Pieces in Progress

Just in case you guys don't already know this, since I'm working on a book for Oni in the background and I can't give you guys comics EVERY day (just Tue-Thu for Bonnie and Wed for my travel journal comic, which ain't too shabby!), I post a lot of my work in progress on my Instagrammers and Tumblrrrs pages. I'm always down for comments and questions on my process, tools, plans, whatevs! So feel free to chat.

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... the small victories. The time here when you managed to not fall down when that notorious blocker slammed into you. The time there when you passed someone you've never passed before while jamming. The time when you finally figured out what was going on while scrimmaging. The time when you were able to do skate lunges on BOTH legs down the rink (ok ... that's me-specific since my right leg usually gives out on me). So much of derby is big and bold and fast and in-your-face that it's easy to forget all the little steps it takes to get better and better at it. Every once and a while you realize you've figured something out that hasn't occurred to you before, or even better - when you do something on instinct that you remember purposefully practicing over and over again. Those are the little, teeny, impressively important small victories you really have to hang on to when you're in training. I keep forgetting it's not my job to compare myself to other players, their styles, their skills. I need to keep track of what I've actually done and where I need to go. It's good to selfishly focus on your own improvement during practice so that when you're out there with your team - you're thinking of nothing else but them.

And little by little, you'll see the game start to open up and make sense to you. It will no longer seem like a chaotic mess of limbs when all you're thinking about is staying alive. Suddenly you can see - "oh hey there's a jammer in there" and "oh yeah, I need to be playing defense at this particular moment". The sport will suddenly make sense to you, and that's the moment when you'll forget all the frustration it's taken to get there and realize you are now a part of it and you now belong.

This roller derby is no longer their derby -- it's now your derby too.

Ouchie ow wow

My legs are revolting against me. My inner thighs sear with ripped pain every time I go down stairs or go up stairs or take a step. And sitting down to go to the bathroom? That's the worst. Yes - this is what speed skating class does to me. The first hour of off-skates lower body exercises, sprinkled with random heart-pumping strength training, tire me out. Then I'm expected to pull on my pads over my pre-sweatied skin to begin skating for an hour straight. My legs all a-jello, my technique non-existent, I do my best to stay mobile and not give up. For a while, I stay in the "vets" line, pushing myself to keep up and feeling heartbroken the second I lagged behind and a vet scolds me. I get water, stretch my cramping feet, and then skate around the track by myself, behind the vet line, still participating but by alone in my slowness. If I start to get too sedentary, I rejoin the vet line, push myself, and then slip away before I get too frustrated and discouraged. When Fresh Meat are around, I join the Fresh Meat line, so I can continue at a pace and feel more like I belong. I tell myself I'll push myself and try the vets line at least once every practice. Sometimes it works, sometimes I defeat myself before I make it to the vets line, and head straight for the Fresh Meat line. There's no shame in this line, but I decide that I need to feel shame about it anyway.

Why do I participate in the speed skating session? Because I need to get faster, damnit! I've got what amounts to be the opposite of the skater's physique - I'm long and skinny and klutzy and have unwieldy limbs. If I can't bend my limbs to my will and get them to distract other skaters, I'm done for. If I can't dodge and fake and take off at lightspeed, then I'll be forced to continue with my current routine of getting knocked down, popping up, getting knocked down, etc., until I'm too exhausted to care anymore.

Therefore I've decided that speed skating = good. What's even better? Muscles that ache to that Nth degree that tell you that you're on to something. If you can get used to this shit, you're really getting somewhere.