Monday, April 30, 2012

Be Like Mike

I've been stuck in this rut lately, where I believed that life was a thing that just happened to me, not a thing that I  could get out and take control of, not a place where I could make things happen. I would lie back and think of England, only England was my entire existence, the whole universe.

It hasn't been a fun year, to say the least.

But I'm snapping out of it. Slowly but (hopefully) surely, I'm pushing myself, going out, doing things that make me happy, making things happen that make me a more complete, better person.

To be a painter, you must paint. To be a writer, you must write. To be a derby girl, you must strap stinky pads on, face down the world's dirtiest track, and skate and black and jam and turn left and fall down, and do it over and over and over again. Fill the track up with your booty blocks, your rage, your passion, your unquenchable desire to be Suzy Hotrod and Amanda Jamitinya and Carmen Getsome, all at once, even if it's only for a nanosecond.

And if I can do those things, face down my fears of getting hit and not hitting hard enough, of getting hurt and not getting back up, of not making it through the pack or not chasing down the jammer, then maybe, just maybe, I can face the world, too.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gauging interest

So, here's this thing I've been mulling over lately:

What's the deal with coupon blogs? God, I sound like a bad Seinfeld skit. I love couponing as much, if not moreso, than your average broke-ish twenty-something... though, I suspect that that in itself might be the problem. Most coupon blogs are maintained by moms, or those with mom-like responsibilities. Not that there's a damn thing wrong with any of that, and I have nothing but respect for the bloggers who can somehow keep on top of every circular and coupon released every week. I frequent more than a handful of them on a regular basis. 

But I always feel like there's something, or someone, missing. Mainly, the voice of the broke-ish single twenty-something. I don't talk about my kids (what kids) or even my pets (what pets). I'm not going to go buy diapers, no matter how free they are, and making out like a bandit with all those stackable 10/$10 deals? Not gonna happen. Come on. I live in a 450 square foot apartment. I barely have a closet, let alone room (or need) for a stockpile. So I feel like there's room in that sphere for the voice of someone like me, someone who would be elated to be able to save mad cash at the liquor store, or needs to know where the best happy hours in town are, or how to snag free stuff from the coconut water company, not the baby formula company. I dunno. Someone who can make couponing and saving money cool-ish to us broke single folk. Because honestly, I'm the only 29 year old I know who lives alone and buys 3 Sunday papers every week, just so I can save 40%+ on my grocery bills. And it kinda boggles my mind that none of my other friends do this - not only because we're all varying levels of broke-ish, but because come on. Saving money is awesome. (There is absolutely another blog post hidden away here about how much I love the sound of scissors snipping up coupon paper, and how my Grandma taught me how to clip coupons from her deck overlooking the ocean in Atlantic City, but, y'know, another time.)

Anyway, I'm just trying to gauge interest from my meager reader base about this. Would anyone read it, or even care, if I wrote about this stuff? Good idea? Bad idea? Already been done idea? Don't worry, I'll be back to talking about roller derby in no time.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If A, Then Fall Down.

Cleaning my skates isn't hard, or scary, it's just an exercise in patience coupled with my OCD-tendencies and utter terror of botching something up. I'll spare you the how-to of bearing maintenance (though it appeared on my facebook page last night at a friend's request), as my fears lie in the details.

What if I bend a bearing cover. What if there's still dirt in there and the bearing locks up and I die. What if there isn't enough lube and the bearing locks up and I die. What if there's water in the bearing and it rusts then locks up and I die. What if I snap something on the cage (the thing that holds the individual balls in place) and the bearings fall out and my wheel falls off and I die. And so on.

Granted, all this is relatively pointless, since the ACTUAL consequence of any of these worst case scenarios is pretty easy: If A (where A is the catastrophic ruination of any part of my skate while skating), I fall down (I am the best faller on the team, I have NO fear of falling), do situps for the rest of practice, and buy new parts.

All that said, it took me four hours to fully clean my skates last night, since my bearings had to go through four acetone washes before I was convinced that they were all clean enough to be reassembled.

Shiny and clean!

The interesting thing happened when I went to clean my wheels. (Lucky, there is nothing scary about cleaning wheels. Rinse 'em off and you're done.)

The first time I took my wheels off my skates was also the first time I had them regrooved. After about a year of skating, they'd all been worn bald, and I was sliding all over the track. Theoretically, people told me, you can tell how you're skating based on how worn down your wheels are, and where. Inside wheels wear faster than outside wheels, since that's where you should be putting the most pressure. They also wear at a slight angle, because of crossover. Because of this, you should rotate your wheels regularly.

But my wheels were all uniform. I took this to mean that basically, I sucked.

This time, though, as I was swishing my skinny new Stalkers around in soapy water, I realized that they actually felt different. As I took them out and looked at them - yup. Sure enough, some of the grooves are more worn down than the others. And it's pretty evenly divided, 4 and 4. So, inside wheels and outside wheels. Which means that since starting roller derby (and changing to new wheels that don't suck and actually allow me to T-stop and are ohmygod amazing), I've legitimately become a better, stronger skater. Whaaaaaaat??

I shudder to think that I might actually be, y'know, learning anything in roller derby besides how to skate fast and get low, but there it is. If I keep doing a thing, eventually I will get better at that thing. And eventually that thing will have noticeable results. It's terrifying. And inspiring. And I just said inspiring.

All cleaned up and ready to roll.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

And I Would've Gotten Away With It, If It Weren't For Those Meddling Kids.

I took a rain check on yesterday. Part of being an HSP is knowing my body, and my limits. I took a bunch of Sudafed on Tuesday, forgetting that Sudafed is pseudophedrine, is a basically an amphetamine, and tends to react like speed would in many people. Especially me. (I've tried Adderall, which is similar, and it was one of the scariest afternoons of my life. I ended up in the nurses office, unable to stop vibrating. Literally.) So I woke up on Wednesday in the throes of some sort of manic episode/anxiety attack type thing, with my thoughts racing and my body feeling like there was a high-speed rail line racing alone under my skin. Nothing was possible, and every sensation, every thought, every stimulus, was too much. I probably should have realized something was awry when I woke up in the middle of the night, because the hidden snaps on my duvet cover were registering as "too pointy" on my skin.

I hate being in that situation, knowing that something is wrong, actually wrong, but unable to figure out what it is, or how to circumvent it. Then feeling powerless. Like I'm not in control, like my body is winning, like I'm just a passenger along for the ride in my life.

Luckily, somewhere in between the "I hate myself"s and the "Everything is terrifying"s, I remembered the Sudafed thing, and was apply to delay sensation overload long enough to ask my phone what side effects of the drug were. Oh, look. All the things I was experiencing. It was such a relief to know that this wasn't just my body chemistry having it out for me, but something outside, something that could be dealt with. Granted, I still couldn't actually get out of bed. But I was able to recognize that if I just waited long enough, the drugs would pass out of my system, and I'd be ok. So I slept. All day. I've never really forced myself to sleep before, but I didn't really know what other choice I had. At least in sleep, my conscious mind can't hurt me. (And my subconscious has been behaving itself rather well these days.)

Around 10.30pm, I woke up, and felt ok. Thank god. And then I vowed to not let today end up like yesterday. I ended up emailing my mom, telling her everything that had happened that day, and promising her the things I was going to do today. Because I need to hold myself accountable to other people. It's too easy to let myself down. I do it all the time. My brain is programmed for self-sabotage and disappointment. Letting other people down, though? It's much harder. More to the point, lying to other people is much harder. And I know that if I tell mom a thing, she will later ask me about a thing. And then I either have to tell her all about it, or I have to lie. And I hate lying. (I'm also terrible at it.)

So today, I pulled on my big-girl pants, changed the wheels on my skates (oh my god, my bearings are filthy), and went to the park. To skate. Alone. By myself. For the very first time.

And it was scary. What if there were other people there? What if all the hockey rinks were occupied? What if people stared? What if people laughed? What if I got there and didn't know what to do? What if I fell down a lot?

I've never actually exercised by myself before. I can count on one hand the number of times I've gone running, or popped in a workout video, or anything. Usually getting me to work out is an exhausting exercise in coercion and bribery and teamwork. By which I mean, exhausting for the other person.

So this? Kinda huge.

I got to the park, and both rinks were empty. So I walked up, picked one, strapped my skates on, set my clock timer, and just... did things. Regular laps. Sprinting. 8 on the floor, both ways. Shuffling reps. Grapevines. Jumping. Heel-toe runs. 10 laps/10 reps each, making myself to pushups/crunches/leg lifts/planks when I stopped for water. Was it effective? I have no idea. I was sort've winging it. And about halfway through, there were all these small children on skateboards weaving around me. And their moms, watching me. And yeah, that part was kind've embarrassing, because I kept getting winded, and they kept being wired.

But hey, I did things. And it wasn't so scary. Though next time (whoa. There's gonna be a next time? I guess so.), I'd like to bring a friend. Because one of the things I did learn today is that derby is way more fun with my teammates than it is by myself. Though, on the other hand, an hour on skates without getting hit was kind've nice, too.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Don't Call Me Surely.

Progress is weird. You creep along, little by little, and then, all of a sudden, you're doing the things that you thought you'd never be able to do.

I had a couple of those moments at practice tonite. DeRanged and Psychobabble, two of the best skaters in roller derby, came out to run a training session with us. As always, I was terrified. I mean, these ladies are legit roller derby superstars. I feel like I'm never going hard enough, or doing well enough, to impress them. And trust me, we ALL want to impress them.

We worked on a bunch of offensive hitting drills (things I am not good at: Offense. Hitting. Drills.) and, even with my laryngitis and allergies/head cold, I managed to surprise myself.

Tonite, I went to practice. (I am a giant baby when I'm sick. Usually the sniffles are more than enough to give me a reason not to go out. Let alone to go exercise.)

Tonite, I did 40 pushups. (Number of pushups I could do at a time when I started playing roller derby: 1. Maybe. Sort of. Not really.)

Tonite, I pushed the largest girl on my team out of bounds.

Tonite, I chased down the jammer as she busted out of the pack, and I caught her.

Tonite, I gave Psychobabble a hip bruise. (And then she gave me pointers on how to be more effective when I use my bony, bony hips, and I squealed a lot on the inside and HOLY SHIT I GAVE PSYCHO A BRUISE WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN.)

Little things, building on top of each other, manifesting into noticeable progress. Just keep doing one thing every day that scares me.