Monday, October 24, 2011


On Saturday, Ann Arbor held its first Slut-Walk. For folks who don’t troll the feminist blogs, Slut-Walk is a response to a Toronto police officer advising women to prevent sexual assault by “not dressing like sluts.” Slut-Walk’s goal is to remind everyone that no matter what a woman wears, she is not asking for violence to be perpetrated against her.

I’ve been on the fence about Slut-Walk, if only because of how I know it will be viewed instead of its intention. Most participants in Slut-Walk wear provocative clothing which I know can quickly move from empowerment in the moment to objectification on the internet. I also don’t want an activity that is supposed to be about fighting victim blaming to turn into the reclamation (can you reclaim what was never yours?) of a word that i really don’t like in the first place.

But, I thought Slut-Walk would be a good opportunity to shamelessly self- promote roller derby and show that roller girls care about more than just our sport. And since pretty much everything that we commonly wear to practice would be under that police officer’s definition of “slutty,” I think derby should be there, reminding the world that clothes do not make the woman.

So, teamed up with some roller-friends, I went. I struggled with the chants, like I do at every rally, because I think issues are too complex to be distilled into a bumper sticker. So while the group was yelling “What do we do when we’re under attack? Stand up, fight back!” (ugh), I joked to my friends that we needed to be chanting “Consent is a clear and freely given yes, not the absence of a no!” A reporter walking near us thought that was the best thing she had ever heard so I gave her some quotes about the movement and about violence.

While there were lots of things I didn’t like about the walk (like the complicated issues of cars honking to show support for the rally—or honking because of the way women are dressed at the rally), I liked talking to the three different reporters who interviewed me. It was nice to use my knowledge of issues of sexual violence again. It was nice to be able to talk about this complex issue in a setting other than a nice time with friends made suddenly uncomfortable when work comes up.

It’s been a while since I was active in that work, but it felt really good to be back.

See, look here! They quoted me, although they left the best part of the quote for the second page

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sweet Success

So since the beginning of March, I’ve been training to ref with the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes. This means that I had to a)learn the rules of roller derby b) learn to spot the fouls and c) learn to roller skate. Unfortunately, I started with the league right after they had their “boot camp” training for the latest batch of new girls, so while some of the other refs and skaters were able to give me pointers and tips, I spent the first five months flailing along, doing the best I could to stay upright and keep my eyes on the girls and not on my own feet.

Then August came and it was time for me to expierence what every new derby girl expierences—Fresh Meat Bootcamp. It’s a 12-week, 4 hours a week training process that teaches girls how to skate, how to hit and how to be awesome. As an aspiring ref, I needed to only take the 6-week course, since I don’t need to learn how to hit other people the way an actual derby girl would.

Every skater, derby girl or ref, needs to pass a minimum skills test—basically to prove that she (or he, most refs are men) is not a danger to others on the rink. While the girls need to show that they can safely hit, get hit and block, refs need to just prove their skating skills. This includes an endurance skate (minimum of 25 laps in 5 minutes), knowing five ways to fall correctly, three ways to stop (quickly and without falling), being able to weave in between cones set six feet apart, skating without lifting your feet, skating backwards, being able to to keep skating even when someone is running their wheels into yours, jumping over an obstacle 1 inch high and 1 foot long without falling down upon landing, and a couple other skills that show you are in control of your wheels, they do not control you.

My skills test was scheduled for 6 weeks after fresh-meat began. I was hella nervous. While I wouldn’t have to skills test with 30 other girls there, I did have to skills test with a bunch of other refs. I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself. Worse, I didn’t want to fail and know that after weeks of hard work I still wasn’t able to pass a minimum skills requirement.

We started skills testing at 10pm on Wednesday, after a 4 hour practice that involved 2 scrimmages and 3 skaters running smack into me (1 on purpose as part of a drill, 2 on accident). At 11:30, over a late dinner of baked spaghetti and cold beer, it was announced that all the refs had passed.

I did it. I went from barely being able to skate around the track once without falling to being able to skate 27.5 laps in 5 minutes and plow stopping within 10 feet to finish it off. I can skate!

Now it’s time to concentrate on reffing.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Parents are the best medicine

I had a bad day at work today. Nothing special or particularly interesting, but not a good day. I'm feeling pretty out of control with my workload and just overwhelmed. After I picked up Brian, I told him that I no longer would say "yes" if someone asked me if I thought I was good at my job. Talking to him about it helped me move from feeling like all I wanted was to sit on the couch and cry to being willing to talk things over more with someone else.

So I called my mom and we talked about all sorts of things. My work, my life, her life, her work, her goals in life. It made me feel a lot better. So much so that I was willing to carve one of the pumpkins I bought at the store over the weekend but haven't yet had the energy to carve.

As soon as I cut it open and could smell that wonderful pumpkin smell again, I felt good. I felt like I was 10 years old again, sitting on the cold basement floor with Dad and Maria, carving pumpkins and sorting out the seeds to roast later. It's such a good feeling--to be surrounded by family and know nothing is wrong in the world and there's only the anticipation of Halloween and perfectly (or imperfectly) carved jack o'lanterns to come.

Lesson learned: Parents are the best medicine.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dairy Queen-That blizzard makes you look fat.

I loves me some Dairy Queen. And I don’t want a blizzard or something complicated, all I ever want when I go to DQ is a vanilla cone. Not a cone dipped in chocolate or covered in red goo, just a nice little cone.

Brian and I enjoyed a little trip to DQ last week, squeezing in at 9:30—just ½ hour before they closed at 10pm (as advertised on their website).
Saturday night, I was ready for a repeat performance, and we pulled in to the parking lot at 9:05 to see a closed down building with clearly marked hours informing us that they close at 9pm now.

Okay, that’s understandable. I was bummed that we hadn’t left the restaurant 7min earlier (yes, I went from a nice restaurant for some soft-serve, don’t judge), but I could live. Because I knew that Sunday night, DQ would be mine.

It wasn’t. After debating whether we would walk or drive, we decided it was too cold to walk and get ice cream and arrived in their parking lot at 8:17. They were closed. The clearly marked signs that had read Sunday: 1pm-9pm now read Sunday 1pm-8pm.

What the hell! You could have updated your signs yesterday to warn me! All I wanted is some soft-serve! I know you have it! AAAAHHHH

Now all I want is some soft-serve. And to throw a rock through their window.

Friday, October 7, 2011


As another part of the mentoring group, we are also being asked to reach out to a small handful of people (4-8) to ask them to help us identify what our “unique abilities” are. Once I develop mine fully, I’ll post it to the blog. But right now, I think my unique ability is all about the amazing people who love me.

For example, I asked Heather to fill it out. She’s in school, working and commuting an awful lot. And when she is in school, she’s really in school. As in actually does ALL the reading assignments (whoa). So I know she’s incredibly busy. When I asked her to write me up a bit about my unique ability, I expected her to give me maybe 4 or 5 lines after a week or two or possibly just say she was too busy to help out. I had actually even felt bad for asking because I know she is so busy, but I also know that if I was going to do something like this and hadn’t asked her, there was a good chance she’d punch me.

The next day, I get a page and a half typed response. She apologized that it wasn’t longer or more cohesive but she had only gotten about 5 hours of sleep. ! What a wonderful person. As I was at work reading this, I started to tear up. And then the next response came in. A mentor from grad school praising my passion and telling me I can make positive change wherever I go. My mentor is also an incredibly busy woman, so to have her respond so quickly with such wonderful thing is such a joy.

I don’t know what else will come of this or how it will change my life, but right now, I am just so thankful for the wonderful people in it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A tiger in a cage can never see the sun

As a part of my mentoring group, we are all being asked to walk 10,000 steps a day.

10,000 steps a day is hard!

The days when I work out or have practice I can make double that. But the days when I’m at work all day and go home to make dinner and go to bed (or play computer games and watch TV), mean that I’ll only get in 4 or 5,000 steps. The purpose of the steps isn’t just to be healthy, it’s to set a goal for yourself and feel accomplished by meeting it EVERY DAY. Which makes it frustrating when you don’t.

We had a big event on Monday, filled with important people and congress people and such. Since I was on my feet all day, I skipped spin class that night in order to pass out on the couch while watching Jem and the Holograms. When Brian came home, I was only at 7,500 steps. I got a few more in by making dinner and picking up the apartment, but I was still off by 2,000. What to do? I had promised that we would watch one of our shows before bed, but I also really wanted to get my steps in.

So I did what seemed perfectly logical. I paced back and forth across our living room while watching TV with Brian (don’t worry, I paced next to the TV, not in front of it—what do you think I am, crazy?). And I didn’t pace leisurely, I walked rapidly in an oval over and over. Brian has learned to tune out my odd activities and continued to watch the show till it ended. With 10,000 steps on my pedometer, I went to sleep mightily accomplished for the day.

The next evening, I was at about 4,000 steps. Tuesday is not the day I go to the gym so there was little hope of bringing the number up. Brian asked if I was going to walk around the apartment again. While asking, he suddenly hit on a perfect visual to accompany my behavior. With both the excitement of a perfect simile and the sadness of speaking to a crazy person he said “Do we need to make a little path for you, like they do for the bears in the zoo?”