See, this past week has been a rough one for me. I learned that one of my high school classmates died from a heart attack. He was only 47. It's not like we were close or anything; I hadn't talked to him in many, many years. But I think his death triggered something for me. I'm not afraid to die but I think I realized I'm definitely not ready to die. I have too much life to live still. So, the Bout couldn't have come at a better time. It made me realize that I can't worry about how much time I have left, I just have to live it. Roller Derby is what has pulled me through this week. Last night was a good night. Sharing the Bout experience with my teammates, league mates, family and friends was an experience I'll never forget. As Coach La so aptly put it, we made history last night in C-U. Now sit back and watch Roller Derby take off! Hell, we'll have our own facility before you know it! I got home this morning around 2:30 am feeling on top of the world, content with life. Roller Derby Rules!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Last night was the Twin City Derby Girls first Bout. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the local chapter of the Young Survival Coalition (YSC). YSC organizes events and programs for young women affected by breast cancer. I was very pleased that the league chose such a worthy organization to support for our very first Bout which honored me and Coffey Break-Her (from the Boneyard Bombshells) as breast cancer survivors. Although there were many nervous stomachs before the Bout, everything fell into place. A big shout out to the Bout Committee and the Bout Coordinators for such a smooth debut. You Rock! And to those who envisioned this league and made it happen, especially Cruel Whip & Ghirley Manson, you have my undying gratitude. Roller Derby makes me fight even harder everyday to beat this cancer and stay healthy. We "packed" the Savoy Recreation Center -- well, as packed as it can be. Congrats to the Boneyard Bombshells who won the bout over our team, The 'Paign. It was kick ass; everyone played their ass off and gave the crowd a great show so we should all be proud of ourselves. Many people have been asking when the next bout will be. Soon, I hope as I can't wait to do it again! The after bout party at Clark Bar was a blast. You can't beat good food, great friends and alcohol!
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Today started off so well. Any day that we have derby is a good day. Then, throw in a cookout with your league mates and it don't get much better than that! But then discover that your child thinks you are the President of The World's Worst Parent Club. When we are entrusted with a child, it is our duty to guide them to adulthood, instilling the values and skills needed to survive in the world at large. Rod Stewart's song "Forever Young" has a line in it that says, "And when you finally fly away, I'll be hoping that I served you well". From day 1, I have been preparing for that day. Doesn't every parent want better for their child? How do you make them realize that when they are sure it is your mission in life to ruin theirs? Am I ruining Hannah's life? Have I spent too much time on personal pursuits and not enough time with her? Does she need more from me? What if I can't give more? Since the last half of the 20th century, it’s become the norm to look back at our childhoods as the sources of our problems. Freud, and then Dr. Spock, helped ingrain this idea so that we now take it for granted. Well, I always tell Hannah she'll need something to tell her therapist someday!
Suddenly, I am tired. I feel like I am at a crossroads in my life. Hannah's preparing for her college career and I'm wondering if I still belong in the domestic violence field. I am haunted by reflections of a young woman with a wandering spirit and a restless soul, who lustfully craved adventure and never looked back once a decision was made. Driven by the motto "do it now and figure it out later so there'll be no regrets", new and different places were explored without itineraries and frequent relocations relieved chronic boredom. Traditional jobs were confining, daily routine was a breeding ground for restlessness, and a conventional lifestyle was stifling. I thrived on novel experiences and new beginnings, continuously clearing the slate and reinventing myself. Where ever did she go?
Consider the proverbial fork in the road. We have three choices: go left, go right, or stand still and languish in a state if inertia. The decision I make now will potentially shape my destiny for years to come. Ambivalence is a poison that clouds the mind and squashes the spirit. It is always best to chose a path, take a leap of faith and keep moving forward, rather than succumb to the illusory shelter of inactivity. As a person who has often been guilty of running from pain and charging ahead with reckless abandon, I am now focused on the power of standing still. However in standing still I am actually moving forward, because I stand now with peace and clarity rather than frozen in the grips of fear. I think it is not the destination that matters but rather the journey, and life is really just one long journey with many crossroads along the way. As a seasoned traveler with (hopefully) many adventures yet to come, I plan to travel light, celebrate the crossroads, and stop to breathe now and then.
Friday, May 14, 2010
This was sent to me by my friend Karen. It struck me as "spot on"! Thanks, Karen!
One day I had lunch with some friends. Jim, a short, balding golfer type about 80 years old, came along with them---all in all, a pleasant bunch. When the menus were presented, we ordered salads, sandwiches, and soups, except for Jim who said, "Ice Cream, please. Two scoops, chocolate." I wasn't sure my ears heard right, and the others were aghast. "Along with heated apple pie," Jim added, completely unabashed. We tried to act quite nonchalant, as if people did this all the time.. But when our orders were brought out, I didn't enjoy mine. I couldn't take my eyes off Jim as his pie a-la-mode went down. The other guys couldn't believe it. They ate their lunches silently and grinned. The next time I went out to eat, I called and invited Jim. I lunched on white meat tuna. He ordered a parfait. I smiled.. He asked if he amused me I answered, "Yes, you do, but also you confuse me. How come you order rich desserts, while I feel I must be sensible?" He laughed and said "I'm tasting all that is possible. I try to eat the food I need, and do the things I should. But life's so short, my friend, I hate missing out on something good. This year I realized how old I was. (He grinned) I haven't been this old before." "So, before I die, I've got to try those things that for years I had ignored.
I haven't smelled all the flowers yet. There are too many trout streams I haven’t fished. There's more fudge sundaes to wolf down and kites to be flown overhead. There are too many golf courses I haven’t played. I've not laughed at all the jokes. I've missed a lot of sporting events and potato chips and cokes. I want to wade again in water and feel ocean spray on my face. I want to sit in a country church once more and thank God for His grace. I want peanut butter every day spread on my morning toast. I want un-timed long distance calls to the folks I love the most. I haven't cried at all the movies yet, or walked in the morning rain. I need to feel wind on my face. I want to be in love again. So, if I choose to have dessert, instead of having dinner, then should I die before night fall, I'd say I died a winner, because I missed out on nothing. I filled my heart's desire. I had that final chocolate mousse before my life expired.." With that, I called the waitress over.. "I've changed my mind, " I said. "I want what he is having, only add some more whipped cream!"
Be mindful that happiness isn't based on possessions, power, or prestige, but on relationships with people we like and respect. Remember that while money talks, CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM SINGS! .....AMEN
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Some people think that after an experience like cancer if you are not smiling and doing cartwheels every day, then you're just sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself. I am grateful to be alive, but still I have good days and bad days just like I did before cancer. I come home to my house, which has pink ribbon symbols everywhere, and it makes me feel like I'm in a sisterhood or a sorority that I didn't ask to be in, and I often feel like I don't belong because I'm not sure how I'm suppose to act. I woke up the day after my diagnosis and began thinking hard about these realities: My cancer could spread. I could live, I could die. My doctors might make mistakes. My activities might be limited. My finances might be impacted. I didn’t spend much time wishing away these circumstances. Instead, fully absorbing the reality of these putrid situations helped me stratagize and meet my needs. Spending some time staring at the scary realities has helped me feel my feelings instead of bottling them up. It has allowed me to live fully with "what is", which has made a lot of room for both sadness and joy. I don't dwell on the cancer and the possibility of dying--I just live my life.
There were only a couple of times that I actually thought I was dying. I was so miserable that I wanted to die. This state of accepting and even wanting death turned out to be incredibly peaceful and blew the lid off of every idea I had ever had of death prior to that moment. This is the most "real" place I have ever encountered, but it’s raw and uncomfortable, so why would you want to go there? We do everything in our power to run from that painful, ugly place. It is definitely not a positive place. But it is real. We rush through our lives wanting happiness, but it evades us because we are not willing to touch what is real. We think it is money or success or things being a certain way that will bring us happiness or satisfaction. But I think it actually comes from that brokenheartedness, which is our true humanity. It is the place where we are our weakest and our strongest. From that place, you can relate to anyone. If I can you hold onto these paradoxes, I will have more of a capacity to live fully and to cope with the fact that life is full of paradoxes like this.
Cancer not only sucks for me, but it hugely sucks for my family and friends who have to watch me go through it. So, when someone says, “What does not kill you makes you stronger” should I reply: “I’d rather be weak.”? It seems to me that perhaps the cancer community has blown the concept of strength out of proportion. My back has been up against the oncology wall many times when I’ve gone under the knife or received yet another infusion. I’ve surmounted these challenges not because I’m strong, but because the alternative means dying. It is strange to have placed on me such lofty personality judgments and descriptors like strength, courage, and inspiration in response to having gone through situations that stink and about which I have no other choice. The last thing I want is people cheering me on because I had a disease that I didn’t want, was miserable getting through, and wish I never had. That should not be my moment of fame. I’m not saying don’t celebrate the fact that I’m still alive. And I think it is great to honor cancer patients and recognize the challenges we face. But don’t call me strong when I have no other choice. It discounts the many nights that I sobbed alone into my pillow and felt cowardice in every inch of my body. I don’t want to erase those moments with a clean sweep of "strength washing"; everything I have experienced has been incorporated into "me". One of the best by-products of my cancer is that it has helped me befriend weakness. I no longer think of weakness as a negative term. In fact, I’m pretty damn proud that I can let myself feel scared and vulnerable. After all, cancer is scary business.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
So, how do you like my "bad ass" derby photo? Pretty wicked, huh?! Special thanks to Alex Wild, photographer extraordinaire, who took the photo. The Twin City Derby Girls are Bad Ass. We skate fast, hit hard and take a risk every time we get on the track. Yes, we are wearing pads but we also have wheels on our feet and moving faster than a football or basketball player can run. Bumps and bruises are every day occurrences and sometimes injuries are much more serious: black eyes, broken jaws, broken bones, torn ACL’s, back injuries, shoulder injuries, you name it. And what do we do when we get hurt like that? Wait until the doctor says we can skate again and get right back on the track. That's Bad Ass.
I’ve written here before about roller derby and how awesome I think it is. I’ve written how it’s become a much bigger part of my life than I ever imagined and how there is a sisterhood that runs deep and is very profound. We spend hours and hours of our life every week dedicated to derby. We don’t mind because we love derby and we love the people in derby. They’ve become friends who are more like family. They are the people we spend most of our time with and have come to depend on and value. Joining a roller derby league is not just playing a sport. These women are so damn dedicated and work hard every single day; we practice a minimum of twice a week, we volunteer our time to the league and to other charities, we will set up, clean, and tear down before and after bouts, sell tickets, as well as promote our teams and the league. We don’t get paid. We pay to have the privilege of doing all of this. We may not get news coverage by local sports media, fame, or notoriety. We do all of it for the love of the game and for the sense of belonging that comes from being part of something that is important.
In our patriarchal world that doesn’t encourage women to express themselves this way, roller derby is a tool for change. Derby girls are free to be serious athletes and sexy at the same time. We don’t subscribe to “societies” version of what size, shape, and demeanor we should have–we look and dress how we like and if that means ripped fishnets and hot pants–we bring it! I’m constantly impressed with the level of self-esteem my league mates possess and how different that is from most of the rest of us; non-derby women have a lot to gain and a lot to learn by watching skaters. I’m proud to be part of the Twin City Derby Girls. We work hard, are dedicated and focused, spending a tremendous amount of time and energy on this part of our lives. Derby Rules!
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Some more rules for dating a derby girl!
1. Men cannot compete with derby, you will always be sloppy seconds! Derby will always have her first.
2. She will never have “plans” with you. She will only have plans with derby and will only hang out when convenient. Your “plans” will be dropped for anything derby.
3. You are there to work out any frustrations. Derby leagues get into spats sometimes. Lucky for you there is a lot of frustration in roller derby.
4. Do not start talking about trying to take a vacation with her. She will immediately go into panic mode and start to think you are trying to take derby practice away from her. Vacation is only permissable in cities with other roller derbies. In such instances, you must entertain yourself as they skate. Go hide in the corner of the bar with the other derby widows, while the girls party and stay up all night talking derby with the new friends she made.
5. Don’t try to be the “manager”; do not try to get involved with derby business, that is only for the roller girl.
6. Don’t ask her teamates for relationship advice.
7. Don’t complain because your ( insert holiday here) date gets canceled because a bout has been scheduled. Holidays are no longer yours, even Valentines Day.
8. It’s not mandatory that you are at every bout.
9. Do not get jealous when your rollergirl talks to groupies. They are the ones buying tickets, beer, and merchandise, not you, so let them have their time. And remember, you get to go home with her!
10. Babies don’t make roller girls quit derby.
11. No the league doesn’t want you to travel with them.
12. Don’t make the following introduction, ” Hi I’m _____ and my roller girl is ______”
13. Don’t follow her around at bouts like a puppy, she is taking care of business. Find your own crowd.
12. Don’t go to league practice, and its normal to have them more than once a week.
13. Don’t stand in front of your rollergirl while she is skating, looking at her like she’s the greatest skater in the world. She’s liable to take you out.
14. Do not change your favorite team based on the type of rollergirl you date. Going from team to team just shows your not your own individual.
15. When she calls you when she is out on the road, don’t complain about when she is coming home. Consider yourself lucky that she even called you instead of spending the quarter on food or gas.
16. Never say anything negative about your roller girls league if you can’t say it to her. It will always come back to bite you in the ass.
17. If your dating a roller girl that wears a short skirt… she works it on the track. So, not only you will be able to see her Victorias Secrets.
18. Never cause a fight before your roller girl plays a bout. Relationship problems can be dealt with after the bout.
19. If they have a bout out of town, don’t drive just so you and your roller girl can have “alone time” or want to “talk”.
20. You cannot drink on your roller girls tab, buy your own!
21. Keep the derby seperate from your everyday life. That’s your roller girls passion, find your own.
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
Dating a roller girl: A survival guide
(Some words of advice if your girl decides to take up derby)
1. If she gets naked, and tells you to "come look at my ass, quick"! don't get excited. She just wants to show you a new bruise shaped EXACTLY like an Atom wheel.
2. If she's fully clothed, and tells you to "come look at my ass, quick"! again, don't get excited. She just wants to show you that her ass is now so well developed, she can balance a beer on it.
3. If she's whining about how much pain she is in, do NOT, repeat, do NOT, say, "why don't you just give up derby". This will only result in,
a) cold shoulder
b) yells of "you don't understand"!
c) the ENTIRE TEAM giving you the cold shoulder for your lack of support.
4. If she is whining about how much time derby takes, see #3.
5. Just accept the fact that sometimes her sweat will smell like beer.
6. Also just accept that your formerly demure, sweet, and quiet girl, may forget that she's not in the company of 60 other roller girls, and smell her pits in public.
7. If you smell something funky in your living area, it's the skate bag. Find it, hide it far away from you. Do not, under any circumstances, open the bag.
8. When she comes home and announces that she's going to wash out her pads, find an excuse, any excuse, to leave the house before she gets them out of her bag. Run fast.
9. Do not be alarmed if she has a "wife" in the league. It's nothing personal.
10. When she is on her period, chances are, the entire league is on their period. All 30-80 of them. Keep it in mind.
11. She will consider panties appropriate attire. Don't try to fight it.
12. Don't waste your money on jewelry. She wants new wheels. If you really want to get laid, new wheels AND bearings.
13. It's not a good idea to let her drive if she's just been skating. She will see the car as one giant roller skate, and every other driver as the opposing team.
14. Those cute feet that you love? Say your goodbyes. They will develop blisters, "pusher creatures", bruises and bunions. Make sure to tell her "they're not that bad" when she goes to wear flip flops in the summer.
15. If you're a girl dating a roller girl, don't try to fight it. You'll probably become one too.
16. If you're a guy dating a girl, either accept your derby widow status, or try to support her by supporting the league as a volunteer.
17. Overall, say goodbye to the girl you once knew. She's been replaced by a roller girl. She's still the same person, just stronger, more confident (and if you're smart) to you, a million times more beautiful.
... Courtesy of Fred Schoppe
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Today is my 18th wedding anniversary. The traditional gift for #18 is porcelain (as in china). Since I already have some, I guess I don't need any more. I asked Mike what he got me for our anniversary and he said, "The same thing as last year", which means nothing, not that I expected anything. Those days are long gone. Who could've predicted life would turn out this way? I thought it was best to stay busy today so I didn't dwell on a day that we no longer "celebrate". So, tonight I took myself roller skating. I got to hang out with some of my teammates which was fun. We "practiced" a few drills until we got in trouble and had to stop. One day we will have our own facility and will be able to practice drills as often as we like! It's been a busy week so far. I've spent some time working, time on derby activities and a little volunteer work thrown in for good measure!
I've been getting some flack from folks for the last blog entry. I knew I would because it was too morbid. But death is something we all must face -- no exercise or diet regimen, no meditation techniques, no amount of money can avoid it. It is the great equalizer. I was only pointing out that death no longer scares me but I have no plans to leave this world anytime soon! I have "faced off" with death before and will do so again if necessary. Thinking seriously about my death forces me to think more deeply about my life. There is no more time to waste; the rest of my life must be authentic and meaningful! Now, I just have to decide how it should look.
Sunday, May 2, 2010
“I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”
What a great quote! Did you know that there is a "death clock" out on the Internet? The website is http://www.findyourfate.com/deathmeter/deathmtr.html. You enter a bunch of information into the form and it calculates your death date (a/k/a Armageddon Day). Supposedly my Armageddon Day is August 21, 2047, which means I'll live just past my 84th birthday! Not too bad considering I currently have an aggressive form of cancer (HER2+ tumors tend to grow and spread more quickly). Women with HER2+ breast cancer may be less likely to respond to certain breast cancer treatments and may be more likely to have a recurrence (return) of their cancer. I'm not trying to morbid, just realistic.
Now, if death freaks you out, don't go to that website!!! Most of us love life. Even those who, in a rebellious mood, argue that they wish they had never been born, want life. I don't think we dread death itself but rather the pain often associated with dying. But it is doubtful whether there is any pain connected with the actual death. Death is but the "twin sister of sleep." They say when you pass over, you leave behind all the pain and anger you experienced during your life.
I am no longer afraid of dying. I used to be but after being diagnosed with breast cancer I discovered that being afraid of death, gives death all the power. So I took it away from him. (I think death is a male because I can't believe that a woman would put us through such fear.) Way back in the beginning of this blog I titled one of the entries "Chasing Death" because I decided rather than run & hide from death, I would turn the tables on him and "chase him off"! I took back control. I also said that if I catch that bastard, I'm gonna kick his ass! I will admit that I have been putting my affairs in order, just in case. I'm not planning on kicking off anytime soon but I feel like I need a back-up plan. You see, when I have a back-up plan in place, I don't need it. So, keep your fingers crossed that I will live to see that 84th birthday!
I am not afraid of dying because I've lived a good life. I've had a good career with several crowning achievements, enjoyed a close relationship and some great times with Mike (before the accident), had the privilege of being Hannah's mom and got to be a roller derby girl! While there are still things I want to do, I am content with the fact that I have lived an authentic life. I don't think I can ask for much more than that. Well, maybe a winning lottery ticket!