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


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!



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:

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!):

Big-ass fishnets:

Site for my new favorite book, Generation T (a guide to turning boxy mens T shirts into super-cute woman-curve-hugging tops):

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.