In Which Our Heroine Does Not Apologize for Being Lazy

Everyone says it. 

“I’m sorry I haven’t written in so long. I’ve been super busy”. 

That’s not really my excuse, though. I haven’t felt like documenting what’s been going on. Sure, I could talk about how sad I am that derby’s over until the new year, or how I always want to go skating. How I’ve been emailing/bugging my trainer about workout details, or how I’m ravenously watching the Rollergirls series just to watch bouts. 

I could detail exactly why I need a chiropractor, and show you (with a Paint masterpiece) exactly how many incorrect curves there are in my spine. I could talk about how it initially affected my workout and was so unbelievably frustrating to not be able to move like I’m used to, or how I’m learning how to NOT sleep on my belly (it’s more difficult than I imagined). 

Or I could do the obligatory “Thanksgiving was so great/exhausting/refreshing/relaxing” post, complete with pictures of our turkey, from both thanksgivings (one with my family, one with his). I could talk about how moving my brother into his new, bigger, more adorable house did in fact make me a touch jealous, while still enjoying picking the pecans up in his new backyard. Or how not working out for four days and consuming absolutely ZERO nutrition in that time threw me into a state of grumpiness that was not easily overcome (or rather, it took a vigorous Zumba class to set things right). 

I could go on and on about how awesome this latest batch of sauerkraut was, because it’s my third attempt and the first one that’s actually edible! Let’s just say it’s as good as (definitely better than) the expensive organic sauerkraut Jon insists on buying every week (because it IS so. good.). 

And lastly, I won’t talk about my sell-out. How I finally broke down and bought an iPhone, and how it arrived on the same day as my new glasses so my “hipster kit” was complete. I don’t even care, either–I see so much better out of these glasses that I don’t care how pretentious I look and besides, I like them. And I begrudgingly like my phone too–as long as I don’t become glued to it, I think we’ll get along just fine. 

So I won’t. I’ll just say, “hello, blog! nice to see you again! let’s go back to gourdough’s with susan and eat another doughnut!”. 

and maybe i’ll start adding pictures here, because that seems to be the thing to do with blogs. for now: a picture of my little-brother cat, attacking the phone because he thought I was feeding him. 



In Which Our Heroine Is Encouraged

This was a great weekend for roller derby. We’re not really learning the game just yet (at this level, it’s more like learning to skate), as I haven’t learned how to give or take a hit, and it would be dangerous for us to attempt skating in a pack. However, we have been learning the skills necessary to do those things: skating without lifting your feet up, crossing over, maintaining your balance, and pace lines. We’re working on box turns and backwards skating, as well as being comfortable on one leg, all of which is NERVE-WRACKING and impossible to do if you’re thinking about it. Like everything else about derby, it’s tricks–tricking your brain into not knowing what’s going on long enough to do it. Because your brain does NOT WANT YOU TO TURN AROUND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STAY STRAIGHT AND STOP ROLLING.

right now, that’s what i’m having the most trouble with. i can skate moderately well backwards. As in–i don’t fall very often but i also am not going very fast and not for very long. i had a mild panic attack at the top of the curve because I could not bring myself to simply roll down the straightaway backwards. Too fast. Not enough control. Dammit brain, shut up. We are trying to be bad-ass and you are RUINING IT FOR US.

Box-turning was almost as bad. Apparently it’s really easy when you’ve got speed, but, OH YEAH I HATE GOING FAST BACKWARDS and why in God’s name would I want to turn around when I’m perfectly fine going this way? Sometimes I question if I’m in the right sport–banked track derby is a game of speed and finesse, which when combined spell trouble for me. But it’s fear, plain and simple.  Derby is a game I can’t think about because then I scare myself. And the only cure for that will come with comfort on my skates and time on the track.

The brilliant thing about it all is that I know that it’s a mental block.. And what’s beautiful about mental blocks is that the day I’m learning the maneuver, it’s impossible.  But  when I climb back on the track the next week, those things that I couldn’t do the week before come as naturally as if I’d been doing it my whole life. Happened with stepping up the track, and slaloming. We worked on “drunken sailor” skating this week, and I’m hoping magic is worked again because that was NOT EASY.  And it would be super nice if I could show up next week and box turn.

but all hope is not lost, readers.

there is hope on the horizon. my trainer Lacy (also known as Gandalf), really gave me a huge boost of confidence. she really talked through some of the more difficult drills with me and gave me the answers my cerebral-skatin’ self needed. BUT THEN she pulled me to the back of our pace line because it was “fast to fastest” and I’ll admit it–I was hard pressed to not do a little jig.

I stuck around for about an hour after my class just to watch the Level 2 girls skate (because they are already so much better than my class) and she came off the track, UNASKED, just to answer any questions I might have about their blocking drills. It was intensely flattering, plus she encouraged me to follow through with the Level 2 boot camp AND tryouts in March (with the understanding that it would probably be for experience only). But I don’t care if I have to wait until next fall to get into the new girl training league, the point is that SHE believes I can do it. SHE sees potential in me, sees that I am working and training and pushing myself. I’m not giving up. I’m the first girl there and the last one to leave. I am watching documentaries, youtube videos, and movies about derby, to understand the culture and motivation all these other women have for it. I know the history of TXRD, I ask questions about applicability of skills, I’m watching every move she makes. I want to KNOW this. I want to DO this. And I think they’re noticing.

I’m pushing myself harder and with more commitment than I’ve ever done before. Because derby is keeping me motivated, pushes me to work out and train for maximum effect.  I want to do every squat and lunge in Bodypump, because I know it’s only going to make me faster and stronger. I’m taking the extra time to do additional weights for my legs–the adduction and abduction machines, leg presses and ham curls. Extended stretching sessions for flexibility, morning piyo for core strength. Every day, I’m hungry to prove I can do this, hungry to get that much further ahead in the game. It’s a race against every bad decision I’ve made for 26 years, a race to see who will win–the lazy side of me or the  I want to make sure I’m putting every effort into this. I can’t get low enough to do that fall? Fine, I’ll squat until I can. Trouble with that single-knee recovery? Then I will lunge until it doesn’t hurt. I’m definitely noticing a difference in my endurance, that’s for sure. By skating laps as much as I can during the week, at warm-up on saturday mornings I’ve noticed I can go longer and stronger. I have never been more proud of myself than when I come home on Saturday afternoon and decide to never move again. 

Derby has also changed the way I’m eating. I’m keeping a close eye on my proteins & good fats while trying to minimize carbs (such as beloved breads and white pastas) and sweets. Up with veggies! Yogurt for breaky! Eating protein directly after an intense workout. It’s actually been much easier to say no to the candy in the office because the whole time I’m thinking, that’s not going to do me any good in training or endurance. And most of the time, I’m not even hungry–still full from my nutritious meals. Since Jon is so good at understanding anaerobic thresholds and how to recover from a hard workout, he’s been my recovery-meal expert. I am happy to report, my BLT with avocado (or, BALT) is considered perfect recovery food.

It’s a high to realize I can do this if I just keep my focus. I know that’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time–Zumba’s the longest I’ve ever managed to stick with a workout routine. But this is more than a workout class to pass the time. This is a lifestyle, a change from the soft to the hard, from the pudgy and sore to hard and hungry. And it’s about damn time.


In Which Our Heroine Faces Her Uncomfortable Past

Last night, Jon and I were looking through some of his old photos, from when he was in high school, trade school, Pennsylvania, and then pre- and post-India trip. He was the same Jon I know now–but he was so different. Long hair, medium hair, short hair. Facial hair, clean-shaven, grungy. And young–so, so young. Still the same hands, but so lanky, with that awful 90’s haircut where his right “bangs” kept falling over his face (think Shawn from Boy Meets World, peers). It was strange to see the rugged, bearded, handsome man I know and love as an awkward young teenager, too much arm and leg and nose (but oh lord, how he grew into his nose. Seriously–so patrician it’s art.)

The man I know now is SO different than the boy I saw in those pictures. This is going to sound horrible and mean, but, the thought crossed my mind that I wouldn’t have liked Jon if I had known him in high school. He looked like a punk! Plus, he was super cute–part of me resents him being so good-looking throughout the terrifying years of pubescence, despite all the awkwardness. But he was surrounded by so many girls (yes, that’s a bit of jealousy) AND boys. Obviously he was well-liked. Or maybe that’s it–despite the grace & athleticism with which he moves now, it’s difficult to imagine him coming from such awkwardness.

And though I try to keep my jealousy at bay, and though I remind myself that of course he dated other girls before me, it was hard to see pictures of previous girlfriends. I don’t want him to have ever had feelings for anyone but me. Even if I wouldn’t have returned those feelings 12 years ago.

But it isn’t fair to hold those things against him. It isn’t fair to the man today to judge him for who he used to be. He isn’t a punk–he’s his own man and makes his own decisions. He is strong and thoughtful and witty and impressive and challenging and logical and I love him. And if we’re being fair, he probably wouldn’t have liked me much either. I was dramatic, weird, and had a horrible sense of fashion (I’m remembering my chunky-heeled slip on boots, SHUDDER). I was snobby and condescending, smug in my intellectual superiority (which, upon reflection, wasn’t really that superior) and I tried way too hard to be cool.

I had a conversation with my boss last week about what I would say to my younger self if I could (and then she sent me to this site, which is FULL of letters to our younger selves). I remembered the years I spent from 7th-11th, and it was so painful to think about. I know it’s a difficult time for everyone, and it isn’t that I had an especially difficult or dangerous experience. Nothing was seriously wrong in my life, but if I could characterize my pubescence in a few words, it would be “excruciating embarrassment”. Seriously–I can really only remember the feeling of terror when I consider the first days of school, conversing with my peers, or trying out for anything. 

Peppered throughout my past is that feeling of just wanting to fit in–of wanting to belong. I wanted to be able to show people who I was without feeling ridiculous and vulnerable. I’m sure some of this stems from being a military brat and moving constantly, but I think part of it also stems from not knowing how to assimilate and make friends. I was minutely conscious at every moment of how I looked–not out of vanity, but because I desperately wanted people to think I was normal and belonged. Maybe that’s how everyone else felt too–maybe that whole time I just underestimated everyone else’s embarrassment, but there really was such a discomfort in my own skin. I never felt beautiful, unless I was covered in makeup, and even then there was no freedom. That’s the best way to describe it–I was constantly caged in by this feeling that I was not good enough for other people to bother talking to, or being friends with, let alone have a romantic interest in. I just wanted friends, and even when I had them, I was battling feelings of inferiority–how much fatter than everyone else am I? Is that all they’re thinking about? Do I dominate a conversation? Am I boring? Are they thinking how ugly I am? Are my clothes not fashionable? Is my hair funny-looking?

Maybe you think I’m exaggerating, or being a touch dramatic. Maybe I just didn’t realize it if everyone else felt the same way. But I can recall with startling accuracy how concerned I was one day in 8th grade because my cowlick decided to stick up, just as I was beginning to talk to my crush. ALL DAY I worried people were laughing at me behind my back, when in reality, they probably didn’t give it a second glance. But it tore me up. I was so sad and stressed I wanted to go home to cry.

Or the time my “best friend” pulled out my hair in the cafeteria in front of EVERYONE in retaliation for an act she deemed hateful, but came from a good place in my heart. I remember that mortification more than anything else from that year–I honestly can’t remember any good things from that school.

It seemed like every time I would finally work up the courage to put myself out there, it would end badly. What comes to mind immediately was when I played the part of Lady Macbeth in 8th grade. I was so proud because finally I could prove that I had something to offer, that i was good at something. My mother made me the most beautiful dress and it was STUNNING. And then Lord Macbeth looked down the front of it at my budding breasts in front of the whole school and everyone BUT me noticed. Instead of remarking on how great I did, or how cool my British accent was (and it was legit, lads), or even how I remembered ALL THOSE LINES in Shakespearean English, I was teased for my breasts. If that won’t shut a girl down, I can’t imagine what would.

I am so sad for that girl I used to be. I feel like she missed out on so much because she was trying desperately not to stand out, because she just wanted to fit in. I wish I could tell her that it ends up being so. good. That we become the person I did and didn’t want to be. That nobody really cared anyway, and that even if they were just there judging the only opinion that matters is my own. I’m not saying black-rimmed eyes or white eyeliner or ADIDAS visors were a good idea–I just wish I would have owned it. I know it’s a wish as old as time, but if I only knew then what I know now, I would have been so much happier. I wish I would have taken the classes I wanted to take, eaten the food that was best for me, and listened to the music I really wanted to listen to. I wish I had told some people to kiss my ass, and that I had pursued relationships with those I found interesting. I did that, later, but I just wish I had done it sooner.

I can’t totally discount that girl–she made me the woman I am today. Because of her and her crippling awkwardness, I excelled in school. Introspection is great for figuring out what you really want in life, and the best way to go about it. Being an outsider showed me who everyone else was, and what kind of person I didn’t want to be. It took me years to accept that I would always be a little bit different than everyone else. Not in the cool way everyone’s going for these days, but rather in the slightly-off-step-and-always-stumbling way.

I still find myself cringing at things coming out of my mouth, when I think “STOP TALKING. Why are you still talking?? SHUT IT”. I wonder why I wore those pants when they are so obviously wrong for me, or why I continue to eat the cookie I don’t even want. I think that’s the point of growing up, though.It’s recognizing that hindsight is 20/20, and we are NEVER going to be as cool, elegant, beautiful, skinny, hardcore or (insert noun here) as we want to be. There will always be someone better at it than us, and there will always be something we will wish we had done differently. It’s how you handle the moment you’re in, and later recognizing the worth of that moment despite its pain, that helps you to grow. 

So although I cringe at the thought of Jon seeing my old photos, I won’t be afraid to show him my goofy side now. We’ll have dance parties in the kitchen, he’ll let me beat him at wrestling, and we’ll stay up late watching Presidential returns because we want to. I will let him see me cry, and I won’t judge him when he eats his fifth slice of pie. Because we’re both grown-ups, and not those older versions of ourselves, I know it’ll be OK if he knows my tummy isn’t flat or that my feet stink after I wear my favorite flats. He’ll still be there, not judging. 

Did you like yourself in high school? What would you tell yourself if you met your younger versions?

In Which Our Heroine Learns What It Is To Be A Battery.

whoever invented weekends was a genius.

because there is nothing quite like those two days in which you can let your brain soak in a saline solution while you go off and eat what you want, sleep as long as you like, and watch whatever trashy 90’s comedy or early aught’s sci-fi you please.

it’s like when you get super muddy and take a shower–there is something so cathartic about seeing that ridiculous mess give way to cleanliness, order, and newness. it’s why i don’t mind doing the dishes, folding the laundry, or emptying the trash. i love fresh sheets and shaved legs for the same reason–comfort and sanity restored.

after the chaos and busy-ness of last week, i needed some time to just BE. i was frazzled after a normally-scheduled busy week turned into a nightmarish-busy week. mentally it wore me out, then i exhausted myself emotionally by thinking through AND documenting my Final Wishes (thank you very much, Mary Roach). it was a rough week, filled with nightmares every.single.night. (i was being prepped for organ donation, had an Ariel experience without the happy ending, and battled a troll that wouldn’t die). so i welcomed this weekend with all it’s normalcy and chores. i listened to Phantom of the Opera on vinyl while washing my floors, learned the four proper falls at derby training, picked up my milk, and then gorged on homemade pizza and Vietnamese food. i visited my family, decided on a derby name, and cleaned off my back patio. a full recharge.

it sounds boring, because it was. and that was amazing. it wasn’t terribly exciting. but i wanted nothing more than to just live in the moment, to not always be thinking about what was going to happen, but rather, what was happening. as much as i love order, i was sick of trying to keep the edges from blurring. like my co-worker says, i felt like i had been herding cats all week. so, i let my dishes stay dirty overnight, i didn’t change the sheets until late last night, and i ate an entire half of pizza. it was exactly what i needed.

today begins another hectic week in which i might be overwhelmed (can you ever just be “whelmed”?). i’ve decided i’m just going to take it one day at a time (except Tuesday. can we please just skip Tuesday and probably Wednesday too?) and accept each day as it comes. today came with an unexpected raise at work. what will tomorrow bring? (notmittromney,notmittromney)

stay tuned and find out.

In Which Our Heroine Is Le Tired

Just wanted to pop over, little blog, and give you a squeeze. I want to fill you up with posts about last derby practice, workout fatigue and victories, or about how frustrated I am with my cat’s sudden disdain for the litter box. But all that’s going to have to wait, blog-ito, because I am le tired (I am pretty sure that’s how the french say it). I have had an emotional week thanks in no small part to the Mary Roach book “Stiff: the Curious Lives of Cadavers”, and can right now only focus on the fact that I am still alive and so are all my importants.

Maybe later I’l detail you with my inspiration for learning how to REALLY master the basics of cooking (crepes, biscuits, pies), or maybe share with you my newest derby breakthrough. But not today. Today is about keepin’ on keepin’ on.

Dear friends, if you could say a little prayer for my timid soul today, I would certainly appreciate it. I am having a rough week.