Saying Goodbye to Anne Smashaway (For Now.)

It was June 2010 when I watched my first roller derby match with a few friends, and found myself saying, “I could totally do that.” Almost as if I was dared, I walked over to the merch booth, bought a sticker, and casually said, “Um, so, they said we could get information on how to join over here?” Castro (as I would later come to know her), smiled big and became so excited, that I couldn’t help but feel the same way. To be honest, as I walked away from the booth, I wasn’t quite sure that I would actually follow through. The start up costs aren’t small, I hadn’t been on skates since the roller blade craze of 1994, and making the decision to let people hurl themselves at you while on wheels is not a decision one should make lightly.

But to be honest, I didn’t feel like I had another choice.

I moved to Dallas in December of 2009 for a job. And while I had some awesome friends down there, its fair to say me and Dallas were never going to be BFFs. Don’t get me wrong, there are some highlights — Shiner (in all varieties), tacos, porch drinking, burritos, patio drinking, red dirt country music, drinking while floating the river — but I knew it would never be home. And when I first moved, I found myself doubting the person I was at the time, wondering how I could change myself to better fit in. Derby changed that.

Contrary to popular opinion, Tim Riggins does not help you move in when arriving in Texas.

Contrary to popular opinion, Tim Riggins does not help you move in when arriving in Texas.

I have often said that playing derby made me a stronger woman. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve come to realize, that playing derby made me realize just how strong of a woman I already was. I fought through injury, self-doubt, haters, and even put my leadership skills to the test. I felt valued, and also felt as if I was giving value. I learned to love my body, and realized how powerful of a machine it can be when I get out of its way. I can rock a pair of booty shorts like no one’s business. (Skating in circles for many hours will do that to your ass you.) And when people find out you play derby, it’s like instant cool points. Truly. Someone could have totally thought you were worthless five minutes before, and then you mention knocking chicks to the ground, and they’re all like “Ermahgerd, you’re mah hero!”

Totally knocked her out. I win.

Totally knocked her out. I win.

I love the sport of roller derby, I really do. But if I’ve learned anything during the past 2 1/2 years, it’s that it is okay to go against the grain and do things that surprise people. Moving back to Seattle has been amazing. It is so nice to be closer to family, back in a city that I love, and to be excited about all the new things I can go, do, and see. I slowly realized that to take full advantage of these things, derby needed to go. (Folks, talk to your local derby girls, it takes so much work/dedication/time to make these leagues run. It’s truly awe inspiring.) I don’t think Annie Smash is gone forever. (I don’t know that my sanity would stay around without the opportunity to hit folks  once in awhile.) Maybe she’ll come back in a year, or three years. Maybe she’ll come back wearing zebra stripes. But I do know this, I am still a cool person (my original title for this post was going to be “15 reasons I am still cool even if I don’t play roller derby”), I will still rock the glitter booty shorts whenever possible (Ya’ll, it’s just so much more comfortable than real pants!), and I will be eternally grateful for the experiences, friendship, and love this sport has given me.

My first team. Viva!

My first team. Viva!

The lovely Deadly Kennedys! DK4L!

The lovely Deadly Kennedys! DK4L!

Quite possibly the best team ever.

Quite possibly the best team ever.


Facebook Graph Search and Higher Education (Or Why You Should Care About More than T. Swift and Drake)

Today I readthis post that Liz Gross wrote on the opportunities Facebook Graph Search presents for college campuses. To summarize, Liz shares that many of the social graph results gives colleges and universities the opportunity to gather a more in depth look at their student population. She gives examples searches such as, “People who like UW-Madison and are in high school and live in Milwaukee”, and Music  people who attend Bridgewater State University listen to“. To the last one she says,

A campus activities group could plan what bands to invite to campus to ensure a higher turnout. In case you’re curious, the top results are Taylor Swift, Drake, Kenny Chesney, and Eminem.

Now, I am going to pause here to say that I do not disagree with the points Liz is making in her post. Liz works as a social media manager with experience in marketing at a university, so the ideas in her post clearly align with her interests and areas of research. However, my issue is this: if we allow ourselves as higher education/student affairs professionals to view the best use of social network technologies as a way to decide between a Taylor Swift or Drake concert, we will never successfully engage with our students via technology channels.Image

Screen shot 2013-01-24 at 1.31.50 PM

While reading a recent NY Times article on LGBTQIA students, this phrase stuck with me, “she first heard the term “bi-gender” from Kate, who found it on Tumblr.” If that doesn’t blow your mind, go back and read it again. Let it sink in. Students enrolling on our campuses are using social network technologies to develop and understand their personal identities. Students who are going to come us as advisors, professors, mentors, and figures of authority in the ivory tower, and want to discuss these issues of identity formation and intersecting lines between personal lives, public lives, and digital citizenship (perhaps that is all actually the same thing).

Again and again I read/hear the ninjas, gurus, experts, mavens, folks in higher ed who are above the average on the technology curve talk about “convincing” the “other” folks on campus why they need to “buy in to” and use technology. My thoughts are this, if we as the “experts” continually use technology in ways that do not stretch our limits, if we are providing information that is in other ways self-evident, why should we expect them to care? Technology has revolutionized communication, how can we grab onto this and revolutionize the way we communicate with students?

I think the most important post from Liz’s post is actually one she never addresses — when explaining why she does not use screenshots, she says it’s due to the “amount of personal information the searches revealed about people I didn’t know”. Take a look at this awesome tumblr that popped up the other day.

Much like this Diversity Officer from Gallaudet who received wide spread criticism for signing an anti-gay petition, Facebook Graph Searches social network technologies mean (among many other things) that our own identities, conflicting interests, political views, etc. are viewed in a more public arena than ever before. “Personal information about people we don’t know” is now the norm. What is not lost on me, is that we have the ability to influence this impact on higher education by being intentional and thoughtful about how we use this information. Do we raise money for Taylor Swift, or do we have open dialogues around ways that traditional gender roles continue to be perpetuated through online media? Do we scramble for ways to submit budget requests for ipads, or are we looking at the ways our campus technology use can actually increase the social class gap among our students?

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The Business of Being Brave – #oneword2012 Review

I was on the yearbook staff in high school, and while working on the layout for the water polo team, I came across a photo of me playing goalie with my arms outstretched, and my eyes closed. I was very happy to have the chance to make sure that photo hit the editing floor, as my flailing arms and fear on my face had no business being in print for the rest of my life.


If I remember correctly, it went something like this. But in water. And a lot less awesome looking.

I don’t think I ever played goalie again after that practice. I knew I wasn’t good, and as young as I was I didn’t see it as an opportunity for growth, but instead as an opportunity for ridicule and humiliation. And while it seems everyone gains a bit more confidence with age, there are still moments when I find myself letting doubt and fear take over. I often ask myself “what if this goes wrong?”

This was the motive behind choosing “brave” as my #oneword2012. My intention wasn’t to go all Katniss on the world, but rather making myself be vulnerable, and open to learning when things went wrong. I made an effort to honor my feelings more and share them with others, to live by my values even if it meant I voiced the “unpopular” view, and to take the time to do things that make me happy. And while this may seem to have a strong internal focus, I was surprised at how this “inner” focus allowed me to be more open to “outward” experiences.

more than runnning

This year I committed to running a marathon. I once said I would run one before I turned 30, which came and went with nary a road race to be found. In one of those moments of self-rationalization (I’m really good at that), I decided that running a marathon when I still was 30, was the next best thing. I had a couple of great friends also jump on this crazy band wagon, and we all signed up for the Dallas Marathon on December 9th.

While at a networking event this fall, I met another man who was also training for the Dallas Marathon. He asked me who I was training with, and I mentioned that sometimes my friends and I were able to run together, but for the most part, I was doing my training runs solo with some great advice from a faculty member in my department. He was shocked that I was training without the assistance of a running club/group. I tried to explain that this was something I was doing for myself. I wasn’t out to find a running group, or to become a part of a running community. I was doing this so I could show myself that it could be done. So that for once I could quiet the voice in my head that always says “what if this goes wrong?”

Everyone looks this good at mile 8.

Everyone looks this good at mile 8.

I cried three times while running that day (and once the day before at packet pick up). I was six minutes slower than my goal pace (sub 5 hours), but as I crossed the finish line I was overwhelmed with appreciation for myself. I had done it. I had completed something that was solely for me. That truly pushed my limits. It was an indescribable experience that I will forever carry deep in my heart.

I never considered myself someone who let “worry” get in the way until I realized just how many things I stopped myself from doing out of fear of looking foolish, or not being the best. Pushing beyond this worry and fear was how I chose to frame my #oneword2012, and will definitely influence my #oneword2013.

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How Do You Show Love?

What way do we show our students that we fall [in] love with the world?”@AlexandraFro

When I saw this tweet in my feed this morning, I stopped mid scroll and just stared at the screen. Lately, I have been spending a significant amount of time reflecting on what makes me happy. What drives my passion, my love, for what I do on a daily basis? The tweet made me wonder, is part of my frustration as of late due to the fact that I don’t give myself enough room to share my passions and interests in the work place? Sure, we need to work to create boundaries, keep up professionalism in the work place, be resources but not friends, etc., but if I believe being a good professional also means being the best version of myself from 9-5, shouldn’t I be able to openly discuss those things that bring me joy?

“Truth be told, there is not one day that goes by when I don’t fall in love with someone, with something.”Carole Maso

One of the main reasons I signed on to work with AlumniChoose was the fact that financially supporting projects can help students discover power through their passions. I remember that feeling as an undergraduate, and even as a graduate student, when everything seemed to click when I was able to make a difference on campus, create change, and use my educational experience to have some sort of real life impact. It seems a bit silly now, but back then I didn’t realize that the organizations I chose to be a part of, the way I spent my free time, the late night conversations I had about world events, hopes and dreams, would become foundational to my own philosophy of higher education. I believe in empowerment, discovery, fairness and equity, integrity, and authenticity. Show yourself through your work, through your legacy, through the lives you touch.

Yes, AlumniChoose is a fundraising website, but to me that the secondary part of our vision. We exist to aid students in making those connections between those ideas and sparks they have now to their great discoveries of the future. When you support a student run organic food collective today, you may be helping to create the next urban grocery store which brings quality produce to poverty stricken areas. Seem like a stretch? I don’t think so.

Where can you show your love today?

Cross posted at AlumniChoose

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Why You Should Be Up in Arms About Losing Ann

If I were to rank my favorite celebrity females, Ann Curry would fall at number 2, just behind the wonderful Meryl Streep. (Sorry, Ann, but I think you get this one.)  Not only is she an amazing journalist, a strong female professional, but she also has a great fashion sense. (And I mean, how do you not love a woman who reacts to her fans this way?)

That coat! Those Shoes!

I cried today when I watched Ann say her final farewell. Friends and I have been discussing the rumors for the past week, and I kept dismissing the possibility that she may really be in danger of losing her job. She has delivered some of the most poignant journalistic moments of the last 50 years (rough estimate), and I felt certain that NBC could appreciate what role Ann played for strong women every where. I was wrong. Ratings are down, they say her and Matt don’t have chemistry, and instead of questioning the $25 million golden boy, it must clearly be time to oust the woman. THE WOMAN WHO USED TWITTER TO REUNITE A LOST AMERICAN WOMAN WITH HER FAMILY POST 2011 Japanese earthquake. Clearly, she must be the problem.

Yes, selfishly I will miss hearing Ann’s voice every morning. I am one of the ridiculous people who actually talk back to the Today show cast in the mornings, complimenting Al on his outfit, warning Savannah when she gets a little too close to the guests, and most of all watching Ann be a moving storyteller. But even more, as I watched Ann cry this morning, I felt ache and pain for what this means for women in our society. Ann speaks her mind. She strives to do her best. She does less fluff and more hard hitting journalism. She visits war zones. She looks deeper. She has a strong voice. And today, a room full of (mostly male) executives told her that was wrong. And that it wasn’t good enough. Maybe should could have stayed around longer if she learned how to better bake cookies with Paula Deen and stopped showing too much empathy. F#@% that noise.

In a USA Today article released earlier this morning she says, “My father used to say, ‘Well, Ann, maybe the best thing you’ll ever do, you haven’t even thought of yet.’ And as I think about this, maybe that time is now.” To that I say, Ann, take a moment, listen to the cheers and applause from those who love you and recognize you as the strong, trail blazing, amazing female journalist you are, and know that we will always be standing in your corner waiting to see what you do next.

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Just Call Me “Pretty Hipster Girl”

You don’t really have to call me that, but when reviewing blog stats, it came up as one of the search terms bringing folks to my blog, and it made me feel special. My second favorite was “dark Disney princess”. Ladies and gents, I am a bad ass.

I signed on to blog with Reverb Broads again for the month of June, but life has decided regular participation was not in the cards. But, I really want to catch up because 1) The other folks also doing this are awesome, 2) I really like the prompts that have been suggested so far, and 3) There was a thick layer of dust on the blog.

So, because I believe in the power of a perfectly placed one-liner, and nothing beats a good list — I will now respond to the first 12 prompts of June.

June 1st: With what fictional character do you most identify?

If you had asked me 20 years ago, I would have said Kristy from the Baby Sitters Club. Now I would say I love the idea of somehow being a perfect mix of Hermione Granger, Angela Chase, and Punky Brewster.

June 2nd: What gives you nightmares?

Eating really rich foods before bed.

June 3rd: Who are your role models?

Single moms and Meryl Streep.

June 4th: What did people tease you about growing up?

Check out these glasses. They called me “Sally Julie Rafael”.

June 5th: Come up with a new constitutional amendment.

All the gays/lesbians/transgender folk/queer folk can get married and because they are awesome higher education is now free. (Gotta get the most bang for your buck.)

June 6th: Share a recipe or a meal that is a summer time favorite.

I make a really good bruschetta. Roma tomatoes, more garlic than you think you need, more capers than you think you need, 2 parts olive oil for every 1 part balsamic vinegar, lots of fresh basil.

June 7th: List 8 reasons it’s okay to lie.

1) When my mom asks me how she looks in that one floral print jacket. 2) When I know that if I go to work I may physically harm someone. 3) When Creepy McCreeprsen asks me if I’m seeing anyone. 4) When the doctor asks me if I’ve had a tetanus shot in the last 5 years. 5) When I am asked to go to an office baby shower. 6) When my friend asks me if I’ve seen the movie that we were supposed to watch together. 7) When the officer asks if I know how fast I was going. 8) When someone calls while I’m watching Battlestar Galactica on hulu and asks if I have time to talk.

June 8th: What are your favorite decorative items/pieces of furniture?

Two weeks ago I turned this dresser from Ikea into this:

Who’s fancy?

June 9th: What skill have you learned in the past year that you are proud of?

BLAM. I am also reattempting to learn some HTML. Made a table this week. Holla.

June 10th: What was your hardest parenting or partner moment?

I am 30 years old and cannot answer this question. Don’t worry, that doesn’t raise any sort of self doubt, or questioning of my life experiences at all.

June 11th: If you were to play hooky from work today, what would you do instead?

Take a road trip.

June 12th: What was the best decision you ever made?

There is no way I can narrow this down to just one, so I guess I’ll say allowing myself to trust my gut, being willing to move to new (yet sometimes strange) places, and not going on a second date with the guy who wore white slouch socks with his fancy dress shoes.

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Anything YouTube Can Do I Can Do Better

Remember Felix’s driver side mirror nub? It is a nub no more. (And truthfully, it hasn’t been a nub for a couple of months, but I like to think of the elapsed time as in depth quality control analysis. I passed. Woot.) Once I received the mirror in the mail, I decided to take my handy IKEA tool set (every single woman should own one) and put my car back together again.

To get started, I did what every self respecting individual does when wanting to learn a new skill, I went to YouTube. I carefully selected my video based on the following criteria: 1) They had more than one video about cars, 2) They had matching polos = official, 3) The intro for the video was only moderately cheesy (and if I remember correctly, tastefully used the engine revving sound). I want to give big props 1A Auto for easy to follow videos. (Here is the video I used.) The only down side? Once I successfully completed the project, I found myself looking through other videos saying things like “hmmm, do I want to lower my car?” and “Sure, I can replace an engine.”  Do not be alarmed. I haven’t tried either of those (yet).

And now, the adventure in photos:

It started simple enough.

This is when I realized, the Corolla is very much like a lego car. It just all clicks together.

Finished! And yes, it was almost dark by then. Beating twilight = totally awesome.


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The Great Burrito-tastrophy

Or “If I Had a Time Machine, I Would Never Relive This Past Weekend”.

Or “How I Spent $300 in 15 Seconds”.

It’s no secret that I play roller derby. And I love it. It’s been a great source of empowerment for me over the past year and a half. I feel more confident in myself, in my opinions, and I am less scared to speak my mind. Part of the Women’s Flat Track movement, is the DIY attitude. As a league, we run our own bout production, recruit our own sponsors, run our own practices, and we are stronger for it. However, that means when you host a kick ass tournament, you do all the work. Even if that means spending 28 hours in one weekend shlepping cases of water and bananas back and forth for visiting teams.

You guessed it. That is exactly how I spent last weekend.

Now, like any self respecting derby girl woman, the idea of waking up at 5:30 am on a Saturday does not excite me. But you know what does excite me? Breakfast burritos. And you know how I can make myself feel better about losing sleep on a weekend? A tasty breakfast burrito from Sonic. (The kind with the tots INSIDE the burrito. It’s like the double rainbow of breakfast foods.)


If you are fortunate enough to have a Sonic close to you, you know that they have these super cute drive in stalls which allow you to order through a speaker. Just like the good ol’ times. Then the car hop will swiftly bring your order window side, and you can commence your greasy goodness indulgence. I still maintain, that what happened next on that Saturday morning is due to my deep care and concern for others. See, upon pulling into the stall, I decided that I was too close to the speaker, and it might prove difficult for the car hop to deliver my burrito. Figuring the car hop didn’t like being up this early anymore than I did, I figured I would reposition my car in order to make their job easier. And then I heard it. A sort of scrape, pull, smash, pop sound. I had ripped Felix’s arm off.

The bright light is the flash. Not heaven coming for Felix's arm.

Felix is not an evil Transformer. That is just the way the light reflected off his arm.

On the upside, I learned you can indeed pass a Texas inspection without a driver side mirror (the rear view mirror is sufficient), and you can order mirrors online for $46.51. I am planning to install myself via knowledge I gain from YouTube. (Post to follow.)

36 hours later I dropped my iPhone in a cooler full of ice water. It was an expensive weekend. But at least I was complimented on my banana distribution skills.


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Why You Should Pay Attention to SOPA (or the death of LOLcats)

In the past couple days, the media has finally started to give some attention to SOPA and PIPA. Today news broke the Wikipedia, reddit, Mozilla, and several other sites will be going dark for a 24 hour period beginning at 12 am January 18th in order to protest the pending legislation.

For those of you who may not have the time to read about SOPA and PIPA, let me give you my opinion. If passed, these laws could be very dangerous to the ways we as a society use the web. I agree content should be protected under copyright, but I also believe that access to the internet, and using it’s platforms to promote new ideas and social justice is one of the most powerful tools we have today. There are better ways to protect content and creativity that will not lead to censorship.


Still not convinced? Let me speak in terms that may better resonate with your heart.

If SOPA passed, you could lose your precious LOLcats if the government thought that any of those images or videos were being used without permission.

You could lose the ability to search Youtube for amazing videos like this.

Collaboration and re-purposing of content on the internet can be amazing forms of art. Why take that away?

Finally, I think we all agree, the world needs more cowbell, and not less Walken.


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#reverbbroads11 Wrap Up

It was truly my intention to respond to every #reverbbroads11 prompt for the month of December. But then the holidays happened. I traveled home, had spotty internet connections, and spent more time drinking wine and eating chocolate cake with rainbow chip frosting directly out of the pan than I did thinking about blogging. And I’m okay with that — I find few things to be better than lots of wine and cake.

However, when I saw the prompt for December 31st, I wanted to give it one more go before I said good bye to the #reverbbroads crew. Yesterday’s prompt was from Amy, and I think it’s a great way to begin 2012. “What is your “one word”? One word for this year, one word for next year.”

I first heard about the One Word idea at the beginning of 2011, and enjoyed watching a few of my twitter friends refer to their one word during the course of the year. I had already decided that this was something I wanted to do for 2012, and when I saw it was the final prompt, I knew posting my word would be a good way to stay accountable.

My one word for 2012 is brave. (I’m specifically focusing on the “defy, challenge, dare, courage” part of the definition.)

I’ve mentioned before that I have started to feel more empowered in my life within the last year or so. Maybe it’s being older and wiser (shout out to the first week of my 30’s), or maybe it’s just learning to do more things that make myself happy, but now I want to take the feeling of empowerment, and use it to take a few risks. I want to be brave, and try new things. Be brave, and let go of the things in life that aren’t working. Be brave, and get rid of the excuses that keep me from trying things just because success is not guaranteed. Be brave, and share my feelings with others even when it’s scary.

I’m not entirely sure how I will track this, or determine my one word success a year from now, but I’m sure I’ll share some of the adventures via my blog. (Afterall, now that #reverbbroads is done, I need something to generate content.)

What is your one word for 2012?



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