Monday, April 25, 2011

The Other Side

Anyone who has skated derby for more than five seconds knows that injuries happen.

The attitude one takes toward getting injured determines whether that person comes back for more when they're healed.

But what about the one who may have caused said injury?

I'm dealing with an incident that happened yesterday when we had visiting skaters from a league that's in the beginning stages of getting a banked track. We were playing during wRECk League, and it was a session that was got a bit...aggressive at times. Not all on me, by the by. But I was getting wound up, and it started to show in the previous couple of jams I skated in. happened. I was at the front of the start line. I see one of the visitors lined up behind me, just downhill from where I was at. The pack whistle blew, and I threw a shoulder at her. Unfortunately said shoulder hit this skater in the face, and she went down immediately. Hitting off the line isn't unusual for us, and everyone else started forward as if nothing had happened. The jammer whistle blew, the jammers took off, and the skater I'd hit was still in the infield. Shit.

Jam was called off. Injured skater got to her bench, she was checked out, and the jam was reset. I found out afterwards that I momentarily dislocated this poor girl's jaw on the left side. She popped it back into place, sat out five jams, and came back in and skated as if nothing had happened.

But DAMN, how does one deal with the guilt of a hit, no matter how it happened, when an injury is the result?

It could be said that I'm just a jerk. This post can remind one of that. But I'm not out to hurt anyone. I don't have any pride for hurting anyone for real while playing. I've been on the receiving end of this type of event, too. I had my right ankle screwed up for six weeks when I got stuck in a Siren sandwich back in 2005. Heaven knows how many times I hyper-extended both shoulders from falling after either getting hit or tangled up with other skaters. Bruised ribs? Yeah, got that, too. My one concussion was all my fault, though.

All of this made me concentrate even more on general form when I had to teach the Fresh Meat later in the day. I hope they catch on quick and don't do stupid things like me. DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What's In A Name?

Long-time LA Derby Dolls fan and game reviewer DF just coughed up an amazing paper about DIY derby names. I'm not saying that it's amazing because I'm mentioned in it, but it certainly doesn't hurt. I'm not one for reading legal papers on a regular basis, but DF has done for legal papers what he's done for game reviews: he made for interesting and funny reading. You can download the pdf here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good grief...

Yesterday morning started normal. Did my bicycle ride, a few burpees, made lunch and took the Softail to work.

As I was riding up Bob Hope Drive to Alameda, I see a long line of cars waiting to turn right. Which happened to be the direction I wanted to go. DAMMIT. I thought to myself. Some asshole is asleep at the wheel and is holding up traffic. ASSHOLE. Since I myself have assholish tendencies, I rode the bike up the left turn lane and turned right onto Alameda. As I whooshed by, I see what the hold up is that's creating this conga line of non-movement and increasingly loud car horn cacophony.

A midsize VW car is in the middle of the lane, hazard lights on. Obviously it died while making the turn. The driver of the car was standing on the sidewalk corner, cell phone in hand, visibly upset at how her morning was progressing. Or not progressing, as the case may be. She was small, petite, brunette, and not up to the task of being an on-site mechanic to figure out what's wrong with her car.

The thing that got me about the whole situation was that there were at least ten cars sitting behind her car. Gawd knows how many other people who were making a left turn and could see that this tiny woman was in distress. But no one stopped. No one got out of their own little metal cave to ask if she needed help. No one called AAA or the police. They just sat and honked their fucking horns.


And now we take a break from yesterday's adventure to tell another quick story:

Something similar happened to my sister last month. She had been running errands on a fine Saturday afternoon, and as she was leaving a grocery store parking lot, a sensor in her car decided to die just as she was about to turn out of the parking lot. Again, no one stopped, no one asked if she needed help, no one did anything except honk their horns and eventually worked their way around her car to go on their way. She called me in a panic, and I asked her calmly if she had called AAA yet. She thought for a moment, said she thought she still had time on her extended warranty from her car company, and would call them. As she did that, I put on my shoes and drove over to where she was at. On the way I spotted some Girl Scouts selling cookies in front of their house, so I got two boxes of Thin Mints(one for me, one for my sister), and continued on my way.

By the time I got to where my sister was, she was a little more calm, having figured out that she couldn't use her extended warranty, and so had called AAA in the meantime. I started to help push her car out of the grocery store driveway back into the lot. An old man who happened to be wandering by stopped and helped us, and I think he was kinda-sorta hitting on me. Or he was just a touchy-feely type of guy. Either way, he got $20 from my very relieved sister for helping out. About ten minutes after that the AAA guy came along and we managed to load my sister's car up and get it to a local dealer just as they were closing for the day. Everything turned out OK, because my sister got some help instead of a ration of shit from asshole strangers.

Back to yesterday's story.

With my sister's car mishap fresh in my mind, I immediately pulled over to the side of Alameda as I passed the petite woman and her car trouble. As I stomped over to where she was standing, she was yelling back at the asshats who were still sitting in their cars honking their horns. I said, HEY! and she immediately turned around. Do you want me to help you push your car to the side of the road? I ask. YES! PLEASE! she cried. OK, put your car into neutral and you steer it over while I push. I replied.

This is the part where things get hilarious. I've pushed cars before, obviously. But usually with a little help. The woman puts her car into neutral and gets in the car. Oh, jeez! Ah well, might as well give it a try. What do I have to lose, except maybe a little pride?

I start to push. Nothing happens. I keep pushing. Nothing. Oh shit! I start to think. Some fuckwad starts honking their damn horn. I turn around and gave them the GLARE OF DEATH. What kind of mindless idiot who can see that the car needs to be pushed out of the way and sees a WOMAN doing it would DARE honk their fucking horn instead of getting their lazy ass out of their own car and helping?! Fucking coward!

The GLARE OF DEATH worked, and apparently the added adrenaline rush from the honking jerkface got me to slowly push the car forward. In about three minutes the car gained momentum and was moved to the side of the road, perfectly parked behind my motorcycle and out of harm's way.

I did what I did not because I think I'm better than anyone else. But based on these people's reaction to a situation, I've decided I'm certainly no worse than anyone else. I'm not a superhero; I did what I did because I've been in that situation and every little bit of help helps me deal with it so that I get out of everyone's hair and things can go back to normal. I did what I did because I just wanted to get to work on time, but the broken car was preventing that. So I helped move the car out of the way so that everyone else could go about their day while the woman could deal with calling for help in relative safety. I did what I did because I saw a situation that needed to be fixed, and it wasn't a big deal to fix it. Yet no one else felt they could be bothered to help fix it. Instead they sat and bitched about it.

Part of it is human nature, to be sure. But it also PISSED ME THE HELL OFF that we as a society seem to have gotten to such a point where we're too mentally paralyzed to help ourselves and fix things for ourselves even when we have the direct impact to do so. Even when there's someone who obviously needs just a little boost, no one would give them one. Even if that boost would benefit themselves as well as the person who directly needs that boost. What will it take to get people off their asses? I don't know.

I tell this story not to stroke my own ego, but to remind everyone to help fix the problems of life, not be part of them. We all have shit going on, but sometimes just a little gesture can help someone else get through a tough day as well as helping oneself along. I wish more people would do that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Uncomfortable Afternoon

This past weekend was a busy one of running errands, going to bachelorette parties, beach skating, taking care of stuff around the house and having an early dinner with the in-laws.

It took us a few minutes to even decide which route to take to said dinner: surface streets or the freeway. The Dear Husband pondered surface streets while I said, Why the hell wouldn't we take the freeway? It's Sunday, it's warm, everyone will be at the beach, it'll be clear.


As soon as we got on the freeway, it was backed up.We quickly saw the reason. There was an accident in the two right lanes of the 10 where it transitions to the 405.  A car was parked sideways across the two lanes. As we crawled by, we saw a sport bike lying on its to another sport bike also lying on its side. DAMN. With the sideways-parked car, this looked ugly. The CHP wasn't on scene yet. No ambulances, no flashing lights, no sirens of any sort yet. There were people milling about in the middle of the blocked off lanes; some just looking, a couple people on cell phones. And then we saw the worst part: one of the motorcyclists was still splayed out on the scene, laying on the road.




He wasn't alive. It was in the way he lied there...crumpled clothes and ragamuffin limbs. He was wearing full gear, including a full-face helmet. He was lying on his stomach with his head turned to the side. The way his head was turned so far to the side looked wrong. A live neck wouldn't be able to do that with that helmet on.  After years of seeing horrific images of roadkill in my travels and being occasionally haunted by such memories, this just crowded everything else out.

The DH hopefully said, Maybe he's just unconscious.  I squinted at the dead man's face. No. I said. He's gone. I can tell by the way he's lying there...he's gone. The DH remained optimistic. He might be fine, we'll find out on our way back...if the scene is still closed, we'll know he died. If not, he's alive.

When things like this happen, the usual thought that first springs to mind is: What did the biker do to get himself killed? Especially with sport bikes. Some people call those riders "squids" because they do stupid things at high speeds and get themselves hurt or killed for their shenanigans. Two bikes down, a car parked sideways across the lanes...what the hell happened? The DH speculated for the rest of the trip. Maybe they did something stupid? Maybe a car cut in front of them? Maybe a car cut off one of the bikes, and the other came up to the car?

No matter what brand or type of motorcycle, I feel a type of kinship with most riders because the laws of physics are against us when there's a motorcycle involved. Well, except when we lanesplit. That's the joy of riding a bike in California. The flip side is we're always going to lose in a crash, no matter how minor because we're so exposed without that metal cage of a car around us to protect us on impact.

Needless to say, this event put us in a weirdly foul mood for dinner. We didn't explain why, we just soldiered through. On our way home, we saw the CHP on the taped off scene, taking measurements. The car and bikes were gone. The motorcyclist we saw was indeed dead and also had been taken away.

To go from reading articles, seeing news footage, or even seeing wreckage to visual fact on a fatal accident isn't in most people's experiences, despite those of us who live in big cities and therefore would be more likely to see this sort of thing to begin with. I've lived in LA for 20 years and have seen accidents of mangled metal, but if anyone was injured or whatnot, they were already gone by the time I've rolled by in the ensuing traffic backup.

How emergency workers, cops, firemen, and accident site cleanup crews do it day after day, year after year boggles my mind. How do they cope with such horror?

This obviously shook me up, to see the direct human cost. Especially since we didn't know what caused it.

We watched the late night news, hoping to hear what caused this mess, but a driveby shooting at a Taco Bell in Rialto took the top headlines. We looked at the CHP site and news station sites online, but to no avail. The CHP site merely listed when the call came in about the accident, what time the officers got there, what time the ambulance arrived on scene(fifty minutes after the accident was first reported, by the way.), etc.

It wasn't until Monday morning when I perused the LA Times website that I found a short blurb about the accident. The two bikers were weaving through the traffic, and one hit the other. A car was somehow involved, but the article didn't clearly explain how. Anyway, both bikers went flying through the air. One lived, the other died. Drinking was involved. The dead one was only 23 years old.

I won't lie when I sighed with a very slight sense of relief, because there wasn't any indication that a car purposely cut in front of the bikes as they whizzed through traffic. They seemed to be solely responsible for their own tragedy. That previous kinship and horror I felt for the riders were a little bit abated, because damn, it's so stupid to drink and ride. But a new fear and paranoia about riding settled into my brain; burrowing its way through all the good memories of riding.

Tuesday morning I decided to ride to work. I was terrified. But even though I hadn't directly been involved in the accident, mentally I had to get back on the motorcycle horse, even though it was just psychological.

I didn't ride fast. I didn't ride crazy. Well, contrary to popular belief, I've been mellowing out on the fast and furious lanesplitting and stuff since I joined derby. The direct physics lessons a full-contact sport has given me new respect for the damage I could do to myself if I didn't pay attention. And I got to work safely. I rode home with no incident, either.

Thank goodness.

But I continue to feel very unsettled. It's going to last for awhile.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Last Saturday I team managed the Tough Cookies. Fight Crew co-captain Haught Wheels bench managed them. In other words, Haughty kept track of penalties while I adjusted the lineups according to the penalties.

Anyway, I had expected to dress like a slob for the game. I wasn't feelin' the Pretty. But Haughty was. She texted me the night before the game to say that she was Doin' Pretty because she was highly impressed with how spiffy and professional Gotham Girls' infield managers dressed for games. Dammit. I changed my Saturday plans to include Trying To Make My Hair Do What I Wanted time and borrowed Iron Maiven's troop leader uniform.

This amazing photo was taken by Jess Reynolds as we were watching the intro clip for the game:

My favorite comment made about this photo was made by one of our skaters who said, Oh my god, it's like an old school Sears portrait of sisters. Hahahahahahaha!!!

In completely unrelated news: I'm not adjusting to getting up at six o'clock in the morning for work. Well, I'm kinda adjusting, just not well. I don't know why this is when I was able to do it last year, but it ain't workin' for me this year. Speaking of, I gotta get it together and commute to work.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

BC Glasses

Two years ago I went through the trauma of picking out new eyeglass frames.

I have to admit, I ended up not liking the frames I chose. So when I went in for an eye exam last week, I decided that I needed new eyeglass frames again.

As soon as I got my updated eye prescription, I started roaming around the eyeglass shop ready to pick out THEE new glasses. After ten minutes, I found myself bogged down in overwhelming crapaciousness. I wanted something retro-ish but not too girly. But not too masculine, either. And nothing that curved down at the top because I'd get that annoying angry librarian look that doesn't work well on me. But at that moment I wasn't finding much of anything that was appealing.

Luckily a saleswoman came up to me and I happily let her start picking out frames for me. In another ten minutes she found frames that I thought were cool and hilarious at the same time. As soon as I tried them on, I knew I'd end up with them:

I look like crap in the photo because I have zero makeup on, but the glasses are cool in a supernerdy way. I call them my BC glasses for obvious reasons. They're Raybans, they're burgundy-colored, and heavier than my old glasses because they're bigger. The prescription is uber-visible, but at the moment I don't care. There's just something about them that I'm liking for the moment. I have a better feeling about these than I did my previous pair, so I hope to hang on to these frames for awhile!