How One Gets Called “Dirt”

how-one-gets-called-dirt.jpg

Here is a silly thing I am anxious about. My name… Miss Dirt… the one I chose, not the one I was given. I’ve been called some variation of “dirt” for the past 12 years, it’s part of who I am, and I love it. I also use that name for my blog which is just a silly digital thing I’m very attached to. However, I also decided to use the same name for derby, and I worry that it’s weird and confusing to people who don’t know me from my gaming and early blogging days. Am I just thinking too hard? Very likely.

In the event that I’m not, let me tell you where the name Miss Dirt came from so you will understand. Even if it doesn’t make you think I’m any less crazy, maybe you’ll get my brand of crazy and just, you know … not judge too harshly.

Or not. Whatever.

Once upon a time, there was a thing called Quakecon. Actually, it still exists, but it’s really different now. Quakecon was a video game convention for fans of the game Quake and really, anything Id Software made. It was held in Mesquite, TX (later in Grapevine and Dallas, and probably some other towns since I last attended). It was held in August every year, and it was free to attend. I was part of the Quakecon family for five years while I lived in Texas. I started as a general attendee, quickly saw the value of volunteering, and eventually wound up as part of the media staff, although I never felt that I accomplished much in that role. Anyway, everyone at Quakecon went by their gamer handles, and everyone took a certain amount of pride in their handle. Some were funny, some were faux intimidating, and some were just weird. I chose the name dirt (always with a small “d” back then) because I thought it was funny. I liked that people couldn’t tell my gender by the name I chose, so I got treated better by the community than if I’d had a recognizably feminine name. That was 2002, and I’ve been known as “dirt” to my best friends ever since then. When I first started dating my husband, his family even called me dirt to avoid confusing me with another Mary he dated before.

Over time, the name has come to mean something to me. I like the name dirt because it’s earthy and a weird mix of cocky and humble. It takes a joyful combination of nerve and stupidity to call yourself dirt and expect people to be cool with it. At the same time, dirt is as low as it gets without switching to less family friendly language. And yet, where would we be without dirt? Dirt, to me, is pretty much what life is made of. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust … in other words, we’re all made of dirt. I like the absurdity of the name because I think life is absurd and this helps me remember not to take anything too seriously.

As for adding the word Miss to it and using capital letters, I guess you could say I felt like growing up, but not enough to give up the name. My husband and I ran gaming events together for years and, as a result, found ourselves at the center of a pretty amazing little gaming community. However, when you hang out with gamers, who are mostly male and younger than me, sometimes it’s necessary to remind them who the grownup in the room is. However, MsDirt was taken on Twitter, and I loathe the abbreviation Mrs. as well as what it stands for (let’s save that explanation for another day). So, despite being married and as grown up as I’ll ever get, I became Miss Dirt.

When I started playing derby, I thought long and hard about what to call myself. Should I pick a new name? Should I invent some new variation on the old one? Would it be weird if I kept blogging as Miss Dirt? Would it confuse people? Is the name derby enough? In the end, I never reached a satisfactory answer for any of that, but I decided that I really don’t want to have a new name. Some skaters use their given names on the track, presumably because they like what they’re called and don’t really want to be anyone but themselves. Personally, I never really identified with my given name (Mary), but I feel like the name Dirt somehow describes the person I’ve chosen to be.

Read More

A Path and a Goal

Wildflowers by the B&A Trail, photo by Dion Hinchcliffe

I never expected to be the type of person who exercises on her own just because she wants to, but that has come to pass. I’ve been wanting to improve my endurance in general, and I always feel better when I get a good workout, so I’ve been taking advantage of this perfect fall weather to get outside and enjoy the sun before winter comes. Last week, I skated about 3 miles on the B&A Trail just to test it out, but I didn’t track my time. Yesterday, I skated 5.4 miles and averaged 9  minutes and 30 seconds per mile (total 49 minutes), and today I did 3.9 miles and averaged 8 minutes and 2 seconds per mile (total 31 minutes).

I’m not sure if my speed is good, bad, average, or what. I asked the league via Facebook what pace they would aim for, but Ela Trick said I should just figure out my own starting pace and focus on improving that. Of course, she’s right. I shouldn’t compare myself to anyone else or set any expectations to beat myself up about. However, I also really want to be able to keep up with the big kids at practice. So, my goal for now is to maintain an average of 8 minutes per mile for an hour of skating. Once I feel comfortable with that, then I’ll think about going faster.

The trail is beautiful, but some parts are pretty poorly maintained. Folks on bikes don’t seem to notice, but when your wheels are smaller than your fists, every crack in the pavement is a little bit terrifying. Oh, and crossing the street on skates? Not my idea of a good time. On the bright side, the trail goes right past several cool local businesses including a coffee shop with outdoor seating where you can watch people walk, run, skate and bike past while you take a break. Plus, everyone on the trail tends to be in a good mood, and why wouldn’t they be? We’re all outside, soaking up the sun, enjoying nature and doing something that makes us feel good. Most people at least say hi, and occasionally people actually cheer you on as you pass each other. It’s a day-brightener, for sure.

I wonder how long this trail skating business will last and how far I’ll get before the weather turns too cold for it to be fun. Nimby and I are talking about getting an elliptical machine for the basement because some form of indoor exercise is going to be necessary to get through this winter. But until that comes through, I’m looking into the smaller investment of a jump rope.

Read More

The Revenge of Anna and Hannah

I was pretty thrilled about  getting my girls. Yes, of course, the skates are girls.
I was pretty thrilled about getting my girls. Yes, of course, the skates are girls.

I have decided to name my skates Anna (left) and Hannah (right). They’re named after two girls I knew in high school. Anna was my best friend, and Hannah was a girl she met through other friends of ours. When Anna and Hannah met, they immediately hit it off and noticed a lot of things they had in common — starting with their similar sounding names, but they had a lot of little personality traits and physical features in common. Turns out, they were even dating the same guy. High school homedude had been juggling the two girls for a few months it seemed. But instead of getting mad at each other, Anna and Hannah got pissed at their boyfriend for lying to them, and they decided to show him up. Homedude worked at Taco Bell, so the two chicks decided to go in while he was working, sit down and have lunch together, all the while acting like everything was totally normal. He had no idea the girls had met to begin with, so of course he was pretty floored when they showed up chatting like old friends and giving him the kind of knowing “eat your heart out” look that only a smart bitch out for revenge can give. It was cool because they didn’t have to ruin his life or anything, but they clearly won.

So, Anna and Hannah arrived last Monday, and I promptly put them on and began skating around the house. Of course, there’s no room to go very fast in my house, so I just practice maneuvering around without breaking anything (self included), going forwards and backwards very slowly, and turning without stopping. I’m getting pretty good at these things, and it’s starting to make a difference when I do go to the rink. Jenn and I went to a new rink on Wednesday afternoon, and the girls performed beautifully.

On a different note…

 

They say roller skating burns more calories than running, which seems crazy to me because running is such a miserable activity that it really should burn the most calories — there should be some reward for it, I think. However, after skating at least once a week for several weeks and doing a little bit of easy practice at home, I’ve already noticed a subtle difference in muscle tone and how I’m feeling overall. I didn’t know I was looking for a new workout, but I think skating is an excellent compliment to my yoga practice. I’m definitely working in a different way than I’m used to, so I’ll have to adjust my yoga practice to account for it. After Thanksgiving dinner, I sprawled out on the living room floor and stretched for two hours, which felt AWESOME. On the other hand, when I go to the rink and see people doing things I don’t know how to do, I ask myself what yoga pose I could work on to help me get there. It’s definitely a fun challenge, and it’s making me think about teaching a class especially for derby girls or for athletic women in general.

Funny, earlier this year I knew I was ready to pick my next direction with yoga, but I had no idea it would come in the form of taking up derby. I’m pretty happy with the way things are going. Can’t wait to find out what comes next… I guess blogging about derby is officially a thing for me now, as I’ve added a category for it.

xoxo~

Read More

Good News and Bad News on Project Derby

skating-with-kiddo2

Happy Saturday! It’s time for another derby update!

We’ve become regulars at the roller rink. The manager knows us, we recognize most of the employees, and last night, I think I got hit on by a 14-year-old. Jenn and I brought her cousin and daughter skating, and while I was out doing a couple laps on my own, a group of three boys skated up behind me. I heard one of them say, “Do it, man,” to his friend, who then skated up and surprised me be by grabbing my right hand. I gotta say, for an eighth grader, homesauce was pretty suave. I wasn’t sure whether to scold him for being inappropriately forward with an adult or encourage him to try again with someone his own age. It was very weird, but then it was over, and I rejoined my friends in the middle of the rink where we helped kiddo practice her balance and I learned to skate backwards for the first time. Gotta admit — I was pretty proud of myself for skating backwards, and it’s easier than I expected.

As for the rest of the week … let’s get the bad news out of the way first: The $10 consignment store skates totally are not gonna cut it for derby. I took them to Department of Skate (a derby-girl-owned skate shop in DC), where an extremely cool chick named Raptor (Velocityraptor — awesome name!) literally begged me not to try and skate in them. I asked her to tell me why, not because I didn’t believe her but because I needed to be educated. She explained in detail the difference between these adorable but totally impractical vintage skates and a derby skate. Key point: the $10 skates had wheels made of plastic, like a Rubbermaid trash bin or a Tupperware dish. Raptor skated around the shop in them and a little bit of plastic actually broke off. There was absolutely no way those skates would survive a derby practice, let alone a bout.

The good news is that I ordered skates, and they should be here Monday! Raptor was super friendly and helpful, even though her teammates were arriving for a meeting in the store as she was helping us. I was actually starstruck as I recognized some of the women from the previous night’s bout. Even though it got crowded, warm, and noisy very quickly, I loved the atmosphere of all those awesome chicks in one room.

So, while waiting on my skates, I’ve continued to practice. Skating with Kiddo last night was particularly fun because even though she had a hard time, she really tried. I admire the adventurous nature of little kids. This girl believes she can do anything, but she got frustrated watching glide around effortlessly while she had to hold someone’s hand or lean on something to stand up — I relate! It was fun to encourage her and see her learning even in the short time we were at the rink. We spent most of the night going slowly to help her learn, but that gave me lots of chances to practice going forward and backward without picking my feet up.

All in all, I’m feeling kinda confident right now. Taking on a new challenge has been really rewarding so far, and it’s fun to make little bits of progress at a time. I feel certain that if I keep skating regularly, I’ll keep getting stronger and better at it. Part of me is chomping at the bit to try out for a team right now, but I have a ton to learn, so I better value the practice time!

Read More