I was thinking about writing a novel about roller derby using The Lord of the Flies for a structural model because I had made the half-joke more than once that the derby community is sometimes like an all female LotF. I decided to listen to the audio book and take copious notes to understand what made it tick. But it turns out that Lord of the Flies is far too simplistic to do justice to an organization as complex and powerful as a roller derby league. Maybe it’s because LotF is about a bunch of little boys stranded on a desert island and hoping daddy will save them whereas roller derby is an island of women who reach out to one another and give each other shelter in a sea that offers them no rescue. Either way, someone has decided to make a new LotF movie with an all female cast, since re-casting things with women is kindof a trend right now. That’s cool, I guess. A bunch of people are predictably mad about it, but so what? People can be mad about anything, and some things just aren’t worth the energy. It turns out, after re-experiencing the novel as an adult, I find the original to be … unoriginal? Look, I guess Golding was the first to do what he did, so it was original then, but the story isn’t actually that great. It’s annoying, honestly? Like, I am a grown ass lady, listening to 12-year-old boys argue their ego shit for pages upon pages while everyone is needlessly mean to the one boy with a goddamned brain, who also happens to be a clear stand-in for the women who are otherwise missing. Furthermore, Golding’s boys live in an ego/fear-based society. That is, their conflicts are primarily ego driven, and their decisions are rooted in fear. That kind of society is more or less what the majority of modern Western society is already doing, and it’s not working out so well for us. On the other hand, roller derby as a community is pretty different. It’s connection/overcoming-oriented. People don’t just play roller derby. They join a community and they overcome fears and other limitations to achieve something on both a personal and a communal level. Or maybe that’s just me. That’s more interesting to me than the old model of schoolboys on an island, so I guess it’s not an exact match. I’ll have to retire that joke.
In this episode, I interview Sasha “Kim Deal With It” Morrigan. I know Sasha from roller derby where she is well-known and loved personality. I cannot quite tell you how happy this conversation made me. To be honest, there’s more than one moment where I probably sound like a bit of a dolt, but Sasha is just lovely. We talk about roller derby, diversity in our community, and Sasha’s personal experience of gender transition. Sasha tells me about her best friend, the roots of her derby name, who she’d love to know better — Shoutout to the lucky person who is Sasha’s friend crush! I hope she’s listening. ;p
If you want to learn more about what it means to be transgender and resources for trans people, Sasha recommends the National Center for Transgender Equality. Their web site includes lots of great information about health care, legal and social issues, and the personal experiences of trans people.
For episode 2, I interviewed Lindsay DiFabbio, a self-made, Baltimore-based artist who dresses like the opening credits of Saved by the Bell and thinks farts are hilarious. Lindsay also has the most incredibly snugly cat named Gummers. Being a self-taught artist, Lindsay has some great things to say about building new skills and valuing your work. I definitely felt more inspired to take on new challenges after chatting with her.
Here’s where to find Lindsay on the internet!
Friendships between women can be a powerful force for change on a personal and societal level. That’s something I learned from my best friend, Jennanigans and continued to learn throughout our adventures in roller derby. This new podcast series is … a lot of things. It’s fun for me, and it’s also feminism. It’s part therapy and part celebration. It’s exploring what I can learn from other women while holding them up for the world to appreciate. It is bound to be flawed, and probably not everyone will like it, but that’s ok.
Without further ado, I present Episode One: A Chat With My Bestie!
If you want to reach Jenn for your home-finding needs, check out her web site: JennBrantmier.com
May 10, 2014. About a month after I joined my local roller derby league, I posted the above photo on Instagram. “It’s easiest to write when you have done something worth writing about. If you’re stuck, go outside.” Looking at it now, the message still rings true, although I can’t believe it took me more than three years to notice the missing apostrophe.
I had noticed in myself a lot of circular thoughts, and a certain amount of boredom with myself, my way of thinking and living. I needed to get outside myself, outside my comfort zone, beyond my current knowledge and experience. I needed to live a little, but I had no idea how much I was about to live.
When you play roller derby, every year feels like three. Home season, travel season, and off-season are each jam-packed with a year’s worth of living. Especially off-season, which seemed to be the only time I could check in with the rest of the world, reconnect with non-derby friends, visit my family, and catch up on sleep. Maybe that’s why I feel so much older now, only a few years later. I did a lot, and I learned a lot. I intended to write about it all along the way, but living the adventure and processing in real-time left little brain space for translating my experience into readable material worthy of the effort required to post on the internet. And aside from that, my anxiety disorder was in full swing during much of that time, so to post anything that might make me feel to vulnerable didn’t seem wise. Somewhat unwittingly, I forced myself to follow my own advice above, as well as some other thoughts I kept pinned to my wall.
Slow down. Edit. You’ll know when it’s ready.
There’s a lot of pressure in writing a letter on good paper.
In other words, don’t rush, and don’t be precious.
The intervening three years have been an exercise in observation of the self under extreme pressure. In the yoga world, we talk about tapas, the fire in which karma is burned, the drive that fuels our practice. For three years, roller derby became my yoga. I made it my intention to be as fully present to the experience as possible. Every hit, every lap, every victory and defeat, every after party and every heartbreak — that was my tapas. When I fell on my ass during All Star tryouts, my coach asked if I was OK, and I told him the only thing that was hurt was my ego. I dedicated that year to Kali, the goddess tattooed on my right arm, the ego killer. And boy did my ego get killed in the most spectacular ways.
I thought I might write about it all after retirement, but I’m not sure how. There’s so much. And of course, there are other people involved, people who I sometimes loved and sometimes resented, who have flaws and hearts just like my own, and it would be impossible to tell my own story without touching the pulse of a few of theirs.
So while I figure that out (assuming I will eventually figure *something* out, even if that something is that this story isn’t the one I came here to tell) I guess I’ll be reviving and reclaiming this dusty little corner of the internet. As always, I make no promises. My plan is to keep following my own advice, to allow myself the luxury of time to process and write, and to indulge in the simple joy of expression.
Oh, and not to bury the lede or anything, but there’s a podcast coming. I started talking about it on Twitter a while back, about half joking, but then I decided to do it for real. So that’ll be up eventually … when I figure it out. Again, I’m slowing things down and not trying to rush through the creative process anymore. As it turns out, it’s the process itself that interests me more than the sharing/posting/publishing part. So I’m taking my time to create it and do it well, and I’ll share when it’s ready. 😉