You have stolen my heart (and my skates)

25 Feb

It’s been a long time since I have posted anything, largely because I was finishing college and then I had all those post college things to do like moving (back into my parents’ house) and getting a job (at Starbucks, because, y’know, cliches and stuff).

Now that I have finished out the season of roller derby in Bellingham (back in July), I am in Spokane, skating with the Lilac City Rollergirls. About a week and a half ago, we had our first bout of the season against the Snake Pit Derby Dames from Coeur d’Alene.

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They totally kicked our asses. But it’s okay, we’re still neighborly.

It was just one day after the bout when tragedy struck. I woke up at my boyfriend’s apartment on Monday morning and walked out to my car to drive to work, and this is what I discovered:

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My poor window had been smashed. At first, I didn’t think anything was missing. Nothing looked like it had been thumbed through, and I generally don’t keep things in my car, so I just could not figure out what would have possessed someone to smash my window and then just leave. Then, about halfway to work, I realized what they had taken and I started sobbing uncontrollably. They had taken my derby gear. My sweaty, disgusting smelling derby gear that also happened to be incredibly valuable. But chances are, when they open the bag and were greeted by the stench, they probably didn’t realize they had about $750 worth of gear in their hands. Or maybe they did. I can’t decide which would be more upsetting: if they just threw it away (my boyfriend checked surrounding dumpsters, just in case), if they sold it for what it was worth, or if they just pawned it off to someone for significantly less than it was worth so they could get a quick fix (because obviously drugs were the motivation here, I mean COME ON (justkiddingkindof)).

So, that’s what I’ve been up to. Slowly trying to replace all my derby gear that was stolen. I just ordered new skates on Saturday. Now I just need all those other things.

Bout next Saturday!

9 Mar

Last night was a rough scrimmage for me. My body is aching and I feel like I took another step backwards, but maybe what they say in the dance world about a bad rehearsal amounting to a good show is also true in derby. I certainly hope so.

The “show” I am speaking of is the bout on next Saturday!

This could be just what you need after a long week of finals, so you should think about going. Tickets are available here or on the places listed on the poster. Get them ahead of time, last month we sold out at the door and had to turn people away!

This month my team is playing the away team, The Bad Reputations from Canada. This means there’s a whole new bag of terrifying to deal with, since we’ve never seen them play before and have no idea what to expect. Last month, when Flash played Public Frenemy (also from the Terminal City Rollergirls in Canada), we kept hearing about their team and how they were all fresh meat so they should be pretty well matched against Flash. And then Flash they used Flash to mop the floor and beat them by over 100 points. So I am going to just expect that The Bad Reps are a good team and hopefully over prepare.

The Cogs have had a lot of trouble lately, though. We lost Malaria after the last bout and then just this week Brawl’Lee Parton was deployed to West Virginia because she works with FEMA. We might get her back before the bout (in fact it is kind of looking like we will), but we’ve lost a bit of practice time. Another of our skaters, Eva Apocalypse, is dealing with a back injury right now so she won’t be able to skate with us. We’ve been having a hard time getting more than 6 people to show up for practices, generally with 9 people at the scrimmages. It makes it hard for everyone to be on the same page and for newbies like me to know what’s going on when there aren’t enough people to effectively run drills at practice.

We’re a smart team, but it can be hard for us to execute the plans we come up with sometimes and we just kind of fall apart. We’ll be pulling skaters from the pool for the bout, so we’ll also have the challenge of playing with people we’ve never played with before. I think we’ll be able to pull through if we get our heads in the game, and then we’ll show Canada what’s up in Bellingham.

Blog Awards (Beware the wall of text)

5 Mar

This post is dedicated to picking my favorite blogs from my class. This was a very difficult task and I feel there are at least two blogs tied for every category. I am already second guessing the ballot I just turned in, so even though I couldn’t vote for two blogs in one category, I’m going to write about two blogs for certain categories. This is my way of stickin’ it to the man.

Best Personal Blog

This is a tie between When I Grow Up and Ursus Interruptus.

When I Grow Up is a really good personal blog because of its honesty and how easy it is to relate to. I love how reading it fills me with a sense of nostalgia for when I was younger and also how it causes me to reflect on my own life. The writing is very casual and approachable and the visuals are fantastic. I loved the drawings Chelsea used in her earlier posts, and I love the pictures as well. I also love the way she ends most of her posts with a question and encourages comments from her readers.

Ursus Interruptus is a different kind of personal blog that I also enjoy. I love Kyle’s witty voice and being exposed to a subculture I knew nothing about. Kyle also includes a lot of videos, links, and pictures that end up entertaining me for far too long. But definitely, my favorite part about this blog is his voice. Even his midterm post was entertaining and fun to read, even though it was just a midterm!

Best Design/ Visuals

I have to give this one to Six and a Writer. This blog has a fantastic layout: it is clean, minimal, and easy to read. The pictures she uses are also beautiful and tie in wonderfully with the posts about her family members. I think the layout does a wonderful job displaying her content, especially with the way her content is structured. With most of the posts being a either a “then” or “now” profile of her family member, the way they sit next to each other on the home page creates a wonderful before and after image effect. This blog is easy to navigate and not cluttered at all, and therefore it wins.

Best Hobby/ Specific Interest Blog

This one is another tie between Cirque Sent Out Bloggasaur and Kacie’s Kinship.

Cirque Sent Out Bloggasaur gets my vote because it is an incredibly specific, in depth specific interest blog. Being a pokemon fan myself, albeit an amateur compared to Jesse, this blog is entertaining to me even though I don’t always understand what he’s talking about. This blog is great because it is perfectly focused and it’s easy to see the author is passionate about his topic, which means he will hopefully never run out of material. I also greatly enjoy the inclusion of visuals that are informative and also funny. One of the reasons I think this blog is great is because it is so in depth. While my blog doesn’t get into super specific information like roller derby statistics, Jesse’s does and I think that will help him build a strong pokemon fan readership in the long run.

Kacie’s Kinship is also a fantastic specific interest blog. I had never heard of a kinship family before, or at least I didn’t realize there was a name for it. I think this blog will do really well (it also is in a tie for the Blog Most Likely to Succeed). The visuals and the writing are really well done, and I think this blog is in a niche that can get a lot of attention. It reminds me a bit of other, more general family blogs that are really popular. I think this blog has a long life ahead of it, especially since Kacie will never run out of stories to tell from her hectic kinship life.

Most Improved Blog

I give this one to The Bad Brew Review. It seems like it took Joe/Jack a long time to figure out what he wanted his blog to be about, and I think this idea is my favorite. It has so much potential for humor, debauchery, and other such things that I find fantastic. I think the idea of reviewing bad/cheap liquor is an original, fun idea and I love the way that he can use that venue to not just post about how bad those drinks are, but to tell stories about what happened while he was testing all of these bad drinks. I don’t know if that’s where the blog will go, but I like the knew focus and I like that the option is there.

Most Interactive AND Most Likely to Succeed

My Cat Thinks I’m Funny has been a class favorite from the beginning. I voted this blog for most interactive because after reading a post, I ALWAYS want to comment to respond with my own related stories. This blog is so successful because it is honest and funny. Natalie just kind of lets loose whatever is on her mind and it works out every time. Her topics are easy for any young adult to relate to, but they aren’t vague or too general either. Her pictures are always perfectly placed and humorous. I think this blog will be successful because it is so funny and because the possibilities for topics is endless. I have never been disappointed by a post and it always inspires me to want to tell my own embarrassing stories.

Finals have arrived

2 Mar

Senioritis has hit and it has hit hard, my friends. As I prepared to register for my final ten credits, I was struck with a complete and utter lack of motivation in regards to anything school related. Reading? Too hard. Writing? Yeah stinkin’ right. Getting out of bed in the morning? Only because I have to. I am so unmotivated I completely forgot this blog post was due until other peoples’ were pouring into my in box and I thought “Why is everyone writing about their final project?” Oh. Because we were supposed to.

For my final project, I am putting together a short book-like thing. I almost want to call it a brochure, but it will be a book. This book will be titled “So You Want to be a Rollergirl” and it will be full of three how to guides for the first steps one needs to take for becoming a rollergirl. These guides will be interjected with my own experiences and stories regarding what I did wrong and what I did right when I started playing derby, and hopefully those stories are entertaining. I have already written one guide, titled “How to Choose Your Derby Name” based on my last blog post, but the other guides will include some fresh stories that I haven’t told here.

The other two guides will be more about getting involved in the sport. In the first, I want to cover the first steps you should take, like watching roller derby, watching movies about derby, and finding a league. In the final guide, I will talk about what to do after you’ve joined a league and have been drafted, which are the things I am still working on myself. This will include things like cross-training, which I don’t do and really need to because I learned last night I have no endurance (more on this later), and avoiding derby drama.

Finally, I will also be including a few “Skater Profiles” which will be little blurbs about some awesome skaters, much like my derby crush post. It shall be grand when it is finished, I hope. I have no idea how to transition from Word Document to pages of book that are well designed, but I have some connections that will be able to help me out.

How I Came to be Hyper Bully

21 Feb

Once you are invited to join a league, you get the privilege of picking out a derby name for yourself. This name is your alter-ego, your derby persona, who is admittedly way cooler than your real self. Most derby names are a violent and/or sexy twist on some celebrities name, and the puns are endless.

When I was choosing my derby name, I wanted something related to literature that was also tough and kind of sexy. I wanted a name that would show everyone that not only am I nerdy, but I am a hot badass as well (at least I like to think this sometimes). The very first name I came up with for myself was Sylvia Wrath, which I felt accomplished all of these things, but unfortunately this name was too similar to names that were already registered. Yes, registered.

There is an international Master Roster that has the name of just about every derby girl ever in the world, and when you choose a derby name it cannot be the same as or similar to another girl’s name. This means that I couldn’t choose the name Sylvia Wrath because it was too similar to Sylvia Bloodbath, even though Sylvia Bloodbath plays roller derby in London (I think) and I will likely never run into her ever in my entire life.

When I figured this out, I gathered all of my resources and tried to make a list of names. I used my poetry anthologies and my rhyming dictionary and textbooks with literary terms. I e-mailed my nerdy uncle for ideas. Most of my favorites, like Hermione Danger and Villain Elle were already taken. There is nothing that sucks more than thinking you have finally come up with a name that is so “you” and unique and original and then finding out that someone already came up with it. It hurts even more when you see that name was registered just two months before you made it into the league and you could have had it if only you had tried out a year earlier.

So there I was, with a string of reject names like Anna Pest (I still like this one), Surly Jackson, Louisa May Hellcat, Quick Reed, and Bronte Sinister, unable to find a name that I felt truly encompassed my alter ego (or was related to an author I had actually read before). Then I saw the word hyperbole in a textbook and thought “Hmm.” I texted my mom the idea “Hyper Roll-E?” because I missed the obvious pun and she replied “No. What about Hyper Bully?” and I felt elated and really stupid at the same time. She asked how I could make “Hyper Bully” hyperbole and I told her it already was, since I’m not especially hyper or (generally) a bully. I chose the number 10 to signify that Hyper Bully is in fact a “Perfect Ten” which is also hyperbole.

I sent the name in for registration back in November, but the people who run the roster are about six months behind. This means that even though my uniform and sweatshirts are printed with my name on it, some asshat who is behind on their paperwork could still reject my name. In which case, I will turn into Hyper Bully and pummel them until they either accept my name or refund my printing costs, whichever is easiest.

Season 5, Bout 1

17 Feb

I’ve been avoiding writing this blog. Partially because I have had an overabundance of homework and responsibilities this week and partially because I still don’t know what to think about the bout. The final score was 198 to 64, so Tough Love took the win by… well, a lot. And that’s okay, we didn’t have to win to have fun.

I don’t really know what to say about my own actions. I didn’t get a whole lot of playing time, which is fine because when I was playing I wasn’t exactly the most effective blocker. I am really glad I got the opportunity to play and to experience what a bout feels like, I just wish I had done more in the time I had. I can’t even tell you exactly what I did wrong or anything because my playing time is an absolute blur. I feel like as soon as I stepped out onto the track my mind went completely blank and all I could really comprehend was “Oh, I should be moving forward now.”

That's my "Oh crap, I let her through" face.

That being said, I am really proud of how well the Cogs did. Even though we lost, we really pulled it together in the second half. At halftime, the score was 129 to 13, so Tough Love didn’t score quite as many points in the second half and we scored a lot more. There were some amazing moments for us in the bout. Within the first ten minutes, Harsh Mellow, a fellow newbie and Western student, got lead jammer instead of the Tough Lover she was jamming against, and we were all on our feet cheering for her. I don’t even remember if she scored any points, but the fact that she got through first in one of her first jams ever in a bout was incredible, and I was so proud of her. And then there was Malaria.

Malaria has been with the Betties since the very beginning of the league. The week before the bout, she told us that this was going to be the last time she could play for us due to some health problems that she’s been dealing with. Even though I’ve only known her for a few months, I was so sad to hear this. She inspired many people to join the league and she is one of the most encouraging people I have ever met. There was one scrimmage where I was struggling to keep up with the pack and kept getting stuck behind walls of opposing players (this happened in the bout, too) and I was feeling down. After the practice, we were doing a team building exercise where we said our favorite part of the scrimmage and something we needed to work on. Malaria’s favorite part of the scrimmage was a moment where the jammer got past me and I bolted after her to try and hit her so she’d have to pass me again. I don’t think I even hit the girl, but Malaria was impressed with my determination anyway. She can see the good in a skater even when they don’t see it themselves.

Malaria's last jam!

In the last jam of the evening, we had Malaria be a jammer. It was awesome. She got lead jammer and she scored some points and called it off. She asked afterwards if she was a super awesome jammer or if Tough Love was just going easy on her because they knew it was her last jam, but it didn’t matter because we were all on our feet cheering for her anyway.

All photos in this post were taken by Kim Lincoln, our awesome bout photographer. You can check out her other work here.

This is a midterm.

10 Feb

Disclaimer: This post has nothing to do with derby and everything to do with my class. I will be addressing the issue of whether online writing (like this blog!) counts as literature or not.

This is a really hard question for me to answer, especially since the literature I read the most often is poetry or fiction, and most blogs don’t fit into this category. In order to approach this question, I have to take a moment to think about what literature is. To me, the difference between writing and literature is craft, which ultimately boils down to how the author constructs their thoughts, what kind of language they use, the use of “literary” things like hyperbole, metaphors and things like that, and/or it tries to reveal some sort of essential truth or something like that. My gut reaction to this train of that was that online writing doesn’t count as literature, but now I am rethinking this and I am going to take the wishy-washy, indecisive standpoint of “it depends on the blog.”

For instance, I feel Bleubird Vintage does not count as literature, primarily because the writing is rather sparse. It is an absolutely beautiful blog that I am definitely now following (especially since they just posted wedding pictures. I LOVE wedding pictures and follow a lot of blogs for that purpose), but photographs don’t count as literature. The writing that is there (like in this post) reads much like a personal journal; it’s more of a “this is what we did today” and not so much “this is a story from my day that has taught me something about life and I have really thought this through so you had better read it.” I think in general, blogs that are primarily photo based and don’t have a lot of substantial writing to them don’t count as literature in the same way that other blogs do. This includes the blog I presented on, Regretsy, even though Regretsy has published a book. Even though I don’t necessarily consider these things literature, I  still feel they have value.

I also think that the video blogs we looked at aren’t very literary either. But that could be my annoyance with most of them. I tend to find them more obnoxious than entertaining. But that’s just my, and unfortunately for the world, I don’t get to decide what’s cool and what’s not.

That being said, I think there are a lot of blogs that do have literary value, and pretty much all of the blogs in our own class fall into this category. The writing in each of the class blogs is substantial, and it’s easy to see that the authors have put a lot of time into thinking about how they want to say things and they do think about the craft aspect of writing. I think two blogs that are entirely different from one another that do this are Through My Eyes and Kacie’s Kinship.

Through My Eyes does this by following in traditional literary footsteps. It’s a poetry blog, and since poetry is my favorite form of literature, it’s obvious that this falls into the literary category. But through the form of a blog, the poetry has life poured into it in a new way with the inclusion of pictures, which is something you don’t see a lot of in print, unless the pictures are illustrating a children’s poem or something. But here, the poem is illustrating the pictures. If the poetry wasn’t included, it would just be another makeup blog. The two aspects work incredibly well together. The blog doesn’t change the definition of literature, it just enhances the same literature we already had.

I think Kacie’s Kinship falls into the literary world, too. This blog is really interesting to me because I really shouldn’t be able to relate to it at all: I have no younger siblings, I have no nieces or nephews (at least not for a few more months), and the only time I spend around children is seeing my cousins at Christmas. But I love this blog, even though I don’t necessarily love children. Kacie’s voice is fantastic and comes through wonderfully clear in every post. I love that you can tell she is writing from the heart and she is writing what she knows. Her stories are genuine and I think they definitely get to some “essential truths,” even if that’s not her intention. For instance, the fingers post was funny, it gave us insight into her life, and it hinted at some life lessons. It was definitely a post that showed an aspect of her hectic life in a kinship rather than her just telling us “Oh man, my life is crazy and there are kids everywhere” (See what I did there?!). This is a blog that I think would translate well into a memoir, which makes it super literary.

I don’t know if online writing really changes the definition of literature or not, I think it’s still a little early to tell. I think it offers a space where anyone has the opportunity to be literary, but there is still a lot of focus on the old tropes of what makes literature. I think the definition might change to be more inclusive of this kind of writing, rather than it changing altogether to some new literature.

Writing about whether blogs are literature or not has got me thinking about my own blog. I kind of feel that my blog may not be as full of “craft” as I’d like, but it has definitely changed the way I think about my writing. Before my blog, my only concern when writing was “how should I say this?” Now, I spend a considerable amount of time thinking about the audience, trying to decide what they think will be interesting, and wondering how I can say certain things without sounding whiny. It feels strange to me to build a post based on what other people find entertaining rather than based on what I feel I need to say, but it’s opened me up to write a lot of things I hadn’t planned on writing about. I think my blog is still evolving; there are a lot of things I haven’t done yet that I want to do and I don’t always know how to include things like pictures to make my blog more entertaining. Because apparently, people don’t like big blocks of text. Like this one.