Monday, June 6, 2016

Taking a Break

I'm taking a break from derby, at least for the summer. If I miss it, I'll go back in the fall when it's cooler. If not, well ... then not.

I made a list of pros and cons of quitting. The pros included things like reduced stress, reduced drama, having my evenings free (most hobbies don't require 3-4 evenings per week) and not having to skate in a hot rink on 100-degree days. The cons included loss of exercise, possible loss of friends, fear of missing out, and seeing everyone's posts about it on Facebook all the time.

Well, I hope that I don't lose friends. That would be truly sad. I've made some amazing friends through roller derby, and I will do my best to maintain those relationships. I will still support my league in whatever ways I can -- I hope to help with training the juniors, when that starts up again. I will also continue to donate through Amazon and Fred Meyer. I'll still encourage anyone who wants to give derby a try. Just because I fell out of love with it -- after 7 years -- doesn't mean it's not a fun thing to do!

But ... meanwhile, I need to find myself a new adventure. It might be running, of all the damn things. One way or another, I have to find another form of exercise that I will stick with. And pronto.

So let's not call this goodbye. Let's call it "smell ya later."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

We got booted out of our rink in summer of 2014. Now it's the beginning of summer, 2016, and we have been back in the rink for three weeks. So yeah, it took almost two years to finish the repairs. This is entirely because we were doing it with volunteer labor and practically no money. We had a wonderful contractor donating his time to us, and without him we would surely not have gotten it done as fast as we did. So please, please don't think I'm complaining about anyone who worked on the repairs. They are all wonderful.

But oh man. Two years away (we did have practices in the summer, so in fact it had only been about 6 months since I had skated), and it's really hard to go back. I found that I enjoyed having my evenings free. I found that although I missed playing the sport of roller derby, I didn't really miss skating that much. I found that I still super suck at skating backwards ... and that is one of the required skills. In two weeks, we're testing on the non-contact part of WFTDA minimums. Anyone who doesn't pass that will have to go to boot camp -- basically, go back to beginner level. If I don't pass, I think I will take it as a sign that it's time for me to do something else.

It's not all mental/emotional. There's also the fact that my bad ankle hurts pretty much all the time (not sharp pain, more of an ache). Or the fact that my pinkie toes are turned sideways and it's uncomfortable to wear shoes, let alone roller skates. Sigh. But here's the thing: if I retire from derby, I'll inevitably lose some of the friends I've made through it. I'm not saying people will just decide, "If you're not skating, you can suck it." I'm saying that when I'm not seeing people all the time, it will be harder to stay connected with them. It's not like I'm a social butterfly.  I'll also miss the sport itself. I'll miss hitting people, and I'll miss being a member of a team. I'll miss being Dixie Skullpopper.

Well, I'm not giving up yet. I'm going to do my best to push through the pain when I'm skating backwards (damn shin splints). I'll try to get out of my head and just jump over the 6" piece of foam. (Those are the two skills I'm worried about). And if it doesn't happen ... well, I guess I'll need to find both a way to stay connected with my friends, and a different way to get exercise.

I don't think anyone actually reads this blog anymore, and I can't blame them -- I post to it about every two years. I wouldn't read it either. Well, we'll see what happens.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Blog or Get Off the Pot!

Damn, y'all. I can't believe it's been 2.5 years since I posted. Is anyone still reading this?

So much has happened since the last time I posted on my blog. I successfully campaigned to bring back Sick Town's B team, the Dis-Orderlies. We were a team for about a year and a half, and then in fall, 2014, Sick Town debuted its three home teams (of which the DOs was one). Unfortunately, we also lost our practice space in 2014. We lost a bunch of skaters for various reasons. We didn't have practices at all in December, January or February.

Fast forward to today: our advanced skater pool has shrunk to the point that everyone who passes minimum skills is on the travel team. I'm on the WFTDA charter, which is not something I ever expected to happen again. Last week, I passed all of the (new) WFTDA minimum skills, except for the 27 laps in 5 minutes.

I was able to stay in for the first 5 or 6 laps, and then I started thinking about how my legs were burning. Literally, as soon as I started thinking about that, I started slowing down, and dropped out. Lame!

This week, I tried a multi-pronged strategy. I listened to music on my iPod (for me, the two songs were "Here it Goes Again" by OK Go, and "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus). I skated right behind Bones, and I had Boxxx skate right behind me and cheer me on/be ready to yell at me not to quit.

I was never tempted to quit. I had the music distracting me from my legs. I also thought, "You have to want this more than you want your legs not to burn." (I was never in actual PAIN. I wouldn't push through injury.) After we were done, Bones told me that I had actually done 27.5 laps in 5 minutes!!

My personal best is 28 laps in 5 minutes, but lately, 27 has been a real struggle. I think today proved that it was largely mental (also, my crossover and form are not that great, and believe me when I say those will be things I will be working on now).

So, if anyone reading this is struggling with 27 in 5, see if your trainers will let you listen to headphones while you skate. Having a good pump-up song going can really, really help.

And now ... I'm on the freaking travel team! I'm a Sick Town All-Star! Holy crap.

My goals for my next year of derby: work on form. Work on that crossover. And also, learn to do a backward crossover. I would like to still be travel team material when we get our numbers back up.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


Last month, I played in a mixed-league bout down at Sis-Q. I signed up for the newbie bout. I figured I could be marginal in the veteran bout, or I could (I hoped) be a rock star in the newbie bout. That is more or less what happened, I'm happy to say.

I was surprised by the skill level of some of the skaters. There was a wide range, from girls who probably would have held their own in the veteran bout, to girls who I don't think would have passed minskis at Sick Town. I was on one team, and my teammate La Madadora was on the other.

I was nervous ... I didn't really know what to expect. The bench coaches sent me in as pivot for the first jam. Pivot? Oh shit. I'm not a pivot! I'm the girl who hugs the inside line and often needs to be told what to do (sometimes more than once). Except ... I was out there with a team below my skill level, and I was the one telling girls what to do. The pack was slow enough (not *slow* -- just slower than I'm used to) that I was able to see what was happening, and the jammers were inexperienced enough that it was easy to anticipate their moves.

Suddenly, I was knocking jammers around. I was hitting girls out on one side, then the other, lather, rinse, repeat. When my team had a power jam, I was the one hitting the opposing blockers out of my jammer's way every lap.

There was a moment when I was sitting on the bench waiting to go in as pivot in the next jam, and our pivot went to the box. Our coach took the pivot panty off my head, and said, "I just want you out there." I was like, me? You want ME out there? Really? It was an amazing thing to hear.

The other team voted me "Most Intimidating." My team lost (by 10 points) but that bout was a huge win for me. (La Madadora did great too! We really represented Sick Town well.)

And now ... this Saturday, Sick Town bouts Oly's b team, the Dropkick Donnas, and ... I am on the roster! Of all the bouts I thought I might get to play in, Oly was certainly not one of them. Our captains are not sure what to expect from the roster they sent us (not too many familiar names), so I and a couple of other non-S*M*A*S*H skaters are on the roster and we'll get to play if it's pretty lopsided in Sick Town's favor. Otherwise, we'll mostly (maybe totally) ride the bench. Ya know what? I'm really OK with that. There has never been a bout where Sick Town was losing or running really close on score where I've said, "Dammit, I should be out there!" I'm realistic about my own skill level. And honestly, I'm just excited to feel like part of the team. I get to skate out, I get to wear my uniform, I get to sit on the bench with my teammates. It's nothing but good.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Want My B-Team Back, B-Team Back, B-Team Back ...

Last night at practice, we did 25-in-5 in pairs, sticking together and do-si-do-ing at the apexes. It was pretty cool. I was paired with Land Tuna, a very fast skater, so as the slower person in the pair, the speed we skated was *my* fastest. We got 27 laps. I felt good about that, especially since I had not skated in two weeks.

Then afterward, while we were talking about how we all did, Pwny (team captain) said, "Just to warn ya, we're going to start requiring 30 in 5 to be on SMASH rosters."

That popping sound was my bubble bursting.

My personal best is 28 laps in 5 minutes. Thirty laps in 5 minutes means 10 seconds per lap. (Twenty-five in 5 is 12 seconds per lap.) When you put it that way, it doesn't seem like such a huge difference, but it's a pretty big difference.

I don't want to be negative. But if that's the standard, I don't know if I will ever be on a SMASH (travel team) roster. And right now, that's the only team we have.

We lost the B-team (the Dis-Orderlies) because we didn't have enough skaters to support two teams. We have a great crop of intermediates and beginners right now. I guess I just have to hope, pray, and work my ass off to keep those girls involved so we can get our numbers up and bring back the B team.

Don't get me wrong: I'll also work on my speed. But 30 in 5? I just don't know.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I'm not sure if I am posting because I really have something to say, or if I'm posting because I'm embarrassed that it has been so long. Either way, here I am.

I played in a bout on Saturday. It was pretty awesome. I was a guest skater for the Sis-Q Rollerz (from Medford); we played the Coos County Rollergirls (Coos Bay). It was, hands down, the strangest bout I've ever skated in. The venue is very odd -- it's a covered basketball court at a middle school. If you count the skaters, NSOs, referees, and other staff, I'm positive there were more people *in* the bout than watching it. And it's a very good thing Charlie brought his gear, because without him, there would have been two referees (which is not enough for a bout -- three is the bare minimum).

I love the Sis-Q girls. I think they may well be the nicest derby team I've ever met (with mine being a very close second). It was fun playing with them for a change (I've bouted against them twice). I think I'm a better offensive blocker than defensive. Teamwork continues to be very challenging for me. Unfortunately, teamwork is pretty much the most important skill for a blocker. MUST. WORK. ON. TEAMWORK.

Sick Town is taking a sort of break right now, which boils down to: practices are happening, but not quite as many; attendance is not being tracked; and everyone in the bout pool has to re-pass minimum skills when we start back up next month. Sigh. Last time I had to re-pass minskis (which was in January), I got pretty freaked out about it. I'm trying not to do that this time. I know I'm not the best skater. Hell, I know I'm in the bottom 10 percent, for the bout pool. That's why I freaked last time. I'm confident about most of my skills -- at least, confident that they are good enough to pass minskis. Even my crossover, when I really concentrate, is passable. But damn, I need to get to the point where I can skate without even thinking about it. And after nearly three years, I feel like I ought to be there by now.

I learn mental skills really easily. Languages, rules, math ... these things come to me naturally. Physical skills -- especially gross motor skills like dancing, skating, and things of that nature -- come to me slowly and with a ton of effort. If it's possible to be physically retarded, I guess I am. (I am not using the R word in an insulting way. I hope no one takes it that way. I mean it in its most literal sense.)

Well, I'm doing what I can. I'm going to practice (not quite as much as I could, but way more than some people who are much better skaters than I, and so can afford to take time off). I'm skating outdoors. I'm going to the Y (I have discovered cardio kickboxing ... which I love).

I would like to dedicate my next year of derby to getting to the point where the skating is as natural as walking. I'm pretty sure that's the most basic thing that skaters like Bones and Brick have over me. (There's a lot more too. But I think that's at the heart of it.)

I'm going to try to keep up with this blog more, too. Writing all of this stuff down helped. I feel like my mental toilet has been flushed. :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Rollercon 2011

I have such a love-hate relationship with Rollercon. There was a lot more love than hate this year, though. Overall, everything was much better organized this year. There was a lot less waiting in line for classes -- in fact, the only time I had to wait in line was when they had run out of tickets but still had some spaces in the class I wanted, and even that was only for 45 minutes. Otherwise, it was show up early, get a ticket, and then go have fun until class time. Great job, Rollercon!

We got into Vegas three hours later than we expected to, because our flight was delayed. Baggage claim at the Las Vegas airport took more than an hour (WTF, Vegas?) so by the time we got to the Riviera, it was about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. We went to the pub for drinks (for some reason, the Riviera has a British pub) and then to bed.

Tuesday was an easy day -- grocery shopping, early bird registration, and lounging by the pool.

Wednesday was the first day of Rollercon. I got downstairs at 9 a.m. and went to line up for my first class. I was there for maybe a couple of minutes when Rex Havoc (awesome ECRG blocker and Rollercon volunteer) walked up and handed me a ticket, and said I didn't have to wait in line. Since I remembered what last year was like (long lines, and then maybe you got your class and maybe you didn't), I was pretty gobsmacked.

First class was "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," taught by Jack Hammer (coach of the Lake Tahoe derby league). It was *great* -- it was the most active class I took all week, and I got to do a lot of cool footwork stuff.

In the afternoon, I skated in my first challenge bout: Robot Chicken vs. Family Guy. I was on Robot Chicken.  We were probably going to lose, judging by the score and by the fact that the Family Guy team just had better teamwork than we did; but then the floor started falling apart and the refs called the bout after about 15 minutes (of a 30-minute bout). The floor was sheets of plywood laid on top of carpet, with Skate Court (interlocking plastic flooring designed for skating) laid on top of that. The plywood sheets started drifting apart, and it was definitely not safe to skate on.

After that, I got in line for my second class of the day: Blocking Combinations with Iron Maiven (of the L.A. Derby Dolls; she was portrayed by Eve Bell in the movie "Whip It," and she also had a small role as one of the Manson Sisters). She was really cool and definitely knows her stuff. This class was a little less intense than the other one, but I still learned a lot. There were a lot of STDD and Cherry City girls in the class, which was cool. Edie Disorder said my booty blocking isn't as bad as I think it is. Yay!

Thursday ... God, what the hell did I do on Thursday? I had my second challenge bout, Medium Rare vs. Leafy Greens. I was on Medium Rare; we lost, and again, I think it was due to superior teamwork by the Greens. The bout was in the morning. I tried to take a class, Ninja Blocking, in the afternoon, but my back was hurting and skating was making it worse. D'oh. I did sit and take notes on the rest of the class, though. Thursday night we walked to the Bellagio and saw the fountain. It was pretty cool. The Strip was just as grody as last year, though it's pretty good for people-watching.

Friday, I was feeling overwhelmed by the social aspects of Rollercon (people everywhere) and I wanted to get away from the Riviera (which is kind of a low-end casino and was starting to depress me a bit) and the Strip. My friend Rayda came and picked me up, and we wandered around some non-Strip Vegas. The highlight, other than meeting Rayda in person and hanging out with her, was this little frozen custard stand called Luv It that is apparently a Vegas institution. The almond chip ice cream was *fantastic*. Next year I am dragging everyone there at least once.

Friday night was the Black and Blue Ball, which is not my kind of party (my kind of party involves a small group of friends, board games, pizza and a bottle of wine). It was hot as hell, and outdoors by the pool, and hella crowded once it got going. I didn't last too long. Everyone (including the Rollercon website) says you have to wear black or blue, but I don't think anyone actually gave a shit, and I know at least one person who wore tan. (shrug)

Saturday morning was my final challenge bout: Green Horns vs. Fresh Meat. There were four Sick Town girls on my team (Green Horns): me, Flash, Tuna and F.U. Bones was our coach. Early on, we were down by maybe 20 points, but after that we started doing a lot better, shutting down their jammers and getting ours through, and we ended up winning by something like 15-20 points (I don't remember the exact score). Bones said we did a good job of listening to her and doing what she told us to do, which is awesome. There was one jam where all four Sick Town girls went out as blockers, with a girl from another league as jammer. We rocked it! It was really cool being out there with my teammates.

Saturday was also my final class: Baby Got Back, with Quadzilla. For the non-derby people reading this, Quadzilla is a rock star of the derby world. In his words, he has been skating since he was an embryo, and it shows. He's just freaking effortless (well, I mean, he obviously makes a lot of effort. He *looks* effortless). I saw him in a challenge bout, and he was jamming, and two of his blockers were in the box. The two blockers he had, weren't all that effective. Didn't matter. Quadzilla just cut through the pack like a hot knife through butter.

The class was booty blocking, and using your butt and back to block. That's awesome, because those are skills I definitely need to work on. We did some cool drills, a lot of which I actually remember.

Saturday night was the Bay Area Derby vs. Mile High Club bout, which we watched from a skybox. That was kind of cool, though thanks to the position of the boxes and of the track, we couldn't see the near apex at all so we kind of missed a lot of the bout. But what the hell. I was surprised that Bay Area (a nationally-ranked team) didn't have better teamwork than they did. (Mind you, they could totally wipe the floor with me.) After that was the derby wedding, which is kind of silly but fun. Boxxx and Bones got married, and all of us Dis-Orderlies (me, Tuna, Flash, D Train and Chelle) wore our jerseys and booty shorts and were their bridesmaids.

And then Sunday morning we caught a shuttle at 5:20 a.m., flew out at 8 a.m., and were home by 11:30 a.m. I'm glad I went to Rollercon, but I'm also glad to have it in my rear-view mirror. I'll probably go next year.