Nov. 30th, 2016 03:02 pm
Did a 253 lbs (115 kg) back squat last week, and a 301 lbs (137 kg) deadlift today. That's a 20-pound gain on the squat and a 13-pound gain on the deadlift.

I've felt like such an old lady these past few months. The physical therapy, the 2-month break from skating, the change in seasons making me want to hibernate when I'd otherwise go out, the tension headaches that have been so frequent post-election... I know that I'm quite healthy overall, but it sure feels like it takes a lot more maintenance than it used to.

Being able to throw big weights around is a really, really valuable reminder that I have a lot of power in these ridiculous muscles of mine, and that my body *is* healing and getting stronger. I honestly wasn't sure I'd hit any new PRs in this 10-week cycle, because I had to back off of activity for that long, but I did, and that's great news.

And, perhaps it's also a good reminder that I also ask a lot from my body--especially now that I'm back to a full skating schedule again--and that maybe I shouldn't feel bad when I want to lay around and watch television instead of staying out late. ;)
batskeets: (j)
GUYS GUYS I DID A CHIN-UP TODAY. Like a for-reals, unassisted one. They are generally easier than pull-ups (which I still can't do yet), but I HAVE NEVER DONE A CHIN-UP BEFORE AND I DID ONE TODAY.

Also, I hit 230 lbs. on my back squat. Back in my Fat Years, I topped out around 230 lbs. Also, boyfriend-at-the-time had, unbeknownst to me, started jumping up-and-down upon and generally trying to mess up the scale, because he didn't want me to keep weighing myself and feeling sad afterwards. So, it's possible I was even heavier than that, but I basically stopped looking or caring once I hit 230, until quite a few months months later when I decided to actually, really try and lose some weight.

Still, today I put the equivalent of an entire Me-In-2002 on my shoulders and squatted it. That feels significant.

Pretty damned stoked, I have to admit. :D
Well, our season didn't end the way it started. We slogged through our first two games only to be narrowly defeated, but then we came back to win our next five games. Our Championships win was not by a narrow margin, either--we won definitively.

I didn't personally skate my best game, but it didn't matter. Everything we'd built over the course of the season came together, we fought for every point, we worked together as a team, and we captured the win. Being a co-captain this season, and having drafted seven (!) new people to our ranks, I suppose you could say I had something to do with that.

To be completely honest, I think I both gained and lost confidence this season. I lost confidence as a skater, and that got into my head more than once. I'd been an anchor on this team for two seasons, but this season, suddenly, I wasn't. I had no real idea what to do about it, and I wasn't getting much in the way of feedback from our lineups coach--all I knew is that she wasn't giving me as much playtime. It sort of worked out in some ways, because I wound up working on jamming for a while, and wound up jamming my first full game and winning MVP for it. But, as a blocker, I feel plateaued and shitty, and I still don't really know how to communicate that to anyone on my team in a way that doesn't sound whiny and entitled.

I'm really starting to question whether I *can* improve without sacrificing more of my time for derby, and that isn't something I can or want to do right now--or possibly ever again. Getting into Crossfit also has me thinking about retirement, and while I'm not done just yet, it's no longer hard for me to imagine life without derby. My teammates are either young people who can make roller derby the center of their worlds, or they've already had children and planted family roots. I have Life Stuff I still want to do, like having kids, traveling, building my business and my home. I will likely have to stop playing derby, at least temporarily, in order to do at least some of that Life Stuff. That's still a bit hard to swallow.

Where I gained, however, is when I figured out that my way of being a leader has value. Early in the season, I quickly came to realize that I'm not the leader who makes inspirational speeches, or grabs for the steering wheel. I'm never the most outspoken person in the room, but I have my eye on the details, and I work to take care of my people and give them what they need to do better. There was a brief period when I felt like maybe I was an incredible failure, because I'm not a more archetypal leader-y person, but you know what? I like me. I know what I'm good at, and I don't do what I do for glory--I can hang with being an unsung hero, and making a difference in a quieter and more personal way.

Once I figured that out, I felt pretty great in general. Quiet confidence isn't something that often translates well, especially when there are louder voices in the room, but I don't need to be the center of attention, and that's what gives me power. I like myself and feel secure in my own awesomeness without that external praise.

But, in the end, nothing compares to this team, and I can't imagine that it would ever be easy to leave. We've gone through some heavy turnover and a lot of changes, but the heart of this team has never wavered. If anything I've done as a captain over these past few months has helped us continue the tradition, then I've succeeded in the most important way possible.

I also read a Muhammad Ali quote to my teammates, before the game. I happened to see it the night before, in a flurry of posts about Muhammad Ali's death, and although I don't idolize him the way some people do, this felt relevant enough to share:

"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them--a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have the skill, and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."

SO, I did my first crossfit competition this past Saturday. It was an in-house competition, so just among people at my gym, but it was still fairly intimidating. Only four women signed up, but even among those four, I went in knowing that I wasn't likely to be the best at any one thing. One gal has me beat on raw strength--she can squat over 300 lbs and is a vegan with insanely ripped thighs, which is basically as rare as a unicorn--and although I'd never been in class with the other two ladies, the leaderboard told me they could both run a mile in ~6 1/2 minutes, which I just can't even wrap my brain around. I can run somewhere around a 9 1/2 minute mile, but only on a REALLY good day. And I've always found cardio to be aggressively dull, so it's no big shocker that it's not my forte.

The good news? I didn't die! ;) I spent a fair amount of time remembering how much I dislike running. (short answer: A LOT) And, I also spent a fair amount of time cursing whatever made me think it was a good idea to do the Thursday workout, because it left me with sore arms on the morning of the competition. Apparently, the amount of rest my body needs before a crossfit competition is more than the amount it needs before a derby bout, oooooops. XD

Anyhoo, here's all the terrifying/awesome stuff they made us do:

Event 1: 30 calories on the Airdyne bike for time (47 sec)

Event 2: Clean ladder, 25 sec at each station, increasing weights from 73 lbs to 133 lbs or failure (133 lbs + 8 front squats)

Event 3: AMRAP in 10 min (7 rounds + 5 reps):
--5 push jerks (65 lbs)
--10 deadlifts (65 lbs)
--15 box jumps (20" box)

Event 4 - For time (24:57):
--Run 245m
--50 Lunges per leg
--Run 400m
--50 Wall Balls (14 lbs)
--Run 800m
--50 Kettlebell Swings (35 lbs)
--Run 400m
--50 burpees
--Run 245m

In the end, I came in 2nd overall, which was better than I expected. :) I wouldn't have regretted it even if I'd come in dead last, though, because simply getting through all of this was not something I could've done a year ago. And, it's nice to be reminded that being pretty good at multiple things can still get you decently far, even when you're not-the-best at any one thing. I guess that makes me the Ryu of my gym? Heh.

Also amusing: the men's side of the competition ended in a tie, so they toyed with them a bit on the tiebreaker, making them think there was going to be some absurdly heavy prowler push, but instead, the top two guys had to do an egg carry. As in, put an egg on a spoon and walk around some cones. It was pretty hilarious.

I already knew that my gym has a nice little community built around it, but they take care of their people: I apparently looked so wrung out going into the last 245m run that the head trainer had my judge follow me for the whole 245m and cheer me on until I finished. XD Also, they had beer and cider at the ready and burgers on the grill by the time the competition was over, and oh my god, I'm not sure a burger has ever tasted that good in my life. MEAT FOREVER

Anyhoo, I felt pretty destroyed yesterday, but today I was back at the gym and I'm still incredibly sore, but I have to admit I'm pretty jazzed to get back at it. Derby off-season is coming up, and I won 2 Months of Unlimited Membership thanks to my placing in the competition, so that means more time to throw barbells around and get stronger. ;)

WELP, it's February, and it's felt pretty crazy so far. My brief sojourn to the family homestead at the end of January was eventful in maybe not the best way--short version: United Airlines is THE WORRRRRST, and so is paying for your own hotel room after they cancel your connecting flight and maroon you in a strange city overnight. BUT, the change of scenery was nice, and I am now a hybrid owner, which is pretty great. I just moved the bike rack and the rest of my stuff over from the old car yesterday, so now Doctor Zoidberg is in his proper place on the dashboard, and the car finally feels like it's Mine.

It definitely took a bit to recover from getting up at 5:30am and driving for 13-ish hours, though, and I did so just in time to go to a party on Friday night and become totally wiped out all over again. Woooo, introversion!

I've also been experimenting with being a morning person since my last post, and finding that I actually hate it far less than I expected to! Heh. Getting to the studio and accomplishing things before I go to the gym actually feels pretty good.

Also, in the Eventual Wedding department, I have emailed a photographer and a jewelry smith who I just adore. The former is waaayyy cheaper than I expected based on the quality of her work, yay! The jewelry designer works with recycled metals and diamonds, so she says I can trade in the old engagement ring from college that I still have for some reason, and she can recycle it into a new project and put it value towards whatever we do for our rings. I'm pretty jazzed that old ring can become Someone Else's Lovely Custom Jewelry Piece, and also help us towards some really lovely wedding bands, instead of just being pawned or sitting in a box for another decade-or-so.

Checking in, becasue it's necessary.


  • Working after dinner. I've been doing pretty great at this, on the whole! Getting tired earlier has certainly seemed to help, heh.

  • Social media/e-mails before breakfast. This has been tough, largely because it's been harder to get my brain to fully wake up at an earlier hour, and staring at the internet is a convenient crutch in those moments.. It does seem less impactful on my day when I do fall off the wagon, though, because I'm not sleeping as late.

  • Some derby things. I had a Web Team meeting yesterday, and while I haven't out-and-out quit, there are people stepping up to do things, so that I don't have to do everything, and that is HUGE. I might actually get to do fun things that I'm both interested in and specifically well-suited for, instead of boring maintenance stuff!

  • Working on weekends. WELL, it's been good for the most part, except that I agreed to do an event photobooth Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday this week. Because I'm smarrrrrt. :p I'm getting paid, though, and it's 2-4 hours per day, so nowhere near the grind that Maker Faire was.

  • Things/people that suck up my energy and give nothing in return. Continuing to do well, I think. I've made a few intentional choices about who to spend time with, and have gotten to see some people that I see too seldom, but who are TOTALLY worth my time. It's really happy-making. :D


  • A SMALL movie afternoon/night or other small-sized gathering. I'm looking for a good time to do the next one, and debating whether it'll be another movie night or a bowling night! (I just acquired a free bowling ball! I should use it!)

  • A creative photoshoot every quarter. I have the team pulled together for Q1! Well, except for the model. But still, makeup, hair, AND wardrobe, and they're all super-talented. The hairstylist is out of town the next couple of weekends, so we may not get the shoot date set until March, but it's going to be gooooood.

  • Networking. I keep finding out about interesting-sounding networking meetups, and then realizing that I have meetings or shoots or derby things already booked at the same time. Meh. It's not going to be that way forever. AND, the Derby Networking Group is having its first lunch meetup tomorrow!

  • Better eating. I prepped a second freezer meal, and ended up using one to feed my teammates. It was delicious chili, and I felt all accomplished afterwards. Yay!

WELL, I can't say that playing the Season Opener with metric tons of Midol swimming through my veins was how I wanted to play it, but other than the lady-problems-induced brain fog, it was a good game. We came out very strong in the first bout of what could easily be called a "rebuilding season," so if we look this good now, we're going to look awesome in these next few games.

The only thing I feel sort-of-bad about was that I wanted some of the newer folks on our roster to have more play time, but the game was too close for comfort on that front. It makes me wish I had played better. :/ But, the new folks that did get a fair amount of play time did SO incredibly well, and I'm proud of all of us. It's going to be a great season with a lot of opportunities for our people to shine. :D

On a semi-related note, I really ought to follow up on the hormonal birth control thing, now that I actually have a primary care doctor that I've visited in the past year. (did I mention that the November Death Bug was bad enough to actually make me go to the doctor? Because, yeah, that.) I quit the pill quite intentionally, but I've been hearing about other methods that could help make The Monthlies less debilitating and awful, without involving such a high dose of hormones.

Anyhoo, a mid-month check-myself-before-I-wreck-myself about how things are going:


  • Working after dinner. I've been pretty conscious about this one, in particular, and am doing well at it so far.

  • Social media/e-mails before breakfast. It's not perfect, but it's getting there. I still poke at social media on my phone while brushing my teeth, but it's a lot harder to get sucked into things.

  • Some derby things. I asked our Volunteer Coordinator about handling our practice signups for Fresh Meat, so while I haven't handed it off yet, it'll be off my plate before February!

  • Working on weekends. Ehhh, hit-or-miss. I wound up working for a couple hours the Sunday-before-last, but that was mainly because I'd given up a couple hours on that Friday to do volunteering. Still, it'd have been nicer to just have that free day, and I feel the difference.

  • Things/people that suck up my energy and give nothing in return. Doing pretty great here, I think? It's a bit harder to tell what the return is on something when you're not very far into it. But, there are at least a couple of things/people that I'm wasting less of my life on.


  • A SMALL movie afternoon/night or other small-sized gathering. It just happened yesterday! I was tempted to cancel, because I was still having horrible cramps, but I sucked it up and pushed through. People came over and watched a great movie and ate bread that I made, and I wore pajama pants the whole time, because that's the true test of friendship, really. XD

  • A creative photoshoot every quarter. I have started assembling a team for the Q1 shoot, which will probably drop in February. All are excited. I am excited, too.

  • Networking. I unfortunately screwed myself out of attending a new group this month, because my dentist appointment conflicts with their next meetup. :/ But, I ended up being booked for a gig later that day, so I guess it wasn't meant to be. On the up side, I've been dutifully polling my seed group of Derby Networkers about what we want out of the group, and will likely be putting our first face-to-face meetup on the calendar this week.

  • Better eating. First freezer meal is in the freezer! The Joe and I have been eating more breakfasts at home, too--the fact that his tour schedule is so reduced right now helps with that.

So, the theme that's emerging for 2016 is what I'm calling, "Kindness Without Excuses." Self-acceptance and forgiveness has been an important thing for me to build up--punishing myself and becoming an anxiety ball over every little thing was only going to wear me down to nothing, in the long run. In the process of adjusting my mindset, I've done a lot of things that I never thought I'd be able to do.

But, while that self-kindness has been wonderful to me, it's also becoming a reason to make excuses--an excuse to not do things. Or perhaps, to do the things I do, but without the capacity to be fully present for them, or to enjoy them very much. The fact is, to really grow as a person, you do have to push yourself out of your comfort zone every so often.

So, I'm looking to find the balance between pushing myself and being kind to myself. Moderation in all things, after all. That means being more focused and strategic about how and when I stretch myself, and how and when I give myself a break.


  • Working after dinner. Working through the evenings has been a tempting thing to do, because I work well in the afternoons and evenings, but that also means feeling like I'm getting less down time. The reality is that I'll get that down time elsewhere, whether I like it or not--usually by accidentally frittering away time through social media or some other dumb thing. That's not really what you'd call high-quality down time And speaking of which...

  • Social media/e-mails before breakfast. I have gotten so incredibly bad at mornings that it's embarassing, and I know the Internet pit is 95% of it. I KNOW I can do better, because I did it when I had a day job. I just focused on getting ready, and worked once I got to work. I exercised and usually cooked breakfast and got there on time and everything. I mean, I wasn't *happy* when I was at my day job, but it's not really fair to say that mornings were the source of the misery.

  • Some derby things. I already started this (go me!) when I quit Travel Team, and again more recently by not re-applying for Officiating Committee, and I'm seriously considering breaking up with Web Team, as well. All of these were things that I felt passionate about when I started, but now enough time has passed that I'm burned out by them. Also, I think about the internet way too much already, so do I really need to dump volunteer hours into that? It'd be great to just focus on Captaining this season.

  • Working on weekends. I definitely want to be more vigilant about having full days off regularly, which means no work and no derby. Maybe even no social obligations, if Introvert Brain demands it. I already had the opportunity to do this last weekend, and it did put me in a much better headspace and made me more energetic about going back to work, and doing better work.

  • Things/people that suck up my energy and give nothing in return. It seems to be part of my narrative that I throw myself at things, whether they be projects or relationships, that just end up being one-way time-and-energy sinkholes, and yield little-to-no reward or fulfillment for me. If nobody cares what I'm doing, then I don't need to be spending my time on it. And if anyone DOES care what I'm doing, then they can do me the courtesy of showing it and making a contribution.


  • A SMALL movie afternoon/night or other small-sized gathering, hopefully each month. Big parties are fun, sometimes, but smaller gatherings are what I need. It's too easy to float on the surface of loud, drinky gatherings, and make only tangential contact. And, I don't plan a lot of things, anyway, so if I'm going to ask others to put effort into our relationships, then I should try harder at it, too. My first movie night will be the day after the Season Opener, so it'll be awesome to lay around being sore and hang out with my bros and decompress!

  • A creative photoshoot every quarter. I don't want to say every month, because I want to pull together ideas that are more in-depth, and not just be phoning it in every month just so I can check off a box. I already have one in the planning stages, and I hope it'll be really neat.

  • Networking. It's been a struggle for me to find a networking group that isn't just elevator pitches and business card swapping, and that also has like-minded people in it. I don't like to be judge-y about what people believe, but I'm also reeeeally tired of pretending to be interested in numerology and DoTerra oils and other fluffy woo-woo things of that sort. SO, it seems that I've given myself the project of starting a networking group for derby people. There are a lot of people in derby who know each other on-the-track, but don't know each other's professional lives well (or at all). And, I know we already have a terrific culture of support in our nature, because that's a big part of what the derby community is about. I think this has a lot of potential!

  • Better eating. I wasn't exactly BAD at this in 2015, per se--my body composition has been pretty much the same, aside from getting more ripped when I started doing Crossfit. But, I did fall off the wagon in the Fall, in the sense that while I was eating a healthy amount of food, it was often eaten out and eaten in haste. I've started on a Freezer Meals project of sorts, where I use whatever bit of food budget I have at the end of a given week to pick up ingredients that I can bag up together and freeze, so when I get busy, I can just pull one out of the freezer and toss it in the crockpot before I leave the house in the morning--minimal thought and energy in those too-busy times that will inevitably happen. :)

  • Some kind of skill-building or online course. This may not happen until the off-season, but all the free evenings I had last summer were really nice, and I did good business in those months, so I think there'd be room for it. It'll likely be something in web development or web-specific design, because I'm fairly certain that any permanent job I'd have a shot at would be web-related.

I seem to be doing better in the realm of making time for creative projects that aren't for clients, which is good. I've done artwork for three t-shirts so far, and have some nice ideas for the next few.

I also photographed and designed four different posters of travel team skaters as superheroes, in a scant two weeks. It was a concept I absentmindedly wrote down a couple of years ago, so it was pretty exciting that a team fundraiser gave me the excuse to finally put this concept together.

These images were printed out 18"x24" and sold in the fundraiser party's art auction, and pulled in close to $1000 for the team. So, yeah, I think I did all right. ;)

(click to embiggen)

batskeets: (j)
And, I'm on Travel Team again.

Well, if I want to be, anyway. Leadership's goal is to treat all 30 of us as one team, even though only 20 at a time can be on our A-Team charter. The charter isn't being submitted for at least another week or so, and I'm not sure that I expect to be on it. But, they've said that if we made the Top 30, then we're on the A-Team, and should go ahead and tell people that's who we skate for. So, I guess I sort of made the A-Team?

But eh, you never know. I was the quietest mouse last season, because I knew I was at the very bottom of the roster, and I constantly felt outclassed. This year, I went in feeling like I'd make it, and I did. I actually said useful words and worked well with my blockers and played like I belonged there. Because, oh yeah, I AM good enough to be there, and I know what I'm doing. Maybe now that I've found my voice, I'll get noticed more.

So, I suppose fate has said its piece, and all the decision-making is mine, now.
...but, yeah, I can certainly see why people enjoy it. ;)

This bout felt like the biggest hurdle we'd have to face this season--of the other home teams, theirs had a stacked roster, and some of the most high-profile jammers in the world. Last season, they went undefeated. Still, our dedication and teamwork got us through, and it was an exciting and non-blowout-y game, but rather than snatching victory in the last minutes of the game, we held down a solid lead for most of the second half.

I now have an unhappy groin muscle, which doesn't exactly thrill me. I stretch all the time, and have gotten my share of awed and/or sassy commentary about my post-practice splits stretches, so the irony of this isn't lost on me. But, even if I have to sit out for more than a few days, I'm glad I was there for my team during this bout. I wasn't sure how well I was going to play, going in--Aunt Flo does not exactly contribute to my energy levels or mental focus--but I played really well, and I was there to support my teammates and build crazy-awesome walls with them.

I've occasionally and quietly thought to myself that, hey, we're looking pretty good, and maybe we even have a shot at winning League Championships this year. After this bout, it feels like we're over the hump, and going from Worst to First looks more possible than ever.

Gaaahhhh. I'm so proud of us. <3


Bright side

Oct. 6th, 2014 01:48 pm
batskeets: (yan!)
So, this happened:


My photos are in a national publication that just hit newsstands a day or two ago. National. Publication. WHAT.

AND, it's doubly-excellent, because it's also national-level press for one of my favorite people. She's one of the major reasons why I have fashion clients--she's been my longest-standing one. I haven't seen the physical magazine yet, but I'll be on the lookout for it. Maybe I'll be able to score a few copies for my Open Studio Party tomorrow.

Oh yeah, Open Studio Party. It's my 3-year anniversary party. The adage says that the vast majority of businesses fail within the first three years, but, here it is: my company's 3rd birthday, and I'm not dead yet.

So, tomorrow evening, from 4-7pm, I'll be at my studio, making chit-chat and awkward robot arms at total strangers, and toasting to beating the statistics.
I'm fairly certain that my business account balance is the highest it's been this entire year.

Granted, that's not saying a whole ton, because things were looking pretty dire a couple of months ago, but still. PROGRESS.
batskeets: (yan!)
Today, I got an e-mail from the staffing agency, basically saying that they really appreciate how professional I've been with Crazy Client, and that I'll be their first call if any similar development work comes up in the future. (for a saner client, of course)

I'm currently editing a headshot I did recently, and gosh, I really like everything we took from that session. I really liked that client, and felt honored that she came back to me a second time, to get her shot updated..

And, I actually sold a runway photo, to one of the designers who showed on said runway. That basically never happens in PDX.

Last week, I taught a photography summer camp, and I taught the kiddos about shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance, and even some studio lighting and post-processing. It was pretty exhausting, and keeping kids on task is not the easiest thing, but I got through it.

How did it go? Well, here's an actual interaction I had at Walgreens, while picking up prints of my summer campers' work so they could frame and mat them:

Employee: "The photos are beautiful! Did you take them?"

Me: "No, actually, I've been teaching a photography summer camp this week, so the kids took those."

Employee: "Oh, wow! When we looked at them, my manager wrote 'copyright?' on the order, but I said, 'no, they don't look copyrighted, they're just really friggin' good photos."

Yep. The kids' photos were so good that the photo counter staff at Walgreens thought they were possibly-stolen, copyrighted professional photos. XD

I also took some photos myself during the week, with the same camera the kids were using. I shot in JPG, which basically means that you're under even more pressure to get the shot right in-camera, because you can't fix anywhere near as many sins in post as you could with a RAW file. I got some great shots, considering the not-pro gear I was working with.

In short, I've had quite a few days recently that make me think, "dang, why am I so good at things?"

This feeling is extremely rare for me, but holy wow, do I welcome it.
Some things in life merit a bit of profanity. So, believe me when I say, OH HOLY SHIT I love so many things about this:


Seriously, I felt like David taking down Goliath, in that moment. Except that in this scenario, Goliath would then grin and say, "nice shot, buddy!" (seriously? The high-five is the best part. Not even joking.)

Sportsmanship is RAD.
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?
It's kind of funny how much your mindset can affect the things you do. I have to admit that I approached this past weekend with a fair amount of dread, at first: on Saturday, I had a photoshoot, a birthday get-together to go to, and then Day 1 of Travel Team tryouts (ack!), and then what could have potentially been two MORE birthday parties. Then, Sunday kicked off with Day 2 of TT tryouts, followed by a 5-hour shift at the shop I'm now working for. It all sounded very intimidating and exhausting, especially after what was a pretty high-pressure workweek.

But, I turned in nice and early on Friday, and when I woke up on Saturday, I thought, "you know what, I'll go and do all the things, and everything will be fine. I can make it through the weekend, no matter what."

The photoshoot turned out much lower-key than I built it up to be in my head, and involved one of my favorite makeup artists, and I really enjoyed working with our subject for the afternoon. On the way to Birthday #1, I realized that I'd be watching Star Trek and eating grilled cheese sandwiches with my best bros, and honestly, you can't get a much more comforting activity than that, for me. I wish I could've stayed longer, but it was just the thing.

I got to TT tryouts, and wanted to throw up a little, at first. Then I remembered that, hey, we'd done all of these drills at Thursday practice, and I did just fine at them, so I should just calm down and do the thing, and let the chips call where they may. Some skills didn't click quite as well as I wanted them to, but others went better than I expected.

Then, I went to the lower-key of the two birthday party options (well, if you can call karaoke "low-key," but believe you me, it was definitely the lesser of the two evils), had a couple of drinks to unwind, had a hell of a lot of fun singing my head off, and wound up staying out very late. I fell asleep thinking that I'd probably regret staying up so late when I had to get up for Day 2 of tryouts, but I told myself it'd be fine. I've played roller derby with a hangover, and I've played derby on not-much sleep before. I know what I'm doing.

So, I got up this morning, dragged myself away from bed, put coffee and a breakfast sandwich into my face, and scrimmaged with some of the best skaters in the world. It was not perfect, but it never is. But, I communicated a lot (which I'm normally not-so-great at, being a quieter person in genera), and had some great teamwork moments.

And then I got to my shift at the shop, did a stellar job of being extra-nice to people and keeping things tidy for the first 90-or-so minutes, and then my phone blew up with congratulatory texts, because I MADE TRAVEL TEAM. ACK! :D!!!!! I'm on the B-Team, but when that puts you among the Top 30 skaters in one of the top-ranked leagues in the world, the B-Team is definitely no small potatoes.

I may or may not have, quite literally, jumped up and down in the middle of the (fortunately, empty, at the time) shop, when that happened. XD

Anyhoo, I'm closing up shop now, and I'm basically feeling like I won the entire weekend. Granted, I'm bloody exhausted, but I can only imagine how things might've gone if I hadn't shouted down the anxiety demons with calmness and positivity.

Can't complain. Not even a little. :)
The project that I thought would never die FINALLY LAUNCHED.

I took down the placeholder page, and it's open to the public, and am sending the final invoice. Now, I can now ignore that client's friendly-but-also-annoying requests and focus on things that I'm actually interested in working on!

Okay, so that's not entirely accurate, because A) I wouldn't actually ignore a client, especially not one who pays on-time, and B) the idea is that there won't be any further requests. We tweaked and tested and bug-fixed the bejeezus out of that thing, and we're not doing anything further without a very, very nailed-down spec.

PRAISE BE TO JEEBUS. I want to drink at least ten beers.


Jun. 13th, 2013 04:40 pm
So, this happened:


Yep, we won Championships. It's hard to feel 100% right saying "we" when I wasn't rostered for the game, but everyone keeps telling me that it was a team effort from the start of the season to the end of it, so maybe I should just shut up and celebrate it.

I have more to say about that, and everything else, but dang, I have ZERO time to do so right now. Work decided to get crazy-busy the instant Champs got overwith, and if I'm going to peace out for 2 days next week to camp at Hood Canal with some of my favorite people, I have a LOT of loose ends to tie up before that happens.
I think my brain just hijacked itself out of a depressing thought relating to how I hardly post in this thing (or write at all, outside of my work) anymore, so I felt compelled to write this down:

I just realized that it has been more than 6 months since my funemployment benefits ran out, and I haven't starved to death. In fact, April was a decent month, income-wise, and at this point, I still have as much money banked as I did at the end of 2012. My self-imposed personal budget has been tight, but apparently, it's effective.

AND, I met a financial planner at a networking function, so I'm working with her on setting some real long-term goals. During our meeting on Monday, I realized just how many of the details I actually do have in my head, and that I'm not as out-of-touch with my money as I thought. I almost feel like a big damn grown-up.

Next step: get the penny-pinching tire-kickers out of my worklife, and connect with more of the folks who have a respectable amount of cash to spend.
The training wheels are off: I've now played in my first bout, and it was nothing short of wonderful. I had about a million different expectations for how it would be--there are so many places your brain can go when you're faced with an occasion as momentous as your first bout, both glorious and terrifying. A lot of the things they say about bouting are true, though.

For one, practice really can beat performance anxiety. I've done martial arts, theatre, and music for an audience in the past, and performance anxiety was always alway a thing. No matter how prepared I felt in those times, I had that familiar tightening in my chest every time I stood up to take my turn in the spotlight.

The awesome thing about this bout? That anxiet didn't happen. I didn't freak out, I was present in each moment I spent on the track, and I knew what to do. My team let me know that they trusted me to do what was needed, and all the practice time prepared me for the physical movements, and built up the instincts for knowing what to do and when. It was pretty cool to realize that, hey, maybe I CAN be someone who performs well under pressure.

The noise also isn't as distracting as you might think. There's a lot going on during an actual bout, as opposed to a scrimmage. There's the crowd, of course, and there's also the DJ, the announcers commentating, mascots whooping and hollering, referees making penalty calls, bench coaches shouting to be heard above it all. The funny thing is, when you're actually playing the game, a lot of that noise fades away. I could hear the refs, my teammates and my coaches, but the rest didn't even register, in the moment. I saw my friends holding up signs for me before a jam started, but then the whistle blew, and I was all-business. Apparently, there was chanting to go with the signs, but I didn't hear it. One of the announcers called me by name during a jam, but I didn't hear it at the time--I heard it days later, when I watched the bout video footage. It's amazing how much the act of focusing on the game drowns out the extraneous stuff.

And, yeah, it's pretty thrilling to have fans and skaters giving you hugs and high-fives. It's exciting as all-get-out to have your name and number called out by the announcers, and be introduced with your team. And yes, even when you only get to play in two jams, it's still it's pure joy skate around the track after a bout, and have amped-up derby fans waiting to high-five you and congratulate you.

Here's an in-game shot! I'm apparently a camera-avoiding ninja in life and in derby, so there weren't many of me (and also, y'know, because of the whole "played in two jams" thing), but whee! Doing the thing! And WE WON. Handily. SO AWESOME.

RELATED: In the couple of weeks leading up to, and following the bout, I did feel like I'd hit a plateau, which was annoying and frustrating at times. I had a teammate say that she was feeling "so impatient to get better," and I was feeling that, too. I had what became a pretty valuable conversation, though, in the past week or so--at last week's scrimmage, we mixed teams for the second half, just as a fun thing to do after the intensity of the bout. I volunteered to be jammer for one jam, because A) my team has me blocking all the time, and B) it wasn't a for-reals Team Lineup anyway, so why not be jammer just for fun?

I went in, did a pretty excellent job jamming, and made several scoring passes while my blockers held back the other jammer. It was a long and exhausting jam, but it was good. Then, one of my coaches pulled me aside and asked, "in your time on Fresh Meat, how much time did you spend jamming versus blocking?" I guesstimated 40/60, which may have been overly generous--I did a lot of blocking on FM, because I knew I needed more work at it. Then she said, "I just saw you be more dynamic as a jammer than I have ever seen you be as a blocker." And then, she went on to say that, going forward, she wants to play with using me as part of the jammer rotation.

In the wake of that, my brain had two initial responses, which were both pretty ridiculous:

1) Being completely and utterly intimidated by the notion of jamming for this team, when we have so many experienced players and such incredibly good, lightyears-better-than-me jammers.
2) Feeling shitty about my blocking, because it's not as "dynamic" as my jamming. (I think part of this was because I don't think of myself as a particularly good jammer, so if my blocking is less-good than that...?)

I think I'm much over that reaction now, though. Fact is, her comment about my jamming was a pretty huge compliment--the team drafted me intending to use me as a blocker, so my blocking is good already, and I surprised them with even better jamming. And, I now have a plan for working on my confidence among more-experienced blockers, and bringing that jammer dynamism into my blocking. I have this ridiculous mental picture of myself during my best turns at jamming, where I'm all laser-focused and Super-Saiyan, all instincts and physical process, anti-gravity anime hair and Power Level 9000 and all that jazz. Visualization has always been surprisingly hard for me, but maybe that mental picture could help after all--maybe there's a Super-Saiyan Blocker version of me ready to beast out.

And, you know? At first, I was kind of bummed out to get drafted, and then not even be considered for jammer time. I'd made my peace with that before the bout, so I wasn't prepared for this change-up, but I should be happy about it. I get to jam! Take the opportunity and run with it. There's plenty I can do now that I couldn't before, and there's no reason why I can't do this, too.

Scrimmage last night was pretty good, too. I jammed, and I also blocked with more power than I have in quite a while. I think maybe this plateau is ending, and some upward momentum is ready to take over.

So, yeah, as intimidating as it is, more of this might be in my future: UNSTOPPABLE JAMMER RAGEFACE.


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