Roller Derby

THE HERMIT

I have been working from home since December 5th, 2010. Inching closer and closer to the one year mark of solitude filled working and a life where the "people" I interact with the most both have four legs, and fur.

Each time I meet someone new and I tell them I work from home they give me this side eye look where they question if I'm actually the sort of person who's a hoarder and "working from home" actually means, "hanging out with my 1200 cats, buried in boxes, where I sleep upright in a rocking chair because it's the only place in my house not covered in shit."

And I get it. I don't get out very much anymore.

Between the working from home and not having a car, this lady doesn't interact face to face with many people on a daily basis.

The thing that is starting to scare me is that this doesn't bother me.

I know right?

I DON'T CARE THAT I'M BASICALLY A FUNCTIONING HERMIT.

I mean, I have friends. I meet them for happy hour, or weekend dinners at their house. We go to bars, hockey games (first game this weekend! Yeah hockey!), meet up for BBQs. I make phone dates to catch up with friends who live in other states and cities. I interact via email, phone and Skype with my coworkers 40+ hours a week, and I also have this crazy world of the internet/blogosphere filled with comments, Facebook and Twitter. So I mean, PEOPLE, I have them!

But the fact I'm not crawling out of my skin makes me wonder if there's some screw loose.

Am I supposed to feel like something is missing? Should this suck balls?

I do notice some ways that working from home has changed me though. Because I mostly work in yoga pants, when I do go grocery shopping or have errands to run I find myself getting dressed up in full on OUTFITS. Yesterday for my trip to the grocery store my outfit was downright adorable and required much primping. To buy groceries.

I'm toying with the idea of "getting out more," possibly even taking a stab at joining the local derby team here in Anchorage, but the thing that stops me every single time is the idea that although joining derby would be insanely fun, allow me to meet a bunch of new people, and enable me to take back up my alter ego Ash'n Burn, which I loved so much, the catch is I'd actually have to ATTEND PRACTICE. Often. I would have to take time out of my solitary life of ME to be somewhere a couple times a week. 

Maybe it's because the last team I was on felt like it was trying to steal my free time and my happiness, maybe I was way too over scheduled as a kid playing 9 months out of the year travel softball, or maybe it's because suddenly I'm a hermit, but the idea of even three days a week where I HAVE to be somewhere at a set time sort of gives me hives.

So looking at this entire package, I can only conclude that the fact that I'm holding back from joining derby again because I don't like the idea of being on someone else's schedule makes me wonder if I need my head examined.

Oh my God you guys, I'm on the road to full fledged hermit-ville. Aren't I?   

 


BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

Last week was Kindness & Karma Week, and I sort of jumped into the theme of 'happiness' with two feet, two arms, a bucket of glitter, and some jazz hands. When I read about it that Monday morning it was like a light switch flipped on. I was on board. Throughout the week I tried to identify a variety of levels of happiness, like celebrating the things in my everyday life that made me happy, or shouting to the world how amazing my family is, but I also finally gave myself permission to make a decision I had been mulling over for quite a while.


No Adam and I didn't break up. He didn't cheat on me with a hooker in Vegas, and I'm not taking the house, the dog, and the garden and making him sleep outside until the property sells.

Although that would be QUITE the story, no?


No, last week I made a decision regarding something that was once fun, like sparkly down into my toes fun, can't wait to do it again fun, CAN I GO 14 TIMES IN ONE WEEK kind of fun, that suddenly seemed to be seriously lacking all the sparkles and goodness that had been bringing me back week after week. And so there I was, with this thing that took up oodles and oodles of time, money and energy, and suddenly 80% of the time I was coming home in a rage.


It just wasn't right anymore.

Maybe it was my fault all the happiness was gone.

Maybe I needed to try harder.

Maybe I should have asked louder for help.

Or maybe we just didn't fit, roller derby and I.

 

There, I said it. Derby and I broke up.

But, I think it was mutual. At least that's what Derby said.

I mean, we're still going to be friends, Derby and I.

At least I hope so.

I will come clean and say I've been stalking Derby on Facebook and Derby's website since I made my decision and I want Derby to be happy with everything that it does, and I know we're not right for one another anymore, but I can't also help but think late at night when I look at the ceiling that I also really miss Derby.

Like maybe we just needed couples therapy. Or a break! OR maybe we should have just had an open relationship. Maybe that would have worked!

Do you think Derby misses me too?

I hope so.

But also hope Derby goes on to do bigger and better things.

It was me Derby, not you.

(dramatic sigh)



Breakups are a bitch people. 

I'm thinking that when it's all said and done, if Derby and I never find one another again, if we simply exist as fragments of each others memories, I know I'll never sit there on my death bed and say, "I wish I had tried roller derby."


Damn you happiness.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


OLY OLY OLY, OI OI OI

That my friends is the Oly Rollers battle cry, warrior chant, victory declaration? Whatever it is called, all you need to know is that when someone screams, "OLY OLY OLY" you need to scream back, "OI OI OI."

I'm glad you know this now. I was worried you all wouldn't fit in. 

Last night the travel team took on the Charm City Roller Girls and seeing as I am nowhere near good enough to play on the travel team, as a league member and someone who plays on the 'intermediate team' I did glamorous things like man the bakesale booth (yes we are 12), sell raffle tickets, and stand around and scream things like, "KILL HER! KILL HER TWICE! HELL, KILL HER TWELVE TIMES!" all the while jumping up and down like a banshee. 


Do you like to scream? Jump around like a crazy person? Are you that person at a sporting event who's getting WAY too excited, possibly even the parent/friend/fan who brings your own cowbell to help cheer the team on (MOM!)?

Then I suggest you find your local roller derby team and watch a bout.

It will feel like you finally found your home.

Photo

IMG_0429 Photo1

 IMG_0431

 IMG_0438 All images were taken on my iPhone using either the Hipstamatic app or the Camera Bag app.



Did you get your tickets to watch your first roller derby bout yet? 

You didn't?

How about now?

Damn you people are slow.


Ok, well, if this doesn't hook you I don't know what will. At last nights bout there was a man dressed in a banana suit, but he'd modified it to try to look like a chicken suit, and he wasn't even the mascot of the team Oly was playing, but for some reason he came all the way from Philly anyway, and he juggled, while clucking. SERIOUSLY.


That hooked you didn't it? Right after you read that you bought tickets for a local bout didn't you?

Knew it.

You seem like the type of people who'd go nuts for a guy in a modified chicken suit.



Ashley, the Accidental Olympian




READY TO RETURN

Are you feeling down?

Maybe a little tired?

Possibly beginning to feel as if the skin on your face is pulled just a smidge too tight and probably cutting off the circulation to your skull?

ME TOO!

At least I was.


Our weekend in Bend was lovely. The skin on my face feels a little less taught, my brain a little less frantic, and even though I lost out on the game of rock-paper-scissors and got stuck with Oly in my room all weekend and therefore was woken up in half hour increments starting at 5am (DAMN YOU DOG), I had a wonderful weekend.


When we went to Bend for Christmas I had crossed my fingers, toes, and extremities hoping this born in Southern Californian girl could finally have a white Christmas. And although there was indeed some snow on the ground and frigid temperatures it wasn't the fluffy snowman making variety I had been hoping for. This visit though, in APRIL apparently was trying to make up for what I'd lacked over Christmas. 

Touché Bend. Why ever did I doubt you?


IMG_3538 


Adam likes to come to Bend with all sorts of toys in tow. Whether it is a fishing pole, a hunting bow, his dirt bike or a gun, Bend is the place to play with Man Toys. This visit being no exception. This trip Adam brought his newest tax return toy, a pistol. Apparently the same kind the police use. Can you hear the excitement in my voice?

No?

Gee I can't imagine why.

My therapist said maybe one of the things that might make me feel a little safer in our house when Adam is away and I find myself guzzling wine and hiding behind locked doors would be to get a gun. She told me that instead of feeling like a victim about what happened to my family I should instead get fucking PISSED.

After playing with this toy, I think instead of getting PISSED, I just sort of just PISSED MY PANTS.

Scary scary toy.

No. Thank. You.

IMG_3545


So, Adam's new gun is all scary and way too much gun for me. But this guy right here, this gun that has been passed down from Adam's grandfather, to Adam's father, and now to Adam, this little tyke is more my style.

Mostly because when it goes off it doesn't make a noise so loud that I feel like I just popped my eardrums.

Those movies where people are rapid firing hand guns and killing all these bad guys and looking all calm is just LIES. Adam's seemingly little pistol is way louder in person, the kick back is wild, and the idea of shooting at a moving target while also maybe tucking and rolling, IMPOSSIBLE SHIT MY FRIENDS.

Just saying.


Please note the mitten on one hand and the pom-pom hat.

BAD ASS.

IMG_3573 


But enough about scary guns.

This man right here is Sage.

A wise old dude of 14 who wanders the neighborhood near Adam's folks house. He comes around the house a couple times a day and his favorite spot is on the back deck gazing those frighteningly blue eyes through the glass door at you while you try to enjoy a meal.

Talk about some pressure.

IMG_3578


And this, well this was just cute. What can I say, I think snow is adorable.

Probably because I don't live in it.

Now that I think about it, those of you who live places it actually snows are cringing looking at something like this. Sorta like, "STOP SHOWING ME THAT HORRIBLE COLD STUFF!" You're probably twitching right now the same way I do when I look on Facebook and see all of Southern California being all, "Oh I love the rain! I want to curl up with a book and some coffee!" and I'm thinking, "I'm going to punch you in the face if you tell me how cool rain is ONE MORE TIME CALIFORNIA."

Wow.

Sorry, look at the pretty picture and forget I ever talked about rain.




IMG_3576


The weekend wasn't all snowy goodness, or snowy badness if that's your cup of tea. On Saturday I put on my tights and my Oly Rollers jersey and took on the Lava City Roller Dolls. Compared to my first attempt at a this whole roller derby thing this time I didn't feel like I was going to vomit in my skate bag the entire time I was driving to the rink so in my book that's a serious UPGRADE!

It was a close game. Full of screaming, shouting, slamming about, and sadly a loss for the Oly Rollers. But, I learned a thing or two, had a ton of fun, and the Lava City Roller Dolls were great hosts (none of their fans told me to die this time so that was a serious plus). One of the great things is that when it comes to roller derby, even if you lose you can always count on the afterparty to be a HUGE success.

IMG_3599 

In my book there is nothing like an afterparty to pick my mood right up.




Ashley, the Accidental Olympian

 


BRAIN. NOT. WORKING.

Right now I would love to tell you all about the roller derby boot camp hosted by my team this weekend. Talk on and on about how inspiring it was to attend this weekend of derby torture and see how many other beginners there are that are just as eager to learn as I. My urge is to tell you all about how eye opening it was to speak to the other women and find that some traveled from as far away as Chicago, Victoria BC, Arizona and California just to practice with the girls in my league*.

*I play on the Oly Rollers league, but there are three teams within this league. A Fresh Meat team (for newbies like me), an intermediate team, and a travel team. The travel team hosted the event because they are crazy good, do shit like this, and won the title of National Champs last November. So yeah, just remember, ME, attending the camp, THEM teaching. Because they skate circles around me.

Just so we're clear.


There are all these things that were emotional, thought provoking, insightful and meaningful that happened this weekend as a result of my attendance, but I can't really form complex sentences I'm so tired. Turns out when you skate 11 or so hours worth of roller derby drills in TWO days you will be so broke down and exhausted at the end that not only will it be physically impossible to walk down your own stairs (no seriously, why is walking DOWN the stairs so painful?), you wont actually have any energy left to SPEAK.

 

Instead of a half ass attempt at conveying my feelings, why don't I just show you picture of a flower from my yard.

IMG_3404
Let's be honest, a picture of this lovely flower is SO much better than a picture of the 1/4 inch deep hole in the side of my foot.

Trust me on that one kids.


Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


HELP ME. I THINK I'M DROWNING. IN MY OWN SNOT.

Nearly two weeks ago I stood up, beat my hands upon my chest and roared, "I AM A DERBY GIRL! HEAR ME ROAR!" Which I know is redundant seeing as I just mentioned I would be roaring in the first place. Whatever.

Anyway, I came to my little corner of the internet and I proclaimed I'd survived. Months of practice, a heaping pile of nerves, and a few bruises later I was proud to tell you all the tale of my induction into the world of derby. I even found a picture the Monday after the bout. Some people liked it, and some (*cough* *cough* MOTHER!) didn't even recognize me.

Feeling smug having survived my first bout I took two days off from practice. I figured since I was still on an adrenalin high days later it was probably best to give my heart and my body a little rest. Plus, the winter Olympics were on and I love me some snowboarder ass snowboarder skills. And then, right when I thought I would be jumping back into derby, returning to practice a slightly seasoned Fresh Meat I caught something being lovingly referred to as Derby Disease.

An illness so evil its taken down half of my league.

Derby Disease, doesn't that sound like we all had some crazy derby orgy after the bout and then caught some weird non FDA approved STD? 

Your mind totally just went somewhere really nasty didn't it?

Sorry about that.


It has been almost two weeks since my first roller derby bout and I have only managed to attend practice twice. The first time was a pathetic attempt at skating as I hardly had enough energy in me to remember how to place one foot in front of another, let alone think about things such as strategy, coordination, or speaking. And also, turns out a snot filled body is not exactly conducive to breathing. Who knew? Then last night I gave it another try and there were only eight girls in attendance out of nearly 30. Needless to say I took frequent trips to the restroom to hack up green stuff and suck air. It was HOT.

I'm telling you. This Derby Disease is a killer.


Seeing as I am *still* walking around with what feels like a mucus covered mouse scurrying up and down the back of my throat, thereby making it nearly impossible to breathe or swallow correctly, I shall leave you with some pictures I've located from the last time I truly skated over TWO WEEKS AGO.

Bellas v Cherry City (4)

Bellas v Cherry City (9) 


Bellas v Cherry City (1) 


Bellas v Cherry City

All images were taken by Masonite Burn.
Check out the WHOLE album here.


I'm thinking that if I don't pull it together soon these pictures might be the last you ever see of me in derby drag.

Crap. I think I just heard a car pull up. I bet it's someone from the team looking to take my jersey back.

I'll just hide under the couch for now with my Kleenex and hope they forget about me.

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


KEEP YOUR PANTIES ON, I FOUND A PICTURE!

Oly

Photo taken by Masonite Burn

Look through the whole set from the double header on Masonite Burn's Flickr page.

I am hoping that as more of the professional photographer's images are released online I will be able to share with you more and more images of me sweating profusely totally red faced. Hopefully there will even be one or two where I am either A. falling down, or B. giving/taking a hit. I am dying to see an action shot or twelve.

Once I have a nice collection I will make up a little link page and share a few more with you.

I can't tell you how much I am kicking myself right now for not forcing Adam to take video of this night. Damn you adrenalin brain!

OH, and I promise the Accidental Olympian isn't going to turn into daily posting about my oh-so-interesting, actually-who-really-cares life as a derby girl. Regular schedule postings about my dog, and the mundane reality of my life shall return shortly.

Don't you worry your pretty little head. 


Ashley, the Accidental Olympian


I STILL HAVE ALL MY LIMBS!

I know you were worried about that right? What with Sunday being my debut bout as an official roller derby biatch.

I am here to announce to the world that I still have all my limbs, no one punched me in the face, and I not only lived to skate another day, I AM COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH ROLLER DERBY.


Now comes the disappointing part, I have no pictures. Not even one measly shot of me in my getup before I left for the bout. People, you have not felt adrenalin and nerves until you’ve gotten ready for your first roller derby bout where not only a few friends and neighbors will be attending, but also 800 STRANGERS. Reminder, half of the strangers might want to kick your ass in the parking lot at the end of the bout.

And by the way, can we talk about how wild it is to play a sport where the opposing team’s fans are likely to tell you to your face they hope you DIE? I will never forget the first time I got a major (meaning I did something really wrong and was sent for a ‘timeout’), and as I skated to the penalty box someone’s MOTHER screamed, “How’s it feel to be a cheater you little fuck!?!?!?!?!”  CLASSY.

So in other words, talk about some pressure.



Adam was the official camera bitch, but sadly my camera is just a simple little guy and therefore was unable to catch more than a bunch of blurry blobs moving across the track. Seeing as I was playing in a double header you’d assume I would have had some time to snap pictures of my teammates while waiting for my team’s second go round, but that would have required me to use my brain, and my brain was most definitely not functioning.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say that the amounts of adrenalin moving through my system was second only to snorting a gallon sized ziploc bag of coke. And then shooting some heron. To take the edge off of course.


In the end my team stepped on the track virgins, and had our cherries popped so hard Sunday night I bet some of us are still walking funny.

Our group of misfits had NEVER skated in a roller derby bout before in our lives. The team we played told us they too were virgins, told us that together we could fumble around in the dark for one another’s bra straps and walk away a little more knowledgeable of the magic of derby love, but no. Those bitches have been playing for a year.

Needless to say they kicked our asses.

I hope they feel proud.


At first I was flustered. I can’t lie to you. When I was skating in the position of the jammer (the person trying to skate through the pack and score points), it was extremely demoralizing to take hit after hit and be unable to get through the pack. It is hard not to let it get to you when you seem to be physically unable to get past the wall of angry flesh being created by the other team. When the first half ended I won’t pretend I wasn’t a little rocked by a score of 98 to 23.

But then I remembered that my team pretty much all started skating in NOVEMBER. And hell, we’d managed to score 23 points against a team that has competed in multiples of bouts! Go us.


Before our second half we gathered together and the pep talk went something like this, “I love you bitches. Now lets be honest, we are never going to beat those girls out there. So if the only thing we take away from this half is that we improve, then we did an amazing fantastic wonderful job. Now go! Kick much ass!”

And wouldn’t you know it, that next half we went out with our heads held high and knocked some people around. I scored a point or two and sent a few women careening into the sidelines. Girls who had been too terrified to give a hit, let alone take one in the first half slammed their bodies into the opposing team and even knocked a few down. We smiled, and we lost, but when we took our final team lap around the rink people actually stood up and screamed for us.

Because you know what, we did it.



Ashley, the Accidental Derby Loving Olympian


PERFORMANCE ANXIETY

I'm sort of in a fight with my body right now.

Or more importantly, I'm in an epic battle with my right knee.


See, on Valentine's Day at 6:30pm yours truly is going to don my brand new Oly Rollers jersey, a tiny black skirt, fishnets, some teal and black socks and my skates and try to knock the crap out of some strangers. I have known about the date of this bout for quite some time, I have attended practices, worked out, studied rules, paid dues, attempted to absorb strategy, felt like a warrior, and felt like I suck all at the same time. Except the reality of my debut bout was always pretty far away so I didn't have to get all anxious and worked up about it.


Until now.

The realization that this is here, that there will be upwards of 300 people in a room, cheering, screaming, yelling, and WATCHING ME either kick ass or suck is starting to turn my skin inside out.

Now I would be nervous about this event no matter what seeing as I only started playing roller derby in November, but throw in the fact that last Sunday morning in practice I managed to screw up my right knee and you've added a whole new level of stress and worry to my plate I can't quite process. Now I am not only stressed about the reality that I need to perform, but I am also praying that ten minutes into the bout I don't have some behemoth roller derby hog land on my knee thereby causing the bottom half of my right leg to separate from my body while all the girls behind me run over my fingers with their skates and then spit on me.

KNEE, THIS IS THE WRONG TIME TO FUCK WITH ME.


The funny thing is that I know the stress and anxiety I am feeling right now over this bout is all tied to my deep seated issues with perfectionism. I can remember all too clearly from my days of travel softball how my brain would overtake my body if I knew that I NEEDED to score a point, NEEDED to catch this ball, NEEDED to win the game in a clinch moment. My brain took the pressure to be perfect, to save the day, to become a hero and made my limbs jello; thereby letting everyone down.


Or at least that's what it felt like at 13.

I can only hope that 12+ years of life have taught me the slightest bits of coping skills.

Right? Maybe?

Dear god Ashley PULL IT TOGETHER!



At the end of the day I know I need to take solace in the fact that HELLO I am playing a sport where I can take out all my frustration and nerves by repeatedly slamming my big ass into the opposing team and thereby making them hit the pavement. And when they get back up, I can legally do it all over again.

Wow. I feel better already.


OH, and if you live in the Northwest, preferably in the South Sound region (but hey if you want to fly in from the East more power to you), and want to see if I really can pull my head out of my ass and stay relatively upright on Sunday please come! I'll even give you a sweaty hug when it's all said and done. Plus, I know Adam is going to need someone to help him reattach all my limbs when this is all over.

Feb 14th Bout Poster 

Ashley, the Terrified Accidental Olympian


ONE OF THEM

Standing against the wall she turned to me and asked, "Can't we try this in slow motion? I mean, does anyone even know what the hell is going on right now?"

I chuckled, "I've been told this is actually harder in slow motion."

"I don't believe you for a second," she rebuffed.

I tried in this free moment to explain how the team operated. Trying to explain the whole 'throw you in with the wolves' approach I too had been subjected to as a newbie. I looked back into the three months I had been coming to practice and I threw a handful of tips at her I wish I had known. Her eyes darted from my face to the gaggle of women slamming into one another on the track before us.

I remembered what it felt like to feel as if you have absolutely no idea if standing on that spot was the greatest idea you ever had, or the worst.

Practice ended and as I packed up my gear there she was again. She introduced herself and then surprised me by thanking me. "Not everyone is willing to help out the girl falling all over herself in the corner. It means a lot," she said. I professed it was no big deal, and told her that I too had felt as she did when I started. I admitted to her that watching the advanced skaters dance in the rink had made, and even still makes my inabilities feel as if they are larger than myself. I explained, "I only started in November, and I am proof that these girls can teach you to skate. Somehow, someway." 
 
As I walked through the doors on my way to my car I called behind me, "BYE! See you all tomorrow night!" and calls of, "BYE!" "SEE YOU!" and "LATER!" reverberated behind me. For the first time I realized I may have passed that milestone I have been so eager to reach. Quite possibly becoming overnight someone that a new player feels confident enough to ask a question, if only to ask if it gets less scary down the road. Against all odds I might have become someone worth reaching out to in the middle of all the chaos and confusion.

The entire conversation, as short as it was reminded me how recently I too was that girl only one or two practices in. I still remember all too well what it feels like to stand in a room that was moving dangerously fast hoping I would either get it, or get the sense to stay home. 

Who knew I'd have the confidence to proclaim, "I promise you it gets better. Even better, I promise you'll get better."


Plus, she has to keep coming, or else she'll miss out on all the fun socks.

Photo1

People, I live for derby socks.

Ashley, the Accidental Olympian