Saturday, July 16, 2011

All the problems of the world could be solved if we'd just STOP talking to each other

In derby, as with everything in life, if one wishes to get better at it, goal setting is key.  Perfecting a hockey stop, getting 31 laps in five minutes, getting lower and more stable, there is is always something to work on.

I have a few of these personal goals going all of the time.  Usually I rotate a dozen or so skills, focusing on two or three for one week and then switch to a new set for the next, lest I become frustrated with my small improvements in my chosen areas because I fail to suddenly develop super powers in track cutting or booty blocking.  With a little gain here and there, I figure, overall I become a better player.

There is one particular goal, however, that I have been working on for several months straight.  It's something that is very difficult for me but so very important to this game.  The skill is deceptively simple in description but devilishly difficult to achieve.  This is the labour I undertake every practice, working hard at it with varying levels of success:

Shutting up and listening.

It's sooooo haaard! 

As I have already established, I am a comedic legend in my own mind and the little mini gatherings that happen between drills as we all get water or regroup to discuss provides an insta-audience that is hard to resist.  I usually have all sorts of droll (to me) observations about the practice and I enjoy the playfully combative banter that comes about as soon as a situational jam is ended.  In addition to this, I am a chronic low-level mutterer, a back talker, a nervous joker, and a sarcastic bastard.

On a good day this means I have a quip for almost any comment made and on a bad day I will emit a nearly continuous vocalization of my stream of consciousness.

None of this, despite being funny as hell (to me), is helpful at practice.  So I try, really, really try, to check my personality at the door

Which will probably come as a shock to anyone who has skated with me.

I know not everyone hates my mutterings and commentary.  One time, beautiful lady Bert leaned in closer when I was talking to myself and I said, 'Don't worry, I'm just muttering here.'

And Bert said, 'I know, I'm listening because that's when you say the funniest things!'

Bert, very seriously, taking lead jammer.  Photo by Argent Dawn Photography.

Of course, this is the same person who has been declared Most Likely to Survive a Zombie Apocalypse by giggling the zombies to death, with hugging to fatal ends being her second most likely deadly weapon.  But she's a pretty good skater, so I think I can believe she speaks some truth.  Because skill at roller skating is obviously a surefire way to accurately assess general enlightenment.  I do say funny things.  Often under my breath.  Yes, you should become very quiet and listen closely to everything I say.  I could probably change your life.

Or not.

It's that small voice of doubt that also suggests that my pithy comments and witty observations best be left for later.  Talking during practice, unless giving instructions, asking relevant questions, is extraneous, disruptive and rude.  If I am talking, I am not skating and not learning.  If I'm not skating and learning, then I'm missing an opportunity.  I can talk anytime (and I do).  Practice is for skating. 

Fighting this tendency of mine is a bit energy intensive, but again and again I remind myself, Shut the Fuck Up!

(Unless I'm skating in the pack.  Then, Where's the jammer?!  Communicate, damnit, Talk!  But only then.)

I am getting better at not making unnecessary comments, no matter how funny they may be (to me).  Even in the face of extreme provocation, I've held my tongue.  For instance, just the other day I let the phrase, 'hot vibe' used in all seriousness, go by completely unremarked upon.  Though in my head was a chorus.  And it was funny as hell.

So, those who have the mixed pleasures of sharing a track with me, or heaven help you, are on my team, I may seem a bit quieter lately, but while I stand there between drills, apparently listening to the coach with a squinty focused look and having a busy gnaw on my mouthguard, know that A) I am actually for really, real listening and B) I am also making a list of all the things I could of said that would of been a riot (to me) but did not because I am becoming a pure and virtuous practicer of derby.

And I'd also like to say to you, Shut the Fuck Up!

Because if I can't say it, neither can you.  So there. 

(And if you don't like it, get a blog.)

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