We had our one-month assessments in New Girl over the weekend. While I’ve definitely improved a bit (when I’m allowing myself to breathe and listen rather than focusing on the negative), I hadn’t gotten up to speed with the rest of my class. The call came on Sunday as I drove through Navasota on the Hill Country Yarn Crawl – I wouldn’t be joining my classmates for the second month of training.
I’ve taken it well. Honestly, it wouldn’t have been safe for me to continue. I couldn’t get out of my head enough to improve physically. Keeping up with the pace line was next to impossible for me. I know I don’t have a lot of years left to get into derby, but I have a plan ahead of the next tryout in the spring. More conditioning. Less beer. More squats. Fewer complaints. We’ll see where that gets me.
Wall squats. Lunges. Squat pyramids (on and off skates). Crunches. More squats. Push-ups (but not as many of those, as I’d like my forearm tendons to remain intact). I’m focusing on the basics right now, as my month 1 assessment for New Girl is coming on Saturday. Gotta stay low. Core tight. Knees bent and soft.
It’s been a hell of a journey for me. In some ways, I feel like my skills have regressed due to my being timid about skating the track right. But people I skate with tell me that’s not the case, that they see me doing things now that I couldn’t do when this crazy time started.
The truth is somewhere in the middle. I know my chances of surviving this first cut are very, very slim.
I’m OK with this. MORE than OK with this, really. Who’da thunk it? I just started banked track in June. In September, I made New Girl. I hadn’t even intended to try out when I started! To have made it this far, to have lasted through the whole first month WITHOUT QUITTING – this is huge for me. I feel like an honest also-ran at the Oscars. It was an honor just to be chosen for the program. And now, I have a much better idea of what I need to do to make it farther.
It’s going to take a lot more conditioning. A lot more squats. Thousands of laps around that track. Hundreds of repetitions of box turns, T-stops, plow stops, falls. I’m game. I plan to try out again. This sport is too fun for me to give up on now.
“I don’t belong here. I don’t belong here.” That’s the unfortunate mantra I find myself repeating as I skate these days. Two practices into my New Girl training, and I’m feeling humbled and embarrassed and…all sorts of emotions. All the feels. I myself in tears at the end of a drill last night.
My classmates are amazing, strong, smart women. They fight through our drills like nobody’s business. And while I have yet to quit in the middle of an exercise, man, have I wanted to. I’m painfully slow compared to them all. Definitely not as agile. Certainly not as confident. I don’t want my low skill level to bring down the quality of our practices.
Will this experience be an awesome exercise in maturity and toughness, or will I end up with my self-esteem even lower? When I’m away from the rink, I think the former. When I’m struggling to keep up with the pack, skating a bad line just to stay out of the way, I’m convinced it’s the latter.
So what would feel worse? Quitting or sticking with it and not succeeding?
As low as my confidence tends to be, I think quitting would feel worse. I’ve never done anything like this. The experiences I have are going to be eye-openers, for sure. I’m excited about them, but still a bit scared.
Sunday of this week was a lovely day. Not too warm. I spent most of the day sitting on my sun porch, reading the NYT, knitting, playing Words With Friends. Lizards frolicked in my trees and on my patio.
I was enjoying the feeling of my ass on my chair when my phone rang. A number I didn’t know. Huh. I answered.
“Hi, this is Mouse. You’re going to want to clear your calendar for the next month. You made TXRD New Girl!”
I managed not to shriek, tho Mr. Fab figured out pretty quick that something big was up. I’d tried out the day before with no expectations – I was doing it for the experience. But it went surprisingly well for me. I performed every skill – some better than others – and did it in a respectable time.
So. I’m a New Girl. I’m not sure what to expect next – I’ll find out more this week – but I’m not scared. I’m glad that, even at my age, I can still be tickled and excited by things that happen in my life.
I’m eager to see what I can do.
For the first 12 years of my professional life, I worked a 3 p.m.-11 p.m. shift (or something thereabouts. I’d rather not talk about the 8 p.m.-4 a.m. or 4 p.m.-2 a.m. stints I pulled). The rhythm of my days was decidedly different from that of a lot of my friends. I’d run errands while they worked. While I worked, they’d attend concerts and parties or go out for cocktails.
For many years, I barely even awoke by noon. I missed the morning world (I took mostly morning classes in college).
When my career changed two years ago, I was more than ready to end the night shifts. The shift to dayside employment brought its own challenges. Now I had to fight the crowds in the grocery store in the evening or on weekends instead of being able to shop during the day. I had evenings free, finally, but found myself tired from getting up early and working all day.
Since we moved into our house in January, my commute’s more than doubled – and for the first time, I have to make that commute when everyone else is doing it. I don’t dig traffic, and Austin is full of that.
I do love waking up with most of the world, though. I see the same cars most mornings. Moving vans from Unicorn. Legend Lighting trucks. Tradespeople in vans going about their days. Landscaping crews. School buses and school zones, flashing lights and all.
Sometimes I miss having the grocery store to myself. I miss my career as a journalist. Rediscovering the morning world has helped me make the best of it.
After a year of skating in a beginner-level flat track group, I was frustrated. Most of my friends had leveled up. Some folks just wanted to stay in beginner for the workout, which is cool. But I wanted to get to scrimmage, to hit, to play. I always did better when I paired with a premier-league skater in practice – I brought my skating up as close to that level as I could, which was exhilarating. But that didn’t happen nearly enough.
After about six weeks of banked track lessons, I had a chance to take part in a two-day clinic. Our lesson leader said it’s always a good idea to try to train with different coaches to see how it will affect one’s learning curve, so I decided to go.
It was by far the most difficult practicing I’d ever done. Clinics are often geared toward beginner skaters, but about half of the San Angelo derby squad attended, as did several folks from the level two lesson group. I was completely and utterly out of my comfort zone both days.
And I loved it!
I’m not ready for the big time yet, but working out with more experienced skaters was so rewarding. After Day 1, I was encouraged to come to Wreck League practices. I went to one and was intimidated, for sure, but in the end inspired.
I got to do some hitting in the clinic, and some work on advanced drills in agility. I was frustrated at first by my weaknesses, but the other women were awesome – they all cheered when I worked my way through a zig-zag hitting drill that was about an 11 on the difficulty scale.
I skated 10 hours that weekend – my usual practice, the clinic, Wreck League and a skating birthday party. So. Much. Fun.
I’m still excited. I know I won’t be picked to join a league any time soon, but I’ll be attending tryouts anyway. I want to see what it’s like. I want to get out of my comfort zone again.
I want to BE MORE FAB.
So why am I changing it up? I’ve got good friends in the flat track community. We volunteer at bouts. We skate together through the streets of Austin on hot days, then swim and get cold drinks. We make signs for new skaters. It’s a fun bunch of folks.
Derby seemed to epitomize the DIY ethos I love so much: homemade boutfits, volunteers staffing bouts and preparing venues, practices in hot warehouses. I love the sisterhood.
When I went to my first banked track bout in 2013, I didn’t really care for it. I was used to doubleheaders, with straight-ahead skating and not much kitsch. So the singleheader, pillow fight and tug-of-war filled bout wasn’t really satisfying at the time. When 2014 came around, I signed up for my usual rec league and got back on the volunteer train.
But I found myself fidgeting at bouts. The more straight-ahead spectacle of flat track failed to hold my attention. When I gave in to Mr. Fab and left after watching just one half of a bout at a doubleheader, I realized I should give banked track another chance.
This year, I’ve loved attending those banked track bouts. The crowd is closer to the action. People go flying over the rails (sometimes). And the kitsch. Oh, the glorious kitsch. Boutfits, helmets that don’t necessarily match – it’s all so much fun.
I didn’t ever dream of actually getting on that track and trying it out for myself. Now, a couple of months into it, I’m thinking of going through with a tryout for the league. I know I won’t make it, but I want to see what it’s like.
I started flat track rec league last January. It was fun, but ultimately frustrating. I just couldn’t get out of the Primer level, even though I could perform enough of the skills. It was getting boring. Instead of getting to watch, skate with and learn from better skaters, every time a new session would start I’d be back with the beginners. This was not satisfying.
I decided to take this summer off from rec. The practice warehouse was hot, anyway, with precious little air circulation. Heat and I don’t get along all that well. For the first month of the summer, it was speed skating on Fridays, skate park on Saturdays and maybe adult night on Tuesdays. Not bad. But a trip to the skate shop in June got me excited about a new venture: banked-track lessons, and possibly “wreck” league.
The first day of lessons, I didn’t know how to get on the track. The one woman I knew at practice showed me how, so I managed to get from off-track to the infield no problem. After a few minutes of greetings, general instructions and tips, we were off! I’d never skated on the banked track, so I was a little wary, but I decided the best thing to do was to just get up on it.
So fun! The first couple of weeks I felt a bit like Bambi on the frozen pond, but because I had a year of skating behind me I found myself getting comfortable with a quickness. The same things that have been hard for me in flat track – turnaround transitions, drunken sailors (a drill involving a crossover on every step) – are still hard for me. But I’m getting better. A lot better. A lot FASTER.
The skate shop owner, a skater herself, says she always recommends that folks try BOTH types if possible, to see if one or the other is a better fit. Last year, I’d not even considered the possibility of skating banked. Now, I can’t imagine NOT skating banked.
Nigel the Mini
One last reminder of Colorado is gone from my life. Last week I traded in Uschi, my 2001 Beetle, for Nigel, a 2011 Mini Cooper S. Uschi and I had been through a lot together over seven years, but she was starting to nickel and dime me. So once the condo was sold and the debts paid off, I made plans for Nigel. He’s zippy. Like driving a go-kart. And so tiny! I’ve never had a car with more than 2 doors, but even by those standards Nigel is tiny.
There are some advantages to his size. Though the trunk is wee, it’s ideally shaped for packages from Costco. It’s also just the right width for our bowling balls and for my roller derby gear.
It’s a weird, weird feeling, not owing many people money. It’s GOOD, for sure, but weird. I feel lighter, like my shoulders are a little straighter. And that is nice. I need to remember how much the past four years sucked as I chipped away at that debt. A car loan isn’t a bad thing – especially not with the awesome interest rate I got – but I need to trust myself not to get in over my head again. Baby steps.
Holy time passage, Batman! Wasn’t it just January?
As far as my Texas life goes, not much is different. Still enjoying my new(ish) job, skating in primer (no assessment til later this month), still married 😉 Tim and I have joined a Wednesday night bowling league, which is fun. I’m not nearly as good as he is, and I’ve been fighting elbow tendinitis for the past few months, but it’s still good times. That tendinitis has slowed my knitting, too. I’ve been working on the same sweater since January.
One of the last vestiges of my Colorado life is no longer part of my life – the condo finally sold. We closed last week, and for the first time since…well, since forever ago, I don’t owe anyone any money. It’s a good feeling to no longer have that property to worry about, and an even better feeling to be debt-free. But it’s also a bit bittersweet. On some level, I always thought I’d move back to Colorado, and to that condo, specifically.
Ahead for the summer? One last wedding – we’ve been to 4 already this year. Baseball games, probably some bbq and beer, and maybe a new(er) car. Also, I hope, an assessment up to C. My crossovers are much improved. I’m sturdier on my skates. Fingers are crossed.