The Rollergirl Project, and redefining female strength

If you haven’t heard about Cory Layman’s Rollergirl Project: Body By Derby, then it’s your lucky day.

Spearheaded by an Indiana-based photographer, the Rollergirl Project is a collection of profiles on women who play roller derby, featuring a bare-all photo of the skater in her skates, shorts, a sports bra, and little else. These photos are accompanied by stats on the skater, including their height and weight, how long they’ve played derby, whether they exercised before starting derby, and how they exercise now.

According to Layman, the project is:

…to show the different body types of active skaters and the physical effects derby has on the players.  The main focus of the pictures will be on the form and definition and to show the shapes of derby athletes.  The ultimate goal is to show all of the different shapes and forms a derby athlete can take and that perfection is not required to be a strong, capable skater.

I love this project so hard, and was reminded of that love by a recent story by the Huffington Post. That’s because the reason I still play roller derby today – and it’s been almost four years now – is because of the sense of empowerment roller derby lends me on a daily basis. I am accepted on the track in a way I have never experienced before, especially when it comes to being accepted by other women. I mentioned this in my post on how to work out like a roller derby girl, but it wasn’t until  I started playing roller derby in 2011, when I was 24, that I truly felt comfortable in my own skin.

That’s because what I love about roller derby is the way it encourages skaters to accept, and love, your body. When you’re playing derby, your body is your weapon. In addition, roller derby requires power and strength (both mental and physical). However, the beauty is that skaters can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, be considered “heavy” or “skinny,” and yet, they’re all considered just as powerful, and just as effective, on the track.

Women are very hard on themselves when it comes to accepting their bodies, oftentimes holding themselves to impossible standards. What roller derby does is empower you as an athlete – it makes you feel strong and powerful. That then translates into a similar sense of empowerment as a woman, encouraging you to think about your body in new waysI mean, look at what you can do on the track – you just skated 27 laps in five minutes! So, who cares if you have a little bit of a muffin top? Who cares if you weigh 5-10 lbs more than you want? Your body is a MACHINE. You’ll want to fine-tune that body, of course, and work on keeping yourself strong and healthy. But if you’re focusing on building strength and becoming a better athlete, “working out” becomes less about losing weight and meeting some impossible standard of “beauty.” It’s absolutely freeing.

OK, admission: playing roller derby isn’t going to automatically get rid of all your body issues overnight. For some people, that requires something more than just twice-a-week derby practice. This is a personal journey more than anything. However, never have I felt so comfortable in my own skin than when I play derby. As I mentioned before, I was self-conscious about my body for a long time. I was always “thin,” but people were never particularly nice when they referenced how I looked. When you’re awkward, shy, and 13 years old, even a back-handed compliment about your weight can make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, and so even if you actually don’t have a weight problem, you grow up never fully comfortable with how you look, and how clothes fit you, how other people look at you.

Roller derby changed that for me. My derby sisters don’t say, “Geez Rose, you’re so skinny!” Instead, they say, “Man, that was a good hit Rose!” And if they do reference my weight, it’s to point out how effective my pointy hip bones are when executing a block (heh heh … skinny girl’s secret weapon). Now, my body is mine, and I’m proud of it. It’s not perfect, and I’m no bodybuilder or super healthy-eater (I’m drinking wine … right now), but it’s strong, and it can do amazing things. You can see that same confidence in the eyes of every woman profiled as part of the Rollergirl Project, and it’s moments like these that I’m most proud to call myself a roller derby girl.

read thisCheck out the Rollergirl Project as well as Gorgeous Roller Derby Photos Redefine Strength at the Huffington Post.

How to work out like a roller derby girl

Photo courtesy of David Lewis.

Photo courtesy of David Lewis.

Whenever I consider my identity – who *I* actually am, as a person – there are some attributes that are easy to identify. A writer, a librarian (well, soon-to-be), a wife, a neat freak, a book lover. The only thing that even I have a hard time believing is that I am a  “roller derby girl,” largely because that side of my personality (to some people) clashes so strongly with my more public persona.

But I am truly, inconceivably, some might say unbelievably, a roller derby girl. I never tire of saying that strapping on skates and joining a roller derby league was the best decision I made in my adult life, as its given so much back to me, from a newly-discovered confidence, to a support network that is second to none. And my “roller derby personality” is also very much a part – I’d say an extension – of my real personality: it’s the wry, sarcastic side of me who isn’t afraid to take a hit or say “fuck” – a lot.

It has also whipped me into the best shape of my life, rivaled only by high school (when I had unlimited metabolism). Because while I am a roller derby girl, I am also a person committed to fitness and health. I had a brief hiatus from regular exercise in college, but for 12 years growing up, I played soccer in a big way. Running, summer camps, and cross-training was just a way of life. I love team sports, and I think one of the reasons I had a hard time getting into an exercise routine in college was because I was going it alone. I needed the mental stimulation of a game, the camaraderie of a team, as well as a physical and emotional outlet for my energy and stress.

I also like – almost need – to be in shape. Even though people have always “insisted” that I’m “skinny,” I was self-conscious about my weight and body for a long time. Playing roller derby has been a very empowering experience for me, and for the first time in my life, I feel very comfortable with my body. I think that’s because for the first time, I’m not worried whether I’m “skinny” or “thin,” but rather I feel strong and capable.

But reaching that level of comfort does come with a bit of work, and not all of it happens on the roller derby track. It’s common sense to say this, but to be healthy and fit, one must take care of his or her body, and that includes eating well and exercising on a regular, consistent basis. I say this not to be Captain Obvious, but “Ugh, I don’t understand how you look that way,” is a comment I still hear quite frequently.

Now usually, when people ask me about my weight or appearance, I tend to deflect the conversation because it makes me uncomfortable (and it’s kind of rude). But here, I wanted to share part of the “secret” that keeps me feeling good, including how even you can work out like a roller derby girl. I promise, you don’t need to try every fitness fad that comes on the market to get the body you want. You just need to learn the basics, learn what kind of exercise your body needs, and then work at it.

Obviously, food is a big part of being healthy, but as this is going to be a long post, I’ll save eating healthy for another time. But first, exercising. Here’s what I do:

The Basics

Join a gym … if you can

I’ve worked out more or less on a weekly basis over the years, and most of the time, the frequency was dependent on my schedule. Last year, J and I joined a gym, a move I was initially wary about given the fact that I had just left a full-time job for a part-time gig. However, we were easily able to fit the gym fee into our budget, and it turns out that having a separate place to go and exercise makes all the difference in our motivation to work out. Once you get there, there’s nothing left to do but exercise.

And if you’re worried about fitting the gym into your budget, consider this: if you even spend $5 a day for a crappy lunch at a fast food joint, that’s $25 a week, and $100 a month. If you go to Planet Fitness, you could pay for 10 gym memberships a month with that cash. And hey, you’re cutting out fast food, so double win.

Get your partner involved

Adding to the motivation is J’s and my decision to work out together whenever we can. When it comes to fitness and health, it’s true what they say about getting your partner involved; I live with J, so it’s important that he’s not only on board with my dedication to fitness, but an active participant as well.

Keep your workouts short(er)

When I go to the gym, I don’t believe in long workouts. I mean, if that’s what you want/need to do, then go ahead. But I find that if my workouts are too long, I get bored, and am less motivated to return on a regular basis. I typically aim for 45 minutes, which becomes an hour when you factor in changing times, parking, and getting in/out.

Divide your workouts into zones

I also believe in focusing on different parts of your body during different workouts. For me, that means having an “upper body day,” and a “leg day.” J has a different combination of “A” and “B” workouts that he’s tailored for his body type/workout goals, and so how you choose to organize your workout is up to you. However, splitting up your workout by zones makes the idea of regular exercise more doable. If you’re walking into a gym thinking you need to do everything, you’re  going to feel overwhelmed.

The Workouts

Like I said, I divide my workouts into “upper body” and “leg” days, which means I (ideally) hit up the gym twice a week. If I get there a third day, I focus on cardio. Most of my exercises can be done on machines found at any gym. We belong to an LA Fitness, though I don’t necessarily have a preference.

Important note: I’m not a trainer or a fitness expert. For additional instructions on how to use these machines and properly execute the exercises, check out the thousands of YouTube videos out there, or set up an appointment with a trainer. They’re more than willing to walk you through a basic routine that works for you, and teach you how to use the machines.

Before I start my exercises, though, I always start my gym routine with a half- to full-mile run on the treadmill. It warms up my muscles, gets my heart pumping, and integrates a bit of cardio into my workout. If you can’t run a full half-mile, don’t worry. The beauty of treadmills means you can adjust their speed, so don’t be embarrassed to go as slow as you need. If you need to walk, walk, but gradually work on building up your speed and endurance. If you can easily run a half-mile, set your sights higher. Always challenge yourself, and celebrate every little improvement.

Leg day

During my leg day, I focus heavily on my rear end and thighs, because keeping this part of my body strong keeps me strong for roller derby, and improves my skating. In addition, I’ve never had “chicken legs,” and if I don’t work on my thighs, I get self-conscious about their size. For all these exercises, I do three sets of 10, unless I’m too tired to go beyond 8. Be smart: don’t push yourself into an injury.

  • Squats: J’s taught me to start my leg day with squats because it’s such a total lower-body workout. I like to use the squat bar because it forces you to learn and use proper form, and work on your balance (which is good for your core). Most squat bars are 45 lbs, so you may need to work up to this. The first time I really wanted to do squats, I couldn’t keep the bar balanced on my shoulders; I had to work on my shoulder-strengthening exercises for a few weeks, and then, I made sure J was there to spot me. Now, I can squat 85 lbs without help, and my goal is to eventually squat my body weight. I’m not looking to be a bodybuilder here, but I tell ya what, nothing makes my butt burn more the day after than squats. And for some reason, that feeling is highly satisfying.
  • Leg Press: I love the sitting leg press machine. Make sure you keep proper form, and don’t let your knees lock!
  • Hip Abbductor / Adductor: J calls these machines the “sex machines,” and while they look a little dirty, I love the way they make you feel. If you don’t know, these machines work your inner and outer thighs, and really ladies, what part of us are we more self-conscious of than our inner thighs? Note: This machine is not going to give you a “thigh gap”, because in reality, no amount of dieting or exercising can do this. Women need to stop obsessing over reaching this ridiculous goal. Do your research.
  • Leg Curl: At this point, my legs are screaming, so finishing my sets on the leg curl machine is highly satisfying. It’s an additional exercise for your thighs, and it feels really good.

I used to do three sets of 10 on the leg extension machine, but for some reason, they gave me weird cramps in my thighs. If you can do them, do ‘em. If not, no biggie.

Arm Day

My arm day is a little longer, and that’s because since last summer, one of my major fitness goals is to strengthen my upper body. I’ve always had skinny arms, but I want to be stronger and able to better take care of myself.

  • Shoulder Press: This is my least favorite machine, so I always do it first. If you can only do three sets of 8, don’t feel bad about yourself. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
  • Seated Dips: I love these because they start working on my triceps, an area a lot of women need to address as they age.
  • Seated Bicep Curl: These always make me feel so badass because with each flex, you can see your bicep pop out of your arm. Of course, I can only do 15-20 lbs on this machine, while the muscle dudes behind me have their pins set at, like, 100 lbs. That’s OK, I just pretend I’m cool.
  • Chest Press: I remember the day I finally realized I was doing the chest press machine correctly when I started to actually feel something happening in my chest. Get it grrrrl.
  • Lat Pull: These babies work your back, and I don’t care who you are, everyone wants a sexy, ripped back. My back isn’t “ripped,” but I feel better about it after doing this.
  • Free Weights: Using a combination of 7.5-12.5 lb free weights, I have a simple routine made up of shoulder extensions, arnold presses, bicep curls, and tricep extensions. I’m always the girl at the lightest end of the weight bench, which can be a little intimidating when you’re surrounded by muscle dudes. But you know what, one day I decided I would stop caring, and I haven’t been intimidated since. When I started using free weights years ago (at home), I literally had to use 3 lb weights….THREE POUNDS. I’m very proud of myself for steadily increasing my weight, and I hope to continue to do so in the future.

Abs

And finally, I end every workout (legs and arms) with an ab routine. This is a combination of moves I’ve picked up from various places over the years, mostly roller derby practices, but also a roller derby “workout DVD” someone burned me many years ago. Ab routines aren’t going to help you lose all the jiggle in your middle (only cardio and better eating can do that), but they’ll help bring out those muscles when that belly fat begins to melt away. Plus, for athletes, core strength is imperative. Here’s what I do:

  • 30 second plank (on my elbows)
  • 5 v-sits, of 15-20 seconds each, with a 5-10 second rest in between
  • 20 crunch twists with an 8 lb medicine ball
  • 2 30-second side planks, one on each side
  • 1 minute plank (alternating between elbows and arms every 15 seconds)

And then go back down, to another set of side planks, another set of crunch twists, more v-sits, and a final 30-second plank. Who needs crunches anyway?

Cardio

Like I said, if I can make it to the gym on a third day, it’s usually Saturday mornings, so I stick to cardio. This is mainly because the gym is always so crowded on Saturday mornings, and I hate waiting for machines. With cardio, do what works for you, but really push yourself.

My favorite thing to do is a 45-minute “pyramid-style” interval routine, which involves running, at a certain speed, for a pre-defined length of time. Then I walk for 1-2 minutes. Then, I up the speed and run for another pre-defined length of time. Then I walk again. I try to build up so that I’m running for 10-15 minutes straight, and then step back down again.

THEN, because I like to punish myself, and because I know it’s important for roller derby, I spend the last two minutes of that 45-minute run sprinting at various speeds. For your derby girl, this recreates having to push yourself from skating fast, to sprint skating, during a jam. Roller derby endurance is different from what you need to run a 5K; you need to be able to move from fast, to slow/stopped, to fast, to sprint, easily. Doing my sprints at the end of my cardio routine, when I’m technically the most tired, simulates that experience.

If the weather’s nice, I do think it’s best to do your running outside. However, even when it’s warm, I still like to complete this 45-minute routine on a treadmill because I like having the ability to change my speed and easily time myself. When I run outside, I’m mainly going for distance and working on my general endurance. In reality, I think I’m a slow runner, mainly because I don’t particularly enjoy it. But of all the things one can do when fit, I think the hallmark of good fitness is running, and so when I need to whip myself into shape, I (begrudgingly) lace up my running shoes.

A note: a lot of people choose to do their cardio on elliptical machines, and if that’s your jam, go ahead. For some people, joint or knee problems make running impossible, and so if you need something lower impact, like using the elliptical or a stationary bike, please do so. It’s still cardio. I, however, stopped using the elliptical about six months ago because I felt like it wasn’t doing anything for me anymore.

Do something else

If going to the gym two or three days a week, for 45 minutes to an hour each time, doesn’t seem enough to get you into shape, you’d be right. It’s not enough, and that’s because I firmly believe that you can’t rely solely on a gym to get you into shape. Remember: on top of my gym routine, I’m going to practice two nights  a week. Our roller derby practices involve a lot of intense skating (cardio), and cross-training exercises that intensely work our core and legs. It’s an important and integral part of my total fitness routine.

But you don’t have to join a roller derby league to be in shape (although I would recommend trying it out if you’re curious!). For everyone else, I recommend throwing yourself into any other physical activity that gets you out of the house, and out of the gym. If team sports motivate you, like they do for me, join a recreational league of a sport of your choosing. Remember: you don’t have be good to play; most rec leagues out there are all about having fun, anyway. Also, don’t be afraid to try a new sport! When most women show up to their first roller derby practice, they don’t know what they’re doing – most of them don’t know how to skate (I didn’t!). Most “regular-people” athletes out there are more than willing to teach and train. It may seem scary, but you only live once, right?

If sports aren’t your thing, there’s dozens more activities out there. Fancy races (5Ks, 10Ks, etc) seem to be “the thing” nowadays, and you can even mix it up with color runs or tough mudders. I’m not the biggest fan of long distance running, but I can say there’s nothing more empowering than hearing the cheering fans when you finish your first race. If not running, then jump on a bike, go skiing, pick up boxing … you get my drift.

Integrating “real” activities into your everyday life not only completes your fitness routine, but enriches your life. Instead of spending a Saturday inside, watching Netflix (yet again), turn off the TV and go for a run, or go biking, or go to practice. It’s a simple healthy choice that contributes to better overall health, and a greater sense of well-being.

And last but not least: I know I said I’m not a trainer, nor am I a doctor, but if you’re seriously looking to start exercising, here’s two pieces of advice:

  • Learn how to stretch, and make sure you stretch before and after doing a physical activity. I don’t typically stretch when I first arrive at the gym, but I always do so afterward. And I always stretch before playing roller derby. Not stretching is a recipe for getting hurt.
  • If you haven’t been seriously active in a long time, consider getting  a physical to make sure everything is working correctly. The very last thing you want to do is injure yourself. Again, talk to a trainer if you’re unfamiliar with how things work, or take a class. Don’t be shy about asking for help – you’ll appreciate it later.

What girls should know about exercise

On Facebook the other day, I stumbled across this article a friend posted: 10 Things I Want My Daughter To Know About Working Out. This friend plays roller derby with me, and I know exactly where she’s coming from – because it’s what I believe about exercise as well.

Strength equals self-sufficiency.  Being strong – particularly as a woman – is empowering.  It will feel good someday to be able to carry your own luggage down the stairs if the airport escalator is broken, and it will be important to have a solid shot at outrunning a stranger should you meet one a dark alley.

Fitness opens doors.  Being healthy and fit can help you see the world differently.  The planet looks different from a bike or a pair of skis than it does from a car or an airplane.  Out in the elements you have the time and space to notice details and meet people and remember smells and bugs and mud and rain and the feeling of warm sunshine on your face.  And those are the moments that make up your life.

Exercise is a lifestyle, not an event.  Being an active person isn’t about taking a class three times a week at the gym.  It’s about things like biking to the grocery store and parking your car in the back of the lot and walking instead of taking a cab and catching up with friends on a hiking trail instead of a bar stool.

Health begets health.  Healthy behavior inspires healthy behavior.  Exercise.  Healthy eating.  Solid sleep.  Positive relationships.  These things are all related.

I’ve always been athletic. I’m decently tall-ish for a girl, and I’ve always been “thin”. I played soccer for 12 years growing up, a hobby that kept me lean and in shape for a long time. I took a brief hiatus from exercise in college, but (magically enough) I still managed to stay relatively “in shape”. If you look at my two brothers, you’ll find this same body type. We’re a family of runners, even if some of us love it (one brother ran track and cross-country), and some of us hate it (this girl).

I started running again once I graduated from college, but it was when I started playing roller derby in 2011 that I started thinking seriously about exercise. I loved the team atmosphere of roller derby, and so “working out” at practice became infinitely preferable to doing something at home, or going to the gym. Eventually though, I realized that if I wanted to improve at derby, I needed to work out on my own, improve my endurance, and strengthen my core and legs.

I’ve had a few exercise routines since then, but I’ve now settled in a rhythm of going to the gym at least twice a week on top of derby practices. I started by focusing on my core, running, and leg exercises, but have since moved on to devoting one day a week to my upper body. I’ve always had a small upper body, and have thus always felt “weak”. Yeah, it’s been nice having thin arms most of my life, but it’s frustrating when I can’t take care of myself – when I have to ask someone else to lift the heavy things. I wanted to be stronger than that, and so instead of settling for the 5lb free weights I have at home, I took to the gym and have since steadily increased my weights. I’m not Wonder Woman yet, but J insists he’s seeing some definition in my triceps, and for some reason, I feel very proud.

Because – and this is what’s important about this article – exercise for women shouldn’t be about “looking good” or “getting skinnier”, it should be about growing stronger. OK, I get it ladies, you don’t want to look like a bodybuilder. Cross-fitters freak you out (don’t worry, they freak me out too). But focusing on strength – whether it’s in your lungs, your legs, or your biceps – is not unfeminine, it’s a sign of power. As women, we should be able to take care of ourselves, and have a body that is healthy and able to take on any challenges. But you’re not going to get there if you’re obsessing about losing every last pound, and looking good in a dress. Or, even worse, looking good for other people.

I won’t lie: even though I admit I’ve always been a thin girl, I have always-always-always-always hated being called “skinny”. In junior high and high school, it was a backhanded insult, not a compliment. It’s something predatory girls say to demean others because they can’t get over their own body issues. But even more that, being called “skinny”, to me, is like being called weak.

Instead, I’d much rather be called strong, lean, in shape, and womanly. I don’t care what my body looks like to others when I’m wearing a swimsuit. I’d much rather work on my self-esteem and confidence so that no matter what I look like in the mirror, I feel beautiful. Because, as the author of the article says:

If you feel beautiful, you look beautiful.  Looking beautiful starts on the inside.  And being fit and strong feels beautiful.

New responsibilities + some mini reviews

Phew, it’s been awhile since I’ve made my way over to the ol’ blog. I’m happy to say that the bachelorette party + my friend’s wedding is officially over, meaning there aren’t any trips to Cincinnati planned for awhile. We do, however, have another wedding to attend/participate in this weekend in Cleveland. This time the tables are turned: Joel’s in the wedding while I’ll be hanging out at the date’s table.

In the past week, I’ve also managed to take on a new challenge: I was named the head of the Bath City Roller Girls’ PR, website and print media committee. That means I — and my committee of three derby superstars — will be taking care of BCRG’s fliers, outreach efforts to local media, social media and a lot more. I’m excited to take more of a leadership role with BCRG, though I’ll have to avoid complaining should I start to feel overwhelmed. (What? You mean I can’t work 60+ hours a week, play roller derby, plan a wedding AND head up PR efforts for a derby league?)

I have been reading quite a bit recently, and I’m happy to say I’ve finished both The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three, the first two books of the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. Because I didn’t have time to post proper previews and reviews, here’s some mini reviews for your reading pleasure.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

  • Date finished: To be honest … I couldn’t tell you.
  • Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
  • Year: 1982
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading List: Summer 2012

Quick thoughts upon finishing: OK first, a quick note about how I originally read the Dark Tower series. My parents first started buying me Dark Tower books years and years ago for Christmas. I believe I received The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three at the same time, but I would proceed to receive the next book in the series for Christmas for … the next 4-5 years? Hence, it took awhile to read the series. It didn’t have to be that way; I could have bought them all at once. But I kind of liked the traditional nature of the gift-giving ritual, and what it lent to the reading experience. However, by the time I finally finished the 7th, and last, book in the series, it had been QUITE some time since I read The Gunslinger.

Thus, I was curious to see what I would think of The Gunslinger this time around. In his introduction, King said he wrote The Gunslinger as a very young man, and thus the book occasionally falls prey to the mis-steps of an immature author. I saw some of that, and I also understood how in a way, The Gunslinger really stands apart from the rest of the Dark Tower series, like a novella. If you’re trying to get someone interested in the series, The Gunslinger can be a confusing place to start. There’s a lot of allusions and half-answered questions. The world itself is convoluted and strange. Things don’t begin to click and pick up until The Drawing of the Three.

That being said, I did know where Roland was heading so I read The Gunslinger through entirely different eyes this time. What struck me was the complexity of Roland’s character (Roland, FYI = our hero). Roland is a striking figure in that he’s both accepted damnation in his struggle to essentially save the universe. He is both nostalgic and bitter. He’s ruthlessly practical but considers himself a romantic. I don’t remember this level of complexity, and that’s a good thing. Don’t you love re-reading favorites?

The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King

  • Date finished: June 17, 2012
  • Genre: Fiction, Fantasy
  • Year: 1987
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading List: Summer 2012

Quick thoughts upon finishing: And then, there was the The Drawing of the Three. Like I mention above, Roland’s journey to the Dark Tower really picks up in this book and, not to be cliche, but I hated putting it down. I was reading this in the midst of my friend’s wedding festivities, and I would use every opportunity to read. At one point, my mom asked, “Did you bring a Stephen King book to a rehearsal dinner?”

In The Drawing of the Three, the story moves from Roland to Eddie and Susannah, who enter the gunslinger’s world through a series of three pre-ordained mystical doors. In this book, we learn a little bit more about how our world and the gunslinger’s universe is situated, and how the two interact. The book also sets up the paradox that sparks the events of the third book, The Wastelands.

Now that I’m sitting down to write this, I don’t have much else to say about it. I loved it, of course. I love this series, I love this world, I love the story that Stephen King has created for us. The Drawing of the Three is simply where the momentum begins and there’s definitely an inherent sense of excitement and suspense. I’m really looking forward to reading more.

New to the derby helmet

Thanks to the best finace in the world for actually finding a longhorn skull sticker! Now I’m actually rolling with the Rose Madder theme. I’m thinking I should include this in my next fan letter to Stephen King … OK, I’ve never actually written one of those, but maybe I should now.

And if you’re wondering what I’m talking about:

Also PS, if you Google “Rose Madder book” and then hit images, a really awkward picture of me from the Bath City Roller Girls website pops up. It’s pretty far down the list … but still. Awkward.