Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Real Email, Real Life (to my All Stars)

Hey!

If you can read no further, this email is to let you know I must work tonight instead of coming to practice. If you can read further, the rest of this email is a look into my imperfect mind, and will possibly be repurposed for part of a blog (my words, not yours).

This week has taken a turn for the bizarre and busy. I had a pipe burst in our basement Monday evening, which is why I wasn't at practice. Home Depot occupied my night instead.

Today, I'm out of my mind busy at work. We have 12 business days left to finish testing code and writing support materials for this online management system that's going live on 8/17, and I'm the Project Manager :( I just had to do a total overhaul of a 1-page quick reference guide that I thought would take me 30 minutes but has instead taken me all damn day. And I have a 60-page tutorial to review and edit next... I won't be there tonight. I know I NEED to be there, but I can't be.

I won't have any problems making my attendance for Philly and Windy City, but I also want to play to the best of my ability and become a better player and teammate overall, so I torture myself for not having perfect attendance. Also, I hate to miss a Sunday (even though it was planned), a Monday, and a Wednesday all in a row (makes my guilt worse).

However, I had my therapy appointment today and this was the topic of discussion. I need to be less hard on myself for things that are out of my control or take priority over other things in my life (aka, work today). I feel like answering to you guys is more important than answering to anyone else, and it makes me the most anxious because in actuality work and home have to come before derby. I know we all struggle with this, and we choose different things: we may choose derby and feel the guilt for not choosing other areas or we may choose work or home and feel the guilt for not choosing derby. Either way, life is unpredictable and it's pretty much guaranteed things won't go as planned for any of us on any given day. Some days it's the practicality of not having enough time to do everything that needs to be done (or that you had planned to do or want to do), while other days you could cram everything in, even with a monkey wrench thrown in, but that would mean you would have no time at all for yourself, and let's face it, that doesn't work all the time either because everyone needs some time at least every once in a while for herself.

My therapist asked if there was anything I could give up or cut back on. I told her about the OSDA, but I also told her how I'm not yet ready to stop competing at the level at which our league competes, and although derby requires a great amount of my time, it also provides a great reward (many rewards, actually) that I still find totally worth the sacrifice.

It's especially hard to balance life outside derby with derby when you're trying so hard to improve and you're fighting each month for a spot on that game roster. The intent is there, but often the actions to back it up can't be. Scratch that, they CAN be, but you would totally sacrifice your health - mental and/or physical - and eventually that will catch up with you and force you slow down. I want to be an amazing and valuable player and teammate, but I know deep down that I can't truly do that if my life isn't balanced, so this is my way of saying that I'm going to try my hardest from now on not to be so hard on myself when it comes to life getting in the way of derby. When I am with you all, when I am at practice, I can guarantee that I will do everything I can to give it my all, to challenge myself, and to become that player and teammate I want so badly to be.

In other news, I do plan on attending practice tomorrow, and after nearly a week off skates I'm gonna be hurtin. Holly, please kick my ass, but also be nice to me if I cry from the pain.

Since I took a 30-minute detour to write this long-ass email, I'm just going to repost it in its entirety as today's blog entry. In case you couldn't tell, I really do love you guys, so thanks for reading my rant in the off chance you've made it this far (which you might actually have, since Reckless has been asleep all day and unable to send any equally-long but thoughtful emails).

XO,

Cindy

PS: I love you, Reckless!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

That's Not Cellulite - That's Jammer Fuel!

Going into my college days, I knew I wasn’t the sorority type, and when I actually got there my suspicions were confirmed – I am not a sorority girl. I did however joke that I was starting my own sorority: Pi Pi Pi, bake me a pie and you’re in! No one ever took me up on it, yet that didn’t stop me from packing on 65 pounds in 6 months…

There was a time in my derby career – a time that existed up until several months ago, quite frankly – that I knew I wasn’t a jammer. Often times at team meetings someone would get a count of all those available to jam. “Don’t look at me!” was always my answer. I didn’t want to embarrass myself, but those days are behind us (and I suppose I could give a shit about embarrassing myself now too!).

This past Saturday marked the 3rd bout in which I’ve jammed – all three times for my home team, Speed Regime (oddly enough, a team not know for its speed). The first time I jammed was in May, our inaugural home season bout. Scared as shit as I approached the line, I got lead jammer and my opponent got a major, sending her to the box and leaving me unopposed for a full minute.

It was both the longest minute of my life and the shortest. It was a blur. I thought I had scored a 20-point jam. My whole bench was screaming, the fans on the floor were on their feet, and loud bursts of cheers came from the stands each time I completed a pass. “FIVE MORE POINTS!” I remember hearing our announcer, Dirty Mary, yell above the cheers of the crowd. Jamming, I then determined, is highly addictive. Each burst of the screaming crowd made me want more, while all the anxiety associated with being a jammer no longer mattered – this was totally worth the risk. The audience wanted me keep giving them reasons to stand up and yell, and I wanted to keep giving it to them. I still do.

We didn’t win that game, but that jam created something that had never existed in Baltimore before – Cindy Lop-her fans. I always resented jammers, because in general they’re the only players in the ever-changing clusterfuck of a derby pack that stand out to novice fans, so it makes sense that they’re also the only players who really ever get personal recognition and fans at the local level. In actuality, good jammers are good because their blockers are good, but only experienced derby fans realize this.

After the game I went upstairs to get a beer, which I sat off to the side and drank while taking off my gear (and no, I couldn’t wait for the beer). For some reason, no one saw me sitting there. What happened next was something I’ll never forget. A group of 20-something guys who had congratulated me on a good game as I was coming off the track were up at the beer counter talking to Joy Collision, who was standing behind it. “Do you know Cindy Lop-her?” they asked. That’s what caught my attention. When you talk to Joy, you talk to her about HER being a derby prodigy – you don’t talk to her about someone else. You don’t talk to her about me.

Their conversation continues with them telling Joy how awesome I am and asking her about me.

“Yeah,” she said, “She’s really big and really strong – well, she’s not really that big anymore – she’s really STURDY and can take a hit, but she can also skate really fast!”

Hanging on her every word, the guys retold the story of my first ever jam to Joy Collision. I looked around, I pinched myself – it was a very surreal moment in general but even more so because you don’t often get to hear what people really have to say about you – both strangers and people you know. It was an amazing gift that I’ll never forget.

At the after party I was a rock star, and some couple even had their picture taken with me. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a little weird, but I’d also be lying if I said I didn’t completely and utterly love it.

That 20-point jam that night turned out to only be a 10-pointer. Oops. It may have only been 10 points on the scoreboard, but it felt like a fucking million.

Two months later, last Saturday, I “beat” my personal best – that 10-point jam – by scoring a 12-pointer against the Mobtown Mods. I don’t remember the crowd being nearly as loud, and I didn’t have any fans come up to me afterwards, but I did get some pretty heavy congratulations from several of the Mods while on the line in the next jam I was in.

Jamming’s okay. Although I may never do it for the All Stars, I’ll continue to do it for Speed Regime. The fans, the recognition, and the drug-induced haze I get from the screaming crowd are all nice, but the real reason I’m going to continue to do it is for me. Each time I jam I prove to myself that win or lose I have the power to stand up to my fears and take them head-on. I learn something each time I jam, and it doesn’t hurt that sometimes that something is that it’s okay to have a bit of a big ego every now and again. It’s fun.

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 8

It’s hard to go back several weeks, single out a day like any other, recall where you were, what you did that day, and how you felt, especially when nothing particularly notable happened. This is completely unlike remembering the particularly notable days.

I always thought that I’d never be able to forget the day my dad passed away: July 8. I remember driving my mom and boyfriend to the hospital that morning to say our final goodbyes to the shell of a man who once was and who needed to be moved from the ICU to the morgue. Before we even made it into entrance of the hospital I remember thinking to myself: “July 8 – 7/8 – this date will forever be ingrained in my mind”. And I was right.

Fourth of Julys have never been the same. Memories of parties and fireworks are now superseded by recalling days on end in the ICU and the ICU waiting room. By the 4th of that year, I almost couldn’t take the waiting any longer, and I broke my streak of daylight hours spent inside the hospital on the 5th, opting instead for a toilet to vomit in and several doses of Ibuprofen. My mom was pissed.

This past July 4th was the same as the last few have been. Sure, we’ve gone to barbecues and celebrated with our friends, but that looming stale soberness is always there in every direction I turn. And on the 4th of this year I told myself, just like I have been telling myself for the past few years, that it will be the worst on the 8th but over on the 9th. Only I just realized here on the 20th that the 8th was a day like any other: I forgot to remember.

The 8th was a Wednesday, which means I went to scrimmage practice that night. It was 2 weeks ago that was the week we really meshed as a team – the 8th. We were relaxed, we worked well together, and we had fun. In an attempt to not overanalyze things, we bypassed our usual post-scrimmage team performance dissection, and instead sat around just chatting. I was so proud of what came of that chat – all the things we’d been saying and strategies we’d been explaining were being retold and reinforced by our newest team members to each other. “This is awesome,” I thought, “they got it.”

Mildly obsessed with our impending trip to Kansas City that weekend, I was briefly distracted earlier that day at work by a string of Chuck Norris joke emails sent to me by my boss who has a thing for jokes and who had just recently revisited the Chuck Norris kick after being reminded of it by someone I supervise. Coincidentally, my teammates were telling each other Chuck Norris jokes as we stood in the security line at the airport that Friday evening, and I didn’t even bring Chuck up. I did, however, share my best Chuck Norris joke that I had heard earlier in the week from a coworker: “When Chuck Norris does a push-up, he doesn’t push himself up – he pushes the earth down.”

Oh, god… Thinking back on it, I was late to work on the 8th. With the assistance of some “Chocolate Smooth Move” herbal tea I had drank in a last-ditch effort the night before, the stomach issues I had been experiencing since the 4th finally resolved themselves, which I suppose was both a blessing and a curse. It was a curse in that I had to tell my boss why I would be coming in late, but it was also a blessing, because as unpleasant as it was ridding my body of what I can only describe as layers of sediment dating back to the Mesolithic era, the shitting myself blind apparently kept me preoccupied enough to completely throw off my day, and I never noticed what day it was.

As much as things stay the same, they also change. My feelings of initial guilt over not having remembered my father’s death-day anniversary have now been replaced by a fond recollection of my dad as our basketball coach, his taking me to buy stupid joke books and allowing me to tell the same “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” joke over and over and over again on the ride home, and his persistent laughter at my singing what I can only describe as “the diarrhea song”. What can I say? We have the same sense of humor.

It’s funny – it’s the things we don’t find particularly notable at the time that creep into our minds and over time somehow magically transform themselves into really fond memories. I’ll probably always remember July 8, but in the grand scheme of things, the events of that day pale in comparison to the years of everyday events that shape my overall memory. July 8 may have been the first day no more memories were able to be made, but it was also the first day I began to remember and celebrate all those wonderful noneventful things that have made me who I am.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Person(a)

You know those times when people make statements or maybe ask for your approval on things, and you don’t really agree with them, but you know you should choose your battles, so you lie through your teeth or agree even though you really don’t? Well, I can’t do that very well. I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions – I’ve been told my face shows it all. Now if that isn’t a reason to get Botox, I don’t know what is! I’d like to think this is one of many stellar components of my personality – my face can keep it real even when my mouth can’t. In all honesty though, I know I do this, so I try my hardest to just be me, while also being nice about it.

When I first started derby I was really into the entertainment aspect of it – the name, the character, the dress-up uniform. I painstakingly crafted the image that I wanted the world to see. When Cindy Lop-her was on television, you’d know it was her. How? For one, my season 1 helmet mohawk – green to match my home team and gold to match the travel team. It was prominently featured on a Blood & Thunder postcard, which still hangs on my refrigerator today. I thought the mohawk was bad-ass at the time. Looking back on it now, I wish I had put as much time and energy into my skating as I did that fucking mohawk.

Season 2, I removed the mohawk. After having seen numerous television spots and photos of myself in season 1, I realized I looked awkward, and I decided I wanted to draw less attention to myself. That, and I knew I could use all the help I could get on the track, so I removed the eyesore that was the mohawk, telling my teammates that I didn’t want to stand out in the pack and (gasp! Here comes something thoughtful…) I wanted to be recognized for my skills, not a piece of flair.

As time has gone on, the persona and the uniform have both become more practical – as I’m no longer trying to appear to be the shit, I’m exposing all my personal shit, for one! As far as the uniform goes, it’s just a uniform now. I don’t want to look cute or sexy or bad-ass – I want to be comfortable, cool, and able to move easily. I no longer wear fake eyelashes or even makeup sometimes. I spend the hours before a bout preparing mentally instead of preparing my hair, which is only covered by a helmet and then drenched in sweat in 10 minutes anyhow. Some fans or derby enthusiasts may think I no longer try. I think I’m trying harder than ever.

In the days that I sported the green and gold mowhaws, I was careful not to let my work know I played derby. I wasn’t Cindy Lop-her, I was a professional, and I was to be taken seriously. Editor by day, rollergirl by night. I remember getting nervous when everyone found out about my secret identity.

Today, I sit in my scrimmage jersey on casual Friday, because we wear them when we travel, and I’m headed to the airport almost immediately after work to go to Kansas City. My office door sports the upcoming home bout poster, and my office walls, filing cabinet, and bookshelf all sport the home bout posters of bouts past. I often receive emailed links to national derby stories from my coworkers, and some of their kids even wear tee shirts supporting one of my teams.

A teammate of mine recently relayed some concern over a new haircut, wondering if she would be letting too much of who she was in derby into her upscale job. “It’s not just who you are in derby,” I thought, “It’s who you are.” It was then that I realized I no longer have two lives – I am Cindy Lop-her and Cindy Lop-her is me.

And you know what? I fell a hell of a lot more comfortable this way than I ever did when I wore a mohawk or a business suit. I don't have to worry about controlling my facial expressions either.

PS: Tonight I’m headed to Kansas City in preparation for our bout tomorrow night (6pm EST, I think it will be boutcast on DNN). This is an important game for me. We’re down players for this trip, so I’ll have more playing time than usual, and the chance to prove that I’m a valuable member of the regular roster. I’m going to try not to let that freak me out and to just play aggressive and well and keep my head in the game. I’ll update you as to how it goes come Monday…

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Dress

Like many of you out there, I curse the days of my youth that I thought I was “fat” and decided I needed to do something about it. At 17 I had already failed at Weight Watchers once, and I became so distraught that I made my mom take me to the doctor, who essentially laughed at us and told me to eat more salads and get more exercise. Despite my belief that I was horribly fat at that time, over the past 13 years I’ve often looked back and been nostalgic about not only my weight, but also who I was back then.

At 17 I was fearless, much like I am now, and even though I had a poor body image I was a pretty confident person, and I liked who I was. I lost my way a bit when I went to college and moved out on my own. Not only did I gain over 60 pounds, but I also suffered mental and emotional setbacks like a lack of confidence and intense self-loathing. At the time I associated these symptoms with my ever growing waistline – because I was fat, I was unhappy. And, so, I attempted to fix the problem through this diet or that. From shakes and 87 different vitamins a day to meat, meat, and more meat, I tried everything I had heard worked for anyone else, and although I may have seen momentary successes, I always stalled and put the weight back on.

For many years I had a gold standard of success that manifested itself in my favorite dress that I had last fit into when I was 17. My mom called it “that horrible housecoat”, but I loved it more than anything else I owned. Better yet, I picked it up from a thrift store for less than $5 – an incredible find for even the shrewdest of shoppers such as myself! The dress was sleeveless and white with a vibrant blue flower print. Around the high neckline was what I used to refer to as “a doily” – really it was white flower appliqué, which was then repeated down the sides of the dress. It came below my knees when I bought it, but I quickly shook the old lady out of the dress by having my mom hem it into a mini-dress (against her will to put any additional effort into the housecoat). When I was 17, I wore it all summer long with 5” platform sandals whose platforms mimicked tree bark. I certainly thought I was the shit. How couldn’t I, wearing that getup?!

After 13 years of going up and down in size and packing and moving multiple times, that blue and white dress was the one thing from my youth that I kept and never threw away. Each time I switched over my clothes from winter to summer, I’d smile when I saw it, but I’d leave it in the box, hoping that maybe one day I would again be able to wear it. God, I loved that dress!

For one reason or another I had taken a bunch of ill-fitting clothes and placed them in a laundry basket in our guestroom – the room that essentially doubles as my own personal walk-in closet, not because I’ve made it into my own personal walk in closet, but because my clothes are simply everywhere and I don’t bother doing anything more about the mess than shutting the door. The dress had somehow made it out of its box and into the basket, which caused me to attempt to squeeze it over my ass several months ago, only to become depressed and long for the days in which I was able to wear cute quirky things. On top of the basket it has stayed since that depressing day.

Then, this past Saturday when unhappy with my current wardrobe and trying to decide what to wear to a 4th of July cookout, I again thought of the dress and how wonderful it would be if I could wear it. I had time, so I figured I’d try and squeeze into it, knowing I wouldn’t be able to, but at least seeing if I could pull it up over my ass this time. It was shortly after that when I started screaming from my upstairs hallway, unsuccessfully trying to get my boyfriend’s attention. The dress fucking fit!

Not knowing what else to do, but like any other tech-savvy red-blooded American, I immediately changed my Facebook status to reflect the fact that I was now wearing this 13-year old dress that had been my favorite dress in high school. Because, you know, I could only stay off Facebook for 3 days before I had to re-download the application for my phone and get back on to share the most intimate details of my life with the world. FAIL. I know…

Walking on air and with my head in the clouds, we finally made it to the cookout, and I instantly got asked about the dress and my earlier post on Facebook. As much as I love and am addicted to Facebook, I feel really weird when people I know refer to something I posted on Facebook in person. It’s the shy part of me that can still only express herself through her fingertips, I guess. In any event, I received a lot of praise and congratulations from people I’ve often talked to about weight.

Later that night I was sitting with a friend discussing a recent doctor’s visit she had attended. She was telling me that her doctor told her she needed to lose 30 pounds and how she didn’t know how he came up with that number, because even at 30-pounds lighter she would still be in the morbidly obese range on the BMI chart.

“I’m in the morbidly obese range on the BMI chart,” I told her. And it’s true. For my height, the government has labeled me morbidly obese. I’ve been in that range for the better part of my life! Yet, this time I thought about it and said it, I didn’t give a shit. Here I was wearing my favorite dress that I had kept for 13 years. I’ll be damned if I’m letting the man get me down today!

“Are you serious?!” she said. “But you’re wearing that dress!”

“Does weight really matter?” I asked.

“See,” she said, “I keep thinking back to what you said to me at the gym that time, ‘when you stop trying to lose weight is when it will happen’ ”.

Although I remember those words coming out of my mouth, I began to wonder if it is actually not doing anything that causes one to lose weight or if doing something for one's mental health causes one to lose weight. All these years I thought lack of self confidence and depression were symptoms of being fat, but now I wonder if being fat was a symptom of my poor mental health. This isn’t to say this is true in all cases and that if a person is 100% right in the head, she will be thin, but I think there is an association that exists between mental health and weight – at least for me.

When I tried to fix what I perceived as the problem all those times, I was really just temporarily masking the symptoms of something bigger. But when I gave up my all-consuming struggle to lose weight and started doing things for myself that made the core of who I am happy, my weight – to a certain extent – fell into place. There’s also a little something to say for the additional exercise you get when training as a member of your All Star derby team. The reason I fit into that dress (even though I’m now 7 pounds heavier than when I last tried it on and couldn’t get it over my ass) is because of the added activity and the increase in muscle mass.

And to think that I wasn’t even trying… That’s the best part of being able to wear the dress. If I wasn’t trying, then I must be living right, and really, that’s what that dress stands for now – living right. Mentally and physically, it feels great to be in a place where I’m confident and I like who I am again. Sure, we all have our bad days (in celebration of the dress I ate my face off at the cookout and have been in severe physical intestinal pain since), but as long as we learn from them and get back to remaining true to ourselves, we’ll be just fine.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Panic in Detroit

For a girl who named her blog Big Derby Girls don’t Cry, I sure do cry a lot. Although I don’t ever cry because I’m a big girl – I cry for other reasons. Christ, I cry over derby all the time. I guess I just love it that much though, which really isn't a bad thing.

My most recent crying episode took place where else but at ECE, the East Coast Derby Extravaganza hosted by the Philly Rollergirls in Feasterville last weekend (I hate the name of that town – it reminds me of a festering wound…).

Having completed our victory lap and spectator high-five hand slapping following our second game of the weekend versus Detroit, I made my way to the locker room as quickly as possible, not exactly busting out in tears, but more like unsuccessfully holding them in as soon as I entered the room. It's like when you have to pee really badly and you know you're close to a bathroom - you could have held it for well over an hour already, but once your bladder knows you're almost there it becomes so much harder to hold it in. Luckily my bag was in the corner so I could position myself so my teammates couldn't see the tears leaking out of my eyes.

Forty minutes into the game when I realized I probably wouldn’t be placed in another jam I gave myself permission to cry once I made it through the game and out of the locker room with my packed-up skate bag. It was all I could do several times in the last half in order to not burst into tears right there on the bench.

I was first into the locker room, but my teammates quickly filed in behind me – I had just several more items to gather when with a big booming post-victory voice I hear Lady Quebeaum say, “Cindy LOP-HERRRR!!! You have a fan outside who’s waiting to meet YOU!!!”

In one word: fuck.

A fan? What fan? I don’t have fans. For fucks sake, I thought, is this a joke? I only played in 2 jams today. Who the fuck wants to see ME???

“I’ll be there in a minute,” I said, still facing the corner of the room. I needed an exit plan and soon, because before long I wouldn’t be able to contain the emotions any longer and I didn’t want to experience the crying equivalent of pissing my pants right there in front of my team or whomever this so called fan was. Pretending to wipe away sweat, I dried my eyes and made a B-line for the door and from the door to the hallway behind the rink, looking straight ahead, not making eye contact with anyone. I swear I must have made it not 10 steps before I hear my name being called. Busted.

It was an old ref friend, Howie Swerve, who started reffing here in Baltimore but who had since moved out of state. I’ve run into him since he’s moved now and again, but I hadn’t seen him in a while. He wanted to introduce me to his friend. Trying not to sound like a douche, I started yammering about how I just had to run to my car. Howie said it would only take a second. I then had to take off my sunglasses and show him I was crying – the real reason I was avoiding meeting his friend. Embarrassed much?

At the time I couldn’t think clearly enough to pinpoint exactly why I was so upset, but I did know that it would look like I was being a spoiled impatient brat who expects to be handed whatever she wants, including vast amounts of play time, so I knew well enough to hide the tears from my team, because I didn’t want them to get the wrong impression. I love my team. And it was only several hours later that I realized what had hurt me most: I felt so close to my team going into this game, but after riding that bench so hard I should have gotten ass splinters I couldn’t have felt more further away, and it hurt.

When I was in grade school we seemed to move to a different state every 3 years. Just as soon as I finally seemed to be making headway by establishing friendships with the kids in my new school, it was time to go again. I remember the feelings of anxiety and utter isolation that consumed me in the initial days and weeks at my new schools. I felt those same feelings when I first made the team. I was unsure what the team dynamic would be, and I was afraid my teammates would be so fiercely competitive for those roster spots and game time that they might not be too accepting of my being there. Luckily, I was wrong.

My team is an amazing group of women who are so supportive of each other that even those girls who know they’re going up against each other for that last roster spot before alternate want to see each other succeed and help each other get better during practice. It’s truly amazing to be a part of this.

But what about the mere 2 jams, you ask. I was more surprised than anything, and I certainly wasn’t angry. I went into the game with expectations that I would play as much if not more than I played in the Carolina game, since Carolina is ranked higher than Detroit. Coming out of that game and my 2 jams, I was shocked and confused and sad. But like I said earlier, I was most upset that I felt like I was no longer part of the team – a feeling similar to that of my first day at a new school or my first practice as an All Star – a feeling that exists only in my mind and, sadly, is only of my own creation.

It was hard walking to my car after I talked to Howie. With my uniform tee still on, derby friends I know and don’t get to see all that often were walking by me saying “good game” and “nice win”. I felt like an imposter saying “thank you” with teary eyes behind my sunglasses, because at the time I felt that I didn’t really contribute – that I wasn’t part of the team that took that win.

I’ve since had time to think about things, gain perspective, and calm down. I’ve also had time to contact Howie, get his friend’s email addy, and send her a note apologizing for my lack of togetherness last weekend. Luckily, the feeling of being alienated from my team subsided in about a day, and I’ve been fine since.

I did learn several things from this whole experience. First, as much as anxiety creeps up on me before a game and makes me think that maybe I don’t really want to play derby, I now know without a doubt that I do indeed want to play. Second, my place on the team never went away or became less important than anyone else's place on our team – the feeling of alienation was something I created in my own mind. Third, communication is key. Like Dolly said to me yesterday, “It’s like a relationship, you’re never going to get what you want unless you ask for it.” I slipped through the cracks, so to speak – it wasn’t intentional that I was only placed in 2 jams. Bouts are chaotic and now I know to say something nicely and politely to the bench coach if it’s been a damn good while since I was last in the game. Lastly, tomorrow’s another day. Today may be good, today may be bad, but the potential to make tomorrow better than today exists with us all. Although I must continue to work on improving my personal skill as a player, I also need to learn to be less hard on myself. After all, I’ve got a fan. Holy crap, that’s cool.