Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two outta three ain't bad.

Well.  There you have it.  The Road Train Rollers are ADRD champions again.  I'm pretty sure we were the underdogs once more, and I'm happy with that.  Let's flashback a week ago (or so) when I posted last.
Wait - have you regainsed consciousness from that time just now whan you fainted from shock that I posted a week ago?
Wait again - have you ceased laughing about the fact that I assume enough people read this for there to be even a single shocked person about that last fact?  Self-congratulatory motherfucker, I am.
Anyhoo, last Wednesday I finally posted about our win against the Wild Hearses which catapulted (and by catapulted I mean 'put') us into the grand final for Adelaide Roller Derby for the third year running - since the first year the league decided to have a final as such.  I left you with the nailbiting thought of who will win this year?  Will it be the Salties, with their lightning jammers - the whippets of the derby world, flying round the track with their ponytails snapping in the very breeze they, themselves create?  The Salties with walls made from Wolverine bones dipped in titanium which was forged by the blood of Zeus and Thor combined?  Or will it be the Road Train Rollers, known affectionately the world (and by world I mean Adelaide) over as the Roadies?  The Roadies who lost their last three games to the Salties, the Roadies who seemed to crumble under the the steely gaze of fourteen sea maidens with an on-track connection as tangible as an anchor chain?
The morning of the game I woke up with a grin on my face.  I'm creepy like that.  I prepared a little differently, and was a bit stressed, for the following reasons:
  • for the preceeding five days I had been on a new diet.  Think of my digestion as a thin child.  That child was sent to swimming lessons, but as soon as she was dropped off, she scooted around the corner and spent the time at the library, thumbing through magazines about computers and renaissance fairs.  Then put that child in a helicpoter, fly her out above the ocean, and boot her out into a raging, frothy sea state five.  Without an asthma puffer.  Or a life jacket.  With her school bag still on.  That's my digestion.  A flailing weenie who can't swim trying to cling to life with nothing but hope and an unparalleled knowledge of the origin of chainmail.  I was at my wits' end with my bloody digestion.  The FODMAP diet I had been following was increasingly useless and I was bloating like a floaty corpse on a daily basis.  So, my good friend Rusty directed me to a lady who helped me out, told me some things and now I eat like a caveman.  I need detox, she says, so right now I'm going through three months of no sugar and no grains.  While I'm happy to be finally treating my body like the golden shrine that it is, I'm also turning slowly into an evil, snarling harpy owing to the lack of sugary treats.  Thus, my preparation that day was frought with worry at the prospect of trying to skate with less energy than usual.  Why did I not wait until after the final to change my diet, you ask?  Two-part answer: because I am a numpty and also because I was just becoming sicker and more fatigued by the day and I chose the lesser of the two evils.  I packed (instead of a Red Bull, a banana and a container of rice, salmon and mayo) water, seven almonds and a container of baby spinach, capsicum and salmon.  I was shitting my pants metaphorically, but on the bright side I hadn't shit through they eye of a needle physically in four days.
  • Our car is broken right now, so the lovely Gateway Girl gave me a lift.  This meant that I had to be running on time, which I wasn't.  Owing to this, I accidentally locked Gateau in the spare room.
  • We live forever out of the city now, so anything I left behind would stay behind.  I forgot my carnitine, which was my only chance at a bit of extra energy.
Despite my tardiness, we arrived with plenty of time and I was able to leisurely apply my eye stripe and tease the absolute crap outta my hair before going through our skateout practice and then taking my place for my job, which was taking people's tickets.
The skateout...
I'll freely admit I'm one of those people who make sure that everyone knows they hate elaborate skateouts.  I'm a bit of an asshole about it.  'I'm a sportsperson, not a performing seal' I say, 'if I wanted to dance, I'd be a dancer' I say.  But I do it because my league wants to do it and I love my league.  But... on Sunday I faced something I did not expect.  I enjoyed it.  Ugh.  I did, I really did.  When I was five, my parents put me in jazz ballet.  That's not a joke.  I was terrible and lazy, didn't practice, so they put me in the babies group.  I turned on my heel and walked out, never looking back once.  In hindsight, I think I had a chip on my shoulder about it.  So, any time I'm required to participate in organised dancing, I freak out a little bit.  That's why I'm always in the back line.  Now, this time, I wasn't the only one who didn't want to, or the only one freaking out.  So, I took it upon myself to count out the beats.  I watched Letta (the choreographer) with a dedication usually only seen in seasoned stalkers - you know, the ones with restraining orders.  I somehow started to take pride in getting all the moves right and helping other unsure people with the counts.  All of a sudden, it hit me: I liked it, and I liked it because it was similar to the Army.  It was like drill.  I was excellent at drill, and pretty damn good as a drill commander.  I even had guy soldiers tell me 'I usually hate when chicks call drill, with their high voices and shit... but you're ok...'  Little did they know I had my uterus turned into a tobacco pouch (wanna pinch?).  Anyway, I ended up actually liking it, and here it is:
So we did the skateout as a league, and then the Mile Die Club and Wild Hearses played off for third.  Hearses won, but with about 5 mins to go, they stopped the game and spent the rest of it playing queen of the rink, which is where everybody gets on the track, and tries to hit each other down or out, until there is only one person left.  It was very cool, and a great way to end that game, I reckon.
Then we were up.  Again, I had resigned myself to the fact that we could lose, and it would have been ok if we did, I just wanted to have fun.  I knew we could win if we played as a tight unit, but if we didn't, the Salties would crush us to dust, like bread sticks in a vice.  Regardless of the outcome, I just wanted a close game, for the crowd, and for the pride of both teams.
We got off to a good start.  The last few times (including practice bouts at training) we've opposed the Salties, they usually get a jump on us, as if they are raring to go just a bit more than we are.  We usually take a few jams to wake up.  This time, we got going straight away, and it wasn't long before Kit Cat was presented with a power jam and took a cool 19 points, to put us at 11 vs 32.  Not at this point, or ever during the game did they let up though, and we had to fight for not only every point we put on, but to stem the flow of points from them when they were on fire.  Both teams played nickel and dime derby until Phil grabbed 17 points for the Salties, putting them at 37 to our 48.  I think the thing that kept the game interesting was that closeness, and the fight in each team.  Our usual problems with the Salties are penalty spirals and ineffective blocking to minimise their power jams.  So, we trained to rectify those things, and I think that worked for us. 
Half time saw the score at 69-88, our way.  Known as the comeback queens, we weren't really sure what to do with ourselves.  We went to the changeroom, chilled out, talked shop for a bit and I choked down some baby spinach and salmon.  Yum.  I was right about the lack of energy, it was certainly not my best game ever, I played much better the game before.  It's not about me, though, and I resolved to just play my hardest, whatever that was.
As I always say, I can't remember much from bouts.  I can remember doing one good thing, the time I snuck through on the inside, as seen here:
I can also remember being hit so perfectly by Moe that I careened into the crowd for the first time ever, feet first, as seen here:
The rest I have to get from Twitter, and I quote: 'The roadies come roaring out of half time full of fire.'  The battle recommenced and continued much the same, it was just a struggle, for both teams I think.  I've never seen the Roadies block like that against the Salty jammers - there were a few times we had them trapped for quite a few laps.
With twenty minutes left, the score was 79-129, our way, not even close to anything consedered 'breathing room.'  Shortly after, Undies scored 19 points for the Dolls, she had a bloody brilliant game.  She later scored a 21 point jam, and the score continued to climb.  I was only jamming, which I don't really like to do, as sometimes if I'm suffering a bit of a lacklustre performance, a block can pep me up a bit.  But no matter, Kit Cat, Killa, Kaos and occasionally Pirate were all on fire and our blocking teams were not letting up. 
The final jam began with the score at 174-193, our way.  It had fallen to my turn to jam, and I thought of the final jam of our last bout, in which I wore the star.  I compared my performance to that day and knew I wasn't the right person for the job.  Kudos here to our amazing benchie team of Busty and Malty, because it was Busty who asked me to jam that last one in the Hearses game.  It was Busty again who gave me the panty for this one, and when I told her I didn't think I was jamming well enough and that she should give it to Kaos, she hesitated for only a second before she said ok and did exactly that.  I'm pretty pleased that a) I know myself well enough and am not motivated by greed and pride to admit when I am having a bit of an average game and b) that my benchie knows me and the game well enough to know when to push me or leave me.

So Kaos it was.  She was up against Phil, who is amazing, but so is Kaos.  I couldn't watch.  My team gathered together, arms around one another but I stayed seated, I felt sick from nerves.  Some random dude in the crowd berated and heckled me enough to make me join them, but I closed my eyes.  Then I opened them to see Phil get lead, but Kaos right behind her.  There was no time left on the clock, so no possibility of another jam after that one.  This meant it didn't matter that Phil was lead, and all Kaos had to do was keep up with her.  Phil got through, Kaos got through, Phil got through, Kaos got through.  Everyone was knackered, but the blocks never got any softer, and the jammers never slowed.  And so it went.  Time passed as it has a tendency to do, and in two minutes we found ourselves champions, with a final score of 190-204.  We couldn't believe it.  We'd had a crazy season - starting strong then hitting rock bottom.  We had such a close call with the Hearses to even get in the final, and then we won it.  I'd done everything I'd wanted: I had fun, we all did, and it was a close game.  We were so calm on the bench and on the track, we even had devonshire tea in the box, here is Kit Cat offering someone a cup of 'tea', for real:
All in a rush, it was over, the last eight months of craziness, fighting with my intestines, Bell's Palsy, buying a house... I'd made it through, and it was time to party.  Hard.
Considering the length of this post already, I will describe the after party with a combination of dot points and pictures.  Here goes:
Wheaty looked like this:
Squatters looked like this:
  • Which was where we also recreated the scene from dirty dancing where Johnny lifts up Baby, itself a re-enactment of the train from Newcastle last year, complete with 'I've Had The Time Of My Life' sung by all of us to the accompaniment of vigorous clapping,
  • and we also re-enacted the Skato and the leg slap:
That's Mercedes' hand print.
  • We then went to a place called Sugar, which is where things get a little hazy.
  • Then we tried to get into LaSing, but it was closing,
  • So we went to Hungry Jack's:
Which was where I found myself with a mayo moustache and goatee, Colonel Sanders style.  Why isn't there a picture of that?
  • Next thing I knew, we were walking to that soccer bar on Hindley st, where we played the worst game of pool, ever.
  • It came to be that time, there were five of us left: Lori, Mercedes, Guns, Undies and I.
  • We split up to go home.  Since we live in the boonies, we went to crash at Lori's place.  Here we are on the train at 6am:
  • And here we are on the way to Lori's, when we found a trolley and a pipe and put the two together:
That's Lori doing the finger all the way at the back.
And that was that.  We left Lori's on the 3:16 train the next day, looking like this:
Note: still have my eye stripe on.  We didn't even go straight home, we went into the city and had tacos cos I only had a few hours left of my break from detox.  When we got home Gateau had pissed up a storm where I accidentally locked her in the spare room.  Well played sir, well played.
And that's it.  The end to a crazy derby year, but not the end to the craziness that is my abnormal life.  Stay tuned, dumb shit happens to me all the time.
Tricks :)
P.S. just had to pause before finishing this to clean up dog spew in the hallway with dog footprints through and around it.  Bon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When in doubt, ham it up...

So I shall begin where I left off.  I had just recovered from having a more mong face than usual and we were preparing for our bout against the Salty Dolls.  In short, we bombed.  The thing about our team is that when we place too much focus on trying to win, we crumble like a vampire drunk on a successful bloodbank heist who accidentally fell asleep on a golf course.  When we're together mentally, we play as a team.  When we drop the bundle, we play like fourteen individuals, which is futile against a team like the dolls, who have both skill and depth.
The following things happened after that bout:
  • TGSS.  This needs more explaining than I have room for here, but basically it's Australian roller derby nationals and NZ comes too.  I was selected to play for ADRD (The Adeladies), which is a great honour for me, because there are about 80 players in our league.  When I played inline and ice hockey (and no offence intended for hockey players here), it was pretty much whoever came to try outs was in the team.  Sometimes there was enough players to make cuts, but rarely.
TGSS was a very tough slog for me after recovering from the Bell's and my head wasn't in it at all.  I pulled myself out of jamming, which is a first, and strange for me.  All in all, we came fourth, which is respectable, but considering the lead we had at half time in our bronze medal match, it's a bit irritating, again we dropped the bundle and ended up losing by about a hundred I think.  I didn't play very well at TGSS but I did have fun, which is a bonus.
  • My feisty Texan belle and I bought a house.  I'm pretty sure this led to the stress that caused my face to flip out.  It's pretty much out in Middle earth (Smithfield Plains), which is all we could afford.  We feel lucky though, considering I'm only on a student's scholarship for income.
So, most people who live in and around Adelaide will have an opinion on the northern suburbs, where we now live.  If they live there, they think it's ok.  Everyone else thinks it's the ghetto and that it's a common occurrence to walk down the streets dodging rusting car bodies while some old lady is being robbed in every seond house you pass, while in each other house resides a six year old nursing her second child.
I gotta say, I was formerly of the latter.  I was uneducated, ignorant and had no care to delve into the matter.  That is, until the day I found myself saying to Mercedes: 'we need to make a decision.  We either move somewhere we don't want to, or we pay somebody else's mortgage for the next four years'.  So we found a property we liked (which ended up being the one we bought), and drove out in the night to look at it.  Bear in mind, we had already looked at one in Taperoo at midnight after I finished work.  We were exploring all around the place with our iPhone torches until the Police arrived and informed us that a neighbour had heard two men in the yard next door and I had to show him my licence.  Anyway, we pulled the same move except we didn't get out of the car.  We immediately noticed nicely kept yards, nice cars in driveways and no menacing kids wearing hoodies walking around at night, shooting at passing cars or nuthin'.
Long story short, we bought it.  And we love it.  Below is a list of some things that have happened since we moved:
  • Mercedes took both of the cats in the moving truck inside pillowcases.  Each had their own case, of course, we're not crazy.  What she didn't tell me until later is that when she first put Gateau in her slip, she left her on the table, turned her back for a moment and the cat (who had been writhing a little) FELL OFF ONTO THE FLOOR.  Below is the pic of the cat sacks.

  • We met some of our neighbours.  One of them actually came over and called to us 'howdy neighbour! Thought you ladies might need a bit of muscle moving your things...' As luck would have it, we were unloading the cast iron claw foot bathtub so we took him up on it.  His brother came to help too.  Joe and Al.  Joe made an appearance later that day too, when we were fixing a hole in the fence and I was very proud of Mercedes' patience when he was trying to hammer the screw in.  it took her five times to explain that it wasn't a nail.
  • We met another naighbour, Robin, who pulled into our driveway with his car when we were expecting the locksmith.  I said 'babe... I think the locksmith is here... though he's kinda old for a tradey...'  Nope, turns out it was Robin, the ex RAAF guy who bought his married quarter that he has now lived in for over thrity years.  He let us know that he is the president of the neighbourhood watch committee too, and to call him if we have any troubles.  He said the only thing that tends to happen is the 'hoons doing the burnouts', which we have heard on occasion.
  • We had an alarm installed.  When the guy was at the house explaining it, an odd thing happened.  He was a lovely guy, a dog lover and Sunny and Paulie were all over him.  We started talking about how dogs seem to know if someone is a dog person...
Him: 'yeah, they know who to go to, who loves dogs...'

Mercedes: 'not like cats.  They seem to go straight to whoever hates cats and bug the shit out of them.'

Him: (busily writing, not looking up) 'yeah... cats... if you make out you don't like em, they'll just come all over ya...'

Me to Mercedes: o_O

Mercedes to me O_o (begins to giggle)

Him: (without breaking stride in his notes, or looking up) 'that didn't sound too good did it...'

Mercedes: (guffawing now) 'whoa whoa whoa, can't there be a happy medium or something?  Like, I don't want em to hate me... but I don't want that...'

  • So, the alarm was installed.  Both the dog lover and technician who installed it told us that it would be ok to have Sunny and the cats inside, as they weigh less than 25kg.  Something they failed to mention is that if Sunny gets on the couch, it will set the alarm off, because it depends on the proximity of a heat signature to the sensor.  Sunny is a labrador.  She lives in the house when we're not home.  This may come as a surprise, but she doesn't spend that time reorganising my robot shelf.  She doesn't pass the hours by thumbing though Mercedes' House and Garden magazines to get ideas.  She sleeps on the couch.  That's.  It.  The first time we left the house with the alarm on was to go to the cinema.  We locked up, set the alarm and left for Elizabeth.  We turned our phones off.  We were so enamoured by Snow White and the Huntsman that we failed to turn them back on and we returned to the house to the alarm going off.  Just the blue light was flashing.  After we shit our pants, we frantically turned our phones on.  Missed calls and texts galore.  My poor sister Mitchi was frantic, thought we'd been murdered.  Sunny was nonplussed.  Turns out she set it off and just did not give two shits about it.  Our poor brand new neighbours...
So we'd been plugging away at the house, getting unpacked and set up etc.  Then came our third round-robin bout against the Hearses.  Now, the thing to note here is that the Hearses have fire in their eyes this year, and had beaten the Salty Dolls earlier in the season.  So, at the last game that was left to be played, the standings were that Salties were ahead and guaranteed a spot in the grand final with one loss, two wins.  Hearses had at that stage two wins and we had a win and a loss.  Poor Mile Die have had a bit of a rough year, but sometimes teams have to rebuild, and I have faith that they will.  Anyway, so if we had won the bout, that would have put all three of us all on two wins, one loss.  That meant it would have gone down to points differential.  So, before the game even started, we knew that we had to beat them by 56 points if we were to get a spot in the grand final.

That fact alone was enough to bring on the palsy again, so I simply decided I didn't care if we lost.  I mean, I always try my very best each bout, but sometimes that isn't good enough to win and the other team is just better on the day and that's not anybody's fault, that's just sport.  So, that was it.  And I told my team that, in the changerooms.  I told them that I didn't care what was on that scoreboard, that I wouldn't be looking because it didn't matter.  I was going to play my favourite game with my favourite people and have fun doing it because if we lost, we weren't going to die, and if we won we weren't going to turn to angels that fart unicorn flavour fairy floss.  Either way, we were going to go on to play another game of roller derby... and another... and another.

So we played.  We played like I don't think I've seen our team play before: unified.  It was so much fun.  It's a great feeling to see the fruits of so much effort splattering all over the track like so many slingshotted cumquats.  There was no pressure on our bench.  The benchies were all over it, and one time, we sat and drank pretend cups of tea, pinkies up and all.

As usual, I can't remember much.  Below is a list of what I can:
  • At one stage, I was particularly pleased with a jam I was having, and after I exited the pack, I flexed my right bicep for the crowd and then pointed at it just in case someone was missing the point,
  • Another time, I was lined up about to jam and flexed both arms up beside my head for my opposition blockers, grinning like a fool the entire time,
  • I once forced all the opposition blockers to admit that they were having a good time and admitted that I didn't care of the outcome and that I loved them all.  I think I was high.
  • Once I was trailing Guns jamming and I yelled out at her 'I'M COMING FOR YOUUUUUUUUUUUU!'
  • The last and most clear memory I have is of the last jam.  The second last jam was about to begin.  I had just come off from jamming and was sitting, catching my breath.  Busty, one of the benchies approached me.  She asked me if I could jam next.  I said no, because I was too knackered.  She knelt in front of me and said: 'you're playing really well and really clean and I reaaaally need you to do this for me, can you?'  So I did.  It's funny, how I used to be so nervous at hockey, even when arriving at the rink for a practice.  It wasn't until after the bout that I realised why I was able to jam in that last one without fear, without nerves, just excitement.  It's because I wasn't afraid to fail.  I know that my team knew I would do my best and those blockers would do their best and regardless of the outcome, they would love and appreciate me.  Derby rules.
So.  Out we went.  We were leading by 53 points, and we needed 56.  Their jammer was in the bin, but I believe (could be wrong here) that we had one or maybe even two blockers in there also.  I got through the pack pretty quick somehow, which is a feat of its own, because I think that I met Fury in that pack and she is a tough nut to crack.  I must have done something worth a minor because I noticed immediately that I wasn't lead.  This fact alone made me shit my pants, because my fitness is a concern to me always (I once had my lungs tested in the Army and they told me I had the capacity of an 80 year old man, true story) and I knew the jam would go the full length.  Then Guns got out of the box.  And I was knackered.  I was pretty sure I had at least got the four points we needed, so when she began scoring, I knew I just had to keep following her through each time she cleared the pack.  The second time she went through she was already clear and I was still stuck at the back.  I began to fret because I was out of puff. 
Then she was sent off.  I couldn't believe it.  Like I said, I was out of puff, and pretty certain that we had enough points, so I did something I have never done before, in fact I have never seen anyone else do it before, I don't think.  I had a little rest.  Just had a little rest right there on the track: bent over, hands at the top of my legs sucking in big ones.  I hated doing it but the peripherals of my vision were going starry and I knew if there was any hope of me going on I needed a quick bit of respite.  As it happens, my opposition blockers were also a little knackered I think and they relaxed a tiny bit, and weren't in a solid wall.  Upon seeing this, I was bolstered and took off, bouncing off them and my own blockers to gain one last pass.  When the final whistle went, I found myself on the far side of the track.  There is a pic of me asking my friend in the crowd if we had done it, and we had.  We won by 60 something and had secured a place for ourselves in the final.  We had played our best game yet and I felt like I redeemed myself after TGSS.  We had fun and played like a team as a result.

That brings us to scratch.  I did have a birthday in there, and it was awesome but this post is pretty long as it is.  The long and short of it is that I had a great weekend with my favourite people on earth, was spoiled rotten by my delightful girlfriend, got my robot tattoo filled in and scored a wicked juicer.

This weekend is the grand final.  Mile Die Club will play the Wild Hearses for third place, we play Salty Dolls for first.  I'm going into it with the same attitude. 

In the words of Vince Fontaine: 'and remember, it doesn't matter if you win or lose, it's what you do with those dancin' shoes!'

Now it's time for me to get out of bed and get to training.  I need to study our part of the skate out on the train...

See you on Sunday;)


Oh and P.S. I somehow managed to have the whole arena waiting on me to do the skate out.  So, I entered like this:

What a ham.