Apr 152011
 

Are all Swedish chics this retardedly stylish? I'm expatriating.

Editor’s note: Swede Hurt is a mysterious and illusive creature. She’s the kind of girl that says, “Don’t call me, I’ll call you,” and even if you consider yourself pretty fucking cool, six months later you’ll still be waiting by the phone and pining for her. I am super happy to have her and her adorably idiosyncratic grammar back on LDG. And the captions are mine, not hers. She’s not like that.

Sooo there are lots and lots of things that have happened since I wrote here last, and I guess it will take a couple of posts for you guys to catch up with my life. Since I wrote last I have gone to WFTDA Championships and gotten a bronze medal. I have moved back to Europe. I have become head coach of a Swedish league and of Team Sweden , I have opened a rollerderby store called SwedeVix with a friend. Somewhere in between there I have also been reporting for DNN at the German Championships and Anarchy in the UK, written an article for Five On Five, lead sessions at the European Rollerderby Conference and played a banked track game in LA with Team Legit, and also played in the first ever Swedish bout… yeah…

Hottest couple in roller derby. Hands down, no contest.

I also moved in with my girlfriend Mad Maloony in Malmö, Sweden, Europe… well and if you wish to catch up on all the details there is always my own personal blogg that I have tried to keep updated under Swede Rambles. It started as a fitness blog and turned out to be random reflections on the world of derby. Itwould be  a lie to say that I am completly happy – I miss Gotham – very, very, very much and I think that will also turn into a separate blogg.

Well, this was my short little reintroduction to me – I have had a very busy few months – and life has gotten very different in just a very short time, and I really think it is for the best… more to come really… really soooon…

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Apr 132011
 

 

I’m not much for after parties, I’m really a homebody and I like to go to bed very early. Even on Saturdays. In concept, I am stoked for the after party! I imagine myself among dozens of amazon girls and we are all wearing daisy dukes and spraying beer on each other, high-fiving and ass grabbing… maybe even wrestling a little bit.  It’s like a scene from “Animal House” or “Girls Gone Wild” except it’s my fantasy and not some sleazy dudes. Alas, after skating and breaking up our floor and putting it away and folding chairs, coming down from the emotional buzz of a win or a lose… I just go home and have a beer on my couch. Or go right to bed. I just can’t rally for the extra effort. Even at the Wild West Showdown I managed to resist the pants Off Dance Off (which I’m kinda sorry about).

Enter Dust Devil 2011. Never have I had a better excuse to blow off the after party. Friday we spent 12 hours in transit to Tucson! Sure, I could have flown to Taiwan in that amount of time but we are on a budget! Three flights! Not to mention the temperature rose about 60 degrees and the elevation 2700 feet. Then Saturday we ended up skating three bouts. Three full length bouts. Wow! I can tell you, we did NOT see that coming. Sunday was a little more relaxed, which I guess is why I ended up going to the party. We only had one bout, it was mid-afternoon, I had a good nights sleep…

 

Can I take a moment to give a nice little shout out to Tucson for hosting us? You ladies totally rock. Thank you! And while I’m giving props, a little love to FoCo Roller Girls, AZRD and Sin City Rollergirls. Smushy hugs!

 

 

 

 

 

I love roller derby (we kind of have to love it to keep up, right?). Additionally, it feels so special to put on a team jacket and go somewhere on an airplane (despite my fear of flying), to hear a child’s voice in an airport far from your home say “Look dad! It’s the Bellingham Roller Betties!”. Then there are the “sometimes”. Sometimes I am really down on myself for not performing better. Or sometimes I want to be very far away from my team mates and not having another meeting. Sometimes I want my life (and money!) back. Sometimes I’m worried about getting hurt. Dust Devil fell right into one of my “sometimes” phases, which was a major bummer. This is too large of a commitment to feel unsure about.  After finishing our 3rd bout on Saturday I had seriously mixed emotions, I felt great after all that skating which was awesome! But I was also disappointed with our 2 loses and worried about how the team would change in the future. Even our win on Sunday couldn’t really shake that off me. I almost went to bed instead of the after party. I’m glad I didn’t, because those are not feelings you should sleep with.

 

 

 

 

 

What happened at the Club Congress was pretty magical. Not magical like falling asleep on a grassy hillside and waking up to a baby unicorn licking your face, more like driving down some desolate and dirty road feeling haggard from days of travel then seeing a ragged cardboard box tossed aside and discovering it’s full of talking kittens passing around a joint and they offer you a beer. My team mates decided to all go in costume. Nothing makes awesome happen like wearing a costume! Pacific Roller Derby was there and they were all wearing leotards (amazing… glittery… leotards)! There was a KISS cover band complete with ridiculous boots and fake blood! I love making new friends with skaters from afar, but now I know that the real bonding happens at the bar (everyone else says “duh”). Especially when you don’t wear pants. You make lots of friends when you go places without pants on.

Well, you know how it turned out. It was everything I hoped it would be! Short-shorts, cheap beer, KISS, guys in dresses, animal costumes and piggy back rides! There was even a crowd surfing pony!

Before: Happy team mates who are relatively exhausted and may well be interested in doing other things without company.

After: A funny faced bunch of derby animals. Amphibians, mammals, cats and foxes all partying together!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I learned a valuable lesson. From time to time, it’s important to get together with your derby girls and do something non-derby (okay, a derby after part is kinda derby).  Like wear funny hats and play games like “shaky face”. Seriously though, how often do we do that? Not often enough. I feel fresh and new again, thanks to some ladies in furry hats, 80′s music and PBR.

 

 

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Mar 282011
 

Warning: This post contains an extremely overextended metaphor. Just go with it.

I travel a lot. Not like Lady Gaga on tour a lot, but more than most people I know. I used to be the kind of girl that brought everything in my closet and bathroom on every single trip. I was a checked baggage, the bigger-the-rolling -suitcase-the-better kind of traveler. But at about the same time that airlines started charging to check bags I started playing roller derby, and suddenly had to fit my skates and gear in a carry-on along with several weeks worth of other stuff.

The first trip I took in this fashion was a three-week trip to Miami, home of my ex-husband and in-laws. I remember that I could only bring one “nice dinner” outfit, and wondered whether his mother would judge me when we went to fancy restaurants. She did. But this is the same woman who took a look at me in myderby gear and said, “I can’t believe you’re wearing that out of the house. You look ridiculous. Let me get my camera.” So, you know, fuck her.

But my best friends, Kristopher and Darrin, who both work in fashion and are basically the hottest blonde boys in the planet, didn’t notice. I mean, they noticed my gear, but they loved it, and they were psyched to hang out at Intoxiskate, throwing back whiskey and watching me clumsily take whips from strangers. (They also noticed that I didn’t have room to pack my own cocoa butter and, as a result, used a whole bottle of their Khiel’s Creme de Corps. Sorry, boys.) Sometime during that trip, I realized that I didn’t need anything that I hadn’t brought with me, except Creme de Corps. All I needed was a bikini and my roller skates and I was happy.

Flash forward to now. I am an expert packer. On average, I bring two to three more articles of clothing than I actually wear (yes, I have actually tracked this), but whatever, I’m pretty efficient. I have new packing rules. Never check a bag and never pack more than you can carry up two flights of subway stairs. Don’t bring more than three articles of clothing that you don’t wear regularly (unless you’re traveling to a climate DRASTICALLY different than your own, in which case you should refer back to your own seasonal habits).

Also, I HATE stowing things beneath the seat in front of me (I like to put my feet there), so I limit myself to one small carryon and a fannypack. Unless I need my skates, in which case, I bring my Atom backpack as well. I always know exactly what I brought and exactly where it’s at, and the results are that I never have to think about my baggage at all. Shopping? Nope, no room. Overpriced dinner at a Zagat-rated restaurant? Only if they allow denim in the dining room. I’m divorced, now, so I don’t have to worry about the mother-in-law judging me.

God, it takes me a long time to make a point, so I hope I haven’t lost you. THE POINT IS that every time you go to practice, you bring baggage. (Here’s the metaphor you’ve been waiting for.) And I don’t just mean your skates. When you go to practice, you bring a whole lot of stuff besides your gear. You bring fears, expectations, hopes, skills, you name it, you’re bringin it. The thing is that you might be bringing more than you need.

You might be bringing ideas about what someone thinks about what you’re wearing (see: my mother-in-law), and you’re definitely bringing ideas about what you think about yourself.  Is it possible that you might, in fact,  be bringing way more than you can carry? You might just be overburdening yourself, not to mention those around you.

Er, anyways. Expectations are a disaster. You set them too high and you don’t meet them and you hate yourself. You set them too low and you feel lazy. The only possible reasonable way to handle expectations is to take stock of yourself and your skills in a way that is objective and non-judgemental. In other words, if your crossovers weren’t speed skater perfect last week, guess what? They’re not going to be perfect this week, either. If you weren’t an ace jammer last week, you probably won’t be this week, either. And it might not be your actual skills that are holding you back. It might be all the extra weight of unreasonable expectations.

BEFORE, January 2009

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not telling you not to push hard, work hard, be hard. I’m telling you that these things happen in stages, and you have to know yourself and how you work through these stages. Sounds like I’m making something complicated easy, but actually, it’s the same as knowing that if you don’t wear a hot pink mini skirt in New York in the summertime, you’re not wearing it in Miami, either. If you’re a capri-leggings-under-the-skirt-kind-of-girl because you think your thighs are flabby, just know that. You might have rock hard quads six months from now, but it’s not gonna happen in the next ten days. Let it go.

AFTER, late March 2010

 

Hopes are a never ending black hole. If you hope that roller derby is going to get you into shape and give you the friends and surrogate family that you always dreamed of, well, you might be right, but it’s still going to take time. Becoming a derby girl is like entering into a (hopefully long-term) relationship. If you walk into it with a whole lot of ideas about how that relationship is going to be and what it’s going to do for you, you’re gonna miss out on all the wonderful new things that it could actually show you. It’s impossible to get the most from an experience if you aren’t present for it, and you can’t be present if your head is full of heavy hopes about how things should or could be.

Really, though, the most important thing that you actually bring to practice is your skill set, and this is where you must be the most honest. Who are you? How do you learn? How strong are you? Let’s take me as an example. (I’m only really good for talking about myself, anyways.) I’m a slow learner. Painfully slow. I dropped out of high school three times (No, seriously, I did). But I also went to an ivy league school (no, seriously, I did).

When I got there, I was terribly behind. Like whoa. Like all-these-kids-went-to-prep-school-and-I-can-roll-joints-like-a-mofo-which-gets-me-nowhere behind. I could barely string together two sentences. I had to go to a writing tutor twice a week just to pass. But I graduated magna cum laude with honors from my department. I caught up, and then I got ahead. It may have taken me years, but that’s how I work.

Derby is the same for me. I’m behind every single skater that came in at the same time as I did. I’m on the B-team while skaters six months newer make All Stars. I think people expect me to be pissed off about it, or frustrated. But, you know what? I’m not. And it’s not because I’m an underachiever, or I don’t want to get better. It’s just that I know myself. And if I’m going to be a successful player, knowing myself is exactly how I’m going to get there. I know that I will be on the B-team for this season and probably next. And I will love it and get the most of it. I will learn slowly and in my own time.

I will have to unlearn and relearn while other girls just do it. That’s okay with me, and I refuse to waste time hating myself because I’m not perfect. I know exactly what I have to bring to the track. Flexibility, drive, stamina and no previous roller skating experience or athletic skills. That’s what I’m working with. That’s what I’m packing. It’s not the most enviable baggage, but it’s what I’ve got. It’s really important to me to always be taking stock of myself so that I know where everything is and, for the most part, how to use it.

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Mar 242011
 

So I got this Facebook message from a friend the other day inquiring about coming to practice . . . she wants to come to practice, but she doesn’t want to join the team. Wha? She wants a work out. She wants a place to relieve some aggression and “hit some bitches,” but, she says, she doesn’t want to “compete.” At first I was annoyed. We’re not running a health spa. Roller derby ain’t no Jazzercise class.

Then, I thought, “I’m being a hypocrite.” I’m always complaining to my co-captain, the glorious Turbo Tyke, that I hate bouting. I love practice, I roll in it like a dog in road kill, I thrive on pad stink and PowerAde, but I hate to bout. Well . . . I guess I don’t hate to bout per se . . . I just hate the waiting, the nerves, the anticipation of bouting. I fret and walk around aimlessly. I sit in the locker room, staring at the corner, and have a kind of stress-induced deafness. I look like a stroke victim drooling on myself. I feel like Eminem in “Lose Yourself”, about to throw up. Not a good feeling. But would I give it up? Absolutely NOT. Why not? Because the “after bout” feeling is incredible. Even if we lose, or, as I like to think of it, “almost winning”, it’s still awesome to relive game play with the team and commiserate and laugh about whatever crazy shit went down on the track.

Honestly, I owe it to my team to get my ass out there. Why should they invest in me and not get a return? Why do they train with me at practice if I’m not going to take what they give to me and use it? That’s just about the most selfish thing a player can do: use the team to work out, to build muscle, to enjoy some camaraderie, but help them win? Nah.

I see a lot of skaters who are the first to volunteer during drills at practice, but when it comes down to crunch time they whisper, “But I don’t like to jam . . .”

Whadda mean I have to jam?!

when we’re down to 9 players. Hey, I understand that. Before the first whistle I’m hoping for a natural disaster. But no matter if you’re lightening quick or a last resort, it’s ‘too bad, so sad’ if you’re asked to jam and you don’t want to. Sorry you were given skills you’re afraid to use, but you owe it to your teammates to do it if it’ll benefit the group. It’s the “greatest good for the greatest number” derby philosophy. I’d rather hide in my closet on bout day pretending I’d never stumbled into this sport, but after the first whistle blows and the adrenaline sets in, I’m Charlie-Sheen-crazy about getting through that pack. It’s Warlock time. I don’t want to let my team down and want to stab myself in the heart if I don’t get lead jammer.

True, sometimes my morale flags a little. I get blasé about derby or think, “Gee, if I wasn’t at practice all the time I’d know why the hell people are so enthralled about “Glee” . . .” Not a good thing for a captain to admit, but I’m sure it happens to us all. Sometimes I think, “Maybe this is my last season . . . I don’t know if I can do this anymore”, but then we have an unexpected win, or I help to run a great practice, or some complete stranger yells “GO, MOXIE!” during a bout, and I’m back in it. But what about those people who don’t bounce back? What about those people who are never in it to begin with? Can you be a half-assed player?

Can you imagine, someone comes to practice twice a week, does strength-training, helps raise money for the team, and won’t commit during a bout? Ask yourself, am I that girl? Am I the one taking not giving? Am I slacking during endurance? Skipping out on drills? Is there really a place for the half-assed? No. I’m not saying you have to be the superstar, the intimidating blocker, the roadrunner jammer, but if you’re not trying to be, then what are you? Why are you here? You’re just getting in the way of the other skaters, and they’re going to pass you by, and then eventually pass you over. To paraphrase the sage Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid (the old good one, not the new good one): “Derby yes or derby no. Derby “guess so” – SQUISH – just like grape.”

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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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