Summer tunes .. how about you?

It’s amazing how music can make you feel more bad ass, more confident, more amazing than ever. When I’m driving with my windows down, sunroof open, and I want to feel instantly more awesome or motivated to kick some ass I’ve been listening to…

HarderBetterFasterStronger – Daft Punk
Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
Sure Shot – Beastie Boys
Lose Yourself – Eminem
Flower – Moby
New – No Doubt
New Disease – Everclear
Don’t Ask Me – OK Go!
Sabotage – Beastie Boys
Black Betty – Ram Jam
Magic Carpet Ride (Steir’s Mix) – Go Soundtrack
Right Here, Right Now – Fatboy Slim
How You Like Me Now? – The Heavy
Harder to Breathe – Maroon 5
Sail – AWOLNation
Gold Guns Girls – Metric
Steal my Sunshine – LEN

What songs do you listen to that instantly put a smile on your face and make you want to slide on your shades and go faster?

Oh yea. Love me some LEN
Oh yea. Love me some LEN

Can beauty and strength really co-exist?

It is a tricky thing, the idea of beauty and femininity.

It is something that I’ve pondered a lot over my lifetime, and as I shift the balance of my life I come face to face with the conundrums again.

Growing up with a brother just slightly older than me, coupled with a very work-conscious, feminist mother, I did not expand the image of beauty within myself as a flowering young girl. I was more interested in playing football and king of the mountain than I was with experimenting with makeup and jewelry. The major reason I wanted contact lenses was because I was tired of having them break on me during softball games (which, inevitably, they would each year).

In high school, I did my best to make myself “cute”, but still gravitated towards stovepipe jeans, loose fitting anime-themed t-shirts and (of course) those flame Airwalks (sooooo comfy).

Look at how bad ass they are!
Look at how bad ass they are!

I didn’t really know what it meant to be pretty or feel pretty as I grew up. I liked boys from a very early age (my first crush was in kindergarten), and was always seeking attention from them, but in a conflicted kind of way. I didn’t know if I wanted them to be attracted to me because I was pretty or because I was stronger than them (or both).

Remember the movie “Little Giants”? I could identify with the main character instantly. Her name was Becky ‘Icebox’ O’shea. I think they should do a sequeal where she finds her derby team.

She almost gives up football glory... all for Junior (Devon Sawa).
She almost gives up football glory… all for Junior (Devon Sawa).

In high school and college I battled against the super tomboy by making myself also overtly sexual. That’s the way to combat it, right? That’s what I thought at least. I may be able to beat them up, but if I make myself a very sexual creature, it’ll all balance out.

Let’s just say that didn’t end well for my ability to hold a relationship, much less for my own self-esteem.

So now here I am. I’m 30 years old facing the same gender roles and paranoia that I was faced with 15 years ago: If I’m strong and have muscle, will men be turned off by me? If my hair is short and I don’t present myself in a sexualized fashion, will I ever gain the interest of a male that I’m into? Even if I’m slim? Even if I put on make-up (sometimes)? I play roller derby, I have just fallen in love with Crossfit (dammit I drank the Kool Aid) and I drink protein shakes like it’s my job.

Bank Track! Team Rogue!!
Hahah … see what I did there?

Will I have a shot in hell, or will they go for the young, easy catches? Will I always loose out to the girl in the dress with the perfect hair cut?

Firefly fans – look deeply at the conflict and struggle that resides in Zoe Washburn: Trying to balance feminine wife with hardened soldier. Captain Mal is the only one that doesn’t see her gender, but he doesn’t see her as a woman either.

Business-Time Zoe
Business-Time Zoe

She knows she feels more comfortable as the alpha, but as you look deeper into her personality and reactions during the show, you see she is conflicted. She understands that to make her marriage work, she must have times where she backs off and plays docile. She must be the submissive female in a male dominated culture that pretends to be pro-feminism.

Docile Zoe
Docile Zoe

Is it possible to feel feminine and beautiful without the heels and the other fancies?

Let me also say this: I do LIKE the fancy stuff. I love my Mary Kay and my Lia Sophia. I wish my knee weren’t screwed up so bad so that I could wear heels again. I love putting on a summer dress and having my hair styled. The truth of the matter is, I haven’t felt worthy enough to put the time and energy to doing it. There is always something else I’d rather do or spend my money on. Plus, when you work out like a beast, what is the point of putting on make-up? Well. Maybe war paint.


Photo by JPaden
Photo by JPaden Photography

Also please know that I do, most of the time, find myself very beautiful. More recently, I’ve been shown that I may still even be sexy and feminine. When you’re admiring your biceps after a round of CrossFit though, these thoughts creep in and you begin to question society’s entire viewpoint on the female species.

So there you go, Interwebs. You have gotten to the soft underbelly of me. Can Merry Khaos (or even Kristie Grey) be strong and powerful, yet soft and feminine? Do they have to go together? Can you be a tomboy and yet be attractive to the opposite sex? Can’t we all just BE and let that be the beauty of us?


A Bit of the Spring and the Roll

So I just realized that it’s been 20 days since I posted. INCONCIEVABLE! So here I am. My brain is at a point where it feels like it should be doing work, but it’s been DOING work all day and has run out of what it can do with real precision and effectiveness.

I have blogs to write and articles about Spring Roll that I have wanted to put up, and now the Northeast Derby Convention. They will come in a fuller form tomorrow or Friday however. I’m still waiting for more pictures… Nothing worse than a blog with no pictures.


So here is the brief rundown of what’s been going on in life, the universe and everything: both a lot and not much at all.

Roller derby, Herbalife and my future have been taking up all of my brain space. I am working on moving out of the place I am in now to a spot in Lititz (closer to Lancaster than I am now). The move is a new chapter in life: The closing of doors and the opening of others. I have been both extremely confused as well as supremely invigorated in the past few weeks.

Spring Roll was a hell of an experience.

I played a few of the hardest games of my life within a 48 hour period. Not only that, but I had a few revelations about how much pressure I put on myself in derby… how many assumptions I had made about my teammates that weren’t true. They didn’t NEED me to be anything. They just need me to play and to work hard. What happens from there, happens. A lot of tears and insecurities came out after my bout against the Chicago Outfit (who were awesome, btw).

CONFIDENCE ON SUNDAY. Copyright 2013 by Bob Dunnell. Please do not remove watermarks from this photo. To purchase prints of this photo, please visit the following link:
Copyright 2013 by Bob Dunnell. Please do not remove watermarks from this photo.
To purchase prints of this photo, please visit the following link:


By Sunday morning, my entire outlook was changed around. Confidence in my feet, my team and MYSELF really came out. I not only was able to accept, but also understand that no matter how much you may want something – sometimes relationship issues cannot be resolved. Sometimes, you can’t just say you’re walking away. You have to.

Not only did I play two games (better than I thought against two teams that were tougher than I imagined), but Sunday was where the friendships took shape. I had scouted out a bunch of the juniors and men’s teams on Friday and Saturday, but it was Sunday that I can say that I bonded with people. Doing push-ups with the Carolina Wreckingballs in my sports bra and Skinz for the Mass Maelstrom was one of the highlights. I’m hoping no one got a picture of it though – I was drenched after my game against Arch Rival and my abs are not exactly photo ready yet!

BOOM. Photo by Kimmy Kempf
Photo by Kimmy Kempf
Magic City v Harm! Photo by Mr McWheely
Magic City v Harm!
Photo by Mr McWheely


Getting to follow up those friendships the next weekend at Northeast DerbyCon was fantastic. Dutchland wasn’t able to stay for any of the crazy Spring Roll after-parties so it was nice to share a few pints with folks in Providence and relax a bit.

I will do a separate blog about the COMPLETE AMOUNT OF AWESOME at the convention tomorrow.

For now, I prepare for bed. I have upped my training. I have refocused my nutrition. Yes, again. Tomorrow I’ll try CrossFit for the first time. I’ve got deliveries of Herbalife goodies and I have to stop by 717 Tattoo to talk to a piercer about getting on a plan.

I do love what I do. I do love the life that I’m carving out for myself. Things can be rough sometimes, and I can be unsure of what is coming next, but I know that the next three months will be some of the most important of my life.

So let’s do this.

Next goal: Destroy ECDX and become sexy along the way!
Next goal: Destroy ECDX and become sexy along the way!


Saturday Part 2: THE GAME

No matter how confident a skater may sound, she is lying when she says, “Oh no. It doesn’t hurt that badly. I’ll be fine!”

In her head and heart she is seriously wondering what is going to happen when she puts her skates on. She is honestly worried that she will not be able to push, turn or stop. Even if she can, can she cut? Juke? Thrust? Can she be an effective derby player, not just an effective roller skater?

I hobbled from my car to the rink. I hobbled through the rink to the locker room area. I did my best to tell everyone I was ok, just a little slip at graduation – nothing to fear! Inside though, I was absolutely trembling of what was to come.

I already have deep-seated fear issues from my injury last October that I have been diligently working on uprooting. Now I have a new injury? On the other side of my leg? That can be agitated from slipping in dress shoes? Well damn.

My team mates are awesome.

The Dutchland All Stars - photo by Scott Johnson
The Dutchland All Stars – photo by Scott Johnson

My coach, Jocelyn Bassler, told me to just be honest if it hurt too much. Captain Laverne N Surly told me to let Shots know if I needed a break during the game and not to feel ashamed about it.

Treasure Chest told me to ‘fuck it, man. Just go for it’.

She shrugged at me, as she does, and continued to gear up. I made the decision right then to do as she said.

I wrapped up the knee (Using some of the capsaicin in the mix which ended up being more burny than I EVER expected) and I gave it a shot. I drank my 24 Prepare/Hydrate mix to give me that spark of “Whatever! I have so much energy that I can do anything!” and I found out quickly that if I stayed low in PROPER derby position .. It really didn’t hurt. So much that even if I popped up for a quick move, it still didn’t hurt! Ok. Ok. I can do this. No fear. Aggression.

And then something even more amazing happened. The Dutchland All Stars clicked. We played like the team we can be. The defensive blocking was absolutely spot on. The offensive blocking was appropriate and controlled. The Cape Fear Roller Girls were awesome to play. Everyone had fun. Everyone played solid, hard-hitting derby.

Did shit happen during the game? Yes. It’s a high impact sport on roller skates. People get knocked around a bit. But there were not tempers flaring, which is the way I prefer my roller derby. I prefer it hard, fast and FUN.

Khaos attack! by Jim Rhoades
Khaos attack! by Jim Rhoades

I had my best bout in months. I had maybe my best bout EVER. I only got to jam seven times during the bout, but (with my family looking on) I was able to focus in to the strength and power that I know I have. I was able to score 70 points. I was able to get lead jammer 86% of my jams. I was able to juke and accelerate past opposing blockers. I was able to power through on starts, and take advantage of holes on my way through the pack.

Cape Fear had some awesome positional blocking and definitely played with my head on a few jams. They had some great heavy-hitters and some awesome recycling. They definitely kept me on my toes (and many times, on my behind). I felt like, for the first time in a long time, I was just really good at avoiding the hits coming at me, or rolling off the ones that hit, or absorbing hits as I worked towards the middle of the track.

Ducking past - by Scott Johnson
Ducking past – by Scott Johnson

It’s been a while since I felt very confident in my ability to misdirect my motion, or roll off of a hit to SUCCESSFULLY take advantage of a hole, but on Saturday I did it. It was also fantastic to hear (every time I passed the bench when she wasn’t on the floor) Treasure Chest yelling: “You got this!” “One more lap!” “You’re faster than her!” “Push!” “Don’t you call it!”

Treasure Chest. Photo by Jim Rhoades
Treasure Chest. Photo by Jim Rhoades

My team mates did a lot of amazing stuff too – I have to throw a shout out to Marie Antiothreat who, in a moment of amazing awareness (with just herself an Bayou on the track in a power jam situation) – was able to knock the jammer out of bounds at the edge of the engagement zone so hard that the jammer fell. This gave Marie the opportunity to not just run back TO the pack, but she was able to Mohawk along the inside line PAST the entire Cape Fear team to force the jammer almost 20 feet BEHIND the pack. It was pretty glorious, I have to say.

So this was Saturday against Cape Fear. It was a great confidence boost for going into Spring Roll (which the goal there is – HAVE FUN). I know that my quick twitch endurance is not what it should be (these injuries have really halted my plyometric routine) but I am focusing on getting that stronger currently.

spring roll

I also have to say that this time around I was on my usual routine of tabs (Multivitamin, Cell Activator, Herbalifeline, Total Control and 2x a day dose of Niteworks) and I felt a definite alertness difference. I didn’t even need the LiftOff that I had made for the second half. My long endurance was fantastic. My short burst was still very good – I just forget that when my short burst is good it means I push harder.

So sites are set on Spring Roll. Nutrition is getting a bump this week (less carbs, more protein, more veggies) and I guess we’ll see what happens next!

HL stash

If you’re interested in getting a bump in your nutrition or athletic performance, drop me a message at

Saturday, Part 1: The Graduation and Injury

I posted on my Facebook a hint of our Saturday bout. I promised to write about it. I have gotten out of my own way and finally am writing.

Saturday was big for me. I had my Penn State commencement ceremony at the Giant Center in the morning. At night, Dutchland had a double header scheduled. Cape Fear Roller Girls were coming to play the All Stars. This was going to be my first game where I got to be in a fuller rotation. This was going to be the first time my attendance and injury was not going to get in my way. It was also going to be the first time in my 4 seasons that I would have any family member there to watch me.

And it wasn’t just one. It was eight of them.

I was more nervous about the bout than I was about walking in graduation. (Though, we’ve all seen me walk, so maybe the nerves should have been shifted to the morning.) I have heard so many stories of “My family never came to see me and then when they did I tore my _________”

There was also the factor of pride. I hate admitting it, but I was putting pressure on myself to prove to my family that I ‘deserve’ to play roller derby. Whenever I hear of others seeking approval for their passion, I react negatively, and it wasn’t until the day of the bout that I understood that I was doing the same thing. However, yes. I wanted to show them that I haven’t just been skating left and having fun for the past three and a half years. That I have working on an athletic endeavor that has made me the woman that I am today.

Pushing against Black Rose - Photo by JPaden Photography
Pushing against Black Rose – Photo by JPaden Photography

Not only that – I wanted to show that I was finally GOOD at a highly-intense sport. The theatre girl who was good at slow pitch softball and mediocre at soccer is actually really good at this.

My body was not completely on board with my plan.

As I left the Giant Center floor, climbing the steps to the main concourse in my cap and gown, I felt my knee become tight. We had just spent 3 hours sitting with our feet on sport court that was laid directly on ice, after all. I had to use the restroom before getting pictures (You know, all that hydration) and I made my way against the crowd to do so. I made a move to avoid an oncoming walker and couldn’t. They bumped me just enough that my foot slid on a little wet spot on the ground (damn you dress shoes) and my knee popped.


Look! Proof I was there
Look! Proof I was there

I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t put any pressure on it. I was in the middle of the Giant Center with a dead cell phone, half way between the bathroom and the doors to the outside world. This moment was defining. For the first time, I had to deal with this injury all by myself. I didn’t have Matt there to help me. I didn’t have anyone. So I hopped (literally) into the bathroom, tried to straighten it out (which hurt like a MOTHER) and then realized that if I bent my knee –I could put full pressure on my leg.

PERFECT!! I’m not against looking silly after all.

I low walked out of the bathroom (for those of you who don’t know what a low walk is, it’s half-way between a lunge and a walk) and down the main concourse and out into the light of the afternoon where I met my family for photos. They were very surprised to see me as I was, and unconvinced that I’d be on skates in a few hours.

“Nah. This happened a couple weeks ago. I’ll be ok!”

We parted ways.

You can't see it - but I'm actually squatting here.
You can’t see it – but I’m actually squatting here.

I went home, not to take a nap as I truly had intended, but to go to work on my knee.

I could have given in and said that I was too weak to play. I could have avoided the nerves and the pressure and said, “I’m sorry. I’m injured.”

But I’m tired of limiting myself. This injury was a representation of the upper limit problems I have put on myself my whole life. No more would I let outside factors decide how I am going to live my life or play my game.

I came home and spent 3 hours stretching, applying ice & heat, elevating and pushing my body to understand the pain and adjust to it. I took in a lot of protein, lots of water, lots of anti-inflammatory foods, and circulation supplements (like Herbalifeline and Niteworks). I made a plan to get arnica on my way to the rink when my knee was not ‘popped back into place’. I also planned on asking team mate Treasure Chest to borrow her capsaicin for my knee. I also knew I was going to have to go to the gym before getting to the rink to do some weights to try and loosen everything up.

I would not let this defeat me. I got in my car, took a deep breath of spring air, put my “Going Rogue” mix on loud and drove away