The same ice

I’ll own that it’s probably me.

A difficult winter, depression, whatever else.

It takes some nerve to get on the ice.  It takes more nerve when the ice is distant.  More nerve still when one is tired, and it’s late, and when one is the only woman.  It takes nerve to show up and play badly.  Which I often do.

Sometimes I don’t have the nerve.

Sometimes it’s easier to fail before I try, so far as that goes.


Hockey has the potential to be the most inclusive sport in the world.  The people are like none other, in general. The sport is intense in ways that many aren’t.

You have to work together or nothing happens.

I write myself off the ice, sometimes before I’ve even set a blade on it.

Sometimes it isn’t me, though.



I showed up at pickup yesterday, at the rink a handful of minutes from my house. I coached my son there years ago. It’s familiar even though it’s been a while.

My stomach was in knots. Fucking pickup, I’d tell myself.  Again. There is no way to make this any easier, any less fraught.  It’s supposed to be fun.  It’s supposed to be fun.

There were three of us.  One guy who reassured me a lot after I said I sucked, and it turned out I probably played a bit better than him, in the scheme of things.  Though I notice no matter how worse a guy plays, he apologizes less – or never – and is generally more self-assured on the ice. I want that. I want to blame everyone else for not having that but the reality is I get in my own damned way.

Another guy showed up. We all skated around. I found edges – oh, look I have edges, they do things – I did some backwards circles and remembered six years ago when I skated backwards better than I skated forwards.

Made a dozen excuses in my head.


There was a time when hockey was always a relief.  When the ice was always mine no matter how outclassed I was. No matter how impatient anyone around me was when I failed to carry the puck to the net.

I want to find that feeling, that time again.

It’s on me.


Third guy said “let’s play some 2 on 1,” second guy was dubious. “Come on,” I said and kind of felt bad because in guy culture it’s unfair to not give someone an out. There was no way for him to gracefully say no once the girl says she’s in.

So we played.

I’m insanely out of shape.  No wind, no muscle. Zero stick control. Mostly comical, but old things that have always worked – my sense of space on the ice, position, how plays work, how to follow and work with another forward – are still good.

Mostly when I overthink I get into trouble. Mostly when I start questioning what I’m doing I screw up.

Or I screw up and then give up.

Lesson learned.


The pace was slow, which was great because I have time to really watch and think about the play while it happens. Not even pickup, more like a 2 on1 drill so I can really mull over what’s going on. Not just freak out and windmill, or the hockey equivalent thereof.

Eventually I said “hey, am I supposed to be scoring off the pipe?” because I hadn’t, and next play we came in and passed back and forth and I took a beautiful pass across the crease, lifted the puck and clanged it off the near post.

I know.  Right?

I can play hockey. It’s right there. Right.  There.

I let out a victory yell, then immediately followed it with “hah! That was all by accident.”

The fuck do these things come out of my mouth?


“I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth.”

It’s there, somewhere, under my feet.

That’s the thing. I can shut out the voices. The impatient voices, the bigoted voices, the voices telling me I don’t belong there – loudest of all my own.

The ice waits.

The game waits.

Somewhere, under my feet.


I’m not that tumor

It’s circular insanity. I’m writing about cancer to stop having cancer be the big deal it is.

See the problem with that?

Look, I’m not trying to minimize anyone’s cancer.  This is my experience.

I’m really sick of it, though. I want to stop talking about cancer and move on to “health” as a concept and here I am talking about fucking cancer anyway.

So if you have cancer, and you go to the doctor a few years later, and you say “hey, so I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and I feel like absolute shit and all my hair’s falling out and my depression is debilitating, and I’ve stopped playing hockey or lifting or doing things I love and every time I move significantly I get deep, flu like aches for days. Not good aches,” and then somehow history comes up and the doctor pounces on what?

Not “debilitating depression.”

But “cancer.”

Did I even fucking say cancer?


Look, all right, cancer is bad and I can say cancer cancer cancer and everyone is like oooooooooo but my kind of cancer is pissant. It’s a pissant, slow-growing largely non-lethal cancer, so much so that when they told me I had cancer they said to me – right to my face – “ah, well, this is the best kind of cancer to have.”

(I punched no one in the face who said this to me, for which I would like some cookies, please.)

I also found out *three years later* it is actually impossible for my kind of cancer to spread to lymph, and that was three years after I hyperventilated many days thinking about lymphoma.  And my usually very lumpy, bumpy lymph nodes.

Look, the big deal here is not that I had cancer and a lobectomy and elected not to have radiation because – say it with me now –

the cancer wasn’t that big a deal

– the big deal is that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis really fucking sucks and getting treated for thyroid disease never mind depression when you’re a woman in the US is about the most suck-filled, awful, futile process you can possibly imagine.

The doctor says over and over “diagnostic” “imaging” “ultrasound” “specialist” “nodule” and I want to say


Sometimes I just sit in the doctor’s office and zone out as they drone on and fight back tears. They don’t know. I’m a tough girl, and all.

I’ve felt like crap for months now, a while. 38 Studios crashed and burned and with it my benefits and for some reason of utter denial I got state benefits for everyone else in the family and not me.

No blood tests, no routine upping of my levothyroxine while my remaining thyroid lobe eats itself alive (thyrioditis is SO GROSS), nothing.

So now I’m sick.

But all that matters is cancer.

The world is kind of bullshit and there’s not a real point to this post except that while everyone else is saying cancer there’s a whole host of problems requiring our attention.


I’m just saying.

How it goes

“Talk talk talk, talk talk talk.”

“I’m in a boss fight.”

“Talk talk, talk, talk. Talk… talk talk.”

“You know I’m in a boss fight, right?

“Talk talk talk. Talk.”

“I’m in a –” *sigh*

“Talk talk. Talk.”

“You know I died, right?”


“You know I died because you were chattering at me, right?”

“Whiner noob.”

On the streets. Of Ohio.

This is how my evening goes.

I buy my kids pizza for dinner because I’m a crappy mom and then we have Coke to drink because I’m really a crappy mom. I should also mention I have let them play Minecraft together for EIGHT BILLION HOURS. Key word: “together.”

So I’m in the kitchen with G and he’s petting the cat and says “this is a great cat.” And then, somewhat randomly, “he was born and raised on the streets of Ohio.”

And I start laughing and we say “in your day, in Ohio? We didn’t have none of this ‘litter’ business or any of this ‘kibble’ you all have these days, no. We used to HUNT. And poop on the STREET.”

And the fact is that Spotlight was actually mailed from a kill shelter in Ohio out to Maryland to avoid him getting, you know, killed, which is how we got him, the one lone jet black kitten in the back of his cage, sleeping in his litterbox.

Because, you know, Ohio.

And this goes on and we’re at the table eating our pizza (or they’re eating their pizza and I’m having a sandwich) and drinking our Coke, and we’re talking about the diamond mines in Russia and L will say something and we’ll say “that’s because you weren’t born. On the streets. Of Ohio.”

“Where were we born,” she wants to know and I said “not on the streets of Ohio, dog,” and then finally I relent because we can’t stop laughing and I tell her they were both born at Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara and Grandma was there both times, and stuff.

Then out of nowhere L says “so there was this owl.” And G and I stop laughing and talking about Ohio long enough to listen and she continues, “And it was shot in the head. And it’s recovering.”

G was taking a drink at this particular moment, which is how Coke came to be spat out all over the tablecloth with the giraffes, and I’m laughing so hard I can’t breathe, and we’re trying not to, and she’s going “what??? what?????” and finally we calm down and apologize and I tell her to continue.

And G is just taking another sip when she goes “anyway, so there was this OTHER owl…”

And Coke got spat all over the table again and L flees the table in a tantrum because G and I can’t stop laughing.

And G gets up to go apologize and comfort her but on the way he says to me: “that owl was from the streets of Ohio… he ran into some rough times there.”

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s a hard place, ask the cat. He knows.”

Why I (still) listen to metal.


I’m trying to like these bands.  I’m trying to like these kind of “rock” type bands now.  I keep thinking I’ll find the new Rush, right? I like rock. I do. And look, this 3 Doors Down isn’t bad. At all, this isn’t bad at all:


And this one, well, you know. It’s in 6/8 time and that’s cool, right?


But the lyrics are pretty whiny. As is the rest of the album.


What is that? Seriously?  What the hell is this song?

It’s time to let you go, it’s what we had to do,
It’s time to give this up, I think we both knew,
There’s nothing left to say, there’s nothing left to prove,
And now it’s time to turn and walk away from, what’s left of
me and you…

… that’s the best we can do for lyrics? Major band, 2011? Seriously? Does music not evolve?


Here, here’s some real eloquence on relationships:

Different eyes see different things
Different hearts beat on different strings
But there are times
For you and me, when all such things agree…

This is the metal I found, what… six months ago?  I’m still listening to it. It doesn’t get old. I hear new things, understand new things about it all the time.  Music should unfold.  Music should start dense and opaque and each listening should bring understanding and illumination and I guess if I gotta go to to metal to get that then I will.


Segos brigos

From antumnos the life-giving winds
Fanned the flames into a blaze
The awen of the mighty

By the force of sucellus sledge
By every impact of ogmios club
With bricta’s invincible epiphany

A tribe arose
A tribe broke forth

Cause we’re born free
Cause we’re born wild
Cause we are indomitable and bold
Cause we are fire (brave)
Cause we are wave (strong)
Cause we are rock (tribe)
We are one – we are helvetios

The ears tethered to the divine tongue
Following the ancient wise
As laughter fills antumnos

Drinking from the cup of life
The well that’s never running dry
We wandered into the light of day

Again taranis enthean wheel revolved
From antumnos life was upheaved

By the force of succellus sledge
By every impact of ogmios’ club
With bricta’s invincible epiphany

While the English part of that may be somewhat questionable, this shit has things to say. It’s an exhortation, meditation, assertion. It’s part of a long story the album tells not just of a tribe or an historical event, but a state of mind that a whiny “well, I guess that’s it then,” breakup song isn’t, never will be.


I’m not saying “back then in days of fur kilts and plague we were much better people.” That’s a trap.  You know why it’s a trap?

Y lovede a child of this cuntre,
And so Y wende he had do me;
Now myself the sothe Y see,
That he is far.

Here, let me translate that for you:

I loved a child of this country,
And so I thought he also loved me;
Now, myself the truth I see,
That he is far.

That’s fifteenth-century whiny lovestricken bullshit right there, not so different from 3 Doors Down at all.


Maybe Helvetios is in some ways some illucid, pretentious crap, appropriating a past culture we’ll never really understand and certainly not by means of romanticization. What the fuck does “upheaved” even mean?

But see, it’s a state of mind thing.

I’d rather sit here and contemplate “upheaved” and being indomitable and bold than listen to some guy whine on about myriad wrongs of his life and the world. In the end, I need music to push me, exhort me, not echo and amplify any of my own whiny voices.

So I still listen to metal.


I’ll leave you with this, today. Listen to whatever lights you on fire. Don’t listen to anything, don’t make any art that consigns you to your fate.


But we are both the same animal

John Scalzi has written a really good post, An Incomplete Guide to Not Creeping
…which I had a fairly hard time staying out of because I have a vested interest in this conversation and its outcomes. Which really any woman does. But I feel especially strongly about.


Something I’ve observed in the comments of both that post and his post following it, about his own experiences being potentially creepy – but avoiding it – is that men really, really want there to be divisions and polarity between “malicious” creepy behavior and “innocent” creepy behavior.

The more I read, the more I saw it, and despite John’s attempt to close that gap with his second post which amounts to “no, potentially I am also that creepy guy,” men really, really needed to say “well. Some of us are potential rapists. But most of us are clueless.”

I’m sorry. No. Bullshit.

I wanted to post, over and over again – and it would be futile so I didn’t – no.

No, and no and no.


Guys. This is the same behavior and it has the same effect and more importantly it has the same source whether you get to the point of rape or not.

Creepy behavior is about objectification.

It is where I cease to be a person.

It’s where you see me as a means to an end.

That is hideous, quite frankly, from the start.

It is also the place from which rape happens.


I know you think it’s not creepy. I know you think it’s innocent. But there is nothing at all innocent about the selfishness of an impulse that drives you to speak to a woman solely because of your needs – predominantly physical – and what you think she can do for them.

I have just disappeared at that point. I’m no longer a person I’m a potential vagina for you to sate the needs of your dick on, or I’m a object of comfort for your loneliness, or I am an imagined lover and companion you desperately want but do not actually know me to be, and the stripping away of my person, my self

who I actually am standing there and what I need and want and hope in my own heart

is a violent act to begin with.


The power of what John is urging men to do is not as much in the practical, physical safety it provides women.

It’s that it forces a paradigm shift.

You stop thinking about the woman in terms of your needs and desires and your rights.

And you approach her specifically thinking about hers.


I am an imperfect creature. I objectify all the time, I project imagined things on men, other women all the time, I do. I think very impure things about Josh Duhamel and Manu Bennett. I do.

But I do not walk up to Josh or Manu with those desires paramount in my mind. With my need for my fantasy of them to be real. Or my need for them to respond to me, or validate my attractiveness (!), or have them be part of the fantasy I’ve made up in my head about who they are.

In fact, I don’t walk up to Josh or Manu at all.

Background noise

The NE Spartan Sprint is this upcoming weekend. I am fairly unprepared, apart from being, as they say, swole as fuck from all the lifting. But I haven’t been playing much hockey and I think I’ve run all of twice this summer.  And, you know, in theory it’s a footrace among other things.

I’m told it’s not that difficult. I’ve also read accounts online that contradict that.

I had to stop reading the Spartan facebook pages because I compared myself to every person posting and felt like I came up lacking.

The weight of failure of all those firefighter agilities has stayed with me, some twenty years later.  What doesn’t matter is the ones I passed, what doesn’t matter are my successes in fire, what doesn’t matter is that I gutted it out in Feburary in the fucking Staislaus for two straight days in the water in a goddamn wetsuit when everyone else was in drysuits, going down class four rapids on my back. The Swiftwater Tech 2 doesn’t matter. When I finally sucked it up enough to do the burnover evolution and sat in a piece of tinfoil with wildfire raging over and around me heating the dirt I was breathing… none of that matters.

Just the failures.


I fail to see the progress, I look at my body in the mirror as I do squats and hate my shape instead of reveling in the power of how much I’m lifting.

I know better. It doesn’t matter. I do it anyway.


I watch the Spartan video.  Over and over.  The one that made me decide to do it. This one:

I watch it and cry, and cry. At the gap between what I am and the hero I imagined for myself, for my life.

And also for the gap between what I feel, and the hero I actually am.


I am afraid.

A lot, often. I’m afraid of cancer recurring. I’m afraid of my shape. I’m afraid of not doing what I need to do before I die. I’m afraid I’m wasting my time here, on this planet. I’m afraid of being a shitty parent. I’m afraid of doing less… then my potential. I’m afraid of not writing with the kind of honesty I should.

I’m afraid of not finishing.

I’m afraid of being alone in this.


There’s a key difference between myself 20 years ago and myself now, though. I’ve gone through a failure process at the gym every night, on the ice, over and over again. I’ve failed lifts and dumped plates, I’ve shown up and lifted 40 pounds less than I did last week for no apparent reason, I’ve fallen, I’ve missed the net, I’ve played for shit and I’ve played well.

I’ve beaten all my previous personal records.

In a few months I’ll be able to bench my bodyweight.

I have, these days, despite everything, a fair idea of what some of my actual limits are, but not just the lower ones. Also how much I can do, physically.

Two nights ago I got 145# up unspotted, halfway, on the bench. 145 pounds. I was almost there.


What’s changed, in 20 years is that I can put my head down and move, past the background noise. I can move my feet, my body, put my skates out on the ice again or grab the bar and dig deep, I can keep my feet moving and call it willing sacrifice.

I’ve realized that sometimes it’s enough just to keep moving, to not stop, to go the the gym over and over even though sometimes it stops making sense and you have no idea why you’re doing it anymore.

I have that, now.

Sometimes, there is no reason. Sometimes you just block out everything including your fear and your doubt, but also all your hopes and dreams and aspirations

and just without anything other than will do to do it… no matter what. Just move, and do.

Tanzania 2012

Me, my gender and I

I was told today that I am too manly and therefore unattractive.

I secretly suspect this sometimes.

It is part of the litany of self-doubt that is in my head when I am not vigilant about social programming versus my own, better sense of self-worth.


What a conundrum is that, to be told that the better gender is male, and then that I am too much of it. And therefore unappealing.


I like to pass for male.

That’s the thing.  But not physically. Physically I’m always a bit startled by my own body, by its being either more muscular than I expect or bigger than I expect, or female, or masculine. My sense of self is so far outside my body sometimes that the person in the mirror is an utter stranger.

But over the years, I have done my best, endeavored to have a kindly relationship with her. With that mirror person.

But I pass for male, except not physically, I have learned to pass for male as much as I can and is appropriate, on the ice.  Maybe in the gym, lifting.  Maybe other places, maybe every day in every interaction I take on traditionally male roles or qualities, maybe a hundred times a day I speak or talk or act and am recognized as doing traditionally masculine things, in masculine ways.

Does this make me queergendered, or a feminist?


If I could flip my gender back and forth, like some species of frogs, I probably would.

Male is easily half my internal self, after all, and I like to express it.

I have a sense that both everyone and no one is like this.

Or a lot of people are.

They just find ways of being how they are and express it accordingly.


I reserve the right to be a guy today.


But seriously.

Don’t mistake power and strength for masculinity.