for some hot beverages afterwards and would love to see you there!

Monday, November 26, 2007

New and Improved!

Isn’t it nice to get a new car? A new dress? A new pair of skates? There’s just something about having something new that makes you feel better about yourself when you’re using it.

When I was a kid I had quite a few of my birthday parties at the skating rink, and each year my mom would make me a new “skating skirt” – you know, the kind of skirt that goes completely perpendicular when you spin? I don’t remember if my mom made me wear bloomers or shorts underneath. I certainly hope she did, because I always had a habit of making those skirts fly up… and showing off my underwear!

I was unstoppable on the rink when I had on my new skating skirt – fearless. I would join every race that was announced that I could wiggle my way into. I daringly sprinted at full throttle, no worries about falling or rink rash or my underpants showing. Like Dumbo and his magic feather, I was completely fearless w/the new skirt on.

Then, I got a little older and I traded in that annual skating skirt for a pair of 20-eye Dr. Martin’s. I remember walking from 1st Period Latin class to 2nd Period English feeling like I was the shit with those shoes on. “I like your boots,” I would hear from my friends in the hallway. Yeah, I liked them too. They gave me a confidence boost. I could do anything with those boots on.

Older still, the boots turned into a purse, clothing, makeup, or car. So, what is it about having something new that makes feel so, well, improved? Somehow these material items (that actually become no longer new quite quickly) have a way of making us feel proud, confident, and unstoppable.

I just got a new pair of skates that took me almost a year to build: Riedell 1000s with DynaPro Aluminum plates (and my standard blue Witchdoctors). Last Monday was the 1st time I skated on them. I showed up to practice ½ hour early, and I fumbled as I was trying to put them on, I was so excited. They were awesome. So smooth, so perfectly hugging my foot… I completed 2 snake drills that night – and they were LONG. But was it really the skates? OK, 10% was the skates (my old vinyl plates were warped beyond belief), but the other 90% was the confidence I had that night. And that came from somewhere in me – not the cowhide and rubber strapped to my feet.

I really like getting new things, but I think I need to remember that that feeling I associate with the new items really isn’t something that can be bought. I must have had it somewhere inside myself all along. If I can remember to harness that feeling when I need it, then maybe I can use it when I need it. And then, maybe I won’t buy so many pairs of shoes… OK, I’ll never stop with the shoes!

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Meaning of Skating, Derby and Everything

I spent all weekend reading "The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire: Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence," by Deepak Chopra, and it got me thinking about my life, life in general, and derby.

Derby's the only thing I'm sure of. I wonder about every other path of my life, and only time will tell as to whether it's the "right one" or not (is this the right job for me? the right city?); I've made a ton of decisions, as we all do, and the only "big" one I'm sure of is my decision to skate and participate in roller derby.

It's actually quite amazing that derby is thriving as much as it is. But when you narrow derby's success down to the individual skater-run leagues, the skaters, and our power to all work together toward the greater derby good, I guess it's not so surprising after all.

I'm so proud to be a member of CCRG, one member from nearly 200 leagues all across the world - it's quite amazing the sheer number of women (and some men) who are involved in roller derby on a global level: promoting women athletes, women business owners, and the myriad of other leadership opportunities that are involved at the league level, the national level, and the global level. I have no doubt in my mind that derby has succeeded because it contributes toward a greater good - not just in the sports arena, but also in a much larger context than I think we can ever imagine.

This past summer while I was skating at the lake with Iona Handgun (you know, the lake I'm obsessed with?!), we were recognized as rollergirls, as we often are at the lake. We started talking to the family who approached us: A mother, father, and two tween daughters. They talked to us about the current season, the teams, and how excited they were that derby was again in Baltimore. The father let the rest of his family get a bit ahead and whispered to us: "What you're doing is so positive and good. You're an excellent role model for other women and young girls . Thank you for being such a great role model for them."

Wow. In all the franticness of the season, the approaching championship game, my work trying to get new sponsors, and my work on the board of the league, I had forgotten that this thing that was fun, interesting, and challenging at both physical and mental levels was also incredibly fulfilling.

As a member of this modern derby resurgence, there is an undeniable amount of ego involved (the names, the uniforms, the themes), but more than that you learn to give, whether that's through being a skater who gives tips to girls who want to try out and have just put on skates for the 1st time in 10 years, captaining your team, being a league coach helping a struggling skater, planning events and fundraisers, acquiring sponsorship, organizing leagues at a national level, or talking to a founder of a new league who's on another continent about what worked and what didn't for your league.

In all the hustle that is being a rollergirl, you come away with so much more than new leg muscles and maybe a few injuries: you have gained confidence, leadership skills, an ability to better communicate with ANYONE, and maybe even practical knowledge, like how to run a business, that empowers you.

I think for so many of us (if not all), we can agree that we made the right decision to join and play roller derby. Regardless of whatever else is going on at the time in your life, derby is always a positive thing. I think this new perspective is going to help me, personally, not be so anxious about attending practice. I've said it before: I've never come home after a practice and felt bad. I'm going to ride this wave, follow this path, however you want to see it, because I know that I belong in derby, and who knows where it's going to lead me?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Practice, practice, practice

I was talking to a friend the other night who’s considering revisiting a goal of hers to write – something that I had desperately wanted to do since I was 14 years old. Talking to her about this made me remember the initial frustration of being unable to get anything out of my head and onto paper. Years later I was still struggling to write cohesively, but I had improved. I was an English major in college. I work for a book publisher currently, and I’ve been in the publishing business one way or another for over 10 years now, editing everything from medical journals to travel guides to books. I knew I couldn’t make a living writing, but it was still something I loved to do (shit, I edit myself in my head before I talk!), so I took these jobs as editor to kind of keep up my skills without having to think about it in case one day I found a way to do what I really wanted: write.

Ten years have passed, and in that time I became more concerned with the end product of a job: money. I wanted to buy a house, a new motorcycle, and support myself in the lifestyle that I want to live. Time passed, and I completely forgot about that lofty dream. I found myself strapped for cash about a month ago and e-mailed all my friends and colleagues in the business to find out if they knew of or could hook me up with any simple freelance editing jobs I could do from home several nights a week – make a quick, easy buck. Every avenue I pursued turned up a dead end, except for one where they told me they didn’t have a need for editors, but they did for writers. Would I be interested? That was too much work, I thought. I needed fast money. Then I thought, when did I lose my dream? This is what I wanted, and now I’m thinking it’s too much work? Yet, I’ve continued to write throughout this professional writing drought; I edit e-mails to friends to make sure they read well and are funny, I tell stories, I write this blog.

The Realization

I write now for fun. It gives me joy, and somewhere along the line I lost the anxiety that came along with writing when I was younger. By “practicing” on a daily basis (aka, editing books and re-writing sections for authors), I’ve finally reached a level I never would have expected to be at when I was 14, 18, or 24. It makes me think about the frustration I feel with other endeavors. For instance, I think, “I can’t be a jammer. It’s just not the position for me,” but that’s only because I feel the same frustration when trying to jam that I had when I would sit down to write. Yet something compelled me to keep trying writing, and I found there was no substitute for time and practice.

I always say, and truly believe, that anyone can do anything they want – you just have to want it bad enough and take action to make it yours. Some things just come easier than others for me. Training my mind is easier than training my body, but I suppose body and mind are really all just some of the components of your whole self. After reflecting on the incidental accomplishment of being able to write fairly well now, I think approaching something like jamming in the same manner may eliminate some of the stress I incur in the process. Practice, practice, practice. And, yeah, there’s frustrations when learning anything new or honing any skill, but I don’t think they actually help you get where you want to go any faster. If anything, anger and frustration only detour your from what you want. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a goal, just that you shouldn’t expect immediate gratification. And, hey, if along the line you get it, then that’s just a bonus.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

CALENDAR (roller)GIRL


I can’t pinpoint the exact time when I began to hate having my picture taken. As a kid, I loved picture day, and in high school I was vain enough to check the index of the yearbook as soon as I got my hands on it to see how many pictures I was in, what I was doing, and how I looked. I’ve always gotten comments about how photogenic I am, but I’ve also always known it’s my face people are referring to and not my body.

Then came derby… and the photogs on the sidelines. It’s bad enough that every uniform I’ve had is less than attractive. I look good in hats, but not in a helmet. And for some reason my mouth guard protrudes worse than everyone else’s, making my mouth monkey like. Oh, and did I mention I sweat like a pig? On a hot summer day? In hell? So here I am; the focus of numerous tags on flickr. Large and in charge. All jacked up with ill-fitting clothing, looking like a lab experiment with a monkey and a pig gone wrong. And this, my friends, is my public persona. Lovely.

So when I was asked to pose for a month in our league’s calendar, I avoided it like the plague (it kills monkeys after all, you know), and I successfully skirted having my picture taken. I don’t want to be hanging on someone’s kitchen wall with notes scribbled below me that say things like “May 9: Prostate Exam,” or “May 17: Dog’s Birthday.” A calendar is something people refer back to and look at almost daily – eek!

And this got me thinking, because I hate being visible, how is this translating into other areas of my life? Do I hold back in derby because of it? Take fewer risks for fear that I will fail or make a spectacle of myself? Do I always do the “safe” thing? And for what?

Several years ago my best friend and I talked about having professional anti-pinup pictures taken of us. In the photos we’d be wearing seductively open house coats, orthopedic bras, granny panties, and nude stockings halfway rolled down our legs. It was a great idea then, and it still is now, but I still can’t bring myself to do it. Why? Because of the fear of looking MORE haggard than my friend. More rotund. More like I actually do wear a housecoat.

Previously unaware of where I was going with all this (it is suppose to be a motivational blog, after all), I closed this entry for a bit, and when I came back to it the conclusion was staring right back at me. My computer background is a full-size picture of me blocking the opposing jammer in our championship game. I’m damn proud of that picture. I held her back with the booty block from hell. And it’s just now that I realize why we take pictures and why we value them: it’s more a memory of a time and place or feeling than a beauty contest. I could have professional pix taken of me in a tub of horseshit where I look absolutely hot. Does that mean I value that picture more than one of my friends and I celebrating a fun time in our lives or one of me doing something well (in derby)? No way.

We judge ourselves too harshly and are self conscious about things others don’t even see. This is just another medium for self doubt: the picture. Perhaps this shall serve as a slap in the face for me to live life to its fullest – the way I want to. Because if I do that, I can’t ever look back at myself and have any regrets.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Cindy Lop-her? "Present!"

The holidays are a stressful time for just about everyone, but even moreso for a rollergirl. With the general holiday preparations, the buying of food and gifts, the sick that many of us get from being trapped in an office building w/less than adequate ventilation this time of year, and with regular derby business it's tough making the practices you desperately need to attend to keep the pumpkin pie bulge and mashed potato sluggishness at bay.

My league is currently in a relaxed attendance policy for November and December, but I have to admit - it's even hard to make the relaxed attendance policy. I know it's important to stay active (ESPECIALLY this time of year), so how can I better prepare myself to stay healthy and make regular practices? Here are my goals:

1. Plan holiday errands (and all errands) in advance. Planning to stop by the grocery store on the way home from work on a non-derby day is way less stressful than waiting until the last minute to go get something you need, rushing to get it, and then missing practice beacause of it.
2. Wash hands, Zicam, repeat. No brainer here, yet I still seem to catch every damn cold that enters my office building. I need to remember to wash before I eat lunch and use Zicam at the 1st sign of a cold. Skating while sick sucks and can make a viral infection worse if your activity level is intense. I need to avoid the sick!
3. Don't throw the diet out the window. Thanksgiving usually begins the "what the hell?" attitude toward food for me that lasts clear through New Years. Not this year. I need to stick to my healthy eating plan, which for me, includes sticking to a calorie count of 1,500-1,800, eliminating sugar, eating regularly throughout the day, not eating after practice, and drinking lots of water.
4. Keep up with supplemental exercise. I must hit the gym 2 times a week, I must hit the gym 2 times a week,I must hit the gym 2 times a week.
5. GO TO PRACTICE! Just do it. I must.

What are your goals for this holiday season?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

New Format: Mon, Wed, Fri

New post to come tomorrow, and the new schedule will be that posts will be made on Mon, Wed, and Fri!

XO,

Lop-her

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

TOO MUCH BOOTY IN THE PANTS: "I'll take those booty shorts in a 2XL..."



I often think about what I'm going to wear for derby - it's actually a real fun part of being a rollergirl.

At RollerCon this past year I participated in 2 Freemont Street scrimages that allowed me to use my creativity for uniform design: Tits vs. Ass (Tits) and Elvises vs. Showgirls (Elvis). For team Tits our guidelines were black corsets and red bottoms, and for team Elvis, well, you get it - dress like Elvis! The Tits uniform was highly uncomfortable and detrimental to skating, but we looked hot. Isn't that what counts? Well, I'd say breathing counts more, and none of us could do that strapped into the corsets! I paired my corset w/a red tutu, and idea my CCRG teammate, Mibbs Breakin' Ribs had, for our uniforms. I spent weeks working on my Elvis costume to play for 20 minutes. Fashion is a sick obsession.

In the day-to-day, so many people ask me, "Where did you get that skirt/shorts/top?" My most frequented derby practice attire shopping spot is the clearance rack at Target. I got a pair of booty shorts there last week for $2.48 - I could actually pay cash for them, something I can never do!

But what about the cute and functional shit? It takes a bit of searching, but you can find fun stuff on-line that will fit you! Here's some of my favorite links:

Pettipants (rufflebutts) up to 2XL & special order sizing: http://www.rufflesnlace.com/catalog/item/1228075/780245.htm

BEST SPORTS BRA EVER MADE (I wear 38F, and these fuckers go up 6-7 sizes higher than I need. Plus, the girls NEVER move!): http://www.enell.com/

Big-ass fishnets: http://www.hipsandcurves.com/plus-size-lingerie/hosiery/Nylon-Fishnet-Pantyhose/LA9001.htm

Site for my new favorite book, Generation T (a guide to turning boxy mens T shirts into super-cute woman-curve-hugging tops): http://www.generation-t.com/

Do you have great links for big derby clothes? Post here in a comment!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

If a Girl Makes a Play in the Pack and is Big, Does Anyone See Her?

Much like the annoying age-old question, "If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound," in this blog I have aimed to make readers think about the perception of big girls (with tree trunk legs - kidding) in derby; it's meant as a support to those of us who aren't naturally athletic or who are but don't look like it. So, I guess this can be considered my come-back post to a blog I kinda hoped wouldn't make a sound.

In all honesty, I hate typing the words "big girls" just as much as I hate considering myself one. I cringe on the inside. I guess that's why I stopped writing - this blog makes me somewhat uncomfortable... Ok, a LOT uncomfortable, but then again so do booty shorts and fishnets, but that doesn't stop me from wearing them, so I guess I better step up and keep this thing going regardless the anxiety I feel about revealing what it feels like to overcome the obstacles of my body to perform on both an athletic and intellectual level.

Truth is, (verbal diahrea coming) I get an anxiety attack almost every evening before practice. Why? I'm afraid I can't compete. I won't be able to finish a snake drill, I'll be last at whatever we're doing, etc. The only thing I can figure out that works is remembering every night I've come home from a practice feeling really great about something I rocked and asking myself to provide evidence where I've actually been overcome by the events of something negative that happened at practice. I never can. Practice never goes terrible, yet I still have to tell myself to suck it up twice a week.

I was beginning to think I didn't like skating anymore until the city of Baltimore repaved Lake Montebello, a 1.3 mile stretch surrounding a watershed. This summer, upon it's completion, I couldn't wait to get out of work and go skate at the lake. I was waking up each morning thinking about skating at the lake. I was (and still am to some extent) obsessed with the lake. This made me re-realize that I really love skating. So why the anxiety about practice at the rink? Competition. I can't believe I sacrificed my own beliefs that I contantly cram down everybody's throat that YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU WANT. I don't think I can compete because of my size.

Then, last week, I get an e-mail from a girl who stumbled across the blog I wanted to remain silent. In a nutshell, she was thanking me for writing it, as she was preparing to tryout for a league and had been battling her own self-doubt about whether or not she could do it. That's when I realized I needed to get myself in check and step it up on this thing.

So, if a girl makes a play in the pack and is big, does anyone see her? Yes. and they cheer her on harder than they would someone who's a natural (at least in my league they do). Derby's great for many reasons, but one of them is that everyone involved wants to see you succede - a tenant that's vastly different from how women treat each other outside the derby world.

This is the only way derby is going to make it this go around: we all must support each other in individual and group success. This is why I share sponsorship info with other leagues and advice regarding what's worked and what hasn't for us - there's no reason to make each league recreate the wheel. We have to help each other be our absolute best in athleticism and business. The business part comes easy to me, the athleticism? Not so much, but I'm working on it.

What about extending what we learn about how we support each other on the rink into real life? Now, I'm not going to go all Dr. Phil on your ass, but you get the point. With nearly/over 200 leagues all over the world, you think what we learn from this can't evoke change? It can.

We've just completed our second season, and we're now into two months of relaxed attendance requirements. I've made a promise to myself to still go to the gym, to still go to practice (ok, trying to get over the anxiety), and now, to still encourage those of you who are in the same boat as me (let's hope this fucker doesn't sink!). There you have it.

Monday, July 23, 2007

RollerCon and Thinking Your Way to Weight Loss

Who's going to RollerCon?!?! I AM!!!

I'm moderating 2 round table discussions on Thursday and Friday from 3:30pm-4:30pm: Sponsorship and Treasury, respectively. If you've got a pass, you should come!

I'm also excited about participating in the Tits vs. Ass challenge (go team Tits!) and Elvises vs. Showgirls (go Elvi!).

Last weekend I suffered a Grade 2 AC Separation in my shoulder (clavical and scapula, to be more exact). I'm out of contact derby for a while, but I will be back in full force for RollerCon and VirginFest - that's right, CCRG will be representing again at VirginFest on both Saturday and Sunday. I'll be skating on Saturday for Pussy Galore ;)

Update on my big girl status: still a big girl... but 20lbs lighter. Definately makes a difference in agility. And I'm still busting my ass to lose some more fat so I'm in a healthy BMI range. 20lbs is good - it's a start, but it don't change the fact that I could have played for either Tits OR Ass - holla!

Ok, here's an interesting article I read at lunch:
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By Carol Mithers

(OPRAH.com) -- In the battle against fat, the heroes achieve what most of us only long for -- lasting weight loss. They're so unusual, they've become the subjects of ongoing research by scientists trying to finger just what it is that makes them stand out from the rest of dieting humanity.

The project is called the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) and was created in 1993 by researchers at Brown University and the University of Colorado in the face of the well-known and defeating statistic: Ninety-five percent of dieters gain their weight back.

Registrants -- some 4,500 -- must have dropped at least 30 pounds and kept them off for a year or more, though the average member has lost twice that much and maintained it for about five years.

In one of the latest studies, Inga Treitler, Ph.D., a cultural anthropologist, and a fellow researcher intensely interviewed and observed 10 of the registrants, focusing not on what they ate or did for exercise but on how they lived -- the books they read, the photos they kept, their pets, careers, friends and hobbies -- before and after the weight loss. The question, again, was basic: What had enabled them to triumph where so many others falter?

One of Treitler's aha moments came after the study subjects took a 120-item multiple-choice questionnaire that assesses thinking styles, called the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI).

Simply put, the theory behind it goes like this: We all naturally tend to process information, solve problems and relate to others in a particular way, and such inclinations roughly correspond to four different quadrants of the brain -- two on the right, two on the left. These preferences are like mental defaults your brain automatically resorts to when evaluating the world unless otherwise prompted and most people employ some combination of quadrants.

• "A" quadrant (upper left): People who favor this area are analytical, mathematical, logical problem solvers. Drawn to statistics and the workings of machinery, they can overanalyze a situation so much they have trouble taking action.

• "B" quadrant (lower left): These people are controlled, methodical, disciplined sticklers for structure and routine. Punctual and neat, they always have a plan, timetable and calendar with appointments penciled in.

• "C" quadrant (lower right): Lower-right thinkers are emotional, spiritual and focused on people and human connection.

• "D" quadrant (upper right): "D" types are strongly visual and easily bored, attracted to new ideas, fun and risk taking.

Which quadrant makes a successful dieter?

"We found that those with the most dramatic losses scored noticeably higher in favoring 'B,' the lower left," says Treitler.

This makes sense to her, having observed many people struggling with weight. Someone inclined toward plans and routines, who sees life through methodical eyes, would be the most comfortable with the mundane details of calorie counting and portion control. She would also be more able to coolly observe herself and catalog obstacles and failings without succumbing to an emotion like self-hatred.

Breakthrough number two occurred during another study with the NWCR volunteers.

When Treitler listened to subjects' stories, something stood out. They'd all gone through an inner transformation almost like those celebrated in traditional rites of passage. Each had found a coach, mentor or guide for the journey; had pulled back and separated somewhat from his or her old environment; and then was "reborn" into a different way of life. The newly thin person became a leader rather than a follower, a change that opened the door to further goals and achievements, often in fields completely unrelated to weight loss.

One subject asked a chef at the university where he worked to develop an aggressive diet for him and dropped nearly half his body weight. Then he took a leave from his job to help start a law school in Africa and became a passionate long-distance walker and bird-watcher.

"All the subjects had incorporated some meditative element into their lives," Treitler says. "It might have been walking or yoga, but it was self time, a white space where they could disengage from the old, obsessive behavior." This transformation of identity appears crucial in keeping weight off. Without a new self who's clearly different from the old, overweight one, it's too easy to revert to former unhealthy habits.

While most of us can't remove ourselves from daily life as radically as that man who went to Africa, we can create the conditions that make rebirth possible. Based on Dr. Treitler's observations, she can suggest concrete steps to change a habit that have nothing to do with food or exercise or any other behavior you're wrestling with.

The fact is, no matter which cognitive type you are, you can "learn to shift to another mode of thinking," to "stretch" the brain quadrant boundaries in which you feel at home, says Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, CEO of Herrmann International, which developed the HBDI. So for people who have no natural inclination to be systematic and detail oriented ("B" strengths), Treitler says the goal is to build up familiarity and comfort with those approaches.

According to Herrmann-Nehdi, simple activities practiced over a period of about three weeks can bolster your inner bookkeeper. They can be done in stages, she says.

• Organize. Alphabetize your CDs. Then, a few days later, your spices. A few days after that, rearrange your closet, then your tax papers.

• Timing. Keep a time log of your daily activities and start being punctual for every appointment.

• Plan. Sit down and map out a week in advance. It's also helpful to follow a routine jogging a certain course every other day, balancing your checkbook once a week.

• Step-by-step thinking: Cook from a recipe exactly as it's written, knit from a pattern, learn a computer program by following a tutorial or manual.

If these activities seem grating, you can make them more appealing to your naturally dominant brain type, Herrmann-Nehdi says: "A 'D' [conceptual, risk taking] could dream up something she wants to achieve in a year's time, then, working backward, create a timeline and checklist of what needs to be done."

A "C"---emotional, people-oriented--- could teach her niece to balance a checkbook.

Think of these activities as physical workouts, suggests Treitler: "When you practice them regularly, it trains your brain to become accustomed to new ways of thinking." Later, when an actual diet plan requires steadfastness and attention to detail, the effort won't feel so alien.

The most important aspect of redefining yourself is "doing something empowering," says Treitler. "It may be teaching, volunteering -- anything that allows you to take on new status and to be in the position of helper rather than one who needs help." From this strengthened position, you go forward, not back.

To learn more about the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) visit http://www.hbdi.com/. E-mail to a friend

Oprah.com

TM & Copyright 2007 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Told Ya So...

I just read this article on thin people who are fat on the inside on msnbc.com:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18594089

Below is an excerpt that confirms my thoughts on weight and BMI:

Unhealthy skinny people

Doctors are unsure about the exact dangers of internal fat, but some suspect it contributes to the risk of heart disease and diabetes. They theorize that internal fat disrupts the body’s communication systems. The fat enveloping internal organs might be sending the body mistaken chemical signals to store fat inside organs like the liver or pancreas. This could ultimately lead to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, or heart disease.

Experts have long known that fat, active people can be healthier than their skinny, inactive counterparts. “Normal-weight persons who are sedentary and unfit are at much higher risk for mortality than obese persons who are active and fit,” said Dr. Steven Blair, an obesity expert at the University of South Carolina.
For example, despite their ripples of fat, super-sized Sumo wrestlers probably have a better metabolic profile than some of their slim, sedentary spectators, Bell said. That’s because the wrestlers’ fat is primarily stored under the skin, not streaking throughout their vital organs and muscles.

The good news is that internal fat can be easily burned off through exercise or even by improving your diet. “Even if you don’t see it on your bathroom scale, caloric restriction and physical exercise have an aggressive effect on visceral fat,” said Dr. Bob Ross, an obesity expert at Queen’s University in Canada.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How Healthy Are You?

I just took this survey on MSNBC.com called "How Healthy are You?"

My results? "B"

I scored "green" (on their apparent terror-alert scale of health) for EVERY question other than BMI and I got a "B". Bullshit.

My good cholesterol's up, my bad cholesteral's low, and the rest of my bloodwork is PERFECTION. So, I'm obese according to BMI. SFW?

BMI does NOT account for muscle. Granted, I'm not large because I'm ripped, although I do believe I am ripped under this layer of fat. I have a super-high resting metabolism, which proves my high muscle mass. BMI, like the government food pyramid, is bullshit IMO. True, it works for MOST people, the ones who never exercise and who are "normal."

This brings me to an ad I saw yesterday for a razor. Have you ever eaten a chicken wing that was nothing but fat? It's kinda like that:

There was a woman on the beach in a purple bikini with the skinniest damn legs I've ever seen. My 1st thought? Ew. Why? She had absolutely no visible muscle, which can only lead me to believe she's one of those "my job requires it, so I just don't eat" kind of girls. Even if she did exercise, she probably couldn't build muscle because she doesn't eat enough. And when she loses weight? Well, it's probably muscle mass. I bet her body fat percentage is in the 40% range.

Which brings us FULL FUCKING CIRCLE to my original point that BMI is bullshit. Body fat percentage (BFP) is probably a lot more acurate! Now, my BFP hovers around 40%. That's proabably accurate. But, if someone were to look at my BMI, they might assume my BFP is more like 50-60%. My man is a fucking Ironworker who is RIPPED and does physical labor all day (he has a belly though). His is 30%. Why am I sharing this? I dunno. Maybe because whenever I meet a new doctor he or she is shocked as to my BMI and wonders why my bloodwork doesn't match. Then, over time, he or she gets to know me and realizes I do eat better than 90% of the population, and I exercise like a maniac (5-6 days/week, sometimes twice a day). Then they say, "Maybe this is just the weight your body is predispositioned to (wants to be)." Well, I fail to believe that either, but that's another rant.

The point, again, is that you CAN be fit and fat, and FUCK MSNBC.com for jumping on the "health" media bandwagon by publishing a test that is flawed in so many ways.

Only your doctor can tell you how healthy you are.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sidetracked - Going to The Big Easy

Well, things have been crazy and awkward and good all rolled into one lately on the derby front. I need a general "break" from the monotony of my day-to-day life, and I've contacted a service organization to volunteer my time in New Orleans to help rebuild.

I'd like to encourage you all to think about offering a long weekend or week of your time if you have it. Here's the organization I've contacted:

http://www.emergencycommunities.org

If you're a Big Easy Rollergirl who's still in the area, I'd love to meet you when I'm down. I'll post my dates very soon!

More derby-related blogging to come soon - I promise! I've just needed to clear my head...

Monday, March 12, 2007

NDR: Operation™ & Nightmares

So, I know this blog is about derby, but I can’t help but blog about two bizarre encounters I had within several hours of each other on Saturday.

1) I saw the “Operation” guy at CVS

2) I had a flashback to the most memorable nightmare I’ve ever had

As for #1, I thought I was tripping. I was checking out at CVS when two guys walked up to the counter from the back of the store. One was the dude from Operation!!! You know, the game where you have metal tweezers and you have the pick out “the funny bone” without zapping the bejesus out of yourself? It was THAT GUY. He looked just like him and even had a red rubber thing over his nose. My first thought was that the pharmacy must be doing some sort of promo about health check ups, then I realized that’s a really stupid idea. I kept looking at him without trying to stare. I was like, “did I just see that, or am I flashing?” I seriously thought I was in the middle of an acid flashback, and so help me god if I had been on acid when this happened! I realized the guy was developmentally disabled after a few minutes, but I still don’t get why the red rubber thing was on his nose! If I had thought about it at the time, I would have taken a camera-phone pic of this, because I know anyone I tell about it would ask me this: “Were you high?” Totally bizarre.



After I left CVS I went to a bridal shower for a girl I work with. It was held at this little church in a really old Baltimore neighborhood. The shower was in the main room of the church – a room covered in fake wood paneling, filled with tables and with a stage at the front, lined with gifts. When I looked closer at the stage, I freaked. It brought me back to this terrible dream I had when I was 18:

In the dream, I’m wearing a puffy yellow dress and I go into this “church” that’s the basement of a row house. I don’t really know why I’m there, but once I go inside I realize a crowd of my friends and family are all seated in the back half of the room. In the front half is a long folding table – the kind you sit at when at a banquet, but without any tablecloth. On top of the table is a metal folding chair. Someone escorts me to the table and has me sit on the chair on top of the table. It’s then that I realize I’m being crowned the Queen of White Trash. Everyone there is really proud of me because I’ve done “better” than those who came before me, but this title makes me really upset. I remember waking from that dream and thinking, “Is all I’ll ever be the Queen of White Trash? I don’t want to be White Trash at all! I want to be better than that!” And, so, this single dream is the metaphor for my life that I’ve forever been trying to escape, which is why I have such a strong work ethic, etc, etc. I digress.

The reason I freaked at the shower was that the bride-to-be’s mother had placed a chair in the center of the stage for her daughter to sit in and open presents. It was all too real for me. Yet, I don’t see her as white trash. Do you ever have moments like these that just hit you like a brick wall? It’s killer.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Mobtown Maulers Make Derby History with Largest Point Spread AGAIN!!!

Maulers: 289 LIRR: 16

Last night ROCKED!!! In our first Division III WFTDA match up (we’ve only ever played Division I & II teams), we beat LIRR 289 to 16.

I played my usual Blocker 1&2 positions for the first two periods, but I MOTHERFUCKING JAMMED in the third!!! The score was so uneven that the crowd started requesting Berzerker and I jam. We did it! Berzerker did better than I did, with a 9-point jam. My jam ended in a tie: 0 to 0. Everyone was really impressed with us habitual blockers stepping up to jam. The crowd went wild and I’ve been getting nothing but nice e-mails about it all day long! My teammates were especially impressed with my resilience. I was able to get back up and sprint back to the pack immediately – how did I do it? I think it has something to do w/that endless supply of energy I was talking about in my last blog post. I just never got tired, not even when jamming!

“So, what do you think makes the difference,” Betty Beatdown, my fellow Mauler and Speed Regimer, asked me.

I think it’s a little of everything. Eating well, getting a shitload of exercise on a very regular basis, and really, REALLY fucking wanting to get better and do my absolute best. The drive is certainly #1.

The East Coast Extravaganza is in two weeks, and we have two WFTDA bouts with Division II teams: Grand Raggedy and Detroit.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Fit & Fat

Okay, so it’s been a while since I last wrote. Work’s been a bitch, Mercury’s in retrograde, and everything seems to be going to shit (broken front tooth, head cold, fight w/significant other…). Alas, here’s the latest installment!

Fit and Fat

I had my monthly visit w/my nutritionist, and (surprise) she is shocked at the lack of my progress, be it weight or inches. I told her this was the point (3 months) that I was usually kicked out of Weight Watchers or told to “get use to it [being fat]” by doctors. It’s bizarre.

I burn a LOT of resting calories for my size. I should burn about 2100/day, but I actually burn well over 3000/day. I have a shitload of muscle, and I exercise like a maniac (5-6 days per week w/double doses on at least 3 of those days).

“I’m the picture of fit and fat,” I told the nutritionist. Although I’m at my highest weight ever (well, almost), I can tell that my body is performing better than it ever has been. I crave activity. I don’t even get tired in jams anymore. I get anxious if I have to sit out more than 1 jam when scrimmaging, because I want to fucking MOVE! It’s truly awesome, but I can’t help but imagine how much more awesome it could be if I wasn’t wearing this fat suit. I feel like my mobility is somewhat limited by parts of my body being so large.

The verdict. Upping my caloric intake from 1600 cals/day to 2400 cals/day. I’ve lost 3 pounds already since Monday. Bitchin!

Maulers vs. Long Island Roller Rebels on Sunday

We’re hosting LIRR on Sunday, and we’re doing this whole 80s themed bout – giving away prizes for people dressed 80s, etc. I was so looking forward to this, because it was to be the showdown of the 80s superstars: Me (Cindy Lop-her) and MadDonna. Sadly, MadDonna is unable to make the bout due to family obligations.

This bout is sure to be a crowd pleaser. The Maulers let lose on Female Trouble (CCRG’s B-Team) last Monday during scrimmaging. The last jam of the night featured brutal double-teaming. At one point, I took out a player, and on her way down Joy Collision hit her from the other side. Ouch! I’m looking to pull some of this out on Sunday as well!

Well, that’s it for now. It’s time for me to get changed to do the Walk Away the Pounds 2-Mile Walk DVD w/my co-workers!!!

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Goals and Motivation

It’s good to have goals. My home team, Speed Regime, has been posting weekly accountability threads on our Yahoo group. Each week anyone on the team who wants to can post their goals for the week, update us on what they’ve been doing, and ask questions or offer suggestions for others. The goals and discussion mainly revolve around food and exercise. I think it’s a good way to keep yourself and your team in check. It provides accountability (hence, accountability thread). Still, if you want to do something, you aren’t ever really going to accomplish it out of fear or guilt – you have to want to do it.

I really think that’s been the difference in my game lately – I’ve actually wanted to do well, not just say I do and think about how great I would be if I had X, Y, or Z. Yes, guilt gets me there on nights I’d otherwise want to lounge and lie on the sofa, but I’m not motivated by guilt.

The following is an excerpt from Dr. Sidney Langston on the topic (http://members.aol.com/elrophe/motivationguilt.html). He talks about children, but this really applies to anyone:

Motivation by guilt is unwise for many reasons. First, it creates unneeded emotional stress. Secondly, it doesn't work. When people are constantly barraged by guilt-producing statements, they become deaf to the motivational aspects and remember only the guilt aspects. Just as people became deaf to the boy who cried wolf, they become deaf to motivation by guilt. Children who are harangued by guilt-producing statements are not more responsive; they just feel more guilty. Guilt-ridden children are no more obedient or efficient than other children. More likely, the opposite is true. They get so wrapped up in their feelings of shame and remorse that they cannot follow through on the requests that are made of them. Unfortunately, attempts to correct their lack of responsiveness often creates more guilt.

Motivation by guilt also results in side effects that are incompatible with healthy personality growth. Feelings of inferiority, low self esteem, lying to cover up mistakes, aggressive behavior, bragging, withdrawal and self punishment are some of the side effects of motivation by guilt.


Additionally, Dr. Langston gives suggestions for motivators to replace guilt:

Motivation by encouragement
When we encourage children we help them to see what they are doing right, not just what they are doing wrong. Encouragement involves praise, support, and a spirit of togetherness. In contrast, motivation by guilt usually involves criticism, isolation and blame.

Motivation by exhortation
Exhortation is another excellent means by which we can motivate... Exhortation deals with facts. To exhort is to lay the truth on the line. Exhortation emphasizes the truth and the natural consequences of not following the truth. In contrast, motivation by guilt focuses upon the person and the negative aspects of the person. It is often a matter of attitude. The most effective exhorters are those who gently but firmly lead the way. [For example,] people don't want their children to feel guilty because children who feel guilty usually lag behind.

Motivation by equipping
Equipping involves showing, telling and leading… until [a person has] enough experience to carry on by themselves. The most effective parents and teachers are those who show… what to do and how to do it.

And just so you know, my goals for the week are:

1. Make it to the gym w/Rita Friday at 6am
2. Play DDR twice
3. Do balance board once a day at work
4. Drink more water (when it's uber cold, I can't get it down!)
5. Kick ass at Wednesday practice

STAY STONG, LADIES!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Back Cramps, Indian Food, and Untraditional Jammers

First off, can I just tell you how angry I get that Word doesn’t recognize the word “jammer” or “jammers”? I just added both of those to my dictionary to keep my anger under control. Now to the real part of the blog (fuck! Word does it with “blog” too!)… Did I mention I work for a book publisher by day?

Back Cramps
Back cramps – they suck. A lot of people get them. I get them. Did I mention they suck? Well, short of lopping off my DDs and losing 50lbs, the cramps aren’t gonna just stop anytime soon without a little help. So, I’ve been on this personal quest for back-cramp relief.

First, I treated the back cramps like muscle cramps: replenish electrolytes during exercise and thoroughly stretch the muscle before activity.

Next, I went to the herb store and asked the guru there if there was anything herbal I could use. She gave me two options, both of which I’m giving a try: 1) Comfrey root: make this into tea and drink an hour before exercise; 2) Ruta Grav pellets: place 3 under tongue when back pain starts (aka, before a cramp sets in).

Then I talked to a friend about the situation. This friend is a massage therapist and is totally getting off on the fact that she gets to break out her anatomy books to plan deep tissue massage that will help me.

So, how’s this all working? Well, it’s interesting. Like a typical American, I suppose, I have been looking for a “cure.” But the information I’ve gathered through all this research has led me down a different path than I expected. It seems that the back cramps may not actually be the problem, but a result of a larger problem or combination of problems. They’re just a really painful end result!

The massage therapist’s mentor, so to speak, a person who has been in practice for a long time, suggested that it may instead be a pelvis and breathing problem. Come to find out, the left side of my pelvis is jacked up like 4cm higher than the right, and the muscles on the left side of my body, from my abdomen to pelvis and pelvis to knee are significantly tighter, which is likely causing the wrench. Hmmmm… What could cause all that on the left side of my body??? Perhaps going fast and turning left – a lot? Yep. Turns out going one direction really fucks w/your body. The second part of this dynamic, incorrect breathing, contributes to the cramp according to the guru.

So, what am I doing? Well, I went into practice last night a lot more cognizant about my breathing. It sounds dumb, but I think focusing on breathing like you would in Yoga prolonged my need to stretch. Two days prior I got that deep-tissue rub-down and I could feel an immediate difference in my posture. I certainly think that helped as well (loosening the muscles around it did lower my pelvis significantly).

I felt a difference in the right direction last night. Here’s what I did:
- 10 min yoga before leaving the house
- stretches w/the group
- drank Smart Water
- mindful breathing
- took 3 pellets of Ruta Grav when back pain started
- stretched when I needed to (only twice the whole night!)

It’s still not all worked out, but at least I feel like I’m on the right path now. I think finding the “cure” for back cramps is like finding the cure for cancer in the roller derby world. But, like cancer, perhaps it’s more about predisposition (size, bone structure) and prevention… I’ll keep you posted in this ever evolving quest.

Indian Food
I’ve discovered something better than chocolate covered pretzels for PMS: Indian food. I’ve always loved Indian food, but it was quite by chance that I discovered it satiates the cravings you get at that time. A new Indian restaurant just moved into my work neighborhood, and we cannot stop going. It’s like crack. The VP told me a story not to long ago about a Chinese restaurant that served crappy food and was always being shut down by the Health Department, but always had a line out the door. Turns out they were adding opium paste to all their food, and people became addicted. This of course has nothing to do w/my obsession w/good Indian food aside from the fact that I just compared it to crack.

Untraditional Jammers
I jammed last night during scrimmages. It was so much fun. I never jam, and I think that’s why I had everyone cheering for me – we all want to root for the underdog. I actually established lead jammer and won 1-0 (I strategically called it off my second time through the pack after having passed 1 person). I think it may be several more months before I jam again, if only to build the suspense back up and garner all the cheering again!

This got me thinking though… If I had a little more endurance, I think I might actually rock as a jammer. As a bigger girl (and a blocker) I can get pummeled and stay upright for the most part. So, who’s a better jammer: a tiny fast girl who avoids getting hit and can wiggle through the pack or a larger girl who is solid and can force her way through the pack? There’s no right answer here. Just thought I’d pose the question…

Friday, January 26, 2007

Liberty Belles vs. Mobtown Maulers

I’m a little late in writing this, but work has been a bitch this week, so get over it. Last Saturday (1/20/07) we hauled it up caravan style to the suburbs of Philly to play the Liberty Belles. It was the 1st bout in their new home, a sports arena with sport-court flooring – and beer. I was really interested to see if the crowd dynamic changed with a little help from the liquid cheer, but more about that later.

The local was rad, the floor a little noisy (sport-court tiles that made it sound like you had busted bearings the entire time you were skating), and the hospitality warm. The Liberty Belles kept referring to us as their “little sisters,” as they helped us out a bit in our 1st year through advice and teaching us drills – they’re really a great group of ladies (who all have awesome hair extensions or are awesome because of their lack of any hair).

Now, to the bout…

We were off. Way off. Our strengths lie in our ability to work together as a team, and Philly really kept us from doing that. Mad props to them. Philly has really played up their strengths: they have big blockers who hit hard and rarely tip over, and their jammers jam. Only once did I see a jammer in a blocking position. Last year we were so short on players due to injury that doing that had never occurred to me – keep your jammers fresh by reserving them for jamming only. Interesting.

I’ve somehow lost any sense of pre-bout nervousness I ever had, but looking back on it, I wish I could have had a little fear and apprehension driving me. We got schooled. We didn’t even play our game – ever. It was bittersweet though, because although we lost by 50 and did pretty awful as a team, I had one of my better games, and it showed. After the bout several of my teammates and some fans congratulated me on “stepping it up,” something only a handful of people knew I had been doing for the past few weeks.

I’ve been in the midst of a very difficult bout of depression following the unexpected death of my dad several months ago. Depression breeds odd things. For me, it’s been a lack of self confidence, something I’ve never in my life had to worry about before. Now, it’s a struggle, and my game has suffered because of it. It’s a bad cycle. You feel bad about yourself, you do bad, and people know you’re doing bad. That further feeds the negative self image, etc, etc. But several weeks ago it all came to a head and I decided to say “fuck it” to myself. I came up w/a new tactic to boost my self confidence, and as a result I’ve been putting 110% into practices and then the Philly game. I’m back.

As for the beer? Well, I don’t know how Philly fans usually are, but they weren’t as loud as I expected them to be. On the other hand, the Baltimore fans who attended were as fucking loud and crazy as we’re use to :) Go Mobtown.

Monday, January 8, 2007

1/7 Bout: CCRG vs. CRG

Last night in our 1st WFTDA bout, we hosted Carolina, currently ranked 7th in the nation and who also recently beat the 4th ranked team in the nation. We lost 74 to 145, but I still think we put on an impressive battle for a little 1-year-old Division 3 team taking on a 3-year-old Division 1 team!

It was a tough bout. CRG definitely took us off guard in the 1st period. We were reacting and playing their game rather than playing ours. By the second period, however, we rearranged our strategy and started holding off their jammers and helping ours.

We definitely learned a lot, and playing a team with so much more experience was a great opportunity to see just where you can get to in 3 years. The plays, the vertical blocking, the speed - it was fun.

I must say that my added activity level must be paying off, because there was no point in any one jam that I felt I couldn't keep up. And today, the day after, I'm not sore. A little fatigued, yes, but definitely not hurting.

Things I did differently:

1. Smart Water throughout the game. This was way better than Gatorade. The sugar in Gatorade gives me the mouth pukes. No mouth pukes with Smart Water but all the benefits of electrolytes.

2. I wore a ThermaCare heat wrap on my back. I wound up taking it off half-way through though, so I'm not sure if it did anything at all, but my back never hurt.

It was a great learning experience - I hope we can take a lot away from it and become even better from it!

Friday, January 5, 2007

What’s a Girl to Do?

With the ongoing refinement of the WFTDA and their rule set and their re-opening of league applicants, it’s no doubt that roller derby leagues across the country are stepping up their game.

Practices are becoming more frequent and more intense, and it’s easy to get down on yourself if you can’t keep up with endurance practices. This past week, out of a practice of 40 women, I counted the number of people NOT in the current drill. It was astounding: 10 ladies stretching out their back or leg cramps and 4 skating at their own pace along the outside of the rink. That’s 14 people – a whole team’s worth of skaters.

The funny thing is that nearly every person I’ve talked to who “can’t keep up” at one time or another thinks she’s the only one. She’s not.

Once I started looking around I noticed that the 14 not in the drill were not what I would have expected – they were skaters of all body types, and they were blockers AND jammers – some of our best jammers, in fact. So what does this tell us?

You aren’t alone.

Accept it, but know that like anything else you can accomplish anything you put your mind to if your will is strong enough. I live almost every aspect of my life with this in mind. I know I’ll only live once, and time is ticking away every day. If you want something out of life, you have to get out there and take it.

Now, notice I said I live “almost” every aspect of my life with this in mind. I’ve been successful in following my own advice in business and in my personal life, but I’ve never even considered that I could do this with respect to my body. It’s always been the one thing I feel I don’t have control over. But now I’m beginning to think that the “I will do this” attitude I use in other aspects of my life is a necessity, at least with me, in provoking actual change and accomplishment. I’ve always wanted to change my body’s physical parameters, but I never thought I actually could. So, what’s a girl to do?

Well, like many others in my league I’ve joined a gym to up the ante. I try to go at least twice a week to supplement the exercise I get at practice. I do calesthenics and sometimes my elliptical at home. I walk during my lunch break at work. And the most fun of all, I got Dance Dance Revolution for Christmas, which is more fun than exercise to me, but I do break out in a sweat trying to win the game!

The thing is, my body isn’t going to change next week. It may not even get to a level that would make me comfortable in endurance practices in 6 months, but I am doing something about it, and I’m doing my best.

Next time you’re ready to cry or strangle a coach with their whistle, remember that no one pays to come see you do an endurance practice. They come to see you play roller derby, and lets face it, none of us would be here unless we were good enough to compete. Endurance practices are suppose to be challenging. They’re suppose to be just out of reach. But they make us better, and eventually, if you want it bad enough, you’ll get it. Just give yourself some time and cut yourself a little slack. Also know that fit comes in many packages. I could try and persuade you all to “get skinny” but only because it would make it easier for me to punt you when our leagues play;) Thin shouldn’t be the goal here. It’s just the shape of the package, and as we all know if we look around, even some thin gals have problems keeping up.

Yours in solidarity.