Took a one day trip to Durango two weeks ago, helped train new skaters at Skate School for the local league the next Sunday and now I’m headed to Abq for another game tonight. I forgot how much derby I can do when I’m not drowning in my own fluids. Oh, and I do NOT have tuberculosis, so sorry not sorry, no Huckleberries here.

As promised, a less meaty post…sort of.

Let’s rewind to May, the start of tournament season for this ref in 2018. Actually, a little further back than that. I applied to four tournaments this season and was accepted into five. NO CLUE how that happened. Unfortunately one aligned with a huge family reunion and I got really sick (Pneumonia that ended up requiring hospitalization at one point) and had to drop out of the other two. This was a really hard thing for me. When I started, it was made clear, if you turn down a tournament you are NEVER GETTING INTO THAT TOURNAMENT AGAIN. And possibly not into any others. Huge false. I’ve been invited to apply to six more and straight up invited to a seventh. So, something good has changed there. I think as the OG refs leave the sport and are less and less able to “gate the content” so to speak, we are going to see positive changes.

The two tournaments I was lucky enough to get to were The Big O in Eugene, Oregon and Mayday Mayhem in Loveland, Colorado. I cannot believe I got into the first and I am so glad I swallowed my reservations and went to the second. Both were such a good marker of the progress I’ve made as an official and I got to work with some standout people at both.

I don’t really have much to say beyond tournaments are so important for those of us growing up in the derby officiating world and I’m lucky that I’ve made some connections that continue to help me find the right ones to fit me. and my learning style. Big O exposed me to some really awesome people who showed me that it’s okay to give the jammer her points like she earned them, that I DO know the rules and regulations better than I’m led to believe at home and that I’ve grown rapidly as an official. I have a ways to go but I’m not afraid to ring my own bell at this point. I held my own at some high level stuff, was staffed as a Crew Head at the biggest tournament on the west coast and showed real growth from one year to the next at Mayhem.

I have applications into two more and I’m going to a third tournament all in the last part of fall this year, so please, keep reading and watching for more as I try to focus in on what really matters going into 2019: being the best goddamn official I can. Continental Cups/Playoffs 2019? I’m looking at you.

I plan to come back to a few things this coming week, including two tournaments, a family vacation and some realizations I’ve had about where I want my future to go. Right now, I know if I don’t get this post down, I never will. It’s fear that holds me back from this discussion, but with encouragement, I’ve decided it’s well past time.

I talk about derby a lot. I started writing about derby on this blog as I was transitioning out of skating as a team member for my local league and into officiating. When I started, my goals were pretty big. I wanted to ref playoffs, maybe even champs. I had excellent mentors locally. Two referees who had been certified through our national organization, traveled a lot and brought their knowledge home to me. Through a series of events in that first six months, those two officials became incredibly jaded against the certification process, rightfully so. This isn’t their story. This is about me. I suddenly found that my goals were something to be made fun of. That if I wanted certification, playoffs, recognition, that was laughable, because the system was (and possibly still is) corrupt. Unfortunately, I let that sink in pretty deep. I gave up on those goals. I would never be “that” official. The work needed, the travel required. It was so far beyond the reach of someone like me, out here in a state full of D3 leagues spread hours apart, that I was really an idiot to want those things.

Last year something changed towards the end of my season. Suddenly, during a few tournaments, I was getting feedback like “why aren’t you doing these tournaments?” “You’re a solid official with a lot of potential.” “I want you to apply for this tournament I’m in charge of.”

What? Me? But I’m a nobody. I mean, look at the way my friends had been treated, wouldn’t I be betraying them if I did the things that they did only to be shit on? Wouldn’t that be a slap in the face after what they went through? So I went into to December of last year ready to quit. Because I had no goals. And I had no local mentors. I hadn’t received positive feedback at home in over six months. I only got actionable feedback at tournaments. I was depressed. I had given up.

Derby did what it always does though and I found myself planning for this season, despite the depression. I reached out to a Tournament Head I had worked with to ask a simple question “If a newer official were to apply to one tournament next season, what would you recommend.” He asked if I was the official and when I said yes, the answer was definite and quick, “The Big O.” I laughed out loud, literally, because that was not a tournament I had on my radar at all for someone like me. It’s a BIG deal. It’s a known game changer for our sport, teams and the officials who attend. But I applied anyway. And I got in. And it was a game changer.

I walked away from The Big O with my goals suddenly screaming from the far back shelves of my brain where I’d carefully curated them along with several other failed dreams. They wanted out. They wanted room up front. They wanted attention. And I, reluctantly and fearfully, started listening. I followed up Big O with another tournament I had attended last season and the feedback from that was outstanding. The things they saw in my last year had come to fruition. I am well on my way to becoming a good official. I just need access to the level of play that will get me to there. That isn’t happening in New Mexico, sadly.

I realized that I was accepted into every tournament I applied for this season. Including Junior Roller Derby Association’s Championships and World Cup in Philadelphia. I was invited to two more tournaments I thought well outside my reach. I was supported when I made a decision to turn down a tournament I really wanted to do because it conflicted with family plans. I was encouraged to apply for certification. I was encouraged. I hadn’t been encouraged since those first couple of months of officiating. But here I am now, ready to reach out for those goals again.

Now comes the hard part. I have a plan in my head. It starts with applying to several of the tournaments I was unable to attend this year. It involves training with the closest D1 and D2 leagues, which, unfortunately, are six hours a way in Denver. It involves continuing to train and teach the officials at home that rely on me to bring my knowledge home, just like those friends did for me when I first started, before shit went south. It involves travel, balance, and, you guessed it, money.

When I was part of the team I skated with, I had no qualms about asking for sponsorship money, donations, fundraising and the like. I had no issue giving money to skaters for clinics and training. I had no problem asking for money for things our league needed, even though we were a sub-D3 farm league who rarely traveled, never outside of New Mexico when I was on the team. When I moved into officiating, the culture shifted. Suddenly I was doing things well above what I’d ever done as a team skater. I was officiating higher and higher levels of play. I was included in Junior playoffs and Champs last season. I did all of this on my own dime. It was laughable when I suggested I needed a sponsor. I was LITERALLY laughed at when I suggested I needed financial help to meet my goals, after all, all the skaters pay to play.

The difference is what I mentioned above. The leagues use the money the skaters pay in to help skaters get where they are going. They have sponsors to pay for uniforms and in some cases new gear. They ask for donations and do fundraisers to pay for travel for their travel team. Why do we, as officials, treat ourselves differently? Especially considering that most officials in other sports actually make a salary to do so. I get gas stipends to go to and from Albuquerque, but beyond that, I do not get paid to officiate Roller Derby. A sport that has gone mainstream enough to land itself on ESPN does not pay its officials. We are expected to grow, learn, become good enough to go to those playoff/champs games, all without the support of a league, union, organization, team. We do it alone, for the most part.

I can’t speak for everyone. I know some leagues will help cover the expenses of the officials who travel with them to games. Or will give officials who have been accepted into playoffs or higher money to get there, regardless of the league’s standing at those events. I can only speak for me. I’m out here on my own. I don’t have travel companions. I go alone to all of these events. The airfare, gas, hotels, food and gear expenses fall directly on my shoulders and mine alone. I sleep on beds offered by other officials when I can. I eat at the venue, and not much else besides that on most trips. I am debating whether the model to reach my goals is actually sustainable without help. I don’t think it is.

So I’m asking for help. It sucks. I HATE asking for help. But if I were still part of the team, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask. I would not, for one minute, be above knocking on every door to get the money my team needs to get where they need to go. So I have to ask myself, why is it bad to ask for help now? I don’t think it is. I could be wrong, and I expect to hear a lot of feedback supporting that.

What am I asking for? I’m asking for anything you might want to do to help. A kind word, a dollar or two, a share of this post. I’m asking you to consider that I’m not alone in this world of officiating without pay in roller derby. How are your officials doing at home? Are they getting the support they need financially? Is your league sitting on funds they could share with those officials when they go to tournaments that make them better officials? Are you a skater who has gotten help from a league when you needed to travel and couldn’t? Can you return the favor now? If not to me directly, somewhere in the officiating community?

I’m going to put a pay-pal link up on this blog. And It’s going to stay there. The money I get will go directly to cover travel expenses to the tournaments I have agreed to do this year and anything I get above and beyond those needs will help my plan out next season. I won’t use the money for gear, clothing or food. It will be used directly to cover Airfare, gas and lodging only.

In return, I promise that I will bring my knowledge to any new official who wants to learn. I will teach them what I know, treat them with dignity as they grow and make their own goals and do whatever is in my power to pay forward everything that’s been done for me and then some. I will do my part to end the officiating crisis regionally and beyond as much as I can.

That’s it. That’s the hard part out of the way.  I’ll be posting about my experience at The Big O and Mayday Mayhem in the coming days. I just got back from an amazing trip to see family too, that is going to be a fun one to write up.

Thank you for the ear.

Let’s talk about derby today. It was another weekend of derby this past weekend. I drove the 90ish miles south to Albuquerque to ref a double header. Neither game was sanctioned. The visiting team, from Colorado, played the travel team from Abq. Then there was a mashup/home team game. We were working with the usual: a not quite fully staffed game with several newbies both on and off skates. It wasn’t high pressure though, bragging rights games, that’s what I like to call anything non-sanctioned where standings aren’t affected by the outcome. The HR did the best they could to staff strong people in their strong roles while still giving some room for the newer officials to learn. Ditto the HNSO. During the captain’s meeting, they brought it to the attention of both teams that there were a lot of newbies on the track, they’d do their best to make sure the game went as close to book as possible, but teachable moments would, as usual, be taken advantage of. The only request the HOs had? Keep it civil. Don’t beat up on the officials. Bring issues to the center. You know, like we do in derby.

The first game started and it was clearly a mismatch. I’m not knocking any skills or skaters here. There was just an obvious difference in play style and skill and it became apparent quite early that one team had the advantage. The skaters never lost their shit. They stayed classy af despite what would soon become a blowout. They played 100%, took penalties with grace and were, from my perspective, having a blast. That’s derbs. It is one of the things I like about it. Players are just happy they get to PLAY.

But something wasn’t quite right. The coach from one of the teams was gradually, then rapidly, declining in civility to the point that we could see the veins standing out on his neck and bulging in his forehead. He wasn’t angry with his skaters (or maybe he was and I didn’t notice that part because of what came next) he was angry with the officiating. CLEARLY and LOUDLY upset with us. His tantrums went from moderately annoying to downright distracting in a rapid devolution of character. He was joined in his antics by a woman who has yet to be identified as actual coaching staff, but who gave off the appearance of staff; carrying a clipboard and shouting instructions from turn four. I’m not going to go into their behavior in detail. It was beyond what I’ve seen here at home since I quit working with a particular coach down this way.

Everything is handled. The game finished with no harm to any skaters. The HOs are handling a grievance against this staff. It’s all done. But I thought I could talk about why this sort of behavior is completely and utterly unacceptable in our sport. Just in case someone out there thinks it’s okay.

We were training on Saturday. I’ve said it before, NM, and derby in general, has an officiating CRISIS. We just aren’t enough to go around. In New Mexico there are currently only a handful of full time refs and NSOs who aren’t also skaters or who train with any sort of regularity. Even if all of us were able to come together on game day, there would not be a full crew of officials who strictly officiate. This year our focus, along with three of the northern leagues, is recruiting, training and retaining officials. It’s a lot of hard work and coordination. We have to overcome the fact that most of the highly trained officials are 90 minutes away from the urban area that needs us the most. New Mexico is a very poor state and attracting people to a rather expensive (gear, travel, etc) hobby is difficult, especially when they find out there’s no money involved. We do everything we can to give our new officials a good experience. And when dickholes like these guys come down and treat us all like garbage, it undoes a lot of hard work and effort. We simply cannot afford to have people like this involved with the people we are training.

This behavior is, unfortunate, one I see more and more. For every league, team, or coach out there putting in the good work to retain officials, I run into a coach or team that thinks we are shit, in their way, not necessary, have it “easy”, don’t need or want practice time or space, etc, etc. I’ve addressed all this before and I will again down the road. But today it’s about the coaching staff. Skaters, if you want any of us, any official, to come work your games, keep your coaches in check. I’m not talking about the polite assholery I see on occasion. I’m talking about the kind that makes me want to leave a game 20 minutes early. If your coach is screaming, yelling, being abusive, breaking clipboards, losing their temper and it is not longer fun? I will leave.

I hate seeing misconduct penalties go to a perfectly polite skater on behalf of a douchebag coach, but if this is what it takes to get you to sit up and take notice and hold your staff to a higher standard, I will, by all means, start handing those out.  I don’t want anyone to have to stop playing derby, but I will never again put up with the behavior I saw this weekend. I have been very patient. I’ve worked very hard to get a thicker skin and not take things personally and I have had some oh so gloriously thought out insults slung my way,  so believe me when I say this was above what I was able to tolerate. I appreciate how our Head Officials have handled this. I agree with their decisions on game day and how that was handled. I don’t get paid to do this. I do not have to take the same level of disrespect someone with a union, salary, health insurance and grievance committee may be willing to take. I do this because I want YOU to have a safe, fun, game. I want derby to happen, but if your coach is a dick, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t

I’ve been watching the events around the Men’s Roller Derby Association World Cup unfold this last week thoughtfully and patiently weighing my feelings and wondering if they were even worth sharing. I have a lot of mixed bag feelings and writing seems to be the easiest way to soothe these feelings so I figure, why the hell not?

For those that aren’t familiar with the story, some skaters and a coach made a rather poor decision in the final game of the MRDWC last week. It has created more than a gentle stirring of the pot. I think a lot of that has to do with how quickly social media allows us to express our emotions and feelings and how something seemingly small at the moment can quickly ignite riotous feelings, especially when the seemingly small thing, in this case writing the number of a teammate on a leg or arm, can create a whirlwind of socially charged feedback.

The teammate in question had removed themselves from play amidst allegations of sexual misconduct, so writing their number in a show of support was a pretty stupid move. I’m not saying these folks can’t support their friend. I am saying that in a public setting, representing Team USA on a global stage, you don’t verbally, visually or in any other way, support someone who is accused of sexual misconduct. You just don’t. It was a dick move. End of story there.

Rightfully so, many of those who have been victims of sexual abuse, rape, or harassment, feel incredibly hurt and in some cases, re-victimized. It has created a public outcry the likes of which I have yet to see in derby. Hopefully something good comes out of it.

Now, I’m glossing over just what a shit show this has all been. Apologies are trickling out. Statements are being made. Sponsorships and reputations have been lost. Teams are boycotting playing with these skaters. Some really deep lines in the sand are being drawn. I don’t have a “side” in this fight. If you want my personal story, please reach out, I’m happy to share with you. If you decide to make a judgment about me and who I must be after reading my words without ever really knowing me, well, that is where we have landed in the days of social media and 140 character bios. We all think we know what’s going on behind the keyboard based on a few choice words and images. That’s a discussion for another day. Without further ado…

To the Skaters of MRDA,

I’m watching you. I have worked with  you and have seen very sincere efforts on your part to curb what has been termed “toxic masculinity”. I am grateful for you and all your efforts to do so. I hope you continue to do so. I believe in the power of all of us to do good, better, to be our best. Keep calling yourselves out. Keep calling out your teammates. Keep being funny, polite, intense athletes. Keep your heads high, keep changing and growing. I see and value your efforts. I believe in rewarding the behavior I want to see. I’ll continue to let you know when you are doing awesome and when you are failing miserably.  Those of  you who chose to wear that particular number on a part of yourselves at World Cup, that is a perfect example of failing miserably. You wanted to support your friend, there were better, less harmful ways to do so. You showed incredibly poor judgment. You hurt people. Own up to it quickly please.

To the teammates who saw this (or any other shitty move) happening and didn’t know how or chose not to speak out against it, please do better next time. If you need help being strong or finding a voice, let your allies around the world help you. You aren’t alone and I recognize that some of you may be just as intensely bullied by these handful of dickwads as the rest of the world currently feels. I see you. You aren’t alone. We can make change happen together.

To the those of you who have made mistakes and sincerely want to change; let’s chat. My internet door is always open. I’m happy to tell you what I see working and what is just more of the same shit, different day. If you make a mistake, own that mistake and seek forgiveness, you’ll get it from me nine times out of ten. Every single one of us has done something we regret or said something we wish we could take back. I see you and I see you working for forgiveness.

Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean you get to keep derby. I’m not sorry about that. If you have crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed, forgiveness, while possible, does not mean you get to have continued access to a potentially vulnerable population. It is time to move on.  It is the job of this community to keep each other safe, and sometimes, even when we don’t want to, it means we have to see someone we once liked or respected to the door.  Thank you for going quietly. To those of us demanding someone exit, please, please be sure that what you’re asking for is reasonable. I am not suggesting we let predators have free reign, I am simply asking us all to give those who make offense* a chance to learn and change. If they do not, the door is that way.

Now that I’ve said that little bit, a few more thoughts. I’ve seen calls to quit working men’s derby. I just won’t.  I will not punish an entire organization because a handful of people are shitheads. I will call out, reprimand, demand change, compliment good behavior, and encourage growth and I will do so with every fiber of my being. I will continue to ref MRDA games. I will continue to work to keep my crews safe and to keep the skaters on the track safe. I will do this even if it means I have to remove my services from certain venues, certain teams, certain skaters. I will not punish an entire group because of the actions of a few but I will not support those who aren’t making efforts to get their houses cleaned. My decision to continue supporting Men’s Roller Derby does not mean I don’t empathize with the victims. It does not mean I condone the actions of the few who’ve dicked things up for the many.  You don’t have to like it, but I hope we can talk about why I believe that rewarding the positive changes and behaviors will lead to quicker and more lasting changes than constantly throwing the baby out with the bathwater or slamming outreached hands in doors.

Let’s do better. All of us. We can, I know it.

 

 

* please believe that I am not talking about sexual assault when I say “offense”. I’ve just seen too many people to quickly offended by the smallest off-color remark. How will anyone learn or grow if we simply boot them to the curb every time they make a reparable mistake?

The map tried to put us in the parking lot for the Office Max to make a u-turn and go back the way we came. We found it in the end. There’s a man standing outside the front doors; he looks tired and sad and when he sees us I see the pain I feel reflected on his face. I wonder if he’s here for himself or a friend or a family member. Which of his loves has had their lives flipped upside down? We make eye contact briefly and there’s a nod.

The lobby is packed. And that’s somehow worse than if it had been quiet and empty. Everyone here for the same reason. This place deals with one thing: cancer. So this lobby packed to the point they’ve pulled in extra chairs to accommodate all of us, that’s 40 something lives touched. And we are just one lobby. 

I’m watching him. He’s putting on a strong face as he fills out the stack of paperwork but he’s scared. We both are. And the kidlet feels it so she’s buried in her drawings. For some reason today it’s an oak tree she’s determined to get right. It’s something solid. Something real and beautiful for her to bury herself away in.

There are no easy ways to explain the uncertainty. There is no casual way to explain to someone else how your life was going a certain way and then it wasn’t. 

That is the reality of cancer. And it is the reality we live in now.

via Daily Prompt: Vanish

And then she was gone.

That was always what they said, in the interviews, on the tapes later.  She or he was there, then they weren’t.  A crowded mall.  A parade.  A quiet walk home from school with some friends.  They were all seen until they weren’t.  It was the same every time.

Maria had always wondered how it could be that no one could see someone vanish.  That so many people would deny having seen a living human just disappear into seeming thin air.  Now she thought maybe she could see how it had happened.  She had been on her way to her job behind the counter at the mall kiosk that sold overpriced, under quality, cell phone cases and the like.  The mall was crowded and smelled like Christmas.  Too many bodies crammed into the tightly packed, poorly ventilated facility made her feel like she was inside a clothes dryer with some towels that hadn’t quite dried.  There was the taste of humans on her tongue that left her wanting to hold her breath as she was jostled about by the various patrons, oblivious to the teenage girl hurrying against the crowd.  Later, when asked, none of them would remember seeing her.  They’d all say things like “I don’t know, maybe?” or “She looks a little familiar, but I can’t be sure.”  Helpful things like that.

She wasn’t even sure, at first, that she’d vanished.  Like the others.  Like the millions before her and the millions that came after, when she was gone, she was sure that it was everyone else that had gone instead.  One minute she could hear the canned speakers overhead blasting Holly Jolly Christmas and smell the food court and then in the next instant there was silence and the oppressive lack of sensation. There was the feeling of falling, of being weightless.  And then she was gone.

I wasn’t entirely sure how I wanted to start this blog post.  Or this series rather.  Would I  need to go back and explain reffing? Derby? My goals and the past year? Should I just jump straight in and talk about the trip? I wasn’t sure.  I’m still not entirely sure.  I wanted some sort of outline so that all these Ref 50 posts look similar, but I realized the first one was going to have to be in multiple parts so it would look a little different the next time I wrote one up.

First things first; if you don’t know about Roller Derby or it’s officiating, please go look it up.  I’ll talk a bit about it but won’t do big details other than to compare and contrast my own personal experiences where I end up reffing.  I’m using reffing, but I mean officiating, because sometimes it may not work out to officiate on skates.  So if you’re confused you can ask questions in the comments or just simply Google.

Next: What is Ref 50? Many of you who’ve been following along know I lost my mother very suddenly (only not really suddenly if you understand diabetes and kidney failure) and it rocked my world a little. Okay, it rocked my world a little in the same way a 9.0 earthquake knocks the world a little. I changed. Rapidly and not for the best.  I did some stuff I would have sneered at doing two years ago.  I became a liar.  Covering my grief with lies about being “okay” and I turned to some activities that made me hurt in the moment and hurting in the moment was feeling and feeling was something I couldn’t do after she died.  It all sort of crashed down around me about a month ago and during the process I started setting more tangible and healthy goals for myself.  One of these is to officiate a derby game in every one of our fifty nifty United States (and if any of you are now singing the song we are insta-bffs).  I know it will take time and money and energy, but shouldn’t all good goals be slightly challenging? If I wanted an easy goal it would have been “Eat Doritos and play WoW for 14 hours straight”.  <—Achievement Unlocked 9/10/2016.

So there’s the goal.  Officiate in 50 states.  I hope to do this in two years.  Might seem like a lot to fit in, it may become clear halfway or more through that I need a stretch goal.  I worry about Hawaii and Alaska and to be quite honest the New England States my be super clustered together but I can only ref so many games in a day.

This brings me to Ref 50: Arizona.  I wondered if I should start with New Mexico, my home state.  It seems logical.  I have plenty of games coming up locally I could count.  But this particular game had significance.  I agreed to go to Flagstaff, Arizona and ref a Mock Sanctioned Bout (maybe I need to have an appendix post on the homepage….) for High Altitude Roller Derby.  I agreed to ref this game on the eve of the first anniversary of my Mother’s passing.  I wasn’t sure it was wise.  I got a lot of support from my husband, despite the fact that I’ve nearly destroyed our family life this past year, and we piled into the car and set off for Flagstaff. (Oh, did I mention that he was recently diagnosed with cancer and has his own shit to deal with? When you go looking for a partner, look for one that will support you even when it is hard for them, and then for Cthulu’s sake take care of them).

I was a nervous freaking ref, I mean wreck.  I was about to work with a crew that I had never worked with before. I was going to an unknown venue in a city I had only barely passed through once on our way to NM. We arrived at the venue with about an hour til game time. Walking into any derby venue I always assess two things: Skating surface and bathroom locations.  Both seemed adequate (no porta potties, woot!) We were inside a school gym (why don’t more teams partner with their local school district, I wonder?).  The floor was a nice slick wood (hooray for my 97s, I really need new wheels….) and the officials had a little corner by the bathrooms to have their staff meetings.  I met my Head Ref, a nice young man who put me at ease, and all my fellow Zeebs (refs) and the heart of the officiating crew, the Head NSO.  Luckily I was joined in Flagstaff by two very dear NSO friends out of Albuquerque as well.  We had our own little mini New Mexico crew-within-a-crew.  It’s nice to see familiar faces when you travel for the derbs.

The game went really well.  I always judge a game’s success on two factors; did anyone get hurt (no) and were both teams treated equally (yes).  Regarding that equality, it’s so hard to explain what happens to my personal feelings when a game starts.  People will ask me after “Did you see that thing that so and so did?” and I always feel this stunned and dumb look on my face before I reply, genuinely, with “oh, were they playing?” I may know people on both teams, in fact I had reffed both of them recently in New Mexico, but as soon as the whistle blows I literally can only see colors and numbers.  I couldn’t tell you if someone I know is on the track if I tried.  So no one got hurt.  I feel confident the game was called fairly.  Most importantly I did the thing.  Whenever I do the thing and don’t freak out I’m pretty fucking happy with myself.

I have to compliment both teams on being amazing sportswomen.  It was an incredibly close game (if pictures don’t lie, I don’t check scores during or after and have to refer back to pictures to tell me the outcomes) and tensions definitely mounted in those last few moments.  The officials did a great job, especially our HNSO.  She rocked and I hope to get to work with her and the others I met again really soon.

This feels pretty long for a post.  So I’m going to stop there for now.  There’s more to the Ref 50: AZ story, though.  Did you think I would drag my family all the way to Arizona just to sit in a loud, sweaty, stinky middle school gym and watch me twirl around on skates (you’d be within your rights to think that)? We did more than just derbs in Arizona.  After all it is the Grand Canyon state.  So, tune in tomorrow and I’ll post a bit more about Ref 50 and our adventures in the Canyon.  And look forward to more Ref 50 Posts in the coming months.  There will be a lot of the Southwest getting covered initially (go local!).  But I hope to branch into some of the more easterly and midwesterly states soon.  Let’s end on a high note: one of the best parts about reffing? Always being on the winning team.

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HR Funder and I Discussing Serious Things (probably the loud music)


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Doing the Thing


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Winning Team! Great Crew!

 

A year ago my mom was still alive today. I was busy, planning for a trip. Getting ready to leave town for three days. She called and we talked about a visit to my grandmother I was going to make. I remember being really wrapped up in packing as she was trying to talk to me. Trying to reassure me that it wasn’t me that made things weird between my family and I, that’s just how things were. We chatted about getting lunch on the following Wednesday; we would get the kid from school, maybe go to Santa Fe. We wouldn’t. She would be dead. And cremated. I would be buried in grief and alcohol and acting to the world like I had all my shit together. I didn’t. Don’t. I am exactly where I was this time last year. Preparing for a three day trip to the same state I was in when she died. The only difference is that on this day last year she was still alive. And now she’s not.