I’ll have to retire that joke.

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.

Read More

Weekly Assignment: Stand on Your Desk

Remember that scene in Dead Poets Society where Robin Williams’ character has all the boys get up and stand on their desks for a new perspective?

This week, stand on your desk. Literally. Especially if you work in a cubicle somewhere. In fact, I will mail a personal gift to anyone who sends me a photo of themselves standing on their desk in a cubicle. Send it to me on Twitter or post it on the Missdirt.net Facebook Page.

Edit: Today, the dining table is my desk. My house looks pretty different from up here. Feels neat.


Read More

Dreams of an Optional Existence

We (my many selves) were in a movie that started like a dream. A swirl of paint like a Van Gogh happening in reverse, slipping from the surreal drunken starry state to the real — the this-is-a-crisis moment of reality.

There is a sense of “this can’t be happening” in real life that doesn’t exist in dreams. You know it’s a dream by your willingness to accept as reality things that cannot be.

We were under a tank like a Chinese dragon. From the inside, it was just a metal bunker, and we were hanging on to valves and chains and keeping it from floating away.

Outside, things were sliding in and out of existence at will, without warning, randomly. Until one of them wanted in. This ghost of some other self — probably one of mine — was trying to lift the tank. It was heavy and hard for us to control, but she seemed to lift it lightly like the lid to a cake dish to reveal us. With gravity on our side, we pulled down against her, and then, in a flash of light that seemed to come more from within than without, we were exposed, and she was no where to be seen.

In fear, I turned to our guide, a soft-bodied, middle-aged woman with short cropped hair and an air of expertise about hiding and escaping. It was clear she had been doing these things for many years. The funny thing, though, is that no matter how expert you are at hiding and escaping, it doesn’t reduce the fear. Fear was all over her face. We were exposed, and she couldn’t reverse it.

These little bundles flew out when we were exposed. Bits of ourselves that got knocked off by the force of the light and the wind. We scurried around to grab hold of them. Everyone found their pieces except me. The guide gave me a dreadful look. Without gathering up those pieces, I was more vulnerable than the others.

Around the camp fire, on barren rocky ground, everyone but me clung to their little bundles, which on closer inspection looked like hacky sacks and stress balls. Meaningless objects. It was implied that without my little bundle, I would be the first one picked off by these sneaky spirits, the first to fall into some alternate dimension of questionable existence. I told the others in my crew, “Don’t tell me that. I don’t wanna watch this movie if I know I’m doomed from the start.”

But now, in waking life, I wonder: what would happen if I allowed myself to be carried off by these trickster spirits? What would I see if I stepped into their dimension?

Read More