Monday, November 29, 2010

Cat O'Mighty

Cat O'Mighty hooked me up with this square at a bout this summer. She's been a derby fan, volunteer, and skater in the new England area for the past few years, and I think it's safe to say that anyone in the New England area roller derby "scene" has probably seen her around, if not met her in some capacity.

Rather than paraphrase, here's the breakdown of her derby experience (as translated into patch form) in her own words:

First of all, special thanks to my wife Roxanne, The Cat O’Mighty’s Meow, for sewing the square after I did the design work and prepared the pieces, and being so supportive in general of my derby life.

In the summer of 2008, when I had just started learning how to skate so I could play derby, I presumed I’d be trying out for the Boston league. Afterall, I live right outside the city.  But being a graduate student, the timing of Boston tryouts in the middle of the Fall Semester just didn’t work out.  in a very surprising sequence of events in the Spring of 2009, Pioneer Valley Roller Derby recruited a long time friend, SideSwipe, to come play for their men’s team, the Dirty Dozen.  I wound up commuting out west to practices with him.  When it became clear that I could actually start playing derby in 2009 for PVRD, I seized the chance and joined the women’s team, Western Mass Destruction.  Having been born in 1959, the opportunity to start playing in 2009 was just too precious to pass up.  I knew I couldn’t keep postponing the chance to play indefinitely. Commuting 95 miles twice a week to practice was not a problem!

I knew, however, that I may not be able to make a long term playing career as a WMD.  When I finally made the decision to commit to join the team, I discussed this with teammate Bitches Bruze.  She reassured me that whatever might happen in the future, I’d always have a green handgrenade inside!  That comment was the inspiration for this square.

At the end of the 2009 season, PVRD moved to a new practice location 120 miles from home.  That was 25 miles beyond the edge of insanity.  So for the 2010 season I transferred to Central Mass Roller Derby to join their first bouting season, and shortened my commute to 45 miles.

The square is made with parts of old WMD scrimmage shirts, and with a green handgrenade inside part of my old worn pink fishnets.  I never wore pink in my life before derby.  In real life, it’s not even a good colour on me!  But somehow it instantly became my personal highlight colour. The little leopard print heart is a swatch of the fabric I used to cover the logos on all my pad straps.  When I painted the gold leopard pattern swath around the top of my helmet, that pattern also happened to leave a large pink heart on the top.  I never used hearts before either.  But that happenstance heart on the top of my helmet has become a really important symbol for me and captures the love I have for the game, my teammates and opponents, the refs, and all the support crew and fans that help make this fantastic part of my life all happen <3

2019 or Bust! (and beyond…)  =^,^=

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Slam Chowdah

That's my skater sister.
To know Slam Chowdah is to love her. This Cosmonaughty is delightfully silly, hard working, and best of all, she's my skater sister. I'm psyched she bowed under the constant pressure I kept laying on her to contribute to the quilt. I was one step away from plastering her car with post-it reminders.

Her original plan was to create a yarn background and then embroider the details on it with yarn in different colors. However, it didn't quite pan out, so "the end result was a round II salvation attempt." She started knitting this at my house during last year's freshmeat holiday party, and she gave me the finished piece this summer shortly before the first exhibit of the quilt. So far it's the only knit piece, making her contribution all kinds of special.

Endorsed by my mom, who rules.
While her square is equally as neat as she is (AKA very neat),  she insists she's not a fan of the way it came out. Her cries of "oh god, my square sucks so bad" and "at least the glitter made it better" fall on deaf ears, though. According to the visitors to my table at Eastern Regionals and my mother, her square is vitamin awesome. Sorry, Chowdah, my mom is always right. She's a smart lady.

I'm glad to be a Boston Derby Dame with Chowdah, even though she's forever ruined my ability to order "clam chowder" like a normal person. She's a joy to skate with at practice, and a joy to skate against at bouts. She's someone who never seems to forget that this sport is supposed to be fun, and I love her for that.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Nationals Part 3 (it finally ends, really)

We're finally down to one last day of the tournament and one day of travel. The end is in sight.

Kind of like this, but with less Cameron
and more Dread.
There were only two bouts on Sunday, so we managed to wedge in a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago with the teensy bit of morning time we had free. We had to squeeze a lot of art into an extremely short period of time, but my father, the retired painting teacher, will be pleased that we at least got to see A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. You're welcome, dad.

Oh right, this awesome weekend
had to end at some point. Damn.
We scrambled back to the venue in time to catch 90% of the battle for second and third place between Philly and Gotham. Once again the quilt was unmolested and I got to spend plenty of time chatting up people who were taking photos in front of it. If any of you are reading this blog, I'd love to get copies please! Thanks for the blog mentions, by the way. :D

We watched the championship bout and screamed and flipped out when RMRG came from behind and won by one point in the last jam. I couldn't decide who I actually wanted to win that one (again, I'm in love with Gotham), but got what I wanted: a bout during which lead changed hands several times, with a nail-biter of an ending. Can every bout be like that from now on?

I can do this by myself.
After the main crush of the crowd left the venue I was given a step ladder and some help courtesy of the UIC Pavillion staff. The quilt came down in about ten minutes with minimal mess and absolutely no broken limbs. I'm thrilled that I've changed hanging methods since this summer.  The rope-through-a-tube-in-back method is both durable and easy to install/deinstall. I'm totally keeping it attached so I don't have to tear my hair out the next time I want to display this monster.

It fits. I am awesome.
We shuttled our way home, somehow wedging the quilt into a seat that needed to simultaneously be occupied by two adult human beings and a hundred square feet of fabric. By this point I was so grumpy from eating only popcorn and cheese all day that I hovered between needing to cry and wanting to bite the nearest person I could get my hands on. I tried to spare those who aren't stuck being married to me this hunger-induced-Hyde personality, as I'd prefer my friends only see the Jekyll. It didn't quite work, so I'm counting on the inherent niceness of my league-mates to save me on this one. Sorry guys.

When I don't eat I hate fun.
We ate at Hot Woks, Cool Sushi and had our first genuinely decent meal of the trip. While searching for that link I just discovered that this neat little restaurant is actually a small chain. The food snob in me feels a bit less hip. Oh well. The Obama-nami roll was delicious, so there.

Aaaaaction! [makes hand movements
like holstering guns a la the Action Man]
Much like other nights, Pelvis was all about the after party and I was all about suddenly becoming grumpy and shy after a long day. Notice a pattern here? I left the after party, but he stayed and enjoyed the fine company, packed dance floor, and crazy "action shots" being taken. Before you think he's some crazy party guy, he's not. He just likes to dance more than most people I know, which makes him exponentially more awesome.

All the engineering in the world
won't convince me that this is all
that's between me and a 37k foot
drop to my death. Sorry.
We flew back the next day, and once again the plane's powerful engines kept us alive. Next time I need to see what I can do to correct this whole "FLYING JUST FEELS IMPOSSIBLY WRONG" problem I have. I swear these two flights aged me about ten years just due to the stress, but dammit, I'm not going to allow myself to be limited to locations within drive-able distance anymore.

Terror aside, though, this weekend made me really, really, really want to display the quilt again, and as often as possible. I suppose I should start saving my pennies and hope that I get further opportunities to display the quilt at next year's round of tournaments and events. It certainly beats leaving it folded up in my attic studio all the time, eh?

Any thoughts on where this giant quilted beast needs to be seen next? I think I can handle a few more plane rides if that's the cost of having another weekend like this one.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nationals Part 2

This time we were in the middle, so
we weren't the loud kids.
Time for day two, now with new photos. Warning: there are numerous links. I can't help it if I like to show off the one piece of HTML code I actually understand.

We hit up the shuttle early the next morning to catch the first bout. Nothing had caught fire or exploded in the night, and the quilt was still up. Other than a few empty soda cans on the table housing my flyers (classy!) the quilt area was unmolested. Thank goodness, because taking it down and putting it up every day would have killed me.

Not pictured, me wondering when
the heck I was going to go to the
bathroom, because OMG derby!
Saturday was the day of constant derby from sunup to sundown. I was running on coffee (gross) and some coffee cake (less gross) and that's about it, but the promise of more exciting derby and showing off the quilt had me feeling pretty wired. This was a good thing too, because people were everywhere to be found. It was crowded as hell with newly arrived visitors who couldn't get Friday off work. The jet-lag was palpable.

Not pictured: people not
just waiting for their
friends to come back
with their beer.
I talked up the project to a lot of people who hadn't heard of it and made sure they walked away with flyers. I ran into people who had contributed, several of whom I'd never met face to face (I'm lookin' at you, Dagney Taghurt). I also met an old internet friend from the pre-derby days. Metallikat, now a London Rollergirl, used to run a spectacular guide to synthetic hair extensions. Meeting someone with whom I'd corresponded regularly before either of us strapped on skates was easily one of the highlights of the trip. I was so excited I was quite rude to her two friends and didn't introduce myself. I'm so sorry, ladies!

Not my photo. I shamelessly clipped
this from Busy Burger's Yelp page.
Don't judge me.
We hit up Busy Burger during the dinner break and had a surprisingly delicious meal, considering the burger honestly didn't look like much. We ran into Randy Pan the Goat Boy and Vince Hannity and made our way back to the venue. They paused to chase the "Untouchable" tour bus and tried to touch it, proving it's totally touchable. I consider this to be further proof that announcers have the most fun at these events, although the Bay Area Derby Girls and Montreal might disagree with me.

Section 113 represent.
Back at the venue we enjoyed derby, derby, and.... wait for it... more derby. My folks later asked me if watching the same sport all day ever got boring, and my answer was simply "absolutely not." Sometimes it felt like we were watching a new sport with each game because the teams all played so differently. It was hard to peel myself away from the action to check on the quilt and feed myself. I managed. Still, "eating" mainly consisted of stadium popcorn, because that kiosk had the shortest line.

There ain't no party like 
our announcers' dance 
Leaving my seat was also made much tougher by my entertaining company. Thanks to Pelvis and Lady Oshun, section 113 clearly had the most happenin' dance party. Much fun was had, even by those of us who were too busy holding cheese fries to get up and dance. This helped me survive my the loss of my favorite team in the tournament, Gotham. RMRG beat them to the soundtrack of my wordless screams of loss mixed with reluctant muttered amazement at the overall outstanding playing.

Not pictured: other group
names such as "Moo Bitch!
"Roller derby rocks!"
and "Monkey Bean"
The day concluded with Pelvis going out once again, and me hanging out in the lobby with Salome Splatter, "Mr. Splatter" (AKA our awesome roommates for the trip") and Three Day Bender. We missed our chance to snag a $100 that was just lying on the floor next to our table, watched derby people try to infiltrate the ritzy wedding in the Empire Room of the hotel (there was a conga line, people, they deserved it) and let the evening wind down calmly and pleasantly.

I'm told that the hotel was absolutely crazypants with celebrating derby people for much of the night, but I can't report on what I slept through. More on the last day soon, as this is becoming more novel than blog post. Sometimes I forget that teh intarnets are supposed to be all about speed and such.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Back from Nationals. Actual recap, day 1.

Now that I'm back from Uproar on the Lakeshore and can blog using more than just my thumbs, it's time to reflect on the trip. A lot happened over the course of this awesome four day weekend, so here's part one:

I just can't make myself
believe that these huge
planes can stay in the air.
After surviving the crippling anxiety of the flight, we spent the night in the huge-mongous Palmer hotel and zipped off to the venue in the shuttle. The school-bus filled with derby people felt very much like summer camp, complete with the loud kids populating the back of the bus. A bunch of announcers represented said loud kids, namely Pelvis Costello, Dumptruck, John Maddening, and D'Nouncer Duane Cunningham. Many inappropriate jokes were made, at least a few about bodily functions. It was like being thirteen years old again, complete with wacky hair.

We got to the venue as everything was being set up. Ua Betterplaynice, Windy City ref and web/sponsorship dude, hooked me up with a great spot for the quilt. It was directly across from the WFTDA booth, the team merch booth, the women's bathroom, and a beer kiosk, thus ensuring crazy foot traffic like whoa for the whole tournament. After rigging up a hanging solution that included some found wire from the underside of a ceiling decoration, we were in business.

Clearly I need more. Anyone's league
have any patches for sale?
It got nicely simple after that - I watched derby, checked on the quilt regularly, got tons of patches for my derby jacket, and ate more cheese fries than my stomach could comfortably handle. Every time I got up to walk around, there were people taking photos of the quilt. I saw a few group pics and at least one sneaky person trying to wrap herself in it like she was sleeping in a bed. Thank goodness I used heavy-duty hanging hardware, eh?

After a wonderful day of derby, we got some deep dish pizza with a few other Boston peeps who made the trek to Chicago. Pelvis went out, I stayed in, and we called it a night. More on the trip later when I snag the rest of the photos.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Blogging from bed

My roommates are asleep, and my husband is out being a social butterfly. These are both good things. I simultaneously can't sleep and can't gather up enough energy to go out. Roller derby does that to me.

Thus, it's picture time:

Sleep. That's where I'm a viking.

We flew in at 9:30 and the combination of anxiety and meds meant to help my anxiety made me more exhausted than I could have predicted.

Not shown: the majorly high traffic location
by the WFTDA booth, team merch, and bathroom.
Man, I hope I didn't post this already. If I did it will soon be replaced. This is the quilt shortly after hanging it up by gate 113 in the UIC Pavillion. Not too shabby. I'm right across from the WFTDA booth and the ever-rotating team merch counter. Other than the occasional blockage caused by teams trying to store their merch in front of the quilt after their turn is up, this has been pretty sweet. I'm digging the foot traffic like whoa.

I finally get why people don't always
sit in the suicide seats.

The view from right in front of my spot is excellent. To be fair, though, there isn't a bad view in the house.

If I keep going to these tournaments
I'll need to make a cheese square.
As always, most of the food at the venue is saved only by a glistening coating of liquid cheese.

I ate all of it. Well, ok, so maybe some of the
crust stayed on the plate...
While the food away from the venue is made utterly outstanding by it's higher quality cheese. If I ever become lactose intolerant I will kill myself.

Hooray for fabric to play with!
Scarred Derby Designs hooked me up with square-making materials. I'll make sure to do them justice when I get back home.

Not shown: Randy Pan The Goat Boy and Vince Hannity
hovering over our seats, waiting for us to finish.

And Pelvis, as always, is adorable.

Pity my iPhone's camera has been too slow to catch some of the other photo worthy moments, such as the amazing skating, the dance party that naturally occurs when Lady Oshun, Pelvis, and Another Bad Creation mix, BADD fans writing "BOORING" on their stomachs in sharpie and screaming at the refs, people taking tons if pictures in front of the quilt, being interviewed for, and of course Dumptruck's many outfits. This experience can't can't even captured in one hell of a run on sentence. It's been just that excellent.

Tomorrow I plan to work it out. One more day of awesome derby. This has been an amazing experience so far, and I'm thrilled it's not over yet.

-- Post From My iPhone

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Sweet location, amazing derby, nice people, lots of food covered in copious amounts of cheese. I approve of this so far. :D

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Next Stop: Nationals

One of the other things that has kept me from having blog-time has been planning for the quilt's next trip: Uproar on the Lakeshore, the 2010 WFTDA National Championship Tournament.

Exhibiting the quilt at regionals was a blast. I can only imagine how much fun it will be to throw in derby at the national level, deep dish pizza, sausage, and the pride that will (hopefully) come from overcoming my crippling fear of flying to actually make this trip.

My poor husband will have to babysit me on the plane. I predict a lot of hand crushing holding.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Oh posting, you have gotten away from me!

Some of you may assume I've been eaten by bears. That's really the only good reason for not posting about the second and third days of regionals. Hell I should also have posted about the pile of squares I've received since the trip. I'm a jerk, I know.

Thankfully I haven't been eaten by bears, I've simply been overwhelmed with the start of freshmeat season. Between tryouts, two rounds of decision meetings, and all sorts of other meaty goings-on, I've been running myself ragged. I'm psyched for the new meats, but man, the off season made me forget how hard it is to blog when I'm doing all derby all the time while not sleeping or showering, like, at all.

This was the least creepy images that came up
when I googled "fresh meat." The LEAST.
I assure you that regionals was pretty neat. I spent much of it tired, hungry, and buzzed on way more caffeine than I've ever had in my life. However, I wouldn't trade that weekend for any amount of sleep or balanced-meal type food. There were many exciting highlights: 

I ate two of these every day. I am
aware of how bad an idea this was.

Thank goodness I caved and got room
service later. Still, it was mostly cheese.

Squares were donated. The Rev repped for Montreal.

Bane-ana was confusing and terrifying as always,
and yet somehow funny and adorable.
Yes, this is a photo of me sleeping under my
vendor table. Thank you PeeJay for holding
down the fort.

My monster hat from
There is totally a hole in the back for
my dreads. Convenient!

Another donation! Thanks Potomac Ripper
for leaving this shirt on my table.

More donations! Rock on Raci Lords.
River City now has a spot on the quilt.
thanks to you.

People signed my "guestbook." Thanks Reverend
Al for being a good roommate. No sharpie
moustaches for you when you're asleep.
So much happened, it's hard to sum this up in photos. Also, I took fewer than I had planned because I was having such a great time. If I could find a way to get the quilt to every tournament, I'd be thrilled. It was so exciting to see the quilt where it belonged - surrounded by the people who contributed squares and materials.