Derby family is a phrase you hear a lot in the derby world. And it’s true. We’re this big crazy family. And it goes beyond your league. Your team, you league, that’s your immediate family. But head out into the world and meet someone from another league? They’re like a second cousin you’ve never met. It’s pretty awesome.

We hosted a clinic last Sunday. It was a very least minute affair. We weren’t sure if anoyone other than our league would turn up. We weren’t sure our league would turn up. But we had girls, and guys, from all over. Some were from River City Dames of Anarchy, who we bouted with last month. (For our first ever bout! We lost! But only by 39 or so. It was awesome! I was an NSO. This needs its own post.) Where was I? Oh yeah. So these ladies came up, a nearly 3 hour drive, at the last minute, because we said we were doing a cool thing (that started at 8 am btw) and wanted them to be there. And it was honestly good to see them. I didn’t get to chat with them as much as I wanted, but I’m glad they made it. And of course our next league over was there. We’re bouting with them on the 30th for our first ever home bout, and it’s going to be awesome. we’ve skated alongside them in a scrimmage, and last week when their practice space was unavailable, and then at the clinic. And it’s never been “omg we’re fraternizing with the enemy.” More like, omg we get to see you guys! I’m looking forward to our bout on the 30th for all kinds of reasons, but part of it is the after party and hanging out with these derby cousins of ours.

Of course, I realize this is a bit Pollyanna of me. there are leagues who share a city and don’t particularly care for each other. There are teams within leagues that don’t get along. Leagues come and go, because derby is hard. Not the skating part. The skating part is probably the easiest bit of it. Wrangling a bunch of amazing, and headstrong women? Organizing league (or even committee) meetings that work best for the largest number of people? Fundraising events, tracking down sponsors, making sure we’re by the book where it counts… that’s all hard. It’s what I call the dark side of derby. The paperwork. Figuring out how to pay taxes. Applying for our non-profit status. I can barely skate and I’d rather do ridiculous endurance drills than deal with the IRS. It’s hard and it’s stressful.

So what’s the point of this? I’m not taking my anti-anxiety/anti-depressant med. And I’m fine. I’m better than I was when I did nothing but stay at home with Mini Furious all day. I’ve got this amazing crazy family who makes my life so much better than it’s been the last couple of years. I’ve got a support system. I’ve still got therapy appointments on the books through early May, but I’m doing so much better. At the end of night, after the anti-Valentine’s dance we held, the guests were mostly gone, and it was just us and I looked around, and people were playing cards, and talking in little groups and laughing, and it was one of those movie perfect moments. After so much time counting the minutes until we could move away from Minnesota, now I’m a bit sad at the thought of leaving. We can’t stay, there aren’t any jobs for us here, and I’m not sure I could take another Minnesota winter. (At least my lungs can’t. I’m relying on my inhaler in a way I never have before. Hell this is the first time in my life I’ve had a like permanent, always with me inhaler.) But when we find out where we’re moving to, I will be finding the local derby team. It won’t be quite the same as my close knit bunch of rookies, but it will still be derby. And that’s a pretty good start.

Nothing like a paint pen to make you question whether you’ve spelled your name right. I’m not super happy with the lettering, but I can live with it. My number on the other hand… Well, there’s a reason it’s not all the way in the picture.  I guess now I have an excuse to go buy a nice big sticker to cover it up.

I am not a Minnesota girl. This will never be a thing for me. Never is this more apparent than when it gets cold. By gets cold, I mean cold by my South Texan standards, not Minnesota standards. The fact that these are two wildly different things is pretty much the crux of my problem with living here. We had our last outside practice on the hockey rink today. It’s getting colder. It’s getting darker earlier. Soon our hockey rink will actually have ice on it. Not exactly conducive to roller derby. But let’s talk about it getting colder. It was about 48 tonight, with the wind chill pulling things down another ten degrees. I knew it had gotten cold, but I hadn’t realized how cold. I really should have been wearing more than leggings, a tshirt, and a hoodie. Really really should have. (But not as bad as Spunky Nugget, who was out there in a skirt with no leggings or tights at all.) It was a little frustrating. Monday night was warmer. Not super warm, but warmER. And I skated, no problem. Tonight, I felt like I was too busy being huddled over for warmth to do anything. I couldn’t get my knees bent, and my fingers were doing that so cold they hurt thing. But I worked on snow plows as best as I could, because I’m still not good enough at them. And then Ida Funk made me skate as fast as I could back and forth. It didn’t feel anywhere near as smooth as it did Monday night. Then I ended practice with one practice double knee fall and didn’t kill myself. Not the worst farewell to the rink, but not exactly what I had in mind.

My knee pads have this super annoying habit of slipping. Usually it’s just the right, but tonight it was both. Very disconcerting, since every time they slipped it left a new line of cold on my leg. When I fell, they were pretty much where they needed to be. I’m goin to tinker with the velcro again. I had sewed on some extra, because there wasn’t enough to close. Now they close, but barely. I want to throw enough on to have a good grip on it and pull it as far over as I can. If I’m still skating come August, and I plan to be, I think I will be investing in some ProDesign custom pads. Possibly before then will be new plates for my skates (Sure Grip Rebels). They’ve got the stock nylon plate on them, and it was creaking ominously by the end of practice. I’m hoping it was just the cold, though. Ooh I just realized that my self-imposed “no using my Gumball stops on the rink” thing is now over! I know they’re meant to be used and a little abused, but I didn’t want to tear them up on our rough concrete.

Last bit of gear news, I need a new bag to haul these pretties around in. I’ve been rocking a duffel bag I got from Wal-Mart ages ago and probably didn’t pay more than twenty bucks for. While it fits my gear fairly well, it obviously wasn’t meant for derby life, as the strap is starting to rip out from the bag. So I need something that will hold size 8 Rebels, my helmet, and triple X 187 pro knee pads. (And then wristguards, elbow pads, and assorted stuff including a first aid kit.) And preferably work as a carry-on, because i’d really like to take my gear with me to Texas at the end of the month, and then to Hawaii when I visit my parents in May. And is cheap. And comes with a unicorn. And rainbows fly out and de-stink my pads before I put them in. Is that too much to ask for?