Roller derby scares me a little less than it did a year ago. Okay, that’s not completely accurate. I mean- the whole lifestyle, religion, philosophy- Hell, the whole World of Roller Derby (from here on out, I’ll refer to it as WoRD) – I completely get. Not only do I get it, but I have been searching for this elusive ‘sine qua non’ to my life ever since well- ever and always.
It’s the levels of the WoRD that I’m now becoming acquainted with, and with different levels come different adjustments that either I have to make, or are made for me. I just have to get used to the changes. So, let’s rephrase that first statement-
WoRD excites me more and frightens me less than it did when I first started on quads a little over
ninety 120 days ago.
I’ve been transitioning into this new lifestyle slowly, very slowly. I’ve been smelling the proverbial flowers (read: OMG- washing my pads is very crucial for olfactory happiness) and watching the WoRD grass grow (Ah, again- washing pads= less fungal invasiveness). I’ve been lollygagging around and absorbing each level I encounter with fervor and most importantly- with observance.
Random quote shout out!
“In the middle of the journey of life I found myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.” – Dante Aligheri (Inferno)
Heheh, that’s what she sai-
See- I skipped and snorted and jaunted and jigged haphazardly and unthinkingly through the journey of my life, until one or two or ten wrong turns landed me right in the middle of a ‘Hans-Christian-Anderson-breeds-with-Tim-Burton’ kind of ‘life forest’. There were definitely rodents of an unusually large size (I like to call them my ‘mental Capybaras’) there in my self-made diorama. Most important-there really was no easy way out of the purgatorial inferno I had created for myself. Not just because of my tendency to over-reference in descriptions.
Fast forward about half a decade (not to worry- I’m certain those five years will be chronicled sometime soon) later and miracle of miracles! The power of the spoken WoRD saved my soul, nay- LIFE…eventually (I’m kind of the type that if something is worth doing, it takes me three or four tries before I catch on and realize it’s worth doing right).
The physical WoRD implanted its pacemaker-like influence shortly after aforementioned miracle (i.e.-kept my heart beating= influential pacemaker) back in September of last year.
I began showing up at local scrimmage nights, absorbed with some unusual type of ‘recently-kicked-the-smoking habit’ kind of habit (consuming a bag of carrots in under an hour, incessantly and constantly sharpening pencils, etc.), but unquestionably open to learning the intricacies of the sport of roller derby.
Nutshell- I geared myself to become the best WoRD roadie I could be.
I determinedly began learning such things as:
how to lay down track squares (those anti-slip carpet runners can really come in handy) correctly
Sharpie-markering highly visible numbers on muscled, yet sinewy biceps (Heather K. – I want to take this parenthetical opportunity to apologize for that initial attempt of mine to duplicate an ‘03’ onto your arm. I had no idea that when you said ‘Make it big enough to be able to see’, you didn’t mean by the kids in the soccer field across the sports complex).
Transcribe various actions barked at me from closely-circling, monochromatically-shirted skating men, such as the letter ‘C’ meaning ‘Direction of game play’, or ‘X’ meaning ‘cutting track’ (I was looking for scissors-carrying skaters the first night, wondering why they’d want to cut up those carpet runner squares that I had just laid down. The brightest crayon in the pack? Not me, nope-for sure. Double rainbowed commentator? Perhaps- but that’s another story).
Within a few weeks, I had become pretty proficient at logging penalties and points, but hadn’t quite gotten back into the swing of that ‘self-confidence’ thing.
After my adoptive team played and won their inaugural game in December, insecurity got the best of me and I dropped off the derby radar.
It was partly due to a social anxiety that had, in just a few short years, wrapped its needling embrace around me tighter than a Sleevin’ Las Vegas Slanket. A little part shyness as well, equal parts weight-related insecurity and awkwardness- all sum parts equaled Emotional Wreck. I just couldn’t be comfortable around so many independent, confident, goal-oriented people, so I extricated myself from them and just stopped showing up to practices.
Whoa, whoa- hang on a minute! I’m not saying that I quit roller derby so soon after being introduced to it. Quite the contrary- The ‘Q’ word has not once entered the picture for this here Newbie. My absence was more akin to being able to set my eyes on the proverbial prize, but needing some introspection before diving in.
I also didn’t know how long the winter break was for and was too shy to ask anybody…
Imagine how surprised I was then, when in mid-February I received a personal email from one of the league owners, inviting me to participate in non-skating workouts. An INVITATION, for me!
To work out, i.e.- exercise. Oh, snap.
Several panic attacks later, I responded affirmatively, then placed the upcoming event totally out of my mind until the day of the impending non-skates workout. It was then that I realized I had not a stitch of clothing that could masquerade as anything close to workout clothes. I mean, I hadn’t worn shorts in over three years and anything (exterior-wise) more body-hugging than shorts? Absolutely no way.
The day of NSWO (Non-skate Work Out) surreptitiously arrived, and a panicked lunch hour trip to Wal-mart inducted me into the world of ‘work out’ fashion.
Holy shit- there are bras made exclusively for exercise?
Loaded up with my derelict grey-in-color jogging pants, zip up matching grey hoodie and grey cotton tee, as well as some sort of t-backed, perma-stiff, front snap closure bra (good for high-impact sports, whatever that is. Chest bumping?), I felt prepared for my imminent social activity. Once home, I sifted and sorted through boxes galore until I located the one pair of tennis shoes that I had bought when I thought that tennis would be a cool hobby- about four years ago. My dog had ripped out the insoles at some point, but I figured, “So long as I look like I know what I’m doing, the rest will fall into place”. I proceeded to pop on the archless yet athletic-looking foam shoes and glanced in the mirror- Oh, no way.
The perma-stiff sports bra supported me slightly worse than some bobble-headed vehicle with the shocks blown out. The grey, poly/blend elastic pants accentuated cellulite mounds I didn’t admit I had previously and the cotton top additionally contributed to the first rule of selecting exercise wear that I accidentally learned- GREY MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE BABAR THE ELEPHANT. No matter how fit or unfit you may be. SERIOUSLY. Even Babar covered up in a form-accentuating green suit.
I didn’t have time to correct my first rule so harshly learned, so I did what any fashion-backward knave would do in the face of a style faux pas- I wiggled into three additional bras, squeezed into a pair of control top pantyhose and underneath it all- like a reverse cherry on top- a torso-slimming body shaper Singlet. Yeah, like in wrestling.
At this point, I was so late that I didn’t even do a comparative check in the mirror. I felt comfortably sucked in clothing-wise, so I contentedly waddled to my car in order to race on over to my first non-skate practice with the roller derby team. Once there, I answered the few questions from inquisitive minds regarding my whereabouts for the past two months with non-committal ‘you know’s’ and ‘well’s’, until the coach indicated it was time for team warm up.
Admittedly, I felt pretty confident at this point. After all, I had prepared by driving over with my car heated to ‘Sweltering’. I had zipped my hoodie all the way up and I have to admit- I was a little warm. Warmed up, you know? When everyone began to walk around the anti-slip carpet runner squares, i.e.- the track, I was all- ‘Hey, I can do this. Easy, Peasy- walk around in a circle, okay!’
After one lap of walking, all the ladies began to jog pretty damn quickly. I attempted to duplicate their actions. It was probably after the fourth lap that I began to realize that my lungs were erroneously made of latex and had been deceiving me for quite some time. Blowing up a balloon by shakily inhaling/panting? Not really copacetic in garnering positive breathing results. Just as I felt certain that I had imploded one of those said lungs, everyone stopped jogging and instead began to make their way towards the middle of the track. Thank Whew! This non-skate workout had turned out to be a great lesson for me- and now that I knew- huh? Not done?!? Forward alternating lunges for 30- go, what?
I looked to the left and right of me, attempting to quietly execute some similar maneuver even though I had no idea how to execute it (like- having three types of forks to the left of my plate and two knives, three glasses and assorted cutlery akimbo to the right of it at some fancy to-do dinner- Cinderella did NOT have it easy, just saying). Just when I felt I was getting acclimated, I hear the voice of the coach- “Nomnom- Don’t let your knee extend past your ankle”.
Ipso facto nomenclature ankle what?
I did what I felt was the right thing to do to correct my apparent no-no- I pushed my knee just as far as it would go PAST my ankle in an attempt to touch the sport court with said knee. That ‘extend’ should please the coach big time, I think. (Me- Don’t think) Said coach is suddenly at my side and my confidence quickly hampers as I hear words like ‘never’, ‘quickest way to injury’ and ‘wrong’,- realizing the adjectives are about everything that I’m doing- incorrectly.
I’ve become the ‘What not to do’ model. In Elephant Grey.
To make matters worse, a reporter from the local paper (with photographer in tow) was present that fateful evening and was prepared to not only observe, but participate and blog about various, alternative ways to get ‘fit’. I looked around and saw the veritable ‘Obstacle Course of Doom’ that had been set up to accommodate this ‘fit’ challenge- jump ropes, free weights, rope ladders on the floor-What the Humphump?
I’m going to end here on this note- namely because I have been trying to write this little ditty for over a month now. Also- my insecurity issues have waned quite a bit since the accidental inception of ‘Babar Sportswear’. Dropping twenty pounds in the last five months has helped quite a bit, also.
This beast of self-doubt however, has by no means been eradicated altogether. Once I pass assessments? Could be another story altogether…
Roller Derby excites me a little more and scares me a little less than it did when I first made the decision to skate, nearly a year ago. Granted- there are a lot of adjustments I’ve had to make for the WoRD. There are also many life changes that have yet to occur for me. But the one thing I innately know is this- I may have lost the map to that simplistic path to life long ago, but I will never regret this WoRD path I am currently forging because of that mislaid plan.
And I’ve abolished gray from my wardrobe.