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Finding Your Happy Place

 

“You don’t become a rollergirl, really, you realize that you are one already.”
~ Ginger Snap, Gotham Girls Roller Derby

 

 

Necklace Photo From Tripsy Daisy's Blog, http://www.yorollerderby.com

 

Off Skates Adventureland – Boot Camp Days 4 & 5

I love that our Boot Camp is including cross training. Our past two practices have both been off-skates. Saturday was strength building and plyometric exercises. This is a main focus for me.

The other day I came home discouraged again at my (lacking) level of ability. My husband said something simple that put it in perspective. I love how men can do that. He told me that everything I’m doing is about building strength, not skills. He said that while everyone else may be skill building, I’m using these skills as a way to build strength. He also pointed out there’s no way that I can build skills until I first have the strength to do it. Duh.

I can will myself to complete these new skills all I want but for now it’s like telling someone to lie on a table and levitate. I can want it really badly, but it won’t come together until my body is capable of it. So I will try and get strong without damaging myself and keep body memory notes of these skills close to my chest, until I’m ready to pounce.

Last night we met in the windy cold at Elings park for our 7 p.m. practice. We reviewed derby rules then did tennis shoe derby drills. We have A LOT of nuggets and these are some die-hard gals. Freeway traffic was snarled due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the wind was blowing, it was butt-ass cold and the grass was still wet from rain an hour before. I was curious as to how many people were actually going to show up for practice. Amazingly, I think we had nearly 40 (of our approximately 50) nuggets there.

We formed two parallel lines then took turns moving down the line in small groups practicing blocking skills. Tough. A Bettie was usually placed in back as the Jammer and two nuggets had to move down the 50-foot line trying to prevent her from passing. Afterward, we practiced a solid 20 minutes of body checking. Slamming into a partner while keeping balance, or conversely, getting slammed while keeping balanced. At this point it makes my mind reel as to how to do this successfully on skates. One day at a time. Breathe.

Needless to say, I am bruised and sore today. I sucked at blocking down the line, but I’m pretty good at body checking. Doing the bump in my disco queen past helped out, just had to throw a little more force with that hip. My back feels fucked up today but it was fun. I was paired with Semper Fatale, who is probably half my size. That girl has some strength because she mostly managed to stay planted when I hip checked her.

I need to focus on core strength building and battling my self-esteem. This is where my work is.

P.S. The Betties have matched us up with our mentors and I’m STOKED!!!! My mentor is Lem. I love her.

Girl Crush – Part One

I’m totally falling in love with my Betties. I admit, this might be Stockholm Syndrome setting in, but it doesn’t really matter. Every single one of these girls has an amazingly quick wit and they all like to play rough. I think I’ve found my tribe. No withering violets here. Thank God. I get so tired of feeling choked out by the ethos of political correctness and everyone being so nice all the time.

The Betties play such a good game of “You’re so Fat,” it makes normal “Your Mama” jokes look like toddler time. One of the milder examples from the other night – Dita to another Bettie: “You left your bra at my house so I’ve been using as a bag for my bowling balls.” =) But Miss One-Liner Dita has a depth of character simmering beneath the surface that some might miss unless they looked more closely. She’s funny as hell and the girlfriend you want to sit in the back of the class with, but know that whatever hasn’t killed her has made her stronger.

MAK, at the last Bettie bout of the season, got so pissed at the refs she led the crowd in an un-rhyming chant that only she could pull off, bringing people to their feet and shouting along to, “Get your dick out of her ass and read the fucking RU-LE book. Get your dick out of her ass and read the fucking RU-LE book.” 100% derby. There is a Bettie Code to keep games family-friendly, but shit slips out now and then. MAK is incredibly sharp, doesn’t miss a beat and what you see is what you get. No apologies. ♥

Viva – She looks like everything Gwen Stefani strives to be with the most beautiful face and fullest red lips. Humble and sweet with a FIERCE competitor inside and amazeballs of steal. She’s tiny and gets knocked around but is incredibly tough. Pair that with the fact she’s a doctoral candidate at UCSB in mechanical engineering. Quantum computing time travel shit. She’s my baby Einstein. ♥

Lem – All Betties, I’m learning, specialize in the concept of paradox. Lem is another fierce competitor but also has the soul of a baby kitten. Lem will be the one helping your great-grandmother across the street and bringing cookies when you’re down (albeit with an ulterior motive to get just a little more homemade matzo ball soup out of someone’s mom), while simultaneously fending off body checks with the ability to only spill a drop or two of coffee. She jokes about herself being like an awkward baby giraffe, but truth be told she’s a fluid example of grace rolled into beauty — mind, body and soul.

Kiki is a powerhouse, through and through, and looks like Gina Gershon only with a beautiful mane of red hair. My guess – she is one of the most loyal of friends you’ll ever meet. She stands for zero bullshit and is a multi-tasker extraordinaire. She is an amazing architect (literally) and runs her own business. She keeps her vulnerabilities close to her chest but has these incredible eyes that can’t hide her depth.

Stay tuned for more! Coming up in Girl Crush, Part Two – Roxie, Deuce, Booty, Danger, Vino, Loc & Hiss!

My Sk8 Tape – Revealed

At Skating Plus Roller Rink in Ventura.

This evening marked the first night I’ve been at an indoor roller rink since I was 16. And another milestone for me tonight: skating in a large crowd. Even though it may not seem like a big deal – skating when you’re a rookie, surrounded by people, is not easy. It’s fucking nerve-wracking. Especially when I see a five-year-old who looks like he’s on skates for the first time cut me off and me, knowing full-well there’s not a thing I can do to prevent a crash disaster at my current skill level. “Live long and prosper, dude,” was seriously the only thought going through my mind.

But as the sk8 Gods would have it, tragedy was avoided several times throughout the night and it felt gooooood to be back in a roller rink with music pumping. Next time I bring the glitter lip gloss.

We ran into Miss Hiss and Kitten. It was comforting to see some familiar faces and know at least two people weren’t going to laugh (outwardly) at me for being the *only* person in full combat gear.

I still had trouble skating right at the beginning from the rush of adrenaline/fear. But that thankfully faded after a little bit. Getting over that, and adjusting to the dizzy factor strobe lighting can cause, I did okay.

Here are some video highlights. Drum roll please  . . . . . . . .  this is the first official video of me skating – ever. Video wasn’t the trend de rigeur when I was a teenager, so here’s history in the making. =)

Baby Stops

Only had an hour to practice tonight but it was productive! My son has been coming Thursday nights and coaching me. He’s really good at it. When I hear his words of encouragement along with his tough “you can do this” attitude, I’m seeing myself mirrored back at me. I can see all the years of encouragement I’ve poured into him, pouring right back into me. An awesome circle of life.

Tonight he got me to attempt T-Stops again. I didn’t want to but he pushed it. In a very baby way, I am getting it! I can actually put my right skate behind my left at a 90 degree angle and skid myself to a stop – without breaking a leg. Yaaaaaay! No where near snow plows or tomahawks, though.

I also had my first not-on-purpose fall tonight. Skated right into some small metal screw (I can really understand that elephant/mouse fear thing), and that was it. Going down. At first I was all over the place, Gumby style. Then without even thinking about it, body memory took over and threw that left knee down into a deep lunge, skidding me to a (somewhat) graceful stop. Another small achievement!

I repeated the cross-over exercise I did with Kiki Tuesday night and practiced derby hops holding onto the wall (rest in a crouched position on toe stops, leap up, skates off the ground, landing again in a crouched position). I made sure to shock-absorb into a low crouch and maximize the strength building in my thighs (ouch).

It’s hard to comprehend that I’ve only been doing this for a week and a half. Wow. I’ve made it my life for right now and it seems like so much more than a week. Tonight I started seeing the first tiny results of strength building and how it’s beginning to work for me. =D.

She Opened Up a Book of Poems & Handed it to Me

 

“Every forest branch moves differently in the breeze, but as they sway they connect at the roots.”
~ جلال‌الدین محمد رومی
“(Rumi), 13th-century Persian poet 

"Tree of Life," Kalamkari Painting on Cotton, 2.9 ft x 3.7 ft.

I got Kiki La Screw’d and I liked It – Boot Camp Day 3

Clockwise from top left, some of my favorite girls: Mourning After Kill (MAK), Kiki La Screw, Me, Lem E. Atom. ♥

Wow. Hmm. Where to start? Some surprises. Turns out being a Bettie Nugget is more challenging than I thought – and probably not how you’re thinking. It was never lost on me that this would be one of the biggest physical endeavors I’ve taken on. That was crystal clear from the start. 

I’m hard on myself. Yes. But also agonizingly realistic about my ability. I’ve had a life of being overly humbled by this body. But, and probably because of this, I’ve also had a life of steely determination. Because of my physical challenges, I’ve had to be more unwavering than most people I know in order to accomplish the things I’ve wanted to accomplish.
 
However, every time I get on the rink, it’s difficult for me to begin skating. Believe it or not, I’ve actually achieved a fair level of balance and strength. But, the adrenaline from the fear of stepping onto the track gets my legs so shaky, it makes skating hard. The fear never leaves between practices, but on the day of training it starts building until my stomach is in knots. What am I afraid of? Pain and falling – even though I’m actually starting to get used to those constant companions. And I have my mantras, my favorite one right now being, “Pain is just fear leaving the body.” So hopefully the adrenaline surges will taper off.
 
But here’s the best thing about last night. And I guess I’ll be honest, because what’s the point of writing a blog and not being completely transparent. (My other mantra, “I’ve got nothing to hide.”)
 
At one point last night, after already traversing through a line-up of difficult skill-building activities (up/downs, slalom course runs, skipping on skates), we were supposed to start learning our cross-over technique (otherwise known as a grapevine). This is where you move across the rink by side-stepping, crossing one foot completely over the other. Not only were my legs tired, everything in me said I was going to break my leg if I tried this so I swore some obscenity under my breath. All-the-while most of the other girls pranced across the track. One of my favorite Betties, Kiki La Screw, must have heard me because when I looked up she was in front of me with her hands held out. She looked me straight in the eye, told me I was amazing and doing great.
 
     “Take my hands. Keep your eyes on mine and don’t look at your skates,” she instructed. “I’m here and you can do this.” I took a deep breath and tears started pouring out of my eyes. I was exhausted and moved that she’d even give a shit. Like a mama and her toddler, she walked me across the rink and back, encouraging me the entire time.
 
That probably makes me sound weak and I’m sure it sounds corny. But, when you’re that tired and someone is kind to you, it can feel profound. About halfway through we were joined by another one of my favorites, Lem E. Atom. Together Kiki and Lem gave me the confidence I needed to get through the rest of the night. I felt like they knew my dark moment would come before I did and they already had a plan in place to catch me when it did.
 
I guess that’s what good coaching is all about. Being a part of team runs much deeper than one’s individual skill level. I don’t understand this, but I keep crying today. And I’m left with a deep sense of gratitude.

Ritual de lo Habitual Hell Session – Boot Camp Day 2

Saw this TANKgear.net T-shirt posted on the Derby Girls Blog.

I’m starting to get to know some of my compadre nuggets a little bit. There’s not a lot of time for conversation, but much is told through the exchange of knowing smiles, looks of determination, demonstration of tenacity and how one manages pain. And through these small signs I can see a much greater and wider kinship than I expected would exist amongst us.

There are few things I’ve noticed setting these rookie girls apart from a lot of other girls I know. A few things that tell me we’ve got some bonding commonalities.

  • We all have something to prove. In each of us there is a demon getting beaten down.
  • As my new friend Simone stated, we all have a badass lurking inside. Some of us have let it be suppressed by bad relationships, motherhood, a tough economy or just the drone of daily life. Regardless of the reason, these girls all have an inner badass and it’s like a fire ready to be stoked.
  • We all have a high tolerance for pain.
  • We all secretly fantasize about wearing fishnets, slutty derby outfits and the ass we’re developing that will show these things off.

If those aren’t the ingredients for lifelong friendship, I don’t know what is.

………………..

I’m getting used to being in pain all the time and to swearing every time I get up, sit down, roll over or smile. But I do have a confession. The pain I have in my ass from falling on it 40 times in a row Tuesday night has put the fear of God in me.

A couple days ago I was sitting on my yoga ball, hoping to stretch out some very angry muscles. I was standing up and sitting down while talking to my son. Apparently the ball had rolled away after I had stood up a couple times. I went to sit down and had crouched to the point of knowingness that nothing was underneath to catch me.

My blood ran cold. So much so (and what I imagine looked cartoon-like), I propelled my body directly up and forward, grabbing precariously onto the eight-foot tall bookshelf next to me. Clinging to it with my fingers, I threw myself forward onto the ground. My ass hurts so much that I would much rather plow my face into the hardwood floor and be pummeled by a falling bookshelf than I would want to fall on my butt again.

I only have two and half days to be boot camp ready again. And those two and half days will have to also include doing chores in my skates every day for at least an hour, a half hour (or hopefully more) of core exercises every day (my thighs and center need some serious strengthening), a swimming workout and two mornings of skating along the beach.

We went over so many new skills yesterday, my head is spinning. In and out leg moves, single leg move curves, hip rotations, single leg skating, dreaded T-Stops and snow plow stops. And of course, we finished up with what I’m now calling The Wall of Violence – a crushing core workout led by Viva Violence. Passing the skills assessment and making the team seem like a far way off. Sigh.

Love to Love You Baby

Returned for more punishment tonight, though, believe it or not it wasn’t that bad. The Betties have their own, non-nugget, practice time on Thursday evening and I came by to skate around the outside edges and get some extra practice in. About five other rookie girls showed up. It’s funny how when you go through something grueling together it creates a special camaraderie. I totally admire these women out there daring to do what I’m daring to do. Who knows what’s propelling us each forward in this sadistic goal?

And I can’t say enough how amazing and encouraging the Betties coaches have been. I think I love them. Each and every one.

I skated faster tonight than I have since I was 17. I dream about skating every night. Sometimes I’m falling and getting hurt, other times I’m flying around the track. I feel sick about going to Saturday’s practice, but also sickly excited. I just hope my ass can take it.