How Can You Thank Someone…?

Dear Lady K,

I came to see The Chicago Outfit play in October 2010.  Having seen a certain roller derby movie, I wanted to check out the game for myself while I was travelling in the U.S.

I spoke to you at the merch stand. I didn’t have enough money to buy a singlet but somebody nearby found five bucks on the floor and we decided that it was fate intervening so that I could get the merch I wanted. You also gave me a free button, which, sadly, has since fallen off my bag and disappeared. I told you that I thought the game was amazing. You told me that I should join up. I told you that I didn’t think they had roller derby in Melbourne, where I’m from. You told me that the scene was growing and Melbourne was a part of that, and that I should join up.  I started brainstorming derby names.

A few months later, back home, I went to the local rink for a casual Saturday skate class mainly made up of obnoxious seven-year-olds. I fell on my arse and sprained my wrist so badly that I couldn’t work for two and a half weeks. The rink staff didn’t expect to see me again.

I came back three weeks later, much to their surprise. After a few months of lessons I found a group of interesting, inspiring, funny, caring women in a nearby league that had casual classes, which suited my commitment-phobia perfectly. I was enjoying exercise and sport for the first time in my life. I overheard my Dad, with whom I have a somewhat tense relationship, telling his friend on the phone that he was proud of me for my commitment and determination. I broke my hand, and after 3 months off-skates I cried with joy when I put them back on again. I cried often, with joy and shock at passing each skills test, and with frustration at myself and the overwhelming learning curve of scrimmage.

Through derby I have found a new kind of self-worth and awareness that has crossed into the rest of my life. It allows me to stand up for myself in ways I never could before.  I’m proud of my body now. I view it as a powerful tool to be used, rather than being anxious over it as something to be looked at and judged.

I want to thank you, Lady K, for one tiny conversation that changed everything for me. I know you’ll understand, because although everybody’s derby story is different, we’re all part of something amazing and if you didn’t feel how I feel about derby then you wouldn’t have had that conversation with me in the first place.

In two weeks, I will be competing in my first bout. I will be representing East Vic Roller Derby as part of our travel team, The Witches of EastVic, at the VIC/TAS Tournament.  I’m probably going to cry.  I’m so proud to skate with the women on my team, and so grateful that I get the chance to live this adventure.

A few honest minutes of your time that you probably don’t even remember has made my world infinitely better. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without derby. I can only hope that when little girls come up to me at the rink, or if some derby fan speaks to me at a bout in future, I can have some kind of positive impact on them too.  I hope also that I can continue learning and be a good enough skater to earn their respect, like you and so many others have earned mine.

Thankyou, so very much.

G-Wrex
East Vic Roller Derby
Australia

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How To Start The Year Off Well.

First scrimmage of the year tonight! First scrimmage in over a month after only one training session back, actually.

Let’s be up-front: there were a lot of things I did wrong, many of which I’m probably not even aware of. Especially using the new rules set with refs-in-training, it was messy all over.

But I did some awesome stuff too.  I hit one of the travel team girls and she went down. That made me grin! Later I my hand up to jam one more time to challenge myself (it’s not my strength.) Everyone was still sorting themselves out into positions. I heard the jam start whistle when nobody else had and just went hoppity-skip straight through the whole pack before anyone had even noticed! Lead jammer pride moment deluxe! As I sped around the track I stuck out my tongue and gave the double metal horns to my bench coach. What a great feeling.  I managed to get through one scoring pass but so did the other jammer, so I called it off. I am also a little proud of the fact that I remembered that I was lead and could do that. Sometimes I have a brainfart and forget such very important things! 

Tonight’s scrimmage was one of the good ones.  I didn’t cry. I didn’t even feel like crying. I did feel like vomiting after jamming each time but I didn’t feel overwhelmed or terrified or as if I were being sat on by a giant Fail Whale at any point, even when I jammed. It was a safe space for me to work on my weaknesses.

Even having passed my purple star (this is bouting level and means I can play for real with big hard hits and terrifying intensity,) I have still felt like a new yellow – each time going out there thinking ‘Don’t hit me too hard, I’m new at this.’ Tonight we had two brand new yellows out there. Having that comparison of where I’ve come from, and having them look to me for guidance, made me realise once more how far I’ve come. I’m not a new yellow. I’m a purple. Sure, I’m a new purple and I still have a lot of work to do. But I’ll get there.

How My First Public Scrimmage Went

Yesterday at a boot camp run by Demanda Riot from the USA, I wanted to cry several times. I told myself and my friend who felt the same that we would wait until afterwards and then we could cry it out together. By the time we got to the end we’d forgotten about it.

Tonight I wanted to to cry from joy when I saw my friends after my first family & friends scrimmage, playing with another league to make up numbers. Neither of my parents were there, so having half a dozen friends there to cheer me on (regardless of how much the understand the sport,) meant the world.

The way I felt skating in this amber-level scrimmage tonight just reconfirmed everything I love about this sport. Yesterday I may have been feeling inadequate and useless, this morning I may have been questioning the pros and cons while inspecting my zombie-bruise leg and dalmatian-bruise shoulder, but tonight I feel positive. There IS a reason I do this. Tonight, a group of women who love roller derby got together and were oh so grateful for the opportunity to scrimmage together, and to be able to proudly show their friends and family what they’ve fallen in love with, and what they’ve been working so hard to achieve.

I was nervous upon getting there and seeing the rink packed full of spectators, but that only lasted for a few minutes before I got excited. Once I got out on the track to warm up and they were playing amazing tunes, I was so blissfully happy in anticipation that I felt comfortable and present. I had two of my friends from my league there with me in the thick of it.  I felt powerful (though not when I jammed and got stuck stuck STUCK behind a wall,) I felt resilient when I was knocked down but kept getting up, I felt calm and controlled when I was a focussed, communicative pivot (even though the opposing jammer got out of the box without us noticing that time and skated right past us.)

THIS is why I love playing roller derby. Yeah, there’s a heck of a lot of skills I need to improve upon. Yeah, I feel like shit sometimes when I can’t get something right. But I will get it. No matter how long it takes, I will get it. Playing at this level constantly makes me proud of how far I’ve come and what I do manage to do well in the moment, and it gives me goals for improvement. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity not only to do that but to show my friends how hard I’ve worked for almost two years, to get to where I am. Onwards and upwards!

How Derby Made Me A Scapegoat And A Troublemaker

Today I had to go to the Principal’s office. My heart was hammering more than I had thought it would, considering that I believe I am in the right in this situation, and that the Principal understands my side.

I’m not going to go into it in great detail, but essentially I am a scapegoat. 

This guy I work with at a Primary School (let’s call him Gareth,) is lazy, rude, selfish, useless at his job in various ways, and habitually unpleasant to work with. He also happens to be the nephew of our boss. 

I dared to mention a small issue I was having several months ago at a staff meeting. I didn’t name names but it was fairly obvious to whom I was referring. Since then my head-in-the-sand boss (who I was actually referring to as well but never mind,) seems to have gotten it into her rather sandy head that I have a personal dislike for and obsessive grudge against Gareth. Every other staff member has the same issues with him, but I was the idiot who actually said something about it, and have since questioned him on his actions repeatedly. 

In the past few weeks several other staff members have cracked and gone to the Principal with their issues regarding the Gareth situation. The Principal, however, has not yet addressed this with my boss or with Gareth. It was Sandy-Headed Boss getting sick of the “constant friction” between Gareth and myself and deciding that it was “worse than dealing with the children” (thanks for taking my concerns seriously, Sandy,)  that made her take that problem to the Principal. So the Principal has taken the opportunity to deal with the existing complaints by calling both Gareth and myself into the office (with Sandy there to sit in,) and discuss the problem without pointing out that it’s not just my problem. This has left Sandy and Gareth still believing that I am the only one with a problem with Gareth’s behaviour, which I am worried will impact negatively on my job. 

OK, so I did go into detail. But I could have gone into far more and turned this blog into How Much I Hate Working With Gareth. Seriously. I wrote four pages of notes before seeing the Principal, just so that I wouldn’t forget anything.

Anyway. I feel like I am a scapegoat here.  But the more I think about it, the less I mind – providing that my goaty martyrdom makes a real positive change in Gareth’s behaviour and the way that the workplace is run. If it doesn’t improve I will march back to the Principal’s office and demand that she Do Something (and not pin it on me.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that derby is the reason I’m in this situation.  A year ago, I would probably not have spoken up at a staff meeting.  I would not have sought out a meeting with the Principal yesterday to get my point across honestly and clearly prior to today’s meeting.  I would not have been able to adequately express myself the other day when Sandy called me into her office to discuss the situation while Gareth wandered in and out of the wide open office door. I would have been meek and would not have wanted to cause trouble.  

Well, derby has me causing trouble everywhere and stirring up the status quo. Destroying the joint, if you will. Simply put, I’m standing up for myself. In case anyone’s wondering (which nobody is really because I don’t think anyone actually reads this blog,) I did end up sending an edited version of that letter to the ref that yelled me down last week. (Haven’t heard back.) I told my second-in-charge boss at the school that she IS in charge and essentially she needs to stop bitching about Gareth with the rest of us and actually tell him the fuck off, because she’s the one who can. Instead of just bitching about it, I told off the two teenage boys playing with their basketballs on our court today at training because we had hired the court and they were distracting some of the skaters.

The decision that I wasn’t going to let people push me around at derby, a new part of my life at the time, has made me so much less likely to allow it to happen elsewhere.  I have learned to be more aware of people belittling me or manipulating me. I am learning how to react and to deal with it when it does happen. In meetings with my production company, if someone tries to speak over me now I will snap my head towards them and sharply remark that I was speaking. This may seem rude but after the years I’ve spent letting it happen with this group of people, it’s necessary to snap them out of it… and to snap myself.  Stop bitching about it, stop getting upset by it, and change it. Break the pattern.

Derby names or personas aren’t necessarily an alter-ego. Not to me, anyway. To me, my ‘derby persona’ is me. A truer, more powerful me. It’s the me that has been struggling to get out this whole time, finally given a chance to try things her way. 

How I’ve Been Treated

Dear Head Ref,

I need to tell you how upset I am by the way you spoke to me tonight at training.  I ask you to please not read this as an argument, but simply as me trying to express my feelings on what happened.

The reason that I have taken this incident so personally is because you hit a nerve with me tonight.  We all have our baggage, and this is some of mine.  For years people have talked over me, not taken me seriously, not listened to my thoughts, ideas and opinions. I think a large part of that was me letting them. I decided many months ago that I was not going to let this happen in my derby world, and thankfully it mostly hasn’t. This has helped me to be more assertive and stand up for myself in other areas of my life, and to identify when people are belittling me or not giving me the respect that I believe I deserve as much as they do.

I refuse to let this start happening at derby. Once it begins, it can be hard to stop it. Usually in the past I have taken the opinion that something’s not worth getting into an argument over, and I shut up and say nothing. I think that this is precisely why it keeps happening, because I’d prefer to avoid a commotion rather than to stand up for myself. I don’t want a difference of opinion or a misunderstanding to escalate into a full argument or yelling match, and that is why I let the subject be moved on tonight at training after you raised your voice at me and talked over me, rather than try to explain myself at the time.  I do however  feel as though I need to say something to avoid this happening in future or becoming a pattern.

When I said that some of the refs need to speak more loudly and clearly, it was not an attack on you or any of the refs personally, individually or as a group. I was simply giving some feedback from my experience in a recent scrimmage.  We’re all at scrimmage to practise and to learn, and that includes refs and NSOs.

The way that you spoke to me after my comment was uncalled for and unacceptable. I feel as though you overreacted and jumped down my throat for no good reason.  I understand that reffing is a really hard, really full-on job, and I am in awe of what the derby refs do – a point that I tried to make but you didn’t or wouldn’t hear because you were speaking over me. I understand that as part of a new league, all of our refs are in training too and therefore can’t be perfect at everything. That is exactly why such feedback is important. As head ref, you need to be able to take such observations or constructive criticism as they are intended (to help the refs be even better at what they do,) and not as a personal attack.
Surging, for example,  is pretty hard for someone who’s learning it; I need to concentrate on keeping my foot in front, keeping the right weight distribution, turning out my knee, getting the timing right, having enough momentum behind my body, making contact with my thigh, butt, hip, back and shoulder, keeping myself from tabletopping as well as avoiding using my elbow – but when you or any coach or skater tells me to keep my elbow in, I usually acknowledge that it’s something that needs improvement, thank you for pointing it out and say that I’m working on it. We’re all trying to be the best skaters, players and refs we can be in order to make ourselves and our league stronger, and part of that is listening to feedback and taking it on.

We both know that sometimes you and I have very different ways of understanding things, but I ask you to please be more mindful of the way that you talk to me because it may have more of an effect than you realise.  I don’t want this to become a pattern. I want to be able to enjoy the freedom of my derby world without constantly questioning myself or being put down like I so often have been everywhere else.

Thankyou for taking the time to read this.

Wrex

 

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I’m probably not sending this to the ref in question, but I thought I’d get it out of my system a little. How should I stop it from happening again? Any ideas would be appreciated.

 

How Are You Meant To React?

My baby cousin has a girlfriend.

My baby cousin is Sarah, a 22-year-old woman. The two of us are good friends and I’ve always felt very protective of her.  Yesterday I found out that she’s told the rest of her family about her girlfriend.  

I first found out months ago, when Sarah told me that she had a huge and heartbreaking crush on Jess, a girl at work.  I didn’t really react to the revelation of the crush being on a girl, just to the unrequited suckiness of it.  I can’t help but look back and wonder if that’s ok.  I mean, I know it’s ok that I don’t think it’s an issue for her to be attracted to a woman. I’m very ok with that.  But perhaps she needed a bigger reaction from me, as the first family member she told? I don’t even know whether or not she’d told her friends at that point. Should I have given her a bigger, more obvious acceptance rather than just normalisation? But maybe normalisation is the most obvious way of showing acceptance?  

They eventually got together; later on the day she told me I sent her a text saying “Just so you know – I think having a lady-romance totally suits you. =o) I’m glad it’s working out.” Again, I still don’t know if that was the right thing to do. It came from second-guessing myself – I wanted to make sure she knew that I’m ok with it. Because I hadn’t actually said that.

I wasn’t sure for months whether or not I was the only one in the family who knew. I thought as time wore on that she would’ve told her mum, as they are very close, but seeing as we hadn’t talked in ages I had no way of knowing. Yesterday we finally caught up properly on the drive back from the family BBQ down the coast. She was able to tell me everything.  

As I suspected, she told her mum first. Her mum was fine with it and said she had kind of wondered because the two girls had been spending a lot of time together. 

Next she told her younger brother. He was fine with it and as he works with them both, he said he’d totally seen it happening before it had even happened. 

Then she told her dad. 
He didn’t take it well. He wasn’t fine with it.

It hurts me so much and makes me want to cry thinking about her going through this.  Her dad cried for a day or so, saying that all his dreams and hopes for her were shattered. He said to her “I’m not saying it’s not normal… but… it’s not normal.”  He said “What am I going to tell people?” That makes me furious and sad.  He’s an old-fashioned guy, especially when it comes to his kids, but he’s not someone I think of as an active gay-hater. 
The way Sarah told me her dad reacted makes me think of The Weekly Sift’s “The Distress Of The Privileged” article. I mentioned it to her while she was telling me how he reacted, but I don’t know if that was right either, and whether or not I should send her the link in case she’s interested. 
She said he couldn’t look at her for a week. She said he wouldn’t voluntarily tell her he loves her for a month. This is a family who I, as a divorced child who lived with but barely communicated with her own father for years, have often held up as a perfect happy family. They sit down and talk about their day at dinner, and they actually care about it. They always offer you a drink when you come around to their house, even if it’s just to drop something off. My aunt and uncle have been married for over 20 years and still kiss in the kitchen, in a way that’s cute and not gross. All four of them tell each other they love each other all the time. So for Sarah’s dad to stop saying this is a big deal.
He still won’t look at or talk to my cousin’s girlfriend, which leaves her understandably uncomfortable and scared to come around. (Thankfully, Jess’ family have accepted Sarah and made her feel totally welcome, and I’m so so glad she has that.)
As she told me all this yesterday I just wanted to be in contact with her to express some tiny portion of the sympathy and heartache I was feeling for her – I put my hand on her knee, I stroked the back of her head, then I burst out “I just want to give you a big hug right now but I can’t because I’m driving!”

Sarah said that when her brother found out how their father had reacted, he got really mad and defensive of his big sister.  He was at the house when I dropped her off yesterday and I gave him the biggest hug I’ve ever given him. Today I sent him a text to tell him what she’d told me, and how much of a champion he is for being the world’s best little bro. I just want to give him a billion hugs for being so caring for his sister and so incredibly supportive. It means a hell of a lot to me so I can’t even begin to imagine how much it means to her.

So in addition to that emotional bundle, for every tear I feel like shedding when I think about how my uncle has reacted to his daughter’s coming out, I have another tear for how our Granny reacted.

Sarah told her this weekend. She had no idea what reaction to expect. She sat Granny down and told her that the girl Granny had briefly met a few weeks earlier at the house is her girlfriend, and they’ve been dating for five months, and are very happy. 

Granny took her hands, and looked her right in the eyes and smiled. “I’m glad you’re happy.”

I love her so much for that.  I’m not religious but my 84-year-old Granny is. God Bless my Granny. I can’t put it any simpler than that.

So in my emotional and overtired state last night, I got a picture message from my baby cousin of the two of us at our spontaneous ice-cream stopover earlier that day.
I wrote back to her. 
“Thankyou. And can I just say that I’m so proud of you for being so brave and honest and true to yourself despite the heartaches it may have brought you from some people. 
You’re an amazing young woman and I’m really glad that Jess makes you so happy. Other things will settle. I love you and I’m proud of you. xoxoxoxoxo forever.”

I haven’t heard back so I’m second-guessing myself again.  I just want her to know that I don’t think of her as a different person. I don’t think it’s a big deal – but there’s a chance it’s been a big deal for her getting to this point so I don’t want to diminish that.  In a way I’m internally making my reaction a big deal, probably much bigger than it is.
I’m honoured to be the first family member that she told, way back before there was even a relationship to tell about.  I just hope that I’m giving her what she needs and living up to the honour.

How I (want to) See Myself

Two nights ago I had a naked dream.

My naked dreams usually involve me being in underwear or topless, bottomless or fully nude at work, and it’s as though it’s not against the rules. Then suddenly the rules change and I’m trying to make coffee whilst covering my cumbersome breasts with one arm and hoping there’s a break in customers so that I can go to the bathroom and find a shirt, or hoping that my boss won’t look at the security footage later on and find out. Or I’m hiding from the kids at the school I work at, in a toilet cubicle, and trying to put on a bra in front of my boss in slow motion because if I do it really slowly she might not notice anything’s amiss, and I can stop being naked without anyone noticing my body.

This dream I had two nights ago was different.  I was walking home along the highway completely nude, with my hair flowing around me, sometimes creating a Lady Godiva effect. The sun was shining. I hit a downhill section, so instead of walking, I flew. I dived and swooped and soared through the air, loving the feeling of my body as I watched myself from outside of me.
I knew my dad was coming to visit me and might drive along beside where I was, so I thought I’d cover up for his sake not my own – I stopped in at a friend’s delightfully bohemian warehouse apartment and borrowed a sundress which I wriggled into. It was roomy and cheerful, and I could feel my naked body beneath it, still the same shape and still something I loved.

I’ve been thinking a lot about body image recently. I read a paper on feminism and identity in roller derby, and it noted how roller skating in the nineteenth century became a way for upper-class women to experience their bodies and their physicality differently.  Rather than simply being an avenue for attracting a husband and carrying children, it was something that they could actively use for physical pursuits, and through that they found empowerment.

I have been trying to view my body in this way. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It matters that I can use it in ways never known to me before; that I can do C-curves; that I can surge someone and push them out of the way using the whole of my body; that I can join in the experienced speed skate at general skate sessions after improving on my personal best by two laps. I would like to do more exercises for my core but I’m not really thinking about it as something to make me comfortable wearing a bikini – it’s to improve my skating, my stability and my strength.

I have not yet begun to reconcile this with the fact that I do a bit of burlesque, which is largely about how the body looks. That’s too big to tackle right now. I think in those terms I’m going to try to work on my flexibility and coordination so that my dancing improves. I know that if I focus on the exercising to maintain and improve the way I use my body, the fitness and the look will follow in its own time. I still do think that I would like to be slimmer and more toned, and yes, wear a bikini. But I’m thinking about that side of it less.

The image that I have aligned myself with via my derby name is that of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. They are not thought of as the prettiest of creatures but they have big, strong, powerful legs that can push and push them. They are formidable. My thighs and butt are getting chunkier by the month as my derby life goes on, but I see that as a positive. I’m going to be like the king of the dinosaurs in its prime. My legs will be powerful, and people will be in awe.

Image

How Many Possibilities?

At work last Thursday morning I was in a really great mood.  Especially considering I got there at 5:30am.  I felt like I had good news to tell people, even though there wasn’t anything in particular to tell. I felt like I had a secret, except that even I didn’t know what it was. I was all smiles for the beginning of my shift.

A regular customer came through, and we were talking as I made him his coffee. Well, it somehow came into the conversation that he knows Hanson because they grew up in the same town.
My mind was of course completely blown. Hanson’s Middle Of Nowhere was the first album I ever bought, after saving up all my pocket money. I had posters of them all over my walls. I did a school project on them in grade 5. I don’t care if they’re all married with kids now, I still love them.

As they were playing in my city over the weekend I thought that it would be awesome if he could get tickets and take me with him – but the cafe was very busy and he left before I thought to ask or to give him my number.

Later on, I asked my coworker what the chances were that she was working the next day and could pass it on.  She told me that she wasn’t working, but either way it wasn’t going to happen. I grinned at her, my eyes wide, and threw up my hands.

“You never know! It could happen!”

“No. It’s not going to happen.”

“But it could.”

“It couldn’t.”

“It’s worth a shot!”

I was having a bit of fun being silly and optimistic – I assumed that the reason she thought it couldn’t happen was because the customer was probably not actually phone-number-sharing-free-ticket-holding buddies with Hanson and realistically the chances of him getting me into the concert were very slim.  This may have been true – but a slim chance is still a chance, and how was I going to know unless I tried?

As it turns out, that wasn’t her reasoning. She actually didn’t question the likelihood of tickets – she just knew that he wouldn’t go with me.

“Why not?!” I exclaimed in my slightly hyperactive state. “He’s awesome, I’m awesome, Hanson are awesome! Why wouldn’t he take me?!”

I was, I think understandably, offended that she didn’t think he’d want my company. I kept asking her why she would say that, how did she know?

“He just wouldn’t do that,” she replied. “He doesn’t know you.”

“Not yet, but how else do you make friends?! You hang out with someone you know a little, then you get to know them more, then you become friends! That’s how it works!”

“Yeah, but not one-on-one like that.”

“What do you mean?! People do spontaneous things with people all the time!”

“No they don’t.”

“Yes they do! People have adventures! We could have an adventure!”

“Not with him you couldn’t.”

“Why not?” I protested.

“He just wouldn’t. It’s not the sort of thing he’d do.”

“Why? What makes you say that?” I persisted. “I’m not asking rhetorically. I actually want an answer. Why?”

“Just… his work… the way he talks…”

She couldn’t give me an answer that I accepted as good enough or specific enough. But she was adamant that he would never in a million years hang out with me outside of being served his morning coffee. She refused to believe that he is a person capable of going on an adventure like that. He has a stretcher in his earlobe, I’m sure he’s at least a little adventurous!

The good mood I’d been in earlier had vanished.  I was quite upset. It wasn’t until later that I realised – I wasn’t offended because she didn’t think I was worth going on an adventure with – I was hurt somewhere very deeply to be told that something could never happen.

How dare she tell me what is and isn’t possible?  How dare she tell me that people don’t have adventures? People have adventures all the time! I met a guy at a funeral for about 2 minutes then a week later he added me on facebook – when he next came back into town we spontaneously went to see a new band together and ended up spending the whole weekend in each others’ platonic company. My best friend recently went on a spontaneous drive into the hills with a guy she was friends with but never close to, and now they’ve been dating for a month. Another friend cancelled on me for the Aqua concert because he got sick and I took his friend instead. She and I had an amazing night and now have in-jokes whenever we see each other.

Anything is possible.
If you’d told me six years ago that I would go into comedy, I would have called you the joker. If you’d told me five years ago that I would travel foreign-speaking countries on my own and even learn some French, I would have thought it bullmerde. If you’d told me four years ago that I would create my own production company, have sell-out crowds in the Comedy Festival three years running, and co-produce a successful web series, I would have laughed in your face.
If you’d told me two years ago that I’d be playing a sport on roller skates and training four days a week, drinking protein shakes and staminade and doing situps without being told to, just for the power of it, I would never have believed you. Heck, if you’d told me five weeks ago that I could possibly pass my Yellow Star test in September, I would have burst into tears and told you that there was no way known (A few of my friends can attest to that.) Now there’s a chance I could get my purple star and be bouting by the end of this year. I might not, but who knows?

Sometimes you need a cheerleader for possibility and the joy of just living, and today that’s me.

I don’t want to live in a world where I’m told that things can’t happen.  Because they can happen, and they do.

I need to believe that, or what else is there?

Don’t you dare rain on my parade!

Anything’s possible.

How The Hell…?!

There IS crying in roller derby. In fact, for someone as emotionally charged as me, there’s been quite a bit.

I just found out that I passed my yellow star test.

I have tears streaming down my face and I can’t stop smiling because I am SO. PROUD.

So far in my derby career there have been three instances of crying for joy and/or excitement, and many more of frustration and sorrow.  Even more almosts for the latter, but that’s ok.  That’s the reason why I’m crying right now. It wouldn’t be so amazing if I hadn’t worked my arse off for it!

I didn’t really expect this so I am kind of in shock. I don’t even know what else to write.  I have to dry my tears and go to work now anyway, so that’s probably for the best.

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“How deep is ‘deep’? …Pretty deep.”

This is not going to be a post about roller derby. I was writing in my journal and thinking a little too much of Miss Pamela when I was hit with the strong, inconvenient middle-of-the-night need to go get my laptop and write about it on a blog that nobody reads.

I’ve been hanging around with this band recently who are just starting to make it big.  I’m genuinely thrilled for them every time they get another big break, and I love love love seeing them play.
I’ve always loved live music, ever since I can remember. My mother took me to my first big concert , the Mushroom Records 25th Anniversary at the MCG. It’s a great example of how lucky I am to have a good musical upbringing thanks to my parents. It was also, at the age of ten, the first time I can recall feeling at all turned on, when Matt Thomas, the lead singer from The Mavis’s, took his shirt off during their set.  I suppose I have always had an attraction to performers, but how is it possible not to? Anyone who loves what they do and is damn good at it just gets me going.  And it’s not just musicians or actors – the scene in Firefly episode ‘Ariel’ when Simon Tam steps in and saves a hospital patient’s life (then furiously berates the doctor responsible for the near death) makes me incredibly hot for Dr. Tam.

But I digress.

I was talking after this band’s gig last night with the guitarist’s girlfriend.* We were talking about music and I started gushing on about all these bands from Melbourne that I’ve loved in the past and how brilliant they are live and what each experience felt like and inspired in me. And I realised that I really have quite a history with being a fan, even with being a groupie – just not that kind.

I started going to gigs with friends in high school thanks to FReeZA and it’s been something that I relish ever since.
There have been so many bands over the years for whom I’ve made trek after trek into the city, or trendy surrounding suburbs – often on my own, usually leaving to catch the last train or just driving because it’s easier. I’ve always been either broke or driving so I’ve never really gotten drunk at gigs – but why would I need to drink alcohol when I’m drunk on the vibrations that float through the air and make me sway or stomp or twirl? I leave feeling happy and tired with a familiar ringing in my ears, and finally collapse into bed after the lengthy trip home covered in sweat with songs in my head.

Countless musicians have given me the pleasure, and I get excited to think about how many more there are out there that will one day come into my life in one way or another.

By the time I reached uni, I had no problem going to see my favourite band at every single gig they put on, even though it mostly meant going on my own.  If the band members spoke to me of course I just lost it. When I started getting invited to their parties I was giddy with nervous excitement. But when one of the guys tried to kiss me one night, I pulled back.
“Sorry…” I began. “I just… really love going to see your band, and I don’t want anything to change that experience for me.”

It’s probably the first time in history that a guy has been turned down specifically because he’s in a band.

I realised last night (when one of the girlfriends was questioning me, trying to figure out which band member I’m after) that I have always just wanted to be best friends with awesome musicians. I want to be around them, hang out with them, be part of their inner circle…
Sure, I have fantasies about them being blown away upon hearing me sing, and being invited onstage or into the recording studio with them.
And yes, a part of me would love a romance with a sexy musician, to have songs written about me as I sit in dappled sunlight with messy hair and a sleepy smile, wearing nothing but bedsheets and his oversized shirt…
But it’s much safer to just be friends with them, because that way (even if it means no songs are written about me,) I won’t have to face breaking up with their music, which I honestly love.

An ex-lecturer of mine recently retired and at his retirement celebration he said something that keeps coming back to me.

“Live life in the deep end.”

He couldn’t swim when he was a child, and was in absolute awe of the children who would swim in the deep end of the pool. He would watch them with such longing but would never move from the shallows.
Hearing this man speak again, feeling his words filling up the space and hitting me right in my heart for the first time in years, made me feel more inspired than I have in a good long while.

I’ve got to stop staying safe. I need to stop sitting on the steps in the shallow end just because it’s familiar.
I need to DO things, not just have things happen to me.
I need to stop coasting.
I need to start taking chances and risks.  Stop thinking about what could happen and start finding out.

Do I just want to experience the music or do I want to inspire it?

Hell. I’ve got it all wrong.

Why settle for inspiring it?

I need to go out there and MAKE it.

“Live life in the deep end.”

– Simon Fisher

*If you’re a girl trying to get in with a band, make really good friends with their girlfriends. Otherwise you don’t stand a chance.