Feb 212011
 

This is me, feeling like I'm having an out-of-body experience.

“In the world of roller derby, our next reader, Sarah Perry, is known as Tricky La Rouge. Tonight, instead of kicking your ass, she’s decided to be nice and read to you.”

So went my introduction last Thursday, February 17, when I read my writing publicly for the first time. I’m in my first year in the graduate writing program at Columbia University, focusing on creative nonfiction and working on a book (more details to come later). I moved to New York this past August, leaving my beloved team, Red Stick Roller Derby, behind in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“Ohh, New York!” you might say. “Are you skating?” you ask, your breath perhaps catching as the amazingly kickass NYC league, Gotham Girls Roller Derby, comes to mind.

Sadly, no, I’m not currently skating. Transfer tryouts were in November, and after months of hemming and hawing, I concluded that school is just too important (and too damn expensive) to risk neglecting my writing because I got sucked into Derbyland. (For the moment, we’ll put aside the very real question of whether I would have made it onto such a high-level team to begin with). Life is about balance, sure, but on the other side of the equation, I didn’t want to convince those girls to take a chance on me and then shirk in my training because I was pulling all-nighters. It’s Gotham, for chrissakes. You can’t screw around.

What I am doing, every week or two, is getting drunk and yammering on about derby to anyone who will listen. I try not to do this, honestly – try to keep my love on the downlow, like when you’ve recently broken up with someone and you don’t want to burden your friends with your sloppy heartbreak. But I’ve found that writers are really interested in derby – it probably has something to do with all the time we have to spend sitting on our asses, muscles atrophying, frustration multiplying with no aggressive outlet. During a break in the reading last week, a fellow Columbia writer-friend came up to me and said that I had done a good job, but then said, “What was the deal with that intro?”

I’d hit the free wine pretty hard the second I got off stage, but somehow my brain made an insightful leap, and it occurred to me that she’d thought the derby thing was made up, which, I admit, would sound pretty cheesy. “Well, it’s true!” I said.

Ah, PBR. Neatly sitting at the intersection of my two universes.

My friend immediately brightened up and said, “Oh, then – that’s pretty awesome,” or something to that effect; the Cabernet and the subsequent $2 PBR’s have dropped a bit of a haze on the evening (not everything is expensive in NYC). She proceeded to tell me that she’d skateboarded a lot as a kid, and missed it. I was about to launch a nerdy conversation about helmets and wheels (I’ve been meaning to get those Kryptos or similar skateboarding wheels for outside), when another reader took the podium.

I miss derby so hard that discovering this girl was a skateboarder in her adolescence made me feel immediately more bonded to her. I miss derby so hard that I know when every Red Stick fundraiser or public appearance is, and no matter how tedious the event, I wish I was there. I miss derby so hard that when I see a Columbia undergraduate athlete chick hobbling along with one foot in a stabilization boot, I’m so jealous that she even has an opportunity to get injured in a sport, I could just about kick it out from under her.

You get the idea. For the record, I’m planning to go back – I’ll drag my nervous self to tryouts this year or next, when school settles down a bit, but I admit I’m worried that life will take over and divert me from the track. But all those drunken conversations would suggest otherwise. I had stopped writing for LiveDerbyGirls because I wasn’t officially skating any more, but it’s clear I still have things to say. Many of you out there might be in the same boat – laid up with a stubborn injury, tending to a newborn, launching a new career or tackling school as well. So this column will explore some of the issues that those of us on hiatus still obsess over, as well as bring you little nuggets of derby lore and suggestions for working those ripped fishnets back into your wardrobe and whatever else I dig up that seems interesting to current skaters, former skaters, future skaters, and even our cherished fans.

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!

Picture Credits: Writer’s own, taken by MacSweeney’s contributor Casey Plett; BillyBrew.com.

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Swede is back

 Posted by at 8:00 am  No Responses »
Sep 222010
 

So I have had a looong break from writing here.

It wasn’t really planned, but sometimes life comes in between.

I ended up traveling, meeting a girl in Denmark, coaching Copenhagen, Stockholm and Malmö. It is so inspiring to see all those brand new girls working so hard to become better, and they do get better. First time I went they could barley do a pace line, and now they can do partner pace lines. I am proud of my fellow Scandinavians playing derby and developing.  I went back to Denmark to skate in their pride parade, and it was fun and we skated in a nice little rainbow formation.

I played my first Gotham Allstar games against Boston and Windy City at ECE. It was amazing and I am truly honored to be a part of a team that is so synced and willing to work together, a team that trust each other and have fun when playing.

I went to RollerCon with my girlfriend, met some old friends and made some new, skated some challenge bouts and even got some time to lounge next to the pool. It was good times and it was fun.  I was happy to be able to go to Vegas with my lady and I was happy to see so many women from all over the world seeking to learn how to play derby.

And then again I took off to Portland to play The Hometown Throwdown against Rat City, Rose City and Bay Area. It was really odd and weird to skate against my old team (that would be Rat, for those who don’t know) but at the same time it was really fun. I realized that I really, really miss the West Coast.  But at the same time I love NYC. Too bad you cannot be at two places at the same time…

I have taken a decision to write once or twice every week… because I love derby, and therefor derby is really fun to write about.

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Jun 092010
 

In Portland February 2009

When I started skating I almost only jammed, I was told at boot camp that I would be a jammer and since I barley knew what a jammer was, I googled it and then went with it. I was a very very sucky blocker, but I jammed, I was one of the fastest skaters on Jet City after a year, and I was also quite determined. So I skated, skated, skated and mostly jammed. And I didn’t particularly love it, but I didn’t hate it, it was what I did, I was a jammer, I scored grand slams and I helped my team. At some point the pressure just got to high, I became that jammer that everyone chanted ‘grand slam, grand slam, grand slam’ for, and I buckled under pressure and I started to feel anxiety every time I slid the star over my helmet.

I got picked up by Rat City, and my jamming time started to diminish at the same rate as my blocking got better and better, I enjoyed killing the other jammer. I realized that I was a very effective blocker, and I did good, I got good feedback on blocking, maybe because people saw me as a jammer that suprised them with blocking skills. I was still expected to go out and jam, and score, score, score when I did, no matter what my pack looked like. I held myself to really high standards, and when i couldn’t live up to them, I avoided jamming even more. And it wasn’t that I wasn’t doing good, I just wasn’t doing as good as I felt I should.

Sockit Wenches vs. Grave Danger 2009

Sockit Wenches vs. Grave Danger 2009

I still enjoyed jamming, but my jammer anxiety was just out of hands, and I felt like I was needed more as a blocker. And about the same time as my second home-season came to an end and I was committed to the travel team fulltime, I was never really jamming. The travel team  never practiced me jamming and I never stood up voluntarily to jam, I had turned into a blocker over the course of three months.
Don’t get me wrong, I really do love jamming, I think it is fun, and I have slowly been trying to get back into it. My current team needs me to jam, and I do it, because I have to. But I still stand on the line questioning myself, always being nervous that I will not live up to expectations. Nowadays I am in many times more effective as a blocker, I am a jammer-killer, I have awareness on the floor and can help my more rookie skaters more on the floor than with a star on my head. I can try to make out jammer look great but I have to work on my offensive blocking, I am not a whipper, but then the question is, am I a jammer??
I can score, I can pass, I do get lead jammer at times, I still hesitate to jam, and only I am the person that can remove the mental block I have for jamming… and I am working on it… but it is hard when you line up against Bonnie Thunders or Suzy Hotrod with Beyonslay or Donna Matrix in the pack, just waiting to kill, kill, kill you…

Isn’t derby just great so say!?

And I have already started my plan on how to get into better jammer shape… please follow and give me happy feed-back!

Swede Hurt Goes Fit blogspot dot com

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Dress for success…

 Posted by at 10:29 am  1 Response »
May 222010
 

I have a new uniform, it is orange, it is waaaay short, and I always forget that I am way tall… I thought my Camaro Harem Uniform was short… Nope, this, my friends are the shortest uniform I have ever worn, but then I can’t say that I care that much.

Vagine Regime boutfit at ECE 2009 (Photo by Jules Doyle)

I sort of fuss a little about my boutfit, but when it comes down to it, a pair of hotpants, shiny or not will cut it. I care about if I can skate in it or not. For Rat City’s All-stars I would just wear black skorts. But I have also worn a strapless dress as a Glamazon, a pair of panties with a bloody unicorn for Rain of Terror (Rat City’s B-team) and VR. I have been skating with an 80’s prom dress with Jet City and totally been sporting a tutu for both Jet City and Team Legit. For team Legit it only lasted 4 jams, and then the officials asked me to take it off, my jammer was apparently a little too grabby. But hey, I got to lay on the floor and get undressed on the pivot line by my line-up runner. So Sheeza Brickhouse can from now and on always say she has ripped my clothes off.

Black and white scrimmage... what up

For all of us we have something that we find special and important about our boutfits, some girls will never wear fishnets, some girls will always wear something that is written on their ass. I always (almost always) wear different socks. This has made the Mayhem (my current team) uniform a problem, since American Apparel doesn’t carry orange socks… and I can only skate in AA socks. I know, it is weird, but I guess I am a hipster or something… and gosh, now when laying in bed at my house I start to wonder, what the f**k am I going to wear UNDER my uniform. Hotpant? Something frilly? Black? Orange? White? Anything? Ugh!

Well, I guess I will figure that out after my hash brown brunch and manicure, I always get manicures to get my fingers team appropriate on game day… yepp… that’s me! My nails will look better than Suzy Hotrods… MOHAHAHahahaha Queens of pain, I will bring the pain…

What? This is NOT the prom??

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May 132010
 

I don’t do things in moderation, I just don’t. I have tried, but I still end up challenging myself to challenges that might or might not be totally crazy and undoable, the past few months I told others and myself that I was going to make the Gotham all-stars, that I was going to win an arm-off against Suzy Hotrod from Gotham (se picture) and win a tan-off against Sunshine Skate from Philly, who is a Latina… So I did make the Gotham All-stars, the other two things are still to be determined… oh and I also would really like to date Psychobabble (or you know maybe just hold hands), but I guess I settle for things that might be a little more in my range. (as in mentioned arm-offs and tan-offs )

Suzy Hotrod - arm-off is coming up...

I really hate to lose, not in the obvious ‘oh I am so mad I lost’ kind of way, I will just silently work out, practice listen and one day just sneak up on my target and go for the kill. Me and an old roomie used to compete in everything, Trivial Pursuit and video games were our usual objects to obsess over. I must say I mastered Mario Cart after that winter, and knew every Trivial Pursuit question by heart. Complaining never gotten anyone anywhere, but it has its’ charm at times, and I am willing to admit that I submit to complain at times. Like right now I have a couple of giant bruises, my shoulder is a little out of wonk and my ankle is disagreeing with me and skating. But when it comes down to it all, it is about to know your own body and push it a little more, but not too much, to recognize when you are in serious pain, or when it is really just regular derby pain. Because NEWSFLASH, derby is a full contact sport, your body will hit the ground numerous times, and if it doesn’t ever hit the ground, you are probably either magical (I am not opposed to that), not trying hard enough or just not really playing derby. And it will not only hit the ground, other girls will do their best to knock you around with hip checks, sternum blocks and shoulder checks, most of them will be legal, but at times you will grow accustomed to getting your knees wiped out by a low block or your head rattled by a high block. In all fairness, it will happen. Your body will slowly adjust to being covered in bruises, swollen knees, ankles and whatever happens to be your weak spot… You just have to identify your weak spot, and start working the muscles up around it, if you have a bad ankle, nurse it with love and pain, make sure it gets to rest, but also make sure that it get worked out, that the small little muscles in it builds up so it will become a part of your fierce derby body…

Well, enough about me ranting, I have a spray-tan appointment and a date with the gym… ehhh ohhh and all-star practice tomorrow…

Working out arms and tanning at the same time....

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