Up In the Intervention

If you know me, you know I’ve had some… issues of late.  Issues like no job, an impending divorce, and difficulty certifying with my derby league.  The job thing I’m working on, the divorce will end one day soon, but the derby thing–oi, it’s hanging around my neck like a smelly albatross.

And it’s be slowly driving me nuttier as time goes on.

Over this last Sunday and Monday I was holed up in my apartment unwilling to go anywhere ’cause I’d seen the roster for my team’s first bout of the season–and guess who isn’t on the roster?  Yeah, me.  And the reason why was an inability to do my 27/5.  And I don’t just mean hit a certain time: I mean being unable to skate more than a few laps before giving up on it ’cause I can’t handle it mentally, which translates over into being unable to do it physically.

In the last two and a half months I know I’ve done it all the way through twice, and both those times were last week.  I may have done it one other time, but I can’t remember.  I know there’s a whole lot of times when I didn’t do it: I’d get in like five or six laps then just quit because I simply didn’t have to will or urge to continue.

Last night was no different.  I was in a bad mood when I got to practice.  I had shit tons of anxiety happening and I felt like I was going to meltdown at any moment.  We did our cardio to start and after the first few laps I felt the energy ebbing away.  I mean, I finished cardio, but I wasn’t setting any records.

And then it was time to do my laps and I didn’t want to go.  I wouldn’t even acknowledge that I needed to so then.  It was only after the coach and another skater went to the track did I slink out and line up.  I was getting tips on what to do from one of my former teammates who’s now reffing, but… half the time I was crying whenever I spoke with her.  I was just a mess.  After after about a half-dozen laps I just coasted to a stop and went off to do a little private sobbing.

Oh, but it doesn’t end there.  Nope.

Before we got ready to scrimmage some people wanted to know why I didn’t do my 27/5.  And I was actually telling people I was in a horrible state of mind and that I didn’t have to energy to skate that because I’d considered killing myself over the last two days and the feeling was still with me.  Yes, I was saying this.  Aloud.  Around my teammates, most of whom could hear me.

Yeah, it was a little too much.

So after scrimmage practice–which I got through fine ’cause there’s nothing like skating hard and getting hit to get your mind of suicidal ideation–I degeared and got ready to go home.  One of my coaches came over to discuss Jessica Jones, ’cause I’d posted a couple of great lines from Season 2, and we chatted about that.  But before I could leave…

Let’s back up here for a moment.

One of the positions on the board of directors of the league is league rep.  Their job is to make sure things go smoothly with the players and if there’s an issue brewing with them–like maybe one wants to rip the head of another for some reason–the rep steps in and speaks to the parties.  The current rep is a friend I introduced to derby, so I had some history with her before she was elected.

As I was getting ready to leave she came up and told me we needed to talk.  As in we needed to really talk.  So I suggested we go somewhere close and I could have a drink and something to eat while we talked.

What she told me was this: the league was getting really worried about me.  They were concerned about how crazy I was getting over doing a 27/5, but that was due to their concern about some of the shit I’ve been posting and saying over the last few weeks.  Also, when you’re coming into practice and talking about how hard it was to not die over the weekend–well, you know, your teammates have to step in and stage some kind of intervention.

And that’s what I was getting.

I found out that not only was I wrong about thinking that my league didn’t give a shit about me–something I’d said over the last month or so–but they were worried about my well-being.  People wanted to see me certify and it bothered them that I was unable to cross that last hurdle.  And they were getting worried by all the talk about suicide.  I’d mentioned that I almost didn’t come to practice and I was told that if that had happened, there would have been people checking up on me.

I eventually broke down and cried for about five minutes straight ’cause I was dying inside last night.  I’ve been hurting for a while and closing myself off from people, and it isn’t doing my mind any good. The fact that I was seeing my league and teammates and coaches in all the wrong light was a sign that I was slipping into delusional paranoia brought on by depression, and once you head down that road it’s tough to see straight without having someone point out that you’re losing you shit in a big way.

I felt better when I got home and I feel better today.  I went out for a while and took in the sunlight and ignored the fact that the wind made it colder than it was.  I drove around just to do something besides sit at home and feel bad.  And I had sushi:

 

I’ll likely make another attempt at the 27/5 tomorrow night. If I make it I may play Sunday, I may not.  More than likely I won’t play, but that’s okay because there’s other bouts coming in April and May and I’ll have time to get ready for them.  The important thing to take away here is that I do have people watching my back and they do worry about me.

I mean, I’ve likely always known they were there.

But trying to see them through your own problem?  That’s the problem.

Broken Along the Way

Sometimes progress can be measured by how much we learn, other times it can be measured by how much it changes us.

And sometimes we measure progress by the damage it inflicts upon us.

Last night was another practice.  There was a lot of skating–a whole lot.  There was blocking and hitting and… well, it was pretty much a normal night.

How I look when I’m skating around: I look tired, don’t I?

 

But there were a couple of moments when I thought something “more than tired” was happening.  During one drill I fell and got someone’s skate under my shoulder before I hit the ground.  The shoulder stayed at a different elevation than my body and a lot of pain shot up through my body, which led me to not even go “ouch!” real loud, but to think that I may have dislocated my shoulder.  That wasn’t the case as I was able to start moving it some 30 seconds later, but I did imagine I might need to have it popped back in at some point.

Then we were doing a pace line hitting drill, and first time up my coach laid a great hip check against my left leg.  So good–and hard–that I let out a groan, but I didn’t fall.  When I got home didn’t notice anything, but this morning I spotted a bit of discoloration, and right around noon–

Please don’t mind the extra large belly above my thigh.

 

Yeah, it’s turning all sorts of crazy colors now and there’s just a bit of pain involved with the location.

But that wasn’t the worst.  While we were playing a game where the object is to hit out someone without getting hit out yourself–yes, we play games like this in derby–one of the freshies let out a horrible scream. And kept screaming. Because, it turned out, she’d broken her ankle.  It was so bad we had to call the ambulance to take her to the hospital, where she had surgery this morning and is now resting comfortably.  In fact, as soon as I post this I’m on my way over to visit her at the hospital.

In three months time I’ve seen three broken ankles, one broken wrist, two concussions–one of which I caused by falling on to the head of one of my teammates–two sets of torn ligaments in the ankle, and two badly bruised knees.  Yes, we wear protective gear, but that doesn’t mean people don’t get hurt badly.  As I was walking out last night, one of our refs who used to play with us last season commented to me that she’d hoped to never heard screaming like she heard last night again, as she’d been present during one of the aforementioned broken ankles, which happened during a bout and which I happened to capture on video.  And this ref knows about being hurt, as she was the person who broke her wrist–something that I also happened to catch on video as I was filming the bout.

Yes, I worry about getting hurt, but not enough that it keeps me from hitting another person with my body.  I know: crazy, right?  But this is the sport I choose and this is the risk under which I train and play.

The trick is not to wonder if it’s going to happen to you next time.

Taking Real To the Next Level

Last night was the moment I’ve been anticipating for the last nine months:

For the first time since I started this roller derby experience I was allowed to scrimmage.  Allow me to explain.

See, all the practice I’ve done up to this point has been to get me steady on my feet and be able to skate around fast and sure-footed.  Using a baseball analogy, that part is like A Baseball, where you develop your basic skills.  After that you move on to learning the basics of the game: blocking, jamming, setting up two, three, and four walls, pivoting, bridging, and having an understanding of the rules… all that stuff is AA Baseball, when you are comfortable enough with your basic skills that you can now apply them to the mechanics of the game.  It’s still a learning process, but you’re now moving closer to actually playing.

Last night we as a group of freshies hit AAA Baseball: we’re not quite ready for “The Show”–as baseball players call Major League Baseball–but we’re ready to learn how to actually play by playing, and that’s where scrimmaging comes into play.  You have set ups with full teams.  You have NSOs timing the jams and people in the penalty box.  You have refs ready to call players on rules infractions.

In short, you’re this close to really playing.

After we did cardio we split into two teams: Dark and Light.  I was on Team Dark and we had eight players to Team Light’s nine, but we both had a good cross-section of cleared freshies and vets.  I played blocker the whole night, which was good ’cause that’s what I’ll likely be, though at some point I’d love to work on being a pivot.  I was in the first jam and last jam of the night, and most of the night I went in for one jam, out for one.  There were a couple of times when I played two jams back-to-back, but only one time I can remember that I sat out two jams.

One thing was true: I was pumped up and ready to play.  A couple of my teammates pointed out that I seemed the happiest I’d been in a long time and as I told them, I’d waited nine months for this moment–damn right I was happy.

Was I good?  Not as good as I would have liked.  I spent some time “Blocking the Floor”, which is to say falling down.  Some of the falling down was due to hits, though at least once I tripped over the raised tubing we had set up on the inside line.  Every time I went down, however, I got right back up and chased after the pack and did what I could to stop the other side’s jammer.

I managed a couple of good hits here and there and managed to get out Team Light’s jammer a few times–once by pushing my teammate Ariel Wildfire into the jammer before she could get by.  And right near the end of the night I received my first and only penalty–a stop block, which is to say before I knocked the jammer down–which I did–I stopped skating forward and planted my feet before giving the hit.  That’s a no-no and that’s why the ref called a penalty.  I skated off to serve without saying a word ’cause I knew the moment I threw the block I’d done something wrong.

That was one of the points where I had to play in two jams ’cause about 10 seconds after I sat down in the penalty box the jam was called, which meant my penalty wouldn’t end until 20 seconds into the next jam, after which I was required to go in and play blocker there.  Which I did, jumping right into the action and doing what I could to stop Team Light.  I didn’t think anything of it ’cause I know the rules and how the game should be played, and I did it right.

Needless to say, by the time I got home last night I was pretty pumped.  And pretty sore, too.  I’ve heard from a couple of my teammates and one said she was up most of the night because she was still riding an adrenaline high from the scrimmage.  One said she was sort of down on herself ’cause she didn’t do that well and I reminded her that it was also my first scrimmage, with the biggest difference between us being I waited nine months to get here and she was doing it after six weeks.  It was also nice that a lot of the OG (our name for the vets) and a few of the refs congratulated us on playing hard and not being afraid to get in there and take and dish out hits.

So, how did I look this morning in the aftermath of my first scrimmage.  Well…

 

Yeah, lots of crazy bruising from people holding on to my arms, with a few more bruises on my shoulders and my right thigh that you can’t see.  That’s the nature of the game and I expect to see more bruise come and go over the next month.

I also expect to see my playing improve.

But that’s also part of the game…

Finding Another Road

Yesterday was an interesting day.  It was both good and bad and just like life, you have to take both as they come at you.

Yesterday I met with my HRT doctor, one of the two meetings I have with her every year.  This 7 July will mark four years I’ve been on female hormones and, though it may sound clichéd, that part of my life has been good.  Yes, I have crazy mood swings at times and my depression will get the better of me now and then because estrogens do that to you, but I am woman, hear me roar, and no one’s taking that from me.

I also have boobs, which is a plus.

Therefore, I drove out to New Jersey for my semi-annual visit.  I arrived about 15 minutes before I was supposed to be there because after three and a half years I know my drive times.  We chatted, she asked me the questions she always asks, the told me my labs are “boring”–

And then she told me this would be our last time together.

I sort of suspected that this moment was coming for a while.  I know my doctor hasn’t been in the best of health, and a year ago she sent out a notice that she was about to close her doors before rescinding the comment.  But based upon a few other things I’d read, I didn’t think she’d stay in practice much longer, and that became a reality yesterday.

I was able to hold it together during our visit, but once out in the car and bad on the road I had several crying jags hit me on the way home.  My doctor has been an important part of my life for a few years now and having to say goodbye the way we did–well, it does hurt.  But I can’t begrudge her wanting to step away from her practice: after all, that isn’t about me.

So now I’ll start the task of finding a new doctor, though I likely won’t begin on that for a few weeks.  I’ve got other shit for which I need to deal and I’ll work on getting them out of the way first.  Also, as much as I didn’t mind driving into New Jersey, I’m going to try and find a doctor a little closer to me this time.  I know a lot more now than I did back in 2014, which makes things a lot easier.

One thing that my doctor told me is that she likes my “exercise regime”, which I told her consists of two or three 2 hour practice sessions of derby training every week, an hour to seventy-five minutes at the gym once a week, and a couple of hours of skating on the weekend.  I was proud of the fact that my weight this time was 238 pounds, down 15 from six months ago–though I’m pretty sure that I’ve likely burned off a bit more fat than that–and my blood pressure was 120/78, the lowest it’s been in a long time. That’s all due to skating.

And speaking of which… Monday night we meet the new photographer who’s agreed to shoot us this year and he was out to the rink on this last Monday.  I only showed up in a few shots, and the one below is probably the best.  My teammate Mak the Ripper is on the left and I’m helping her form a blocking wall.  Khara is the teammate behind me, trying to get around our wall with me doing my best to stop her–

By getting in the way with my butt.  (William Fletcher Photography)

 

Yes, the Bootie Block: it’s a blocker’s bread and butter, and the bigger the butt, the better the block.  Fortunately I’m a wide enough girl that the big butt comes with the territory.

Today I’m better.  And it’s warmer outside, though I can sometimes feel a chill come on when the sun dips behind clouds.  I’m in shorts and a tank top right now, resting and enjoying the day–

And, strangely enough, writing to you.

Let’s hope there’s more of this.

Travelin’ By Tunes

Where in the World Was Cassidy Frazee on Sunday evening.  Well, I was in Baltimore.  Why?

Skating, of course.

Actually I wasn’t skating, but a metric shit ton of other women were, as we were all there for a clinic hosted by World Champion Laci Knight of the Angel City Derby Girls, which was the first woman’s flat track derby team and generally considered one of the best leagues in the world.  Since I’d love to become a pivot, I signed up for this clinic back in January and was waiting for the chance to be on the rink with another person from whom I could learn.

Of course I was there to observe only as I’m not certified, but those be the breaks.

So I cut out of The Burg about 4:30 PM (or 16:40 if you are from outside the U.S. and/or happen to be a witch attending a special school in Massachusetts) and drove on down to Baltimore, which put me there right before 6:00/18:00.  This gave me time to grab a bite before getting to the clinic:

Dining on the best the city of Baltimore has to offer.

 

The clinic was fun.  Even though I couldn’t skate I was allowed to stand in the middle of the rink and watch all the craziness going on about me.  I shot video for my time, though I’m not allowed to post any of it here.  We did, however, get a team shot at the end of the night.

 

Yes, that’s Laci’s doing the handstand while still in skates.  I’m over on the right not in skates and wearing my HARD shirt.

One of the things I had with me while traveling is my portable speaker, which I linked to my phone so I could play music from my various YouTube playlists.  The radio in my car doesn’t work, and even if it did, it doesn’t have all the snazzy Bluetooth features that so many vehicles have today.  Therefore I made do the best I can, and this is how I do so.

It’s no secret that I’ve been in a massive funk for a while–at least three months with January being The Month From Hell.  There was a time when music used to alleviate these feelings, but it hasn’t happened in a while. But Sunday afternoon and through to the night–yeah, there were a few magical moments that caught my attention and set my mood to “Yeah, this is Cool.”  And I’d like to share those moments with you, ’cause they’re sharable.

The first song that caught my mood as I was crossing into Maryland while the sun was setting was this: Sukiyaki, which was released in 1963.  Performed by Sakamoto Kyu, the actual title is Ue o Muite Arukō, which translates as “I Look Up As I Walk”.  When it was released in the U.S. it was given the name Sukiyaki because they rightly knew no one who wasn’t Japanese–or at least understood Japanese–would be able to pronounce the title.  This was also the first single from Japan to chart on Billboard, making Sakamoto Kyu the first Asian on the U.S. charts.  This is always been one of my favorite songs and I can remember hearing this as a young kid way back in the day, as they say, and when I need something catchy and soothing, I go here.

 

A point of trivia:  Sakamoto Kyu was aboard Japan Airlines Flight 123 when it suffered cabin decompression, lost its vertical stabilizer (aka, the tail), and crashed on August 12, 1985. 520 people were killed and this remains, to today, the worst single aircraft accident.

The next one came as I was making my way out of Baltimore, specifically as I was heading north along I-695, the Baltimore Beltway, heading into the massive interchange with I-95.  And what played as I rolled down this stretch of highway was Elvis’ Burning Love.  Now, full disclosure: I am not an Elvis person.  I don’t consider him the King of Rock and Roll, and I don’t have a lot of use for the majority of his catalog.  There are, however, a few of his songs that get me going, and this is one of them.  And with the darkness around we on a somewhat empty section of highway, this was the perfect tune to set the tone for my journey home.

 

I stopped off in York to pick up a few food items before continuing home.  Being in York generally means I’m about a half-hour from pulling into the apartment complex, so when I finished up the play list I had going I popped in the next song: the just over eleven minute Elton John epic, Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding.  The album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was the first actual pop/rock album I bought with my own money and it got good and worn out on my turntable, with this opening track getting the most play.

Funeral For a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding is best known for the grandiose opening, which was not recorded by Elton but rather by album’s engineer, David Hentschel, who spend a considerable amount of time on an APR 2500 synthesizer overdubbing track after track to achieve the orchestral effect.  It wasn’t supposed to actually be part of the song, but after Elton heard the playback he told Hentschel to add it to the track.

Mentioning the ARP 2500 allows me to bring up the photo of Phil Dodds, then VP of Engineering at ARP, installing the 2500 used in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I believe this very instrument now resided in a private school for witches…

 

I timed this nearly perfectly: the tune was coming to an end just as I parked my car right around 12:10 AM on Monday morning.  Do I know how to do this, or what?

 

Music hasn’t actually touched me in a while, so it was great that my mindset was such that I felt so good going south to the City of Chicken and Waffles (true, this is where it’s really supposed to have started), enjoyed a skating clinic, and then had a nice time driving back in the darkness.

Let’s hope I have that same feeling today as I head to Jersey to visit with my doctor…