Don’t Panic or How I Discovered Roller Derby

You find yourself with a lot of free time when contemplating the next step in your life and no prospects on the horizon. I had been working my butt off for years and suddenly found myself at a stopping point. That summer, I spent rekindling my relationship with my significant other and, I think, probably rekindling my relationship with me. More on that in another post.

My friend asked me to join her in the Pride Parade. I have a thing about being in large crowds. One time, I was at a concert and everyone around me was so much taller than me, that I couldn’t breathe. I’m 5’0”, by the way. I’ve stood next to Jonah Ray and Dino Stamatopoulos before and my neck hurt afterward as I’m sure theirs did as well. But, being the parade would be different than being packed into a crowd of well-meaning, but sweaty individuals. So, I said that I would love to!

Being the second to last float in the parade, we wandered the grounds while waiting for our turn to present our love to the world. That’s when I saw her. A helmet, gleaming in the sun. The words, “Luna-Tic Lovegood” held firmly on a helmet with sparkles that just couldn’t quit. That name. What a god-damn glory of a name. How cool did these wonders on wheels look? Could I be as cool as them?

I knew of roller derby. I had seen clips online. I had watched Whip It. I used to rollerblade as a kid. I knew the scene. But, this is the moment that I realized that nothing was holding me back from joining them. I could work my butt off again, but for something that I could find myself caring deeply about.

My timing was perfect. Tryouts were just a couple weeks away. In the less than a month, I became Mary Pain Watson. I was a member of the Haymarket Rioters, the Windy City Rollers farm team.

This is my first blog entry on Don’t Panic: Get Dirty/Nerdy. As a geeky, relationship podcast host, a blog about joining roller derby was maybe not the most expected first post. But, when you have to trust someone named Tipsy Danger and Sandy Cheeks to help Luna-Tic Lovegood get through the line, you really have to remind yourself: Don’t Panic.

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