Friday, June 18, 2010


Tomorrow we bout the Pissahs. I had some time to kill today and I made this little motivational gif:

I still can't believe that happened directly in front of the camera. I've had other great hits since then, but sadly, none were so well placed in terms of capturing the memory on film. I haven't looked at this footage in some time, but I'm glad I found it now. It's damned great motivation for murdering people tomorrow.

I'm also wearing my "Dread Smash" shirt. I wrote "DIE PISSAHS" on my chest in magic marker. Yes, I sent a photo of that to my team. No, you can't see it. Do you think I'm psyched up? Um, yes. Note the crazyface.

Normally I have trouble getting amped for bouts. I go into them and have a very un-Dread-like, almost hippy-ish "win or lose, it's fun to play" vibe. It's been a major hurdle to get over that, because I think it hurts my game. I've discovered that I need three things to get into "Bloodfeast Island" mode:

1. Music: I have a pre-bout playlist and a bout-day playlist. Once I listen to these I'm about 80% of the way down the road to "the bad place."

2. Superhero movies: I need to watch superheroes kicking ass. I don't know what it is about watching people run up walls and stab each other while their friends are shooting laser eyes and projecting forcefields. It makes me also want to do these things. The X Men movies are my favorite, as I get to pretend I'm Wolverine.

3. Skating in circles while staring at people time: shortly before I play, I skate around and stare at every member of the other team I can find. I'm not doing this as an intimidation thing or to show that I'm crazy-go-nuts ready to kill people or anything. I'm doing it so I stop seeing them as people with feelings. Once I get there, I start seeing them as objects, and then I can break them into tiny, bloody, pulverized pieces in my head. Really, no sane person should think the things I do before a bout. Usually I hit "serial killer" land just about when intros start.

I'm well on the road towards being stupid-psyched up right now. This is about a day earlier than expected. I think this means I'll be foaming at the mouth and punching walls by the time I walk into Shriners tomorrow.

I really hope that my commute home is uneventful. I'd prefer not to spend the night before bout day in jail for biting someone in the face.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Three years

Yesterday was my three year derby-versary. Yup - this giant war machine is three years old in derby terms. I found myself telling some of my teammates about my first year skating, and how rough it was. I told them about this girl:

The freshie who didn't get teamed for over a year. This is a picture of me getting the only track time I could make for myself - after the bout was over, before they swept up the last of the popcorn. After every bout, I'd skate alone, avoiding beer spills and discarded programs. I'd pretend that there was a crowd cheering for me.

I knew I'd never quit, but sometimes it got so hard that I wished I had it in me to just give up. I couldn't, though. I stuck out every injury, every failed assessment, and every practice where I had to skate around the outside of the track because I couldn't do contact drills like everyone else.

Any time I don't feel up to skating, I remember that girl. Back then, I would have given almost anything to be on the track with the rest of the league. I skate every bout for her.

Happy (belated) birthday, Freshmeat Jessie. You did it, and I'm so proud of you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rhino mama

Lately I've been asked rather frequently about who "Dreadnought" is. The question of "so what's your roller derby character?" tends to leave me a bit speechless because I've never noticed a huge difference between "Jessie" and "Dreadnought" beyond having one on my ID's and the other on my derby shirts. 

When I first started, I thought that choosing my own nickname was awesome, and I really wanted to find a persona to go with my derby experience. However, I found I didn't need to do any of that to feel right when hitting opponents, so it never came to pass. I can summon up plenty of aggression, confidence, and I'ma-get-you-ness while riding the bus in the morning or getting a cupcake at the cupcake store. Playing derby hasn't really made me more aggressive at all. It's just made me  ready to back up my natural aggression because I practice hitting people with my butt 2-3 nights a week.

Don't get me wrong, derby has changed me forever in more ways than I think I can fully understand right now because I'm so steeped in it. I'm more organized, that's for sure. I'm better at saying "no" to people who make rational arguments. I've learned how large social groups work in terms of changing procedures, rules, and commonly held activities and agreements (AKA "slow and steady wins the race"). I have more integrity. I listen to myself more and make decisions more quickly. 

More than anything, I've learned how to take care of people who are having a hard time because I finally know how that feels. Before derby, most of my activities worked well with my natural skills, and I tended to have a fairly easy time because of those choices. Sure, I struggled, but deep down I knew I could do whatever it was because "I'm good at this stuff," and that helped me through the bad times. 

Derby was different. I didn't know deep down that I could do this - in fact, I wasn't naturally good at any of this at all. I learned firsthand how it felt to be one of the worst people at [insert skill here] because I usually was. I learned how it felt to lose, fail, be passed over, and have to question whether or not I had it in me to succeed. This taught me more humility, strength, and tricks for positive thinking than I could have learned in a lifetime of doing what came easily. I'm living proof that we grow more through failure than through success, and that hard times build character. 

Maybe my derby name isn't about who I become when I take the track. "Dreadnought" is pretty much the same as "Jessie" in that sense - aggressive, pushy, and prone to smashing into people. When I think of my derby name in terms of what I've become because of the track, "Dreadnought" is different than "Jessie." Dreadnought is tough - she knows she can do whatever this is because she's survived worse and become stronger because of it. Dreadnought is hard to push around because she's proud to take up her own space. 

I liked Jessie, and I still do. I like what Dreadnought helped Jessie become, though.  I wouldn't compare myself to the ugly duckling because I'm definitely no swan. Maybe I was like this little skinny rhino baby, and I'm more like the big, strong rhino mama now. 

My favorite part is that I get to be this person wherever I go because I still don't see a difference between the two. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

No zombies so far.

After over a week in the new place, I've noticed the absence of something fairly major: imaginary zombies.

I wake up in the middle of the night at least once or twice every night, usually to use the facilities, or because some weird noise makes me think the world is ending. During the daytime the idea of Dawn of the Dead (the remake) zombies coming to get me when I get up to pee is totally laughable. Zombies? Those aren't real! However, at 3AM, those zombies are definitely real, and they're the fast zombies, and they'll totally outrun me as I thud my way across the apartment trying like hell not to scream for my mommy.

Our old apartment was filled with these imaginary zombies. During the daytime, they took the form of:

• Scarves, hats, and bags hung on coat racks on the back of the bedroom doors.

• The oscillating tower fan with the green lights that TOTALLY look like monster eyes.

• The closet with the floor-to-ceiling mirrors that reflected the traffic lights on the busy street nearby.

• Countless objects that become utterly terrifying in the darkness, as illustrated on the right. Why do I buy this stuff?

Also, the bathroom was clean across the apartment from where we slept. For years, I ran to and from the bathroom in the wee hours because I was convinced that zombies would get me. Logic, common sense, reason, and street smarts couldn't save me. At night, the imaginary zombies had free reign.

Our new place, however, seems to have been treated with imaginary-zombie-begone. We have ample storage, allowing us to leave our scarves in closets and other scarf-appropriate locations. The tower fan stands out against the light walls enough that I can tell it's a fan and not a monster who is trying to decide which end of me to eat first. There are no huge mirrors, and we don't face the street. Lastly, the bathroom is three carpeted steps away from the bed. Suck it, zombies.

So far I feel safe in this new place, and I've slept better because of it. So has my husband, because he doesn't wake up to OMG ZOMBIES [thud thud thud SMASH thud thud thud] as I run to and from the bed, crashing into the coffee table as I go.

Plus, if I do in fact have to deal with zombies, this place is far more defensible. Just knock out the stairs on both sides and fill up the tub with drinking water and we're golden until we run out of food.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's finally happened: my own studio space.

New apartment with a working tub and tons of windows? Sweet. Studio space in the attic? Even sweeter.

I was up until almost midnight organizing the space, and this is how it looks so far. It has a long way to go, but at least I have my basic sections planned: sewing, printmaking, computery-stuff, library, future cutting area (when the table is ready).  I can't wait to start using it.

I have to figure out how on earth to sweep out the mountain of dust from, well, everything. Also, there are some old things up here that need to go, like a broken air conditioner and my computer from 2001. That, and I need to find a way to cool it down in the summer without blasting the electric bill sky high. 

Even still, though, it's going to be amazing. I can't stop looking at the photos, and I can't wait to get back home to keep picking away at the boxes.