Friday, August 16, 2013

One year.

DC All-Stars after bouting the Philly Rollergirls' Liberty Belles on 4/27/13. Photo by James Calder

This weekend is my derbyversary.

As I understand it, in derby, there are a number of ways to “count” your derbyversary – the anniversary of the first time you bouted, the day you were drafted to your team, the day you joined the league.

For me, the date that sticks out in my mind is August 18, 2012, the first day I attended boot camp with the DC Rollergirls. I had no skates or gear, little idea of what the game of derby looked like (besides a viewing of Whip It and a quick glance at some Rose City videos online), and even less of an idea of the non-skating side of derby that I now know is a critical component of the sport. I had interned in DC the previous summer and knew that the DC Rollergirls existed, even checked out their website. But playing roller derby was an interesting but unlikely possibility in the back of my mind, like traveling to Greece or going to culinary school. The only reason I was there, really, was because my friend Alli had really wanted to go and I had gotten swept up in her excitement.

I don’t tend to do things impulsively. In fact, I actively try not to do things impulsively. But that day after boot camp, I drove home, ate lunch, then drove to Frederick, Maryland to a derby “shop” that was actually a few shelves of gear in the back of a bicycle store. I dropped about $400 on new skates and gear with only a well-meaning but clueless employee to advise me (who only did so when it became abundantly clear that I had no idea what I was buying).

One of the memories I associate most clearly with that day is driving home on 270, glancing over at the pile of stuff – not sure if I had gotten ripped off, not sure why I had dropped an obscene amount of money for an activity that I basically knew nothing about – and thinking, “What the hell did you just do?” And, later: “If you’re spending this much money, you fucking better do this right.”

In hindsight, I’m not sure what led me to take that huge leap. When I observed that boot camp, I remember being impressed less by the actual skating and activity than by the amount of organization and commitment and the number of women there. I’m sure a decent part of it stemmed from my conversations with Scoriental Express, where she mentioned that she, too, was a former ice skater and had gotten through tryouts having only discovered derby three weeks beforehand (which was basically the same timeline I was looking at). Mostly, I think it was because it was a challenge and because it scared me a little. The things I’ve really loved – figure skating, policy debate, giving tours – have all involved things that were difficult and also a little terrifying in some way.

I have a hard time trusting my gut instinct on things sometimes, but whatever it was that influenced me to decide to go all-in, I am absurdly grateful. Only now do I know what an amazing sport and community I managed to stumble into.

I won’t go into what derby has done for me and still means to me. That’s what the rest of this blog is for and I feel like any attempt to neatly summarize the past year would fall far, far short of what it is to experience it. This is an instance where I know with certainty that my words are not enough to scratch the surface of the terror, joy, excitement, camaraderie, and sense of accomplishment that are now permanent parts of my life. Nor are they enough to capture what it feels like to be surrounded and supported and cared for by an amazing group of the most kind, intelligent, hilarious, dedicated, and insane people I have ever met.

And I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than by competing in Des Moines with the DC All-Stars at the WFTDA Division 2 playoffs - a possibility I would not have dreamed of a year ago when I would have been thrilled to make the rec league.

I’ll just end by saying: It’s my first derbyversary this weekend, and this has been the most enjoyable year of my life. Here’s to many more.

Pure happiness at Midwest BrewHaha. Photo by James Calder.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Catching Up

Hi. It’s been a while.

After several (many) promptings from friends, a lot of derby getting in the way of writing time, general apathy about blogging, and innumerable half-written, heavily-edited blog posts that will never see the light of day, I’m posting a general “hey, here’s what I’ve been up to for the past few months” catch-up post.

Caveats: This is not going to be my best writing. This is not going to be worth your time if you actually see me on a regular basis. This is a big ol’ “sorry I suck at keeping in touch with you but here’s what I’ve been doing” blanket apology post for my friends far away, and a “Sophia has terrible memory and will probably forget all these events in six months, and she should write them down now before she forgets, and before such events become so routine she forgets there was time in her life that she was actually excited about them” post. This is why this post is going to be a freaking novel.

Aren’t you excited to read this now? I know, such a great sell. 

Derby - Bouts and Other Events

Hoo boy. It’s fair to say that derby has eaten my existence. As in, I’m usually practicing/bouting at least 4 days out of the week, spending at least 1 of the remaining days on some derby-related project or traveling, and spending the other 2 days cooking for myself, doing laundry, grocery shopping and/or passing out immediately upon arriving home from work.

Travel team bouts: Since I last posted in January, I went to Florida with the All-Stars, where the AS played Jacksonville and Gainesville (loss, then win; I played against Gainesville), and then we went to Connecticut, where we bouted the Connecticut Rollergirls (I played and we won) and scrimmaged Suburbia.

Somewhere in there, the league approved the formation of an actual B team, which meant that we had travel team tryouts and added 10 to the travel team and I was designated a swing player, meaning that I’m on the WFTDA charter but that I’ll play for both the A and B team (who each have a game day roster of 14), depending on who needs me. It is not as confusing as I’m making it sound, but I made this chart and sent it to my parents, because (a) I like making charts, (b) It was a good work procrastination task, and (c) because I am still really inept at describing the structure of the travel team. Pretty sure they still don't get it. But here it is anyway.

Because... charts? 

Then, we scrimmaged Charm City's A and B teams (with 8 people, which was tough but a really great learning experience). After that, we went to Pittsburgh and played Steel City and Burning River (losses; I played in Burning River and with the National Maulers against Burning River's B team, which we won!). And then Philly came and played us in DC (I played and it was a reverse win, because we beat the spread and played really well as a team). And then we went to Nashville (I played and it was also a reverse win because we came back from a big deficit and we KILLED the afterparty. Like, riding-mechanical-bulls, bachelorette-party-pyramid-with-flaming-sparkler, swap-clothing-with-strangers-in-a-bar, country-karaoke-singing-and-dancing-onstage kind of killed).

Fright and Jill on the mechanical bull in Nashville. I distinctly remember laughing so hard I cried. But I was also not very sober.

Home team bouts: I’ve bouted twice with the DemonCats since I last wrote, against the Majority Whips in February, against Scare Force in March, both of which were close losses - 2 points (!) and... I want to say something like 40 points. We're also meeting the Whips for the 3rd place bout in the Championships tomorrow. I don't know why, but the bout tomorrow has me more nervous than literally any other bout I've ever skated in, which is probably a big reason why I was able to channel my nervous energy tonight into an update. Part of it is the finality of it - this is the last bout of the season, this is for all the marbles, this is our last chance to win this season - and part of it is the fact that I've gotten to the point where I have expectations for myself and my contributions to the team. I'll leave it there because all my feelings are discombobulated the night before a bout and I'm sure I'll be more articulate at a later date, but suffice it to say that I love my team a lot and am so proud of how we've progressed so far this season.

Anyway. Somewhere else in there, I got shiny new skates, courtesy of Department of Skate. They’re Antik AR-1s with 45 degree Avenger plages. After the initial adjustment period, I love them. So much lighter than my old Riedell Vixens with Triton plates, and I can actually cross over on the apex because my skates aren’t half-sliding out from under me! Also, for wheels, I upgraded to Rollerbones Turbo 85s for the Armory, which were the first wheels to make me finally understand what people meant when they talked about their “perfect” wheel. I love them a little bit more than is strictly normal.

Somewhere in there too, I got to watch the Charm-Philly bout (where I.M. Pain took a huge hit, literally TAPED HERSELF BACK TOGETHER, and proceeded to jam all over Philly’s faces and I almost passed out from how amazing it was) and Dutchland-Burning River. I also helped shave my teammate Frightmare’s head because we reached 55% of our fundraising goal for the warehouse fund. And I helped make a roller-derby centered Peeps diorama with Saulty and my friends Zai, Erin, and Abby... though “helped” is stretching it because I think my contribution consisted of making two helmets and buying faux wood shelf liner. And I did a photoshoot in the rain with a photographer named Kyle Cassidy, who is a pretty big deal and takes awesome roller derby portrait shots. And a whole lot of other stuff, but those are the highlights.

DC RollerPeeps diorama, made mostly by Saulty, Zai, Abby, and Erin - a semifinalist in the Washington Post 2013 Peep Diorama competition.

Up next: Northeast Derbycon in Providence, the BrewHaha tournament in Milwaukee (while I'm supposed to be moving... yeah, that'll be fun) followed by a trip to Chicago (actual fun), Atlanta, ECDX in Philly...

Derby - General Thoughts

It's kind of mindblowing to think that ALL OF THE THINGS ABOVE happened within the last 4ish months. I feel like so many things are happening and, although I enjoy them thoroughly when they are happening, I have so little time to sit and reflect on how amazing my experiences have been and how lucky I am. I almost wish I could slow things down and spread them out in my life a little bit more, because there is way too much concentrated amazing happening right now. It reminds me of the last quarter of college in a way, where everything was happening too quickly for me to appreciate and remember and it was over before I knew it. I want things to slow down, but they only seem to be speeding up.

Like, sometimes I will think about the fact that against Philly last month, I got lead jammer on Teflon Donna and actually scored points (...before I got sent to the box for cutting. Sigh). For those who don't know who Teflon Donna is, she's an amazing and hugely influential skater from Philly who skates for Team USA who is also a really nice person. Six months ago, I was one of those people who had no idea who Teflon Donna was. Last month, when I lined up on the jam line against her, the only thing I could think was, "OH HOLY SHIT THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING TO ME WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON." All the opportunities I've been given have been overwhelming and intimidating, but beyond incredible. I'm so grateful for these experiences and I know that they're going to make me into a better skater, but it's a lot to process sometimes.

Speaking of which, I'm still struggling with my skills and patience with myself when playing. I'm not where I want to be yet, and all the easy, instinctual learning is basically done - now comes the part where I have to put in real effort to cross-train and to turn my brain on when I play. I know I can skate, but knowing how to skate and knowing how to play derby are two different things, and I keep trying to remind myself of this when I get overly self-critical. Despite all of these potentially unfun things about derby, I'm still addicted.  I'll probably write more on the psychological aspects of derby that I find really interesting, but for now, I'll just say that practice is almost always the highlight of my day and I don't understand how normal people are able to function without derby/a derby-like obsession in their lives. Playing derby is a huge rush and I love it.


So, a lot of people ask me how work is going, and the boring answer that I really like my work most of the time and I really like the people I work with and sometimes it's annoying, but mostly it's really great and absolutely confirms for me that I want to work in financial regulation. What else can I say? I have a good group of work friends (although two of them will be leaving this summer, sadly), I get to wander into work at 10 if I feel like it, I work with attorneys who compare mortgage securitization to Horcruxes in meetings, and it pays me enough to let me do basically whatever I want to do. On the whole, I'm pretty effing lucky.

More exciting things? Since my last update, I had lot of friends from out of town come visit me (Ruby! Erin! Sherrie! Janice! Donovan! Eri! Cliff!), so that took some very enjoyable time, even though I am literally the worst host ever and the only thing I really did with most of them was take them to bars and drag them to my derby practice and/or bouts. Having my friends come to visit, though, was amazing because it really did feel like college again. They know me - to be at the point with someone where they will crawl into my bed with me mid-conversation for no reason, or just sit and do work and not have to say anything to fill up the silence, is a level of intimacy that I took for granted in college. I miss it.

Also, I sometimes feel like my existence is swallowed up in derby - like Sophia only exists at work and Pow exists at derby, but there's no Sophia that exists outside of those two things. Being reminded of the non-work Sophia is nice. (Though that being said, that's entirely my fault for being bad at cultivating relationships outside of derby these days). In any case, having friends to remind me that derby is really just a ridiculous hobby and a logical extension of my weirdly aggressive tendencies, rather than the be-all and end-all of my existence, is really lovely and necessary. 

Janice resisting hugs, as usual.

Another nice thing about having guests is that you can use them as an excuse to eat out – and in the case of Donovan, your parents are so happy that you want to spend time with your little brother that they literally offer to bankroll dinner wherever you want to go. So we naturally took advantage of their generosity and ate out at the oyster bar at Union Market (delicious, as always), Komi (probably the best meal I have ever had in my life - I thought it was better than Alinea, actually, but that might be the wine pairings talking), and Blue Duck Tavern (wanted to love it, but was not particularly impressed). And then I went back to eating peasant food.

Other, more recent news: I am moving from my basement apartment in Brookland, with my friend McKenzie from high school, to a gorgeous three-bedroom in NoMa with Saulty and Renae, both of whom were freshmeat with me. This is an especially nice move because it's a lot closer to the Armory and H Street bars and such, while still cutting my commute and being relatively affordable (and being four blocks away from my friend Jordan, yay!). My work is also moving to NoMa next year, which means soon my commute will basically be three blocks. Also, WINDOWS! AMAZING! No more Vitamin D deficiency for this girl!

In Chicago terms, moving from Brookland to NoMa is the rough equivalent of moving from Hyde Park circa 2008 to like, Bridgeport. Which is to say, there’s not a lot of stuff to do where I am now, and there’s more stuff to do where I am going, but there’s still not a lot of stuff to do in comparison to the rest of the city, but it’s near a lot of stuff to do, which is cool with me. Unfortunately, my lease is up June 1, which is... when I'm in Milwaukee. Um, I'll figure it out.

Speaking of figuring things out - the LSAT, law school, all of that? Yeah, the studying for that needs to be happening about nowish if I want to take it in October and apply for fall 2014, but that's not really possible. I'm gradually becoming more confident about my ability to get into the schools I want to go to (applications to law school down 30% = EVERYONE GETS ADMITTED!), but I'm dragging my feet for a few reasons:

1. Law school = debt = responsibility = less derby. I think I can still play, but I think that any kind of travel team is probably not in the cards for me, at least while in law school. Unfortunately, at the moment, I want to keep derbying as much as I can, as long as I can. 
2. I'm putting down roots in DC and I really don't want to leave. If I get into, say, Georgetown, I think I would be happy to stay here, but if I didn't get in but I got into an awesome law school somewhere that wasn't DC and didn't get into Georgetown? I would probably leave to go to Hypothetical Other School, and that would suck. If that's a scenario that happens, I would like to delay it, please.
3. The law market still blows. I'm sort of less concerned about this because I think the issue is sort of a structural problem that isn't going to resolve itself anytime soon and delaying by 1 or 2 years won't make much of a difference. The fact is, however, that I'm aiming to go into an industry that is extremely hostile to new grads, even ones from nice schools, yet dumps a ridiculous amount of debt on them. I think it would be strange not to have some hesitation about that, no matter how much I want to be a lawyer.

The plan was always to head back to law school after 2 years. I don't know why this was my plan, except that 2 years seemed like a good amount of time to blow off steam after undergrad. Thinking about stretching that time is scary. Clearly, it's a problem for Future Sophia. (P.S. That girl is screwed).

Meta Thoughts About Blogging

So obviously, the updates haven't been happening as frequently as I like. I've heard from a number of people who say they enjoy it, but the fact that some people are using it as a source of updates in my life is kind of stressful. As in, if I don't keep up with one person, it's bad enough, but not updating my blog is sort of like not keeping up with EVERYONE. Which doesn't make sense, but that's kind of how it feels to my insane guilt complex. 

I've honestly been writing a decent amount, but I haven't been publishing posts for a few reasons. It's hard to reconcile the difference between things that (a) I want to write about and (b) that I think are fit for public consumption, both in terms of quality and actual content. I think this is mostly due to the fact that, though I would like to pretend otherwise, there is an audience for this blog. Although writing what I want to write about is very therapeutic, I feel like I can’t go into detail about certain things or say things that might be taken a certain way by others. And I’d prefer that this blog didn’t become just a place for recording or recapping bouts and derby trips – although I certainly want to be better about documenting those events.

For example: One of my unpublished blog posts was written when I was especially frustrated with my progress in derby at that particular moment in time. It was therapeutic to get it all out and organize my thoughts in writing, so that I could figure out what I was actually upset about. Still, I didn't publish it because I thought it would be insensitive to write what was essentially a "woe is me, I suck at derby" post when I know I'm not doing poorly for a first-year skater. But sometimes, I do feel that way and I want to be able to express it. Where's the line? What's the point of blogging if you have to censor yourself and what you actually write is just a curated persona? Then again, aren't we all just censored versions of our true selves around others, anyway? What is authenticity? OH GOD HELP.

As for non-derby things, the vast majority of the time, I feel like I'm pretty boring and don’t really feel that I have anything interesting to say. I thought I would have a lot more things to say about culture and politics, but I don’t really have the time to consume them like I used to and I’m usually not as vehement in my opinions when I do. I’m not sure if it’s an effect of leaving college, if I’ve become more tolerant, or if I just don’t care as much because it’s not derby-related. But I think I need to work on the identity of the blog a little more before I can confidently say whether I’ll continue to blog.

I'll leave you with these photos of my 20-year-old brother licking cheese to prevent me from having any.

The more things change...
...the more they stay the same.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Why Obama’s Comment about Kamala Harris’ Looks Is Not Sexist (But Still Problematic)

[Author’s note: So, this is not the epic blog update that I have been picking over for the past couple of weeks. Instead, this is a quick-and-dirty visceral reaction to a recent news event that practically wrote itself after I caught up on all the news from yesterday. Real post to come.]

So yesterday, it was revealed that Obama called Kamala Harris, the California State Attorney General, the “best-looking attorney general in the United States” to a group of wealthy donors. Some in the social media universe and news media called Obama sexist for pointing out her looks, because women are not solely ornamental and Kamala Harris is really good at her job and women should be valued for brains over beauty, etc. etc. etc. There was a big to-do and he eventually apologized to Harris for the distraction that his comment had caused. The full quote:

“You have to be careful to, first of all, say she is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law, and making sure that everybody is getting a fair shake. She also happens to be, by far, the best looking attorney general in the country… It’s true! C’mon!”

Sigh. Oh, Barry.

I don’t think the comment is sexist. To me, sexism is stereotyping or discrimination on the basis of sex, and I don't think Obama's comment falls under that heading at all. I also happen to think Kamala Harris is very beautiful, and anyone who suggests that Obama thinks that her beauty is more paramount than other qualities that make her good at her job clearly didn’t read the full quote. New York Magazine, via NPR, also points out that Obama has commented on the looks of several prominent men, as well. I don’t think mentioning her good looks necessarily reduces the value that she holds as a successful attorney general or as a woman, and I don’t think Obama’s intent was to diminish her abilities, either.

I also think there is also something inescapable about the fact that Harris and Obama are both part-black. I don't necessarily feel like I can speak to that, but I will say that American and/or Western standards of beauty rarely include women of color. For Obama to specifically point out her attractiveness could be a way to challenge those standards (maybe? If you squint?).

Further, in a fundraising setting, politicians make jokes, flatter those they introduce, and will generally say things as if they are amongst friends, so to speak. In a room full of Democratic fundraisers, they know who Kamala Harris is – she’s a rising star of the party. Everyone knows her bio and the fact that she’s very intelligent, which is why they can laugh at the part where he comments on her looks and he has to defend his claim. This isn’t something he would say at a public event, and I think context matters.

Still, I am bothered by the fact that Obama mentioned Harris’ looks in addition to her other, more substantively excellent qualities. To me, this is problematic in three ways.

First, Obama is essentially saying that being good-looking is another bullet point on her list of achievements – another feather in her cap. My response, in all-caps: BEING CONVENTIONALLY ATTRACTIVE IS NOT AN ACCOMPLISHMENT. The fact that her looks are being trumpeted as another positive attribute is a depressing reaffirmation of the importance that society (American, Western, human: take your pick) places on looks. When Obama called Harris brilliant, tough, fair, dedicated, and pretty, which quality took no effort to obtain? Let's celebrate actual work and achievement and not equate it with things that have nothing to do with them.

Second, here is where the feminist perspective comes in: Women already have it tough in the workplace, particularly in male-dominated fields, and specifically when separating job performance from appearance. Obama’s comment tied the two together for Harris. Given that being attractive depends mostly on genes and societal norms and other ridiculousness that nobody has any control over, it should merit zero comment when discussing actual work-related accomplishments or positive attributes. I thought that the discussion of her looks in a comment otherwise focused on her work was borderline disrespectful.

Finally (and this one is maybe a stretch), the type of flattery I read into Obama’s comment was almost a type of surprise: “She’s all those things, AND would you believe she’s attractive too?!”, as if one might not expect someone who is attractive to have such excellent qualities. Once again, that’s problematic: Why is it surprising that she’s attractive in addition to, say, brilliant? Do we expect less of beautiful people? This is the flip side of the same issue, where people who are conventionally attractive might be advantaged in some areas, but also might not taken seriously in a professional context or are somehow automatically thought to be dumb. I know several beautiful, smart women who unfortunately run into that problem frequently; although eventually people get the point that they are incredibly intelligent, it’s a barrier to overcome that shouldn’t exist at all.

In sum: People are judged based on their appearance, and that sucks. Obama (and everyone) should be actively resisting that notion rather than endorsing it, and should know better.

Michelle, go kick his ass.

Stolen from

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A List of Things I Am Grateful For Today

- Barbecue pork with zucchini and rice noodles (above)
- My kickass All-Star teammates
- Good friends who know me well
- Muscle relaxants
- The Mountain Goats
- Ibuprofen
- A family who loves me to the point where it can get annoying
- Cheesecake with homemade blueberry compote
- Not having celiac disease (officially)
- Massage therapists who know what they're doing
- A clean room and apartment
- Gilmore Girls
- The fact that tomorrow is not the inauguration of President Mitt Romney

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Derby, derby, derby...

'Saulty's always crampin' my style. Courtesy of On Tap Magazine.

So, as quickly as it came, the desire to write about my life seems to have abandoned me. But now there are people who bother me about things like keeping up my blog… which is probably a good thing, because feeling accountable to other people has always been a better motivator for me than anything else.

Part of the reason for the lack of posts has probably been the fact that derby has started back up. After going back to look at my schedule since the league break, I’m kind of unsurprised that I haven’t been feeling the introspection as of late. In the past 11 days, I’ve had a total of 3 non-practice days, one of which was supposed to be a practice, but was canceled. And it only gets more intense from here with travel. 

The toughest stretch so far was bouting Saturday in addition to an early-morning All-Stars practice Sunday, both of which were rough. My home team, the DC DemonCats, lost the bout 144-186 against the Cherry Blossom Bombshells, though we fought hard and my teammates are amazing. It was followed up by an incredibly competitive bout between the Majority Whips and Scare Force One. Actual bout recaps are on The Examiner and DCist, with awesome pictures from On Tap Magazine. A bunch of skaters were interviewed by Al Jazeera (!), so I’ll hopefully be able to post that as well. (Sidenote: I am pretty sure that the last few months of being photographed for derby has roughly equaled how much I've been photographed for the rest of my life combined. Holy crap.)

The highlight of the bout for me was my first perfect derby hivemind moment: on the second jam of the bout, our pack successfully held the opposing jammer and, after she was sent off, got a goat and controlled pack speed for the rest of the power jam. I usually come off the track a little pissed that I didn’t do better, but I came off the track and yelled “FUCK YES!” and did some fist-pumping because everyone did exactly what they needed to do. For those two minutes, all four of us in the pack knew just where we needed to be and had the same focus and commitment to getting it done.

I think those smaller moments of perfection are the main reason why I love playing sports. Time slows down and you know precisely what the outcome of the action will be. In soccer, it’s the perfectly-timed assist to your teammate. In ice skating, it’s the powerful, effortless jump takeoff. In lacrosse, it’s getting there a half-step in front of your opponent to snag the interception. There’s nothing to think about, except: YES. This is what it’s supposed to be like. Once we got that wall together, I knew that there was no way the opposing blocker was getting out. That was the first time I’ve experienced that kind of moment with my team in derby, and it was a huge rush.

Unfortunately, the rest of the bout didn’t live up to the awesomeness of that moment, at least for me. I was reasonably happy with my blocking, but I really struggled to get out of the pack as a jammer, mostly because I need to work on my predictability. I also received one forearm penalty while jamming, which sucks, but I didn’t receive any cut-track penalties, which is what I was most paranoid about. Next bout goal: NO PENALTIES WHATSOEVER. Also, winning. Because I would really, really, really like to win.

As for my first full-length All-Stars practice Sunday morning, it was definitely as intense and exhausting as I thought it would be. It doesn’t seem like the All-Stars do drills that are that dramatically different than what we do at league practice, but the difference is in skill and motivation. Every single one of those women knows what they’re doing and is going hard. Although I didn’t get my ass kicked as much as I was afraid I would, it is still abundantly clear that I have a lot to work on: I need to be stronger when teammates brace or push me, I need to make my stride more efficient, and I need to work on my endurance A LOT, among many, many other things.

My main goal for All-Stars right now is to prove to myself that I belong there. Right now, I’m still in the mindset of, “I was watching most of these women on during my lunch break four months ago, and now I’m skating with them? What the hell am I doing here?” I’m trying to get over that feeling, not only for myself, but because being successful in derby requires being confident and fearless. I know I can't be either of those things if I'm intimidated by my own teammates. The solution, as always: work harder.

Bright spot? On Sunday, I did 25 laps of the track in less than 4 minutes for the first time ever! Granted, this was on an incredibly sticky floor – I don’t know that I could replicate that in the Armory, at least not immediately. But this has been a derby goal of mine for a while, so I’m reasonably pleased, especially since it was about 16 seconds faster than my previous best two months ago.

In non-derby-related news? Currently, I'm in a stretch of 3 non-practice days. Even with cross-training, it's felt like an incredible luxury. I'm teleworking right now because the very potential of 5 inches of snow has DC freaked out like no other. Inauguration is coming up and I’m trying to decide whether my love of politics outweighs my fear of cold. My friend Ruby is coming to visit this weekend, which I’m super excited about – she’s an old friend from preschool/high school debate. I’ve been cooking a lot (last week: Yumm bowls, tandoori chicken, mushroom bourguignon, gingersnap cookies, congee, Bolognese, and Korean short ribs. I've named my slow cooker Phyllis). I’m going to a Wizards game at the end of the month with my office. And... yeah, that's about it.

(Sorry, non-derby friends. I did warn you.)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Hello, world.

The view from a new year - Lake Anna in Mineral, VA.

To begin 2013, I decided to start blogging.

I’ve kicked around the idea of blogging before, but I:
   a) didn’t think I would have my shit together enough to blog consistently;
   b) always thought that blogs needed a theme – food, working out, travel, politics – and I didn’t think I’d be interested enough in one theme to continue it;
   c) didn’t think I had anything to contribute that people would want to read; and
   d) wanted my blog to be pretty and organized and awesome but didn’t want to invest the time in making it so.

Then, I realized that most of this didn’t matter and I was just intimidating myself out of doing it, like I do with a lot of things. Generally, I have high expectations for myself and I want whatever I do to be “good,” in my mind (whatever the hell that is). But in order to make something “good,” you have to start first, no matter how imperfect or temporary it might be. I’m increasingly trying to make myself okay with not having everything just so.

There is also the practical consideration that the people I love are scattered all over the world and I am terrible at keeping in touch with them. Hopefully, this is a good way to passively update many people on my life at the same time. (Protip: Anticipated blog topics include roller derby, food, liberal political rants, college nostalgia, roller derby, intense self-criticism, pop culture, early twenties malaise, roller derby, being Chinese, financial regulation, and roller derby.)

However, the main reason I want to write this blog is because I want to remember later what it’s like to be here, now. I feel like college passed by so quickly, and so many things happened in the last year alone: I finished my thesis, I landed my dream job, I finally let go of my first serious relationship, I graduated college, I moved to a new city, I started working, I traveled more than ever before, and I started playing roller derby. Looking back, a lot of it is a blur.

Right now, I feel like I’m between major phases of my life, but have yet to cross over the threshold. I have plans to go to law school in a few years, and I have the impression that law school will send me on a path that has finite options. Even though I very much want to be a lawyer and think I would be good at it, I want to be here for a while longer.  I want to have some kind of record of this in-between time – where I am working at a job that I really like, I have great friends, I enjoy living in DC, I am obsessed with this strange and amazing sport, and my worries and responsibilities are (knock on wood) minimal.

Also, I miss writing. I feel like my non-academic writing muscles have atrophied. I can bang out a 10-page policy analysis with little effort, but the thought of laboring over a piece of writing to make it entertaining or touching or meaningful is kind of scary, even if it’s just for me.

So, naturally, I want to do it. A new year feels like a good time to begin.

2012 was, without a doubt, the craziest year of my life. Bring it on, 2013.