Hi, I'm Meg.

My online journal.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Is this how this goes again?

Another three years, another massive swath of life changes.

And yet, nothing's changed. I'm still married. Still residing at the ol' 1619. Still have the two most amazing kids God ever created.

My last roller derby game was in November 2015, almost a year ago. In December I was offered a spot in the St. Paul Fire Academy, something I'd been working toward for a couple years. I quit my jobs at St. Pascal's (I had quit the newspaper and Old Man Energy the previous spring) and cut back my dance teaching, and started the academy at the end of January.

It didn't go very well. I'd have good days, where I felt like I was in the right place... and a lot of bad days. It's too painful to write about in detail, even four months after it ended, but basically it came down to, I couldn't complete the final physical test fast enough. Upper-body strength was all that mattered -- not personality, work ethic, or passing the written tests.

I feel like it's for the best... but the truth is I'm still angry and hurt about it. I'm still processing what went wrong.

I'm glad I'm sleeping in my own bed every night. I'm glad to have every evening, weekend, and holiday with my family. I'm relieved I don't have to put my life in danger. I can't imagine having to maintain the level of fitness that was expected and I'm glad my current job doesn't depend on me keeping up that freakish level of strength. I'm glad not to be wearing and maintaining heavy, wet gear and breathing diesel fumes and listening to blaring sirens all day.

So I'm back in an office job. I'm happy but tired a lot. I like what I do and the people I work with are fine. I'm lucky to be in a flexible, pretty awesome environment where I'm not micromanaged. They let me work from home when my kids are sick. We have beer on Friday afternoons. I get to work out at lunch.

Joel changed jobs too, after 15 years at Securian. Lucy's in middle school this year, at a new school across town. Everything has changed - and nothing is changed. Dust still collects on the ledge above the bathroom sink. I still bite my nails and wash my face with baby soap. All four of us still leave our belongings all over the house. Life goes on. And so, evidently, does this blog. More to come! Maybe!

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Well, it seems as though the mystery-illness I thought I might be coming down with was instead just a whopper of a migraine. 600 mg ibuprofen and 2 hours later, though, and I'm practically good as new.

Joel has passed his skills testing and is officially a member of Minnesota Men's Roller Derby! He hasn't been drafted to a team yet, but has practice 3 nights per week (sadly, at the same times as MNRG practices). He's excited, but this is a weird change to our routine. For the next month, HE will be the one going to practice 3 nights per week, while I'll be the one in charge of the kids' bedtime routine and evening activities.

Once my leave-of-absence (LOA) is over, he and I will alternate practice dates -- so for example, he'll go on Sunday, I'll get Tuesday, he'll go Thursday and then I will go the next Sunday. This is because each of our leagues require 50% attendance in order to bout. The difference is that MY league actually has bouts scheduled, and for the moment his does not, so I might get some kind of priority when it comes down to it.

This is hard. I've been involved with derby now for 2.5 years, putting in a year on the rec league (only 1 day per week), going through tryouts and 3-day-per-week boot camp, then one full season during which I had extremely high attendance, then all-star tryouts and practice all spring and summer. I rarely miss practice and I felt like I was able to learn and improve quickly simply by showing up so frequently.

Having to drop down to 50% attendance is going to be a bummer, certainly. Though maybe playing less will give my body more time to recover, and I'll be less likely to be injured (assuming I make time to exercise outside of practice, which I'd like to continue to do).

And I'm so happy for Joel. Derby has had such a positive effect on my mental state, and on our relationship, and I'm so pleased to see him regularly DOING something active with other men. He is a very bad friend who makes no effort to hang out with his guy friends (and I realize this is a near-universal thing with men). I want him to experience being part of a team -- though he's played baseball, softball, and basketball in the past, I think there's far more camaraderie when you see each other 3x per week for intense practices, rather than once a week for a one-hour game.

So we are in a weird limbo now, where I'm on LOA and he is able to really throw himself into the sport. There's no need or reason -- other than fun, keeping up on (light) skating, and seeing my teammates -- for me to attend practices these days. I had arbitrarily set my return date for Feb. 1, but I'm thinking I might push it later in order to give Joel more time with his league. Truly, my doctor said my bone wouldn't be fully healed until the end of February anyway, and suggested I wait until April before I return to full contact, so taking another month off might not be so bad. I can skate at the RollerDome one night per week so I'm not so terribly far behind when I do return.

Today started out well -- I had a St. Pascal's rehearsal in the morning and then took a Spinning class before meeting up with Julia, Sherry, Laura, and Laska at Julia's house. We met a couple of Julia's other friends, Fatima and Angela, and we had some lovely mom-time together until my headache started creeping. I went home and napped for an hour, foolishly waiting 'til 4pm to take my ibuprofen, at which point I needed another 90 minutes' rest for it to kick in. Fortunately Joel was game enough to pull dinner together. The kids were absolute angels, reading and generally being their awesome selves up until bedtime. Joel considered skipping his practice -- which makes me a LITTLE ANGRY though I do know what it's like to be exhausted from a long day and have to get in the car and drive across town and do something even more exhausting (also it's raining in January, which doesn't really bode well for safety on the roads). But he decided to go and I think I might grab some ice cream and put on a movie.

Tomorrow's Friday, payday, thank goodness -- I forgot to budget our grocery money properly and it's been Pantry Roulette (my favorite game! Just kidding -- nobody like dinner EVER!!) all week. I actually super-lucked-out, finding packages of salmon and chicken in the basement freezer -- otherwise it was going to be Ants on a Log for supper. Yikes.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Tuesday afternoon

One of those days when I have to wear ALL THE HATS.

Got up early and helped scuttle the kids together so we could get to my Pirates rehearsal at St. Pascal's by 8:15. I dropped them at school at 9:22 and headed up to Shoreview to teach a ballet class to 13 new-and-familiar little ones. Back to Dayton's Bluff by noon for a Forum meeting, then back home where I've been answering rollergirl emails and prepping for dinner and doing housewifey things like laundry.

It can be really tough keeping track of all these different things. I talked on the phone with Sherry and our lives overlap in so many ways it is entirely mind-boggling. We liken ourselves to ferrets when we try to have a conversation, and it's a wonder we get anything accomplished.

Kids will be home in 20, so I'm going to knuckle down and do some things until they're here.

Tomorrow is a much-quieter day, though, with nothing on the docket until evening, hooray. I am learning to value some down-time.

Sunday, January 06, 2013


I guess I never mentioned that I broke my collarbone on October 14. I had, after 6 long weeks, gone back to full-contact after my right-shoulder separation. I had been good and it had been hard, missing Regionals and the first 2 bouts of the season -- but I felt strong and ready to go back. I'd lightly-scrimmaged at 1 or 2 practices, and the Bombshells had a weekend trip planned to Bemidji (which, from now on, will be known as The Place that Shall Not Be Named).

I wasn't going to play, but I was feeling good, and I felt like maybe I'd been silly to take so much time off, and I was REALLY READY for my season to finally start. I thought this would be a fun, light-hearted scrimmage with a not-super-skilled team. D asked if I'd jam, and of course I jumped at the chance.

There were some early indicators that things weren't going right. There was some confusion about the PTSNBN team wanting to run it just like a WFTDA-sanctioned bout. I left my mouthguard at home and borrowed one from Buzz. The floor was so horribly, incredibly slippery that I spent the entire first half just saying to myself "this will be over in 30 minutes and then you can go back to playing regular, real roller derby on our regular, real surface." A few jams into the second half, I got lead jammer (FINALLY -- it was not anything like a fun, easy bout) and called off the jam at turn 4. After the whistle, an opposing player completely laid me out. I went to fall and -- Lord knows why -- thought I was a running back with full football pads on, and rolled and landed on my left shoulder. Heard a crack, felt something bad, swore a lot. EMTs thought it might be my head. Uh... or my rotator cuff. I reached up to touch where it hurt and felt my collarbone in pieces. Chad Rough, bless his sweet, wonderful soul, took me to the ER where the medical staff, bereft of human compassion or anything remotely resembling bedside manner, left me for hours without clothes, a blanket, sling for my arm, pain medication, or even water. I cried many air-tears in my dehydrated and hysterical state.

Let's just fast-forward to me returning home and having surgery 5 days later to pull the pieces back together, with help from the sweet, good, competent (and polar opposite of TPTSNBN hospital staff) people at Summit Orthopedics. It's now 2.5 months later and I seem to be recovering nicely.

I have to say the rest from derby has been a blessing. I had been feeling like my life was spiraling a bit out of control, and the break forced me to rest and reevaluate. I was overwhelmed by the support and assistance offered by my family, friends, and teammates. I missed 2 weeks of teaching, but I'm back and things are good. I've had some lovely and much-needed hours with my family. I'm not taking myself so seriously.

I could write a ton more, really. There was a weird coincidence of the 14s in 2012: Olive was born on March 14; Ellen and Eric married on Sept 14; I broke my collarbone on Oct 14; Ellen and Eric's apartment burned down on Nov 14; and the horrible Sandy Hook shooting was Dec 14 (which is also Jean's birthday). We are all a little nervous about Jan 14. I don't really believe in the supernatural, but it is truly an odd series of events.

Joel should be coming home soon -- he took his WFTDA test(s) today in hopes of soon being drafted to one of the teams on the men's league. I'm sure he was going to pass the skating portion, at least.

I start 3 new dance classes in the morning and I'm a little nervous. I think I just need to get to bed and do my last bit of prep in the morning. Adieu --

Saturday, January 05, 2013


Practice Thursday night in the concourse was really great. I love concourse practices -- possibly because what I really love is racing and skating fast and endurance, and possibly I shouldn't be playing a full-contact sport at all. But I digress.

The All-Star mixer was very much like a regular All-Star practice. Regular warmup (which I modified based on my no-jumping restrictions), paceline work (I did the weaving but not the whipping, to avoid stress on my arm), agility (too much jumping/falling risk, so I sat out everything except the backward-weaving) and scrimmagey-drills (sat out entirely). Home-team practice had started by then, anyway, so some Bombshells and I did some endurance stuff until the All-Stars (and hopefuls) joined us. In all, it felt so great to connect with many skating friends again and see so many faces. It felt like being home again.

I got to the gym Thursday AND Friday, doing some spinning, elliptical, kickboard and Bosu ball balancey stuff. I had a nice visit with Sherry, a lovely conversation with Jean, and we've had some nice family dinners and games. This morning after breakfast and Skyping with my folks, it got really quiet in here and I found both kids curled up in the living room, reading silently. Such a blessing to have such readers. They make up the weirdest little routines together and get such a kick out of one another. We are so lucky.

Saturday morning

It's Saturday morning in the Gronau home. Another bright, sunny, cold winter morning -- I don't mind winter too much when it's sunny and I don't have to go anywhere.

Joel went off to have a skating lesson at the Roller Garden in St. Louis Park. He takes his WFTDA (er, MFTDA?) test tomorrow -- skating and possibly a written test (he is SO BAD WITH DETAILS, I swear) -- and he is really nervous. I don't think he has anything to worry about with the skating portion, because it seems like his skills are up to par. He is anxious about the snowplow stop. And he SHOULD be worried about the written test, because he is a dreadful multiple-choice-guesser. Also because he has scarcely glanced at the new rules.

Lucy and Ed are playing with Lincoln Logs in their room and now they are pretending their house burned down. I had a weird dream last night in which someone was shot (by police, I think) right outside our house. Joel and I had watched "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" last night and it destroyed us both -- we were both pretty much sobbing for the last 20 minutes or so. The movie struck me in a few different ways:

1. There was a line at the end:  "I'm even glad to have my disappointment. Which is much better than having nothing." I've been feeling disappointment a lot lately, and I've been having a hard time being grateful for it (or even acknowledging "disappointment" as a THING and not just a residual, intangible, passing cloud).

2. We truly never know what's going on inside other people's hearts. We seldom hear about the Big Things people are carrying around with them and living with and thinking about every day. And once you realize that everyone is the star, the title character, of their own lives, and not just a walk-through/bit part in YOUR life -- once you realize that everyone is a human being, neither good nor bad, but capable of doing and saying things that can build up or tear down -- the easier it is to wrap your mind around differences of opinion and policy. My friend Sherry wrote on Facebook the other day: "...the more people you know and like, the less likely you are to hate anyone." It reminds me of that inspirational quote: "Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle (or, "carrying a heavy burden")." They are. We are. I am. Could we all try to love one another, even in their (and our) flawed, hurting spaces? If we all just thought the word "love" before ever replying or reacting -- how would our world be different?

3. If I say more than this, I think it would be a spoiler, so: I love Sandra Bullock. And I loved what the story did with her character.

OK Lucy's clamoring for peanut-butter toast (and it's time for 2nd breakfast for me) so I'm out. More later!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Snow globes and nostalgia

I like it when people remind me to look outside when it's snowing -- because it does look like a snow globe out there. I don't generally care for winter, but it sure is beautiful.

Just dropped the kids off at school for their first day back after break. People complain about the schedule being silly, but I think it's smart to have them go back just for 2 days before tossing a whole week at 'em. It's nice to get them out of the house, certainly.

This morning we had a rehearsal at St. Pascal's for Pirates the musical. I got to meet Emma, my co-director, and she seems lovely. Plus she looks like the Little Mermaid. I think I am really going to enjoy the morning rehearsals -- the kids are subdued and it's only an hour. We did a whole-script read-through and I think it went well. The kids are cute.

Last night I was able to hit the RollerDome for a couple of hours with Stompy and Shug. It wasn't the most killer of workouts but it was nice to skate. I will have to remember to take it easy now that I am feeling better. All-Star tryouts are next week and while I don't technically have to try out (because I won't be able to scrimmage until after the NEXT round of tryouts in April), I'm going to go do what I can. The next few practices are in the concourse which is great because there's typically very little hitting and no scrimmaging -- I just have to remember that I'm really not supposed to be doing jumping or juking yet. RECOVERING FROM INJURY IS SO HARD.

We swung by Grumpy's after the Dome last night and I don't know what it is but something about that place reminds me of derby. In a good, nostalgic way -- like, back in the day when Debs was just starting and we were all just learning together and I had no expectations and derby hadn't broken my heart and body yet. Isn't it weird how a place can remind you of an old feeling like that?

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

I guess I made a new year resolution.

I love the idea of going back, 20 or 40 years from now, and reading what was going on in my life. But guess what? There's no magical journaling fairy that's going to do that for me. And like choosing to exercise and eat healthful foods and put money in savings in hopes of having better long-term life-quality, if this is something I want then I'm going to have to work for it.

Yesterday was January 1, 2013. I'd left Joel alone on NYE for the first time in our 15 years together, and ventured into downtown Minneapolis with Buzz, meeting up with BOoM, Rita, D, Chad, Trudy, Juke and Leethal for some New Year's fun. It was OK. The drag show was, honestly, a bit of a drag (it just doesn't seem like they're putting much effort into anything except their outfits, which were certifiably fabulous). Buzz and I cut out around 1:30 or so, and ran into a dreadful coat-check situation (a messy line with lots of sad, solo, drunk gay men butting in front of the rest of us, punctuated by one cat fight and having some laughs with the girls behind us, one of whom lamented the difficulty of being an African-American lesbian who loves show tunes. You learn something new every day). I got home at 3am on the nose, and despite only having 4 drinks all night, feeling rotten all day yesterday.

Which was fine, really, because all Joel wanted to do was watch movies with the kids all day. We tackled the 2000 John Malkovitch-and-Gerard Depardieu version of Les Miserables (which wasn't bad at all) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which, it turns out, I'd never seen.

We took down all the Christmas decos except the tree proper, which unfortunately leaves my cleaning-plans in a bit of limbo until Joel can get the tree and the bins out of the living room -- I hope after he gets home from work tonight. We had Red Robin Salad for dinner and the kids ate a truly-astounding amount of food.

Happy 2013!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Autumn of my discontent

Things have taken a strange turn for me lately. I traveled with the All-Stars out to the Pacific Northwest during the last weekend of August. Part of me wants to add more detail about the trip, because it was ... eventful ... but I'll cut to the end for now.

With only about 3 minutes left in the last game of the weekend, vs. Seattle's Rat City, I went in to jam. I cleared the pack just feet behind Missile America, Rat City's jammer. She's "normal derby size," I'm told -- easily 5'10" and strong. She looked at me over her left shoulder and cut HARD left to try to knock me out so she could go score some points. I realized this and dropped my right shoulder to counter her hit and, with luck, stay on my feet.

The pain as our shoulders met was instantaneous and excruciating. Something was horribly wrong with my shoulder, and I felt a second pop as I continued to skate around the track. She scored three quick points and called off the jam, and I immediately got some ice and attention from the trainer. It was going to be my last jam of the game anyway, which was a small mercy after a very disappointing three pitiful jams against Portland's Rose City two days earlier.

We flew home that night and in the morning I saw a doctor and got some x-rays. My right AC joint (the bony part of my shoulder that sticks up) is sprained or separated, but not broken or dislocated.

It's been three weeks. I have got most of my mobility back -- though it's still really stiff in the morning (particularly if I've exercised the night before) and though I can still feel some tightness most of the time, at least now I can wash my hair and do most household tasks without too much pain. Brushing my teeth and other small, vigorous, and/or repetitive activities in front of me -- those are still difficult. And putting weight on my right arm while it's behind me (like, to shift myself over on a couch, for example), still hurts.

I missed the first MNRG bout of the season, and I didn't go to Regionals with my team. These things were hugely disappointing. I've been going to practice, but not doing any contact or scrimmaging -- and unfortunately, 90% of practice is contact and scrimmaging. It is roller derby, after all.

I've been getting some physical therapy and I got a shoulder pad that I thought would help. Unfortunately it only protects against hits coming from the front. And in derby, I'm afraid that it's all the side-jostling that's really going to aggravate it. I took one side-shoulder hit at practice last night -- and it was a completely-incidental, not-even-hard one -- and the pain scared me enough not to want to try it again.

Now, it's only been 3 weeks. Six weeks will take me up to the next bout, on October 6. I'm not hopeful about skating then. It's absolutely killing me.

Yet life goes on. My baby sister Ellen got married last weekend at a lovely old barn in Illinois, and we had a wonderful time. We love her new husband, and we had a great trip. All my dance classes are starting up, too. I've had to cancel some due to low enrollment, but I think I'm teaching about 11 classes per week. I'm still editing the newspaper, and I'm working on a kids' version of Seussical. Lucy will be in a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and she and Eddie are both playing soccer and piano.

So it's not like I don't have anything else going on. Ah, well. Maybe more tomorrow.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday afternoon

Hi again!
Today is sort of my favorite kind of day. Kids had swimming in the morning, then swung by a dear friend's house with ice cream to celebrate her GETTING DRAFTED TO MNRG!!! It's not too hot, the kids and I ate a decent lunch, and now they are playing together incredibly nicely. Enough to make a mama want to grab a glass of wine and a Sudoku and do some happy deep-breathing.

Joel and the kids and I had a fabulous Saturday. The weather was near-perfect and after sleeping late-ish, I dashed over to Minnehaha Falls to run some stairs with a teammate and our coach. The stairway we run has about 130 steps, and we did it 14 times: stepping on each step, skipping steps, sideways/crossover, two-foot jumping, one-foot jumping... you name it. It was brutal and wonderful. In the afternoon we Gronaus worked on our outdoor projects, finishing the brick patio and a small set of steps, and making some more headway on the retaining wall. The yard is starting to look very nice and, we hope, will require less fussy maintenance (like mowing/weed-whipping around weird rocky hills and contours that we cannot be bothered to do) next summer.

Yesterday my team, the Atomic Bombshells, was supposed to go tubing down a local river -- and then it was 60 degrees and cloudy. So we met at our captain's house, sat around and ate and drank and caught up for a few hours. It was really lovely. Afterward two of my teammates came back to my house and we played our guitars for an hour before I had to go to practice.

While I was at practice, the MNRG home team captains were busy drafting this year's class of rookies. I was incredibly nervous and hopeful about my friends being drafted. So practice was OK. There were nine of us there, a very small crew, but we did some good drills and trainingy things. We have this new scrimmagey drill that we do that I pretty much hate -- and after last night I realized I needed to change my attitude. After every jam I was feeling depressed, ineffective, and stupid. A couple weeks ago when that was happening, a teammate encouraged me to look at the other people I was playing with. Getting out of my own head, and being aware of my surroundings and the bigger picture. I forgot about that last night. I also forgot one of the things from The Mental Edge: "If you do what you've always done, you'll get the results you've always gotten." Well, clearly with these drills I am doing something the same over and over again, and getting the same results. Since I can't see what it is physically, perhaps I can start by changing my mental state a bit.

At the end of practice I found out that many of my friends did, indeed, get drafted -- HOORAY!! And tomorrow night we find out which teams drafted what players. Super excited to start the new season!

No practice 'til Thursday, so I've got a couple days to talk myself up to doing those drimmages with a better attitude. I'd really like to someday be trusted to do some blocking. Someday.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some successes, and hope

Had another good practice last night. We added a new element to our off-skates warmup: 4 sets of 30-to-45-second hand stands, up against a wall. I've been doing handstands up against a wall (and sans wall, with somewhat less success) for just about as long as I can remember -- cartwheels, too. Evidently that's not true for the majority of the population, and I'm surprised to see teammates having trouble with the exercise. I found *I* had the energy to shout encouraging things to the group as the seconds ticked on and we felt like our eyeballs were about to explode. I've been very reluctant to take any kind of leadership in derby, so it was weird for me.

We moved into on-skates drills, including agility work and wall blocking (meaning 3 or 4 blockers stand across the track, forming a "wall," to stop the jammer from getting through). I'm slowly starting to feel more successful in this drill. As a jammer I was finding/making holes, and I felt pretty good blocking too. One thing we're being asked to work on is blocking with our upper-torsos pitched forward, so the jammer is only able to make contact with the pointy part of our butts (instead of the whole of our backs, which in theory would give the jammer more to push against). Fortunately that pitched-forward stance is one I'm really comfortable and stable in, and it makes me feel effective as a positional blocker. ("Positional" is when you block just by being in a space, as opposed to actively trying to hit someone. Despite being small, I am really good at getting in front of someone and staying in their way -- not so good at hitting. My intended hitting "victims" usually giggle as I bounce off them. Things to work on.)

Later in practice, we did some "drimmage" -- a drill that works on situational game play. This particular drill rarely leaves me with any sense of success. Whether I'm blocking or jamming, I usually feel defeated, confused, and stupid. Last night the jamming part felt pretty OK. Blocking is still a giant clustermess for me, though in one jam I managed to stay in front of L'exi-Cuter (one of our absolutely star jammers, and a lovely Bombshell to boot) long enough for another blocker to come up and help contain her. She eventually got out, which was bound to happen, but for a few seconds I felt effective.

I did find out I'm on the 16-player roster to travel with the All-Stars out to the Pacific Northwest at the end of August. We are playing 3 games against some of the top teams in the world, in Portland, Seattle, and Olympia. We can only play 14 women for each game, so I am hoping to get into a game or two. Sometimes people travel and do not wind up playing, so I'm prepping myself for that possibility as well. 

Most importantly, last night was the last practice for the "boot camp" that starts with Minnesota RollerGirls tryouts in June (or was it May this year?) and ends with some of them getting drafted to the four MNRG home teams in August. There are about 24 hopeful bootcampers this year. Many of them were on Debs with me; a handful went through boot camp with me last summer; some were new Debs I worked with this past year. I count about 12 of them as very-close derby-friends, and one is one of my very dearest real-life friends as well. And only 13 or so will be drafted. It's so heartbreaking and gut-wrenching that I have a hard time remembering that a good chunk of them WILL be drafted, and I'll get to skate with them all year! The draft is on Sunday. Eeeeek!

Well it's almost noon on the most beautiful, perfect day. Time to get outside. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

One month 'til the season starts!

One month from tonight is the first game of the Minnesota RollerGirls' Season 9. Can't believe it's only a month out -- I am getting VERY excited for the start of home season. I was so nervous and frightened and intimidated at the start of last season, and I think it might be a different story this year. But I can't wait to find out.

Last night at practice we scrimmaged with the men's team in town, the Twin Cities Terrors (AKA Minnesota Men's Roller Derby). They have a game coming up and they wanted to practice playing someone other than themselves. It's always exhilarating skating with -- and against -- the boys. They're bigger than we are, in general, and have different muscles and centers of gravity. But they've always been coached by members of our team, so they employ a lot of the same strategies and terms. When we play them we get to wear our pretty All-Star jerseys and Serious Bottoms, plus there are boatloads of refs and non-skating officials on hand, so it feels festive, like a real bout.

Before the scrimmage started, one of our team leaders called out, "Hey, even though it's just a scrimmage, try not to cut the track!" (Cutting the track is a penalty that can get you sent to the penalty box and temporarily out of the game, leaving your team short a player.)

And I thought, hmm. As a team we have been doing a lot of mental preparation, including "practicing how we play." We hit hard, skate hard, play hard during practices, so that our bodies instinctively  know what to do in an actual bout. Shouldn't that also apply to trying to avoid penalties?

It's no secret that in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, losing all 3 games we played, we were absolutely plagued by penalties. I jammed, and I don't remember lining up behind a full pack but maybe one or two times, way early in the game. I've been watching the MNRG All-Stars for two years now, and when it comes to big games the team seems to always be plagued by penalties. So it would seem to follow that we should practice NOT committing penalties.

Ack! Joel just got home, time to make dinner. Cheers!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

I'm baaaaaaack.

Keep your socks on, but I'd like to start blogging again. To make it easy on myself, I'm not going to take time to catch everyone up or give a ton of backstory. If you care enough that you're here reading, then just jump right in!

Had a solid practice* tonight. We started by talking a bit about a couple chapters of the book we've been reading, The Mental Edge by Kenneth Baum.
(*If you're SUPER behind, I am still playing roller derby and made the All-Star team for the Minnesota RollerGirls this summer. We practice 2 hours, three days per week and are ranked somewhere around #10 in the world)

The talk was lovely. As I reread the chapters to prep for the meeting, I was surprised how many elements of the book I am already incorporating into my mental preparation. For example: when the going gets tough (at practice or in a bout), I have learned to tell myself "I live for these moments!" instead of "This sucks and is hard." Also, when I get anxious about derby, I remind myself that events have no importance except what I give them. It's a whole bunch of little things but I can feel that my mind is stronger, which makes my game stronger. It makes ME stronger.

Back when I was in Debu-Taunts (the rec league, as recently as 14 months ago), I would get physically ill before every practice, because I was so nervous. But reading this book has changed everything -- last week I played against Denver and Philly (#2 and #4 in the world, respectively) and I felt GOOD. I felt excited and focused and ready.

So practice was good. We did some new warmups, which were good and welcome. We worked on some agility, some quick-stops and direction-changes, and then worked some strategy things. The strategy stuff is my absolute Achilles' heel -- I feel SO outclassed and outbrained when it comes to strategy. Today one of my captains mentioned some "training zones:" the Comfort Zone, when you're just playing and having fun but not learning or working on anything; the Learning Zone, and the Panic Zone, when your brain is full and you feel like you're drowning.

I'm in the Panic Zone by the end of most All-Star practices. My brain is full, and I just feel like I can't learn or try anything more. I feel useless and messy out there. Hearing about the zones didn't make that panic go away today, but it was nice to be able to identify and name it

OK I'm not going to set myself up for failure here by writing a novel my first time back. I'm going to polish off this Coors Light and hit the shower.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday morning, I think

AAUUGHH golly where has time gone? We've had an unusually eventful summer -- I made the Minnesota RollerGirls and am now an Atomic Bombshell; Lucy's swimming has really taken off (her late-teenage teacher said yesterday that her front- and back-crawl was probably stronger than his -- she, amazingly, remembers to kick; but the elementary backstroke is her arch-nemesis); both kids have, incredibly, been able to keep practicing piano with a minimum of crying (none of it from me); Joel and Ellen and my mom all did the St. Paul Triathlon last weekend; and there's more exciting stuff to come!

Lucy is having a birthday party next week, and she just came up to me and said "I CAN'T BELIEVE IT'S NEXT WEEK! YOU'D BETTER TELL DADDY!" She was really surprised that he and I had already spoken about it. Ha!

Last night I was helping Eddie with piano (and let me tell you, adjusting to the different approaches to practicing required by my two very-different children is VERY TAXING) and he was working on a very-simplified "Ode to Joy" and he started bawling (of course) and he cried "I don't like this because Beethoven wrote it and I CAN'T PLAY IT!"

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Saturday morning

Hey there! Joel's playing softball in Duluth so I'm home with the kids this weekend. It makes for a very weird summer weekend: no schedule and very low expectations.

Yesterday (Friday) I had to go get some new cushions for my skate trucks. As the kids and I were tooling along 94 through downtown St. Paul on the way to Derby4All, I felt a loose thread on my tank top. I pulled it a little, then a little more -- and the spaghetti strap came completely detached from the fabric, exposing my entire left side. WHOA! Hauled the minivan off at the Dale exit and found Primp, a "cheap-chic" boutique I'd been eyeing for a while. It was busy, but the kids were angels and I found a fix for my wardrobe malfunction. As we were getting back in the car, both kids gently let me know that they really liked one of the other items I'd tried on -- a little ruffly cotton dress. I'm guessing it's not the last time I'll get fashion advice from them. They were so sincere and sweet about it -- "Momma, I wish you bought that pretty dress" -- that we jumped back out of the van and went back to get the dress. The saleslady told the kids they were hired. And I treated them to cinnamon rolls from Bars Bakery next door. Yummalicious.

Nothing like a little retail therapy to lift the mood! I've been feeling absolutely nauseated about the upcoming MNRG draft -- now that we're down to the final week of boot camp, it's the same feeling as the week before tryouts. The feeling that things are changing -- changing from something good, which is always scary.

Speaking of change, I cleaned out the garage on Thursday and WOW did that feel good! It wasn't a total disaster, but things had been strewn about and disorganized, and that needed to be rectified. I took a huge load of books and VHS tapes to Half Price Books, where they actually gave me $20 for the lot. And I found a diary that I kept for a short time in 1997-99. I read through it last night and it was a good reminder of how discontented and unsettled I'd been my last year of college. And how grateful I need to be now, for how truly happy I am with my current lot.

Last night I took the kids to Lake Elmo for picnic dinner (broaster chicken, watermelon, and the kids' respective favorite veggies: red bell pepper for Eddie; cherry tomatoes from our garden for Lu) and swimming. I love swimming with my kids -- Lucy is such a fish and Eddie is so silly -- and floating in the water felt lovely on my various derby-related aches and pains. As we were packing up, the Lucy and Ed were helping each other and and I overheard a nearby dad say to his kids: "Look, he's helping his sister instead of fighting with her. It is possible!" A proud mama moment for me.

Today's plan: clean up the house, then skating at the Oval (free), afternoon bowling (free coupons), dinner at Culver's (also heavily-couponed), and then up to see Ashland's production of Cats. Sounds like a perfect Saturday to me! When does Joel come home again?