I had this dream where the world was about to end and this huge spaceship was filling up the horizon and it was the future so you can imagine all the buildings were sleek and tall. Everyone was about to die and then I saw this tiny little fish. Only it wasn't a fish since it was swimming in the sky, not water...anyway it was swimming and somehow I knew- This thing is the messenger. And somehow- I guess since it was my dream- I got to be all in charge of everything. The little fishy alien squished it's way right up to me and blurted out that the big thing in the sky about to kill everyone was it's mom. I hysterically screamed- "TELL HER TO STOP!!!" I pointed and commanded the thing to high-tail it back to the ship and make waves! It pouted and looked at the sky then back to me and shrugged saying, "No, I can't do that... I'm too small. " I was furious at the stupid alien fish thingy. How, I struggled to imagine, could you see the end of the world approaching and not even try to stop it?! I woke up still shaking my head. It bothered me all day. I thought of all the ways I should have killed the little bastard. I shook my head weeks later- even today- wondering what the hell that was supposed to mean.

Well that's interesting.

The first "specialist" I saw about my knee was pretty wimpy. The doctor and two of her interns crowded around my knees, frowning, pushing and pulling and talking code for "I don't know." I left with no idea what was wrong with me and a list of excersizes I was sure were actually meant to piss me off. They were inner leg lifts and a few stretches. How the fuck am I ever going to play roller derby again with this sorry excuse for rehab?? I was pissed. Ice. Elevate. Be pissed. Ice. Elevate... But I'm persistant.

I went to a fancy knee center- with a real gym inside it. They specialize in knees AND sports injuries. AND they took a bunch of x-rays. It was fancy. I waited in a little room on a little bed covered with a thin sheet of paper that stuck to my now atrophied thighs. I was trying to guess at what he might tell me. I tried to prepare myself not to burst into tears if he said my knees had taken all they could handle and derby was no longer an option. Is this the end? My shoulders sagged and I must have looked pathetic when he burst through the door.

A few minutes later, after my legs had been suffeciently man handled and he'd shared a few quizical looks with his accompanying therapist and a few gutteral grunts, the doctor spoke. And his first question wasn't about what I couldn't do. He wanted to know what I'd been doing to strengthen the muscles around my knee.

I was surprised. The other doctors had said to ice and elevate, do a few lame stretches (while watching House) but otherwise no "pushing it" was ordered. I told him I'd been biking to work a few days a week 13.5 miles each way. He shrugged. "Is that flat land then? Or are you really working hard?"he asked suspiciously. I smiled. I already liked him.

I took the stairs down to the parking lot sporting a seriously goofy grin. I sent my derby wife an all caps text with about ten exclamation points-for safe measure. And as I setteled in to my daily commute I started thinking of which gym I'd be going to, what machines to use, what my goals would be, and then... why hadn't I been doing these things months ago?! What had changed?

It's so wild that such a small thing- like a few good words from a doctor- can change everything. Well, that's fucking interesting...man.

You can change everything by changing your mind. If you believe it, it's already the truth. So go ahead and try it out. Next time you start to feel like you should just coast off to the side and maybe sit down for a second, maybe take a breather... check this Handy Index of Excuses and follow the prescription.

I'm Tired
Play smarter. Take big deep breaths. And stop whining- Everyone is tired! This is Roller derby!

I Need Water
Yeah. And are you going to die of thirst before this drill is over? Think about kids in Haiti. Maybe they're thirsty too. But do they stop in the middle of drills to go get water?

I'm gonna PUKE!
Cool man. Remember to hydrate and get right back in, we need a jammer.

I need to stretch.
Ok. In fact, why don't we all just stretch. And we'll take off our skates and get mats. We can put on Moby and we'll call it Yoga. ...no, but really though. Stretch what you need to stretch. But do it with the quickness, we're down a man.

I'm having an off day.
I'm having an "off" life. That's the reason I play derby. This is your time off from everything else. So whatever's on your mind, get over it and get in the game.

I've got a hang-over.
Such is the life of a rollergirl. Roller girls all over the world got drunk last night. There, I said it. Now you can use that thought as a tiny consolment. and Hydrate.

I have a headache/ cold sore/ runny nose/ stomach virus/ diarrhea...yuk./ halitosis/ backache/ sore throat/etc.
So, are you in or out? Because if you're in, you're going to have to let that all fade into the nether regions of your gigantic brain. You can do anything you want. Even with diarrhea. and Hydrate.

I have the flu.
Fucking go home! NOW! Before you get us all sick! You fucking lunatic. ...but I dig the commitment, dude. Next time, call in.

My endurance sucks.
Wonder why. Here's a news flash- building your endurance actually! (Literally!) physcially! HURTS! But don't worry, it won't hurt as bad next time.

I'm out of shape. I'm too big. I'm too weak. I'm too slow. I'm too small....I'll never make a roster.
Not with that attitude. Decide not to give in to excuses. You should know by now there are no good ones. You either do, or you don't. So put your mouthguard in, and go knock someone down!

Lesson Seventeen: Let's go Surfin'!

Posted on 7:05 AM
Check it out. I think you should act like you're surfing, little hula girl, and skate across that apex of the curve like it's a giant wave. Wanna try?

First take all the scaredy cat- "i'm gonna fall down"- shit and tuck that in your hip. That's where your gravity is so it's your safe place and you need to act like a careful kitty and keep your balance. So, you need to get into position. Hmmm...Maybe this is one of those times when you take off your skates. (It should be a rare time.) Get on the floor in your stocking feet. And then, get in your derby form.

To Whom It May Concern.
Derby Form shall consist of the following:
+ A nice straight back
+An erect constitution. Shoulders back. No slouching.
+Feet shall be placed a shoulder width apart with weight evenly distributed.
+ Knees bent at a 45 degree angle such that the hands, when outstreched shall meet squarely with the knees.
+One should give the appearance of a person not yet sat in a chair and thereby ready to pounce in any direction at any given moment.
+ When in derby form one shall be aware of all that surrounds her/him. A serene knowing look should gaze out to meet any oposition on the track.

Anyhow, it's an old memo. Maybe you didn't get it.

Now that you're in form, you need to think of yourself on the apex of a turn. Your left foot is riding the inside line. Reach your left hand down and touch a point just left of your left foot. Bend your left knee deep and tuck your butt towards your heel while you're stretching out the right knee a bit. Pretend that point you're touching is the apex and look out towards the opposite side of the pretend track. Let your shoulders follow your eyes. The wind in your hair... And now your coming back, you're in a chair, at work, wasting company time reading derby blogs....But you were there... you know what it feels like to surf. To glide around a corner and make the floor push away, boomeranging you forward and onto the straight away. Or at least you can imagine.
I think the real secret is in your muscle. If you can harness your muscles and push inside on a turn, while pushing with your legs for speed, you can balance the pull of centrifical force pulling your center out to the suicide seats. It takes practice and muscle...and balls...and faith in physics.
It may sound like it's a lot to go into for just what your position should be at the apex of a turn. But think about all the chaos that goes into one turn. It's a blender. If you can hold your shit on a turn you can do all kinds of fun shit. You can learn to move that kinetic energy into the opposing jammer. You know, those big perfect hits to the out side that send girls sailing. Cool, man.
And think about all those fools who will try to hit you on the turns.. If you have your bearings and you're steady spaghetti you can always Roll out. Rolling out is newer.. it wasn't a memo it was a tweet.

Tweet::@::Roll Out- Get low and in front of a hit. Bend those knees and get super wide and steady. Brace yourelf and lean forward. Roll your shoulders down and towards the inside of the track. Stick your little neck out and push your hips in front of that blocker before she lands the big hit and puts your lights out. And keep skating. Keep skating.

Rolling out of a big hit is one of those useful tools you want to keep handy. You'll save yourself a lot of floor spilling if you can just get low and get out of the hit.

Anyhow, try some surfing and tell me how it goes. Also, dudes, send me some inspiring pictures of you and your league.

Lesson Sixteen: Hang in there, Kitty.

Posted on 8:11 AM
Let's talk about something more serious than roller derby. I know!! Is there anything more serious than derby? There's nothing more life-giving than excitement. The thrill of progress and the act of trying give meaning to a sometimes more challenging reality. Life often gets in the way of derby dreams but it also inspires those dreams to exist. I know.

I'll tell you something sad to tell you something beautiful. Last year about this time I woke up in a nightmare. I had to say goodbye way too soon to someone too special to be gone. It was and is a defining moment in my life. I remember crouching on the floor in a mess that morning wondering, “Where do I go from here?” It's only now that I can tell you what miracle saved me from myself in those dark days. The first responders asked "Is there someone you can call?" and there wasn't anyone I could think of but my derby sisters. When I am weak, they are strong. They came and they comforted, and they stayed and they've never been more than one phone call away.

In the next months I stayed in bed. I avoided strangers that love saying, "Cheer up!" and "Smile!" ... dumb strangers. But I was safe at practice. No one was making me try to feel better. No one made me regurgitate the story. And the practices let me forget about the empty house for a few hours. And I was making real progress. I felt that feeling you get... the feeling like you're really alive.

There were times between practices and bouts that I wallowed. I admit, there were some very dark moments, but then there was derby too. It was the singular reason to go on, to get out of bed and live again. When I lost all momentum and felt I couldn't bare one more day I only had to ask myself 'How could I let my team down?' Hell, I rode in rollerstank perfumed cars all summer, shoulder to shoulder with these women. So, how could I cry about being alone?

I’m not saying derby saved my soul, I’m definitely damned to hell... probably for all of infinity or something. All i’m saying is derby saved my life. More than once, and it will again. And that, my dearest friends, is the very beautiful part. I (heart) Roller Derby! And I love my team and my teammates.

But enough about me, don’t you want to know the lesson for today ??
Time is like a blocker- sometimes it gets in the way. That's when you have to knock it on it’s ass and take its point. There will always be obstacles in your way, but you will prevail if you only perservere. Realize you are stronger now than you've ever been and you're only getting stronger as long as you hang in there, kitty.

Lesson Fifteen: Trust me, I'm a Rollergirl.

Posted on 9:30 AM

We were in Appleton, Wisconsin playing the Fox City Foxes when it occurred to us that we needed someone to bust up a particularly great wall of behemoth blockers. We needed a specialist, a heavy hitter with evil hips. We all looked to her, and she to us. We trusted in her because we had all been hit by her and we all knew that wall would not stand one more jam.

You know the secret to a good cup of coffee? Consistency. Knowing you'll always get that same great flavor makes you long for one more cup at your favorite stop rather than chancing burned grounds at a new place. You trust that this next cup will not surprise you with it's nasty.

Consistency in derby means you are reliable, you can be trusted to do what you do. There is no substitute for trust on the track. When our pivot leaves the inside line to chance a hit on an opposing jammer she wants to know down deep in her soul that her beloved wingman has got that line in check. She needs to trust that you're paying very close attention to what is happening and you won't leave her hanging.

So how can you build that trust? It starts at practice, every practice. The best packs are full of attendance award winners. So, step one; be at practice. Step two? Do work! Be the first to challenge yourself. The only way for your teammates to trust you is for you to trust you first. You not only need to be good at a particular skill, you need to master it and you need to become confident. Sounds like a lot of work, yeah? Good thing you're a Rollergirl, most people wouldn't be able to handle all that striving and sweating. But then, Rollergirls are a tougher brand of women.

The last step to being really trustable is staying on the track and building some comradery in scrimmage. You want to volunteer to be on the track every chance you get. Look at the bench coach, tell them you're ready and be prepared to do some work. The more you work with your teammates the more they will begin to know your ways. And knowing, as G.I. Joe says, is half the battle.


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