Archive for December, 2010

After over a month of not being on skates, just approaching the world in a bipedal fashion, instead of a rolling one … I went back to practice on Monday night.


Of course, I was dreading it because I didn’t feel like having everyone notice that I’d forgotten how to rollerskate and wonder where I’d gone when I left to go throw up in the bathroom. That’s the kind of stuff I can put off forever, if need be. But, since I knew I had to start sometime, I figured Monday was as good a time as any. Then I was excited to hear we should bring yoga mats – because to me, that meant possibly up to an hour of yoga after an hour of skating. Yay! Yoga!

But no. Instead, this Monday morphed into what our Speed Skating practices normally look like – an hour of off-skates, killer leg and core exercises and THEN an hour of endurance-based skating. Sigh. I always prefer getting the skating part out of the way before I kill off all of my stabilizing muscles with exercises.

But you know what? I made it through all those off-skates exercises (yay for working out in the off-season!) and survived the 50-lap paceline, and stayed in the game until the 2 hours were up. I kept telling myself I could quit at any moment but then just … didn’t quit. (This is the same tactic I use when jogging – Oh let’s just stop at 10 minutes, okay? Alright, 15. Well now you’re more than halfway done and it’d be stupid to quit now. Looky! All done!) So now I just have to make it through all this soreness and keep hitting practice after practice, and I should slowwwly return to the person that I once was. Y’know, that person who could do all this without getting as cripplingly sore. What does she look like again?

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Omigod it really works.

A couple weeks ago, I tried an experiment: to get up and exercise each morning, pre-work. At least 30 minutes of something, be it jogging or following along with the wonderful Roller Derby exercises here. And you know what? All those crazies were right! I felt happier and more energized throughout the day. I walked through the halls with a spring in my step (okay – maybe a hobble, since jogging makes my hips sore). I woke up less tired and more motivated, and all day I patted myself on the back.

This is just one step towards being a happier Morning Monica. M. M. is the one who shuffles around in a.m. darkness, angrily snapping off overhead lights, grumbling to herself and frowning at her boyfriend and cats. She answers every question with “no”. She battles through morning rush-hour traffic and even though her commute is 45 minutes long, still isn’t prepared to be friendly to people when they try to say “good morning” to her in the parking lot. The attitude can’t be blamed on “let me get my coffee first” – no. Morning Monica is a scary, frightening creature who reacts to everything poorly until at least 9:00.

Next step? To read pretty blogs every morning before getting ready. Not just any blogs, pretty blogs. Like this one, that brings well-lit photos and inspires me to create new outfits every day. Or this one, that makes me think of ways to make my house more morning-friendly. Pretty blogs leave me with nothing but positivity on my way out the door, and so what if traffic still unravels me? I’ll have knocked out the morning with an energy boost and by looking at pretty things.

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I’m a huge fan of Greek Mythology. Somewhere around the age of 11 I got a little obsessed, when we started going over the Pantheon and which god was responsible for which cool attribute. I felt like they were divvying up superpowers. Over the years I’ve read about it, taken extra college courses about it, and started a comic about it. I still get a little thrill every time I see a reference to it in the real world. (Which, in the Western world, is all the time).

So a couple weeks ago, when my family and I set out to Fort McHenry for some good ol’ fashioned history-learnin’, I was pleasantly surprised to see a giant sculpture on the front lawn of one of my old friends:

This particular one is Orpheus, son of Calliope, famed for his mastery of music and poetry (superior to all mankind). I like Orpheus, I don’t know much about him except for what he’s famous for – his death (beautifully reference in The Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman). So it was funny to see him plunked down in the middle of a historical site, and then even funnier once I read his name – “Orpheus With The Awkward Foot”.


Immediately I identified with the sculpture. Not only does it appeal to my greek myth nerdiness, but with the name, and the stance of the figure itself, I instantly formed a connection. Awkwardness is embedded in my daily life. I’m not sure why, but it’s there. My limbs are so all over the place, it’s hard to keep track. Besides that, I often stand a little pigeon-toed, and on skates it’s much much worse (which is not good). I usually only get self-inflicted bruises, from banging my way around through the world. And here is this stunning, majestic, imposing figure, sculpted to signify pride and creativity in our country and its founding …. aaaand he’s just a bit awkward.


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I’ve been kind of obsessed with Power Girl lately. Power Girl who, up until recently, I knew absolutely nothing about. I had heard about Supergirl, and her XXL torso, but I didn’t have any interest. I like Superman okay. Why do they need to make a kid sister/copycat/female Superman? He’s not interesting enough to inspire a clone.

…Or so I thought! Then Power Girl fell into my lap. She is Superman’s cousin, but in some other world/dimension/thing so SuperGirl still exists too. Whatever. What’s important is that I found two graphic novels with complete storylines that didn’t confuse me with all of the backstory I was missing (this is why most mainstream comics make me anxious – I think of all the endless back issues and multiple universes and years they’ve been around and give up). Power Girl is a woman with the same powers as Superman, and this is her story about starting her life off fresh in a big city, finding an apartment in Brooklyn, and a vet for her ginger cat.

One would think I wouldn’t find Power Girl appealing, on account of her giant bazongas (and by bazongas, I mean BOOBS). Usually big boobs on fictional characters personally insult me (for those of you unaware, I have small boobs). But on Power Girl, they’re perfect. She’s not just some buxom minx, she is pure power, pure strength, pure woman. Sure, she’s got big breasts, but also big muscles and shoulders and hair. She’s imposing, which seems to be hard for a superheroine besides Wonder Woman to pull off. Power Girl is confidence concentrate. If I could find that in a vial and pour some in my cereal every morning, I’d be golden. I might have to dilute it – but boy what an improvement.

As it is, I’m currently using her as my spirit animal. I used to shy away from wearing skirts and heels and my hair down at work because I thought I looked too feminine – NO MORE. I tend to feel self-conscious when in a room full of people shorter than me – NEVER AGAIN. I let the world around me frustrate me and make me angry and complain about things like traffic – BEGONE. Now I will be positive, confident, and unabashedly upbeat. (… but I still won’t shy away from occasionally punching people)

P.S. These books I’ve drooled over – written by Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti, illustrated by the amazing Amanda Conner.

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Some of the bizarre perks to being a rollergirl are the events you get involved in. Some are charity based, some are guest bartending based, and some involve you freezing your tookus off skating in a parade for two hours, avoiding horse poop to the best of your abilities.

This was my second year skating in a parade – the first year I definitely took a more subtle approach. Instead of waiting in the cold pre-parade line up, I sat on the curb by my house, laced up and ready to go as my neighbors stared sideways at me. “I’m in the roller derby, ” I said. “Really, I’m going to join my friends as they come by.”  “Seriously, I’m one of them, I swear.” They sipped their coffee suspiciously and tried not to engage me in further conversation. Finally the parade marched on, my fellow skaters whizzed by, and I was able to prove that I did actually know them. “See? See?? I’m cool!” Well, until a block later when I bit it on an asphalt crack.

This year I decided to attend the whole kitten caboodle – skate in the whole parade – and BOY what a mistake that was! I don’t care who you are, you cannot be festive and wearing skates and wearing enough to remain warm in 30-degree-snow-flurrying weather. Not possible. Not even the giant inflatable candy cane balloon that kept blowing into our line of vision could cheer us up as we wondered things like “What’s taking so long??” and “How come the Ravens football team gets to sit in a warm BUS, the big wusses??”

But eventually, thankfully, the parade started, we de-iced our toes and numbly skated along, trying to stay upright on the pothole-ridden street and emit tidings of happy jolly derby cheer. And it wasn’t long before the community spirit hit us. We thought WE were cold – there were people of all ages sitting, standing, bundled up, lining the entire parade route. We were going to advertise the league, say hi to our fans, participate in fun local camaraderie. But these people on the sidelines – they were freezing their balls off just to say hi, smile, and encourage us on.

And that has to be, by far, one of the best parts I’ve experienced since moving to the city. Neighbors who will come out, hell or high water, all rosy-cheeked and drunk at 2:00 in the afternoon, just to show their support.

The title of this post is courtesy of John Roberts. 🙂

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Weak Sauce

Yes folks, I’m still hibernating. 🙂

Actually, since the off-season began in November, I was going to practice about once a week, and stressing out over not going more than that. Then after having to miss a couple practices in a row, I thought – you know what? Eff this noise. This is the off-season, a time to re-assess and get all my little derby and non-derby duckies in a row, relax, enjoy, get fat, etc. etc. I keep getting trapped between having to miss practice for one reason or another, and then stressing/obsessing over what I missed out on. I did enough of that at the end of last season, so I need to end this trend NOW.

Derby is incredibly demanding and can swallow your whole world up if you let it. For some people, that’s what they want, and that’s awesome. For those of us who are a bit all over the place, want to do EVERYTHING they’re interested in all the time, and forget you need time to work and play and socialize and run errands and work on art projects and work on writing/illustrating books, … it gets a little stressful. So I started to neglect derby. A LOT. And it’s not something you can ignore or take lightly (see above with the swallowing).

I’m not saying you can’t do derby and do other things. That’s what I’m trying to work out at the moment. I just think everything that deserves your attention deserves ALL of it. So if it’s Monday night and you have practice, you go to practice. That time has been allotted for derby. End o’ story. If it’s Tuesday and you could go to practice or catch up on stuff you’ve been neglecting, catch up. And so on. Make time for derby and put all your gusto into it, but treat the rest of your life the same way. I’m trying to think of it as tunnel vision. Or as my multiple personalities kicking in. “Derby Monica can’t hear you right now, unless it’s about Derby. But talk to me after a couple of hours, and Friend Monica or Illustrator Monica might be able to answer your question.”

So in emphasis of this fact, I quit going to practice half-assed in the off-season. I said, I am taking time off, this is the date when I will return. And once I return, I will be newly committed. And until then, I’ll still be exercising and stretching because – oy. Those muscles do disappear fast!

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