Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Roller Derby, Role Play + Giveaway!

There are so many ways we express our individuality in our yearning to find our voices. We can spend years cowering behind a facade of what society expects of us, creating personae that block us from our authentic selves.

But what if our personae can help us FIND our authentic selves? 

Yes, spoken like a true Drama Therapist and Writer, but tonight my muses are the women of  Roller Derby.*

Over the weekend, I went to my first Roller Derby game in Yonkers. I was invited by the twelve year old daughter of a close friend  - who of course is on the verge of finding many versions of herself in the different mirrors presented to her - it would be her "first" as well.

I imagined that Roller Derby would be the ultimate in female empowerment, and would be a much better mirror for girls than beauty pageants and Barbies.

I was just going to bring my daughter, but my whole family ended up coming - none of them could resist checking out the outrageous costumes and tough grrrl energy.

The Westchester Team, The Back Yard Bullies, were playing against New Jersey's Brick City Bruisers at The Police Athletic League in Yonkers. Each member of the team pays dues and supplies her own equipment. The League solicits donations for insurance, travel expenses and space rental.

The team members range in age from 21 to 51. They are all shapes and sizes, gay and straight,  choosing outrageous and hilarious avatars like Kickin' McNuggitz, CC PsyClone, Leggy Fleming, Ouching Tiger, Molly Throttle, Shiv Asana, Crash Sprawldisplatt, Lil Eve L (some of The Backyard Bullies' names.) They are bad-ass, and there is no one-size-fits all standard of beauty or worthiness. It's for everyone from misfit outsiders to popular cheerleaders and the rink is the great equalizer.

It was a blast. I had a hard time following the game until the last quarter, but no matter. The energy was amazing, the women sublime.

"I wish I was tough enough to do this. I'm a wannabe!" I said gleefully.

"Why couldn't you?" my friend said. "The toughness is just part of the persona."

Okay, maybe in another life, but she's right.

I have a tattoo of a tiger on my back. It's not that I think I am a tiger, but that I know I need that tiger energy in my repertoire.

So I can channel my inner Roller Derby Maven in other aspects of my life.

After all, that's what art is all about, isn't it? Whether we act, paint, write, we're giving voice to another part of ourselves.

Here's my question, and I would lurve to have a dialogue with you folks. Have you ever been to a roller derby or even better, been part of a roller derby team? (If you're on a team, can I pick your brain?)

And how about a little contest? Indulge my roller derby fantasy by coming up with a cool avatar for me - best name by next Monday wins a signed copy of Edges!

Have fun y'all.

* Roller derby is a contact sport played by two teams of five members roller skating in the same direction around a track. Game play consists of a series of short matchups ("jams") in which both teams designate a scoring player (the "jammer") who scores points by lapping members of the opposing team. The teams attempt to assist their own jammer while hindering the opposing jammer — in effect, playing both offense and defense simultaneously. Roller derby is played by more than 1,200 amateur leagues on every inhabited continent.

40 comments:

  1. Never been on a team (wouldn't THAT be funny to see!) and never been to a derby. I did watch WHIP IT with Drew Barrymore, does that count?

    And your name: Dangerous LITasion.

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  2. I'm reading my signed copy of your book now...well, except that I'm typing. Nevertheless, I dub you, "Tiger Balls."

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  3. Coincidentally enough, I went to my first roller derby bout this weekend too--in Philadelphia. Also coincidentally, you were in my hometown of Yonkers! :)

    I thought I knew a little bit about roller derby from the film WHIP IT, but it was very different (and better!) in person, and I was also struck by just how inclusive the teams are and how every type of person was represented on the track, except men, of course.

    The tough thing about roller derby names is that the best ones are already taken, but assuming sky's the limit, I would give you the tough, saucy, and literary derby name "Rough Writer." :P

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    Replies
    1. Next time your in town Eugene, let's hit the Roller Derby circuit. Maybe there's a co-author book for us in the horizon? Rough Writer is awesome! xo

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    2. I love both of these plans!

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    3. There are men's teams, their league is MRDA (Men's Roller Derby Association) and here's a link to a list of their member leagues:
      http://www.mensderbycoalition.com/leagues/
      They are a ton of fun to watch, though I find it easier to follow a women's game, especially if you're new to the sport.

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  4. I'm not a contact sports kind of gal, but I am an ex-runner (and I think I must have been a dancer or a musician in a previous life) so I'm no stranger to the myriad metaphors that creep into my work through that thing called persona. Sounds like the Roller Derby experience really got those creative juices flowing.

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    Replies
    1. My guys love football - I have never been able to follow. But this was really something else!

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  5. Tenacious Tiger(: Probably not the greatest derby name, but then, I've always been bad at names.

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  6. Never been to a derby live, but spent hours in front of the TV as a kid watching it and rooting for my favorite players. How about "Smackdown Sadie." Okay. I know your name isn't Sadie, but what the hell. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Smackdown Sadie is awesome! I've always loved the name Sadie . . .

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  7. How about Mrs. Whatsittoyou, Mrs. Whothehelldoyouthinkyouare, or Mrs. WhichwaydoIgo?

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    Replies
    1. Those have me crying with laughter . . .

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    2. It was fun! Not as much as knocking down tough chicks on wheels, but still fun.

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    3. Probably the greatest thing I've ever read right here1

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    4. Ha ha! When my wife was thinking of a literary derby name for herself, I suggested "Tessa Racked," but a variation of that was already in use!

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  8. I've nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger award, Lena! I know, I know, it's your 2nd in a week. (Mine too!) :)
    http://traceybaptiste.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/blogger-awards/

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    Replies
    1. Thank you my sweet! I would nominate you several times over!

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  9. Hey Lena!
    Love your blog! I play for Suburbia Roller Derby. The Backyard Bullies is my team, but I wasn't playing due to a minor knee injury--I was penalty tracker instead! If you like the names & suffer from insomnia or just need a good laugh, there's an International Registry with all of our names!
    http://www.twoevils.org/rollergirls/

    I like to pick random names and give them to my non-derby friends. Heidi Salami is one of my favorites! ;)
    Thanks for writing about us! And if you ever want to be part of the action but don't want that kind of contact, we're always looking for volunteers at our bouts..!

    ~Satan's Cheerleader #667

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    1. Thank you so much for reading! Next time I come, I'm going to find you and introduce myself - Heidi Salami - *SNORT* Awesomesauce!

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  10. Thanks for coming out to see us! I'm glad you had a great time. Check out our upcoming home team season where you'll find intraleague play all summer long. This is when the individuality really starts to come out. Feel free to pick away at my brain!

    -Legs

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    Replies
    1. Hi Leggy! Thanks so much for inspiring me! I can't wait to pick your brain - can we meet for coffee sometime?

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  11. Lit M’Fuze
    Literati
    Literotti (play on gangster Gotti)
    Laterati (play on Maserati)
    Literhotty (literary hotty)
    Lena On-U
    Tiger Kill-ye (like Tiger Lilly)


    So glad you had fun!!! There are tryouts soon (hint, hint) ;)
    -Reading Rambo, Bullies Coach

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    1. Reading Rambo - perhaps YOU have my favorite name! And I LOVE your suggestions - Literotti and Literhotty . . . hmmmm . . .

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    2. She kicks Clay's Lena Lugnutz. Literhotty is clearly the winner!

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    3. Hey Reading Rambo - you've won a copy of my book, Edges. Send me your deets! Where? lena.roy@gmail.com. I think LiterHottie won, hands down! (It's a wannabe name, remember?)

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  12. Lena, thanks for coming to the bout & writing about roller derby! I'm an official with SRD, and I was jam timing that night. (Blowing the whistle to start each jam and keeping time.)

    As you mentioned, skaters are all shapes & sizes and from all walks of life, and they pay dues to play. It's also worth noting that Suburbia Roller Derby (and the vast majority of other leagues) are 100% owned and operated by the skaters themselves. We're talking everything from marketing to event production to web development to merchandising-- they do it all.

    When we talk about Roller Derby as a vehicle for female empowerment, it goes beyond the strength and athleticism you see on the track. This environment breeds entrepreneurship, teamwork, and community involvement. (Yup, when league members aren't taking care of their own business, they're volunteering at food pantries, cleaning up highways, etc.)

    And the men are in on it, too. Suburbia has male referees and volunteers, and there are men's derby leagues all over the country, with more popping up every day.

    Seriously, how awesome is this? A self-organized, self-motivated, diverse group of people getting together to do something they love and help the community to boot. It's a model I'd like to see emulated in more areas of business and life in general. Wouldn't you?

    I strongly encourage everyone reading to support their local roller derby league by going to a bout (bring friends!), volunteering, sponsoring, or better yet, strapping on some skates and trying out!

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    1. Thank you so much for such thoughtful additions Devilina! You have made me love this even more: "A self-organized, self-motivated, diverse group of people getting together to do something they love and help the community to boot." Yes, yes, yes!

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  13. Hi - my friend Rebecca pointed me to your blog. Thanks for coming to cheer us on - I hope you were ringing your cowbell! As the PR Chair for Suburbia (a volunteer position that takes as much time as a part-time job), would you mind if I shared this with our fans?

    BTW, this year's tryouts will be June 20 at 7pm. We're offering a bootcamp on 6/17 at 10am to show you all the skills you'll need to demonstrate at the tryout. Details: http://suburbiarollerderby.ticketleap.com/bootcamp/

    - Ouch

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    1. Thanks Ouch! I would love it if you shared this! I just followed you guys on Twitter and tweeted . . . Do I dare go to Bootcamp and try out? I am so old and rusty! Maybe I should . . .

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    2. You'll kick yourself if you don't try. If you need a local skate shop, I recommend derbydiva.com.

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  14. It's always great when new fans are born! It's even cooler when new skaters find their way onto the track. Tryouts are the perfect chance for that. I am thankful everyday (even when the squats are burning my thighs like the fires of hell) that I got dragged to tryouts by a great friend who knows me better than I know myself sometimes. Though I truly did earn my name, Crash Sprawldisplat, in those early months (and maybe years), being a part of this team was and is worth every ache, pain and bruise I have proudly sported over the last three years. I would be happy to talk derby with you, or any of your followers, any time. As they say, Roller Derby saved my soul, and I'm more than happy to talk about to anyone who will listen (or might need a little soul saving her or himself)!

    Thanks for putting your experience with Suburbia out there, hopefully this will open the doors for other new fans to reach out and get involved in the Derby world.

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    1. I can't wait to meet you! I will come to a game next month and maybe we can set up a time to meet for coffee! I think I need to be a fan gurl this year - maybe volunteer a little bit. My schedule is CRRAAAAZZZY! (Three kids, I manage a non-profit, teach writing and write myself!)

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