Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Adults at the Kids’ Table

I’ve always hated the idea of the “kids’ table” at family functions and holiday events. Since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be older than I am, and as a kid I always resented being placed at the kids’ table.

The kids’ table – it’s usually a shorter, smaller table (maybe a card table or a cheap folding table) that’s crudely dressed in a matching table cloth, surrounded by mismatched folding chairs, old kitchen chairs, and even sometimes a stool.

I remember sitting at kids’ tables as a kid, and it seems that I’d always be stuck sitting with other kids I wouldn’t know. It’s like the adults assumed that we’d have fun sitting together just because we’re kids. Instead, it was more like a dinner party for the clinically antisocial and neurotic. There was the kid with ADD who wanted attention and shoved vegetables up his nose, the clumsy kid who would continually fall out of his chair, the only other girl who was too shy to talk, and me. It was uncomfortable, to say the least.

As per usual for Christmas dinner in Boston, I sat at the kids’ table, only this time it started out with a joke that the kids’ table was the regular table and the other one was the “old persons table”. Most of us at the kids’ table were working professionals (a Project Manager, an Ironworker, an Army employee, and a CIA agent), and all of us had graduated high school (two cousins were still in college). We talked about what we’d been doing, new tattoos, roller derby (of course), and our plans to tour the Sam Adams brewery on Saturday. We weren’t kids, per se, but when you consider that the other table contained our parents, you could see that we definitely had the youth on our side.

After dinner we did the Yankee Swap (gift exchange) and then played Trivial Pursuit, Pop Culture Edition.

“Adults versus kids,” someone said (the CIA agent).

“Great idea,” I thought, but that brief thought was interrupted with one of the “adults” asking what team J and I would be on.

The “kids” said they sacrificed us, so the adults would have a chance, but I’m not so sure that’s how everyone saw it. For the first time in my life, I was older that I wanted to be.

I’d like to say that my youthful presence brought something to their team, but I consistently answered one wrong question after the other. Back at home this board-game flaw is easily remedied by turning the traditional Trivial Pursuit into Drinking Trivial Pursuit, where when you answer a question right, you drink so that it levels the playing field. Tonight I had to drink to cope with providing wrong answers.

Then, just at the end when both teams were tied and trying to win, the rest of the “adults” abandoned us. All game they sat there, answering or giving away answers to questions we had asked the other team, something the kids exploited all night, and now they were washing dishes, putting away food, and folding up the kids’ table. Actually quite relieved that no one was around to give the answer away, we read the kids a question for the win: “Pam Anderson changed the tattoo of her former husband’s name, Tommy, to what when they got divorced?”

Seriously? This question is for pie?! Fine.

“Mommy!” they all yelled. Fuck.

As we got ready to leave, we all exchanged the usual extended-family semi-uncomfortable kisses and hugs, between us and the parents anyhow. “Sure,” I thought, “I’m old enough to play with the adults, but I still sit at the kids’ table and I’m still not old enough to feel confident knowing which uncles I should make a move to hug.”

I’ve always hated the term “young adult” and now I think I hate it even more, but for different reasons. I always swore I’d grow old gracefully, and I still will, but now I have an idea why everyone has a problem with getting old.

Regardless of how I feel, I refuse to let go of the kids’ table – for the first time in my life, it’s the table I want to sit at, and you can bet two wooden stools and a folding metal chair that my adult ass will still be sitting there next Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Early on a Sunday Morning

I woke up this past Sunday saying the same thing I had apparently said over and again the night before, after our annual Charm City Roller Girls banquet, “I feel like I got kicked in the face.” You know it’s a good party when you come away injured and no one was skating.

Two days later, now here on Tuesday, there’s no question about it: my nose is broken. Sunday morning everyone found it funny, and it totally was. What I found funny was what happened next.

Not having gotten to bed until around 6am, we slept in late – J and I, Chairman Meow, and our newest sponsor crew, JT and two guys from the Flying Dog brewery. With the keg leftover from the banquet still in the center of my kitchen floor, we all just kind of stood there moaning, getting up the energy to start our days.

As if the big blue Flying Dog Winnebago parked across the street from my house wasn’t startling enough to my next-door neighbors as they were loading up the kids to go to church on a Sunday morning, six of us filing out my front door with a keg sealed the deal. I’ve got to say that I found it hilarious. (I’m a good person and I know I am, so I’m really no longer worried what the neighbors who ignore me because I “live in sin” think.)

I love our annual banquet, and even though I came away with a broken nose and a busted elbow and knee, I’d still rank this banquet second in the “How-Wild-Was-That-CCRG-Banquet?” scale.

The banquet itself was bittersweet. It celebrated my last time sharing a track with some ladies I’ve skated with since the very beginning (Cheeta and Mibbs), yet as you know, I only got to skate in our first bout of the season last year, so part of me felt like the banquet wasn’t for me, highlighting once again how much being injured sucks.

However, I am fucking stoked for 2009. I’m currently running 4.5-5 miles at a time, several times a week, and my blocker ass even set the lofty goal of jamming for a team I was recently asked to join and play with at RollerCon in July: The Donut-Eating Fat Asses (my donut name is Sticky Buns!). Whenever I tell anyone about the team they either don’t know what to say or they tell me “That’s terrible!”, but really, it’s not. Hello – look at this blog!

Back to the banquet… I wanted to wear booty shorts, a tuxedo shirt, and suspenders, but I couldn’t find suspenders, so I instead wore a red spandex boob-revealing dress. I paid to get my hair done professionally, but I wound up looking like the Bride of Frankenstein’s grandmother, so I went and got some help from Jules Burn to brush out the hairspray. Running late, late, late and needing ice, ice, ice, I knew my 6-inch spike heels were not ice-getting heels, so I picked up my new bitch (his words, not mine), Chairman Meow, and we got ice.

After an hour of answering “Where’s the beer?”, JT showed up driving my new mobile party spot, the Flying Dog Winnebago – oh, and he brought the beer too. I started drinking beer and was handed really good single-malt by Magnificent Bastard. I hadn’t eaten all day (including at the banquet), so I begin to shove a square of cheese pizza into my face when Dirty Marty starts to announce my public call-out to get up on stage and talk about Sponsorship. So much for eating! The remainder of the night can be summed up shortly:

Cindy Grop-her showed up shortly after I appeared on stage, and I drank more scotch, drank more beer, drank some really good special beer, nearly killed myself a million times on various staircases in Baltimore, shamelessly adjusted my boobs in front of God and everyone (over and again), sat on Santa’s lap, realized Santa wasn’t who I thought he was, danced with Rosie’s man who puked on my friend at Oktoberfest in the Flying Dog Winnebago, danced more at the Ottobar, drank tequila at the Ottobar, took my shoes off, lost my coat, got kicked in the face (or elbowed or something else), unknowingly did pay my tab, and flung myself onto the broken and dirty asphalt in the driveway next to the Ottobar while trying to get a piggy-back ride back to the Winnebago so I could take everyone back to my house and party some more (aka, annoy everyone with hip-hop).

It all culminated in my pissing off my mom who was expecting us at her house at noon, but instead we slept till 11:00am and didn't roll up there until 3:00pm. Sometimes these things must happen. As for the banquet, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Polish Kids with Solar-Powered Flashlights

I promised myself I’d write each day here in New England while on vacation, and I actually had today’s entry more than half written when something weird happened: we got called via Skype by these 15-year-old stoner boys from Poland who are learning to speak English. No joke, it was funny as HELL!

The kids were getting stoned, and we only found out half-way through the conversation why they chose to call us. They play Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and the main character’s name is Carl Johnson. The person whose house we’re staying at is named Carl Johnson. These kids somehow looked up his name and called him here in America, and we all happened to be sitting around – me with my computer, I had to write down what they were saying.

The following is a transcript of our very broken conversation with the Polish kids. We talked to three of them: Mario, Latve, and Latve’s brother whose name we didn’t ask. It was a very “broken” conversation, but I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed participating in this. The words in quotes are theirs, the ones not in quotes are ours. I must warn you, there’s a word in here I never use, but it’s essential to the conversation, because these kids learn English from American rap:


“I want to start English. Are you my Nigger? I smoke weed.”
“I can’t beat war.”
“You go to family? You are a nigger, no? Do you listen to rap?”
What rap?
“Tupac and 50 Cent?”
“I speak with white hoe?”
“I sing.”

(He played us a rap song from Poland)
We like rap. We like a new kind of rap, C Rap – Crap.
“Crap is good”
“I speak English with every people in rap machine.”
“You’re smiling?” (this means he hears us laughing and is getting a kick out of it)

“You play San Andreas? Every day I play this – San Andreas.”
No. Oh, Carl Johnson!
“Yes, Carl Johnson!”
Is this why you called us?
“Carl Johnson, yes! Are you a nigger?”

“On the ground I play too.”
“Yes, I like rit games”
“I play internet”
(we’re laughing our asses off)
“Why are you smiling?”
“I can speak English.”
Corva blache (which we think means “fucking asshole” in polish)
“What is this?! “I’m from Polish.”

(They pass the phone on)


“What’s up, man? I do speak English!”
Who’s your favorite rapper?
“Don’t leave.”
“What’s up?”
What’s up with you?
“I smoke – ahhhh, good weed. Good, shit!”

“What’s your favorite singer”
Cat Stevens
“Who’s this?”
And Jimmie Page
“Ah, I know Jimmie Page! Led Zepp-e-lin. I know this guy. Good.”
John Hooker too…
“Yo, man! What is this ‘Yo, motherfucker, yo’? mean?”

Do you speak Russian? (some people in the room speak Russian, which is why we asked)
“Russian, NO! NO! Russia’s a shit country! Which American people were… I don’t like shiny people, Russian people. Poland is the best.”
Yes, the Russians did fuck you, didn’t they? Poland is the best.
“The best!”

“Do you have family? Big smiles? Sister, brother?”
“I got brother.”
“3 cat, 3 cat, 3 cat, 1 dog. And a mouse. My cat smoke weed.”
Your cat smokes weed???
“My cat can sing”
Does your cat sing rap?
“Yes, he sings rap. Do you have a cat?”
No. Just a dog.
“Do you have presents surprise? Surprise presents? Christmas! Christmas!”
Yes, we have presents for Christmas.
“Merry Christmas. It was nice to meet you.”

“What is your programmers on computer? Processor? Processor? I smoke weed. What program is you got, Windows?”
A Mac. Unix.
“PC I got – yeah, Windows. You smoke weed?”
Everybody smokes weed.

“How are you?”
I’m fine, how are you?
“Yes, I’m fine”
Do you learn English in school.
“Yes, I got a 1 (laughs). Wait a minute.”
(from background) “Smoke Weed… Good shit!”

What do you smoke weed from, a bong?
“What is this, bong?”
What do you drink?
“Coca Cola! What do you drink?”
Vodka. Scotch. Wiskey.
“Beer is very good. Heineken draft keg? Bud-nigger?”
“Bud-visor? Heineken draft keg!”
Samual Adams.
“Who is this, Samual Adams? Friend?”
It’s a beer.
“Oh, my brother says to you…”

Latve’s brother:

“Hello, I think which white hoe? “Some niggars are there”
No niggers, Carl tells them.
(We then argue with Carl, who is mighty white, telling him that the kid is asking if his friends (niggers) are there, and yes, we are. But isn’t that derogatory, Carl asked us. No, I said. They only know English from rap – we are your niggers.)
Yes, my niggers are here.

Do you like Peter Tosh?
“He do it in trousers!”
Trousers? What in trousers?
You’re smoking weed!

“Yes, I’m smoking weed every day!”
We can tell.
“I don’t give a fuck!”

(he plays us a Tupac song)
What’s that?
“Recent Tupac!”
Tupac is dead.
“I know, I know…”

“What is your favorite color?”
“Ah, purple, purple, purple!”

“This sweet telephone. Number.”
No. What?!

“Do you listen to Helmet? What is tell?”
I don’t understand.
“Do you speak English?”

“Wait minutes! Wait minutes!” (flipping through some Polish to English book)

“I hear you, what’s up? What’s up, man? What’s your name, man, what’s up?”
Jackle. Where are the bitches?
(pauses to look up word, and this next part makes me wonder what book he was using…)
“Bitch in the club.”

“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”
Are you OK?
You shouldn’t use that word.
“What is this motherfucker, yo?”
“Who the fuck are are? Fuck. Fuck.”
Oh, I’m fucking fine, how the fuck are you?
People learning English from rap songs, that’s bad.

Are you guys still there?
Are you busy smoking weed?
“Friends? Friends? You got the friends?”
Yes, they’re here.

You got the hoes there?
Have you got the hoes there, or is it a sausage party?
“Uh, party, party, sausage. Sausage.”
Where’s the women?
“No women” (they sounded sad)

You like the rap? Yo, yo motherfucker, yo?
“Yo, yo, motherfucker, yo! YES!”

“You know this songs?”
I can’t hear it.
I can’t hear the music.
(plays music)
I can’t hear it well. Who is it?
“This is Mother. Called Mother.”

(I then got on the phone and asked them if they like big booty. They didn’t know what booty was. Big asses, I said.)
“Oh, big asses! Yes!”
I then played Bangers and Cash B-O-O-T-Y, and they were screaming at me to stop.
“I don’t want to listen to this no more! No more! No more!”
OK, OK, I’ll pass this off to my friend, hold on.

Do you have bling?
Are you dripping with gold and ice?
“GOLD! Yes!”
How much?
“100 dollar”
You must be rich. Do you live with your parents?
“Parents? Yes!”
You should make $ and move out so you can have bitches.
“Ah, yes, bitches.”

(They play us more Tupac.)

Tupac is shit! Tupac sucks my ass!
“Why? Yes, I understand. I understand.” (sounds sad again)

“I have a Porsche Carerra”
“I am fucking rich!”
You are bullshitting me!
“No bullshit! This is true! True!”
You smoke too much weed!

“Christmas! Do you have Christmas tree?”
I have a plastic tree with little lights on it.
“Do you listen to Santa Clause?”
Yes, we have Santa Clause. Do you have Santa in Poland?
Big fat guy in a white beard?
“I don’t know what is…”
Red suit…
“Shit, nigger, white!”
“So, so, so so, what’s up?”

“I drink tea”
Yeah? We’re gonna drink scotch and beer and get fucked up tonight.
“Fucked up! You go to club?”
No, club’s for pussies.
“Oh, what you do for New Year?”
Same thing, drink whiskey, get fucked up. My girl says we don’t need the club, the white hoe is here. (I’m referring to myself here)

“What the fuck, motherfuckers! Fuck, my ladies, fuck my ladies…”
Slim Shadey?
“Slim Shadey, yes!”
Eminem is shit.
“NO! Eminem is the best, the best! He and Tupac!”
No, he sucks.
Bob Marley is better than Tupac.
“Tupac is the best. Bob Marley smoke weed all day.”
Bob Marley is awesome.
“Ass some?”
No, awesome. Asshole, you are the asshole?

“We speak tomorrow. Goodbye! Goodbye!”

(And they hung up.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008


One of my favorite albums of 2008 was Saturnalia (Gutter Twins), and I’ve probably listened to it a million and one times, but never once did it even cross my mind to find out what the word Saturnalia actually means. Things would have progressed as normal – me lost in complete obliviousness – if only I hadn’t a guilty pleasure for bad TV.

It was this past week after a 10-hour work day, followed by a horrible experience returning some clothing and the utterly annoying purgatory that was my tights inching down with each step I took – no place to duck into to right my crotch from my knees and my waistband (usually under my boobs) from the underneath of my ass – when I entered my house with the force of a tornado, tore off my boots and tights, immediately dug into the take-out I had brought home, and began watching The Big Bang Theory, where the guy who was NOT Darlene-from-Roseanne’s-geeky-boyfriend, David, explained in part what Saturnalia is: a winter festival during which people took in branches from evergreen trees as a symbol of their “protecting life” during the winter, and in the spring when plants started to grow again the branches would be removed from people’s homes (Longest. Sentence. Ever.). This tradition was the beginning of what would become the Christmas tree. I felt like a retard.

There I sat, looking at the slender, white, plastic Christmas tree that sits beside my television, wondering what it is that makes tradition itself and why tradition feels so good.

Quite obviously one of the traditions I hold onto is putting up a Christmas tree, even though my only reference for having a Christmas tree prior to this week was that it’s a thing on which to hang old shit I either made or have had since before I can remember, and it’s the place you put presents unless you’re Jewish. I had no clue the history of the Christmas tree, and after I heard it, “Boy!” I thought, “I’ve truly bastardized the meaning of this!”

Always the good little consumer, another tradition I hold near and dear is spending a lot of money on presents. That’s not a tradition, you say. Well, then, why am I so “not in the Christmas spirit” this year after I decided not to exchange presents with anyone? I like to buy shit. I not only take pleasure in it, but I suspect I may have a bit of a problem, and not in a joking “I have 100 pairs of shoes and like to shop till I drop” kind of way either – in the kind of way where I kind of feel high after I’ve made a large purchase or bought a lot of stuff.

So, there it is: my tradition. Hanging old shit on an effigy of a fake living thing while I light hundred-dollar bills underneath it. I follow this tradition because I enjoy following it, but does it actually have any real meaning?

I think it’s fair to say that I was brought up mighty white as a kid, and the baby Jesus – the true meaning of Christmas – was crammed down my throat. Having the unique perspective I have today, I feel that even that tradition isn’t quite as “traditional” as some people may have us believe, and I don’t just mean in the “is Christ just a metaphor for love?” kind of way either. I mean, I heard on the news this week that someone actually researched the date of the “first Christmas” and found out that when Jesus was born it was the middle of summer in the friggin desert! Wouldn’t it then be more festive to wear Hawaiian shirts and hang our damp sweat-rags up to dry? Well, that doesn’t feel very much like Christmas, now does it?!

My tradition is meaningful. It may not connect me to the accurate historical context of the “things” I use in my traditions, but those “things” hold meaning to me that’s not associated with history or even any particular holiday – they hold memories.

For hours on end I’d lie on my back underneath the Christmas tree, unfocusing my eyes so that all the tiny lights became fuzzy bright blurs, patterns of color – a cluster of reds speckled with green and blue. And when I refocused my eyes, I’d stare at my upside-down reflection in the low-hanging red and silver balls – my big-nosed image warped by the round surface of the ornaments. Focus, unfocus, focus, unfocus, while listening to the sound of timbers popping and crackling in the fireplace – sometimes loud enough to break my trance and make me jump.

Maybe it isn’t the lack of the usually gregarious pile of presents under my tree that’s ruining my Christmas spirit this year – maybe it’s my not allowing myself the time to stop, think, and lie on my back underneath the Christmas tree to do nothing more than focus and unfocus and experience the sounds and smells that enter my consciousness. I need to take hold of that little bit of life that's left out there in the cold and bring it inside. If I protect it, it will only blossom as time goes on, just like the evergreen branches that the Romans protected during Saturnalia. Hmmm, maybe we're not so different after all.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Doggy Style

This past Saturday a crew of us (me, PENALTYna, Chairman Meow, and J) went up to the Flying Dog Brewery to discuss them sponsoring CCRG and drink some beer! It was an awesome time, and I even sold some booty shorts for them by putting them over my clothes and posing for PENALTYna in their merch room.

Who would have thought - this ass selling hotpants? Word.

I'm hoping pix of my ass will tide you over until I can find time to write something thoughtful - hopefully tonight or this afternoon if a meeting gets canceled and I actually get to eat lunch!

Here's our happy crew with "Local Beer Guy", JT Smith, who we were able to work a deal with!

Here's to a great beer selection of Pabst and Flying Dog at all 2009 CCRG bouts!

Thanks to PENALTYna for the awesome photos!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Working Hard for The Money

All I can say is this: it is now 5:41pm, I have worked nearly 2 hours over today, with no lunch and meetings literally back-to-back from 10am up to 5 five minutes ago.

I have been registering the urge to go to the bathroom since 9:30am, but I haven't gone yet. That's right, I haven't gone all day long (even with drinking a lot of water and coffee).

Holy, crap, I need some "me" time. Hopefully I'll be inspired to write once I get home, because I have a lot to say but only work people to say it to!

$5 to anyone who can find a creative way to get me out of all-day meetings again tomorrow. Bomb threats don't count. Or do they...



Monday, December 8, 2008

Love Letters

It’s funny how so rarely in the moment you realize the importance of something that may later become so valuable to you. If only in that moment you had something to tip you off that what you are currently experiencing is important, perhaps you could enjoy it even more. But that’s not usually how it goes. It’s usually the usual, the mundane, what you think you experience as the boredom or nothing. Later, it becomes something, and sometimes it’s not even yours.

When I was a girl, I’d sometimes get notes in my lunchbox from my parents. They were usually from my dad, because he was the one who made the lunches – the bran bread all-natural peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I guess you could say my parents were health nuts. I grew up wanting nothing more than tiny marshmallows in my cereal, and I all I got were raisins. I hate raisins. And I’m not sure if the Raisin Bran did it to me or not, but if a marshmallowless childhood of breakfasts didn’t cause me to hate raisins, then I don’t know what else did.

For lunch it was health food again. I can’t even remember what accompanied the cardboard sandwich full of thick and tasteless peanut paste and fraction-of-a-millimeter layer of jelly. Maybe grapes? Grapes and a note. Several bites from the center of the fiber brick get eaten, the rest shoved back into the bag along with the note and thrown away. You’d never want your friends to see the note. You were embarrassed by the note, and if they saw it you could be made fun of because of the note, especially as you got older.

These days I pack the lunches. I hardly eat sandwiches now, not because I don’t love them but because I have guilt issues with bread. I’m more of a salad or last-night’s leftovers girl, and at this time of year I’m heavily into soup: split pea with ham, lentil, French onion, chicken and corn chowder, or pretty much anything they have made from scratch at the deli in the basement of my office building. And the only note I get now is a bill.

Recently, my mom has been on a cleaning streak. Basically, she’s afraid she’s going to die before she gets the basement clean, so each weekend she “goes through things” down there to make it more manageable for me when she’s moved up to that big uncluttered house in the sky. She’s not dying, she’s just overcompensating for my dad’s lack of preparation preceding his unexpected move to the uncluttered house in the sky.

Several weeks after my birthday, my mom comes to give me my present, and I was surprised to see her pull a jewelry-store bag out of her bag after she had already given me a card full of cash. I told her she shouldn’t have, and she started to cry. She didn’t. What she pulled out of the bag was a tiny frame containing a note she had found in the basement. I was instantly paralyzed. I knew what it was immediately from the handwriting – all capital letters, evenly spaced and angular. It was an undated note to me from my dad that started: “To my loving and lovely daughter…”, and it came at a time when I really needed it. The words written on that note gave me an eerie feeling, like at that moment I was reading it, my dad was watching me read it right over my shoulder.

Nearly two months later I left for Nationals, the framed note on my dresser beside my alarm beside an open notebook that had “GET UP! PORTLAND TODAY!” scribbled largely in black Sharpie, perpendicular to the lines on the page. I live by notes – reminders to myself to do everything from calling someone back to not hitting snooze fifteen times, because I have something fun to do that day. And the Northwest Knockdown was fun indeed.

After an exhausting several days in Portland, we were leaving the venue for the last time Sunday night, and as I was walking out toward the rear of the building, watching poles and curtains disappear like magic and sections of floor being torn up and hauled away, I thought about how great the weekend had been, and I allowed myself to wonder for a split second if what my mom says to me is right – that my dad would be proud of all I’ve accomplished, that his is.

Assuring everyone I’m coming, I duck into the bathroom to pee one last time. The once bustling skater bathroom, full of a constant stream of women fixing their tights and putting on makeup before bouts, was completely vacant. Ah, quiet. As I was walking out toward the sinks to watch my hands, something tucked in the top of the soap dispenser on the wall directly in front of me caught my eye. Like that moment several months earlier, I was paralyzed. After a second I snatched the tiny piece of paper ahead of me. A note. In all capital letters, evenly spaced and angular. “I’m proud of you.”

Immediately breaking into tears, I jolted myself back into reality, shoved the note in my bag, and decided I’d look at it again later – after I got back to Baltimore. I knew I’d have to write about this moment, and since I’ve been back it’s all I’ve ever wanted to write about but couldn’t bring myself to actually write about until now.

What gives these things meaning?

From the embarrassing lunch-box notes to the forgotten and rediscovered notes to notes that aren’t even mine, the feelings these notes evoke are what gives them meaning. The usual, the mundane, what you think you experience as the boredom or nothing. It always becomes something, and at times something is better than nothing at all.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just the Right Amount of Asshole

Although I was mindful of the stress of hosting Thanksgiving (and even though I did NOT wind up screaming in the middle of my kitchen), I think I held some of that stress in instead of letting it go, because the days following the holiday ushered in my being a complete asshole at times for no reason at all.

I hate being an asshole, and over the past few days I really haven’t meant for things to come out of my mouth that way, but they have, and I’ve done much recanting and apologizing to J as well as scaring the hell out of some people I work with during a meeting on Monday, and scaring myself.

I may have mentioned this before, but I use to be a complete asshole in my youth (when I was 17 and working at the photo lab), and the mere thought of hearing a customer say to me, “You know, the customer’s always right” was enough to make me want to grab the closest scanner-gun and shove it so far up my next customer’s ass that it would come out her mouth.

Luckily I have a bit more tact now, but the intent of a scan-gun ass-reaming was still 100% there in my mind earlier this week, only instead of intentionally picking fights with those around me, I used more directive terms: “You’d better”, and “Oh, no we’re not”. Still, completely inappropriate.

So, while I was home yesterday with a “sick stomach”, I tried to sort out my mental dysfunction to the best of my ability, so I wouldn’t come back to work today and do something stupid, like get myself fired. Keeping my acupuncture appointment, I told my acupuncturist about my recent assholedom, and she placed some needles to make me a more pleasant person. I went home, lit a candle, and curled up with my favorite inspirational book, hoping the niceness would take and I would return to normal.

The good news? It did. The bad news? I think I overcompensated. I’ve noticed that my early discussions with coworkers today have been good, but I think my coworkers have all come away with “I can do this on my own timeline”, when I really meant to express, “I need this by noon”. I’m being too nice. I’ve lost my edge, and trust me that you need an edge when you’re a cat herder. This got me thinking, perhaps I’m successful at what I do because I’m just the right amount of asshole. Maybe being an asshole to a lesser extent is not a bad thing.

I suppose the key is fine tuning the asshole within. After all, if you too big an asshole, you shit all over everyone, and no one wants to be shit on. Conversely, if you’re never an asshole, your frustration and lack of assertiveness back up until you either make yourself sick or, like what you’re trying to avoid, you have a blowout. The kind of asshole I believe I need to harness is the “regular” asshole (think: Joe Six-pack-Asshole), one whose expressions are firm, full of intent, and come out with neither hesitation nor abrupt panic. One who’s confident and does its job, but isn’t spastic or lacking direction. Yes, that is the type of asshole I yearn to be.

Now, I know you may disagree with me. Call it assertiveness, call it confidence, call it effective management, I call it being an asshole – six in one, half a dozen in the other. Earlier this morning I may have conceded that being an asshole, per say, is not exactly the most appropriate way to express this quality of which I’ve experienced polar opposites in the past five days, but you know what? That’s you opinion, and you know what they say…

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hope Burns

I’ve been struggling to write anything derby-like on here lately, because I’m so frigging burnt. That, and it’s technically the first offseason I’ve had in close to 4 years, which means I’m entirely overdue to take advantage of it. This is what it must feel like to be one of those kids with rich yuppie parents who enroll them in way too many after-school activities. A slave to the soccer field…

Life could be worse, I know, and after asking myself repeatedly why I run myself ragged doing so much – and repeatedly finding the same answer I’m never satisfied with (“because I want to”) – I’ve realized in one bittersweet moment that 1) my answer IS acceptable, and 2) maybe life isn’t really conducive to doing what one wants to do after all.

I do what I want. In my spare time, I’m doing it, that is. As a kid I was always told to “find what you love and find a way to make a living doing it”, and just yesterday I heard this piece of advice given again. It’s something we hear all the time, yet no one ever does what the wise man says (unless your passion is bagging groceries or astrophysics). So why don’t we follow this advice? Because we’re stupid, or because we can’t?

It’s sad to think that at some point I’ll likely burn out and quit doing what I want to do and like to do, so I can only do something I don’t really care about in order to relax. People will say:

“There goes Cindy Lop-her. She quit derby right at her peak in order to dedicate more time to couch surfing and herding cats. So tragic. So sad.”

I was totally not going here when I sat down to write this blog entry – I was going to talk about my 30-year-old sagging skin and how any deep-moisturizing body lotion makes me break out into a rash, but that’s now a topic for another day. I always do this. I suppose being strapped for time, tired, cranky, and generally unsatisfied that my life cannot be 100% the way I would like it to be is just a common theme that’s bound to come out over and again in my writing. Poo.

I guess I can’t really get mad at myself or feel guilty for having poor time-management skills if I know exactly what I’m doing and I indeed want to do it. What’s to do? Give up? Hell, no. This girl’s still got some fight left in her. Besides, I refuse to believe I can’t eventually live my life 100% according to my desires – if I gave up now, I’d only ever make 75%.

I don’t know if the hope I have makes me ignorant or brilliant or just like everyone else at some time or another, but for now you’re going to have to put up with me still having it – hope. As for the sagging skin, the only think I’m hopeful there is a good plastic surgeon or enough spandex to hold it all in tight and upright. Shit.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A New Generation of Thanksgiving Day Stress

I was talking to my mom on the phone last night about our Thanksgiving day plans.

“Now remember,” she said, “I’m your sous-chef. Plan out what you want me to do when I get to your house, so you don’t wind up standing in the middle of the kitchen screaming.”

My mom knows me well. With my shoulders superglued to my ears since last Friday, I’ve been frantic to complete all the Thanksgiving preparations that I think are necessary before I host 10 to 14 people this Thursday afternoon, and I’m stressed out.

“You know me,” I told her, “It’s bound to happen regardless.”

Thanksgiving is truly my favorite holiday. When I was younger, we’d go over to my Aunt Carole’s house for Thanksgiving – a tiny house on a creek off the Chesapeake Bay that was built by the hands of her husband when they first married. A tiny house containing a tiny kitchen that was perpetually “almost remodeled” and usually additional tables and chairs in the tiny living room, so we didn’t have to eat in shifts – she has four kids with four spouses, three brothers and sisters and their spouses and kids, an occasional cousin, her mother, and toward the end of her reign as Thanksgiving hostess, a gaggle of grandchildren to boot. My Aunt Carole ALWAYS wound up standing in the middle of the kitchen screaming.

Times have changed. I took over Thanksgiving dinner nearly five years ago, but it’s only my parents who transferred from my aunt’s house to mine for the big day. More recently, it’s just my mom. Regardless, on Thanksgiving day my slightly-larger house is packed full of people. There I cook in my tiny kitchen, the room next to what will one day be my larger kitchen (if ever remodeled), and prepare my dining room table by inserting both leaves for max table-sitting capacity, thus causing the people sitting on either end of the table to be pinned between the table and the wall, not allowed to exit their seats until they feel comfortable slithering out of their chair and onto the floor beneath their table setting, having to crawl the rest of the way out, which certainly can’t be accomplished while anyone else is seated (okay, maybe it’s not THAT bad…). I love hosting Thanksgiving, but I want it to be just right – all the food must be warm as we sit down to dinner and I mustn’t forget anything, which ultimately ends up with me standing in the middle of the kitchen screaming.

Either my friends and family enjoy the tradition, or my cooking’s just so damn good that they don’t mind my expletives – I’m not sure which it is. Even still, I’m hoping to break habit this year and not lose my shit. I may sweat, but I won’t swear (my aunt, too, use to sweat profusely in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day – at least one of her drawn-on eyebrows would have been rubbed off while trying to rid herself of a sweaty brow before dinner).

Not too long ago I heard someone make a comment about how you could taste “hate” in food (and if you know where I heard this, I’ll give you a dollar to keep it to yourself). The idea is that if you don’t create food with love, it won’t taste as good and it might even make you sick if you eat it. Even though I have good reason to disregard this theory (the Hell’s Kitchen guy is a popular chef, right?), it’s made me think twice about automatically giving myself permission to become annoyed or pissed off Thanksgiving day. The truth is, I love having people over for Thanksgiving (I totally do it for me – I’m a motherfucking nurturer), so why wouldn’t I want to put all the love and good vibes that I can into the meal we’ve all gathered to eat ?

(Side note: when did I become such a fucking hippie?!)

Whatever my reasoning, I deserve to attempt to have a stress-free Thanksgiving, so this year I’m letting it all go.

It’s funny, thinking back on it my mom took the same role with her sister, Carole, as she now does with me. She sees herself as the stress deflector, the sous-chef, the project manager. She comes up with ways she can be helpful and alleviate stress, and she does the grunt work that no one wants to do any other day, let alone Thanksgiving, like chopping food but not getting any of the credit for the dish or hand-washing dishes at the end of the night when everyone else is relaxing on the couch. Damn, I got a mom who’s willing to be that person just so I can have a stress-free Thanksgiving.

People often ask me if my mom reads my blog. My reply is always the same: luckily my site is blocked at her office, and she just did away with her home internet access.

Tongue-out-of-cheek, I do usually portray her on here in quite a negative fashion, but like anyone else she has her good parts and her bad – her bad parts are usually just more relevant and interesting.

This Thanksgiving I’m not only going to disallow myself to stress, but also I’m going to take a moment to pause and really look at the familiar faces in my house, and I challenge you to do the same. The people at the table may be just mom or dad or sister or friend, but if you pause for a second and pretend that you’re outside looking in, you might just realize (like I just did) that someone you thought you knew is actually someone different – different in a good way.

As for my Aunt Carole, she has Thanksgiving at her son’s house now. I’ve never attended their Thanksgiving, but I can only hope she’s carried on the tradition of being loud and sweaty, because her being loud and sweaty means that she loves you, one eyebrow and all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Finger Stash

I was downstairs in the deli in the basement of my office building getting coffee last week, when the cashier girl noticed my finger stash. We’re friendly with each other, and we talk just about every morning, so I was slightly surprised she had only just noticed it now.

Having expressed how funny she thought the finger stash was, I told her how even though I immediately told my mom about it after I got it done, for months on end my mom thought it was something I had drawn on with a sharpie each time I saw her.

My little cousin, Sara, is obsessed with it, and she makes me draw a finger stash on her each time we see each other. Her mom even told us she’s taken to drawing them on the kids at school, and the teacher got a picture of them all sitting around the lunch table holding their fingers, inked with marker, directly under their little noses. I’m such a good influence.

I got the finger stash at the second ever RollerCon with Buzz Kill and Cheeta Torpeda. I had been wanting one for a while, but I never went and did it, so when Cheeta told us it was her birthday, we had a real bona fide reason to go get some finger stashes. Buzz got one that curled up on the end, like the ringmaster of a circus, Cheeta got the John Waters’ straight pencil stash, because she works with Waters often and wanted to be able to use it on him next time he was to get huffy with her, and I got a French-looking stash that ever-so-slightly turned up on each end.

“I would have gotten one that curls up into a spiral on each end,” the deli girl told me.

“Well,” I said “That’s what I wanted, but I settled on this one, because it’s less noticeable and can be better hidden in a work situation than one with curly cues.”

It was then that I realized I live my entire life making decisions the exact same way I decided what style mustache to get on my finger.

Daring, yet conservative. I can never let go completely, and in the back of my mind I’m always thinking about what I shouldn’t do, because it may mess up chances of a normal life or office job later down the line – you know, in case I decide that’s what I want.

It really makes me mad that I can’t ever seem to go balls out – I can only ever seem to dislodge one ball, and when I do I’m reluctantly self-conscious about it. I always play it safe. I have fun, but never to the extent that I want to have fun. Something holds me back. Reason? Fears emanating from my strict childhood upbringing?

Sometimes I get sick of safe, but other times I find comfort in it. Safe often makes sense, but sometimes it doesn’t. What I think this all boils down to is my yearning for complete freedom, which I think is okay to want, but I also think complete freedom is something that can only be achieved over a lifetime. As with everything else, I’m impatient with the rate of my own personal growth.

I do know what I want, and it’s not necessarily what, say, my mom would want for me. Nonetheless, I think it’s good that I know what I want (or don’t want), because if I never knew, then I couldn’t take steps to get where I want to go.

I may not have the finger stash I really wanted to get, but I can always go get it touched up and altered. I don’t think I will, though, because now, after thinking about all this, it serves as a reminder to strive for complete freedom – curly cue freedom, not just freedom that’s turned up ever so slightly on the ends.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Northwest Knockdown in the News?

Even though MavTV, the station that filmed the 2008 roller derby championships (Northwest Knockdown), won’t air the footage for a bit, they did live-stream what they were recording over the internet, and hundreds of folks logged on to watch live. “Hundreds” may not seem like a lot, but when you consider that here in Charm City a local bar, Bad Decisions, owned by a member of dangle derby, fed the live stream into all television sets and had a viewing party, the actual live video footprint extends much farther than the hundreds.

So, the question has been asked, why didn’t the local Portland newspaper, The Oregonian, cover the exact same event, the Northwest Knockdown, which was inside their own city? Well, they heard a mouthful from rollergirls and fans alike for this omission, and the paper has now posted a poll online to see if they should cover derby (Rose City Rollers) on their sports page.

It’s a no brainer, but please vote here to help Rose City gain coverage in their local sports section. Some of us take for granted our local media recognition, but not all leagues are that fortunate. So, vote! Oh, and you can leave a nasty comment too. Just kidding, leave a thoughtful, compelling argument that will leave them feeling like the asses they are for missing the boat on this one. You can only vote once (it recognizes you – “Hey, aren’t you that girl who does roller derby?”), so please pass the link on, and let’s make this a blowout poll.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Northwest Knockdown 2008 (WFTDA Nationals)

Like I admitted at Sunday’s afterparty, it could very well be an inaccurate misconception, and I’ve never actually heard anyone admit it, but up until this weekend we eastern derby girls have felt fairly underestimated and taken for granted by our western counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of friends from leagues out west, but I didn’t think they’d ever taken any of us all that seriously – they didn’t think an eastern league could place, let alone win, a national championship at this present moment in time. That is, until this weekend.

Back in Baltimore and at work today with little-to-know voice to speak of, I couldn’t help but move between feelings of pride and excitement that the east took the top three seats at the Northwest Knockdown and pride (albeit a different kind of pride) and joy that our baby of the last year, this tournament, finally came to fruition and was everything everyone had worked for and more. It was fucking amazing, and apparently more successful than any tournament to date. Better yet, I had the pleasure to work with and learn from an amazing group of women from leagues across the country.

Save maybe two games, each bout at the Northwest Knockdown had me on the edge of my seat, wringing my hands, screaming until I seriously almost fainted several times, and nearly having a heart attack right there in the bleachers.

I saw some things I had never seen before, some bad (styles of sweeping the leg I had not yet seen) and some good (the Philly “reabsorption” strategy where their jammer, out of the pack first, lags behind and booty blocks the opposing jammer until the Pivot and another blocker reabsorb her back into the pack – all before the Philly jammer takes off again for another lap).

One by one, as each eastern team won, the rest of us stood in our circle around the perimeter of the track waiting to slap their hands as we screamed at the top of our lungs in our deepest voices, “EAST COAST! EAST COAST! EAST COAST! EAST COAST!”. Excited, but not trying to be an asshole, I struggled at times in concealing my excitement around my west-coast friends. They compensated at night by taking group pictures in which they all flashed the “west coast” sign, knowing I couldn’t get my fingers into position fast enough to represent for the east. I love those women, and really they were excited for me that I was so excited about the east-coast victories. That’s why I love roller derby.

Sunday night at the afterparty, I was reminded of the derby love. In the first karaoke performance of the night, TXRG got up on stage and sang their hearts out, vying to win the afterparty. We all sang along, as they screamed and danced on stage (them unveiling fake-mustache pubic hair, and us laughing so hard we could pee). When it comes down to it---from winning Nationals to winning the afterparty---we’re all really fucking competitive, and although we may be upset that our team lost, we don’t give up. We keep going, sharing a beer and a laugh at the bar or a smoke and sympathy out back, we keep going.

We try to be the funniest, the drunkest, the most daring, and the best looking, according to each of our individual standards of beauty, of course. We play hard and we party harder. We convince each other to take our pants off in public. We share what-would-be-embarrassing stories to any normal person about us pissing ourselves. We train. We sacrifice. We make our bodies hurt like you wouldn’t believe. We win. We lose. We hug our opponents after a well-fought game.

I can’t imagine a better sport. Hell, I can’t really imagine anything anywhere that’s better than derby. And I count myself luckier than sometimes I even know to be a part of it.

God, I love derby.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Northwest Knockdown Pics - Behind the Scenes

Bout Production: Best banner-hanging ever.

Chipotle Swag-Bag Stuffing: Holy shit! Me and Chipotle? Who knew?!

Opening Ceremony: Complete with a light show and punk-rock marching band.

First Game Taunt: Texas taunting Carolina.

Friday Afterparty: Free with a party-bus wristband, Mickey Avalon at some bar whose name I can't remember. Seriously, a free show? Rose City rocks.

Bum Rush: Windy City beats Texas on Saturday.

Lost Voice: It happened to Goodie, it happened to all of us.

Final Jam: Beyonslay watches the final jam of New York's winning championship bout against Windy City.

Winning the Afterparty: Texas

Bubbas Seafood Grill & Bar: IAH (Houston), Terminal C

I hate the Houston airport if for no other reason than that it has a really annoyingly large bronze statue of George Bush, Sr. in the middle of it. For one, I think it’s tacky to have a bronze made of someone who’s still alive (unless it’s pregnant Brittney Spears doggy-style on a carpet). For two (do people say “for two”?), anything that reminds me of Bush junior makes me want to start shooting, and that bronze statue only made me angry, wondering why George senior would have allowed himself to be kicked in the balls, only to have that one defective sperm fertilize an egg years later to produce the worst president in history. Fuck you and your gold statue, Bush. I need a beer.

Passing by Bubbas and seeing no room whatsoever, not even standing room, I walked with Rolling Blackout, a fellow Charm City girl also on her way to Nationals, who I saw as I boarded my previous flight. We kept walking, and I thought I was in the twilight zone – everything on the west side of terminal C was a mirror image of the east side from which we just came. We saw and went into bizarro Bubbas, because bizarro Bubbas was not crowded at all.

Bubbas. It’s a fairly nondescript place. Apparently it has good spicy seafood dishes, but again with my shellfish allergy, I could have cared less. I needed a beer after bronze Bush stared me down.

On tap were: Rolling Rock, Dos Equis, Linequegal’s Sunset Wheat, Sam Adams Boston Lager, Bud Light, and Shiner Bock. I got a “short” Liney’s Sunset Wheat (pint-glass sized: $6.15), and Rolling Blackout got a large one (big-ass size: $8.15).

We wound up talking to this guy from the south, who I assumed Rolling Blackout knew from work, because they recognized each other when we walked in and are both in the energy industry. After talking about energy and stocks and money and such things for which I am ill-prepared (retirement), we needed to board our next flight and parted ways with the dude, who turns out, Rolling Blackout had just met on the plane hours earlier.

The Liney’s didn’t do it for me – not a buzz was to be had from it, and I was slightly confused as to why they were still offering the Sunset Wheat, with it being a summer beer and present day being mid-November, but whatever.

I was feeling my oats, and as we passed the gilded Bush to get back on our plane, I decided I wanted my picture taken doing something lude to the ex-prez, like me grabbing his ass or bending him over. But just as I walked up to the statue and handed Blackout my phone to take a pic, a man jumped out of the security booth strategically placed next to the statue. I’m glad to see Texans’ money go to good use, employing two security staff to stand guard at all times, ensuring all pics taken with the bronze statue are respectful. Assholes. My respectable photo with Bush:

I might go back to Bubbas or I might not. I’d certainly try a new place if I’m ever in Houston again and can find one (and not two more bizarro Bubbas). Bubbas was nondescript. The prices were fair, I suppose, and the taps were clean, but the bartender was slow and it was too damn bright in there. If you can find another place in IAH, please do.

The Greene Turtle: BWI (Baltimore), Terminal D

After having passed by this place last time I was in this terminal, only to go to the worst Irish bar in all of America, today I decided to give The Greene Turtle in Terminal D of BWI airport (Baltimore) a try.

With same d├ęcor as the typical Turtle, numbered mugs bought by regulars hung from the ceiling, I couldn’t help but wonder who would buy a mug (or be a regular) at an airport bar. After all, just to get in there, you have to pay to park, take a shuttle, and scale security – and all that for The Greene Fucking Turtle? I could only guess the people who bought the numbered mugs here at the airport were frequent fliers and pilots.

Okay, okay, so I couldn’t drop this as I sat there and drank, so I asked the bartender, Gina, who bought the mugs, and she said that the vast majority of mug owners were contractors working on a job at the airport. It finally made sense.

Quick fact: BWI has the largest parking garage on the east coast, and my baby helped build it six years ago. We refer to those days as the “skinny beef jerky days”. J would get to the job each day and have to climb one of the double helix ramps to whatever level he was working while wearing a 50-pound tool belt and carrying his lunchbox full of bottled waters and an additional bucket of larger tools, all the while only eating a bag of beef jerky for lunch. So hott (that’s right, with two ts).

In any event, I meant to check on the other side of the bar for a list of beers on tap (I was sitting off to the side). I didn’t get them all, but I do know they had draft Stella Artois, Budweiser Amber or whatever the hell they call it (hey, you can’t polish a turd), Sam Adams Boston Lager, Sam Adams Seasonal, Copperhead, and Miller Lite. When I heard they had Sam’s Seasonal, now the Winter Lager, I cut off my bartender and announced that that is what I would have. Call me simple, but I really like Sam Adams.

The beer glasses they serve tap beer in are shaped like pint glasses, except they seem significantly larger. How many ounces larger is unknown. I drank one and wound up talking to a bald guy who reminded me of Hank’s best friend, the agent, from the television show Californication, about how he’d been en route to Portland, Maine from Florida since 4:30am (it was 2pm currently). His first flight was cancelled, so they bought him $50-worth of screwdrivers, which only made him drunk and angry. And, wow, isn’t that weird that both he and I were going to Portland? Me Oregon and him Maine, but still? All this after he offered to buy me lunch because I gave him my menu. Needless to say, Lop-her got a little lopped from the big beer.

Thy typical Greene Turtle menu at the airport has been significantly scaled back, with this abridged version standing at a mere two pages worth of burgers, wings, salads, soup, and breakfast that ceases to be served at 11am. I had the menu in the first place because I wanted soup, but the only soup they had was crab, which disappointed me because I’m allergic to shellfish (and, yes, I’m from Maryland, I KNOW).

At this point in the bar review, I’m actually waiting with the other cattle to board my plane. Fuck. Screaming child in my boarding group. Buzz going quickly, being replaced by massive headache.

Seated now. Screaming child sitting in row in front of me. Double fuck.

In all, I’d hit up The Greene Turtle again if in terminal D. The place was clean, the staff were friendly, and the price was right – according to the bill, $7 for 22-ounces of Sam Seasonal. Now, if only they sold screaming-child repellant or a sharp stick to gouge out my eardrums with…

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Airport Bar Reviews

Since I’ve been traveling so much lately for derby, and since I need to keep my airfare as cheap as possible, I knew I would be encountering a lot of layovers, which is why I decided I would hit up a bar in each airport and post a new feature here: airport bar reviews.

But these aren’t any airport bar reviews, they’re airport bar reviews written by yours truly while getting snickered. I’ll post a new review after each trip I make. I hope you’ll find them funny, but if nothing else, hopefully the reviews can help you find a good place to grab a drink while you’re laid over.


PS: Hopefully after the holidays I’ll be able to enhance this experience with video of me making friends at airport bars all over the US ;)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pilsbury Doughgirl

I’ve quickly become a doughy mess. I went to practice on Monday night (in my fake denim spandex pants) but only lasted half the practice due to some rapidly regenerating lung butter. As you may recall, I caught the cold from hell last week, and yes, I’m still getting over it – coughs producing mouthfuls of thick saliva and me having to skate over to an exit to spit it out. I felt like I was in high school again.

In all seriousness, however, I’m motherfucking sore today – two days later. My abs are killing me. I guess jogging only does so much for your core, and I can now tell that my core has gotten soft in the past month or so.

In between sprint laps we were doing squats and bicycles (crunches). I’m fine with squats – my thighs are solid, like rock. My abs, not so much. In addition to doing bicycles with my skates with aluminum plates on, twice Joy collision had me doing something a bit harder. V-sitting (with skates on) while she grabbed my feet, moving them all different directions through erratic movements to perpetually knock me off balance. The goal? Don’t let your back touch the ground. Oof!

The pain feels good. It makes me want to work harder and build my core strength back up.

I did do awesome in sprints again Monday night. I was telling Amazing Disgrace at Eastern Regionals that I think all the running I did while my shoulders were injured somehow made me much faster than I ever was. That, and I’m constantly reminded of the tiny circle drill where you practice your form. It’s amazing how much less you have to “work” when you skate with good form – long, full leg extensions with both legs. When I had gained enough speed, I was only ever crossing over 6 times all the way around the track (and I was crossing over all the time, because that’s what you have to do when you sprint).

This newfound speed has me excited. If only I could keep it up constantly, I could possibly jam. Problem is, I’m horrible at avoiding people. I’ve been a blocker for 4 years – I used to wanting to run into them, not avoiding them. I think maybe I’ll ask Lady Quebeaum what strategies she employs as a jammer, because I’ve honestly never really thought about what those strategies might be!

It's amazing how much a person and her body can change. Each time I morph, I feel the excitement of possibly playing a new position. Last season it was pivoting (however short-lasted that was), and maybe this season it's trying to jam. Have I mentioned lately how much I love roller derby?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Flashdance Asspants

Have you ever heard the expression “those pants are so tight, they look like they’re painted on”? Welcome to my ass.

The ass of my pants is usually tight, because I have a biggun, however it’s been rather unintentional until now. I like wearing crazy shit to derby practice – the crazier and funnier the better. So when I came across these pants for $6 at Rugged Warehouse, you know I had to buy them!

Welcome to the world of spandex made to look like denim:

Seriously, how funny are these pants (and by “pant” I mean leggings made to look like pants)? You can see the look of fear on my dog Calvin’s face. “You’re actually going to wear those?!” he’s thinking.

Not only did I wear them to practice, but I also wore them to the gas station before practice and the grocery store afterwards (and I generated a few followers of the big booty while I was there).

Thank Buddha for derby, because I could otherwise never wear these, and I would probably otherwise be too afraid to wear these. To all of you have told me to put my own ass up on this site – your dreams have come true.

Got funny derby clothing pix? If so, send them to me, and I’ll post them!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Roll Out with Your Hole Out

Well, in true Cindy Lop-her form, I’m not waiting until January to do contact, I’ve decided.

I’ve moved office furniture without shoulder pain, and yet I’ve also been merely tucking in my shirt when my eyes have welled up with tears as if I’ve caught a glimpse of that SPCA commercial with Sarah McLachlan the night before I get my period.

It’s a fucking crap shoot – I have no idea what’s going to happen once I get back out there and try. This also means that my derby career is completely up in the air, and this could very well be my last season if my shoulders don’t hold up. So what’s a girl to do?

I’ve been toying around with the idea of trying out for the All Stars this coming season. I decided not to try out last year, because I was so freaking crazy with Sponsorship and all the admin BS I handle on a regular basis. But I figure that if this may be my last season, I have to make every effort to do it up right. And if I’m completely overreacting and my shoulders are fine, then all the better for me making every effort.

I HATE posting my intentions here, because if I fail I’ll look like an idiot to all you readers. However, if I don’t post my intentions here, it’s easy for me to back out of them for any excuse I can pass over on myself on any given day. So, there. I’ve done it.

It’s going to be a bitch coming back from two consecutive injuries that kept me on the sidelines for 6 months. Just getting back to where I was is going to be hard. Now I’m adding in the goal of trying out for and making the All Stars. I’m officially crazy. Here’s where I’m going to need help:

Speed – I’m not nearly as fast as I need to be, and part of try-outs involves uber-fast pace lines. Fuck.

Agility – I haven’t been in a scrimmage situation in 6 months (minus the 1st night I was back and injured my other shoulder). I need to be quicker on my feet. I need the ability to change direction quickly.

Mental fitness – That’s right, I said mental fitness. I need to regain the mental fitness of being in a pack, being aware of everything that’s going on around me.

Even though we’re on our “off season” right now, I’m going to practice tonight.

So, there it is. Let’s see what happens!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Losing My Way

Have you ever had a period of time in your life where you just don’t know what the hell is going on or what you’re doing? When you feel completely lost? Not necessarily hopeless, but lost.

It’s almost easier to weather the storm when you have something else to focus on – a goal that’s been determined for you, like finishing college or finding a job or even finding a place to live. You may be confused about where you’re going in life, but shit, you need a place to live! (or a job or a degree to get a job)

I’ve been off lately. I guess I should count myself lucky, because I don’t have anything “bigger” looming over me that I can focus on. I have a house. I have a partner. I have a job. And I have a hobby.

I kind of feel like an asshole now writing this entry, but ever since I got my promotion at work, I’ve had less and less time to do the same things I didn’t really even have time to be doing before I got the new job! Don’t get me wrong, I like my new job.

Anyone from my office who reads this blog may think me sadistic, and maybe I am, but I like a challenge. And the main reason I accepted the offer was because it built on skills I only use in derby business, and it will enable me to expand on those skills in a way I haven’t yet had the opportunity to learn to do. Not to mention that my new boss has had a wildly successful career working both for other people and working for himself.

I received the opportunity to learn a hell of a lot about business, and I took it because I knew what I will learn would be valuable at my current job, elsewhere, or in owning my own business. Additionally, let’s not forget the application it can have with the business of derby. Shit, before I got offered this job I was planning a way to do derby as my career – to work for myself – but I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity. Although I don’t plan on being in publishing for the rest of my life, I wasn’t sure an opportunity like this would ever arise again, and like I keep trying to convince you (and myself), I feel it was a smart move that will pay off in the long run, whether I use what I learn to better myself or my sport.

I knew there would have to be tradeoffs – that I couldn’t keep up my wonderwoman pace of a full-time job, being an LLC member, being Sponsorship Director for my league, being Sponsorship Manager for WFTDA and RollerCon, writing this blog, and starting other writing projects. Nonetheless, I’ve been reluctant to rebalance and give something up.

It’s like choosing which teenage child to leave at a hospital in Nebraska. How do you make that decision?

My league is at a crossroads of sorts, businesswise. We desperately need a new business plan. It rocks that we’ve grown and been so successful without a plan per se, but now we have the ability to focus our resources (and additional income) on catapulting ourselves even further ahead, but we can’t do that without a plan. This is exactly what I do in my new position – help people write business plans. I could do it, but I sure as shit can’t add one more “to do” to my ever growing list without giving something up.

It’s November, which means it’s time to be soliciting for 09 sponsorship for my league, the WFTDA, and RollerCon. In sponsorship, you have to strike while the iron’s hot. The “iron” being a company who could sponsor you and “hot” meaning they just budgeted money for marketing and promotion for the coming year (and it hasn’t yet run out). And I must do this times three, never sharing any contacts between the three, because that would be unethical.

I can’t imagine not doing sponsorship for my league. As it is, we struggle to have people help on our committee. And wouldn’t it be weird if I no longer did sponsorship for my league but continued to do it for WFTDA and RollerCon?

I love doing sponsorship for WFTDA because I know I’m helping the sport grow, and I truly love all the people I work with – from the ladies (and Hambone) on my committee who I love and respect (X-Khan, Mean, Minx) to the other WFTDA reps who I only get to see at WFTDA functions, like Crackerjack and Mercyless. I LOVE working with these people, and I accepted the promotion I was offered at work so I can apply what I learn to WFTDA, but WFTDA doesn’t pay. Not only does it not pay, but it actually costs me several hundred dollars in travel a year (outside of maximum reimbursements) to continue my job in the WFTDA.

RollerCon pays me. It’s hard to turn away a paying sponsorship gig, and Christ, you all know how much I love Vegas! I love working with Ivanna and Nottie, and they are amazing businesswomen who I’ve also learned a lot from in the past 6 months or so.

You see where I’m going with this? Everything I do has its own value and merit, and I can’t make this decision easily, so I just haven’t made it.

I do know one thing, I can’t live my life this way much longer. Today in the car I finally asked myself how I would feel in an ideal world. Relaxed. Calm. Poised to be creative, not drained by half-assing the too-many tasks I already take on.

I feel lost. I don’t know which way to turn, but I think it’s only a matter of time before I let someone down, and not because I actually quit anything but because I’m incapable of managing my responsibilities outside my 9-to-5 job. And if you know me, then you know “irresponsible” is not in my vocabulary.

Maybe there isn’t just one solution: to give something up. Maybe I can restructure how I do things or find help or set limits so I don’t get so overwhelmed like I am now. Or maybe I'm kidding myself by saying that.

I do know this: I need to get back to a place where I have enough energy at the end of the day to be creative – to write. It’s killing me that my writing has suffered because I’m overwhelmed. I’m so over stimulated that most of the time I cannot think in a way that allows me to write. I cannot quiet my mind.

Much like my predicament, I don’t know how to end this entry. In a perfect world my job would be to write what I want when I want, and I’d already have the knowledge I’m hoping to gain by taking this promotion, so I can contribute to derby in my spare time. Too bad that option’s the furthest from reality!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day & Change

Before I went to vote I had written the majority of a “woe-is-me” blog entry about my having the cold from hell, which I do have and is indeed the cold from hell. Nonetheless, while I stood in line to vote, I knew I’d have to come back and write another blog entry, because the results of this election are no doubt more important than my runny nose, stuffy ears, persistent headache, and inexplicably persistent gas (which J is LOVING).

Here in Charm City we’re not only excited about voting in a new president, but Question 2 has been at the forefront of many of our minds as well. Question 2 would legalize slots in Maryland, something that’s highly contentious among Maryland voters, teachers, police, and community leaders.

WARNING: Personal opinion to follow.

I love slots. I won $10,842.00 on a Rocky nickel slot in Las Vegas almost five years ago, and I wasn’t even playing the max bet. I was betting a quarter, but I had gotten a bonus game within a bonus game within a bonus game, which caused the screen to go black. I thought I broke the machine, just having sat down to deposit my last $10 while J went to the men’s room. Turns out I won the progressive, which I took in cash like any responsible gambler.

That was our first or second trip to Vegas, and I’ve been back twice a year since. One of those times is always for RollerCon, but the other is a personal vacation to gamble. Did I mention I love slots?

I’ve gotten to a point where I can pull about $100 out of any 1-cent machine – I know what to play and how to play, and more importantly, I know when to stop. It’s fun. But do I want slots here in Baltimore?

Fuck, no.

Putting the revenue from slots aside, I’m concerned about the cost that we’ll incur down the line when we attract more crime and poverty into our city, one that has fought to get further away from both and is just now starting to move in the right direction.

Not to mention, do I think having slots in Baltimore will turn it into Vegas? Is Atlantic City anything like Vegas? Atlantic City’s disgusting. It’s dirty, and it’s unsafe to walk from casino to casino directly outside of the casinos. This perception from a girl who isn’t afraid of Baltimore at night.

Lastly, would I play slots in Maryland? No. I’d go to Vegas, because it’s not about the gambling. It’s about a change of scenery – a very nice change of scenery where there is gambling. However, many Marylanders and Baltimoreans aren’t like me and may (and many will) go blow their paychecks on gambling. I see the hoards of elderly and poor people giving their last dollars to the lotto counter in the convenience shop next to my office so they can play some rigged animatronic horse racing game. They all line up outside the counter huddling around a television, hoping their horse wins, and when it doesn't some step outside to beg for bus money. It’s sad.

As for the presidential race, CNN just called the race for Obama, and beyond the cheering of the fans on television, we’re hearing multiple gunshots outside, like we often hear on New Year’s day – happy gunshots (many of you may ask if there is such a thing, and I can tell you that indeed there is, and it's a fairly common form of expression here in the city).

Although I was about 200 degrees and vastly annoyed while waiting in line to vote this evening, I’m glad I did it. Often times the only white people in sight at our polling place, we got a lot of smiles as people saw my Obama tee shirt.

As we waited in line in the old elementary-school hallway, before we were in the actual room where the voting took place, we’d hear cheers coming from inside every so often. Hoots and hollars – as exciting as if a group of people had just heard that the person they had voted for had won. When we got inside, I realized what it was – cheers led by the voting judges each time a first-time voter had finished voting. How fucking cool is that?!

I’m proud to be a part of this town, and I’m proud to be a part of this country that is taking back the reigns from various abuses of power. Just because we voted for change doesn’t mean change will automatically happen. Like the change I talk about here on this blog, the changes we challenge ourselves to make in the perceptions of ourselves and others, the change we want and need for our country won’t come to fruition unless we each work hard to make ourselves, our communities, and our country better each and every day and by leading by example.

So you want change? Start now – as soon as you turn away from your computer. Exemplify that you want to see in others – that which you want to see reflected in your community and ultimately your country. Don’t just want something to be a certain way – do something about it.

Always do something about it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

"Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. & Mrs. Pistol!"

As you all well know, I’ve held and played various roles in derby in the past few years, and this past season being out with double shoulder injuries has been no exception. I was a player for game 1 and then a bench coach, announcer, bench coach again, and most recently a “referee minister”.

Several months ago when my team-mate and bench coach of the last 3 seasons (Pistol Whip & Mr. Pistol) asked me if I would preside over their marriage ceremony, I was thrilled. But when I found out they wanted to do it at our 2008 championship bout, I was ecstatic!

I got ordained earlier this year to preside over the wedding of another two of my friends, Dana (aka, Miss Handle, a former CCRG referee) and Eric. It’s an honor to be asked to play this role for people you know and love, and having the chance to do it again – at roller derby, during half-time of our championship bout, while wearing booty shorts and skates – is nothing short of awesome.

A formal account of the wedding and how The Pistols met can be found here – an article and slideshow published in today’s Baltimore Messenger. But how did I get to know them?

In CCRG’s infancy, we held fundraisers what seemed like every other week, many of which were car washes held at bars. I may have met them before the car wash at The Mojo Room, but if I had, I can’t remember. I knew Pistol’s sister, Buzz Kill, as well as I knew any other rollergirl, since she and I were two of the eight founders of CCRG, starting the LLC that got the ball rolling on our becoming an official league. Not only that, but we had realized we were neighbors. I knew Buzz had been trying to get her sister to come out and skate with us, but never made the connection of who she was until that day at the car wash.

It was cold, it was October, and the car wash wasn’t that well attended, so The Pistols, J, and I hung out at the end of the bar by the door, drinking beers and waiting to see if anyone rolled up. I can’t remember what we chatted about, but I know I instantly liked both of them.

After that, The Pistols started coming out the The Mojo Room (it was our hang-out spot back then) with Buzz, her husband, and J and I.

“You got to be able to hit hard,” I remember Mr. Pistol saying to me one night, 10 or so beers in. “Come on,” he said to Buzz and I, as he tightened his upper body and got into position, “Hit me!” We threw shoulder blocks (all the blocks we knew at the time) until he turned blue – literally. Several days later he lifted up his shirt and showed us his purple ribs. It was arguably the first thing Mr. Pistol did as a coach to help both Speed Regime and the CCRG All-Stars (formerly the Mobtown Maulers).

Pistol Whip was – and still is – quiet but consistent. An amazing jammer and a great blocker, it’s been fun skating with Pistol for over 3 years. Last year we planned Buzz Kill’s baby shower together, and it was great fun.

This past Saturday, the cake arrived before I did. Charm City Cakes (from Ace of Cakes), one of our sponsors, jumped at the opportunity to make the Pistols’ wedding cake for their special day. In Speed regime colors, The Pistols topped their own cake – Mr. Pistol with his little go-tee and Pistol Whip with anatomically correct tattoos.

In an elaborately planned ceremony where I was asked to wear something “referee inspired”, since we would all be on skates, the rest of our team, past and present, were the bridesmaids dressed in green tutus and holding green pistols with a single red rose coming out of the barrel of each gun.

The music started. I skated out (almost biting it on the way) and took my place. At their cue, Mr. Pistol and Pistol Whip’s father walked out and took their places. Mr. Pistol’s eyes welling up almost made me lose it. The bridesmaids skated out as a pack, and slowly they skated around the pack until after turn 2 they dissipated, forming staggered lines on either side of me, revealing the bride, Pistol Whip, who had been in the middle of the pack the entire time. Greeted by her father, he walked her over to Mr. Pistol and gave her a kiss. The ceremony began, and before we knew it the ceremony was over. I remember trying to say everything perfectly, looking at my notes, but seeing undoubtedly the two happiest people in the room standing in front of me smiling and dancing together with their eyes.

Like I said during the ceremony, The Pistols told me during the wedding planning that “it’s the marriage that’s serious, so why not make the wedding fun”. And fun it was. From vows like “Do you promise to always bring your helmet panties home to him at the end of the night,” and “Do you promise that no matter what, you’ll always tell her that she’s your lead jammer” to bridesmaids in tutus and wedding cake at the after party, it was a wonderfully fun and beautiful wedding.

I video of the ceremony can be seen here.

Although I may joke about placing myself on Craigslist to perform weddings dressed as a rollergirl – you pick the booty shorts: gold or silver – I really do appreciate and enjoy being included and being asked to perform the legal ceremony that joins two people in love.

I, myself, am not big on marriage, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t love partaking in other people’s joy, especially when I can revisit my role as The Officiate.

With less than a week into their married life, I wish Mr. and Mrs. Pistol the very best, and I will continue to look forward to working and playing with them and seeing their love grow over time. Mr. and Mrs. Pistol, CHEERS!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Verdict

I’ve lived in the city limits of Baltimore for nearly 8 years, yet earlier this month was the very first time I have ever been called for Jury Duty, which I hear from other city-dwellers is really abnormal.

Not thinking they’d get to my number during jury selection and seeing the respectful decline of all immediate potential white jurors immediately preceding me, I thought I was in the clear – that I wouldn’t be called. But I was called, and I became Juror 11, seated on a jury to determine the outcome of trail in which the defendant was being charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

The trial, from beginning to end, opening statements to verdict, was supposed to take no longer than 4 days, but we wound up being there for 6 – deliberating 2 days longer than intended.

During those 6 days, I became half-way accustomed to the life of someone involved in the court system on a regular basis (think, Professional Juror). I knew where to park in which garage that was closest to the courthouse, I established a regular coffee joint and developed a fleeting relationship with the two people who worked there, and I knew what door to enter into the courthouse in order to not be hassled about throwing away my coffee in the mornings. I had developed quite a routine in a surprisingly short amount of time.

When in the jury room, I sat in the same seat for all 6 days – between a chatty girl who couldn’t stop asking me questions and a woman my mother’s age who was a director at the city school department. Across from me sat the woman who actually fell asleep while we were voting by a raise of hands for various counts against the defendant. On the second to last day, the security guards downstairs confiscated her pepper spray, which sent her into fit in the jury room when she wasn’t asleep and thought about it.

The other jurors accompanying me were a random selection of people from all over the city, but we all had one thing in common: none of us were “peers” of the defendant.

We sat through a trial that was somewhat rushed by the judge. We heard the 1st witness admit to having smoked crack prior to the incident, we heard both the first and second witnesses commit perjury on the stand after they were caught talking to each other about the case and their stories in the hallway during a court recess. We heard the next two witnesses completely recant their prior statements to the police while on the stand, and we also heard them and another witness, all currently living in separate facilities for having committed crimes themselves, tell similar stories about the same detective feeding them information on a person they did not know in order to solidify the case for a “deal” – all but one “deal” never having transpired. We heard the last of those witnesses cry on the stand – apologizing to the defendant, judge, lawyers, jury, and court for wasting their time by making up a story in order to try and help himself. According to this witness, he would be facing similar charges next week, and apparently someone went and did to him what he did to our defendant. “I guess it’s karma,” he said. “I deserve it for helping to ruin this man I don’t know’s life. Apparently this is common.”

We saw evidence that was questionable – police line-ups, 6-packs, about five of them in which the person ID’d had by far the largest-sized head and the lightest, clearest picture. We saw bullet casings, one of which was collected that night but was likely left over from another separate shooting incident.

We saw the detective in question’s partner bring up the rear as far as witnesses went, and in less than 5 minutes she discredited her partner’s work and ethical behavior when processing and following this case.

As I walked in the final two mornings, I saw a line of white Blue Bird busses – the kind I remember from being a kid, the old kind. Only these weren’t used to take students on field trips – they were used to transport prisoners in shackles to and from the courthouses. And although I had never seen a bus like this before, I knew from a glance and the bus’ position next to the court house that the metal pieces over each window were not for shade on a sunny day. It was sad and beautiful at the same time, and I still can’t tell you why.

On that last day, as we finalized the verdict, we broke out of the confines of “look only at the evidence” and “reasonable doubt” and lamented about segments of our city that may reside in Baltimore but that are a million miles away from any life any of us had ever known. Little pockets, a street here, a block there, where generations have grown up in the midst of violence, of various family members and neighbors having been in and out of jail, of addiction that’s more common than making it to 10th grade before you drop out, and of guns replacing fist fights or even harsh words.

One man spoke about wanting to send a message that just because this type of behavior is the norm in some parts of our city, it’s not right. I spoke of not wanting to reward a dirty cop who could be just as sloppy and ill-intended with my case should I become a victim of a crime.

How will the root of these problems ever get solved if both sides keep doing what we were privy to?

I took my position on the jury seriously, and we delivered our verdict – one that I felt good about. Regardless, I left the courthouse that day feeling completely defeated, sickened, and depressed.

How can we let this go on in our city? “If we all just banded together,” I thought… And then I realized that was the problem. We may all live together in the city, but we’re segregated by neighborhood, block, side of the street, and individual house. Most people have compartmentalized themselves, so they don’t have to care about what exists outside their own individual world. I guess the only difference is that some made the choice to box themselves in, while others had that choice made for them.

It’s my opinion that without the joined effort of neighbors, community members, city dwellers, and police, I’ll likely be called to serve on another jury like this one sooner than I would like.