Monday, December 31, 2012

"...they ought to make you wear a sign, Danger T-N-T..."

When I helped move some skaters into the place I like to refer to as the 'Derby Mansion', I did not realize that the house, and most buildings on the small island- once belonged to Albert Nobel.
Nobel was the inventor of dynamite, and in whose name the Nobel Prize is given.
The house was his laboratory.  There is a good cafe across the park which was the site of his factory.
When I first saw the house, all I could wonder at was that the owner left behind not just glassware, and expensive, lovely curtains but items such as a grand piano.

It was all very impressive - but of course if the internet is correct he had more than one factory over the years.

The whole area is pretty, and the coffee at the cafe is good. To get to the house or cafe you have to walk through the woods, and there is a water view from most angles.
I was curious to see how the house would fare for parties- as with six skaters virtually all of the league would be actually not casually connected by at least one person.
I managed to be sick the only time I felt up to going to a party there.
I am sure they have been good ones- but sometimes or maybe more accurately, often the idea of a large party and easily a 10-15 year gap in the median age just seems plain exhausting to me.

Vinterviken Cafe is now a favorite of mine. 

I feel lucky when I come across some place by chance, or luck, or through derby.  I still need to take Zok there, but this place is on a list of several...better luck in 2013!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas here, Christmas there...

Stockholm continues to have more and more snow.
I dug out our door that leads to the terrace to rescue some forgotten summer furniture and to dig out the BBQ.
However, we have had snowfall since then so you can not tell I did anything and the snow is piled up against the windows again.

Zok and I have decided that this is the most and the least Christmas-y Christmas of all time.  I love all the huge Christmas trees that are in almost every square. 
Mostly because we were both away from either home until the 15th, followed by Zok and I getting food poisoning from our (no longer) favorite Ramen place.  If we had made any plans we would have had to break them as Zok is still sick and this is day four.
I am better but Zok is mostly curled up in a ball- moaning or worse.

I was hoping Chester would have a dusting of snow while I was there but I was out of luck.
Meanwhile in the snow here we have a neighbor that is quite good at snow sculpting.

Merry Christmas to all-
We will soon experience the shock of traveling from weather that is -12 to +23...


Friday, December 14, 2012

...and the bell was ringing in the village square...

My relationship with snow is more accurately a sort of fake- movie and song lyric inspired relationship.  Sort of like when a person is such a fan they convince themselves that they truly are in love with this actor or that- when of course they can only be in love with second hand information and characters portrayed by said actor.

Okay, sure - I had a flirtation some time in the 1970s, in one of those midwestern states as in "maybe it was Ohio? No-no was it Indiana?..."
But how could snow love me? The kid from the coast that did not know about snow reports of school closures, sitting each snow day waiting at a bus stop until some friendly midwesterntype pulled over to say "Hey- Kid! There's no school today!".
But I know this- maybe other people are more constant, more present in your life but I am pretty sure I am the only one that actually sings  out loud as I tromp through your banks.  Who laughs when I slip on your icy bits. Who stands in the middle of the road thinking 'glitter! glitter! magic wonderland! sparkle! sparkle!' in perverse wonderment.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Promise me something, kill me right away if I start to get slow, ...kill me right away its the least you can do..."

Here are the things that I still do not understand about 'Sport'.
(Although I truly believe I know why 'to play sport' and to 'be' sport and to make sport of someone all fits under this one word.)

I don't understand the emotions.
I don't understand letting go all the comments said in the heat of the moment.  Because mean-spirited, mean words, don't dissipate into thin air.  Then work there way into your mind and your dreams.
I don't understand wanting, needing, something (a move?  a dash of glory?) so much.
I don't understand that losing a game can mean so much.

I think a true sports person about now would point out that the writer of these comments is not great at sport.
I suppose they might not even go so far- perhaps not understanding is where the line is drawn.

So within all this understanding or misunderstanding or not being able to understand where am I?
I care too much for what others think and feel, and too little for myself.
This is a flaw and I think I am good for acknowledging the flaw.
I also think I am at a point in my life where I would rather withdraw.
Because let me tell you - I am not actually prone to boredom.
Okay- Okay ! I can hear you pointing to certain times- certain wintery, solitary times on the island.  But, I will protest.  The time was extreme and I have learned better.  But I was never actually bored.  My life was just so different with the absence of an over-active social life.
Quitting the field because you are unhappy qualifies as a win in my un-sportslike mind.

Also- the whole sport thing has made me soft.
When people are mean my reaction is shock.
My 30-something self would have reacted defensively and aggressively.  See how I just used those sport words?
I think I was doing better at the sport of life.

From this post you might think my team lost another game- actually the team won one, and barely lost the second.
I was not on the track a lot, but I was unfortunately, on for the last jam that cost us the game.
If I look at the derby year selfishly?  Then hey! Look at me- hanging around mid-forties, possibly more physically fit than I have ever been.  I helped with a lot of fund raising for a league I respect.
I have made a few- good, and actual friends.
There is a lot of winning in there as soon as I shake off this emotional hangover.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Auld Reekie your so fine, your so fine you blow my mind."

My original b-team teammates that were going with me to cheer on our A-team both got rostered onto the A-team for the three day first European WFTDA tournament in Berlin.
But two former A-team members came to my rescue.
So the three of us took charge of the cheering squad.
The last time I went to Berlin was for a roller skating bootcamp run by Swede Hurt and Suzy Hot Rod, I was so tired that I missed out on sightseeing and this time- there was just no time.
Although I did get a wider, and better look at the city which is (from a glance) much cooler than many other European cities.
Yes, yes, all cities especially in Europe have claim to history, historic events and sites, castles, majestic homes and art.  But these days they usually also have a main street (or high street) that is blotted by the repetition of chain stores, junk gifts, and fashion that is the same throughout thousands of miles.  Whereas Berlin seemed fairly free of this, there were small coffee shops and hip coffee shops, and themed coffee shops but no starbucks/waynes/tullys in sight.
Berlin is officially on my list for a short break exploration.

But on to my main topic.
STRD ranked third of the ten WFTDA leagues that played over the three days.  A lot of derby gets decided by which team ends up in the penalty box.  And as a new and growing sport the reffing is one of the trickiest aspects of roller derby.  STRD played really exciting games to watch, the scores were close and the games came down to literally the last minutes of the game.
Most of the higher ranked derby teams I get to watch in teeny-tiny form on my computer via a connection/stream/whatever that may or may not be from a good angle or a good feed.  But to see all those skaters full size!
I do think I know a bit about derby.  But so much of derby gets disseminated into small chunks.  So there was a lot that the London Roller Girls (who outstripped all teams they played by margins of between 400 to +500 points) did on their skates that made me think "Oh Right! That is what that drill should look like!".  By this I mean Swedehurt and Mad Maloony do a great job of breaking down a skill like running on toestops to get through a small space between skaters or a skater and out of bounds-but seeing so many of the London skaters doing just that over an over made it all go 'CLICK!' in my head.
This of course does not mean my body can do it- but I have a vision of what that body is supposed to do.
I had a great time watching, learning and cheering.
There are only rare moments in my life I have felt 'a part' of something bigger than myself.  Certain concerts I helped put on- some protests or awareness/charity projects like 'Home Alive' and now Roller Derby.
My part has been small- yet one can not measure the effect that these small parts make.  Also I can clearly remember being in my car with Pip and Elissa and our dream was so small, a venue we could properly scrimmage in, and enough skaters to be able to scrimmage.
So much has happened since then, for all of us.
There are 3 bouting leagues in Tasmania now.
I got to spend almost two years (!) with a wftda league that has talent way beyond my pay grade.  I got to find out what kind of skater I could be with consistent, hard training.  I got to experience the lifestyle of my twenties self in the middle of my forties self and now know what I am not missing.  (I mean that in the nicest way).
I am currently still experiencing city life in way that when I say 'Sure, it is small a bit slow but Tasmania is a paradise'-I really mean it.
There is a B-team (that's me!) double header this Saturday.
Then I travel to see Cookie and her family in Wales for a week.
Then finally, I get a husband who will actually have some time off.
Then we go to Tasmania and it will be 2013.
How the hell did that happen?
*One last thing- the matching warm up track suits that STRD are now sporting.  I can not really explain them, but I think the experience for me was summed up by my girl Betty Bamalam who noted that most women joining roller derby wear items such as fishnets for the first time...but for has been about wearing sport clothing for the first time.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Alla helgons dag

Zok is home for a couple of weeks, but is working most of the time.  We did take time out to have a small dinner party and go light candles for All Souls Day.
 When I have been here in Stockholm this time of year, I have always walked through the cemeteries in town-which are also lit up with candles and offerings, however we now live close to Skogskrykogården which is a very large, very pretty cemetery.  I marveled at the hundreds of candles grouped together at each cemetery.  However-
Skogskrykogården has thousands- and they expect and set up areas for anyone who has loved ones buried too far away for them to get back too.

Last year we were attracted by all the candles that we could see from inside the train as we came to that subway stop.

This year we invited friends to dinner, so we could all go and light candles together.
The subway stop was so crowded that there were subway police stopping all two way traffic, people were allowed time to exit or enter and we were a large crush of people.
Again the fire lanterns were very popular, and although they are very pretty, I still can not get let go of the idea of 'littering' whenever I see them go en masse into the air.  
My Swedish friends keep insisting that this is autumn, and nothing like winter.  But I am struggling to not sleep 10-12 hours with all this quiet, darkness and cold.  The mist in the evenings is very pretty but I do not think I have gotten the knack of being out in the elements.
I certainly did not pack correctly for this trip so I am always cobbled together, tights, socks, boots, short sleeve, long sleeve, sweat shirt, light rain coat, on and on, layer by layer.
My mind keeps saying 'You really have not had a winter- you need to hibernate, sleep, sleep, sleep'.

But of course I went to practice yesterday, and I have to recognize that being sick and not exercising for the last two weeks really did have an impact.  I know I overly tired when I wish for a referee to send me to the box for a penalty so I can have a full sixty seconds to rest.
Practice tonight should be better.
And for me...summer is only 50 odd days away from today.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

" say its your birthday...well its my birthday too...yeah"

"It's so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas," said French painter Paul Cezanne. Many writers make similar comments about the excruciating joy they feel when first sitting down in front of an empty page. For artists in any genre, in fact, getting started may seem painfully impossible. And yet there can also be a delicious anticipation as the ripe chaos begins to coalesce into coherent images or words or music. Even if you're not an artist, Scorpio, you're facing a comparable challenge in your own chosen field. Halloween costume suggestion: a painter with a blank canvas. 

 Going to University taught me enough to shake out many of my 'alternative' pseudoscience leanings.  When I was young, and trying to put myself together in some way that I could find respectable, I would try just about anything.  Any type of therapy.  Some quite regrettably.  But maybe I needed to have first hand experience before I could really dismiss certain ideologies.  
Somehow, the astrology forecasts by Rob Brezny still have a slight hold on me.  Not so much now that I have to go online to find them.  He had a weekly forecast in a free paper in Seattle called 'The Stranger'.  
I think Seattle was the last time I had the type of friendships where a day could be wasted together without purpose.  Maybe a movie, maybe a beer, maybe high tea, maybe some self-invented treasure hunt.  I do not know if these friends had a geographical place or just some place in time, but nowadays people always seem to have limits on their time.

This year could have been like last year- with Halloween parties and practice and other sorts of treats-only I have been down and out with a cold.  I did perhaps make a mistake going out into the snow for a walk, the day I felt slightly better because the next day I didn't get out of bed.
There is still snow on the ground and the temperature is -4!
I do have next weekend to look forward too, we are having a small dinner party and we are going to the cemetery for all saints day. 


Sunday, October 21, 2012

"...teach your children well...and feed them on your dreams..."

I have seen a few Roller Derby Documentaries.  An interesting aspect is how early the commonalities in starting, and being a part of a Roller Derby league become a clear pattern.  This can be enlightening, and within a good perspective funny.  
Roller Baby is about not one league, or one region, it is about the sport of Roller Derby itself.  As the sport grows, and changes, there are large questions becoming clear, about skaters transferring right before regionals or championships, sponsorship, paid positions, and most heatedly, how much should Roller Derby conform to the nature of (american) sports?
Derby more than anything to me is its own subculture.  I think my life has been a series of subcultures.
I was born in Haight-Ashbury.  I lived off the Sunset Strip during the heavy metal 80s.  I moved to Seattle in the early 90s (delayed by the L.A. Riots).  I have seen many parts of my life represented in documentaries, books, tv programs.  Roller Derby is no different.

There are the two sides, the subculture and the sport.   Can you really keep subculture within a mainstream sport?  One of the amazing aspects of Roller Derby is that almost every league started organically.  Many times without the women actually having a complete picture of what Roller Derby is.  Then each small group of women go out and find ways to get more information.  From a neighboring league, from a convention like RollerCon, and spending their time and money created a league of their own.

There are organizations that can not be explained within normal parameters.  A.A. is one, in the beginning Ebay was another.
I look at Roller Derby as a subculture that is just going to get bigger.  Like Punk Rock, parts of it will go mainstreams, some new version (New Wave) will be created.  There will always be some place in the world where a group tries to create their own version.
If the sport was to become accepted, as a sport in the realm of sport- well I can't picture that because I like many others came to Roller Derby with forty-years of dislike for sport.
Roller Derby has changed that.  I can see the reasons and advantages of girls playing sports when they are any age.

Junior Derby all over the world, will certainly have the largest future impact on our sport.  Derby Baby was a good starting point in the conversation.  Even in Tasmania the many large questions about the future of our sport has come down to "I will never give up my fishnets!" which of course is not the actual argument.  But a prime example of normal divisiveness within a subculture.  
But yes, in the movie they show a team, in N.Carolina that was created, by a man with a plan.  (As truly was flat track Derby but that is different documentary).  The women skate under their own names, and I am sorry but they are definitely quaffed in a way that most leagues are not.  (My photos are usually taken mid-practice on a day we are practicing in some very creatively found venue and I am dirty, smudged and tired as hell).
Women in Roller Derby need to pick the fight they want- what they feel is the most important aspect to concentrate on.
I believe that if anything can be learned from past movements, and other subcultures is that Roller Derby leagues need to start looking at the larger picture and decide what they want.  I believe Roller Derby does not have to conform.  I believe in the revolution of change. 
But of course if I have learned anything from Derby it is that my opinion is not the only opinion.  Also my ideas might be as good as the next, or not the best.  As with any friendship, there is give and take, and compromise. 
Also my personal experience continues to be as it was last night.  I drove with three other people, all of us volunteering our time, and contributing our money to a new, small start up league.  Västrås. 

They had their first public scrimmage, a showing of the movie and an after party.  Just a sweet group, in their corner of the world, creating yet another revolution.

Or, in the oft-quoted words of L.A. music journalist Kickboy Face: "I have excellent news for the world. There is no such thing as new wave. It does not exist. It's a figment of a lame cunt's imagination. There was never any such thing as new wave. It was the polite thing to say when you were trying to explain you were not into the boring old rock 'n' roll but you didn't dare to say punk because you were afraid to get kicked out of the fucking party and they wouldn't give you coke anymore. There's new music, there's new underground sound, there's noise, there's punk, there's power pop, there's ska, there's rockabilly. But new wave doesn't mean shit."

Monday, October 15, 2012

...first fall was new, now watch the summer pass, so close to you."

All the trees are changing.  Green leaf to color, or fruit back to seed.
I had autumns in Tasmania where I thought I might never see such autumn colors again.  Because as usual I underestimate the amount of change in my life.  Does my constant propensity to believe that all of life in contained within the day you are living, make me more open to adventure or less?  Zok and I tend to say things like "I miss Tasmania, but these leaves are very pretty." As if the two are mutually exclusive, which we are living proof they are not.
 Zok left for America in time to miss our rollerderby bout.  We wanted yet underestimated the amount of people who came.  We had over double the amount of our pre-sold tickets.  The rent on the hall is so high that profit is a bit prohibitive, but of course having a great game, with teams fairly matched, and a large audience can only help build STRD as a league.
Of course it was a lot of work, and I was fairly shattered by the end.
Our committees never seem to think of every detail and there is always a large mistake (or two) made.
Roller Derby is like having a job with no guidance.
(and no pay)
STRD won against Malmo.  This week they go abroad to London to play a game there.  Then there is Berlin-
Followed by another home bout.  Zok is away for both those events as well.  Which gives me unhindered time but not energy because thinking of the schedule makes me want to hide in a pile of those pretty autumn leaves.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

"...who wants to live forever..."

I do not think even I appreciate how much time and effort is volunteered to make Roller Derby bouts happen.
Even though I have been part of that work force many times now.
Eighteen or so of us went over to Finland to play a bout last weekend.
That was just us- the visiting team- the league there had to organize and put the bout together.

This month we have a home bout so I will be on the other side of this situation.
Of course I have put many hours in already.
If you read this blog, you know that a couple of years ago my hope of playing in an organized league was very low.
I would sit and scheme and wish I could find just five women to help make it all happen.
Now Hobart has not one but two working leagues and here I am playing around Europe.
That is pretty strange.
Roller Derby is one of those subcultures is very difficult to explain to those not involved and if you are involved then any story I want to already know.

...after all it ius a great big world...with lots of places to run too

STRD our Bteam (my team) played a game against the league in Tampere, Finland.
There is a very large ferry that travels regularly between a city near Tampere and Stockholm.  Cabin sleep four, so the price for our trip was pretty low.  Traveling to play a game always has a bit of a trajectory that involves nervous energy, on the way out, and a sort of hazy hung over, feeling of dulled nerves on the way back.
One must travel, pay the way, and slog gear to play opportunities for games that come up- because why else do we put in so much time? If not to actually bout?

I always have fun.  I have had almost six whole months of training.  In Tasmania we were basically making it up as we went along- other than what I learned in Geelong or a guest coach.  I am satisfied that I got the opportunity to see if I could be a good player.

I am however, decidedly average.  On a less competitive scale I think this might be okay- but I will have to think through what is the best way forward when I am back in Tasmania.

Friday, September 28, 2012

"I'll light the fire...and you put the flowers in the jar..."

I think that Zok and I may have had grand plans- for moving the furniture to rearrange the rooms but in the end we simply filled up empty spaces.

Actually Zok moved his desk- to the other side of his office but he plans to move it back.
The cold seems a bit sharper each day.

We went for dinner and our friends Smashed and Calavera made traditional Swedish food.  I suppose because of me and my vegetarian ways mine was a bit more modern.
I did not get a good photo.  I was really tired from a couple of committee meetings which followed Sunday scrimmage and this is my excuse.  But- I had veggie meatballs, with vegetarian gravy, mashed potatoes that were re-baked with cheese on top and fresh ligon berries.  I felt as if many a sad Thanksgiving meal was erased by my tasty food.  

Tomorrow I go to Finland a city called Tamprere for a Roller Derby match.  Their b-team has played together much longer than ours- however as I always mention- I have so much fun that win or lose I am happy.

Zok and I have been in Stockholm now for six months now, and we are both homesick for Tasmania.
I know it is strange to love a place and the people that live there and still miss another place while being in love with the first- but that is what we feel.  Zok has been so, so busy with work- that Tasmania will be a well deserved rest.

We still can't find a bakery near by that we like, so Zok makes pancakes- all the time.
But I am not complaining.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012 hanging in the hallway...and the fragments of a song...

Certain things depress me- I don't know why- or I do know but I do not want to really explore or explain where the sentiment comes from.
Bad hotels are one of these things.  I can take a cheap, David Lynch hotel much better than I can take a fairly high priced hotel with no regard for its inhabitants.  By this I mean thin towels, worn out beds, cheap materials, windows that do not open, windows that look onto alleys, noise, bad carpeting, grout that looks mildewed, no ventilation- well I could go on and on. I believe I have stayed at some of the worst and also some of the best hotels.

Zok and I experienced both the good and the bad on our trip.
We also stayed at a friends summer home.  The house is a converted social hall.  So the space is open and the ceilings high.
There was coffee, good records, and a dvd collection.
I sort of just wanted to stay right there, but this was the beginning of our trip and I also needed to recognize that my wanting to stay stemmed from my feeling that I have not been home enough this year.
Perhaps I only have six months of the busy city living in me at a time.
Sometimes I wish I had friends nearby of the same age so I could check in and see if I am particularly lazy...
Or do I do too much?
Am I allowed to be tired when I am not a breeder?