I realize that I'm kind of a sucker for honest, intelligent, kind souls who are better people than they'll ever allow themselves believe. Especially if they're slightly broken thanks to the actions of terrible people. Maybe that's because I can relate to them more than I ever wanted to.

I look around me and see more than a few examples of that, and they tend to be the people I hold dearest in my heart, even if they probably aren't entirely aware of that. They're the people whom I want to protect from hurt, even when I have no real place to try and do so. It's not something I can easily communicate, and even if I could, there's not often an occasion when it feels like a good moment to say it.

So, I give of my time as best I can, and hope that maybe, just maybe, they'll see that I choose to spend the rare free moments I have with them for good reason. And, I let myself believe that maybe, just maybe, if I show them the honesty and caring they've deserved all along, they'll start to believe they do deserve it.

For a person whose median set point is probably somewhere around "sensitive" and "slightly-depressed," I'm awfully good at half-blind optimism. Still, if I didn't believe I could make at least a little bit of difference, what would be the point of anything I do?
Dang. I just impressed myself with my own ability to process the hell out of an upsetting thing that happened less than 24 hours ago, and not only become Not-Upset about it, but actually arrive at being mostly AT PEACE with it. I'm a grown-up after all!

I guess that's one good thing about being totally slammed with work--I have plenty of things to focus on, when I need to temporarily put some mental distance between myself and an upsetting thing. I expected to be all butthurt and hung up on this for days, but it's looking like that won't be the case after all.

Now, I just have to pick a new project manager. As is the case with most everything I do, from buying dresses to ordering a meal at a restaurant, I have it down to two options. I really like them both, but for somewhat different reasons. They're definitely two different types of people, and I can see strengths to both. Urgh. Maybe checking references will help...?

Seriously. Why aren't we allowed to solve more problems with the cunning use of coin flips?

Hello, 2014

Jan. 1st, 2014 10:53 pm

I wrote a year-in-review for my business blog (of course). I don't think I have enough sleep under my belt to do one for my personal life, but maybe soon? I have some gnarly deadlines to kill these next few days, so I guess we'll see if time cooperates. ;)

Christmas was strange, because it didn't involve my annual pilgrimage to California to see my folks--long story short, no plans came together, and my dad also got stuck with the holiday duty shift this year, when he usually has that time off. Throw in a big photoshoot and a few large projects with aggressive timelines on my end, and everything basically converged in a way that made this Not A Good Year To Travel For The Holiday.

On the plus side, I did at least get a visit from my parents over Thanksgiving, which hasn't happened in a few years. AND, I got to spend the entire Christmas day with my sweetie, which we hadn't ever done before. His folks welcomed me over for Christmas dinner, and everything was pretty chill, overall. As much of a bummer as it was to hear that my family wasn't all getting together this year, at least I got to hug my Joe in-person, instead of texting him a "Merry Christmas" from 1000-or-so miles away. <3

The New Year came in as it tends to: with friends, drinks, and conversation. Last night, I had our partygoers write down things they wanted to leave behind in 2013, and then burn them in our backyard fire pit. I actually had to think pretty hard about what to write down for myself, which honestly puts things in perspective for me. Last year was challenging as all-get-out, but I can't say that it was BAD in any way. Certainly not in ways that weren't solvable.

So, the things I killed with fire last night and will leave behind in 2013:


  • struggling for money

  • getting in the way of my own success

  • not seeing enough of the people I care about

  • basic bitches -- as in, people who try to tear down others who choose a path that's different from their common, standard norm.

I suppose that begs the question: What AM I going to do in 2014?

  • Well, I'm going to make hella money doing good work for awesome people. (yes, I actually said "hella money." Come at me!)

  • I'm going to say Yes to more of the right things. (especially time with people who matter)

  • I'm going to say No to more things that don't serve me emotionally, financially, or creatively. (I've already quit a board position that was an aggravating time suck. Woo!)

  • I'm going to take good care of myself and my health, so I can be more awesome both for myself, and for the people around me.

  • I've already been spending more time reading for fun, as of recent, and am definitely going to keep guarding that bit of Me Time.

  • I'm going to try out for (gulp) Travel Team. I don't expect to make it, but in the unlikely event that I do make it, I reserve the right to scale it back or quit, if it's driving me crazy.

  • I'm going to make a home just for myself and Joe, because y'know? It's time. I love him even more after living together for a year. It's only going to get better from here.

  • I'm going to take photos of amazing people who love their bodies for what they can do. (y'know, instead of sad sacks with 2% body fat who think the only point of exercise is to look good in a bikini)

  • I'm going to keep growing, learning, and making the things I do better. I think I can keep doing that. ;)

And, in conclusion: THIS GUY RIGHT HERE. I couldn't ask for a more delightful intrepid journalist to have along on my quasi-heroic ride. He's more than capable of rescuing himself from a bad situation, granted, but he certainly has the better legs, out of the two of us. ;)

1522075_10202139295621773_555769825_n

Wait List

Apr. 22nd, 2013 04:59 pm
SO.

I just sent an e-mail asking to be added to the Travel Team Wait List. No, that doesn't mean that I'm on the travel team now. (jeezy, I *wish* I was that good) But, what it does mean is that I'll have some additional opportunities to practice with Travel Team, learn new things, and potentially get pulled onto TT if A) someone steps off the TT Roster, B) they decide I'm good enough to bring onto the roster, and C) I actually have enough money to fund whatever portion of travel would be asked of me.

In light of that, I feel the need to make a contract with myself, RIGHT NOW, so I don't go crazy:
  • When there's an opportunity to do TT practice, go because you want to, not because you think it's expected of you.
  • No, you don't have to say yes to every opportunity. If your body or brain needs a night off, take it.
  • If it stops being fun, STOP GOING.

My new mantra is, "put yourself where you want to be." Some recent thinking has made me realize that so many of the pieces for the life that I want are things I already have--they just need to be amped up some. What I really need is to find how they fit together in a way that flows, so I can do the things I want to do--whether that's work, play, or self-care--instead of constantly having my mind want to go one direction, and going completely crazy trying to force my mind to go another direction.

I'm going to be working on that for the next while, because, dang, epiphanies. But, I'll say more on that when, y'know, my brain actually feels like writing it out.
Well, 2013 has hit like a ton of bricks. I mean, things are pretty good, but right now? Aaaaggghhh, so overwhelmed. It'll pass.

Anyhoo, resolutions are really not my jam, because I'm not always realistic with goal-setting, which usually means aiming way too high, and setting myself up for failure and/or a marked loss of sanity. So I'm blatantly ignoring SMART goal-setting parameters, and just rattling off some general things I'd like to work on in 2013.

Things I want in the new year:
  • More money. I'm on my way with that, and things are definitely looking busy in the coming weeks--to the extent that I wish there were more of me to go around--but yeah, more cash please.
  • Self-care. I do so well at everything when I take care of myself. But, sometimes, I still fall off the wagon on this, and I want that to happen less. I think the big piece I'm missing is asking for and accepting help when I need it. Which, agh. We'll see.
  • More structure. Self-employment has led to kind of a weird existence without a great deal of regularity to it. Sometimes, I'm up early and in the office all day, other times (like today) I'll sleep in until 10am, putter around til Noon, and then find myself working again late at night. I hope that living with Joe will help with some of that, because splitting time between two places isn't doing me many favors.
  • To be more present. I think this has always been a problem for me, but interestingly, scrimmage has made me more aware of it. When my life gets stressful and overly busy, then 70% (or less) of my brain  is where my body is, because my mind is zooming around elsewhere. I don't want to miss out on 30+% of the wonderful things that are happening in the Here and Now.
  • To better express myself. I'm lucky to have Joe and a few friends in my life who make it easier for me to talk about what I'm thinking and how I feel. I'd love to be able to cast that net wider, though, and actually say what I'm thinking in general, rather than just overthinking it and letting it go unsaid
  • Skating faster, stronger, and smarter. I want to be the best damned High Roller I can be, and make my teammates proud, and have a really fun time doing it. And I'm going to work my ass off to get there. OF COURSE.
Things that I did pretty darned well in 2012:
  • Got noticeably better at saying No. I wasn't so sure about this at first, but there actually were fewer days when I ran around to eleventy-billion different places, because I thought I could do All The Things. If I didn't feel up to doing something, I gave my apologies and didn't dwell on it. I'll keep working at this.
  • Pushed some boundaries, and found respect for others. With a lot of thinking, and the support of people around me, I found some beliefs that were kind of stupid and not very constructive for me. But, I also figured out that some of the boundaries I have exist for a reason. I've pushed myself really hard this year, and found that I can expand beyond my old boundaries, if I do it intelligently.
  • Built a business that doesn't suck! It's actually going pretty well, even. I have a new work space now, and I did have to downsize a bit on square footage, but I love everything else about it. I'm doing work that I believe in, and that I'm excited about, and although I'm not raking in riches, I can eke out a simple existence. This year will be all about being more efficient, more networked, and more awesome.
  • Got drafted to a roller derby team. And not just any team, but the best team EVER. I now skate alongside people on travel team who used to intimidate the crap out of me. I now skate with my old Wreckers coach, who is still robably the most positive influence I've ever had in derby. It's an honor to skate with them, and it feels good to work at something and have it really, truly pay off.
  • Maintained a really awesome relationship. We communicate well, we support each other, we have fun together. Discussions that were horrible in past relationships were shockingly easy with Joe. A lot of my past relationships took a huge downturn by the 2-year mark (whether I wanted to admit it to myself or not), but Joe and I have made it past 2 years, and I still get kicky feet when I see him. Teehee. :D
  • Kept in awesome shape year-round. Even harder than losing weight is maintaining a loss, and I feel like this was easier in 2012 than it's been previously. Also, I usually gain 10-15 pounds during the holidays, but this year, I made a pact with myself to keep any gain at 5 pounds or less. And wouldn't you know? I actually succeeded. Woo!
batskeets: (j)
My Saturday took a lot more out of me than I expected. Granted, it's silly that I didn't expect it, because I did a lot of things on Saturday, but it didn't really occur to me how wiped out I was until this afternoon. I was at a low-key gathering, with people I know reasonably-to-very well, and yet, I wound up spending the majority of my time there eating snacks, focusing very intently on making pipecleaner tree ornaments, and failing at Star Wars origami.

Basically, I was doing a fine job of Social Turtling and retreating into my own headspace--I might as well have been doing all of those activities alone, because I sure wasn't doing much to engage with the people there, unless they engaged me first.

This is not a complaint, or me being hard on myself, however. It's just an observation and Note To Self that, when I'm at a thing and finding every excuse to not engage with other people? Maybe I need to clear space for some alone time. And SOON.

Hence, why I am not out caroling with my teammate tonight, even though it sounded really fun. See? I am learning. ;)

Ego Week

Nov. 11th, 2012 01:28 pm
batskeets: (spoon)
I don't know what it is, but everyone is busting out the compliments this past week. Well, most of the actual compliments have been at derby, but I'm getting some awesome inquiries and referrals, too, and getting positive responses from people in general. It's like the universe decided to play the Let's Fluff Your Ego game. Not that I'm complaining, but it's strange to have that happen all of a sudden, when you feel that you haven't changed in any particular way, or are feeling like you haven't been performing at your best.

On a related note, what is with my inability to take compliments? My first instinct is to deflect it in some self-deprecating manner, but that's not the right answer, because I don't want to show a lack of confidence. And, of course I don't want to sound conceited--not only would that be untrue, it'd basically make me hate myself. But, saying Thank You doesn't seem quite right, either, because someone will say a nice thing, and I'll say, "thank you!" and then they'll keep saying nice things, and I don't know how to respond and then I feel awkward and aaaggggh.

Yeah, I'm overanalyzing that entire interaction, because I'm ridiculous. My life is weird.

On a semi-related note, even the skate shop lady said that she's heard the teams talking, and that she thinks I'll get picked up this draft. At this point, I'm not doubting that I will, but I still can't be sure what team I'll end up with. Getting through the next few days between now and Thursday is going to be agony. Gaaahhhh.

P.S. I'm behind on posting photos for Photo-Making Month, but I've been taking them. Soon, my lovelies, very soon.
Hey, guys! I'm not dead! Did catch a nasty round of the Plague, but then again, pretty much everyone I know did, so it was only a matter of time. I feel like I've been trying to write a post for ages, but nothing seems to come out. Ooof. I have to admit to feeling overwhelmed, and that certainly makes it hard to focus on any one thing long enough to post about it.

WORK. Things are going pretty okay. I recently started freelancing for a marketing firm, and they're pretty thrilled with me so far, so I'm feeling a lot better about having more regular work coming in from them. I'm still in a place where I feel like there's not enough of me to go around, so I haven't been seeking out new work as aggressively as I'd like, but I'm getting enough work to not starve, so that's good. I need a longer-term plan, though, and I have a couple of thoughts bouncing around in my head about potentially expanding the company.

There's another part of my brain that wonders if I should just freelance, and not have to worry so much about marketing my company. I'm also considering the occasional part-time job, but I'm being picky about those for as long as I can afford to be. I have, at times, even thought about what kind of full-time job I'd want to get, if I went back to that world. The nice thing is, even if I didn't keep my company forever, I've spent a solid year building a portfolio that I feel much prouder of. It's a portfolio that could actually get me a job I'd like, rather than another boring, soul-sucking "web development" gig, so this definitely hasn't been wasted time.

The studio lease is coming up in in December, too, which is daunting. I have some reasons to move to another space (not being in the basement, getting trapped by stupid-long freight trains), and others reasons to stay (moving would be a pain, liking the neighborhood). I haven't been looking very hard for a new space yet, but the idea of signing a 2-year lease at this place makes me a little teeth-grindy.

RELATIONSHIPPING. Speaking of home, the "let's get a place together!" conversation has happened, so that's another looming thing to plan for. Not looming because I'm nervous--I'm actually looking forward to J and I being in the same space, and think it'll be totally agreeable--but because looking for a place to live is never, ever fun.

I wish the studio lease and J's apartment lease were coming up in the reverse order, because I also want a workspace that's reasonably close to my home and the Hangar, but it's hard to choose that when I'm not sure where home is going to be. J and I haven't really figured out any details beyond expressing the desire to not live on complete opposite ends of town from each other, so things are very up-in-the-air, which is anxiety-inducing.

Other than that, I can't really complain about the state of things. We're good at talking openly and honestly about things. He remains thoughtful and generally adorable. I've grown in some positive and occasionally unexpected ways because he's made it easy and non-intimidating to do so. I continue to appreciate the fact that we act like grown-ups, and don't engage each other with the melodramatic, passive-aggressive garbage that eats away at so many interpersonal relationships.

--

Anyhoo, yeah. Things are going along. My only complaint is that I'd like to be less tired and overwhelmed.
batskeets: (spoon)
I'd like to say that the wedding on Sunday went off without a hitch, and, well, on the outside, it did. On the inside, I was grumbling about the worst lighting conditions ever. (Seriously, if you're thinking about getting married outdoors between 11am and 1pm? Just... DON'T. Trust me.) I found shade for the portraits and made it work, and wrangled some reflector when necessary, but man, not ideal for beautiful portraiture.

Also, the bar where the reception was held had us packed like sardines--it was hard to navigate and get where I needed to be, but I kept myself moving and got some good shots. And, thank jeebus for a tiny hallway with north-facing windows, because that helped me make this shot happen, and it might be my best ring shot yet.

Rings

As far as the non-photography parts, things went pretty swimmingly for the most part. When I first arrived and checked in with Alpha, and he told the best man it was okay for us to come in, but he was in his dress shirt and boxers at the time. Which, well, is nothing I haven't seen before, but given the context? Yeah, a little awkward. XD I also got to see Shannon, my best friend from high school, and her husband Dave (aka Alpha's best friend from HS), who are the reason why Alpha and I met, all those years ago. I've known them forever, and I had NO idea they were coming to the wedding, but they'd managed to line up a late-game flight in from Atlanta. I'd call that the best damned surprise I've ever had at a wedding gig.

Anyway, the ceremony was brief, the reception was fun and had bellydancers and award-winning cake, and a relaxed-and-groovy vibe overall. Alpha and his lady are obviously super-happy together, and she seems A) very cool, B) a little bit dorky, and C) a good fit for him. I'm glad I was there to capture some good memories for them, because it was a happy and drama-free day all around. So, hey, never let it be said that I can't be a cool ex-girlfriend. ;)

Of course, as I inevitably do after any wedding shoot, I crashed and burned pretty hard afterwards. After 6 hours on my feet, plus driving to Lake Oswego, Tigard, and back, and offloading/backing up photos, I wound up loafing around and drinking beer while, er, "supervising" some of Joe's friends sewing together a big tent project thing. Monday was mostly a wash, too, aside from meeting up with Shannon and Dave for dinner, and introducing Joe to them. (they liked him, too, of course. Woo!)

ANYWAY. I clearly haven't blathered in this thing enough lately, because I'm rambling endlessly right now, but I think I'm finally regaining my energy, after having it sucked out of my body by the sweltering heat for the past three days.

I also may or may not have been 2 minutes late to derby practice earlier tonight, because I was busy stabbing the hell out of a dragon. I'll have to kill my final bosses faster in the future, I guess. ;)
SO, a thing I have definitely alluded to here on the ElJays is my ongoing struggle with low energy on a day-to-day basis. Exhaustion is something that’s always been at least somewhat of a factor in my life, even before I got into athletics. I’ve been able to push through it a lot of the time, but it’s not easy.

I've spent a lot of time over many years wondering, “why am I so tired?” because I do take reasonably good care of myself most of the time--better than most of my peers, certainly. I didn’t have an explanation for it, though, so I just assumed that I was asking too much of myself in a given day, and tried to scale things back as best I could.

My super-awesome acupuncturist/naturopath, however, did some blood testing, and found that there might actually be a reason for the constant tiredness–namely, that I’m anemic. We looked at the usual causes–low iron, low B12 or folate–tried on some supplements, but none of the usual stuff applied. My iron, B12, and folate levels were all great, but I still came up anemic on every test.

After even MORE testing, we finally have the answer: I have a gene mutation that makes me unable to methylate. Basically, that means that my body isn’t very good at converting the iron, B12, and folate into an active form that it can actually use. Methylating is important to maintaining your energy levels, so not being able to methylate means being tired all the time!

Weirdly enough, this is great news–it means that a thing I didn’t think I could control is actually fixable. All it should take is some active B-Complex supplements, and those will arrive in a week or so.

I’m sort of tempted to go around calling myself a Mutant, because I’d join the X-Men without a second thought, except that this? Basically the worst superpower ever.

It’s solvable, though. So, hey, that’s progress. Fingers crossed that I'll be feeling noticeably better in a few short weeks.
batskeets: (j)
HAY GUYZ. I'm back in Portland, and OMJESUS I'm glad to be back. The trip was exhausting, but exhausting in that good way, and a lot of fun times were had. More on that, perhaps, once I've sorted through photos.

I also didn’t skate for that entire week--or do much of anything resembling a workout, aside from a 4.2-mile run at the beginning of that week--which was a little weird. I’m sure I’ll be making up for it soon enough, because I seem to have lost the ability to sit still. (related: that 4.2-mile run happened because, after being confined to airports and tiny commercial airliner seats for half a day, I was too twitchy and antsy to not do something.)

Between work, travels, and being sick, I’ve missed more Sunday endurance practices than I care to admit. Now that I don’t have any big trips on the horizon until Labor Day weekend, I’m definitely not allowed to skip that for a very, VERY long time.

I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been depressed, for the past month, maybe more. It’s certainly not the soul-crushing weight of clinical depression I went through in college, but it does have a frighteningly familiar tone, at times. There’s the sense that I’m so very close to that brass ring, that I could grab it if I just did a little bit more, but I don’t quite have it in me to do one more thing in a day. The fates haven’t allotted me enough spoons for that.

It feels like I’ve been spinning my wheels (no pun intended) in many parts of my life, and I’m trying to keep up, trying to keep pushing myself, and waiting for something to happen. The work is paying off, but it’s paying off so slowly that it’s hard to stay motivated. Routine is the only thing carrying me through, and the big payoffs--big paychecks, life-altering changes, getting scrimmage cleared--haven’t come yet.

At least with derby, I have some idea of what I need to do. Having a formula doesn’t trump depression, but it helps push it down just enough to take some of that personal power back.

Beast mode, ENGAGE.
[CONTEXT NOTE: I started blogging about derby-related things for the league and OHSU about a month ago--I'm one of several skaters who writes up a piece once a month. So, yeah, this piece is for that.

Also, here's the bridal runway event mentioned in the post. If you're in Portland, and either getting married or wildly interested in wedding-type things, then yeah, consider checking it out.]


A measuring tape is wrapped around my hips, and a number gets scrawled on a line sheet. I exhale a little.

I step into a wedding dress, with massive layers of skirt, and intricate pleating on the bodice. I’m a little afraid of smashing the seemingly delicate garment under my calloused feet, but it’s sturdier than it looks.

“We’ve just had skinny girls in here all week; it’ll nice to see what the dress looks like on a regular person,” says the woman helping me, as she zips up the back of the garment.

I’m being fitted for what will be the third time I’ve worn a wedding dress for an audience. I’ve never been married.

The dress will make its debut in a bridal runway show, with me in full hair and makeup, wearing the highest of heels. It’s been several years since I’ve done it, but I’ve actually walked a runway a few times before–sometimes for offbeat fashion designers, but usually for wedding collections. The bridal industry seems to be one of the few makers of clothing that actually appreciates my Size 12 frame, rather than shaming me for it.

I’ve learned to appreciate it when I connect with more size-positive folks, because I grew up with a lot of shame about my body. I was the kid whose baby fat clung to her, I was the awkward teenager who longed for a single-digit dress size, I was the undergrad whose Freshman 15 became a Freshman 50+. Having a Chinese parent played its part, too–being slim and delicate is critical for women in Asian culture, and it’s also perfectly okay to make the most blunt and direct of comments about weight. Exercise exists to help a woman keep her figure, not for fun, competition, or true fitness.

So, for much of my life, I felt undesirable because I was, “big,” and I always needed to lose a few pounds. TV, magazines, and mall shopping sang the same song I heard at home: that I should be ashamed of my size, and try to get smaller. I let the extra fat on my body hold me back from taking risks, trying new things, connecting with people. Even after I took up martial arts and lost some weight, I was still fixated on losing more. I felt like a clumsy, bloated moose next to the lean-and-mean wushu players who won gold medals, and I certainly didn’t want any of them seeing me in a swimsuit.

All of that started to change when I turned 30, and found my way into roller derby. Derby showed me something completely different from the messages I’d been hearing all my life: women who kick ass and take names, in all shapes and sizes. They aren’t afraid to fall down, to push the limits, to skate just a little bit harder to get past an opposing player, or stop one in her tracks with a crushing hip-check. Just playing derby is a risk, but it’s one that every skater accepts, and stares dead in the eye every time she straps on her gear.

The derby girls I met didn’t seem to know any of the fear I grew up with--flashy, glittery garments were standard fare, and tiny shorts on a big booty was a badge of honor, not a thing to be hidden away. At the Hangar, I got to see women like me do graceful and utterly amazing things on eight wheels. I got to see small, slender women execute insane, powerful moves that you’d never expect from such a small frame.

All of these ladies had ferocity, strength, and confidence, and the more I saw that, the more I realized that I had all of those things within me, too. I could be all of those things, right now, without losing ten pounds or wearing a Size 8. Derby finally drove home the message I wished I’d heard all along: Be healthy. Think about how you feel and what your body can do, not what it looks like.

In past runway shows, I’d felt a mix of nerves and envy, and a twinge of self-loathing, and I wondered if I’d look ridiculous on the runway, next to all of the skinnier girls. When I saw the casting for this bridal runway, however, I didn’t hesitate to sign on, and I’m not even slightly worried about how it’s going to look. I’m going to look fabulous, with my regular-person body, my Size 12 curves, and my 175-ish pounds of ass-kicking muscle and bone.

As I pick up my bag and say my thank-yous at the bridal boutique, I take a peek at the line sheet, where my measurements are written. Bust: 39 1/2", Waist: 31", Hips: 42".

I look at those numbers, and realize that I don’t feel much of anything. 42 inches, 5' 7", 175-ish pounds, Size 12? It’s just a jumble of arbitrary numbers, and they’ll never hold me back again.
batskeets: (j)
This has been hard to write, because it was a hard choice to make, but today is the day I tried out and made it onto Fresh Meat, so it seems weirdly appropriate to talk about this: I’ve stepped down from Fresh Meat.

I had the misfortune of spraining my ankle, not too terribly long after draft. I’d actually sprained it before, maybe 4 or 5 years ago, but this time was worse–the next day, it hurt to walk, and it was nearly impossible to go up and down stairs. I babied it for a couple of weeks, and it seemed to recover pretty quickly, so I came back to skating. Apparently, that was too soon. Skating felt fine, but taking hits? Not so much. It didn’t take me very long to realize that I was taking a massive risk for a much-worse injury by participating in team-level practices and scrimmaging.

SO, I sat out again for almost a month, going to Fresh Meat practices for half-credit and trying to make myself useful, but mostly just feeling depressed that I couldn’t be skating IN them. It was a little soul-crushing watching my fellow Meaties skate, and knowing I shouldn’t join them. I sometimes did pushups and wall-sits while I watched practice, because I felt so frustrated and antsy about not skating that doing something, anything was better than doing nothing. Even stopping by Wreckers practice for a scant few minutes this past weekend was enough to make me yearn for my skates.

And while I sat out? I stressed out. A LOT. I felt disconnected from derby, and felt like I was missing out on a million things. I wondered if the team captains thought I was slacking, or avoiding their team, or if they had any idea I was injured. I racked my brain for ways that I could train and stay in decent shape without stressing my ankle injury. I wondered why I wasn’t healed yet, and if the doctors were wrong and it was worse than a mere sprain. I worried about how much ground I was losing in terms of being drafted. I felt crushed watching Wednesday night scrimmage, knowing that I was cleared to participate in it, but still hadn’t skated in one because of the Travel Team schedule and my injury. I berated myself for being dumb enough to get hurt in the first place, even though I know that it has nothing to do with being dumb.

I went through this until about a week ago, when I did the math and realized that if I couldn’t be back on-skates right away, I wouldn’t be able to make up my attendance before February draft.

As of today, it has been five weeks since I’ve skated a derby practice. I’ve been doing at-home physical therapy each day, not skating (obviously), and not doing a whole lot of anything, really. I go to yoga classes and do whatever circuit training I can without stressing my ankle, but something as simple as going on a run? Not an option. I’d love to go in and work with a physical therapist, but now that I’m laid-off and self-employed, I don’t have the fancy-schmancy healthcare plan I used to have.

So, I rest, I PT, and I wait. It’s getting better, but it’s really, really slow going.

I’m not crying, though. I’ve always been more of a worrier than a crier, and although derby has made me cry more than a lot of things in my life, I refuse to cry over this. Derby will still be there when I’m healed, February Fresh Meat tryouts are not far away, and I can come back and level up all over again. Even after all of these weeks off to heal, I’ll still be a FAR stronger and better skater than I was one year ago today, and that, plus working my ass off, will get me through. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.

It’s not goodbye. I’m not done with you, derby. Not by a longshot.
Next week is going to be full of insanity, because OMJESUS THURSDAY IS DRAFT NIGHT. I honestly have no idea what's going to happen. I keep going back and forth between thinking that I'm awesome and they'll totally pick me, and feeling like I'm getting my hopes up for nothing. I really have no way of reading what the teams are thinking, and I'm not a good enough schmoozer to ask without feeling doofy and awkward about it.

I really hope I get drafted. I don't necessarily expect it, but I'm hoping. There are a lot of strong players in the pool, and I've never been the best at anything athletic before, but I've also never worked this hard for it before. I'll admit it: I *would* be hugely disappointed if I didn't get drafted, and if I *do* get drafted, I'd feel that it's well-deserved. Still, I think I'll be relieved to have it overwith, regardless of the result.

Thinking about what to write for my draft packet led me to write this, and it sums up a lot of why derby has become such a big deal for me, over the past year. I could go on for pages and pages about how derby has changed me, and about my life and my history prior to it--and really, I already *have* here on LJ, over the years--but I think my draft packet statement is already bordering on TL;DR territory, so I’ll just leave it at this. ;)

I think a lot of people who know me expected that roller derby would be an easy thing for me to take on, in the beginning. I did martial arts for over 6 years before joining RCR, so it seemed like I had advantages going in, but that wasn’t enough to make being on wheels “easy.” In fact, derby has easily been one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced in my life.

What a lot of people don’t know is that, before the winter of 2003, I’d gotten up past 230+ lbs., and I’d been mediocre-at-best at anything athletic even when I was smaller. I wasn’t even that good at kung fu while I was doing it, but I got in shape, and did things I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do. I didn’t take myself seriously as an athlete, though, and I think I was almost afraid to aim for First Place. I just didn’t believe that was possible for me.

I never expected derby to become such a big deal to me when I joined Wreckers in the summer of 2010, but when I made it onto Fresh Meat, things got serious, and much, much harder. There was no shortage of physical challenges during those first few months on Fresh Meat, and I had a lot of hard, painful, and demoralizing days, but something kept me coming back. I’m happy that I did, because derby has changed my perspectives about myself and the world around me, more than I ever thought possible in such a short time.

Derby didn’t just give me challenges to overcome, it also gave me the resources and opportunities I needed to overcome them. Derby came with a community of people that gives a shit about the sport and about the people in it. Derby has gotten me to stop stressing out about pounds and inches, and focus on what my body can physically do. Derby has taught me that I really can accomplish anything. Derby taught me how to look at what I want, say Yes, and go after it.

I don’t know what my derby future holds, but I do know that I’m having a great time playing this game, and I’m excited to keep learning, doing, and becoming more. I feel like anything and everything is possible, not just in derby, but in the whole of my life. That’s a pretty damned awesome feeling.

batskeets: (j)
So, yeah. After 4 years of quietly grumbling my way through each and every workday, I've been laid off from The Job. I'm one of several people being affected by budget constraints. They made a point of emphasizing multiple times that it's not at all performance-related, and that I'll be eligible for unemployment benefits.

The layoff is effective September 1st, but they aren't requiring me to come in for a lot of August, and want me to concentrate the majority of my attention on looking for new work. I'll be paid out all of my unused PTO, too, which I have a metric ton of, because I rarely ever take more than the occasional long weekend for vacation. So, eh, it could be worse.

I also had my bloodwork done recently, and just before I got laid off, I'd met with my naturopath about the bloodwork results. My adrenals are not just exhausted, but depleted and not doing their job. My thyroid levels are off because they're trying to compensate for my overly-stressed adrenals. My B vitamin levels are low, my vitamin D is low (not shocking given our climate, but still), and my immune system is barely holding itself together.

I haven't been sick in a while, but the message was still pretty clear: the lifestyle I've been living is kicking my ass. With a full-time job, side business, social life, athletic goals, the self-care element fell by the wayside. I've been much better about slowing myself down before I completely burn out, but it's been over four years, and it's taken a toll.

I've already dropped a few pounds since the layoff, and I haven't even been trying. Maybe that should tell me something, eh? ;p

Thing is, with the bad stuff, there's also been good stuff, in the form of people asking about my work, both web and photographic, and being willing to pay for it. I couldn't take much on before, especially in the realm of web projects--40 hours/week at The Job was enough to send me fleeing from the computer, on some days--but now there's no reason why I can't say Yes to the opportunities. I have a lot of hours to fill.

Self-employment has been on my mind for a long time, and everything that's happened in July with the studio, the medical stuff, the positive interest in my work, and the layoff is reading to me like a gigantic, light-up sign telling me to stop being a sissy, and take hold of my destiny as a successful entrepreneuse.

So, okay, Universe. I'm listening. CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.
There are days when I wish I had a Don't Be Sad wand that I could wave over my nearest and dearest, to help them through the hard moments. It's hard to see someone feeling despondent, even when I know their circumstances are temporary, because I also know how hard it is to see that a situation is temporary when you're smack in the middle of it.

There are also days when I had that wand to use on myself. Today's one of those days, and I know it'll pass, but lord, I'm tired. And I can't wait to stop feeling tired, to have time and freedom, to be in a position where I can completely focus on the things I love most, and to not spend my days marking time in a place that doesn't fulfill me. But on some days, it's so, so hard to see an end in sight.

Some days. But not all of them, at least.
This has been an exhausting week, but damned if I haven't been crazy-productive. There have been fun bits mixed in, too.

I've also been up past 1am two nights in a row, and it's all derby's fault, heh. I did my Cheap Ticket Night duties with GnR, this time around, and they were more open and friendly than the other teams have been, I think. We went to karaoke after CTN was over, too, so that was a kick in the pants, and I got to wow them with my mad karaoke skillz. As for last night, we had to do floor pickup after practice, and then I hit up the food carts with a few Freshies afterwards, because we were all starving. They were all MSR cleared, so I felt a bit left out of some conversations, but I'll get there soon, too. I'm definitely improving.

So, yeah, I'm feeling less worried about the social aspect of derby. A little. I'm still asking myself, "where do the nerds hang out in RCR?" because I know they must be out there, and I want to find my people, heh. I don't expect to be the super-gregarious person that everyone loves, because I'll be an introvert until I die, but as long as, "we don't know you," isn't the thing preventing me from being drafted, I'll be happy.

I'm also editing and shooting like mad, and also trying to read up on marketing things, and see what I can put to use right away, and what I can plan to build in the near future. I attended a branding workshop a couple of days ago, and got a few good thoughts from that, and I'm hoping I can find the bandwidth to put this and other knowledge to work. It's obvious that I'm good at what I do; now I just have to convince the rest of the world that this is the case.

Speaking of shooting like crazy, I'll be covering the derby bout and some part of the Portland Pride festivities, for the new photojournalist-y gig I recently picked up. As if Big Bout weekends weren't exhausting enough already, right? Still, it'll be okay. I do get to sleep in tomorrow, since there's no floor at the hangar and therefore no practice.

Also, complaining for a moment, because I'm a great big Whiny McWhinerpants: the New Roommate hunt has really been cheesing me off. Andy supposedly knows a guy, but I'm cranky about this person for two reasons:

A) he's been dragging his ass about getting us a deposit, or even coming to SEE the bloody room. He's supposedly super-excited about moving in, but I've yet to see or hear about any action to show that. Like, you know, paying me some freaking money to hold the room.

B) he's yet another comedian. See, we already have two comics in the house, and now that another of my current roommates has started doing open mics, it's effin' COMEDIANPALOOZA every time I'm at the BYH. Which, granted, isn't that often, because I'm usually out and about, or over at J's, but I'm not exactly a fan of how it's shaped the culture of the household. So, naturally, having one more comic move in wouldn't help, uh, at all.

So, yeah. I'm annoyed both for practical reasons and frivolous interpersonal ones. I'm hoping to work something out with one of the derby girls I know, but it's all up-in-the-air and I'm tired of having to think about it. :p

On a more positive note, here's another photo I took last week, at Mother's downtown. I still can't believe I said no to this pie; looking at this photo is making me hungry for it all over again!

Chocolate Pie
I guess I did a lot of stuff this weekend, despite not having anything particularly planned in advance, but I haven't done any work, so I feel like I've been incredibly lazy. I feel like I've been stretched really thin, though, so I probably needed that. I'm still super-tired and nursing a monster headache, at the moment.

I skated a ton this weekend; Fresh Meat practice on Saturday, then a break for lunch with the girls, before doing a derby workshop after. It was exhausting, and I think I burned out any aggressiveness I had during FM practice--there was a note in my workshop feedback to be more aggressive, heh--but getting individual feedback from a WoJ skater was incredibly valuable. I also picked up new (narrower) wheels and bearings afterwards, too, so that was happy-making. Still, I was so mentally and physically exhausted after getting home that I just laid around, watched Glee and Castle, and passed out at 11pm.

On Sunday I slept in, finished reading Name of the Wind, made a nice breakfast and did a yoga class, and then I went to a really cute coffeeshop and started reading Watchmen. Then, I brutalized myself with Endurance practice for two hours. I went to Hands Across Hawthorne afterwards, and it turned out completely huge. Then I went for tacos with Joe and [livejournal.com profile] dakania, and then I dropped off the latter at home, and we went to the weekly viewing of Game of Thrones.

Yesterday, I didn't get out of bed until 10:30, and Joe and I decided to hit up Vita Cafe for brunch, which was delicious. (Thai Corn Cakes = WANT MOAR) Then, I wound up walking around NW, reading and internetting outside in the sun with a fancy pour-over coffee, and indulging in some girly happy hour time with [livejournal.com profile] katlyn and [livejournal.com profile] twilite_embrace. <3

I realize that I really, really want a vacation. As in, a real one that involves my not being on the stupid internet, or having to go anywhere in particular, or feeling guilty about it whenever I'm not doing something productive and worklike. I'm looking forward to the Hood Canal outing weekend after next, for that very reason. Even yesterday, after telling myself that I should let myself chill out and enjoy the day off--all the other 9-to-5ers were likely doing that, after all--I still wound up working on webthings for a while.

Also: Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness can go away and die now.

In conclusion, here are some pictures of me making un-sexy faces but looking generally badass, during practice on Saturday. The photography is middling at best, but this is the first time I've seen pictures where I actually look competent on skates, so YAY.


I'm feeling insanely capable today.

Part of that might have something to do with the fact that I skated yesterday and did not die! Being back on skates was exhausting after doing so little with my legs for three weeks, and it took a bit to get my legs back under me, but things started feeling more natural after the first half-hour or so. I'm incredibly sore today, and all the skating form muscles I haven't been using gave me grief during practice, but it was good to be back.

It was reassuring to feel somewhat decent after that much time off. I've been doing physical therapy exercises and balance work during the break, and I was even able to lose a few pounds, amazingly, and I guess that must've done me some favors. I do still plan to at least have my knee checked out by a specialist and make 100% certain that everything's okay, and I'll be keeping a *very* close eye on how it feels, but I'm feeling more confident that keeping up on weight loss and PT stuff will keep me safe.

I think the time off re-shaped my attitude, too. I didn't realize that I'd been such a whiny, withdrawn, emo sack of human at anything derby-related, until I actually made the decision to sit out and rest my injury. I feel much more myself again, more motivated, and more in control of my fate. Hooray!

In other news, shooting Nikon has been treating me well. I still twiddle dials in the wrong direction every so often, but my work is still looking pretty snazzy, overall. I'm on the photographer list for tonight's derby bout, too, so I *really* hope my zoom lens shows up today, so I can shoot there. I guess I *could* shoot it with my old Canon gear, if it doesn't, but going back to old Canon habits wouldn't exactly help me acclimate to Nikon.

Well, eh, if I don't have a decent Nikon telephoto tonight, I'll take it as a sign that I should do something relaxed-and-groovy before the Saturday/Sunday madness. I'm going to be taking a *lot* of photos in the coming months. I LOVE that fact, but creativity can still be pretty exhausting. :)
batskeets: (yan!)
Yep, I'm 31 today, and in true grown-up tradition, I have been busy running around and working on things. I did get to sleep in a little, though, and I also didn't have to make breakfast, so that's pretty nice. Dinner at Pambiche is also on the agenda, too. :)

Anyway, there are things I need to get done before I put on my eatin' pants, so here's another derby photo, featuring my new favorite Seattle derby girl: MUFFSTACHE. Yes, I giggled when I saw that name on her jersey. Because I'm 12. (close second in amusing Seattle derby names: Tempura Tantrum!)

I hope to be skating again soon. I'm taking two weeks off from skating, and possibly more, in favor of healing my knee, so all I've really been doing since Friday is core/upper-body circuit training. I'm starting to go a bit stir-crazy, because of this. It took longer than I expected for that feeling to set in, though.

IMG_4228

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