May 8, 2014

Suga's Goodbye Playlist

I have always been the kind of person to apply song lyrics to certain situations. Whether it’s time to party and “Shots” by LMFAO & Lil Jon comes screeching from my mouth or it’s a dreary day and I listen to sad indie music; I’ve always had a playlist to coincide with my mood. When I first started playing Roller Derby there was one lyric that always stood out as my personal viewpoint to derby. This little nugget of gold came from Ani DeFranco’s song Little Plastic Castle, “I wish they could see us now, in leather bras and rubber shorts, like some ridiculous team uniform, for some ridiculous new sport. Quick someone call the girl police, and file a report”. That little snippet always made me smile and think about Roller Derby.

More than 4 years later, I have a whole new playlist for my Roller Derby experience. As some of you may know, Mary Poppin’ Caps and I are moving out of Fort Collins to the big city of Chicago. It was a decision that was not made in haste and leaving our Derby Family was the biggest decision to weigh. Now that the time has come for us to say our final goodbyes (our last bout with FoCo is this weekend at the Mayday Mayhem tournament hosted by Slaughterhouse Derby Girls), the only way I see fit to do so is to share my Goodbye Playlist.

Bye Bye Baby (Baby Goodbye) by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons

The song starts out with Frankie Valli saying “If you hate me after what I say, Can't put it off any longer, I just gotta tell you anyway”. This lyric makes me think of the fact that I literally cannot speak about the move in front of Ms. Eerie Bizness without her either crying or yelling at me. The song follows with the entire band singing, “Bye bye baby, baby goodbye. Bye Bye Baby, don't make me cry”. For obvious reasons, this lyric automatically makes me want to cry. FoCo, please don’t make me cry (ya’ll know I hate crying in public).

Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye  by Steam

Another obvious choice for a goodbye playlist, but this song also reminds me of FoCo specifically. At Wild West this year, Coach Paul had the MicroBruisers watch Remember the Titans before our first bout. It was one of the best bonding experiences I have ever had with FoCo. We joked about what FoCo player would be each character ( Miz was obvious the big guy that sang constantly), and just sat around and enjoyed each others company. Every time I hear this song I will remember The Original Skankster turning to Coach Paul and saying “Sheryl. Sheryl. Sheryl. I. Do. Not. Care” multiple times that weekend.

Cowboy Boots by Macklemore

Everyone knows I love me some Macklemore, especially after our fantastic choreography at the 2013 St. Patty’s Day Parade to Thrift Shop. However, Cowboy Boots is a song in a completely different category than Thrift Shop. Cowboy Boots is a bittersweet song about leaving the ones you love and remembering the good times. Honestly, with a few tweaks this song could easily become an ode to Derby. Switch “kids” to “derby girls”, “city blocks” to “practice space”, “high heels” and “cowboy boots” to “skate boots” and you have a perfect Derby ballad. It’s a song about the nuances of a summer with friends in your city, but could easily be about a season playing roller derby. A few of the lyrics really hit home when I think about leaving, “Hold on to what you were, forget what you're not. The streets were ours that summer, at least those two blocks. Reminisce on those days, I guess that's OK, you wonder why, Some grow up, move on, close the chapter, live separate lives. The twenty-something confusion before the suit and tie. Strangers become mistakes but those mistakes made you feel alive. Hindsight is vibrant, reality: rarely lit. Memory's a collage pasted on to glue that barely sticks. Good Lord, they broke all my shields. Locked bathroom doors, graffiti, and high heels. Until you felt that altitude you don't know how high feels. Party mountain, some don't ever come down from around here. To be young again, I guess it's relative: The camel lights, the whiskey rye, sink into the skin. I fantasize about a second win. Grow a moustache (leg hair?), pick up another bad habit and let the games begin”. There is so much in that verse that I could go into and explain how it pertains to me and my derby experience, but I will let you draw your own conclusions.

Derby came to me during a transitional point in my life: I was finishing up college and trying to find out who I wanted to be. FoCo and the wonderful women of the league taught me so many life lessons that I can’t even begin to describe in this blog post. As I say my goodbyes, there are a few things I need to ask the ladies of FoCo to do for me. Someone needs to sing Disney songs with Miz at practice. Someone needs to say “Hallelu”, “Preach” or “Church” when agreeing with a statement at least once a practice. Someone on the Sirens needs to keep the Fishnet Rink Rash makeup tradition going. And finally, always skate with dignity and grace, and keep your heads up. You ladies mean the world to me and I don’t how I could ever repay you for the lessons you have all taught me.

I would like to finish this blog post in the wise words of Macklemore, “And acquaintances turn to friends, I hope those friends they remember me. Hold the night for ransom as we kidnap the memories.  Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me, Sit around a table and use those years as the centerpiece”.

It bears repeating, “Not sure there is a way to express what you meant to me”.

With all of my love,

Suga Smaxxx

May 1, 2014

Buying Lego's.

Building a house is never easy. It takes months of planning, hard labor, and lots of split decisions along the way. Now imagine pouring the foundation, building the frame, putting in the plumbing and wiring, and finishing the drywall. You've put bricks on half of the house and the second story is partially finished. Oh- and the garage has had the cement poured. It's been months but your almost done, right? Now I'm going to tell you that you built the house wrong, that it was resting on shaky ground, and that you need to tear the whole thing down, move it 6 feet to the right, and start over.

You're psyched, right? I mean, who doesn't want to put in all that extra work night after night when they already have a fine shelter and a thunderstorm is on the way? Now, if you couldn't tell (and I really hope you could), I'm being sarcastic. No one wants to tear down all the work they've done when they've got a perfectly good fireplace and all of their teddy bears are already placed in their room right alongside their unicorn alarm clock. Rebuilding takes work and it's not always a sure thing. What if you tear down the house and the construction crew stops showing up? What if it snows and delays your plans to pour the concrete? Nothing is guaranteed, which is why rebuilding is so hard, but so important.

Just in case you drifted off during the first two paragraphs, yes, this is still a post about roller derby. Derby is never consistent; rules change, players leave for a variety of reasons, people no longer have the time or means to travel, or committee work takes over, and it seems like our league is always in a state of flux where our player pool is always changing. We knew we needed to change some things in order to accommodate this ever changing sport, so we decided that we were going to do something things a little bit differently this season. This year we got something we'd never really had before- an actual coach who's invested in us and ready to start winning. We started doing fitness requirements to get our ladies to start working out outside of derby. We started doing a more intense off-skates warm up. We started formulating and implementing new strategy. We brought in a nutritionist to teach us about healthy eating for our active bodies. We started honing in on specific skills that would give us an edge on the track, and we stopped allowing people to feel entitled to their position simply because they had been around a long time. These were hard changes to make or implement; some people felt picked on or that the work load would be too much for them. Some of us just felt shaken up, worried that everything we had built was going to be tossed in the garbage. It was definitely a massive culture and attitude change, but when we all packed our bags and headed to the Wild West Showdown in March, not one player felt like they hadn't earned their spot on the team. We had all put in the sweat, tears, long nights, and burning muscles to get there, and because we all knew we had earned it, we felt more like a team than ever before.

I came to realize that some people were not willing to rebuild our foundation. Whether it be impatience, an unwillingness to be challenged, or just that they needed a more competitive platform, it was hard losing these valuable players. That being said, I would do it all over again. We're not finished, not even by a long shot, but we've torn down the old structure and we're slowly and steadily rebuilding to have a more solid future. Even though it's thoroughly depressing to stand and look down upon an empty hole where you once had your house, we're building this brick by brick and bolt by bolt in order to stay steady when we lose skaters to anything from pregnancy to career changes. We want out team to remain strong even when we only have 8 skaters to play an entire bout with. So, if your team or your heart is facing the old dilemma of where you want to be with roller derby, just ask yourself:

Do you want to right the ship, or do you want to build a new one?


The Original Skankster