Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Shave and a Hair Cut

I find myself really inconvenienced by shaving. Just this morning when I was in the shower looking at my stubbly legs, I made the conscious decision to put it off one more day, banking on the fact that I had a pair of black tights that were opaque enough – and clean – justifying my decision to be lazy. Instead, I sit here at my desk in a pair of crotchless fishnets and knee socks. Not only were my tights not clean, but also I can only assume I’ve worn these fishnets while skating – hence the ripped open crotch.

I’m working on this mind-numbing data entry project – something I don’t often do and therefore have little tolerance for – when I come across this item I’m copying and pasting that makes me laugh out loud. It’s from a screening tool designed to screen babies and children for possible delays: Does your child copy activities you do, like sweeping or shaving?

I suppose I lied yesterday when I said I’ve had a hard time getting out of bed ever since I can remember, because this question reminded me of a ritual I had with my dad before he went to work when I was real little. I would sit or stand on the vanity in my parents’ bathroom while my dad was getting ready. I was mesmerized by watching him shave. After a while, I got to participate, and this became the new ritual. He lathered up his face with shaving cream; he lathered up my face with shaving cream. I remember the sweet and medicine-like smell, the way the shaving cream looked like whipped cream on my face, only smoother, and the way over the course of a day the tiny dollop of shaving cream left on the nozzle faded from white and foamy to clear and bubbly.

Once we were lathered up, I’d watch my dad shave – upward strokes on the sides of his face, and downward strokes under his sideburns and beneath his nose, as he curled his upper lip over his top front teeth. It was my turn next. Using the same directional pattern, it took me a while to notice he was using the back side of the razor on my face, but I didn’t even care when I found out. I still enjoyed my shave.

Afterwards, we’d wipe our faces and put on English Leather.

This could have happened twice or it could have happened every day for a year – I’m no longer sure.

There certainly is a point where kids want to be like their parents, but that point is just that – a point. It’s very short lived. Not soon after, kids renounce their parents, want to do everything on their own, and want to be as different from them as possible – sometimes doing the exact opposite of their parents, even if they don’t really want to be doing whatever that opposite is, just to spite them.

My refusal to shave my legs in a timely manner is not spiteful and it’s not because I’m a hippie either – it’s just one more thing in the morning that’s going to make me late for work. Remembering this ritual, however, has made me realize that perhaps I move too fast and ignore the everyday, the seemingly mundane, that contains a lot of the beauty of life. Sure, shaving my legs is an over exaggeration, but maybe if I moved a little slower I’d be better prepared to remember happy things like the shaving ritual I had with my dad. And then there’s the added benefit of my not cutting myself (under my right butt cheek), like I always do. I think tomorrow I’ll set my alarm a little early and try not to rush so much. But, just in case, I'm also going to wash some tights tonight.

Monday, September 29, 2008

HELP! Derby in Dairyland (East Regionals) ROOMMATE NEEDED!!!

Derby folk,

I'm in desparate need of a roomate or roommates for 10/9-12 at Eastern Regionals. I'll be away pretty much all day (ok, ALL DAY) working the VIP area and tending to our sponsors, so I just need a place to sleep. If you know anyone with a spare bed, or if you have a spare bed, please let me know!

Not wanting to sleep in the rental car,

Cindy Lop-her

Dr. Jekyll and Sleepy Hyde

I’ve always had problems getting up in the morning. Ever since I can remember having to get up for school, my mom or dad would be in my room after the 6th alarm had gone off, and with raised voices they would say, “You have to get up now! You have to go to school!” I’d never hear that same tone of voice from them at any other time in my life. Its intonation was threatening, scary, and demanding, yet, I still had problems getting up then, and I still do now.

It’s not that I didn’t want to go to school, and it’s not that I don’t want to go to work (okay, on some days I don’t want to go, but that’s not usually my motivation). Thing is, I’m not sure what my motivation is for oversleeping or staying in bed. There’s no physical reason I should be doing this. I get 8-9 hours of sleep per night, and I almost always sleep completely through the night.

Some days are better than others. If I know I have to catch a plane or attend a wedding or something like that, I can make myself get up at the 1st alarm, but if it’s a regular workday, I have a very difficult time.

I learned over time to place my alarm across my room, so I’d have to get up to hit snooze, but even that doesn’t work anymore, and all I have to show for those now failing attempts are a collage of bruises and scrapes on my shins from walking into furniture on my many morning trips to turn off snooze and once again set my alarm.

I thought it was unconscious. I thought I didn’t have control over it, but this morning showed me that I do have control, and my subconscious is sneaky. See, I’ve been out of personal days at work since July, and in general I’ve not had a problem getting to work. Sure, some days I’ll be 15 minutes late, but that’s actually really good for me. Today, however, I slept until 10am. I’m supposed to be at work at 8am. I did call in and leave a voicemail for my boss saying I’d be in by noon – that I was having stomach issues, which I have been, only my sleepy, conniving mind convinced me they were way more extreme and warranted me calling out of the first half of my work day. The real reason I did this? Today my personal days renew.

When I woke up at 10am, the self-loathing was abundant. I had been having dreams that I couldn’t meet two deadlines – one for derby and one for work, both of which need to be accomplished today. Not only did that devil inside of me convince me to call out until noon, just because I could, but the angel was giving me a guilt trip. Fuck!

Truth is, I hate this part of myself. It’s such a basic skill that nearly everyone can master but me – waking up on time so you can get to your job. What’s wrong with me?

I wish I knew what I needed to do to change this part of myself and my daily routine, because I don’t want to piss away my personal days this year just because I have them again. But what’s a girl to do? I guess I’ll just sleep on it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Returning the Favor

Some things in life are just too coincidental to be pure coincidence. Meeting my friend Mike is one of those things.

It was my first semester in college, and I was sharing a dorm room with my best friend from high school. Everyone told us it would be a bad idea, but we didn’t listen. It was a bad idea, so I quickly made friends with some people on my hall. Quite possibly the girl I got along with most was Megan – a crunchy kinda-sorta hippie who was from the Jersey Shore. She had gotten stuck as the 3rd person in a 2-person dorm room, since there was a housing shortage that semester. Really, either of her roommates could have been that 3rd person, but Megan showed up last of the three of them on move-in day.

One day I received a call from a guy who was in the Navy looking for his buddy who had lived in my room the previous year – he was coming to visit and I quite obviously was not this guy’s friend, and no, he could not stay with me if he could not locate him. I wound up tracking the guy who use to live in my room down via the university e-mail system and hooked him up with his buddy.

Several days later I was having a smoke downstairs, and Megan was standing with me, waiting to be picked up by some random guy she had just met in the cafeteria or somewhere else no one else ever gets asked out. He eventually shows up and comments that he used to live in our building last year.

“What floor,” we ask, to make conversation.

“13th,” he said – same as us.

I asked him what room, and he gave me my room number.

“Wait,” I said, “Do you have a friend in the Navy?”

“Yes!” he said, “Are you Tara?”

No shit – it was the guy who I had tracked down earlier in the week. What are the odds? We were at a major university full of tens of thousands of students, after all.

The guy (I can’t remember his name) asked me if I wanted to come along on his and Megan’s date to a party across campus. After some reluctance, I decided to go. The guy told us that we were heading to the basement of the Residence Tower where these guys lived that held a party every Thursday night. It had apparently been going on for a while and was a lot of fun.

I don’t remember much about that night, except that I know I met a lot of my best friends there, including Mike. He lived in the big room on the end, and I’m sure we chatted a fair portion of the night, because he wound up asking me out.

Fast forward to that date, and that’s really my first coherent recollection on Mike. He took me to the Towson Diner – the old one that was dreary and brown with orange shag carpet. We chatted over coffee, and the usual questions came up – where were you born, where did you live, etc. Turns out that we had both lived in Phoenix, Arizona as kids. Mike went on talking about his house there and how there was a playground across from it, describing my playground and my neighborhood to a "T".

“I broke my leg on that playground when I fell off the fence,” Mike said.

“Wait!” I said, “That was YOU? I was there – I remember that! I was on the swing just to your right!”

Turns out that we had lived on the same street as kids and played at least amongst each other on the playground. Since then I had lived in Georgia, Mississippi, and Maryland, and Mike had lived in France and New Jersey. We both found it completely random that the circumstances allowed us to meet again, 14 years later, but we also found it kind of cool. Mike and I didn’t wind up dating, but we did become good friends.

It’s through those parties held in Mike’s dorm room that I met many people I know and am friends with today – either directly or indirectly. The two of us actually helped bridge some of the various friend groups into one massive group. My mom always use to tell me that my friends shouldn’t be more important than my family, but what she didn’t realize is that these people had become my family and still are to this day.

When my dad died, Mike was there – he called, he e-mailed, and he came to the wake and funeral. His mom had passed away not too long before that, and having someone who knew what that type of loss was like and who I could talk to was really wonderful.

I remember Mike saying, “Welcome to the club, kid – it’s not something you can voluntarily join, but you’ll realize that we’re here for you, and after the shock of this passes you’ll be able to welcome others into the club and provide support for them too.”

Luckily I hadn’t been put in that situation – until now. After I finish typing this, I’ll be heading off to Philly to attend Mike’s dad’s funeral.

I remember celebrating Mike’s college graduation with his parents at our old haunt, The Kent Lounge. His parents were the first parents I remember who treated me as an adult, and not just as their kid’s friend. I think Mike’s dad became an even closer friend to him in the past several years, once he moved out to Vegas. I can only guess that’s why Mike proposed to his girlfriend, Megan (different Megan), while they were out visiting his dad several weeks ago.

It’s bittersweet. I found out about both the engagement and the passing within a matter of days, and although I was super excited that Mike was now engaged, my heart also hurt knowing this moment couldn’t ever fully be enjoyed.

But today we are going to celebrate the life of Edward Snyder – dad and friend. I hope that as Mike’s extended family we can help ease the pain by providing him all our love and support.

Coincidence or not, we love you, Mike.

Monday, September 22, 2008

These Boots are Made for Kicking Ass!

I have an obsession with shoes – and accessories. I think those obsessions are something nearly all typical-clothing-size challenged women share. We want to shop, but trying on pants can be annoying if not impossible because nearly everything that’s “hip” is made in Junior sizing, which there’s no way in hell my ass is going to fit into. Boots are no exception.

I’ve always had problems finding knee-high boots that fit my sixteen-and-a-half inch calves. The only type of boots I could ever buy were the fake-leather stretchy kind, and even then those sometimes don’t fit.

Then two years ago I became acquainted with “extended calf” boots when I picked up a pair of Bloomingdales-brand, red leather, extended calf, heeled boots at a discount store. I was so excited that they fit that I didn’t care if they weren’t “my style” or not – until last season when I barely ever put them on.

I’m a boot girl – I like to wear boots with dresses and skirts, but I also like the boots to have a bit of an edge and replace the “traditionally feminine” feel you get from the dress or skirt with the “traditionally ass kicking” feel that goes along with a really cool pair of boots. (I do this with jewelry too – I have 2 nice rings that are diamond and sapphire, but I have to wear a big thick black leather banded watch to negate some of the “pretty” or I feel awkward and unlike myself.)

I’ve most recently been on a quest for the perfect pair of flat black leather boots – they need to be flat because I’m tired of dicking around with sore feet (I want to be comfortable), and they need to be a bit more casual, because each day I feel like my wardrobe becomes more “working professional” than I want it to be. These need to be the type of boots I can wear out on the weekend with my normal clothes, but I should also be able to juxtapose them with a sleek dress or tailored skirt and wear them to work.

I’ve done extensive internet searches, and I’ve found all sorts of sites that provide a whopping 3-4 pairs of wide-calf boots – all of which look like I should either be in my late 40s driving a Volvo station wagon with two kids in the back seat named Todd or I should be cruising Wal-Mart on my 1st date with a guy named Cletus. They’re either too prim and proper or they look cheap as hell – think “all man made materials” (which I got suckered into buying and paying way too much for once under the guise “vegan”).

I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to compromise and buy something that was “just okay” or that I didn’t really like. I have been holding out for that perfect pair.

Then, this past Saturday, my Mom and I are at the mall, and out of the corner of my eye I see this pair of boots. I knew I had seen them before – I saw an ad for them several weeks ago, but although they were cool, I quickly dismissed them thinking I would just be too disappointed if I ever had the chance to try them on and they, like all other cool boots, didn’t zip up over my calves. I decided to try them on anyway.

HOLY CRAP! THEY FIT! Not only that, but they cost just as much money as my mom had given me cash earlier in the day in my birthday card. And, perhaps best yet, they are actually sized a bit big – no way in hell people with “normal” size calves could wear these cool boots – finally, someone sides with the big girls! Hooray!

I swear to you, I’m going to wear the hell out of these boots:

Friday, September 19, 2008

Bird Watching

Sometimes I think my dad is a bird.

I live within the Baltimore City limits, but our property and neighborhood are vastly different from the cement backdrop populated only by electrical poles and storefronts you typically think of when you think of a city. Indeed, I have told people time and again that I believe I have a patch of the most fertile earth on the planet.

We’re constantly pulling up or cutting down new trees that spring up in our flowerbeds and lawn: oak, pine, mulberry, and holly trees and Japanese maples, to name the repeat offenders. On our meager 50’x150’ lot we have a holly tree, pine tree, pear tree, cherry tree, and dogwood. We have yellow flowering bushes that line both sides of our property and azaleas in front of our house next to several other bushes I couldn’t name if my life depended on it.

Our house is not atypical on our street – all the other houses are surrounded by mature greenery, a canopy of tree limbs embracing the center of our block entirely. That’s what I liked about the neighborhood when we first looked at the house. Lots of trees.

Because of the trees, we also have a lot of birds. I’ll never forget seeing this one distinct bird who I assumed lived in our yard, because I could recognize him – he was long and gray and wearing a black toupee. I laughed every time I saw him. I later found out he was a catbird, and all catbirds are long and gray and look like they too are wearing black toupees.

I’ve seen doves sitting together in our cherry tree that’s just outside our bedroom window. We see bright cardinals and bluebirds and of course more of those funny looking catbirds. I never realized how fascinated I am with birds until living in this house. I often find myself cross-armed on the window sill of my bedroom, bed half made or me half dressed, watching a bird build a nest, feed her babies, or just sit on one single branch for what seems like an eternity.

I actually had a bird incorporated into the partial sleeve on my right arm at my request – it’s a barn swallow, a fat little bird, but it isn’t true to nature, since barn swallows are usually white and gray or white and brown. Mine is brown and red and orange. I love the way nothing on him is a solid line – it’s hundreds of fine tattoo needled stokes making his plumage look soft and delicate. The tattoo was complete before my dad passed away, and he loved it too – especially the bird. He was a bird watcher, with a bird book in the kitchen, a constant supply of bird seed, and an ever changing ploy to do this or that to the bird feeders, so the squirrels couldn’t capitalize on the seemingly free snacks.

Not too long ago I got really angry after hearing repeated stories in different situations about people thinking their dead loved ones had come back as this or that to see them. I have a twinge of the psychic – it’s something that’s always been more of a burden that a gift, so if anyone should be able to connect to a dead relative, it should be me. Knowing I haven’t ever had any sort of “close call” or “strange encounter” or feeling that my dad was ever “back for a visit” and other people have had these experiences really pissed me off for some reason, and the anger stayed with me for a week or two.

I had gotten into kind of a low place, not having completely dealt with grief, I suppose, and it all came to a head one afternoon this past summer, just several days before the anniversary of my dad’s death. J and I were preparing to go to a friend’s house, and I was watching something on TV where yet another person was telling about how they felt their dead relative with them. Yelling at the TV, “Fuck you!” I began to wonder why in nearly 2 years I had never had any indication, not even a glimpse, that some part of my dad was still around and watching over me.

I’ve been conflicted since his death. I don’t believe in heaven and hell, but after seeing someone after they’ve just died, you know something is missing. The person’s energy is missing. Some people say it even has a weight – 40 grams, and you can see the difference if you place a dying person on a very precise scale and watch it as the person dies (because the 1st thing I thought in the ICU was “get me a scale!” Don’t even get me started on how absurd this is or if anyone’s actually ever done it.). Regardless, I am now open to the idea that there is not nothing. Even if it’s energy, it has to go somewhere, even if we will never know or be able to conceive where it goes. That, and I mentioned the psychic bit earlier, which has always caused a conundrum within my Atheistic view.

I found myself believing the stories I’d heard, the people on TV. I just couldn’t see why I wasn’t worthy enough to come visit. I know if anyone needs it, my mom needs it more, but throw me a bone here!

All of these thoughts were swirling around in my head that day – my own little side conversations indicating I was fed up with being ignored. We had already left the house to go to the barbecue when I told J to swing back by the house so I could change my shirt (my arms felt too fat that day). On the way there, I gave my dad an ultimatum in my head: give me a sign. I was so angry.

As we pulled up to our house on that dreary and rainy afternoon, I jumped out of the car, and a bird, colored just like the one I have tattooed on my arm, greeted me with some of the loudest squawks I had ever heard. It was perched right on top of our porch, above the stairs. I know it sounds crazy, but that bird looked right through me.

Could it? I thought. I ran inside and changed my shirt, gave the dog a pet, and ran back outside. The bird was still there, his gaze following me all the way back to the car. On the off chance it was, I acknowledged the bird by making the “click-click” in the side of my mouth as I made a gun out of my thumb and forefinger and pointed it at him. He stopped squawking.

I don’t have any proof that the bird was my dad, but I also don’t have any proof that it wasn’t. In the 5 years we’ve lived in our house, I had never seen a bird colored like that one before. And even if it was just a bird, it did hold some significance for me that day, because I still remember it clearly now. The cool thing is that ever since then, I see that type of bird (a robin, J says) almost on a daily basis, and the bird reminds me of my dad, which is something I needed, because lately it’s getting harder and harder to remember those fine details like the pitch of his voice or structure of his hands. Just like those fine delicate lines that make up the barn swallow on my arm are fading because of time, the once memorable details fade as well.

But every time I see a robin in my yard, I smile.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Real Belly

The Campaign for Real Booty has been quite an experience so far. The vast majority of the time I get great submissions from people – and those have been posted here. Occasionally, however, I get partial or incomplete submissions, and when I ask for more info, I never hear back from the person attached to the booty. One time that I know of, someone (using a man’s e-mail addy) sent me a fake submission that was designed humiliate someone – the person who e-mailed pretended to be the person in the pictures he attached, and included some pretty strange quotes designed to make the woman in the pictures look like an ass (no pun intended). Yes, the booty attracts the lovers and the haters alike, just like a real can.

Over the summer I had several rollergirls who are mothers ask me if they could submit their bellies. The thought behind this was if they got up the courage to post pictures of their sagging skin and stretch marks, they might just get over the fact that not having a “perfect” stomach bothers them. I’m all for it.

The Campaign for Real Booty is about not only accepting what you’ve got, but also about celebrating it. A big ass can say many things: I’m powerful, I’m strong, I love my body and its curves, I love myself. And a belly can say many things too: I’m a mother who cares enough about herself and her kids that I take the time to do something for myself (be it derby, yoga, or any other hobby that is hers alone).

So, I thought I’d use today to open up the submissions for bellies of all shapes and sizes. If you’re a mom who’s also a rollergirl, let us know how your participation in derby is good for your kids and family, let us know how and why you find the time to do it all AND derby, and let us know what you want other people to know about yourself.

I got nothing of substance in the cache for tomorrow so far, so unless I get a booty or belly submission tonight, I’m going to be telling you all about my rash.

“Does she really have a rash?!” you might think to yourself. Well, if you don’t want to find out, contribute a submission or encourage a friend to do so!

XO,

Cindy Lop-her

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Notes from the Pin Cushion

Over the years I’ve learned not to share certain things with my mother, because I know she’ll have something to say about those things that I don’t want to hear. It use to be a conscious decision, but that stopped some time ago, and I now somehow subconsciously know what will be okay to talk about and what won’t. Regardless, there are exceptions to every rule.

Maybe it was the needles that disconnected me from my guard, but after my acupuncture treatment last night I called my mom “just because,” which sadly enough, is something I rarely do. Perhaps because unless I have something to tell her, my thoughts wander and I accidently bring up something I know she’ll have an opinion about that I won’t want to hear. It’s been a while since I made that mistake.

I started telling my mom about acupuncture, half thinking she’s tell me something off the wall like the church was against it or it deals with Satan or something like that. It’s those types of comments that subconsciously kept me from mentioning acupuncture to her before. Shit, when I was I kid I remember her making me turn off yoga on PBS, because it was “new age” and anything “new age” was of the devil. I just liked their leotards.

She threw me for a loop this time though. I was shocked at how positive and supportive she was being. She even relayed that a long-time friend of hers has been receiving arthritis treatment via acupuncture for over 30 years – the woman would fly to San Francisco from Atlanta on a regular basis just to keep herself off medication.

Nope, my mom surprised me – until the end of our lengthy conversation when she really surprised me.

“This is just wonderful – anything positive you can do for yourself and your health and your body is great,” she said, “And you know, maybe once all the other issues are worked out, maybe acupuncture can finally help you lose all that weight.”

I replied with a “Why do you always have to go there?”

An argument about “who goes where” ensues, until she realizes I never once mentioned anything even closely relating to weight. She concedes, but qualifies her admission of guilt with the fact that “I know you don’t want to be fat your whole life. I know deep down it bothers you.”

I can honestly say at this point in time that I’m really quite happy with myself and my body. I’m fit, I eat well, and I exercise a lot. Hell, I wanted to get my health in order by the time I was 30, because I knew it would be harder to do after that, and look at me – I did it! I may still be classified as “obese” on the BMI scale, but I haven’t been in the “normal” range since I was 9 years old. I did 30 laps in 5 minutes at my 1st practice back two nights ago – could she have done that under the same conditions? No, but she does starve herself to keep the weight off that she lost after my dad died. She actually references her ability to have lost that weight at that time as if it’s a good thing, but I don’t think it is.

I’m sure my opinion here smells like an asshole to her, but hers smells like one to me too.

I’m hoping this mentality regarding weight is an age thing and that people my age who have kids relay the importance of good health, not good size, but I’m probably giving the general public too much credit.

To everyone out there that values size over the merits of what’s contained in it, do me a favor and just go fuck yourself. Seriously.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Meatloaf and Skater Tots

It’s nights like last night that make you remember why you do all the extra work in derby – why I spend 30 hours a week outside of my regular job working on sponsorship for my league and WFTDA: it’s for the kids.

Okay, okay, they’re not exactly “kids,” but they are new to derby. I’m talking about skater tots – those new skaters who so desperately want to become rollergirls. Here in Charm City, we’ve been at this for nearly four years, and we still had over 20 ladies come out last night for a skills workshop that would help them train for October try-outs.

The practice itself was easy – a good one for me to join back in on. Then there was the added factor of us vets having to “lead by example” for the skater tots. This means staying quiet and listening to the coach when we’re being instructed on the next drill, doing the drills correct and not showing off like an asshole, and offering advice to the tots, like where to shift your weight during a plow-stop or what exercises to do at home to train yourself to no longer skate knock-kneed.

By the end of the night, the skaters who walked into the rink “scared shitless,” as one put it to me when I asked her if she was here to practice for try-outs (“can’t you tell by the scared shitless look on my face?”), walked out of there not only stinky and sweaty, but also encouraged and hopefully proud of themselves (I’m amazed at how skilled each new group who comes in actually is).

That’s why we’re here – to keep this sport moving forward, to welcome new women, to help them enrich their own lives, and to have fun.

For me, the pen ultimate part of the night was my having to lead a small group in a drill that was my own personal version of hell until just recently. The drill consists of practicing the isolated movements associated with crossovers. Everyone does fine with the first part – placing your inside (left) foot on the line of a 15’ circle and pushing off to propel yourself with your right foot. It’s the second part that’s a bitch: only using your inside foot to push without lifting your outside foot. This part of the drill is actually harder than using crossovers in practice, because the 15’ circle forces you to perform this isolated movement to an extreme – you’re going in a tighter circle than you ever would when playing a bout, and your right leg never leaves the floor, making this especially hard for those of us with thicker thighs. When I found out we had to do this drill, I panicked for half a second, because I’ve never been able to do it 100% successfully. And now I’m going to have to teach 3 ladies how to do it?! Crap.

I skated away from the instruction and over to my circle as soon as the coaches had finished talking. I wanted to try this before people were watching me. Unfortunately, no time for that! As I started off on the circle, my mind said “I can do this,” but the words that started to come out of my mouth were, “I’m not too good…” and then low and behold I was fucking doing it! Perfect! For the 1st time ever!

One girl was a natural, another needed help with leg positioning but got it eventually, and the third was like I had been early in my derby career – she kept saying it was physically impossible for her to do, and she got frustrated. I felt for her. If only I could impart to her what I now know – that nothing is actually physically impossible, you just have to train your body to do it (even if it takes you more effort and a longer amount of time than the other girls).

We ended the practice with timed laps, training the tots for the WFTDA requirement of all skaters needing to be able to do 20 laps in 5 minutes. I was tired and had the beginnings of blisters from the circle drills, so I half considered not participating, because we had so many people there. As I was dreaming about my water bottle, I skated over and got on the starting line. I wound up completing 30 laps – never once coasting or resting my arms on my knees. That’s pretty damn good for someone who’s been completely off skates for over a month and hasn’t been able to attend practices “regularly” for the better part of the last 4 months (due to injury)!

The night came to a close with several of the ladies telling us how much fun they had. As I was getting ready to walk out, the skater who had gotten frustrated at the end of the circle drill came up to me and thanked me for all my advice. I was glad to talk to her, because I was worried the frustration may have taken the wind out of her sails, regarding derby. Thankfully, that was not the case. She seemed determined, which is possibly the best quality a rollergirl can have. Determination will get you wherever you want to go, and I have a sneaking suspicion that if this skater tot keeps that attitude up, she’ll make one hell of a blocker someday soon.

In all, it was a great night. Not only was I happy to be back in skates, but I just may have met the next derby superstar – the girl who is an amazing skater, the girl who becomes a coach and winds up helping others, or the girl who will take a leadership role and help propel derby further into the sports arena than it already is. Who ever said a legacy wasn’t exciting?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Back in Skates – Yet Again

This season has been exceptionally strange, with my fist shoulder injury in May, recovery, a brief time where I was practicing (and 2 hours where I was able to scrimmage), and my second shoulder injury, which has lead up to now. You’ve seen a slew of posts like this one once already this year, so I apologize if I’m revisiting the same themes as then. Tonight will be my first night back at endurance practice since the second shoulder injury.

We had a bout on Saturday, and I brought my skates, so I could at least do a few laps. It felt great, and my team even let me do intro laps with them before I took off the wheels and helped bench coach.
I’m excited about tonight, but I’m also a bit nervous, because I know that once I’m back attending practices regularly, I’m going to want to scrimmage – something I cannot do until January. I’m going to need to keep reminding myself of this.

Practicing regularly after an injury is like having the devil whisper in your ear, “Look how good you’re doing. You’ll be fine if you don’t wait till January,” and the difficult thing is that I’m the only person keeping myself in check – I’m sure my league would allow me to start scrimmaging today if I wanted to, regardless of my relaying the January date to them. I’m responsible for myself, and that can be such a hard thing when your infatuation with skating gets in the way of all logic.

Truth be told, tonight’s going to be an easy night – it’s a skater tot practice where we’ll be going over basic skills. I suppose I could wait till Thursday to go back, but I just don’t want to, so I’ll offer up myself as the “example” to the tots who are learning how to stop and fall.

I can’t wait to get back on skates – only this time I need to think with my brain and not my derby penis.

Friday, September 12, 2008

CAMPAIGN FOR REAL BOOTY: ROXI RAZORBLADE, #38D

A blocker and pivot for the Circle City Socialites in Indianapolis, Roxi Razorblade has been skating since January 2007 when she “fell in love with roller derby”.



Roxi admits, “In the beginning I was hoping to lose weight when I started skating, but I've actually gained because of muscle.” And who doesn’t love that? I know I’d rather be bigger with the muscle holding everything in where the good lord intends it to be than to be skinny with nothing but flab hanging off my bones – ick!



Aside from loving the sport, Roxi reveals that the comments other rollergirls have made about her booty have been well welcomed: “I love that I get compliments on the size of my ass, and not just from my boyfriend. Derby girl are actually jealous!” she says. “That has never happened in any other sport!”



“Derby has definitely helped my self esteem [and] I have more amazing girls in my life that also help it,” Says Roxi. “I feel great when I can win queen of the rink or give such a good hit that people take notice. Roller derby is a big confidence booster.”



But what’s the best think about being a big girl on 8 wheels? “A lot of small girls are instantly intimidated by you,” Roxi says. “They think I'll squish them, which I probably will if I have too.”

Ah, a girl who isn’t afraid to use her own brute force is a girl after my own heart – thank so much for submitting, Roxi!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pin Pricks

I recently signed a sponsorship deal on behalf of my league that partnered us up with an Acupuncturist. I’ve always been intrigued by acupuncture, but it was always out of my price range, so I never allowed myself to fully research the theory and history behind the ancient practice. Aside from anecdotal evidence that supported effectiveness of the treatment and knowing that the basic premise was having needles inserted into one’s body parts according to some sort of map or guide, I’ve known next to nothing about acupuncture, yet I trusted our new sponsor enough to allow her to insert needles into my body for the second time yesterday evening.

When I was six and receiving allergy shots for the first time, I was terrified of the needles twice a week at the doctor’s office. There were the nurses who squeezed your arm so tight that the squeezing itself hurt, and you’d think that if your arm didn’t pop like a balloon when they stuck the needle in, then the pain from the needle would be at least as bad as the arm-squeezing, if not more so. Then, there were the other nurses who would barely touch your arm, and you couldn’t imagine that that would be good either – that perhaps because they weren’t squeezing enough that the needle would not only go all the way into your arm, but it would go in so far that it would hit your bone and that would compound the pain as well. Regardless, once you were within their grip, there was no turning back. It was going to happen, but would it be slow and drawn out, your anxiety let to build and panic worsen before it actually happened, or would it be over before you even had time to worry about how loose or tight they were squeezing? I could never remember from one visit to the next which nurses were the best: quick and painless.

Getting allergy shots as a kid is an odd thing. I was young enough that I wasn’t ever really asked how I felt about it – I was just told it was something I had to do. As I got a little older, my mom learned how to administer the shots. Even though I never questioned the necessity even then, I was allowed slightly more leeway to become anxiety ridden before the shots were administered. It would be before bedtime, and my mom would call me into the kitchen, not telling me why. After a while I grew smart to that ploy, and just like my dog, Calvin, when I call him into the kitchen to clean his ears, my head would go down, and I’d creep slowly out of whatever room I was in and away from the direction of the kitchen, as if I hadn’t heard my name called.

I’m unsure the exact point in time when you generally stop accepting the word of others and need to find out “for yourself” if something is true in order for you to believe it. I no longer get allergy shots, not necessarily because I was allowed to make the decision to stop them. But if I was ever told I should go on them again, I’d surely think twice, research their actual effectiveness, and take my time making a decision of whether to start treatment or not.

Not this time. I’d like to say it was because my home internet has been out, but that’s not exactly true, because I have internet at work and could easily do some research on my lunch break. I don’t know what made me abandon my usual methodology and schedule an appointment for the same day I was to pick up the contract.

Is it possible to jones for acupuncture? I’ve been asking myself this for the past week, because ever since my first treatment I’d been looking really forward to going back, and even last night – after my second treatment – I found myself wondering if one could do it, say, every day, and not just once a week or once every few weeks.

For me, the results of a treatment are subtle. It’s not even like I have seen this major change yet (or researched what had been done to me), and I’m ready to get stuck again at the drop of a hat. I suppose part of it could be the hope that acupuncture will help me battle depression and get sick less often during the year. Maybe I’m keeping myself at arms length in order to allow myself to hope, because usually the hope fades after I find out how things really work.

I did some research this morning on the type of treatment I’m receiving – Five Element acupuncture – and I can say that the hope isn’t gone so far. Strangely enough, some of the thoughts behind acupuncture correspond to how I view the world and everything in it – sharing one energy. I’ve also got to say that the acupuncture research done at Harvard through PET imaging is not something I expected but I am happy about nonetheless (PET imaging enables scientist to view people’s electromagnetic fields within their bodies, and when acupuncture needles were placed in subjects, the imaging actually tracked a pulse of energy moving along the exact lines that are the ancient diagrams that outline acupuncture’s meridians).

It’s funny to me that years after my fear of needles began (and I still have an intense fear of having blood drawn or getting an IV), I’m actually looking forward to and paying someone to in a way replicate that which has terrified me in order to alleviate my anxiety. I guess it’s all a matter of perception. And whether I’m just perceiving the subtle benefits I’ve experienced so far or not, I do know that it’s had an effect on me, and a positive one at that. I’m looking forward to my next treatment.

Hopefully I'll be too distracted to recollect my fear of needles that I just remembered while writing this blog entry.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Michael Phelps Lives Under My Dining Room Table

During the Olympics this summer it took me a while to realize that it was the entire nation that was captivated by Michael Phelps and not just his home town, which is my home town – Baltimore.

Four years ago I experienced similar Michael Phelps fever, propelled by local newscasters. His popularity culminated here in Charm City when he was busted in Ocean City (downy ocean) drunk driving – some might say he hit celebrity status the likes of Lindsay Lohan or Nick Nolte to Baltimorons that day. Then there was the most recent recent summer Olympics.

Today, however, Michael Phelps lives under my dining room table.

Several weeks ago I took my dog shopping at PetsMart for his birthday, and his picked out one of those signature PetsMart dogs – the long wiener-looking dog that comes in multiple colors. Well, that day Calvin selected a blue dog that must have been made special for the summer, because the dog had a gold metal around his neck.



It didn’t take long for the jokes to begin.

“Where’s Michael Phelps?”



“Go get Michael Phelps!”



“Where’d Michael Phelps go?”



“Michael Phelps is beating you” (I taunt Calvin by whacking him with his toys, which he gets a kick out of, just like Geech and his “beating fish”)!

My favorite, “You just bit Michael Phelps in the face!”



And the obvious, “What’s Michael Phelps’ signature move? The doggy paddle!”



I suspect the joke is starting to annoy J. Okay, I have a fairly good idea that the joke has been annoying J for about 2 weeks now, but do I care? No. Does Calvin care? No. Does Michael Phelps care? Well, if he does, he’s never mentioned it to me before. There is the occasional time when I step on him and he squeaks, but he recovers quickly. It’s that type of attitude that makes a gold medalist, I suppose.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Labor Day Labor

I started writing this entry Labor Day and meant to post this the Tuesday after, but it’s been a hell of a ride these past few weeks, so ta-da! Here you go:

Well, happy Labor Day, people. Did you have a good holiday weekend? You know, it’s the last holiday, 3-day weekend that’s standard in America until Thanksgiving, which is still almost 3 months away.

I spent the entirety of my Labor Day weekend putting a new shower surround in my bathroom. Everything we read said a novice could have it done in 8 hours, but we aren’t novices. We’re not half-assing it either, which is kind of a surprise if you know us. I guess I can’t truthfully say we’ve ever actually half-assed anything, but I suspect we would have if we had attempted any significant home repair prior to now.

Really, see the bathroom is the prelude, the beginning, the first step in us moving our kitchen into another room. You may have heard me mention this before. We refinanced our mortgage 4 years ago and have been planning on redoing the kitchen since then. I’ve gone through 4 seasons of Ikea catalogs and 4 versions of the Ikea Kitchen Planner. I’ve had the flooring for 2 years. We picked out the cabinets, they were no longer carried, and then after a season, they started carrying them again. I’ve priced appliances 4 times. I’ve found four different of everything. Since I started comparison shopping, Sears has moved their appliances to K-Mart. But back to the bathroom…

It’s been raining lightly in our kitchen for the past 2, maybe 3 years. Not that big of a deal, because the ceiling fell out quickly after the leak started, and it’s been easy enough to put a bucket on the floor in the middle of the room that is to be our new kitchen. We can’t do the ceiling or floor until we get the shower surround fixed.



So, finally, this Labor Day, we decided we would fix the shower surround. Waking up after sleeping in on Saturday, we couldn’t decide what to do with our day.

“We could do the shower today, so we can relax the rest of the weekend and do whatever we want,” one of us said.

“Excellent idea,” the other one of us replied.

And so we went to Home Depot.

With everything we needed, a new shower surround unit, 2 tubes of caulk, 2 tubes of adhesive (1 more than the guy said we needed), a Milwaukee sander, 2 packs of two buy-one get-one free sander discs in 60 and 120 grit, a 100-pack of razor blades, a 50-lb bucket of joint compound, joint compound tape, joint compound shovels (I can’t remember what the fuck they’re called – trowels?), cement backboard, and two candy bars, and we were on our way and set to begin.

Step 1: Demo. Sounds like fun, except we didn’t initially know we were demo-ing as much as we wound up demo-ing. After we peeled off the paper-thin 20-year-old shower surround, we needed to scrape the excess glue residue off of the walls and add cement backboard to the bottom of each of the 3 shower wall to prevent mold and mildew. At the end of the two hours that it took me to scrape most of the glue off the walls, we realized that the previous building materials were shitty, to say the least, and why don’t we just tear out the three wall all together and replace them with cement backboard? After all, we were already in there. It would be the right thing to do – absolutely no chance of mold or mildew with cement backboard. We went back to Home Depot.

After we returned with the added backboard, we started to tear out the existing walls and surprise! Asbestos insulation. Insert mad dash for me to get all towels and other items that touch my skin the heck out of the bathroom, even though I’d have to wash all of them because they were exposed to the insulation anyhow.



Step 2: Rebuilding the walls. Okay, it’s still Day 1, we’re doing good, right? The short story here is that when you cut cement backboard, you must score both sides, not just one. We ruined a piece of backboard that was to attach to the ceiling, but figured we’d just spackle the fuck out of it. We correctly scored the lower piece of backboard, hung it, and then we had a thunderstorm.

Why is a thunderstorm a big deal, you ask? Because we were cutting the backboard outside, and now we no longer could. Guess that means we’re done for the night. Shit. We really wanted to have everything up and spackled by the end of today.

Day 2: We realize that perhaps we went about the initial wall of backboard wrong, that there’s a better way to do it, and what were we thinking about spackling a hole the size of a stapler right under the ceiling? And so we removed the backboard we installed the night before. Back to Home Depot.

Knowing how to “do it right” we get the area we tore down back up properly as well as the other 2 walls, and we indeed do it right. It looks great.



One thing you may not know about me is that I’m a master with joint compound. A m-a-s-t-e-r. That’s right, so Sunday afternoon I lay down the joint tape and spackle like a pro. Next step? Wait for the joint compound to dry.

We sat around for 2 hours. We put a fan in the bathroom. We went to Five Guys for Burgers and Fries. We sat some more. We realized it would not dry that day. FUCK! We went to drink beers with Tiff and Jay, and we made plans to all go sailing the afternoon of the next day.

Day 3: Getting started at the crack-a-dawn. Today will be the day that I lose my shit, but more on that later. We start the day by sanding the joints and the surrounding walls, prepping them for the (wait for it) shower surround (oh yeah, that’s what we were doing…).

J sands. I clean. We prep the walls for the surround and place silicone caulk between the tub and the cement backboard. We take the 1st piece of shower surround out and the Liquid Nails shower surround “glue” (which you should never ever buy) and read the instructions:

1. Place circles of Liquid Nails on surround.
2. Press surround into place.
3. Pull surround back off wall and wait 3-5 minutes.
4. Press surround back in place.
5. Twenty minutes later, securely press surround in place.

We got through the 1st two steps when we realized the caulk around the edge of the tub had not dried and was making a mess. We remove the caulk to prevent further mess.

We get through step 5, but then the surround piece pops off the wall. J loses it. We press it back into place. He goes for a smoke, and the fucker pops back off AGAIN. Shit! I press it in place again and pray that the sucker holds (pray is not an exaggeration here – I was pleading with a god I don’t particularly believe in to keep my shower surround in place in exchange for my first born child – good thing I don’t want kids).

After 30 minutes, it seems stable, so I pack up and head to Home Depot for more Liquid Nails, because the 2 tubes we got is in no way enough to do what we need (even though the guy said we’d only need one). Sailing is cancelled.

I’m secretly starting to lose my shit at this point. I feel like a crazy woman. I can’t even keep track of what number trip this is to Home Depot, but I do know it’s two full days later and I’m wearing the same clothing, which you probably could have guessed had you gotten close enough to smell me.

At Home Depot I get 10 tubes of Liquid Nails and 6 tubes of caulk, only after I drag a locked orange staircase over to the caulk I need, because the shit is just out of my 5’1” reach, and no one (and I mean no one) in the aisle who sees me struggling will help. I almost ran two rednecks over with the staircase, but when they saw the look in my eye, they got the fuck out the way – no questions asked.

The women at the register were so nice to me, which almost made me feel bad for almost running down the 2 rednecks with the metal two-story staircase.

“Let me get you a box for all the caulk, sweetie,” the cashier said. How nice. Finally, I thought – a break.

I get the cart out the door and grab the box to take to my car. The bottom instantly falls out, as well as 16 tubes of caulk – all over the main thoroughfare of the parking lot. The secret is now out. I’ve officially lost my shit.

Caulk makes it to my car, I drive 50 yards to Wal-Mart (shudder to think I actually shopped there) and go in to get J’s requested soda fix. It’s Labor Day, packed as hell, but I must have that look in my eye that the rednecks saw, because people just jumped out of my way, thank buddha. All I wanted to do is get home and get this shit done.

I get home, and take my angst out on the shower walls by spelling out profanities and expletives in Liquid Nails.





We use all 10 tubes of Liquid Nails (I think the shit that comes with Lee Press-Ons would have worked better, personally), and we finally get the bad boy up. We wind up having to pull one panel down to trim it, but it goes back up quickly, and now all we have left to do is clean, install the new tub fixtures (including a new fancy showerhead I selected), and (re)caulk.

The rest happens without incident, but also without fanfare. We complete the project at 8pm on Labor Day. Neither of us had had a shower in 3 days, and we’d still be forced to wait until after we got home the following day (the Liquid Nails and Caulk had to set).



I woke up the next morning and sprang out of bed – I was excited to get through the day, come home, and take a shower. I had a plan that would make that shower the best shower ever: I was going to make myself sweat profusely immediately prior. I went to the gym and ran during lunch, coming back with a fully-soaked head of hair, and then when I got home I cleaned the tub like it’s never been cleaned before; I scraped the entire surface with a razorblade and scrubbed my heart out, working up a big ol’ sweat. The shower was officially done. J went first.

“Go downstairs and see if it leaks,” he said.

“Don’t joke,” I replied.

He got in the shower and I went downstairs to take a picture of the dry floor and ceiling. When I was done, I looked up into the gaping hole in my soon-to-be new kitchen ceiling and a single drop landed right in my eye, causing my mascara to run and burn.



You’ve got to be kidding – I thought. All that and it still leaks, albeit way less. SHIT!

Turns out we just needed to recaulk something. It also turns out that I’m not as gung-ho about redoing our kitchen as I was before we started the bathroom. Oh, well.

I know this much: next Labor Day I refuse to do any labor.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Bad Luck Lop-her

And I thought I’d have time for a thoughtful and funny entry today – who was I kidding?!

My life for the past few weeks has been somewhat unbelievable in the luck department. It all started Labor Day weekend when an 8-hour bathroom project took all 3 days we had off, thus making us cancel our fun plans for that weekend.

Last week was less than ideal with the stress of contract deadlines, etc. for the WFTDA tourneys (and it’s spilling over into this week too).

The hurricane forced me to cancel the RenFest birthday on Saturday, got into an argument with my mother yesterday, my dog was puking this morning, so I was running late for work, and then my car overheated and died on the way into work.

My boss came to pick me up… at the WRONG ice rink. She finally made it, we dropped my car off at my house, drive to work, and now I’m stranded here with no way home, thus making it impossible for me to attend derby tonight like I had hoped to – it would have been my 1st practice back after the OTHER shoulder injury.

Lastly, I think I’m getting a cold.

Perhaps I’ll write tomorrow’s entry tonight while I’m drinking myself into age 30 and decompressing from just today’s comedy of errors.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MIA This Week

Sponsorship deadlines for the WFTDA tournaments are kicking my ass, but the good news is that everything is due in tomorrow, so I’ll be free to write my fingers off all next week – see you then!

XO,

Cindy “hard-working” Lop-her