Apr 272011
 

As a beauty queen, no one ever told me it was ok to stop smiling; it kind of goes against everything you’re taught. In fact, they said, “DON’T STOP SMILING” and I smiled bigger. My face was 75% teeth and lips. It was never ok to get angry, to feel like the world was going to implode if you didn’t open your mouth and scream.

In high school, I was a beauty queen. I was captain of the cheerleading squad, president of the science club, track star, and a model student. Everything I tried – I WAS GOOD AT. Everything. I was hyper-involved in my school and my community. My mom was hyper-involved with me, so she had a hand in everything I did.

When I graduated and went to college, I was obviously going to be a winner at everything and get trophies for awesomeness in whatever I did. Well no one tells you when you’re the star of a tiny town that you won’t be the star of anything when you leave. That’s why people don’t leave, I think. That’s why I’m back, I guess- nine years, a drop-out (and subsequent trip back to college), a baby, an abusive ex, and a derby-name later.

Hi. I’m Coma Splice, blocker for the Cenla Derby Dames. I’m not the best skater on my team. I’m not the best blocker on my team. But you know, nine years after “The Fall,” I’m ok with that. I’m the best skater and blocker I can be right now and every day I’m working to be the best at being my derby alter-ego. I’m also an English teacher at my old high school and the mother of a mischievous 5 year old girl. I’m multi-faceted and am just now learning how to deal with that. I’ve always been one thing, at one time or another. In high school, I was the All American. After that, I was the College Girl. After I dropped out the first time, I met my ex, got pregnant, and became The Mom.

After I had Emma, it was hard to reconcile motherhood with every other part of my life. Growing up on the proverbial buckle of the bible belt, you’re like… pre-engineered to have this southern thing driving you. I don’t know if anyone else from the south feels that way, but to me, there’s this weight of propriety that we all are supposed to subscribe to and honestly, derby is and was my answer to that.

My mother always told me, “Once you have a child, a mother gives up every other part of her life in service to God and to that child,” which is probably why I never wanted kids. Once I had Emma, though, I had no problem with that. I gave up everything I was, at the time, and dedicated my soul to her. To make a long story short, my dad had to move me out of my home while Emma’s dad was at work. It was a horrible situation and after trying to keep my dysfunctional family together for so long, I decided it was better to raise her alone as opposed to raising her to think it was ok for a man to treat her the way her dad treated me.

So I left. I ran. I got my shit together. I went back to school. I graduated with a degree in English. I got a grown-up job. And with my first big-girl paycheck, I bought a pair of skates. I went to my first derby practice that day and never looked back. I knew I wouldn’t. Derby represented everything I’d been needing as an adult. After high school, there’s really no legitimate way to be aggressive and competitive as a woman.

I mean, really. I’m not the type to go bargain shopping for designer purses. And that’s not knocking the women who are fucking FABULOUS at that. There’s just no way I could tell the difference between a Coach bag or Louis Vitton (see?? I can’t even spell it right!). Derby was my chance to excel at something again and to BE everything I couldn’t be at work or with my family. My mother hates the fact that I’m on a derby team. Every change I’ve made in my life, she’s blamed on derby to some degree. She told me the other day, “You’re so different than who you used to be. This derby thing has just…. changed you!” And really, the only thing derby has changed about me is the fact that it’s given me the balls to do what I want.

I have gauges. I dye my hair. I take time away from my child to feel like a HUMAN, to be multi-faceted and whole and incomplete at the same time. I cultivate relationships and write and play music and just fucking LIVE. And Emma is a witness to most of this because the most important thing I learned from my mother and from derby is that every girl should grow up knowing you don’t HAVE to be perfect; you don’t have to smile all of the time. And that sometimes, it’s ok to open your mouth and just fucking scream.

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May 222010
 

Last Saturday, I was on the roster for a bout. I really didn’t doubt I would make the roster, but I was heartstoppingly excited when I saw my name on the list.

The day of the bout, which was against the Acadian Good Times Rollers (a fantastic group of women, by the way), I was pumped and shaky-excited, but not nervous. In fact, I searched myself to find some nervousness, cause I figure that’s healthy-to be nervous before a bout. I was throw-up-your-breakfast nervous for every other bout I‘ve been in. The fact that I wasn’t nervous started to make me nervous. I thought to myself, “This could be the awesomest bout EVER, or I could be going into a dissociative state and therefore will not be able to move off the pivot line on the track cause I‘m catatonic.” To make matters worse, my pride was hurt when I found out I was in only one line up. ONE. UNO. Granted, there are some awesome bitches on my team, I thought I would be needed at least more than once every 5 or 6 jams. My stomach knotted up as I started to have a vague feeling that I wouldn’t get to play very much. If you have never felt it, bless your little heart, cause it is the worst feeling to have to choke back the tantrum you want to have because you are afraid you won’t get to play as much as your little derby heart feels you should. Well, I choked back just such a *small* tantrum. Thank goodness, we definitly didn’t need that drama.

I was in my boutfit, all dolled up. I was in the most extreme boutfit that I have designed yet. My name is Ms Kittie Fantastik and my favorite color is green, so I let these details guide my hand: I chose a green belt, devised green, black, and pink foam ears for my helmet, green fishnets, used green duct tape for my pads, green eye shadow and green sparkles around my eyes, and to top it all off like a derby girl should, tomato red everlasting lipstick. I was dressed to the nines. Reason being, my family from waaaay out of state, not to mention they had been out of my life for years, was here to see derby for the first time, in their lives. I had to represent derby to its very derbyness.

All of my nervousness about being nervous was for nothing. This bout was the best one I have ever had the privilege to play in. Suffice it to say, I was noticed. It’s kinda hard to miss the derby girl with ears on her helmet. I played the best derby I ever have. I was in just about every other jam-or close to it. (My team needed me! Yay!) I jammed 3 jams (yes, I counted) and I was the lead jammer twice. I even scored points! All this seems like small potatoes to many blockers, jammers, blammers, whatever, but it is a huge deal for me. I am a non-athlete. I mean, I WAS a non athlete, but now I am a derby player. I skated my best at this bout.

I won’t regale you with all my little stories, memories, etc. But, I have to tell you this. Because it is my favorite part. So, I was lining up on the pivot line. I was the pivot. I was so high off of the adrenaline and endorphins from the joy of bouting, that I was grinning manically, have a great time. Maul-her Mae from the Acadian Good Times Rollers skated to the line and started to get set. She just looks at me and kind of sighs, “You’re just going to hit me, aren’t you?” I laughed and said something about this being all for fun or something. I felt supremely satisfied that I, a skater only since last October, could inspire such dejection in an opposing skater. I take Mae’s statement as one of the sweetest compliments that I could have received. Thanks Mae!

Photo Credit: Cajun Eject-her, RSRD Bout Poster

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