Friday, 13 May 2011

On Love, Enthusiasm, and Falling on Your Ass

I'm a quitter. I always have been. If I couldn't grasp something quickly, I often abandoned it. It's because of this that I still don't know how to ride a bike or drive a car, though both skills are ones I hope to attain this summer. In high school, I stopped taking Math and Gym as soon as I could, focusing on classes that came easily, like English. Geography remains my greatest and shortest shame from that period. I am not talented at colouring maps and possibly never will be.

I think derby is one of the first activities, if not the very first, that I have loved without being immediately good at.  I fall a lot. I skid. I swear every time I make a mistake. I think that on the track, I resemble nothing so much as a flailing waterfowl in striped socks. Despite that, I haven't quit. And I've considered it. Back when my anxiety was worse, I would literally not be able to get out of the car before practice if I was a mere two minutes late. I missed a lot of practices that way.

The fact of the matter remains that no matter how bruised my thighs are or dented my pride is, I love derby. I love the feel of my wheels rolling under my feet, Hermes-like on my good runs. I love falling and getting up, even when my legs shake underneath me. I love the grace and badassery of the women on the track who are my inspiration and the objects of my occasional fits of jealousy ("Why can't I skate like that?"). Derby has taught me how to love something I am not good at.

It's derby, in some ways, that I have to thank for the possibility that I might actually learn how to ride a bike at the age of twenty-three. Previous attempts have been made, but they were half-hearted. They were made tense by fear. It's only now that I've learned not to be quite so afraid of failure. And that's where the enthusiasm comes in. I don't get a masochistic thrill from making an ass of myself, but I'll do it with gusto. The last few months have in some ways been the process of relearning what I was taught on my first day on skates. I'm still trying to fall correctly and be confident enough to do so with startling frequency, trusting my knee pads to take the worst of it.

This logic won't apply so well behind the steering wheel of a car, mind you, but I have at least until August to think of a better analogy.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

New Skates!

Photo credit to
Today's post is all about new skates. Taking advantage of's spring sale, I got my first pair of brand new skates. They are Riedell 265s, similar to those seen above, though mine have royal blue Flatouts, China Bones REDS bearings and a Suregrip toe-stop.

After giddily unpacking them and attaching my toe snouts (as my landlord repaired my window-ledge and presumably wondered what I was doing with that wrench), I wore them while working on my laptop, in order to get a feel for the boot. Last night, I took them out for a spin, whereupon they punished me brutally. I also did several superman slides without my elbow pads on. That actually wasn't their fault so much.

The wet sock method has been suggested for the purpose of breaking in the skates, but I think I'll just give them time. After several months of skating on a used pair, I want to be as careful with these as possible, with the awareness that derby is brutal on skates anyway. I was skating on an old pair of Riedell Torqs, which are solid skates, but were a bit small for me, with indoor/outdoor wheels. I'm figuring out whether to donate them to the league or keep them as an outdoor pair I don't mind getting banged up. It would be nice to keep them in the family, since they're another player's old skates.

Derby practice is tomorrow night, so I think I'll spend my evening wearing my skates, editing, and occasionally marveling at how well the new bearings roll. It will be very academic.