Sunday, November 25, 2007


Balance, it's something

I wrote that weeks ago and then...things got unbalanced.

I of course strive for balance in my life and diet, and now suddenly I've had to work on balance while standing up on eight wheels of speed. In an effort to work on my stamina for the roller derby try-outs I started practicing on the bike path near my house. It was daunting at first--a very rough and uneven bike path with lots of cracks and possibly deadly detritus like bottle caps, and strange muddy patches here and there. When I started out for the first time I was very tentative. As a kid I roller skated on rougher terrain than this and without ANY protection. Now I was all knee pads and wrist guards but the fear of falling was so great. I tried to avoid the cracks convinced that if a wheel so much as touch one of them I would be sprawled out on the cement. It was slow going and I was tempted to turn around and head home many times. "Just to the next bench," I would tell myself and once there I would set my sights on the next one. In this way I made it half way to the Verrazano Bridge, a satisfying first attempt.

As I turned around and saw the distance I had come, the weight of what now lay before me--all the hurdles I had overcome that I would have to face again pushed down on my poor little shoulders. Should I just unstrap here and walk home? Impossible! Not the right spirit at all. So I gingerly put four wheels in front of four others and set off home. But now the wind was behind me, wind I hadn't really noticed on my way out, but now with it fairly pushing me along and the firm knowledge that I had survived the trip out, I started to skate faster. On my way back I met some of the slow walkers I had passed going out and I imagine I skated around them with fancy little disco boogie trick steps, waved at them and then vanished with just the hot pink blur of my wrist guards left to linger as I moved at the speed just one notch from light.

It was a good first experience but the rough terrain lingered in my head and I haven't been back. Now days when I skate outdoors I do it before work in the basketball court at a park nearer my house. I have found a gentle peace with the Tai Chi practitioners and the rare monkey bar hanger. Parklife in the morning is pretty sweet.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Roller Derby Names

The Gotham Girls make a strong point that roller derby is not all about the fancy outfits and the names and I respect that deeply, but of course I have to think a little about names (outfits come later).

I've noticed that some teams have themes--like the Long Island Roller Rebels and the theme of alcohol (Captain Morgan, Amaretto Sourpuss, Butterscotch Cripple, Bacardi Simone, etc). But the Gotham Girls don't seem to have this trend.

I've also noticed that some names are about speed--for jammers (Snot Rocket, Suzy Hotrod) and others are about fear--for blockers (Surly Temple, Beonslay).

My legal name is Helen which is built for names like Hellen Wheelz, but I figure that one must be taken. So far, after a little consideration, my fast name might be Bat out of Nell or Torando Alli (to reference my Nebraska connection). My scary name could be Death KNell. Today my friend Nathaniel suggested I go with something sarcastic like Nelightful.