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.