Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hippie chick (hip-check) day-glo (eyeshadow) chickadee (rollergirl).

Yeah, I like these women.  I really do.  All of them.

Who knew that there were something like 53 badass chicks in this sleepy little hippie town of ours?  Don’t get me wrong – I have my share of hippie chick tendencies too, but sometimes… sometimes, you just want to wail on people.  And derby’s the perfect (and legal) way to get your aggressions out – among friends.  Where else can you get slammed across the room by someone and then go out for a beer with her an hour later?

I know what you’re thinking.  Men do that all the time, right?  But that’s just it; derby is OURS.  It’s a women’s sport.  It’s the only sport, in fact, that men had to copy – not the other way around.  We had it first (thank you, Leo Seltzer!).


This week’s Saturday practice seemed to mark a turning point for a lot of us.  We continued to work on basic skills, honing our blocking/hitting abilities, and playing cheeky, drill-oriented games like “Dumb Jammer” and “Follow the Douchebag”.  So we scrimmaged for the last hour or so, and this time, everything seemed to really come together.  I heard a lot of us talking about it later on; it’s as if the utter chaos is finally beginning to morph into controlled mayhem.  Controlled mayhem is what it’s supposed to look like.  Ask any derby ref.

Let me just say that, although I still get butterflies before practice, there’s something about gliding those fishnet stockings up my legs and smearing on the charcoal eyeliner that rips those butterfly wings to shreds and pulverizes them into a tasty paste that you can spread on a cracker.  That’s another thing I love about derby.  You can wear more black stuff on your eyes and bright red lipstick and sparkly neon green eye shadow than your inner 13-year-old ever dreamed of getting away with – OR you can show up in public with absolutely no makeup on.  Either way, you look awesome, and ain't nobody here gonna judge you, girlfriend.  In fact, if your mascara starts to smear all over your face from the sweat, it just makes you look tougher. 
Yummy yummy yummy I've got love in my tummy

So there I was, fishnets intact, thigh-highs looking boss, eyes sufficiently blackened from the first two hours of practice, and I’m handed the jammer panties.  The whistle blows…

What happened next was a perfect combination of my team doing a bang-up job of blocking the other jammer, me spotting an opening that my eyes couldn’t believe was there (but believed just enough for my brain to take advantage of), and sheer luck: I got lead jammer. 

When you’re this new to the sport, getting lead jammer in and of itself is like, you’ve won... take your victory lap.  And that’s exactly what that first lap feels like, except that you haven’t really made any points yet.  Meantime, the other jammer is hot on your heels and out for vengeance, and you gotta decide quick – plow through the pack again and pray that the stars line up in your favor just the way they did before, or call off the jam to prevent the other jammer from racking up points before you do.  So when it looked like I was toast, I called it off.  But it still felt pretty damn good.

*snort* mmm-hm-hmm, yeh, I got lead jammer *snort!*
I think I may be a little more prone to being overly-surprised and utterly amazed with my badd self when I pull off something like that because I’ve really never been very good at any sport.  In fact for an entire year of high school, I figured out a way to ditch P.E. after the coach took role, and I never got caught, because it happened to be during the “first lunch” period, so I just went to lunch… twice… and never got caught roaming around the school looking like I was ditching something.  I did try to play softball and run track for a while, but I was often the captain of the bench warmers, and my performance in track was pretty non-sequitur – only placed in three or four sprints that I can remember, and that was most likely because my opponents were tired from running other matches all day long.  My friends (whom I still adore) played Dungeons and Dragons and periodically went to the midnight showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  You get the picture…

So this derby thing has become both a personal challenge and an adventure into the unknown world of athleticism.  Admittedly, it’s kind of become an addiction, but believe me baby, there are worse things to be hooked on.  It has, actually, led me to put aside or temporarily ignore the things I was planning to do with the year 2012, like hunt for a full time job in multimedia or video production, clean out the garage, organize my craft room, etc.  But I wasn’t really doing any of those things, anyway.  After having to return from an amazing summer of internships in NYC at the end of August 2011, I found myself lying on the sofa, day after day, watching marathons of god-awful shows like Hoarders, rapidly gaining back all the weight I’d managed to originally lose in order to look fabulous on the streets of Manhattan in the first place, and second-guessing all my hopes and dreams.  Every day I felt worse, and the worse I felt, the less I felt like doing anything about it.  The downward spiral.  So at least now, I feel better physically, I can actually eat real food without it all turning into cottage cheese on my thighs, and I’m getting to experience, for the first time in my life, what it’s like to really, truly improve in a sport where everyone is rooting for you, after all. 

Pity party gets no cake.
The pity party is SO over, and I guess I’m using derby as the new launch pad for rebuilding my self-confidence in an economic world where hunting for a job brings forth whole new levels of rejection and feeling like transparent cellophane.  I do need to start tempering my derby with some actual long-term goals in my life.  Otherwise I’ll end up completely broke and living on the streets with no way to support my derby habit.  If worse comes to worst, maybe I could just start up a group of Rollerheads – nomadic homeless people who just follow derby bouts around the country and live off the land, lentils, and supporting each other via quirky arts & crafts.  Like I said, I do have hippie chick tendencies…

"Where's the next bout, man?  I'm running low on acid."