Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It All Led Up to This

Not leaving the office until 7pm again last night had me in a foul mood – I stayed late to get something done as a courtesy to my coworkers but I instead caught shit. I looked down at the clock on my computer when a complaining coworker rolled into my office, and it was already 6:45pm, with our first scrimmage of the 2009 season set to start at 7pm, 30-minutes away. And I still had to go home first to change my clothes and grab my skate bag. I was in a blind panic.

If I had been in the type of mood I was in last night several years ago, I might have convinced myself to skip practice. Don’t think it didn’t go through my head, but I quickly made the decision that even if I only made it for the last half of practice and didn’t even get credit for attendance, I would still go. I had to. It was the first scrimmage of the 2009 season, but more importantly, it was my first scrimmage back after my second shoulder injury last July. It’s what I’ve been waiting for. I was timid, but I was more than ready to get back out there and put everything I’ve been working on since July to the test.

“No time for fear,” I told myself, “just get out there and do it.”

Having suffered through prior injuries, most notably a torn PCL in my right knee about 4 years ago, I had a really hard time “coming back”. Not only was I behind the learning curve of everyone else who had been practicing regularly for the last 3 months, but I also came back unprepared – in worse physical shape – than I was before I left. I had to fight to get back up to par with my team, but I also had to fight not to be winded after half a jam, noticeably falling behind the pack, my ego crushed as I noticed the separation between me and my peers.

After the first shoulder injury I had last April, I was motivated by fear. I had told myself the previous October that I the season starting in April was going to be “my season”, so when I got taken to the hospital during the first bout, I was crushed. I vowed to keep my endurance up, so I went to the gym and made sure I did cardio. This is when I started running – twenty-to-thirty minutes at a time at a speed beginning at 3MPH.

I was back at my first scrimmage practice since the initial shoulder injury in July. I made it 2 hours and 50 minutes through a 3-hour practice feeling great. Ten minutes before the end of the night, I succumbed to the same type of shoulder injury, only on my other shoulder. I cried and cried and cried – not so much because of the pain, but because I knew this meant I’d be out for the remainder of the season, and that’s exactly what happened.

Devastated and knowing I couldn’t scrimmage again until January, I did all I could to get my body prepared for the 2009 season. I stopped snacking – I stopped eating crap. I only ate when I was hungry, and I taught myself to get over the guilt of only eating half of what I’d bought or put on my plate. It was no longer a waste of money, it was insurance on my performance in the 2009 season. I started challenging myself when I ran. I still only did twenty-to-thirty minutes at first, but I bumped up my speed a little bit each time I went running. I took my dog to run at the lake every Saturday morning, and I stopped drinking like a fish, so I could get up to do so! Then, come late November I got a hold of the All Star training guide for the offseason, and I did it. I did the muscle-building and conditioning exercises, and I bumped up my time on the treadmill to forty-five minutes to an hour, still slowly increasing the speed and introducing sprint intervals about half-way through my planned run time. I spent a lot of time by myself at the gym, and I definitely dispelled the myth that fat girls can’t run to all the other gym patrons. To this day, I can outrun some of the girls you’d think had body types that everyone aspires to have, and I love it when one of them gets on beside me twenty-minutes in and then bails, red and gasping for air, only to watch me continue for another twenty minutes or so after she’s gotten off.

Finally, the off-season came to an end in early January, and I started attending practices again. At first, my knees felt weak, my feet were cramping, and I couldn’t believe how sore my thighs were afterwards, but I’ve kept going. Someone said to me at the bout last weekend, “Did you realize you’re the last original member of Speed Regime this year?” I hadn’t wanted to think it through, but I knew that having started this league I’d better have something to show for it this season.

So last night I race home to change, and without time to eat I continue my race to the rink. I’m late. Everyone’s already geared up, so I get my outer clothing off and my gear on. I had decided to wear the gold booty shorts I wore to the April game I got injured at. I was nervous – very nervous, but I also knew that all I could do was give it my all and there was no other reason to try for less than my personal best. But what was my personal best? I guess I’d just have to find out.

We started with “newbie/returning injury” scrimmages, which included me. I jumped in the first jam of the night as blocker 2, and less than a quarter of the way around the track I started laying out the jammer and holding her off, over and over. When she was down and my jammer was coming, I was making holes and trying to escort her through the pack, slamming on the breaks to drop back and beat up their jammer when she was back up and approaching. It was fucking beautiful, but I was also with all newbies.

Second part of the night was a general scrimmage, and to my surprise I kicked ass in those jams as well. I challenged myself by playing two positions I’ve never usually played: lead blocker and jammer. Okay, I sucked at jammer. I never did make it through, but I threw a devastating blow to the opposing jammer after I made the decision to stay at the rear of the pack and just block.

Then they asked that a crew of ladies get together to go up against the All Stars in the final scrimmage portion of the night. I wasn’t going to do it. My skate and sock were off my left foot – a lovely new blister hiding under a callous had formed in a spot I’d never had either form before. Although it was an excuse not to play, I fought the urge to sit back and not even try, and I jumped into the first jam against the All Stars. The jam was fast and hard-hitting, but we fucked some shit up – I fucked some shit up. Continuing in this manner, I rotated in for the remainder of the night.

As I was leaving, I caught a “good playing out there tonight” from Justice, which isn’t something I hear him say too much (at least not to me). I rambled on about how it was my first scrimmage practice back, giddy that it had gone so well, when Oy Fey (formerly Pixie Rocket) comes out and says, “Man, you’ve gotten fast! One second you were behind me and the next thing I know you’re in front of me – you’ve got some really explosive pack skating going on.” Did I? Do I?

I’m unsure if my performance was due to the added physical training, my believing in myself, or just a willingness to try my hardest – I tend to think it’s a combination of all three. I originally started writing this post nearly a week ago, and tomorrow marks our second scrimmage practice. I’m super excited about doing all I can to replicate my aggressiveness in the pack. One step at a time, one day at a time, I can only do my best to keep up the momentum I’ve built thus far. In a way, it’s all led up to this, but in another way this is only the beginning. Either way, I’m happy to be on this road.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bad Day

It’s funny how when something goes wrong – when something happens and maybe it causes you to have a bad day – you can start to feel dejected and alone and like you’re hopeless for whatever the problem seems to be.

My bad week started on Saturday night when I came out of the bout to find my car had a flat. Luckily, it was before the after party, so I wasn’t all by myself and tired. Unluckily, it was 4 degrees out with the wind blowing and I was wearing a mini skirt. A friend and her friend were outside with me when I discovered the flat. Wanting to ignore it and pretend like I wasn’t going to have to change the tire before the end of the night, I told them to go on – that I would change it later, after the after party. I’m glad they wouldn’t take “later” for an answer, but it still meant my assisting in the changing of my tire in the 4-degree weather in a miniskirt, and the tire change taking longer than necessary because I kept getting calls from people still inside the arena asking if we take the empty kegs home or leave them, were the banners all packed and in order, and where is the new ladder anyway? I really didn’t mind answering, but the bad timing was impeccable.

I meant to write a whole separate blog entry about it last night or this morning, but last night’s practice was a royal bitch. The fun part where I jammed and made it clean through two packs with my new-found fancy footwork and then almost a third before Dolly took her revenge on me for passing her earlier was preceded by a grueling endurance practice that had me stopping to stretch out my back and apply Tiger Balm more than once. I haven’t felt that out of shape in a long, long time. The practice left me with two blistered big toes – one prepopped, I noticed, when I put my shoes on to leave – and enough lower back pain to make childbirth seem appealing. It was the kind of pain that made me stiff and have difficulties falling asleep. This morning most of that back pain became an ache and I instead felt a new pulled muscle in my left hip that seemed to have something to do with my back. I was running a half-hour late for work and had a meeting scheduled first thing – shit.

I drove to work this morning in the remainders of the mysterious Baltimore snow that fell yesterday only in Baltimore – not even Baltimore City Department of Public Works’ workers believed it had actually snowed, because no salt trucks were ever sent out, creating a big sheet of packed down ice covering more than half of my route to work. Maybe I wouldn’t have cared if I hadn’t been driving around for what was already way too long on the donut replacing my flat tire from Saturday. It seems that since tiny cars are popular now, no one can keep tiny-car tires in stock. They’ll be here sometime tomorrow, Wednesday, and I can’t call until they arrive to make an appointment to have them put on, so I’ve been driving around on the donut that I’d already gone about 50 miles on one other time when I got a flat. Oops.

Then today, as I’m finishing a meeting in my office, someone pops by and asks me to call them when I’m done. This morning my boss told me to meet up with her and review some documents she was preparing, because she had to send them out tonight and she had some questions I supposedly could answer. I totally forgot and never caught up with her. FUCK!

My next three hours, three hours after I should have already left for the day, were spent alone in the office searching for budget files and scribbled notes from data-management meetings about when such-and-such was going out of print, but keeping in mind that those dates we had set were set before we revised the pub date. I was getting so angry that I couldn’t do math. Angry at this not having been drafted prior to today, angry that I had fucked up and totally dropped the ball on helping her earlier in the day, and angry that I was at the office so damn late, missing an optional scrimmage being held close to my house. I finally finished giving my feedback – my notes neatly written in perfect penmanship on the first page and in large, heave scribble on the last. I went to photocopy a set for myself and my boss, and the photocopier worked without incident and actually seemed to make the copies at a speed exponentially faster than usual – NOT! It jammed. Three times.

As I was driving home with my full-size flat in the front passenger seat of my car listening to Dark Side of the Moon trying and relax myself while eating a healthy dinner of Trader Joe’s rice crispie treats, I thought to myself: I wish I were back at last night’s practice. Funny thing is, last night at practice when I was wincing in pain I was thinking to myself that I wish the fun I had at the bout on Saturday would be what derby always felt like.

I guess no matter how angry or upset or pissed off you are, you’re always the most angry or upset or pissed off when you’re angry or upset or pissed off right now. At each of those miserable instances since Saturday, I was wishing things were like the good old days – when I just couldn’t remember how shitty I thought they were at the time.

Another funny thing about being in a bad mood is that you kind of think you’re the only person in one. I woke up to a Facebook comment from my skinny, athletic acupuncturist who is new Fresh Meat and was lamenting the pain that was also inflicted on her lower back from last night’s practice. Huh. Then later this evening once I got home I opened an email from someone telling me about their bad day at work, and my bad mood instantly lifted. I guess one thing we all really want in life is to feel validated, even if that means we find comfort in other people’s pain. Hmmm, that’s kind of why I started this blog, and it’s why I continually expose myself on here, often telling “too much” or revealing secret information like what the scale said this morning or how I lost my shit across the country because I saw a note in a bathroom that reminded me of my dad’s handwriting. I guess part of me already knew the value in commiserating – the importance of knowing you’re not alone.

Regardless, there is something to be said for losing your way a little bit and getting caught up in life – being human and having a little adult temper tantrum because no one else can possibly have had a day worse than you just did. The important part for me is trying to remember what I forgot and being mindful that I don’t get carried away again. And if I do, I’ll post these flaws too for everyone in the world to see, so they can feel validated. We’re all the same when it comes down to it. Whether you struggle in times of bad luck, like getting a flat in the middle of the night in winter, in times of painful challenge, like the most heinous physical endurance practice you’ve ever been made to do, or in times of stress, like when you have to stay at work late to finish something, just know that the next person you lay eyes on has felt all those same struggles too, and the important thing to learn is to not let those struggles get you down. Each day you make the decision to rise to the challenge or to give up without really trying. If you choose to rise to the challenge and someone else sees you doing so, he or she may take a cue from you and in a way you’ve helped that person have a better day.

Here’s to hoping tomorrow is without incident.

Friday, January 16, 2009

I'm Too Sexy for This Thong, Too Sexy for This Thong...

A 21st century Rainman, I went to Target last night to buy underwear, when I stumbled across this:

“It’s a thong,” you say. “Why ever did you take a picture of it lying on the floor of the Target?” Well, because in my mind it warranted a picture.

Underwear has purpose – it keeps your genitals covered, keeps them toasty in the winter. I’ve never been a fan of thongs myself (more on that later), but I understand that they too fill a much-needed purpose – eliminating visible pantylines (or perpetuating the skank – six in one, half dozen in the other). I have friends who swear to me that thongs are way more comfortable for them to wear than bikini, low-rise, or even boyshort panties. I don’t necessarily believe them, but fine.

This underwear – this thong – appears to have no purpose. It’s like sending a foster kid to go live with a cardboard cutout. It gives the allusion of underwear, but no way in hell it actually functions as more than a bush shade, and something tells me that the gal who buys this thong isn’t gonna be sporting much bush anyhow (if she was, she could grow a rat-tail in the thing, floss it up through her butt crack and provide herself more coverage than this).

Let’s analyze this undergarment – a lot of elastic and less than a 6” square of cheap, cute fabric. Seriously, I’ve seen thongs that come with the adult-video-store dress-up outfits that have more beef than this thing. This is a cheap piece of shit. No wonder it’s marked down to 34 cents. I can only imaging the sweat-shop worker that was made to sew the tiny stitches that hold the elastic together. Eyes squinting, fingers cramped, asking her neighbor at the next sewing machine over why they’re making so many eye patches. Obviously, her neighbor tells her that those new pirates off Somalia are trendy fuckers and eye patches are really “in” right now. Shutter to think of those photos to be posted on CNN.com.

Speaking of bad mental images, this thong is my size. I’ll say it again: this thong is my size. I actually came across it, because I was only looking for XL labels, usually the first to go. When I picked it up, I was initially confused, and then someone walked down the aisle behind me and I threw it down as if I were standing there holding a 14” rubber salami in one hand and a 32-ounce bottle of lube in the other… in Target! Seriously, I was embarrassed and afraid the person walking behind me would see me holding it, look at my ass, look back at the thong, and then ask me if I just had eye surgery. I can imagine what my ass would look like in that thong, yet I bet you that no matter how unflattering a picture I am able to conjure up in my mind’s eye, it would in reality look worse in ways I cannot yet conceive if I were to actually put it on.

I’ve considered thongs before – once in 87 and again briefly that once in 92. All kidding aside, I’ve bought thongs before, and I’ve never met one I didn’t want to tell to “kiss my ass” that actually already was. As if the string up my ass isn’t uncomfortable enough, the no-longer-visible panty line is replaced with the much-more horrifying elastic waistline that cuts into my child-bearing hips. I instantly become sectioned off like the Michelin Man, a dividing line that says, “You can’t tell what’s going on under here, but I appear to be cut in two.”

I may not be sexy, fixing my hair in the morning in my boyshorts and “full coverage” brassiere (actually, I am), but at least I don’t feel that I need to wear next-to-nothing in order to be sexy like all the girls I knew in high school who wore thongs. Sexy’s who you are. It’s what and how you think of yourself. And god only knows that if I were the kind of girl who were fixing her hair each morning in that shoddy Target thong, I’d secretly be thinking “I wish I had a sandwich.” Bitch, I got more than a sandwich – after putting down that thong I bought a motherfucking sandwich maker! And I made a grilled cheese with it when I got home. And I woke up this morning, put on my boyshorts, weighed my 177-lb self, looked in the mirror, and thought, “Damn, girl, you’re looking good!”

Target thong, my ass…

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Home Alone

I’ve been battling what I can only assume is a stomach bug that’s got a touch of bipolar disorder. I’m woken up in the middle of the night by intense waves of nausea, and I get them during the day too, but I never wind up puking from it. I’m sometimes sluggish, I’m sometimes tired, I’m sometimes achy, and I have a headache sometimes. Sometimes I feel completely okay, but other times I feel like I do have the flu.

It all started on Sunday when I was standing in line at the grocery store. The first wave of nausea hit, and I had to grab a bottle of soda water from the belt and ask the cashier to please scan it now so that I could have some. I thought for sure I wouldn’t make it home, but I did. Monday I went into work late. Yesterday, I cancelled two appointments and left work early. Today I went in and was told to “stay home”, so I grabbed some work and headed back out the door.

I really shouldn’t have gone in at all today, but I felt compelled. I use to be the type of person who would look for a reason not to go to work, and I occasionally find myself morphing into that person again when I’m battling those long winter days or a period of depression. I now associate staying home from work with being stuck in some bad state-of-mind that I can’t pull myself out of without help, even when I’m legitimately sick. I crave routine, because I know that if I’m in a routine – following a routine – I’m okay.

This, of course, makes it nearly impossible for me to relax and rest when I need it most. Instead, I subconsciously try to prove to myself that I’m okay, and I do weird things, like attempt 45 minutes on the elliptical machine or go to Target to purchase 5 Tupperware bins to help me organize my house.

Then there’s the schoolgirl inside me who imposes all sorts of rules and regulations on herself, like “If you’re too sick to go to school, you can’t go do whatever fun thing you had planned to do after school”. As an adult, this translates into, “If you’re too sick to go to work, you can’t go to derby practice that day either”. Really, it’s not a bad rule; it’s practical. It’s a rule that’s grounded in reality, yet my mind wanders and attempts to outwit itself on a “technicality” by saying “If you go to work, you can go to derby” and turns a blind eye to the fact that I am actually sick. I’m too smart for my own good (or stupid, depending on how you look at it).

Last week I built up some momentum at my first few practices of the new year and new season, so you can imagine how hard it was to hit the wall and be unable to attend Monday’s practice. Even harder is missing tonight, which is why I think I tried to go into work today. Certainly the fear of “falling behind” in derby in combination with the fear of falling into a depression is enough to feed my neurosis that keeps me perpetually busy. So what does this say about me?

It says that I shouldn’t have to distract myself all the time to be okay. It says that I need to learn to be still – I need to learn to be able to take a break in my routine without fear that I’ll fall to pieces, mentally or physically. Things happen, and it’s unrealistic to expect that I’ll always be able to stick to my routine all of the time.

I also think it’s unrealistic to think that I can change this flaw instantly, but since I recognized it earlier today, I’ve been trying.

I didn’t do the work I took home today and I’m not going to practice, but I did wind up reorganizing my kitchen with the help of some new Tupperware bins. Hey, you choose your battles, right?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Two Sausages & an Anvil Walk into a Bar

If I wasn’t before, I am now thoroughly convinced that running is the best substitute for endurance while you’re not actively skating.

Last night was my second night back at derby, and things went well even after I severely pulled some muscle in my upper-upper inside thigh that’s dangerously close enough to my babymaker that I can’t ice it or put Ben Gay or Tiger Balm there. I don’t even want to know what would happen if that stuff migrated into a “mucous membrane”…

My favorite drill of the night was the double-snake hop-in-front-of-your-partner-when-the-whistle-blows-and-then-throw-a-large-hip-block drill. I like big hits, so that was a bonus, but what I really need help with is agility and a better understanding of how to fully use the angles of the track to my advantage.

In a world of long-legged lasses, this lass’s legs are less than long. As far as agility goes, I feel like the effort I exert to “hop” across and in front of my partner is much more effort than that which is exuded by the long-legged ladies. At times, I feel as if I’m launching off of two Hickory Farm’s summer sausages topped by an anvil. I feel like the same motions and energy in my short, thick legs with all that weight on top can’t compare to the motions and energy of a non-anvil and sausage rollergirl. And then I was told to “use the angles”.

Using the angles of a derby track is something I apparently only know how to do partially, because if you had asked me if it applied in this drill before last night I would have looked at you like you were off your rocker. Needless to say, I was wrong. What I found out was that on the turns it was beneficial for me to jump almost straight ahead, not ahead and to the side, because where I would land when jumping in a straight line on a turn would automatically be further left than from the position in which I started. When doing this drill on the straight-away, I had to jump in front and to the left, and doing this was actually much harder, because it’s a longer physical distance to cover, even if it’s only longer by half-a-foot or so.

Immediately I thought I wouldn’t be able to jump far enough to the spot where I needed to be before the hit, but I quickly learned that in actuality I was jumping too far and had to then swoop in to hit my partner. I needed to control my jump, so when I landed I was only slightly ahead and to the side of her (no room for a person between us). If I was too far away, it took me too much effort to land the hit and it gave her time to move out of the way. A shorter, more controlled jump meant I landed just in front of her, the right side of my body blocking her from moving away when I landed, so I could perform the hit easier, while partner had a more limited space to move to get away from me (she could only go directly right or fall back completely, hoping I wouldn’t fall back with her).

I love having the opportunity to practice blocking like this for an extended period of time. Like running drills in any other sport, your body more easily remembers what you’ve practiced, and you can execute practiced moves better, because you’ve practiced them over and over again. It hard to try and perfect any move when you never practice them outside of scrimmaging, which is random enough that you might not always need each move in each scrimmage jam.

Another thing I learned last night is that I may have never found my own “style” in which I can perform a skill to the best of my ability. For example, when sprinting I’ve always made long, extended, full-contact wheel-and-floor strokes with each leg and foot, and I’ve struggled to get somewhere as quick as I’ve wanted to, whereas last night for some reason when sprinting to the head of a pace line I just started taking tiny, choppy, and quick running-type strokes. That was early in the evening, so surprised by its effectiveness I decided to try it again later in other instances where we had to sprint that were in different contexts. It worked amazingly well there too.

I don’t know if it was a “I have to do it this way” mentality that kept me boxed into my old, less-effective sprinting style or what, but damn am I glad I broke the mold on that one. I started thinking about watching girls from other leagues skate and how some of them have a very distinct style of doing this or that. I don’t know why I never gave myself permission to try and find what worked for me, but I didn’t.

In all, last night made me realize this: you’re never too veteran to learn something new (like more on angles), and different styles work for different body types. My short sausage legs are more successful at propelling my anvil fast if they move in short, choppy steps.

Today’s not so bad, soreness-wise. Tomorrow? Tomorrow I suspect I’m gonna need to slather some spicy mustard on those sausages.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First Day of The New School Year

Last night was our first night of practice for the 2009 roller derby season, and after an “off season” of two months or better we returned to that same rink at which we started nearly five years ago, many of us feeling close to the same anxiety levels as we had the very first day we walked in there. The smell of feet and disinfectant shoe spray couldn’t mask our fear. Fear that we wouldn’t remember how to skate. Fear that we could no longer skate. Fear that we we’d lost it. Fear that we sucked.

We didn’t necessarily move around what could be considered “a lot”, but as a child I lived in several different states, and it was always hard making the transition to a new school, be it the first day of that grade or smack dab in the middle of the year.

My first transition from preschool in Arizona to kindergarten in Georgia was the easiest. Not every kid had gone to preschool, and the school I went to for kindergarten didn’t have an associated preschool, so we were all in the same boat. Plus we had the added benefit of being young enough to be both excited about school and completely oblivious about “popularity” – it was a time when everyone was still friends with everyone (unless they peed their pants, in which case you didn’t want to be associated with a “baby”).

My second transition from Georgia in 3rd grade to Mississippi in 3rd grade was a bit more difficult. I hadn’t yet experienced the ways of the Deep South (aka, discrimination against anyone who wasn’t white and old money). I went into that first day of school green, but I came out several shades of melancholy. I remember exactly how I dressed. Excited to make new friends, I wore a white shirt and short set with multicolored polka dots, and I had put my hair in those pink foam curlers the night before so I would make an extra special impression. Apparently the only impression I made was “new chubby outsider”, something I never experienced before that day and something I never shook even through the very day I left that town.

My final transition was from Mississippi in 5th grade to Maryland in 5th grade. At this point, I was so terrified of another horrible transition that I was convinced I would rather stay the “new chubby outsider” to people who weren’t really my friends than risk trying to make a new impression all over again, but 5th graders don’t really get a choice, and I moved to Maryland with my parents. In Maryland everyone stared at me. They were mesmerized with my southern accent, which I consequently shook faster than two lambs’ tails. Not wanting to draw attention to myself, I tried hard to blend in, which is really hard for the tallest girl in her class who got a set of B-cup tits overnight about a year prior. I rebelled. It was better to be the “bad kid”, I thought, than to be the fat/ugly/southern/early-bloomer that I thought they might otherwise label me as.

In a way, being involved in derby is a lot like being back in school. Regardless of how hard you try to blend in, you’re going to be classified as something: fast or slow, vet or fresh meat, jammer or blocker or pivot, this team-member or that team-member, and ultimately, a good player or a mediocre player. Luckily, we really never use the word “bad” when describing someone’s skill level, yet that’s what we’re all afraid of: being bad.

Leading up to last night I talked to people who actually contemplated not returning for the season, because they thought they had fallen “too far behind”. My answer to them was a gentle reminder of my lack of practice during the off season in addition to my double shoulder injuries that kept me out of contact for the vast majority of the previous season. All the while, I tried not to consider how “bad” I would be and how many hurdles I would have to overcome because of the added time off.

But the truth was, I was nervous going into last night. Yes, I felt more prepared than I ever have because I’ve been running and working out so much since the shoulder injuries, but I was still terrified to walk in that door. Who would people see? Cindy Lop-her, the good-for-nothing perpetually injured player? Cindy Lop-her, the vet who once was good but lost “it” the year her dad died and never recovered after that? Cindy Lop-her, the girl who’s good at sponsorship but not at skating? As you can tell, we all have our insecurities. Regardless, I put on my new gold booty shorts, played some aggressive tunes in the car on the way to the rink, and all the way there repeated to myself, “I am the shit. I am the shit. I am the shit.” I knew I couldn’t let the fear consume me.

I got there early, immediately got on the rink, and did what I was told by the coaches. I gave it my all and kept telling myself that all I had to do was try. We got our asses kicked – all of us. The coaches orchestrated a world of hurt even for those of us who had been working out during our time off. If you’re a roller girl, you know that nothing aside from skating is a substitute for skating – there’s nothing you can do that works the same muscles. And last night was meant to dig in hard and build those muscles back up.

Aside from the minor inconveniences of having to readjust my skates no less than four different times (because I forgot how I like them tied) and having to head to the ladies room for a replacement cotton cork, I was no more worse for the wear than feeling like my legs were simply going to give out on me at any given moment in that last half hour. It’s funny, I was never actually in pain – all I felt was extreme fatigue. I think the running paid off as far as endurance goes, and I think my I-don’t-give-a-fuck-if-my-ass-is-round-and-I-actually-kinda-like-it-more-than-your-skinny-ass gold-booty-short wearing attitude helped me not feel panicked or hopeless or afraid that I couldn’t keep up. I kept up.

Sitting on the floor in a circle at the beginning of practice, we vets were muttering to each other how “I use to like roller derby” and “I don’t know if I can do this anymore”, but as we packed up for the night, Ballbricker came over to me and said, “I give us two weeks – two weeks and we’ll be back up to speed.” And it was the same as it always was and always will be: scared shitless at the beginning, but happy, confident, and looking forward to the next ass-whooping and now knowing that it will only make us better. Regardless of where you are, you come out a little bit better each time when you do something derby. Like Cheers, it’s a place where everybody knows your name and no matter what you think beforehand, everyone really is glad you came.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love roller derby? 2009 is going to be a great season.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Hamster Wheel of Procrastination (…and my not having it)

I’ve always been a procrastinator. As a child I refused to go to bed, as an adolescent I refused to do my homework or prepare for tests until late in the evening the night before, and as an adult I refuse to purchase my license plate tag renewal sticker in time to actually receive the sticker in the mail before the old sticker expires (which happened again last month). However, the older I’ve gotten, the less attractive procrastinating has become to me. During the time I’m not doing what I should be doing, I make myself sick with anxiety, which is usually worse that just doing whatever the hell it is that I should just do now anyhow.

This coming Monday marks the beginning of my 5th year of roller derby and my 4th season, and at this time during all previous years I’ve felt the same squirmish sense of a lack of preparation, save maybe last season (last season I was more prepared to learn than in years past, but I was still squirmish and no better for the wear). This year, I actually feel prepared.

I could say it’s the l-o-n-g time off due to consecutive injuries, but I don’t think that’s it (I’ve been injured before, as many of you well know). I think this time I feel prepared because I didn’t sit back and relax after each injury, like I had done previously. As soon as I could bear the pain and not risk a Percocet-induced treadmill fall, I was back in my gym shoes forcing myself to run, and run, and run. I’ve always hated running, but it’s been the only thing that even comes close to the intensity of skating while hitting people, and I’d be damned if I lost the momentum I had going into the beginning of last season just because of an injury (or two).

The results will only be able to be quantified after Monday’s practice, but I already know that I’m faster – way fucking faster – an unforeseen side effect of my just trying to keep up my endurance as much as possible. Another unforeseen side effect of my injuries last season relates to how much I threw myself into derby work with WFTDA and RollerCon. I couldn’t separate from derby, so I cranked out work and got to know better an awesome crew of ladies from leagues all over the world. It’s this sisterhood and friendship with my girls (the majority of whom are on the west coast) that caused me to want to try out for the CCRG All Stars again. I want to travel. I want to play my friends. And I want to kick their asses while I’m doing it.

The combined desire to step up my game for top-10 level game play and the confidence and speed I’ve gained from overcoming my utter hatred of running (I kick running’s ass now!) have unexpectedly placed me in a position where I actually feel prepared – so prepared that I mentioned jamming on here several weeks ago (eek!). Part of me is scared about jamming, but the other larger part of me wants to prove that voluptuous bitches like myself can not only jam, but also can rock jamming, so I’m going to attempt to do just that.

2009 is going to be my year. I know I said that last year, but I made a deal with PENALTYna not to fuck up my shoulders again this year, so I’m feeling a bit more confident about my longevity. 2009, I rule the world! Monday, I rule the snake line. Tomorrow, I rule the treadmill – 5 miles closer to my goals than I was today.