Monday, June 30, 2008

What is Feminism?

Last week before bed I caught one of the George Carlin HBO Specials that have been playing on a loop since his passing, and I found the datedness of it to be interesting (it was certainly early 80s). The bit that captured my attention the most concerned feminism and feminists. Carlin defined the feminist movement as being propelled by women who want careers instead of kids – by women who want to be equal to men in the business world – by women who want to be strong. I found this interesting.

My idea of feminism has certainly been shaped at least in part by roller derby. It’s also been shaped by my being a woman and those things I’ve experienced in my life. It also has to do with the way my mind has been trained by those around me – my expectations for my life as a woman and my future.

As a general disclaimer, I must admit I have no idea if Carlin’s perceptions of feminism actually reflected the majority view of feminism in the 80s, but for the purpose of this entry I’m going to assume they did.

I was somewhat confused an intrigued hearing about feminist ideas that I take for granted – things I know to be true: that women are equal to men, that we can work, that we can be strong. “Of course, we’re strong,” I thought. “Why wouldn’t we be?”

It made me instantly think about how even the ad campaigns of large corporations take these things for granted now. Secret deodorant’s slogan use to be “Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.” Now it’s “Strong like a woman.” Duh. Was there ever really a question as to if women were strong? Hello? Who cares for the sick? Who traditionally bears the mental burdens? Who’s strong for their families and friends? Women. And it’s always been women. We may not all be able to bench press 200lbs, but we certainly can carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, and we do.

The most striking difference I thought of when I was listening to Carlin was the idea of women as mothers. Basically, women as mothers were not feminists, Carlin indicated, because they didn’t work and still perceived their job or duty in life to be “pumping out units.” My god, this is 180 degrees from today’s feminist view!

Today, the majority of women work. It’s hard to live with one income. I certainly grew up with the expectation that I would work and that if I did get married I would still have a job. Why wouldn’t I have a job? Even today, the idea of my not working is bizarre to me. Not working was never an option in my mind (nor in my parents minds, which is why I’ve always thought this way). I was taught and expected to be self sufficient, as were almost all of my female peers.

Today, in a world where everyone works (and I take for granted that we’re all equal for the most part) it’s feminist to put your job aside and stay home with your kids or only work part-time, so you can spend more time with them. It’s feminist to sacrifice more money or nice things in order to live out the role of mother. In fact, I can tell you that in my life, it’s only the most hard core of liberated women I know that have kids, and many stay home with them, at least part of the time.

So, what is feminism? Is it just doing the opposite of what you’re expected to do? Thinking the opposite of what you’re suppose to think? Feminism is such a loaded term but really such a vague concept – it means different things to different people.

To me, feminism is the recognition that women have the right to pursue happiness any way they see fit, just like anyone else, and I personally will support (and have supported) many different women who want many different things out of life. If you want to work, I support you in that. If you want to be a mom, I support you in that. If you want to be a working mom who also plays roller derby, well I support you in that too.

Perhaps we’ve actually come a long way in the past 25 years, or perhaps my idea of feminism is radically different than everyone else’s. I’m not quite sure. What I do know is that I’m surrounded by hundreds of women who have asked themselves “what would make me happy,” and I think that’s amazing. A woman who is mindful of what she wants and who acts on those thoughts is more than a feminist, she’s free.

Friday, June 27, 2008

CAMPAIGN FOR REAL BOOTY: NURSE WRETCHED, PART I

Today’s booty is a fresh one—and it’s the first in a two-part series: Part I is today, and Part II will follow on the last Friday of June 2009. Let’s welcome Part I, the Fresh Meat Booty: Nurse Wretched!!!



Nurse almost didn’t submit to the campaign—much like many e-mails I get, she thought that she “wasn’t ready” to be featured. Wasn’t ready?! Ladies, there’s no time like the present, and your booty is a present, so now is indeed the time! Okay, so I understand the argument of wanting to be featured when you’re more established in your derby career. Fine. But Nurse and I made a compromise (I suppose you could say we’re both half-assed) and decided we’d make a special feature out of Nurse. Today she is featured as Fresh Meat. Next year she will be a vet, and she’ll explain all the ways she’s used and appreciated her derriere within this year. So, without further adieu, Part I:

“I love the idea of a women's sport that's full contact where we can hit each other all night long, then be sisters afterwards,” said Nurse, an aspiring blocker extraordinaire for the Charm City Roller Girls who has been skating since January. “I love that no matter what size you are or what your athletic background is, there's a place for you in derby. I also think it sets a great example for young girls because there's really no mold you have to fit into to be a part of it. It's a sport that encourages women to be tough, athletic, smart, and unique while allowing them to still be sexy at the same time. Plus, I work on psych wards and I used to kickbox, so I'm kind of an adrenaline junkie.”



Although she can’t actually write scripts, she does have a prescription for the shit that is everyday life, “I like playing roller derby because it's better than Prozac man! I'm underpaid, the economy sucks, and sometimes, I just want to hit someone. Roller derby is an outlet for all that stress and it's a great workout! Plus, there's nothing like that feeling you get when you're whizzing around on skates. It's like flying, man.”



As to why she digs her ass, Nurse says “…curves are beautiful!!! Women should have asses!! It's what makes us better than men!! And my ass has gotten INSANE since I started skating. I love it! I love seeing guys (and girls) go crazy at the bouts over a big derby girl in some fishnets and booty shorts.” So do I… She goes on to say, “It's refreshing to see people appreciate curves. I work with girls with eating disorders at one of my jobs, and I love telling them about derby. I think it sends a really positive message. You don't have to be a size 2 to be sexy!!!!!!!” HERE! HERE!

“The other day at open skate, I was skating in front of Carnage Asada of the Harm City Homocide, and he gave me the most amazing compliment I think I have ever received. He said, ‘I came up with a great analogy to describe what skating behind you is like. Skating behind you is like being stranded in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights with no food and seeing a Qdoba.’ "



As fresh meat, Nurse is still exploring the many possibilities of her ba-dunk-a-dunk “It's exciting,” she says. “Stay tuned, because this booty is going to be a force to be reckoned with on the league.”

Stay tunes, peeps, because I think she’s right!

Freshies, vets, retirees: SUBMIT YOUR BOOTY! I was serious when I said your ass is a present. Don't be stingy. Share it with us!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"In this Corner, Weighing in at 500lbs: Stress!"

After a long, hard day at work I use to be able to come home and polish off a bottle of wine. Sure, it would start with a single glass, then another, and then, well, screw it—I’d drink the entire thing.

I can’t do that anymore. I can’t even have a glass of wine, and I don’t know why.

This week has been hell. I’ve been working 10-12 hour days every day, I haven’t been able to take a lunch break all week, and yesterday I couldn’t even find 15 minutes to write a blog entry. Damn this work encroaching on my personal life!

In all seriousness though, I’ve allowed myself to get more stressed out and worked up this week than I have been in a very long time. I think it’s a combination of factors that have played into my allowing myself to get to this point.

First, my boss is going away for 2 weeks beginning on Monday, so I have had massive amounts of work to complete (that I’m still trying to complete) that she needs to review before she goes away. On top of that, I’ve been trying to physically avoid her, because each time we run into each other I come away with several more tasks that need to be completed in the next hour or so.

Second, my mom is driving me up a wall. I love her to death, but we are two VERY different people. Tomorrow is the anniversary of the accident that lead to may father’s death almost 2 years ago. My mom, for whatever reason, sends me an e-mail bright and early yesterday to let me know this. What I felt like replying with was, “I’m not an idiot – I know when the accident and his death took place. I was there in case you forgot.” What I actually replied with was, “I’m familiar with the date.” On some level I know my mom needs to talk about the incident as part of her grieving, but my grieving involves not talking about it. It involves personal inner reflection. I’m uncomfortable discussing any part of it with my mom. I’m fine discussing all parts of it with anyone else, but not with my mom. Why? Perhaps because she brings it up so much, perhaps because it’s always a “woe is me” story that it’s turned into. It must suck for her—I get that; she was married to the guy for 30-some years, but I find it totally and utterly unfair for her to use me (in the capacity I’m least comfortable with, mind you). I’m being used, plain and simple. Am I ever asked how I feel about it? No. Not ever. Apparently this has contributed to my stress level more than I knew…

So then I get to this point where I am so stressed out that I’m completely miserable and unable to function in any other capacity besides “worker.” After 3 days of this, I’m wondering last night how I got here. I’m a pretty chill person—pretty laid back. In fact, I’ve been known to tell others around me to relax, because being anxious or stressed is not going to help the situation—in fact, it may hurt it. Yet, here I am with my shoulders up to my ears and my jaw perma-clenched.

Then I began thinking about how utterly calm I was when my dad did die. It’s one of those times where you realize just how powerless you are in a world that values complete control, and it’s kind of liberating. All those things that make us stressed: work, deadlines, arguments—they all mean nothing in the grand scheme of things, and when you find yourself in a situation such as having someone close to you die, those things you think are important cease to be important to you. You get bereavement at work, and your tasks that “had to be done” are put on hold or passed to someone else. I guess those things aren’t really that important anyhow.

So, I asked myself last night if I were to die today, how would I feel about it if, say, there was a period of time where I was dying and I knew I was dying before I actually died? I realized I’d be raging mad that I had spent this entire week all stressed out and pissed off. Well, that pissed me off, but in a good way.

Today’s goal is not to be stressed and not to get pissed off. It’s not worth it, and I need to remember that, so I don’t slip into this trap of wasting my time.

Here I sit with 3 tasks due in an hour, followed by a lunch meeting with an author, and a due date of “before the end of today” for a manuscript I’ve been editing and am still not finished with. You win some, you lose some. I refuse to let it get to me today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ice Cream is Dandy

I’m beginning to get the feeling that I’m not going to lose those 10 “buffer” pounds that I wanted to before I go on vacation. Last night, much like many other nights in my sorted past, I went out for ice cream.

Last night I was introduced to a new drug: the Jim Dandy™ sunday. You’d think that with my sick obsession with ice cream I would have had a Jim Dandy™ before now, but no. For an ice cream whore, I still manage to lead a pretty sheltered ice-cream eating lifestyle. For example, the very first banana split I ever had was last summer in a Vegas hotel room. It was late at night, I had been drinking, and our one room mate—Buzz Kill—was already fast asleep. It was the temptress, Lady Quebeaum—my other room mate—who convinced me we’d be quiet enough not to wake Buzz Kill, so we ordered room service. It was all Quebeaum’s idea, and damn, that was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever eaten!

Back to the Jim Dandy™… I think it’s safe to say that I’ve never met an ice cream that I didn’t like, and the Jim Dandy™ is certainly no exception. In a world where everything is so corporate and commercial, where ice cream is mixed with candy-bar pieces and birthday cake, where chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry have been replaced by Java Mocha Chip®, Chubby Hubby®, and Moose Tracks®, the Jim Dandy™ is a breath of fresh air—it’s retro, it’s old school, it’s freaking delicious (even if it’s annoying the piss out of me to have to insert the ™ symbol every time I type it!). A Jim Dandy™ is like a banana split on steroids. It’s five scoops of ice cream (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry), strawberry, marshmallow, and chocolate topping, a banana, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry!

Did I finish it all? Do you really have to ask that?

On our way home from the red-light district last night (and by that I mean the red awning of Friendly’s), I began to discuss the only change I would have made to the Jim Dandy™: more whipped cream.

“If only it were acceptable for me to bring along my own can of whipped cream, I could have coated every fresh layer of ice cream as I’ve eaten away at layer after layer,” I said.

“If you were really nice to the waitress and maybe gave her a dollar, she’d probably be convinced to bring you out a side of whipped cream,” J replied.

“I don’t think she would bring enough,” I said.

“Well, then, I don’t know what to tell you…”

“I’m not unhappy with the ice cream,” I interrupted. “I’m just telling you my best-case scenario—the ultimate Jim Dandy™ experience that I would have if no one were actually around to watch me eat it.”

J busted out laughing.

And there you have it. I’m certifiably crazy for ice cream. God bless you, Jim Dandy™, God bless you…

Monday, June 23, 2008

51 Days…

Fifty-one days until I can sleep in…

Fifty-one days until I can stay out late…

Fifty-one days until I can lie beside a pool and drink pina coladas at 10am…

Fifty-one days until I don’t let the internet and e-mail rule my life…

Fifty-one days until I implement a self-imposed “no derby work” tenet…

Fifty-one days until I can totally relax with my ladies while vacationing in Vegas. Man, I can’t wait!

Friday, June 20, 2008

CAMPAIGN FOR REAL BOOTY: DAYGLO DIVINE

In honor of all you hard working referees out there in derbyland, today’s Campaign for Real Booty is dedicated to YOU! I there fore declare today, June 20, Referee Appreciation Day (cause I have the power to do so—I’ll be calling my people at Hallmark later)!!! And in celebration of Referee Appreciation Day, I give you a very colorful, and almost blinding at times, referee rump: DayGlo Divine!

(Photo by Holden Minefield)

DayGlo, a referee for DC Rollergirls (and guest ref often in Charm City), has been skating since January 2007. When asked why she joined derby, she puts many of our thoughts into words.

“It's one of the few sports that really has a place for women of all shapes and sizes. When it comes to sports, women tend to be more typecast and judged by physique than men are, and it's really unfortunate,” DayGlo says. “Fitness and athletic ability come in all sizes, and roller derby encourages women to use their body types -- whatever they may be -- to their advantage. It doesn't limit them to certain positions, either. There are really small blockers who lay down monster blocks by virtue of the ability to fit into tight spaces between unsuspecting skaters, and there are much larger skaters whose stability and strength make them really effective jammers. What really attracted me to derby, though, was the fact that many of the people who play it are not lifelong athletes, and even those who do come into the sport with an extensive athletic background don't have it easy. Trained speed and figure skaters still have to learn to take hits and fall, former soccer and lacrosse players still have to learn how to replicate their moves on skates, and everyone has something to learn from everyone else.”

(Photo by Alex Barth)

Additionally, there’s many things we all like about derby, and it’s great to hear what those things are from a referee’s perspective:

“Referees in other sports call themselves ‘the third team,’ and there's some truth to that nickname. We skate in every single jam, and regardless of position, we have to have just as much awareness of each other's whereabouts as skaters do. Each position comes with its own set of challenges. Jammer refs need the ability to maintain an ironclad focus on one person's actions, as well as the reflexes to stay glued to her when she gets knocked down or flies through a wide-open pack like lightning. Inside pack refs are watching eight people on their right while communicating with penalty trackers on their left, all while remaining aware of where the jammer refs are and being prepared to get out of their way on short notice. (In my particular case, being 5'1" means I have the added challenge of finding creative ways to see around much taller jammer refs when their jammers are caught up in the pack.) Outside refs have to skate faster than the pack to stay on top of the action, and they often find themselves in the line of fire when skaters get blocked out-of-bounds. It's a challenge, and one that I love. But more than anything, it's increased my assertiveness and self-confidence. Timid refs don't last very long.”

When contemplating her booty, DayGlo goes back to grade school, that unforgiving place many of us bootylicious babes first experienced taunting:

“I've been bottom-heavy all my life, and it hasn't been easy. When I was in grade school, I got called ‘shock absorber’ because my ass would wiggle like Jell-O when kicked or smacked. Back-to-school shopping was always an ordeal. Nothing in regular sizes ever fit me, and my mother refused to look at the "pretty plus" sizes; instead, she'd buy pants in whatever size I could squeeze into, then getting her seamstress friend to chop 6" off the legs. (This meant having bell-bottom pants well into the mid-80s.)

As an adult, I've weighed as little as 115 and as much as 160, and any extra weight I've had in that time has gone straight to my ass; I've been anything from a 4 to a 14, all while rocking youth-medium shirts. That, in combination with being short, makes it very difficult to find flattering clothes. There have been many times when I wished my ass were much smaller, or at least didn't have rolls (which it did at my lightest), so that it were in keeping with the rest of me. There have been other times when I wished I were heavy all around so that I could at least be balanced out. But in a way, I've learned a lot by struggling with size as much as I have.”

(Photo by Roxy Toxic)

She goes on to say, “Seeing my first derby bout, where people of all sizes took such obvious pride in their bodies and were shown so much support, was when I weighed my least I realized that it really doesn't matter. Since I started reffing, I've gained 10-15 pounds (I yo-yo that much), most of it muscle. Once again, it's gone straight to my ass. But while I can't quite get up the nerve to part with opaque tights, I've traded in my baggy shirts for hot pants. Roller derby has made me feel safe enough in doing so that I can handle the occasional snide comment. After a DCRG bout, I went to dinner with a couple other refs while still in my ref uniform. As we were leaving, a woman at a nearby table made a very loud, very rude comment about my ass. I shook it a little bit just for her.”

That’s what I’m talking about! ASS PRIDE! Seriously though, one of my biggest fears in life if getting the flat white-woman ass (and balding).

Thanks for representing for all the referees out there, DayGlo! Not only will she put you in the box, but she can obviously articulate why quite well too. Thank buddah for well-spoken women!

Okay refs, if you like what you saw here, you can buy me a beer in Philly on Sunday! Just kidding, I wanted to honor you guys and continue the “thank you” I started yesterday (but you can still buy me that beer if you really want…).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hey, You! In the Box!

Last night at practice I was asked to help referee the scrimmaging, since I can’t scrimmage quite yet due to my shoulder injury, and I gladly accepted the offer to participate as a ref. My ref cherry was popped last night, as in my 3+ years of skating, I’ve never had to ref before now. I was the back-pack ref, also responsible for calling out penalties and sending ladies to the penalty box.

I learned a lot last night.

First off, referees are not robots. Sometimes when I’m skating, I’ll hear a ref call a penalty on me or send me to the box, and my usual reaction is, “For what?! I wasn’t touching anyone!” Calling penalties is not instantaneous, which I’ll admit makes things confusing at times for us skaters, but it’s unavoidable, especially when someone is being put into the box for 4 minor penalties. As the pack ref, I’d yell out, “Venus—forearms!”, Cheetah would record it, and if she noticed that was Venus’ fourth minor, she’d yell back to me “That’s four,” and I’d then have to blow my whistle and send Venus to the box. By this time maybe 20 seconds would have passed from the initial action of Venus hitting someone with her forearms. In real life, 20 seconds is nothing, but in derby 20 seconds is ¾ of a trip around the track, and in those 20 seconds about 50 other things have happened within the pack. But, alas, the refs are not robots, and I realized last night that they really are moving as fast as they can.

Secondly, I realized how much of a distraction it is when I try to engage a ref in a conversation during a jam. Again, this usually begins with them calling a penalty on me and me asking, “When did that happen?!” I had skaters engage me like that last night, and it caused me to miss ¼ rotation just to say, “We’ll talk after the jam.” Sorry refs, I promise I won’t do that to you anymore.

Lastly, and most importantly, I realized that I really, REALLY hate calling penalties on, well, anyone. In the beginning I found myself almost whispering to Cheeta, who was penalty tracking. I didn’t want anyone to hear me calling them out! Worse yet, it was really hard to blow that whistle (and I love whistles) to send someone to the box. Don’t get me wrong, things got better as the evening went on, but by the end of practice I was relieved to stop calling people on their wrongdoings. It’s funny, because on the track as a skater, I’m much more apt to tell a ref of a penalty I saw or that was performed on me, but in that authoritative role as a ref I was totally uncomfortable calling penalties.

You have to admit, it is somewhat uncomfortable, even in social situations, to call your friends out on anything. Why is that? I guess because no one likes a know-it-all. Who made you the boss? That’s right, why am I better than anyone else, and what gives me the right to tell someone what, or what not, to do? Unless you’re an asshole and don’t mind that you’ve crowned yourself “king of what’s right,” it’s difficult to tell someone what you think if your opinion has not already been solicited.

Being an asshole is a ref’s job (he, he). And without those assholes, we’d all just be skating around slapping each other like in the Anti-Flag video. Reffing is a hard job, and it takes a lot of skill. I’m glad I had the chance to see things from their perspective, and I’d encourage every skater to ref at some point as well.

Thanks to all the refs out there. You may not be robots, but we love you anyway.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

What Derby Means to Me

While I completely understand that writing this entry means I’m running the risk of sounding like a sixth grader who is reporting on her summer vacation in the first week back at school, I’m going to do it anyhow. I want to share what derby means to me, because there seem to be a lot of venues out there that are putting words in derby’s mouth, all of our mouths, and they’re not necessarily my words.

Granted, this entry should come with a warning. I’m sure to offend at least someone if I mention something you or your league has done for fundraising (applesauce wrestling), and for that I’m sorry.

I guess I’ll start there. I respect the things you do for money – the things you do to skate, but I’m also way into taking the high road and as a member of WFTDA trying to purport roller derby as a legitimate sport, because I believe roller derby IS a legitimate sport. Where we draw the line is fuzzy and often when we draw it we’re wearing beer goggles. So, call me a hypocrite for having mentioned the applesauce wrestling that was in the USA Today article, while my league has done car washes in bathing suits in the back parking lot of a bar. What professional athletes do you know that would wrestle in applesauce? Aside from Dennis Rodman, who’s always been more about the spectacle anyhow, not many. Alas, the same can be said for back-alley car washes. I guess how I draw the line comes down to me asking myself: “Would I be okay if this was printed in the newspaper?” I suppose there is something to be said for PR…

I opened up my e-mail this morning not only to see the USA Today article, but also to see a link to the Anti-Flag “The Bright Lights of America” video on You Tube, which features “Team USA” rollergirls breaking every rule in the book as they skate around a roller rink beating the hell out of each other. To be fair, however, there are certainly more than 10 women on the hard wood at once, so I can’t tell if this is even suppose to be a bout (although I think it is). On a personal note, I did get a kick out of Coach Tom’s mustache, as it looks strangely familiar and very similar to one particular real-life east-coast bench coach

I guess I’m just as conflicted as everyone else. I got excited when I saw the video, but then my derby conscience cringed deep down inside of me when I saw all the stereotypes of rollergirls played out on the small screen. It’s hard.

So, back to my sixth-grade essay—what does roller derby mean to me? First and foremost, it’s a sport – a legitimate sport with amazing athletes who take the sport seriously (and who honestly probably get in more endurance practice than many of the other professional sports out there).

From a business perspective, roller derby is an amazing force to recon with. It’s the fastest growing sport in the nation, and the people running it are some of the absolute brightest people I know. Sometimes wearing a sleeve a tattoos instead of long-sleeves and ties or business suits, it makes me happy to know there is a place for smart, business savvy people outside of the traditional business world. Now, by saying this I am in no way belittling derby or saying it’s not a legitimate business, because it is indeed. In fact, the business of derby, perhaps because of its prior struggles in the 70s and 80s, is an honest business that isn’t riddled with personal agendas, inequality, or smoke and mirrors. Everyone who does it does it because they love the sport (and they do it in their SPARE time). I love that.

From a personal perspective, I love most of all that every single person who becomes involved with derby grows and comes out of it a better person. Its participants learn teamwork, self-confidence, how to overcome barriers and struggles, and how to help others learn all these things too.

Roller derby is the most powerful positive exchange of knowledge and skills that I’ve ever seen, from the athleticism to the business to the personal growth. Roller derby is a catalyst to personal and communal growth, and I’d like to think that in the past decade it has, and still is, changing the world for the better.

I’m still not in a bikini covered in applesauce (shutter to think), and you’re still reading this, so figure it out. Let’s rise to the occasion and come up with better ways to draw attention to ourselves. Any fool can splosh in public, and any rollergirl can learn the finer points of PR, which I guarantee you will leave a more lasting impression than a fruit-soaked bathing suit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Getting It

Have you ever let so much time pass between doing something that you’re unsure if you still know how to do it? Heck, that’s why I got into publishing—I was afraid if I wasn’t writing or editing on a consistent basis that I’d “lose it.” It’s like when you go away on vacation for a week and don’t drive. When you finally get back behind the wheel, it feels awkward, doesn’t it?

When I was younger, I worked doing photo development. I got really good at not only color correcting photographs, but also at taking my own photographs with an old SLR camera that was my dad’s in the 70s. Taking pictures was fun—I always liked finding the different ways of looking at common items. I did color, black and white, and some experimental stuff where I color washed images that were taken in black and white for a dramatic effect. Then I went to college and didn’t find much time to keep up with photography. The summer following my freshman year I tried to pick the hobby back up, but I was shocked to find that I had forgotten a lot of the finer points of photography—like how to adjust my camera. Eventually, I gave up. To this day, I wish I had kept doing it.

Last night was my first night back on skates in 6 weeks. It’s so hard just to get up the courage to go back to that 1st practice. Over time, I’ve heard the same thing from people returning to derby after an extended absence due to injury or pregnancy: “What if I step out there and realize I can’t skate anymore? What if I fall right on my ass just trying to skate?” This, too, was my biggest fear.

I’m no stranger to injury. As a kid, my parents were always baffled by my persistence to injure myself, and in derby it’s been much of the same for my entire 3+ years as a skater. In my first year, I tore the PCL in my right knee. I was off skates for close to 3 months. It sucked coming back, because it was like starting all over again. Back then, even missing a week of practice was somewhat devastating. My endurance would be cut in half, I’d have muscle cramps and pains, and I’d be exhausted and out of breath.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been doing this for 3+ years. Maybe it’s because I have the will of an eagle (yeah, I don’t know what that means either). Or, maybe it’s just a miracle, but last night’s practice wasn’t bad at all! I did everything I could with the rest of the league, and when they did blocking drills, I made myself do some endurance-type stuff and muscle-building-type stuff. I had been working on some footwork moves right before the injury, and low and behold, I still had them—I worked on the footwork too!

I can’t tell you what a relief it is to know I still got it. And, finally, I got something that doesn’t need to be treated with a course of antibiotics, because the something I got is good. Now that I know I can, I’m gonna go get it. Watch out, ladies, because when I’m able to scrimmage again, it’s gonna be on!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Got Gas?

Yesterday our doorbell rang, and instead of the usual confused delivery person or religious solicitor it was our new next-door neighbors. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned them on here yet…

Our new neighbors bought Mr. Frank’s old house. From what we’ve been told, they’re friends of Mr. Frank’s daughter—the one who hated us because we can’t trim the bushes according to her timeline—and they are fairly conservative and religious, home-schooling all 6 of their children. They moved in the weekend I was at BrewCon, and J has talked to them, but no matter what I do, they ignore me—to the point where I wave and say “hi” and they turn their heads.

Well, you can’t ignore me if I answer the door.

“Hi,” I said, as I held back the dog.

They just stood there. I smiled. They looked at each other. Stood there some more.

The husband finally said, “The gas was siphoned out of our van last night.”

“Really?” I said, “That’s terrible.”

They stood there some more. “Siphoned?” I repeated. “I’m really sorry to hear that.”

They continued to stand there.

“Well,” the husband finally said, “We just wanted to let you know. We just got a locking gas cap.”

“Thank you!” I said. And they left.

“What the hell was that all about,” I thought… “God, they’re weird.” And then it hit me—did they think I siphoned their gas?! What the hell?

Okay, okay, so I have tattoos and multi-colored hair. So J and I aren’t married. So I have roller derby stickers all over my car. That doesn’t mean I don’t deserve the same courtesy and respect as anyone else, and it certainly doesn’t mean I siphoned your gas!

Really, it’s pretty shitty that someone hit up our street and decided to siphon gas. I can only hope the person who did this really needed it, and is using it to get him or her to work. Gas is out of control right now. So are groceries and just about everything else because of the high price of gas. It sucks for all of us, even us tattooed sin-living freaks who make sure your unsupervised kids aren’t playing in the street. It sucks for you that the gas in your van was siphoned, but it sucks even more if you thought I did it. If you were smart, you’d have looked in my car and seen that I’m almost on E, because it’s hard for me to afford gas as well.

Friday, June 13, 2008

CAMPAIGN FOR REAL BOOTY: PUNCHY O’GUTS

This week’s Campaign for Real Booty started out as a nomination by Ruth of All Evil. And who did she nominate, you ask? Well, only one of the fiercest ladies in Maine (aside from my mother-in-law): Punchy O’Guts!!!



Accoring to Ruth, “[Punchy's] got the fiercest booty on the track, and her dedication and commitment to the league are unmatched. And did I mention she's fierce?”

Punchy will have been skating for 2 years this September, as a member of Main Roller Derby. A Pivot and outside blocker, Punchy plays for here home team, the Port Authorities, and MRD’s chartered interleague all-star team. Unofficially, she’s won her league award for being the biggest “booze bag.”

“I joined roller derby because I wanted to punch people,” says Punchy, “I was a little disappointed when I found out I couldn't, but soon realized I could do major damage with my ass instead of my fists.”



“I like my ass because it makes me feel like a real woman,” Punchy says, “[it] helps me in derby because ain't nobody gettin' by, the sheer weight of the thing makes hard for a girl to take me down, and I don't need ass pads.”

On her MRD bio page, my favorite FAQ asks: You're a good booty blocker. Is your big butt real?

“Yes. It is. And I will sell you half a cheek for advertisement for only $500.”



Oh, man, we've all had bruises like that! Thanks for the nomination, Ruth, and thanks for the submission, Punchy! I'll drop you guys a note when I'm coming up to Maine for the holidays, and hopefully I can get knocked around by that sweet white ass.

Remember, peeps, we still need submission to keep CFRB going! Please e-mail nominations or submissions to me at: cindylop-her@charmcityrollergirls.com

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Updates and a Review

I was in a weird state of not quite asleep but not quite awake either for the entirety of last night. During this time I was having lucid dreams about 1) formatting chapters at my job; and 2) being Audrina from The Hill’s publicist. Both were horrible tasks, and after all the demanding work I did while I was supposed to be sleeping, I’m exhausted (seriously, I’ve never even watch The Hills and I know Audrina is spiraling downward).

So, today is update day. I’ve been asked quite a bit for some updates on my IUD removal and shoulder, so I figured I’d take today to answer them.

IUD Removal: It went well. I was scared as hell to have it done, because I’ve read it hurts just as bad getting the thing yanked out as it does having it crammed in. My fear was, however, completely unwarranted, but perhaps for reasons other than the norm.

Once I was saddled up, my doc went in for the excavation and said, “Oh, well here’s your problem!” which is never something you want to hear while having someone poke around the innermost parts of your lady bits.

“Okay,” I said, “Let’s just get it out first and then we can discuss the problem.”

“It’s already out,” she said. “It has been sitting half-way in your cervix for quite some time—you can see the corrosion here.”

Wha?!

She went on to tell me that I must be a pretty tough broad, because if this had happened to any of her other patients, they’d be waiting for her outside her office door the next morning. It’s apparently that painful. And I skated with the little guy half-way out and corroding for at least 3 months. The good news is that the sciatic nerve pain I was having went away immediately when the IUD was removed, and it hasn’t returned. I’m now back on the pill.

The Shoulder: Basically, I’m impatient. As my doc put it, this is the second time I’ve had the exact same injury in a year, and 5 weeks is nothing. It could take 6 months. It could take surgery.

If in two more months I reach a plateau in my healing, we’ll try cortisone shots. If they don’t work, I’ll have surgery to have my clavical shortened. The joint is super inflamed still, causing the two bones that are normally separated by a gap to be overlapping and grinding up against each other. And sometimes in some people, due to the grinding, the inflammation never goes away, hence the surgical option.

So, best case scenario, I can skate at RollerCon (fingers crossed), and my next appearance in a bout will be in September (!)—depressing, huh?

I am going to start going back to practice and just doing the endurance-type stuff—no falls or hits or scrimmaging for me for a while.

Now, a review…

Call it a product of good advertising, but J and I got the K-Y, Yours+Mine™ lube and were able to give it a go before he went on his mancation. The deal here is suppose to be that there are two individual lubes, one for the woman (or, partner A) and one for the man (or, partner B). Each is suppose to be “exciting” in its own rite (packaging wording, not mine), yet thrilling when the two “meet.”

The “Yours,” or men’s product, is indiscernible in smell and feel (I put some on my leg to test it out on its own). The “Mine,” or women’s product, smells a bit like Ben Gay and gives off an eerily similar cooling sensation. Together, they burn.

Now, the “burning” isn’t all that bad. It definitely calls your attention to the general area (as if I wouldn’t notice what was going on without the interactive lube—“Holy crap! There’s a penis in my vagina!”).

In any event, as someone who rarely uses any lube, I found it to be a positive experience if for no other reason than it encourages foreplay.

And lastly, to you smart asses out there (Anna and Tami), thanks for taking the time to spell it out for me that you MUST cut a slit in the chili pepper to get the cheese in a chili relleno. Until this morning when I read your comments, I really thought this yummy food was the product of immaculate conception.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

We are the Cheese in the Chili Relleno of Life - How the Hell Did We Get in There?!

As I was laying in bed last night trying to figure out how they get the cheese in a chili relleno, batter it, and fry it without the cheese coming back out (and with no discernable cuts in the pepper, might I add), I also began to think about how many different perspectives people have of the word around us.

We all view the word differently, yet I think we can all agree that the events that take place are completely static. It’s like the annoying phrase that’s come into popularity lately: It is what it is.

Or is it? We all give meaning to the things that happen around us based on things that have happened to us in the past. Sometimes I think it’s really easy to get caught up in assigning meaning and motivation to outside forces – things you personally don’t have any control over—but I also think it’s really liberating in those few brief moments I occasionally have to get this glimpse of being completely separated from it all. In that moment, I realize none of that meaning anyone else assigns to anything around me really matters, and it’s freeing to know that if you want, you don’t have to be part of the machine that is daily life for your average American (or any other large identifiable group).

Although those moments of separation are brief, and usually separated by weeks or even months at a time of constant “I have to do this”s or “I have to attend that”s, I’m glad they do occur, and I’d really like them to occur more often.

Really, why are you here? What’s your main goal in life? To go through the motions? To get caught up in it all? I get caught up in it all, but I don’t necessarily want it to be like that. And I think realizing that may open the door for more of those “separated” moments to enter into my daily life.

It sounds funny, but although we’re legally “free,” I think the majority of people give up their own personal freedom without even realizing it. We’re all so busy that even in doing the things we love, we allow necessity that we perceive as outside ourselves take control over even those things. It’s sad. And I don’t want to live my life like that, but it’s a struggle to preserve my own personal freedom every single day.

As I was sitting in the Mexican restaurant last night, eating my chili relleno and chatting, a child on the other side of our booth shrieked this shrill high shriek, and literally everyone in the restaurant stopped talking mid-sentence for about 3 seconds. Everyone kind of glanced around at each other not knowing what to do, the parents’ faces looking increasingly nervous. Then we all busted out laughing, a sign to let the parents and kid know that although it got our attention, it was normal and we were okay with it.

“Well,” I said to Betty Beatdown, “if I knew that’s all I had to do to get everyone’s attention…”

“You should do it,” she said.

“What? Stand up on the table and shriek really loud,” I asked, “something tells me you’d be the only one laughing.”

Consider this my table-standing shriek. Stop and look around you today. You can do it on an office-type setting, but I think it’s easier and will have more impact if you do it in a more populated place. What is everyone doing? What are you doing? Does it matter? What do you want to be doing?

Oh, and if you know how they get the cheese in the chili relleno, please let me know, because this is going bother me until I find out.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dreams

I’ve always allowed myself to be easily overwhelmed, much like I expressed in yesterday’s posts. I remember an instance in my final year of high school (how could I forget) that almost resulted in my not going to college in the fall as planned.

I was always a good student. I knew I had to be, because my parents couldn’t afford to send me to college like the rest of my friends parents could. I knew if I wanted to get out of dodge and make my life better, I’d have to rely on scholarships to get me there. I talked with my guidance counselor ad nauseum about my options. I had decided to go to a state school to increase my chances of getting the money I needed, and we had decided my best bet was to apply for the Presidential scholarship, for which I was more than qualified. It was all but a done deal. In my final meeting before I submitted the scholarship application materials, I got the deadlines and submission information from my guidance counselor, and I was feeling pretty confident.

I submitted the materials and heard back about a month later—I didn’t get the scholarship. Why? Because the deadline to be considered for the scholarship was December 15 and my guidance counselor had told me it was January 15, so even my “overachieving” attitude resulting in my sending it in early, or so I thought (in late December), was null and void. In the letter they told me I surely would have gotten the scholarship if I had only turned in the paperwork on time. FUCK!

The next few weeks resulted in my parents and I meeting numerous times with my idiot of a guidance counselor, the principal, and the dean of admission at the college, but dealing with a bureaucratic process like this, nothing could be done. My only option was to wait a full year, don’t take any college credits in the meantime, and reapply for the scholarship the following year.

I was devastated and hysterical for a good two weeks. I was so scared that if I didn’t find out a way to go to college in the fall, I’d somehow miss my window of opportunity and never get out. I’d get a job and find reasons to stay and not go. I’d seen it happen to some of my friends who were older, and I didn’t want to fall into that trap. This isn’t to say that I think college is the only option for everyone. It’s not, and I know plenty of people who never went to college who are wildly successful and do things they absolutely love. I just knew that I needed the process of going to college for me to make the transition into an independent life. It’s the only way I could see opportunity, and I still believe till this day that I’d be a radically different person if I had never went. Am I doing what I went to school for? Well, not necessarily, but my being there provided me with opportunities that I’ve built from and that have gotten me to where I am today.

Back to the devastation… I lost it, pure and simple. I was grasping at straws trying to figure out how to make it to college in the fall, and I think that period of about a month was the most single stressful time in my life. During this time, I had a very memorable dream:

I was walking along a familiar road near my house when I got called into the basement of a house. In my dream I knew the basement of this house served as a church, and so I was confused as to what was going on.

“We’ve been waiting for you,” the woman at the door said. “Come in! Come in!”

And as I entered the basement door, I was handed a tiara and bouquet of flowers—like the ones you can get at the grocery store, half dead and presented in clear plastic instead of tissue paper. I looked down, and I was in a frilly yellow dress, like one you’d see in an old-school beauty pageant. The woman took me by the arm and lead me up a small step ladder and onto a folding metal chair that was sitting on top of a folding table in the middle of the room covered in wood-paneled walls. I was being crowned the Queen of White Trash.

All my life I’ve been afraid of what would happen or who I would be if I didn’t do things 100% perfectly, but you know what? Looking back on it, I’ve never done things perfectly anyhow, and everything has turned out okay. So what if it took my nearly six years to put myself through college, and so what if I at one time had to work 5 different part-time jobs to do it? So what if I do things out of order?

Perhaps it’s always been fear that’s driven me to achieve, but I think that’s changing. I realized after my freak-out yesterday that it wasn’t fear that was pushing me to accomplish what I want to accomplish. I’m pushing me to accomplish what I want to accomplish. And that’s actually a pretty cool thing, because once I realized that, I realized I’m finally the boss of myself, and that means I don’t have to worry about being scolded by anyone for doing something that’s impossible for me to do. Pushing myself is good, but pushing myself to the point where I was yesterday is not good.

Fortunately, the things I want to get accomplished can get accomplished as soon as there’s time—they don’t have to rely on a bureaucratic process. Also fortunately, the dreams I have today are far less terrifying then they have been in the past. I’ll be okay. I just need to relax.

Monday, June 9, 2008

More Complaining...

Okay, so today warrants two blogs, both of them involve me whining and complaining. Get over it. It’s not all peaches and unicorns all the time for anyone – not even big-assed rollergirls.

I’ve been having dreams with recurring themes that are quite upsetting and mimic my waking life. In these dreams I’m doing some sort of work—a job—and I’m good at it, but there’s always more to be done, which I don’t have the time to do, and this causes me to panic. Everyone’s relying on me, and although they are happy about what I have been able to accomplish, I feel like a failure because I feel as if I’m performing all the jobs half-assed. If I had more time, I could be more thorough. If I had more time, I could get much more done. If I had more time, I could do all those things that I see need to be done but no one else seems to take the initiative to do but me.

Why me? Why do I have to do these things? Why can’t I delegate?

In real life, I try to delegate, but even when I do, things just don’t seem to get done. And I have no recourse, because of course I’m talking about derby work, and none of us are getting paid, so really, me and everyone else should just be grateful for anything anyone does to help out, right?

Doing derby work is really rewarding—more than you can imagine. When I’m doing it, I’m also doing something I love for a cause I believe in. I’ve been told this is the type of work you want to have, and I agree, but right now I’m stuck in a time crunch between doing this thing I love and helping it sustain itself and get better and performing my paid job and another that gets me some extra money. And I feel so incredibly pathetic when I cannot do everything I want to do for derby right now.

I can feel my chest tightening as I type this. I’ve been having panic attacks each night before I fall asleep and even sometimes during the day when I’m taking an hour to myself to eat dinner and watch TV. Out of nowhere comes an intense feeling of panic and something right below my throat feels like it does a flip inside my body and scares the hell out of me. I could go get some Xanex, but I don’t think that’s the answer.

I need to learn to let things go. I need to realize that there’s a difference between what’s acceptable and what’s doable, and I need to celebrate my accomplishments that are within the doable realm and not beat myself up over that which is impossible right now. Of course, all of this is easier said than done.

Ahhh. It felt good just to get that out…

Limbo

Tomorrow will mark five full weeks since my shoulder contusion and A/C tear. FIVE WEEKS. Yet, this morning as I’m closing the door from letting the dog in and thinking, “I wonder if I could try and go to practice tonight,” I get a twinge of intense pain, which has become more ordinary than I’d like it to be.

I’ve got my captains asking my why my recovery is taking so long, and isn’t my doctor concerned about it? I explain A/C tears can take 6-8 weeks to recover, yet I know something’s not right. When I tore the same ligaments last summer, the pain went away much faster and I was pretty much back to normal by now. I’ve been told by several people in the past week, “Wow, that shoulder is much higher than the other.” And it is. Additionally, I’ve lost 5 pounds in the past month, and I know it’s all muscle, which is perhaps the most depressing part of this all, aside from the obvious fact that I still cannot skate.

I’m totally in limbo here, and I hate it. How much more muscle am I going to lose? Am I going to be able to skate in our bout next month? What’s my endurance going to be like when I can return? How long will it take me to get back to where I was before the injury? How strong is my shoulder? Am I going to need surgery the very next time I get hit?

So, I decided to nag my orthopedist for the third time and make him see me again. The date is set for tomorrow. I hope I get some answers to at least some of the questions I have. I need to know why I’m still in so much pain. I need to know that I’m healing okay and when I can really, truly return to practice and participate fully. Do I need surgery after all?

I’m kind of scared to find out the answers, but at this point I think knowing is better than being stuck here in lala land not knowing what the hell is going on.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Where Da Booty At?

I use to be the type of person who was enthusiastic on my league’s yahoo group. I would check the group a million and one times a day and respond to requests from everyone, even if I didn’t have the answer. I wanted to contribute.

Lately, I find myself skimming my e-mail inbox for only the most important stuff. I use to at least open e-mail before deleting them, but I don’t even do that anymore. Not only that, but when I do open up important e-mails, I tend to sit back and watch and see if anyone else responds before I do – I hesitate to reply. I’m tired, and I’ve come to the conclusion that more often than not someone else will handle it.

So, where da booty at today? It’s week 16, you say. Surely, there’s more booty to be seen? Indeed, there is.

However, today’s booty requires you to unfocus your eyes from your computer, stand up, turn your head over your left shoulder, and look down.

Got a good image? It’s nice, isn’t it? Perhaps today it’s clad in jeans. Maybe it protrudes on the sides, maybe it protrudes in the rear, and maybe—just maybe—it protrudes both ways, which would be truly spectacular! Go ahead. Tell yourself you have a nice ass (or maybe call it a booty or ba-dunk-a-dunk if it prefers not to be sweared at).

We’ve had 15 booties showcased so far on CFRB, but I find it incredibly hard to believe that that’s all the booty that’s out there in the derby world. I bet you know at least one other booty you could convince to submit to the Campaign (psst! It’s right under your nose!).

Many people don’t know what to write about themselves, so I’m going to help you out by giving you a form to fill in:

CFRB BIO
Derby Name:
Derby League Name:
Home Team Name:
Are you on the travel team?
Position(s):
Awards Won (If Any):
How long have you played derby?

FILL IN THE BLANKS:
I joined roller derby because ________________________
I like playing roller derby because _______________________
I like my ass/booty/ba-dunk-a-dunk because ________________________________________
My ass/booty/ba-dunk-a-dunk helps me in derby because ______________________________
Is there anything else you’d like to share?


In other news, this week the Campaign for Real Booty got its own Myspace page. Befriend us!

Although CFRB has a poor showing this week, I refuse to believe the Campaign is over. In fact, I think it’s just begun. Stay tuned, because next week’s booty–the comeback booty–is sure to be a good one!

Make it happen, ladies: cindylop-her@charmcityrollergirls.com

Thursday, June 5, 2008

My New Mantra: Don't Be an Asshole

It’s been a pretty stressful past month or so; I’ve had a lot of work to do, and on top of that I haven’t been able to skate or really even exercise until last week, which has me completely thrown off. Stress rears its head in weird ways for me. Mostly, I become a sarcastic bitch without a filter.

Two days ago at the office a coworker of mine, who’s still a fairly new mom, ask me how I was feeling. On top of all the stress and lack of normalcy that led to a brief depression within the last month, I also come down with bronchitis.

“I’m on the mend” I said.

“What you need is a week at a health spa where you can relax and enjoy yourself,” she said.

To which I replied, “No, what I need is for all you inconsiderate parents to stop coming in here when you’re sick and spreading all the nasty germs your kids pick up at daycare.”

Whoa! And there it was—it just flew right on out of my mouth. My coworker smiled, said okay, and walked back to her office.

“I’m such an asshole,” I thought. I wound up apologizing to her via e-mail 5 minutes later.

Then, just this morning, I was having a wonderful start to my day. I got up early, did a half hour on the elliptical, showered, ate breakfast, and drove into work actually feeling awake for the first time in I don’t know how long. I get to my parking garage and notice a woman in a big black Land Rover SUV stuck trying to squeeze into the “compact cars only” section of the garage.

This really gets my goat. Why? Well, I drive a 1995 Toyota Tercel, a real and true compact car. More often than not when I go to leave work for the day an SUV is parked in the spot next to me marked “compact cars only”, and I can barely open my door to get in my car. It pisses me off. Suck it up and go up ONE LEVEL. Really, how inconsiderate can you be? These fuckers just don’t care.

Usually, I’d just laugh to myself regarding the woman in the Land Rover who was stuck, but today something else happened.

It all started with a laugh. The woman looked over at me and smiled, thinking perhaps that my laughing was me empathizing with her and her predicament.

“Nice fucking compact car,” I yelled.

Did that just come out of my mouth?! I panicked.

Was my window down?! It was.

Was her window down?! It was.

Shit.

She wound up still parking in the “compact cars only” section, albeit further up the ramp. Once parked, I got out of my car as quickly as possible, avoided eye contact, and rushed out of the garage. What’s wrong with me?

I really could use some meditation time these days. I really don’t want to be an asshole. In fact, that could be my mantra: no asshole. “No” in the inhale and “ass-hole” on the exhale.

This now has me thinking about what would happen if someone had no asshole… Oh, well. At least I’m no longer angry.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is There a Light at The End of The Tunnel, or Is This a Cave?

I’ve never been a stranger to hard work. I don’t mind it, and in some instances I actually really enjoy it. I like the sense of accomplishment, knowing I’ve overcome obstacles I’ve never faced before and done so successfully, and the payoff—if any—isn’t bad either. It’s that last part that I haven’t seen much of lately.

I’ve always done odd jobs. I was the kid with the lemonade stand (who forgot to add sugar), I was the founder of our neighborhood “club” who wanted to charge dues to the other 7-year olds, I even helped out at times in my dad’s office.

Being in an office was always more fun than work, because as a kid you’re almost never in an office, unless it’s a doctor’s office or dental office—you get my point. We should be so lucky to have had the foresight that the majority of us would wind up spending much of our adult lives in this mysterious and fun place we call an office. I digress.

I remember the first time I went to help my dad out in his office. They set me up in the conference room, with folders and various colored papers laid out on the conference table. I got to stuff the marketing packets.

“This must mean I’m important,” I remember thinking. I also remember being incredibly overwhelmed, because I’d never been asked to perform a task like this before, and although I was afraid I was going to mess it up, I knew I had to try my hardest, so I could come back. I was 8 years old.

It took me all day. The office manager would come in and check on me every so often, taking me to the break room to get a snack from the vending machine, or escorting me to my dad’s office for lunch. At the end of the day, I completed the project. I was relieved.

I knew I received some “congratualations” and “good job”s from my dad and his staff, but I couldn’t tell you exactly what was said and who said it. What I do remember is the office manager meeting us out at the car as we were leaving for the day. My dad rolled down his window.

“You forgot this,” she said and handed my dad an envelope. In it was $46 and some odd cents. “It’s your pay,” she said, “Come back any time.”

Wow, I thought. I never expected to be paid! And even as a kid, I knew my dad wasn’t behind the payment, because he looked as surprised as I did when the office manager delivered the envelope.

“Where did that money come from?” I asked my dad.

“Petty cash,” he said, which would confuse the hell out of me for years to come. It left me thinking that “petty cash” was how everyone got paid…


I guess the point of this story is that although the kind words and praise fade, the memory of having been paid for a job well done remains. It’s sick, I know. I should do things for the sake of doing something good. And I do.

Truth is, I do a lot these days. A LOT. And I get paid for very little of it.

“When are you going to start making the big bucks,” J asks me every now and then. Last time he did so, I snapped at him.

I may not be making any money doing much of the work I do now (associated with roller derby and sponsorship), but I’m learning skills that I think will help me get ahead in the future. The question that remains is: when is the future going to get here?

I wouldn’t trade the experience I’m getting now and have gotten in the past 3+ years for anything – not even money. I honestly think I’ve learned more about business and working with others than I would have in the next 25 years of my life had I never been involved with the business of roller derby.

I suppose I’m just impatient. I have stayed in the same job (real job) for 4 years. I haven’t been promoted, and I haven’t applied anywhere else, because my heart lies in derby. Yet, I see friends of mine moving up the ladder, getting better jobs that pay better, and I find myself dividing up what little free time I have to either do more derby work or make a plan on how to cut my grocery bill because my pay can’t keep up with rising prices.

I’m a smart woman, and I love what I do, but I need to catch a break. I suppose I should follow my own advice, and not just wait for something to happen – I need to make something happen. This is going to mean setting aside time for me to think about this, which I normally wouldn’t do because I have no free time, but, in this case, I’m the most important thing in my life, so I’ll make time. Wish me luck.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Beam Me Up, Scottie!

Yesterday, after I coughed myself into a headache that wouldn’t go away, but when I still had over an hour left at work, all I could think about was going home and taking a nap. Could I sneak out? No. My office is right next to the front door of our office, so unless my personal belongings are strewn across my desk, everyone who walks by knows very quickly if I’m in the office or not. And I hate making up time.

It was at this point that I slipped into a daydream and started to ponder how I could set up some personal belongings to show I was “there” but perhaps in a meeting and then later on have the personal belongings removed, because surely my leaving them there overnight would be a dead giveaway that I was trying to pull a fast one or had a personal emergency, in which case everyone I know I would be inquiring about “what happened” the next day, and my cover would be blown anyhow. Then it hit me: teleportation!

If I had a teleportation device, I could “slip out” early, leave my shit on my desk, and then pop back in to retrieve it, say 30 minutes after my work day is suppose to end, thus giving me the added bonus of looking like I have stayed late.

Then I started thinking about what else I would do if I had a teleportation device. I could go home on my lunch break to play with my dog. I could avoid rush-hour traffic. I could avoid the communal ladies restroom here at work, never again having to hold in a number 2 or having to smell someone else’s.

Then practicality hit me. If there was such a thing as a teleportation device, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to use it, and if one was accessible, I almost certainly couldn’t afford to pay for it, what with it being new technology and all and me being part of the working poor. Additionally, there would probably be rules for using it, so I couldn’t just slip in or out as I’d like to. But… assuming I am allowed to use it and it’s free to use, why the hell would they waste office space anymore? We could all work from home and “beam in” to meeting rooms when we needed to. Teleportation would transform the way we work, and any “office” would surely be a home office.

Ah, if I worked at home, I’d be there by now.

The sad thing is, the real daydream here is my dreaming of sneaking out of work early. I could not do that. Well, I could, but I’d give myself an ulcer in the time it took for me to get back into work the next morning, because I’m paranoid and neurotic about time and rules. Imagine a place where I have to be and I don’t go and nothing bad happens… Maybe I don’t need the teleporter after all – just the stick removed from my ass.

The Definition of Me

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I define myself. Meanwhile, many people in my life use labels to define me. Rollergirl is the main one, but what does that mean? And who am I when I’m not on skates or doing derby work? It’s just not that easy.

I’ve been called many things: artist, writer, student, actress, musician, athlete. When I was in a band, people would say, “This is Tara, she’s in the X-Girlfriends,” and when I was acting in plays people would say, “This is Tara, she’s Piglet in the upcoming Children’s Theater performance,” and now they say, “This is Tara, she’s a rollergirl” (notice the recurring theme here: “This is Tara, she’s a ham”).

I look around at people I know and work with, and I notice how they define themselves: newlywed, mother, Disney fanatic, executive, and student. Aside from the purpose of having something to say about a person when introducing them at a cocktail party, why do we label each other like this? And what comes first, you labeling yourself or the label someone else has given you?

While some people feel a sense of security in a label, I feel extremely uncomfortable. Why? Because there seems to be some type of permanence with a label. This is why people have such a hard time “reinventing” themselves – they’ve allowed themselves to be boxed in by a label. Why can’t we just move fluidly from one interest to another and back again if we want?

I guess the bigger question here is not “How do you define yourself,” but “How do you want to be defined?” I think we tend to get stuck in labels and definitions, whether they’re generated by us or by someone else. So, I’ve been thinking lately, “Who do I want to be next?”

Although “next” may imply pushing aside all I am now, I don’t think of it that way. Who do I want to evolve into? What type of person do I want to be?

I’ve always known I don’t ever want to be defined by my job. I see work as something you do to fund who you really are. Really, I feel the same way about my involvement in any activity, including roller derby. That’s a part of me, but that’s not who I am. The cool thing is, I know I can be whomever I want to be. I can do whatever I want. I love free will.

All I can hope for, really, is that over time I’ll be able to continue to collect little pieces here and there that work to comprise the type of person I want to be. I may not ever be able to label all those individual pieces or myself as a whole, but I’m fine with that. As long as I like the concept of me, I figure I’m doing alright.