The Pains of Aches

Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, was a real turning point in my life.  That’s the night I decided I would see if I had what it took to become a member of a roller derby team.  I met the people who would coach us, signed the release forms, and strapped on the gear after finding stuff that fit us.

We didn’t do much.  We got on our skates and went around the rink and did a few exercises and introduced ourselves.  I discovered quickly that I was out of shape:  I had to lay down three times because I was getting dizzy due to not breathing.  (Hot Tip:  every kind of physical activity goes better when you breathe.)  But I made it through the evening and resolved to return for practice the following night.

The next day at work I had a couple of people ask me how things went.  I told them I didn’t do as well as I hoped, but it was a good time and I was going back.  Oh, and this:  “I don’t feel that sore.  I thought it would be worse than his.  I shouldn’t have a problem with this.”

That was perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve ever said.

That Wednesday, the 31st of May–that was the real deal.  The Fresh Meat–that’s us, the new kids–had to get out there and actually work out.  Like we were training.  I think the first thing we did was thirty laps for cardio.  I managed like…  five.  And I fell.  Hard.  Actually I fell several times that night and a couple were pretty good wipe outs.

How did I feel at work that next day?

Sore.  Real sore.

Since becoming a HARD Derby Woman there hasn’t been a moment when I haven’t had an ache or pain somewhere on my body.  My shoulders tend to hurt at various times throughout the day, mostly due to throwing my arms out to keep my balance.  I’ve hyperextended by right elbow because of balance issues.  I’ve had some soreness in my hands due to falls.  I hit my chin and nose on the floor when I fell during a game.

The ones that were really bad were the slight groin pull I experienced during the above mentioned game, and then, last Monday the 21st of June, I went down hard and jarred my left hip so bad that my first thought was that it might be broken.  I was actually laying on the ground going “Ouch, ouch, ouch,” because there was a whole lot of pain.  I eventually got up and continued, but the next day I hobbled around work wondering how long I’d need to recover from this injury.

This has all happened in the course of seven practice sessions.  Seven.

Here’s the progress of that Monday night practice.  First, notice how I look like I can’t wait to get out there and kick ass?

Let's see how I look in a couple of hours. #HARD #RollerGirl

A post shared by Cassidy Frazee (@cassidyfrazee) on

 

Yeah, this was me two hours later.  I kicked some ass all right:  my own.  You can see it in my eyes:  I was just dead to the world and ready to get out of there.

I died tonight. #HARD #RollerGirl

A post shared by Cassidy Frazee (@cassidyfrazee) on

 

I’ve discovered quickly that if you train for a sport–and let’s not kid anyone, we are training for a real sport–you are gonna get sore.  You are gonna feel like hell sometimes.  You might not be able to go to sleep because some part of your body is in pain.  You may spend the next day walking around like a 90 year old woman because some joint or joints or the muscles that control those joints were overworked the night before.

As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “It’s always somethin’.”

A couple of days before that Monday practice I even joked about it:

Well, I'm ready for derby practice. 😊

A post shared by Cassidy Frazee (@cassidyfrazee) on

 

This is getting ready for practice?  Sure is.  Because just as you need pads and a helmet and a mouth guard and skates, you need that stuff as well.

Ibuprofen.  These days I take two to four a day to help with minor pain.  I can’t take Aleve because the active ingredient in that, naproxen sodium, can mess up my liver, so ibuprofen is the go-to drug of choice.  A 200 count bottle should be good for three months.  Should.

IcyHot is my liniment of choice.  Some people prefer Bengay, some prefer Tiger Balm, some get totally insane and go right for the Deep Heat.  This last Tuesday and Wednesday I was rubbing IcyHot in my groin to help with the injury there and it seemed to help, though I’m walking funny again today–probably because I skated about sixty laps last night.  I’ll get to that in a bit.

I also have two ice packs that I use to ice down the parts of my body that need it.  Here’s a picture of me around midnight after the 12 June Monday night practice, cooling down my sore shoulders and getting twelve ounces of water:

Even mermaids gotta drink, you know?

 

One night I slept with one of those ice packs strapped to that hyperextended elbow because I couldn’t sleep due to the pain.  After my groin pull on the 14th I jammed one of those in my crotch and rested for about twenty minutes, letting the pain subside.  They’re life savers, y’all.

Now, what about that Kleen Kanteen?  You need that to work out?  Damn right you do.

Even if you’re not working out in a hotbox, you need to keep hydrated so your muscle work properly.  When you’re skating your working out the largest muscle groups in your body:  your thighs, your gluts, and your abdomen, and those muscles need to stay properly hydrated so they can continue breaking down fats and acids into triglycerides, which becomes the energy that powers you body.  When your muscles aren’t hydrated you lose energy and eventually hit a wall–and in the case of skating that last can be a literal thing.

My Kleen Kanteen holds twenty ounces of water and I take two with me to every practice.  And I generally go through both within two hours ’cause you sweat your butt off doing the things we do.  And when I get home I usually fill up that twelve ounce mermaid mug and drink that down after getting out of the shower because I want to make sure I’m well hydrated before going to bed.  I also drink a lot of water throughout the day because staying hydrated is important even if you’re not skating a ton of laps.  It’s not just something you do during workouts:  it’s a constant thing.

I never thought I’d start working out like this at my age.  And I never thought I’d feel all this soreness, either.  But it’s part of training.  It’s part of becoming–dare I say it?–an athlete.  Oh, sure:  you may not think we are, but once you’ve spent some time with us you’ll see it differently.

Maybe you’ll even feel what we feel the next day.

Rolling Away the Years

There’s no one reason I can point to and say, yes, this is why I wanted to try out for roller derby.

It’s a weird sort of relationship I’ve had with the sport. I can remember watching it when I was a kid.  At the time I was between her and a young teen when they used to show matches on the UHF stations in Chicago. At the time the teams were mixed, both men and women, were about as fake as they got. I mean, it was obvious to just about anyone watching that the hits were fake, the falls were stage, and the winds were determined in advance.  My grandmother believed it was only, but I didn’t.

The thing is, I knew that there Had Been something real about the sport years ago.  I’d read stories about things that happened in the 50s and later find pictures, mostly of women who look like they’re having a great time, and often appeared in photos a bit bruised and sometimes bloodied.

To me, a kid who is both sexually and gender confused, it seemed like a lot of fun.

But to the 80s, 90s, and nearly 2000’s it was impossible to do anything concerning the sport.  Reason being: wasn’t quite myself, at least not the self I am today.  I couldn’t even watch Whip It, the ultimate fan girl movie on roller derby, until I could load it up from Amazon and watch it when I had a free afternoon.  In fact, I may do that again this week.

So ever since coming out as myself I’ve had an interest in roller derby, as in actively participating in the sport.  Big problem, however: I’m no longer a young person and my fear was I’d be competing with a lot of people who were in their mid and late 20s.  I don’t have the endurance I once had, I don’t have the agility, and I certainly don’t bounce back from an injury like I use to, so I was somewhat bothered that I’d be a flop.

But what I do have is an understanding that a lot of my past life has been built around failures.  And, frankly, I’m tired of being a failure.  I’m tired of having the same things happen to me again and again, and after failing so many times, you crave for that moment when you can place a check mark in the win column.

Now, because of my association with a certain person during the Clinton campaign, I was aware that there was a derby team in the Harrisburg area.  I also knew that this woman was on the team.  So a couple of times we met I expressed an interest in trying out for the team, which she encouraged.  I mean, she knows my age, so her saying I should come out and see what it’s like, that meant I should.  Of course, my biggest fear was I’d come out looking completely stupid–I even express that sentiment to her in a PM the day of tryouts. She assured me that I should at least give it a shot and if it wasn’t for me, no big deal.  But if it was…

I know. I’ll never find out if it’s for me unless I come out and see if it’s for me.

So that’s what I did: on 30 May, 2017, I got out my leggings, threw on a T-shirt and something like a sports bra, and headed out to the roller rink the Enola, Pennsylvania.  I strapped on protective gear, put on my skates, and got out on the rink–

I’m not gonna lie: I sucked.  I was out of shape; I needed to lay down; I was gasping for air at times; and it was nearly impossible for me to do anything.  But, I stuck with it the best I could.

At least I looked fetching in my gear.

But you know how they say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?  Well, I didn’t die that night, and there was a practice the next evening–a legitimate practice. And if I wanted to continue I needed to show.  So I got myself together, headed out to the rink again, strapped on my gear and got on the rink. And you know what?  I didn’t suck quite as bad.  I did take three hard falls and had to lay down once, but it made it through practice.

Not looking as great after, but I was alive.

I was not only alive but I was sore as hell and had to ice down my right shoulder the next night.  I imagine ibuprofen and ice packs are going to be my friends for some time, as I have decided to continue with this.  I have a month decide if I want to go from pitching in my five dollars every practice to becoming a full-blown, dues paying member and work towards improving my abilities and even getting my own gear.

I’m away in Indiana this week and already I’m feeling a little guilty that I couldn’t hit practice last night.  But will be back next week, and for sure I will show up at Tuesday night and Wednesday night practices.  And the following week I’ll be at the Monday and Wednesday night practices.

And I’m going to keep writing about it, because if there’s one thing I learned it’s that keeping a chronicle your adventures are a good way to remember how you went from zero to hero.  And if I were a certain ginger kid from Cardiff I could imagine an incredibly old spirit telling me that a new chapter of my life had begun, but it was up to me to write that chapter. It was up to me to put in the words that described the experience.

Good thing for me I can do that.

After all, writers are good at starting chapters…

Two and a Half Times a Thousand

This wasn’t supposed to happen for a few weeks, but given that I’ve been putting out as many as four posts a day in the last couple of weeks, it was inevitable that the date was gonna get pushed up.

What am I talking about?  This right here.  Post number two thousand, five hundred, or 2,500 if you prefer.  All in the raw.

Normally I do something special for these posts and I’d actually promised that for this post, but it’s not like I planned anything.  Not like when post 1,000 came up almost three and a half years ago at the end of January, 2014.  There’s a lot that’s happened since that post came out–some of which I’m about to go over.

For one, I didn’t exist.  At least not this way:

Well, hello there!

As much as I spoke of transitioning–or how little I did at that time, which was more the case–I hadn’t actually, really, truly begun the process to actually become Cassidy.  I was working in Harrisburg and was considering walking the walk, but it wasn’t until two months later, 30 March, 2014, that I actually started going out in public.  And it wasn’t until almost another two months later, on my birthday, 2014, by that I actually showed what I looked like:

Remember this crazy bitch?

When people say, “You’re changed,” in this case, I have.  I’m still somewhat surprised when I see pictures of myself back then and realize just how far I’ve really come.

Also, when I took that last picture, I’d learned only a week or so before that my contract with the state–sorry, Commonwealth–of Pennsylvania had been extended another years, so I’d continue living in Harrisburg at least until the middle of 2015.  That was two years ago, and it looks as if I’m here to stay until the “Commonwealth” decides to get ride of me.  Which I hope isn’t for a while ’cause I love living in Harrisburg.  It took 55 years to get here, but I’m finally sorta living the life I was meant to live.

And then there’s the writing.  Anyone remember what I was doing right before post 1,000?  That’s easy to check:

 

(Excerpt from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2013, 2014, by Cassidy Frazee)

 

The dining tables and chair were gone, replaced by large, comfortable reading chairs, love seats, sofas, and even—yes, there were even a few huge beds capable of holding a half dozen students easily, as a couple already were. Scattered around the hall were a few large carpets covered in throw pillows that reminded Kerry of the classroom in Memory’s End where they met with Professor Arrakis. The light was down in the hall, but there were small, brighter spots here and there coming from floor lamps set alongside a few of the large chairs and love seats.

As they entered the hall Kerry took in the relaxed but excited environment.  With each chair, sofa, or bed there was at least one table where one could set snacks, drinks, and various forms of entertainment.  Three girls to his right, sitting on a sofa and an easy chair, were playing cards on a coffee table made of a dark wood.  Another boy was sitting in one of the large chairs reading, a drink sitting upon the end table to his right.  The bed with the six girls had high, narrow tables at what he guessed was the head and the foot of the bed, and while they talked they were also munching on snacks kept in bowls on both tables.

Something caught Kerry’s eye: a group of five kids, three boys and two girls, sitting on the floor around a low, circular table. One of the boys had his tablet at his right and a cardboard screen in front of them, while the students had sheets of paper and dice laid out before them. “Hey, those guys over there are—”

“Oh, look.” Annie tugged on Kerry’s arm and pulled him along.  “There’s the perfect spot.”  She dragged towards a sofa located near the center of the hall, one facing the east wall. It wasn’t alone: there was also a table at each end of the sofa, an easy chair facing north and south, and a low coffee table in the middle of it all. Kerry was surprised no one was already sitting there—then again, there were maybe seventy people in the room and it looked as if there were plenty of empty places remaining.

 

That was the last excerpt I published before I hit post 1,000–it was actually post 998 if you need to know, and you can read it all here.  Yeah, it was the end of the first week of school at the Salem Institute of Greater Learning and Education, better known to all students and readers alike as the School of Salem, and a couple of little witches were off to enjoy the school-wide pajama party known as the Midnight Madness.  Back then I was about 125,000 words into the first novel and it would be another year before that experience came to an end.

And since then?  Well, my kids also made it out of their B Levels and are now about 170,000 words into their C Levels after a little more than ten months of writing.  Yes, it’s true:  I’m writing a bit slower than I did on the last two novels.  At the same time I’ve been busy–

First working on a political campaign:

Back when I believed in better days.

Then I got into protest:

First with all the ladies–

 

Then in support of immigrants and Muslims.

 

And once more with the Science Types.

 

All that political stuff, meeting and marching, takes up time, and I only have so much of that to spread around in a day.  It’s a trend that’s going to continue for a while, no matter what.

As for writing…  In the last couple of years I’ve branched out into writing TV recaps as well, because why not?  It’s not like I have anything else going on, right?  In the last two years I’ve started down that road and it does keep me busy, so much so that sometimes I’m writing more recaps than novel.  Sure, it seems like something that is kind of a pain in the butt for people who are following my writing, but it’s something that I enjoy doing and will likely continue doing for a while more.  Also, exposure–something that could kill me just like on the south flank of Everest, but what the hey?  Gotta take that chance.

Am I ever gonna publish?  Who the hell knows?  Sometimes I even wonder if I’ll get anywhere, but I keep trying.  It never hurts to try and the payoff can be rewarding.

Am I gonna keep blogging?  You know, it seems like every few months I feel like I’m about to kick this sucker away and give it up.  Biggest reason for that is this feeling that I don’t have much to say anymore.  Call it burn out, call it depression, call it for dinner if you like, but that feeling is there.  And yet…  every time I want to walk away I get pulled right back in, just like a certain mafia Don who wanted to quit the biz.  I’m told that I’m doing things that people notice, and while I’m sometimes damned to see what those things are, I’ll trust others to keep me honest.  ‘Cause when you’re too close to the action, you often can’t see the whole picture.

Future then?  Keep on swimming and keep on writing.  Because at this point I don’t know what else to do.  If I didn’t put words to computer paper I’d likely become more feeble and ignorant than I am now, and I don’t need that.  Most of all I can’t quit because that’s killing a dream, and I’ve already had so many dreams die that I can do that to one more.

That leads here, which is where I usually have a quote from Doctor Who, because I’ve done that the last few “special posts” I’ve put up, and it seems like a good thing to do now.  And both quotes go back to what I just said about killing dreams.  We need our dreams, even if we know they will never come to fruition, because when you least expect it, they do come true.  That happened with my move to Harrisburg and my transition:  I never expected the outcome that I live through today, because, as my best friend once told me, how do you know what’s coming tomorrow.  So:

 

“I am and always will be the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes and dreamer of improbable dreams. The wheels are in motion. Done.”  Doctor Who, The Almost People.

 

Keep it real, but at the same time never give up that your hopes and dreams are going to fade before you.  Always hold close to your heart and mind that tomorrow is the day when it all changes for the better and you finally see that dream come true.

At the same time:

 

“Be strong. Even if it breaks your heart.”  Doctor Who, Dark Water.

 

Shit is always gonna keep piling up and there are times when it feels like you’re gonna take that leap over the balcony because you can’t take it anymore.  By now, I know heartbreak, so this is a no-brainer.  It’s not always easy to be strong, but no one else is going to be strong for you, so it falls to each of up to say to hell with it and continue moving on.

Maybe for another thousand blogs posts.

You can never tell.

The Value of Worth

Last night was not a writing night.  It was hardly a watching night, either.  It was more like a “Oh, depression is going to hit your ass right now and slap you around a bit” sort of night.  That’s to say when I returned home about seven PM from a local event, I found it necessary to cry out in frustration and sadness.

Or, as I like to say, Tuesday night.

Depression is a bitch and she’s been showing up a lot of late.  It hasn’t made things easy for a while and a friend with whom I was chatting last night via Facebook PM told me that it seems like I hadn’t been myself for at least two months.  It’s been more like close to a year, but yeah:  since the start of ’17 it’s been a daily struggle to keep on keepin’.  I do my best to keep going, but like last night, you want to lay back and cry out and wonder what the hell you are doing.

So there was a bit of vegetating after this event and it was nearly a couple of hours before I got on the computer.  I knew I wasn’t going to write–I know I have to, but I didn’t have the will to carry through on my actions.  And I really want to start this next section ’cause it’s gonna be good, but you know, depression, that bitch wouldn’t let me.

Therefore, computer.  Mostly email, ’cause I haven’t checked it since leaving work.  And I spot something I’d seen before leaving work:  a message for something LGBT.  I almost deleted it thinking someone was asking for money, but surprise, it was from the Racial Justice Program Coordinator of the Harrisburg YWCA and she wanted to know if I’d be interested in being part of their #ShatteringStereotypes video program they do every month, highlighting a different marginalized community and giving examples of some of the stereotypes we encounter.  It seemed my name was given to them by the same person who had me speak at the LGBT workshop at the start of this month, which meant this woman wanted to speak with me–

Did I say speak?  Actually, they want to do a thirty minutes video interview this afternoon so they can likely find some good quotes to use in their shorter, ten minute video that will come out during Pride Month this June.

There are a lot of times when I really do forget I’m a member of the LGBT community here in The Burg, only because it seems like I have so little interaction with them.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have stories to tell–or hope to offer, for in a way I can offer that to those who have yet to choose the same path upon which I now walk.  As someone in the office told me a few weeks back, perhaps my real calling is to become a mentor and speaker and not only pass along what I know, but encourage others to face the same challenge I did and move forward.

Even when you feel you have no value to offer, it someone finds a way to reminding you that there is worth in your life…