Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Shedding Skin

It's hard to describe the feeling of having your knee give out on you. If it's happened to you, you know that profound wrongness of joints that are not quite connected, the deep-inside mishappening of flesh and bones. Worse yet is the call that confirms the injury that all athletes dread: the busted ACL. In an air-conditioned office somewhere, a man in a white coat is scrutinizing the black and gray swirls of your MRI and pronouncing your sentence:
Completely torn?
Might as well be.

Your first thought: My derby career is over!
Your second thought: Oh my god, I'm going to lose this fine derby booty!

Your third thought is not actually a thought - just tears.

Your fourth thought (you raise your fist in the air, the music swells): FUCK IT! I'LL BE BACK, BITCHES!

That's when you put on your big girl skinz and start planning your triumphant return. That's where I'm at right now.

And the rebuilding of my knee is coinciding with the rebuilding of my team. With all of the changes we've had lately - injury, pregnancy, life in general - the Furies are shedding the old and reinventing ourselves as the new. All of our struggles this season have taught us valuable lessons about determination and teamwork.

Every time I think I have it dialed, roller derby has a way of teaching me something new. When we first started this league, it was all about getting my head around this brand new thing, the physical challenge of it, and trying to get good at something that I wasn't naturally good at. Next it was keeping my head up when all of my efforts were slow to pay off and dealing with conflict in relationships. Then came a kind of era of confidence and competency: I made the travel team, I got voted co-captain of the Furies. And then the inevitable cosmic smackdown.

But I realize that every time my body sustains serious damage, tragedy tends to yield great benefits in the not-very-long run. In this case, I get to focus all of my energy on my team and helping my derby sisters get strong, stay motivated, and gain confidence. Even though I'm off skates, I can feel myself developing as a skater. It's making me focus on leadership and being a good captain. Hell, it might even make me a better person.

So love your knees, people. Appreciate all the awesome things your body does - including its amazing power of healing. And dig the new furious logo! I'll see you on the track, bitches!

love & bruises,


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Before & After

Identity, it’s the way we define ourselves. Who we are, what we do, our goals, passions, and vices all wrapped up into one tiny ball. After my college career ended, I was floundering – adrift in a sea of possibilities, convinced that the universe had lied to me. There was supposed to be a path you see. Get good grades, go to University, find that thing that drives you, meet up with your other half, and come out the other side a better, brighter, more perky you. Yet four years and forty thousand dollars later, I was no closer to figuring out who I was going to be in this world than when I started. Where was that spark that was supposed to change my life forever?

When you meet someone new there seems to be this standardized set of questions that goes with the getting to know you game. Where are you from, what do you do, who are you? Now you’re conveniently classified in five sentences or less. I used to make jokes to cover for the boring job and the complete lack of motivation. Nowadays I answer with pride and say “I am a derby girl”. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t the summation of everything I am, merely the realization of things I’ve always wanted to be.

Derby came into my life at a time where I was looking to be inspired. I went to my first bout and got a peek into a world filled with strong, independent, stunningly badass women. Needless to say I was hooked. For the first time in a long while I wanted to do more than just skate (excuse the terrible pun) through life. Every fiber that made up the fuzzy sweater of my being wanted to be one of those fishnet clad ladies. So I strapped wheels to my feet, despite never having done so before, and got determined.

Pretend to be a stranger, come up and ask me how I like playing derby: I love it. Derby is the anticipation before the fall, the perfect clarity of focus, the highest spike of adrenaline, and the drive to be great. I’m sure you’ve heard similar sentiments from sports enthusiasts of other cults. I’d contend though that the difference between them lies not just in the people that play the game but the way the game changes people. Confidence, charm, kindness, intelligence, fearlessness, and a work ethic to die for; all traits I’ve found in those I’m lucky enough to call my comrades. All things I’ve consequently found within myself. The most miraculous thing about this game is its transformative power- It allows those weighted down by the shackles of life to break free and become legends (even if only in their own minds).

Roller Derby . . . it may not be for the faint of heart, but it helped me to find mine.

-Jenesis O'Sin
#(perfect) 10