May 152010
 

(This was written for myself after my first full bout as a skater.  It means a lot to me.)

I have bruises. Substantial bruises. Bruises of some substance. They are located on both my right and my left upper arms. The right arm is by far the most artistically done, bruises seemingly watercolored on my arm with deep blues, greens, a bit of stipled red, violet. Dotted on like a series of swirling islands covering nearly my entire upper arm from shoulder to elbow. The left arm may be less magnificent overall, but what it lacks in grandeur, it makes up for in location and creativity. A brilliant purple and green bruises is located on the underside of the arm and curls around the outside. It’s shaped as if someone had tightened a rope around my flesh and tightened it. I cannot fail to mention the massive, unholy yellow bruise on the ball of my shoulder.

I show off my bruises. They have a life of their own, while they are with me. They are an ice breaker, so I can talk about how I got them with people I don’t know. My coworkers look at me differently, not necessarily because I am bruised (often women are bruised), but because I grin and I am proud that I am bruised. I know It’s not common for a woman to show off her bruises-usually, they are kept hidden, a dirty secret, considered ugly. Not mine. I earned mine and I am proud. I have a pride about me as I marvel at how my body reacts to stimulus, blooming with color and pain. Nothing in my life could have prepared me for loving my bruises or loving the pain they bring. I am a roller derby girl. Sometimes, when I am feeling saucy, I refer to myself as a roller derby queen, which is a completely unearned title, since I am a new derby girl. I am only 5 months in and it has been a rollicking ride. I thought it would be something I would just do-roller derby, I mean-like a softball league or a sand volleyball team. You know, you just show up for games and the random practice. I thought I could compartmentalize it into my life to fulfill my exercise need and my companionship need. Sweating my ass off? Check. Female bonding about non-work, non-family stuff? Double check. It didn’t happen that way. It didn’t play out like that at all. This shit infiltrated my life.

The women on this team literally force you out of complacency and involve you. When there are bout production issues and we need to go get another cooler of ice for the away team’s water cooler, you bet your ass they are pushing some girl out the door to go get it. Feeling like you should quit during the 45 minutes of intense endurance skating? There’s a senior skater there singling you out to work harder. Need tickets sold? Need to find a team sponsor? Sell ads for the bout program? These things have to be done because we are not owned nor are we coached by an Other, an outsider- male or female. We are always reminded that if we want to roller derby, we have to do it: participate, help, create, donate or step up and fucking lead! Normally, I reject being pushed. You push me and I push back. The other Derbies (an affectionate term for roller derby girls) pushed me to challenge myself-to take myself to task and be responsible for being happy and proud of who I am on the team. They urged me from a place of female support and sisterly love that, I am saddened to say, has been absent all my life. They encouraged the individual, unique, square-peg part of me that doesn’t fit into any of the round-hole roles of that I play-wife, mother, coworker. And I push back, mirroring this fantastic support and love for my derby family. My derby family and I, we’ll all be having a great time, whether at practice, an afterparty, a bout, fundraiser, or jersey making party and we’ll look each at the others-the student, the hairdresser, engineer, phlebotomist, the mom, grandma, 18 year old, the 40 year old, the lawyer, the waitress the accountant-and we’ll wonder, with a pang, “What if I hadn’t found this?” What if I hadn’t seen these girls at the Whip It premiere? What if I hadn’t met that girl skating on the levy in her hot pants and fishnets, or come across the Red Stick Roller Derby website? Who would I be today? Clearly not me. Certainly not the wonderful me that I am now.

These women, they are helping me to become a version of myself that is galvanized; a more concentrated, incited version of myself that I wasn’t sure existed. I have chosen to be this galvanized version of Kayla Aylward who has transformed into the balls-out blocker Ms. Kittie Fantastik. I choose everyday when I put on my skates and pads. When I go one hundred percent during endurance-not ninty, one hundred percent!-even though my legs are trembling with exhaustion. I choose to be the me that is Ms. Kittie when I religiously check our team forum to be up on what I need to do for derby. I choose to be myself. The best version of myself. When I put myself out there to practice hitting and blocking and especially jamming, even though I am reasonably sure I will look like an idiot and fall and generally be terrible. On faith I do these things, so that I can continue to grow and revolutionize myself.

At the bout this past Saturday, (my first, by the way)I got my beautiful sleeves of bruises. I probably got them from being hit by Rock Bottom, or Heidi Volatile or especially Tricky La Rouge, not from me hitting them. I’m ok with that. My bruises are an outward sign that I’m in the game, taking the hits and giving ‘em when I get a chance. I’m not coasting, I’m not compartmentalizing, I am working my ass off for something that I don’t even know what the end product will be-if there will even be one. There are few things in my life that I have simply approached on faith. Derby is my most unexpected experience with faith. Faith is that thing you can’t see, but you know it’s there, you just know. That’s what I see when I see my bruises and grin. Faith. Faith that from now on, I will always be in the game, mixing it up.

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Apr 282010
 

So this week, I wanted to talk about distraction. And then here comes Heidi Volatile with her post on the same subject, and Tank Goodness, according to her comment on said article, waiting in the wings with another post about the challenges of maintaining focus when non-derby life is a mess. We’ve all  sort of showed up to the party in the same dress here, but I guess I should find it heartening that we, as teammates, are on the same wavelength.

But back to distraction, right. Let’s go ahead.

Last weekend, RSRD played Auburn, Alabama’s Burn City Rollers. Now, this is a team that I really, REALLY wanted to beat. They were my first opponents ever, when they hosted us for their first home bout ever, in the Spring of 2009. RSRD was a scrappy team then; our intense, derby-passionate coach Elton put me on the roster with only five weeks’ experience, and even then we only brought eight girls. Still, we won – my wife, Moxie Balboa, even got a grand slam on her first jam ever. I, however, fell during my intro lap (oh, how it still makes me wince), and felt generally useless. But I had fun, and the Auburn girls were SO incredibly nice – our gifts bags contained all sorts of sweet, handmade things in our team colors (red and black), and the after party was full of warm derby love.

My glorious wife, vs. BCR's Babe E. Quakes. Look at that FACE!

The second time we played Auburn came about six months later, when they came to us. As we had predicted, they were considerably more ferocious this time around, with stand-out performances by Cho Cold (an incredibly fast jammer), Babe E. Quakes (another very solid jammer, a hot blonde with a scary death stare), and G Love (oh god, the pain). The mood was, well, different. The sweet girls we’d seen at their debut bout brought considerably more attitude, and someone called me a c*nt on the track. Now, of course, I understand that things get intense out there, and I actually don’t mind that the epithet was hurled at me, but it allowed me  to drum up a feeling of rivalry towards Auburn. Because, really, I like hitting a bitch as much as the next bitch, but I have to kind of psych myself into it sometimes. That second  game against Burn City was close and dramatic, and although we ended up winning, I think a lot of us wanted to be sure to really give it to them the next time around.

I was thinking of something like this...

Last week I was given the perfect opportunity: a bout against a team I felt especially passionate about beating during a time of emotional, post-breakup fallout. I wanted to HIT. SOME. BITCHES. But when I got out there, my previous mental intensity just didn’t translate into results. For one thing, we had such an all-star roster that we had the luxury of really specializing positions. I discovered the morning of that I would only be jamming. I hadn’t really prepared for this, although if I’d really been thinking about the game in an intelligent manner, I would have predicted just that.

I think I had been so focused on what I wanted out of the game that I had failed to think about what my team really needed from me. And what they needed were some points. Unfortunately, at least in the first half, I failed to deliver them. The stats have yet to come out, but I think I jammed 3-4 times in that first half, for a total of maybe 5 points. I’m positive that I got zero points in my first two jams, and I got so frustrated that I punched the bench. Hard. I could feel all of my mental static and emotional bullshit welling up and threatening to drown me, and I know that my baggage was slowing my feet and blinding me to holes that I should have been able to pushthrough.

In the second half, I managed to do a little better, and at one point, earned much-needed applause with a quick evasion of what could have been a devastating hit by Cuban Crush Her, the last blocker in that pass. Finally, I was playing some derby, and even enjoying it. The game was a nailbiter. and we won by only seven points. My happiness at our victory was tempered by the fact that I felt I should have contributed more points to that lead. As soon as the bout was over, I did my best to celebrate our win, to focus on the success of my teammates and try not to dwell too much on my own performance. But I’m still left with this question: what happened to me in the first half, and how did I manage to fix it, to some degree, in the second?

I think the answer lies in the scope of my focus. In the days prior to the game, I was thinking of myself as an individual, focusing on those big hits I was going to land and how good it was going to feel to just devastate some people with my surplus of energy and frustration. I should have been more focused on my place within RSRD, should have logically analyzed our various strengths and seen that it would be my job (along with our other jammers) to use speed and grace to put those points on the board. Another mistake I made was thinking that once the game began, I would be sharp and focused and unaffected by the sadness I’ve been feeling. When I felt it chasing me down out there, it was like another blocker had jumped onto the track with Burn City. And I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t speeding right past her.

At halftime, I looked around the locker room and got my head together – I saw the faces of my teammates and I wanted to do what they needed me to do. So, in the second half, I was thinking more about making them proud and less about having a cathartic athletic experience, and I was better able to focus on the details that would translate into results. It also helped that they kept putting me back out there despite my poor performance in the first half. Their faith really bolstered my own. In the coming weeks, I hope to work hard in practice and continue to honor that faith.

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Apr 092010
 

Well, well, well. Aren’t you lucky? You are about to embark on a derby journey of epic proportions with the livest bitches in the land. I am proud to present the groundfloor girls of LDG and they are going to rock your world right down to your custom R3s.

trAC/DC

trAC/DC runs shit. She is a writer and the creator and co-editor of Live Derby Girls. She took up the skates in October, fell in love, and kissed the rest of her life goodbye. She bouts with the Red Stick Roller Derby in Baton Rouge, LA, and while no one knows yet whether she’s really a blocker or a jammer, once she figures it out you best get out her way. trAC/DC loves metal, crop tops, bourbon, feather roach clip earrings, and other pimp shit. If you want to buy her presents and stuff, she will gladly send you her mailing address, but otherwise you’re gonna need to take a step back. Now.

trAC/DC

Rock Bottom

Rock Bottom is the co-editor of Live Derby Girls and the happiest ho in this universe. Her ass is hard, but her heart is not. A lover of gas station-purchased hats, bad rap, and spandex, she is happiest on skates or in the arms of her best friend, Sassy Samatha of the South, her beloved Labrador Retriever. Labels that apply to her: conservative catholic, former sorostitute, retired basketballer, aspiring rap star, and resentful student. But don’t be fooled. Rock knows a good time. In fact, she’s known for her impromptu rap concerts, cutthroat dance-offs, and fabulously heavy drinking. She’ll probably like you, as long as you like fuzzy animals, poetry, going commando, or smoking your neighbor’s stale cigarette butts. If you’d like her to crowd surf at an afterparty near you, contact her at rockbottom@livederbygirls.com.

Rock Bottom

Krissy Krash

This 6’1 Amazon will knock you flat on your ass, steal your woman and your car. Krissy was genetically engineered for the sport of Roller Derby. Combining her mother’s take no shit attitude and her Dad’s pro-linebacker DNA resulted in a roller girl of epic proportions . Spending the majority of her life diving for soccer balls as a goal keeper has given her the timing needed to crush any skater that dares cross her path. This heavy hitting goddess has been known to run a half marathon in the AM and head right to the track to lay the smack down against the best of the best that very night. How does she do it? Krissy is the Jane of all trades when it comes to derby training and nutrition. You want to know how to hit harder, skate faster, or look hotter in your hotpants? This is your go-to gal.

**The views and values on this site are those of the author and are in no way affiliated with the views and values of any league**

Krissy Krash

Julie Kablooie
Julie bought her first pair of big girl skates in January 2009 so she could stay in shape by doing something fun. She joined Red Stick Roller Derby in April 2009. On the track, Julie is a blocker and off the track she maintains the league newsletter. When she’s not blocking on the track or being chased by the intergalactic police, Julie Kablooie enjoys a not-so-quiet life managing a local game shop with her husband. She puts her dual degrees in Mathematics and Chemistry to good use, discovering the exact relationship between number of gamers in the store and personal volatility. Between keeping her beloved nerds stocked up with games and goodies and occasionally brokering an international dragon sale, Julie stays pretty busy. She enjoys knitting (but never sewing), singing at the top of her lungs while driving, British science fiction, and Belgian beer. She can often be found leaving the afterparty early in order to get home in time to feed her three cats and three rats. Although, if you buy her another beer, she’s pretty confident that the problem will work itself out.

Julie Kablooie

Heidi Volatile
Heidi Volatile is the blammer with the glamour! Whether jamming or blocking, she makes her explosive presence known–and you’ll still feel it days later. The only thing louder than her mouth is the red lipstick that she constantly applies to it (she finds it coordinates nicely with her eyes and your bruises). You’ll hear her coming, but it really won’t do you any good. Ms. Volatile occasionally pauses in her quest for worldwide domination to blog at LiveDerbyGirls.com, where she shares wit, wisdom, and musings about how to Better Knock Down Bitches (BKDB). She also loves long walks on the beach, drinking the tears of her enemies, and receiving email at blammeration@gmail.com.

Heidi Volatile

The Swede
Swede Hurt was born in the distant Northern Europe. Being the offspring of an Amazon and a Viking it seemed to be in her blood to spend most of her life traveling and seeking adventure. Swede formerly pursued a career in snowboarding, but the snow grew too cold and her knees to oweak. So she decided on an exercise of the brain, went to University in Seattle where she was introduced to ROLLER DERBY and unicorns. Jet City Rollergirls was the first league to take her in, and in a very short time she became one of their star jammers. After a season, Swede felt ready to venture to Rat City Rollergirls to claim a spot on their 2009 All Star team. A year went by and Swede felt that even though she loved Seattle, it was time to leave and headed for NYC where she was welcomed by Manhattan Mayhem of Gotham Girls. Swede can also be spotted in purple on the banked track under the Legit name Berglöf or in grey representing Team Vagine. There can never be too much derby in Swede’s life, and her mission is to spread roller derby worldwide, inch by inch, country by country. She jams and blocks and sometimes she even talks shit, but most of the time she’s just the Swedish Viking Amazon you wanna be friends with. Oh, and don’t be surprised if you see Swede on a unicorn, it’s here favorite means of transportation, next to roller skates!

The Swede

Madie Sans Merci
Madie is a New Orleans, Louisiana native but after moving to Baton Rouge for college she was assimilated by the ladies of Red Stick Roller Derby. Derby brought out her streak of vengeful violence. After adopting her name from John Keats’ famous “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” she proved to be truly merciless on the track. She has the deameanour of a sweet girl, but that sly smile is just an indication that she’s planning something devious for you. She thrives on a diet of cyanide, bullets, and Jager. What doesn’t kill her makes her stronger, and that’s a lose-lose situation for the ladies she encounters on the track.

Madie Sans Merci

Raven Von Kaos
Raven Von Kaos has been booty deep in derby since 2007. She hails from the beautiful and scenic Santa Cruz, California where she skates for the Santa Cruz Derby Girls. When Raven is not on the track she can be found reading, writing and living the derby life. Raven has been an active blogger since 2008 and started the Derby Hurts site / brand in late 2009 after undergoing surgery for an ACL injury caused on the track. With all that is going on in the derby world, Raven tries to keep her finger on the throbbing pulse that is America’s favorite underground sensation.  This girl never leaves her skates or her wit at home. On the track Raven is known for her signature booty block and delivering hard hits, but the self-declared after-party champion loves to bust a move and enjoy a tasty beverage with her competitors after every game. Be sure and stay tuned for Raven’s reviews, write-ups and reports on everything that is derby-fabulous.

Raven Von Kaos

Ms. Kittie Fantastik

Wife and mother first, roller bitch next, Ms. Kittie Fantastik’s priorities are straight. Kittie is a transplant from the cornfields of the north and is happy to school you on either your housekeeping or hip checks. She showed up to practice in October of 2009 and we haven’t been able to get her our of her fishnets since, much to the gratification of her husband. By day, she works 9 to 5, dreaming of skate glory. By night, she pours her heart out on the track in the form of tomahawks, full body checks, and “packin’ it up” until she goes home to tuck in her daughter, make lunches for the next day and kiss her husband good night.

Ms. Kittie Fantastik

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