Rule #4 – Seat Belts

Alright, alright….so it’s been quite a while since my last blog entry. First I must clarify that over the past few months I have tried to write.  Many times I sat in front of a computer and tried to write something…ANYTHING… however, nothing ever came to fruition, and I pretty much spent a good portion of my time staring at a blank screen, watching the little dash blink mockingly at the top left hand corner…

However, today I have decided it’s going to happen.  I’m sick of feeling ‘lost for words’.

To jump right into readily available clichés, I have decided to take the route of the roller coaster analogy.  However, to spice it up a bit, I’d like to throw in that though there were seatbelts available on this said coaster, I convinced myself that I didn’t need one, and so, rather than remaining properly seated in a secure position with an enjoyable vantage point on the topsy twirly ride, I found myself flying unprepared, into the air and consequently clinging to a plank of wood on the back seat of the last car, dangling…

with only one hand,

and maybe 3 fingers….

gripping for dear life,

flinging around

like one of those

wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men,

trying to hang-on until it was over,

but without any idea of how that would be humanly possible.

Dramatic enough for you?

Well that’s how the last few months have felt.

However, in this moment, it appears the ride seems to have hit one of those nice, relaxing, slow moving sections and so I’ve been able to climb back into my seat (yay!), take a deep breath, and soak in some amazing scenery as I re-evaluate how I want to continue.

Hence, Zombie Apocalypse Rule #4 – Seatbelts (stay with me, I promise it will allllll make sense)

In life, and in derby, it is important to take care of yourself and utilize any opportunities to protect yourself from unnecessary risk.  I refer to these precautions as: Seatbelts.

In the literal sense, if there is a seatbelt available or encouraged on any type of moving vehicle or apparatus that you are operating or co-piloting, I would suggest you should wear it.  Reasons for this include the possibility of let’s say….a deer darting in front of your car during a late night drive down an abandoned highway….(very plausible)…. and perhaps you steer into a ditch to avoid the deer but end up running into the side of a mountain with your tin can of a car…looking back, wearing seatbelt would have probably been a good choice.

OR there is always the potential risk of the impending Zombie Apocalypse arriving unexpectedly on a Tuesday evening while you are driving home from a late night at the office and a flesh eating walker suddenly rises from the backseat of your car, in which you must immediately drive into a telephone pole to dispose of him before he has a chance to dispose of you (at least that would be my plan).

Again, I’m sure you’d rather find yourself buckled securely into your seat (with potential airbags), than being tossed face first through a sheet of glass with your brains splayed all over the hood of the car (aka: Zombie buffet).  Just sayin’.

Now the fun part….metaphors…OooOOooo.

In the world of Derby, seatbelts can be interpreted as not only your protective gear (which should be properly used, maintained and replaced when you can no longer wash the stench- similar to that of the brain consuming undead) but also your fellow players and coaches.

In making sure you securely fasten your focus when you are at practice or on the track, as well as being locked in to the actions and strategies of your fellow teammates, you increase your chances of surviving a jam without penalties or injury (winning!) and decrease significantly the risk of upsetting your fellow skaters and coach by ignoring the overall goals of the jam (boo).

In the world outside of Derby (does this exist?!), real life seatbelts reveal themselves as your friends, family and those special people who act as airbags and anti-lock brake systems when things in your life start to go awry. Over the last while I realized that I had somewhat neglected many of my life seatbelts (and therefore found myself flailing “Mission Impossible” style from the back of my metaphoric roller coaster).

How did it happen?

Well, we all know the Roller Derby community is a beautiful thing.  You can travel to pretty much all ends of the earth and find a fellow skater willing to welcome a complete stranger into their home, without even requiring their ‘real name’, based on the verbal agreement that they are a completely trustworthy and a rad human being because they also love/play/coach/NSO/ or participate in Roller Derby.  This social circle is a very exciting one, full of diverse and interesting people who will quickly take over your Facebook, personal calendar and list of favorite topics to discuss with anyone at any time.

Sure, derby folk are great life seatbelts too, as no doubt they are exceptionally wonderful people in your life, however, this doesn’t mean you completely abandon all those who had been around, protecting you in your life pre-derby existence.  When I first started skating,  those pre-derby people were the first faces I recognized at my very first scrimmages, and later on my very first bouts.  They were the ones cheering for me as I skated repeatedly over to the penalty box, and nodded blankly and agreed as I described later on at the after party how those penalties were totally not my fault (they never are).

However, as I became more and more enamored by the sport and started making real life changes in order to further pursue it, I unfortunately became extremely defensive of anyone who questioned my actions or didn’t fully understand the passion.  Rather than appreciate the security of those who knew me the best, I felt I was better off jumping on this wild ride without any previous attachments, believing I could do just fine being my own seatbelt.

A few quick jolts right and left and one loopdy-loop later, I found myself in the similar position of that unfortunate lady rock climber from the opening scene of Cliff Hanger, left dangling with no safety harness, looking up from the black hole beneath me and sheepishly squeaking out a word I have always found extremely difficult to ever express… “help”.

Luckily, unlike Sly’s character in that flick, the seatbelts in my life have continually pulled through for me and managed to keep me alive.  Even though at times my stubbornness has prevented me from utilizing these seatbelts when I needed them most, they’ve waited paitently to be seen as the valuable lifelines that they are, and in the end prevented me from flailing uselessly into an abyss or even wore, fully splatting at rock bottom.

So why haven’t I written for the last while?  I think I can conclude that perhaps I was a little..’burnt out’ (HORRIFIC GASP).  Yes, I once also refused to believe it was possible to be burnt out from a sport that is so completely fucking awesome that I would take a bullet for it (i’m pretty sure I would?), however, now I accept that it is very much something that can happen.

This is why you need a balance of all the seatbelts life has to offer.  Whether they come in literal form, or in derby form, or in a saftey manual form (hardhats people!), or family form, or destination form, or so on and so forth….there are many people, places and things in this world that are put in place to love and protect you and keep you SANE.  It would only make sense that if you completely cut out one section….things start to get a little…unbalanced.

And so I dedicate this blog to those in my life (you know who you are) who came to that first bout, raised a pitcher of beer at the first pub night fundraiser, bought my team’s first merchandise items (at full price), “liked” my first fancy derby picture on Facebook and continually support me on this crazy ride.

In short, Rule #4 – Seatbelts

As a future survivor of the impending zombie apocalypse (or at least somebody who will survive for a bit longer than others) = wear the seatbelt.

As a skater of Roller Derby = be aware of your seatbelts.

As a human being, first and foremost = thank your seatbelts.

Graphic courtesy of fellow blogger Wry’N’Ginger, or aka: My fav Ginger Zombie Ox

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