Love and Derby

If you’re friends with me on Facebook, I just slammed you with a request to like a page called Chicago Bruise Brothers. It’s a men’s roller derby team (yes, men’s roller derby) and I joined up at the end of the summer 2013 (after some poking and prodding from my online bestie who just herself rostered with Philly Roller Girls – proud of you, Leash!).

Why derby? Why NOT derby!? But really, why…

I’ve been rolling around on quad skates since I could stand. Thanks to my mom’s involvment in Jazzercise at the local roller rink and my dad’s company’s annual Christmas party at the rink, it was just something that happened. I spent more than my fair share of time skating around my town, dodging cars and looking for something that resembeled a smooth surface that wasn’t coated in rocks (no sidewalks in the country, y’all). Eventually my parents found my way to roller hockey and I was given a helmet and pads for the first time. There was a lot of travel involved, to very exotic locaitons like Chowchilla, CA (no seriously, it’s a real place) for tournaments and games. After a few years I fell out of hockey and fell into the pool for waterpolo and swimming, never quite hanging up my skates, but never spending days in them anymore.

Fastforward about 15 years, though volleyball, more swimming and waterpolo, cheerleading and a cross country move and I’m looking at years in a weight room and a serious lack of personal interaction. Cheering in Chicago didn’t seem to work out all that well, so I was at a loss of what to do next. Although I’m quite the introvert and very shy, I do need interaction once in a while. After nudging from Leash, I contacted the Bruise Brothers and was told to drop by practice. So one Wednesday, I saddled up my trusty ZipCar and hit up the west suburbs in search of something, but I wasn’t exactly sure what.

What I found was an awesome group of guys and gals playing a sport that I’d seen once in a while, but had no idea what was going on. But it looked fun, and I knew how to skate, so the next week I padded up, threw on some rentals and did skating drills for 2 hours. Just skating, no hitting, it took a LONG time to get to hitting, like 2 months of skating and no hitting. When I got to hitting, it didn’t hurt nearly as much as I thought it would, but yes, it still hurts, but wow is it fun. At least, I think it’s fun, or thought?

My first sanctioned bout is this coming Saturday. I’ve played in a couple co-ed bouts and always have an amazing time. The hits come fast and hard and the action is nonstop. I’m always super happy to play. For some reason, this weekend, makes me nervous. Maybe because I’ve gotten into my own head too much. Maybe I’m watching too many derby gifs on tumblr. Maybe it’s because the last couple practices have left me feeling like I’m lost once I hear the whistle blow and forget everything my coaches have been telling me. Maybe, I’m confusing nervous, with excited.

In any case, 2 days from now, I’ll be strapping on my skates, pads and pulling my jersey on (TwinkleBeef – #831 – repping the Central Coast), and trying to figure out how to keep that dude with the star on his head from passing me.
BBLogo

Thoughts on the CTA

Not like, opinions about the service, but more about what goes through my head when I’m riding that grimy ass Red-Line, or when I’m face to crotch with a total stranger on a Lakeshore Express bus (and not enjoying it, perv). 

  • If one of those damn birds poops on me while I’m waiting for this train I’m going to invest in a bebe gun and take it everywhere, or a sling shot. I used to rock slingshots.
  • Oh look! Tumble weave!
  • Ahh, the smell of urine being pushed through the tunnels downtown, why do I ride the Red-Line again?
  • Why is that guy looking at me? Do I know him? Is he going to hurt me? I’ll just pretend I don’t know him…he’s still looking, this is weird, look at your phone Royce….I’m going to peek and see if he’s still staring at me, yup, stranger danger, stranger danger! Ok, don’t look anymore. I really need to watch more MMA, cause I don’t think screaming and scratching is going to stop an attacker, that reminds me, get manicure. I wonder where I should go, maybe that place down the street, I see guys in there all the time. Oh, he got off? Well that was rude, he didn’t even say hello.
  • Ahh, slow zones, gotta love them. They’re like the “stop at green lights” rule the bus drivers have, but for trains. yay!
  • An open seat! YES! I’m gonna relax on my way in today and…wait…what is on it? I’ll stand
  • This crackhead is totally going to punch that sign he’s arguing with, is it bad to video? Do I care?
  • I wonder how many girls on this train are wearing leggings and knee high boots with a jacket…1, 2, 3, 4, 5, zzzzzz.
  • I wonder how many are named Katie…
  • A whole train full of gang members? I’ll take the next one…
  • Seriously dude? I already take up more than my fair share of a seat and you think your chunky ass is just going to fit next to me? Rude.
  • Of course the hot guy sits in front of me…would it be weird to smell his neck? Would anyone notice? I wonder how Sowande is.
  • This stupid girls iPod is up SO loud, what kind of bitch needs to listen to, oh, is that Taylor Swift…sweet.
  • Do I have to give up my seat for that older woman? I wonder if she’s old enough, I’m not going to offer just to have her say “no thanks” and then have this little twink take it. Fuck it, she looks sturdy.
  • Oh good, I get to listen to a debate as to where to buy the cheapest drugs on the northside. I love the Broadway bus.
  • Please let him Missed Connection me.
  • Old Chinese lady about to exit from the back of the bus…i bet she hits the door a bunch of times before she gets out…yup, oh good, yelling at the driver, that’ll help.
  • I miss my car. Look at that guy in the car, singing, drinking coffee, driving. I miss driving.
  • I wonder if my music is up to loud and people can hear the Britney I’m listening to. Probably not, but I should stop singing along…
  • Oh good the train is coming, thank goodness, its 100 degrees out here and I’m sweating in my…oh…ew, that feels awkward…
  • What is that smell? Probably that guy…just breathe in through your mouth, pretend you’re driving to the port and they’re putting manure in the fields.
  • Mother…seriously dude? You’re just going to stand right in the door so everyone has to squeeze past you to get on and off the train? SO rude, I was going to stand there.
  • Three bags. That bitch is carrying three bags and none of them are cute…
  • Ugh, breeders making out on the train, thats disgusting, get a room you sickos, no one wants to see that, why can I not stop staring?
  • Today I just…I just…I can’t. TAXI!!!!!

SF for a straight geek

Yesterday my boss asked me if I could recommend some things for her boyfriend to do to unwind while in San Francisco working on a big project. Not going to lie, I really had to rack my brain. He’s a tech geek, not a bro, has no car and not a ton of time. I’m pretty impressed with the list I came up with, and thought it would make an interesting blog.

Sure, there are a ton of things to do in San Francisco that I didn’t list, mostly cause I didn’t want to tempt the guy with a ton of stuff that is coupley and he would rather not do solo. Lucky for him (and me) he was staying in Nob Hill, my old stomping grounds. This is by no means my standard SF recommended activities, but i think is good for straight, geeky guys who are traveling sans girlfriend from the Midwest.

Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar. SF institution. Totally random cheestastic bar in the middle of one of the most prestigious hotels in SF. And a rockin good time.
Tonga Room

Nick’s Crispy Tacos. 1500 Broadway at Polk. Little divey, but amazing food. Crispy fish taco, nicks way, if he eats fish, is the way to go. Otherwise, just a burrito, chips and salsa or guac and people watching is awesome there.
Nick’s

If he has time during the day at all and wants to know what it would feel like to visit China, A stroll down Stockton street is a good idea. It’s the not touristy part of Chinatown. Tell him to watch his step, and to eat at You’s Dim Sum at Broadway and Stockton. Ask for a veggie pork bun…ugh, my mouth waters just thinking about it.

Ride a cable car, given. They’re $5 every time you hop on or off, if he takes it to Ghirardelli Square (Hyde street line, not Mason), he’ll get a great view of Lombard street before arriving at the other end of SF with a great view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge. Also, sundaes there are a must. Not sure how late they’re open, but the Hyde Street Pier is where they’ve got an old Schooner and Steam Ferry docked as museums. (Fun fact: In elementary school, we spent a night on the Schooner in May, it was a whopping 45 degrees when I had to play “lookout” from 2am until 4am. I did however, learn how to tie a bunch of cool knots.)

Valencia Street in the Mission between 16th and 22nd is hipster alley. Any of the coffee shops will feature massive amounts of startup money sitting under an caftan from Urban Outfitters hacking away at a MacBook Air. Also, some cool book stores and thrift shops on that row.

Clam Chowder from a bread bowl is a total must in SF. Boudin will have it and the bread will be baked that morning.
Boudin

Alcatraz night tour. If he’s into that kind of thing, he’ll have a good time.
info

If this is happening while he’s there, I think he’ll totally get a kick out of it. Adults in the museum and they serve alcohol and have DJs and almost everything is open to explore. SO FUN.
reviews

IMAX, ice skating and bowling can be found at Yearba Buena. Easy, good times.
more info

Road Trip 1 – Chicago to ATL

Here’s the thing about doing road trips from CA. You can travel 3 directions. East, South, and North. That is all. West is not an option unless you have a boat or a plane, then it really stops being a road trip. I’m a huge fan of the road trip actually, and there are some pretty awesome places you can get to on the west coast in just a day’s drive. I usually count that as 10-12 hours, but I’m kind of hard core about my trips, and I know a lot of people who can’t hang on the road for that amount of time.

The difference between amount of area you can cover in each trip, well..here’s a little image for ya to check out, well, two of them.

12 Hour driving range from SF

12 Hour driving range from Chicago

From SF, you can get to a lot of awesome places; Portland, OR, Twin Falls, ID, Salt Lake City, UT, Las Vegas, NV, Los Angeles, CA, San Diego, CA, Tijuana, Mexico, Phoenix, AZ. Not bad right? I mean, all pretty destination and tourist friendly locations. Which is great, lots of stuff to do.

What do you get when you leave Chicago and drive, well, in any directly really; Minneapolis, MN, Madison, WI, Milwaukee, WI, Omaha, NE, Memphis, TN, Atlanta, GA, Detroit, MI, Toronto, Canada, Niagara Falls, NY, Nashville, TN, St. Louis, MO, and more! I mean, granted, Kentucky and Tennessee are not states I ever thought i’d want to visit, but they’re actually very pretty to drive through and everyone was really nice (Indiana was a totally different story, I’ll be avoiding that state at all costs in the future).

The point is, there is a hell of a lot of cool stuff accessible from Chicago within a day’s drive. I never really thought about how central Chicago was in relation to, oh, our country. I’ve found that a lot of people from Chicago are very well traveled (yes, I was surprised) and know their way around. Not to say that Californians aren’t well traveled, but when you drive 12 hours through California, you’re not getting a whole lot of historical perspective on how the nation was formed. No one is reenacting battle scenes in Fresno, CA. You’re not seeing museums that are dedicated to former presidents’ birthplaces along I-5 traveling through Oregon. Yes, you might see big-foot, but you’re not going to be able to stop in a town square in BFE Nebraska and read the history of the Pony Express.

That being said, I still love my trips in CA, there is nothing like them. In California, the scenery is always changing, there are mountains, oceans, flat lands, forests, rivers, cities, valleys. When you leave Chicago, you’re driving across what is basically stretches of road that are as flat as a pool table and straight as the rows of corn you’re driving past in Iowa. It can be mind numbing. Speaking of mind numbing, that brings me to my next point: Indiana.

I realize it may make some people upset, but Indiana is officially my least favorite state of the 20 states I have visited. I understand why the girls who I used to work with at Costanoa up and left with no jobs and landed as far west as their Pontiac Sunfire would take them. Quick recap of the state from what I saw (which was almost all of it, as I drove from one end all the way to the other): Flat. Grey. Bad roads. I got stared at when I walked into a McDonalds for breakfast. Not really sure if it was because I had color in my skin, or because I had all my teeth, but it got very awkward very quickly and I didn’t stay long (Did stay long enough for the girl who took my order to mistake my name as Rose, cause that makes sense, and then be totally surprised when she called out Rose and I came to get it. Hello, you JUST took my order, wipe that look off your face please, kthxbi). On the way back home from Atlanta, I stopped for dinner on sunday night, at Burger King (yes, I eat very poorly on road trips) and walked in on a restaurant full of families fresh from a full day of church and dressed in their finest poly-cotton blend, who all stopped eating and stared when I walked in. WTF dude, seriously!? What is with the staring? I’ve never been so uncomfortable someplace probably ever. And yes, I’m lumping the ENTIRE state into that category, and yes, it may be bad, but that’s how I feel. I mean, I felt more at home in the middle of Mormon country in Utah.

My entire road trip wasn’t like that. Chicago to Atlanta was actually quite pleasant for the most part (except Indiana). I didn’t realize that Kentucky and Tennessee were so picturesque and mountainous. Sweeping views of rivers, valleys, lakes, the whole shebang. It was pretty awesome. I got a lot of photos from my car, while I sped along. I was in a time crunch after all. I did stop for gas in Kentucky, where I came across a Rastafarian bubba with dreads who sold me 5-hour energy. Um…yeah, that was interesting, quite nice and was chatting up a storm with the other locals with fresh mud on their trucks.

So while I don’t feel the need to do that drive anytime again soon. I do feel the need to spend more time in some of the areas I drove through. Great cities, music, bourbon trail, horse racing, corvette museum, national parks, there is SO MUCH (and yes, being from the west coast, I had no idea, I figured it was all fields and banjos). Little did I know.

I’m finding I know less and less than I thought I did. Ugh, so hard to be a smart ass all the time when you feel generally dumb because your impressions of a place were totally wrong from the start. Ugh, I hate being wrong, but love learning, which is why I love road trips!

Expired Passport

About three weeks ago my passport expired. I only got two stamps in it in 10 years. Granted, since only an estimated 38% of U.S. citizens have a passport, I’m still ahead of the game. The reason I bring this up is, I was pretty sure I would feel like a foreigner while trekking through eight states. In reality, I was pretty right.

I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous about driving through some areas of the country. Especially since I have an HRC sticker on the back of my car. Since my parents know what it is, I kind of assume everyone does and I knew I was going to be driving through some unwelcoming country. Where exactly that was, I wasn’t sure, but I sure as hell was ready to fight if the chance arose. Those of you who know I’ve never been in a fight and would rather talk out a solution than take a swing know I would have gotten my ass handed to me (Luckily, my friends all said its small and flat…assholes). But I was ready for some redneck trucker or intolerant Mormon to lose his mind on me.

Nevada, not phased. Actually everyone seemed really nice. Even the large woman I got into a conversation with at a gas station in the literal middle of no where who jumped into her large husband’s large truck. I did got a few looks there, but I think it may have had to due with my CA plates than my sticker.

Utah, and particularly Salt Lake City, I never felt totally comfortable in. Something about the Mormon agenda fighting against the Homosexual Agenda so fiercely that really tans my hide. I mean, we’re just trying to get lunch people, geeze! Now, I realize that not all Mormons are bad and I’m not saying they are, I’m just saying as a church sponsored hating activity, I loathe and despise what they did in regards to Prop 8 in California (and what they did in the movie Latter Days, which you need to watch if you haven’t seen). While they have some beautiful scenery, making sure everyone knows they hate the gays has made the city, well…ugly. But I digress (if digress means, moved on as quickly as possible, then I digress).

Wyoming was up next, and of course it has a LONG history of being super gay friendly. I mean, I’ve never seen so many damn naturally occurring rainbows in my life as I did in Wyoming. Yes, even when Sal bleeds, still nothing in comparison. Meanwhile, Wyoming is technically the “Equal Rights” state, it makes it hard to forget Matthew Shepard and of course BrokeBack Mountain (which apparently was really sad, but I didn’t know why. Jake Gyllenhal was a total little bitch in that movie and so was Heath Ledger. I mean grow a pair boys and just let it happen. I also thought it was unfortunate that Jake had to go back into the closet after coming out in that movie, cause really…homo). So, I got the hell out of that state which is how I landed in Colorado.

Oh Colorado. I felt right at home. I don’t know why, but I felt like belonged there. I’m sure it was the fact that I had altitude sickness and almost gave myself whiplash looking at the hot men wandering around. Denver felt like California to me, except, with cheaper gas and parking.

I thought Nebraska would present some sort of problem, but I flew right through that state. Having never heard good or bad about it, I wasn’t in the least big worried. Plus I figured Maxwell could out run whatever junkyard heap was trying to chase me down (PS, totally right). Everyone was real friendly there however, as far as I could tell, not that I was trying to get to know people.

Iowa was actually the only state I actually had a problem with. And thats cause I got pulled over by officer McBeefy and got a warning for speeding. Whateves, I didn’t let that needle go over the limit once after that. I can’t afford a ticket if I’m unemployed. When I pulled into the World’s Largest Truckstop however, I got more stares and side eyes that you can imagine. I was nervous about my car being in the parking lot the entire time because from the moment I got off the freeway, people were giving me dirty looks. I don’t know if its cause they were jealous cause I’m so pretty, or if they’re confused cause, no, I’m convinced it’s cause I’m pretty (just go with it people). In any case, I felt as uncomfortable there as I did in Utah.

When I rolled into Illinois, I was very relieved. For one to go above the posted speed limit and not worry about being arrested, and for another, cause i already felt like I was home. Weird I know, but thats the way it worked.

Before I left home, my dad insisted that I remove my HRC sticker for safety. I never really thought about it until he said that. I told him I would and I fully planned on it. Honestly, I was scared of what might happen. Now, nothing did, and I made it safe and sound and I’m very happy about that. In hindsight, I’m very glad I didn’t remove it. I’m very glad that even though I felt like I was in a different world and at times, risking my safety by basically advertising my sexuality on my car driving through some unwelcoming states, I still did it. Fuck the homo haters, they talk a big game on the internet and when they’re all together and drunk, but if they were offended by my sticker, no one said a peep. I think that deserves another stamp in my passport, even though it’s expired.

Day 5 – On the Road

Omaha Nebraska to Chicago Illinois!

Oh yeah, the final stretch, 8 hours of…corn. Well, as you leave Omaha and cross into Iowa, you get casinos first. I had no idea gambling was legal in Iowa, and I’m kind of annoyed that their roads aren’t as nice as Nevada’s. Oh well. What they did have in spades, besides corn, was…State Troopers.

Thats right folks. I made it all the way to Iowa before being pulled over for going 75 in a 70. No seriously, let me say that again, 75…in a 70. I realize the dangers of speeding, really I do. I don’t particularly care, nor do I always obey the speed limit, however…5mph over on a highway where I was just going with the flow of traffic? So he pulled me over, asked me to come back to his vehicle with him and get in. Which I did. Apparently thats standard procedure? It was weird and his SUV smelled like dog. Anyway, small banter and chit chat later and beefy trooper man let me off with a warning. Thank god!

So I went back along my Mary way and this is what I saw…

Corn...and lots of it

Seriously, as far as the eye can see for the entire length of the state. And when you’re driving at 70mph on the dot, the state is VERY long. I did stop and explore a bit though, at the World’s Biggest Truckstop. Really, it was nothing special. It would have made for excellent people watching, however, I had done my hair up that morning (for my arrival in Chicago) and people were watching me. Awkward. Fauxhawks in Iowa…not big.

There really isn’t much to say about driving through Iowa and Illinois. It’s flat, its dull, the roads aren’t great and any time I went over the speed limit I started to get anxious. Meanwhile, toll roads in Chicago…new for me. I get it, winters are hard on freeways, but I’m still miffed at the whole idea.

I did make it safe and sound. Very happy to be here, but stressed. I do have to find an apartment after all. I don’t do well living out of my car. So…off I go.

PS. When I arrived at the hotel, the front desk clerk was kind enough to ask me if I knew how stupid my mohawk was and if I knew how much I was going to regret it in 20 years. He likened it to a mullet. I almost likened my fist to his face…but I needed a room with wifi.

Day 4 – On the Road

Denver, CO to Omaha, NE…also known as “The Big Flat”

So I woke up in Denver, after a night of listening to bad karaoke and decided to hit the gym. Little did I know, but I’d found out the night before, that Denver is on the of the thinnest cities in america accoring to Forbes.com. San Francisco is on the list, but I’m guessing due to the fact that its the home of the “Half Ton Stunt Crew”, we got bumped down the list a bit. Anyway, back to Denver. HELLO NURSE. Or should I say, hello buff hotness! I was not prepared for my trip to the gym. Lucky for me, its ok to have a staring problem in the midwest, so I fit right in.

Meanwhile, I hopped on the road and headed east…again. The nicest thing I can say about Colorado is…Denver. Don’t get me wrong, it was pretty and all, but I don’t know what this state has against 3G coverage, but I’m personally offended. Meanwhile, boredom on a road like this…

Somewhere in CO


Leads to stuff like this…

Always said, I'm a very safe driver, just...fast.

Well I coasted through Nebraska, which so far, is the flattest state to date. Redic really. And humid. Oh my lord. I thought Florida was humid, I’m surprised people in Nebraska aren’t born with gills. Seriously. I made a couple stops. One at the Pony Express museum/store and one in Lincoln.

Bead work at the Pony Express museum.I've actually made bead work like ths, way back in Pacific School, mine was way cuter!

Rainbow Ponies, made me think of Sal.

Welcome to Lincoln, show us your logs...

Sunset in Nebraska

After I pulled into Omaha (which felt like Tallahassee actually, minus the charm or cute accent. For those of you that don’t know, Nebraska does have an accent. It sounds like a Minnesota accent mixed with a bit of Texas twang. It’s very awkward.), checked into my hotel, I actually headed back out for a workout. Around 11pm of course. The gym was much busier than I’d expected and was 3 giant stories tall. It was my last workout at a 24 Hour Fitness for the forseeable future. They don’t have any in Chicago, which means, I’ll be relying on my P90x and weight set that I’ve got with me to keep the deep dish off, for the most part.

Day 5….Chicago!