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January, 2012

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

Psycho Lady Hockey Turns 3: So what happens now?

I’ve seen this happen in other people’s lives, and now it’s happening in mine…

Somewhere on the Eastern shore of Japan Over the past few weeks several different people have said something very interesting to me. They told me they felt that I had lived “well beyond my years,” and that I had the same amount of life experiences as your average 40 year old. They were largely referring to the decade I dedicated to lurking around the hockey arenas of the world, and my stints abroad in Asia. The funny thing is that I have always regarded both of these pieces of my history as embarrassments and unpleasant reminders that I have failed to mature along with my colleagues to the point that, as my 27th birthday draws nearer, I have been left completely and utterly in the dust.

The fact is that over the past 10 years or so, hockey has been the source of all the ill in my life: fake friends, stupid males, poor decisions, etc, etc. All those games, all those road trips, all those hilarious segments on Coach’s Corner fail to even come close to making the evils of my life in hockey (to this point) seem worth it.

I started out, so I thought, as a sort of activist. But I’ve long lost the will to fight for what I had been fighting for. My cries of reason seemed to fall on deaf ears. I had hoped to help the women of hockey change their self-oppression under the imagined threat of the puck bunny. However, instead of listening to my message, I was dubbed the heretic, and even the lone oppressor in the history of the game itself. So, now I will spare myself the exhaustion of being a broken record, and leave all of you, whom this involves, to rot in the darkness of something you don’t understand, and all the murderous inward and outward rage that this ignorance can and will breed. Frankly, I wonder why I ever took up this cause in the first place, but deep down I think I had selfish intentions of making my own little world, the hockey world, a better place for me and me alone. You can’t really blame me for being so shortsighted. I was 17 when this whole notion came into my head, but God, there really are so many other things that I could be fighting for.

Activism aside, I think I had also become a truth seeker of sorts. I wanted to know every secret. I wanted to see everything, and go everywhere. But this knowledge, and this experience has really just become a curse. It’s to the point now that I can’t even go back to just being a fan. Every hockey game I see reminds me of something horrible, or traumatic, or embarrassing, or downright evil, and there is always a moment in every game that I have to suppress the urge to tell the whole arena to go fuck themselves. Yes, hockey really does make me a psycho. And while I do love the game, the hatred I feel towards the baggage that comes with it prevents us from any sort of reconciliation. Sometimes I wish that I could suffer from total amnesia and just forget everything that has ever happened in my entire life because, frankly, I can’t remember anything before my life in hockey. But sometimes I think even that is not enough. I couldn’t even tell you the kind of girl I’d be today if I never got involved in hockey because it is completely beyond imaginable. I really should have taken the blue pill.

So what happens now? Is Psycho Lady Hockey finished? Maybe, although I have no plans to take any steps toward shutting it down. All I can do right now is go through the motions, as I have been doing, hoping for some sort of electric jolt that can make me love hockey once again despite its flaws, and grant me the ability not to see beyond the final buzzer. Plus, having 4 NHL rinks left to visit hangs over me like a menacing storm cloud, though I’m not sure why, exactly. I mean it’s not like I’m going to get some award for visiting all the rinks. Hell, in my case, I’ll probably just get called a stalker, or puck bunny, or desperate whore (again) for achieving this feat.

You know what’s interesting? Every time I pick up an autobiography of some member of the hockey community, I always laugh when I flip to the last chapter and see, “I HATE HOCKEY!” written in big capital letters. I think I must find it funny because I can identify with it. I think for those of us who have allowed hockey to take us, to own us, and to, inevitably, become us, we can’t help but get knocked across that thin red line between love and hate. When hockey is everything, it is all that is bad and all that is good, and in the end it becomes impossible to see through that wall of shit to all the joy that the game once brought us. Maybe for people like us, we will all hate hockey in the end, but maybe, just maybe, we will, with time, be able to love again.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Wayne Gretzky.

Top Photo: Devils/Panthers Post Game. Notice my cold, dead eyes.

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Monday, January 16th, 2012

The NHL Finale (Part 2): Pink jerseys and other shit.

Newark, NJ Oh boy! I woke up on the morning of game day after a bit of an ordeal following my off day in New York City. Sure, there were some great moments to my day in the city that never sleeps, but for the majority of this post, I choose to focus on the negative since that’s the kind of girl I am this week. I was introduced to the legendary City Bakery hot chocolate (that very nearly killed me, I might add), and their cornbread encrusted catfish. I know… Cornbread… Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that! I also had various encounters with both the Florida Panthers and New York Rangers prior to their puck drop at Madison Square Garden. Oh my!

No, I didn’t go to that particular game. I hate to say it, but MSG is one of my least favourite NHL rinks. It has nothing to do with the fans or the team, and, trust me, it pains me to despise the home of any Original 6 franchise. However, MSG makes the Air Canada Centre look like Dollarama! I know the place has been “renovated,” but I don’t know how much has changed. All I know is that when I was there for the first time in 2009-10, and sitting in my usual lower bowl seats, I was seeing double because of the bizarre and highly unorthodox angle the glass is (or was) laid out. Weird glass plus completely unruly ticket prices makes MSG an arena I purposely avoid on my hockey excursions to the Tri State Area. However, catching a Rangers game at one of the bars/restaurants neighbouring The Garden has become somewhat of a tradition, and on this particular visit, that tradition was carried out at Stout. Fancy pants beers and Stout burgers were had!

Unfortunately, getting to Stout safely was a saga in itself. I had been wandering around town all day long, and in the general Central Park area I had a slight altercation with a mean spirited bird. It was one of those moments where you just knew it was going to happen, and for some reason I just knew it was going to happen to me. I suddenly had a flash of myself getting shit on (by a bird), so I darted out of the tree line like the Psycho that I am, and probably to the amusement of everyone around me, to avoid fulfilling the prophecy I had just seen. But it could not be stopped. As I reached the outskirts of the tree line that motherfucker of a sniper landed a clear shot on me that fell with a mighty thud! The next 15 minutes were spent in the bathroom of FAO Schwarz where little girls gawked in horror at the scary lady that was washing some sort of unsavoury substance out of her hair. All I can say is that it better fucking be good luck, as legend has it, because I could sure use some luck that doesn’t suck right about now.

Back at my hotel I was greeted with even more “Newark hospitality.” I knew from the first moment I arrived the previous afternoon that everyone working at that hotel hated their lives. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve been living in Japan for seven months and used to the Japanese custom of oozing politeness even when they are really thinking, “Die, bitch, die!,” and, therefore, a lot more sensitive to general rudeness in other people. Either way, it seemed to me, at least, that everyone working there was always in a shitty mood, but the fact that they were too lazy to even do their jobs properly, really pissed me off.

I called down that night for another bottle of shampoo. Like an idiot, I left my own at home, which meant I was forced to use the low end, hair damaging hotel brand, but that was fine – whatever. My incident with the bird meant that I needed to wash my hair again that night, as I doubt my efforts at FAO Schwarz were 100% effective. I know I’ve had some shit in my bed before, but never actual feces, and I wasn’t about to start that night. Long story short, I had to call down to the front desk 3 times in the course of 2 hours before that single bottle of shampoo actually made it up to my room. This meant that I didn’t even get into the shower until after midnight, which was an effort for the girl who was physically exhausted after battling with Asia to North America jet lag for the past 12 days. And, yes, I even revealed to them that there were traces of bird shit in my hair on my second phone call, and even that didn’t put a fire under their ass.

Despite the way my NHL Finale posts have sounded, I’m really not much of a princess. I let a lot of crap slide because I couldn’t care less. But after an epic parking debacle on my way back to Canada the morning after the Panthers game at Prudential Center, I actually did something I haven’t done since the doomed Nashville trip of ’06… I complained. You might remember the Nashville trip as the time a random guy forced his way into my hotel room, and attempted to pay me for sex, which I assure you was quite unsettling for me since I was still in my celibacy period. I remember thinking, “Oh no! I have not been waiting nearly 4 years to just get raped by some disgusting man!” I mean, the Colorado Avalanche AND Baltimore Ravens were staying at the hotel, too, so if it was going to go down, there were obviously better options available LOL. So, yeah, if I haven’t felt the need to formally complain since THAT incident until now, then you can imagine how epically pissed I must have been. I will say this, though. Unlike that hotel in Nashville, I have actually received apologies from four different people on behalf of this hotel.

Anyway, back to game day. I had decided that the Panthers/Devils game was going to be the first game, since my misadventure at BankAtlantic Center back in the 2007-08 season, that I was going to bust out my PINK Panthers jersey. How did a PINK jersey come into MY possession you ask? Well back then the pink jerseys were the ONLY small fitted jerseys available on the market. Before then your only option was to buy those big, baggy replica jerseys, and I had plenty of those. I decided I wanted a pink jersey to commemorate the Pink Jersey Era, as I was sure it wouldn’t last long. The thing was I didn’t want to disgrace the Leafs or the Flyers by getting a pink jersey with the logo of a team I actually liked, so I went with Florida. It seemed like a perfect idea. I was in Florida for a game, and I needed something to go over my tube top, so I wouldn’t freeze at the rink. Unfortunately, you may remember how that game turned out. After watching the warm up, I was thrown into a spell of constant vomiting (seriously, I threw up 8 times before the first period ended), as the stomach flu going around my family had finally caught up to me. I spent the first period sprawled out in the doctor’s office and the Plantinum Lounge (as no one would let me go outside to get some air), before finally giving up on the game and driving back to Naples. If one of the 23 US based NHL rinks deserves a Psycho Lady do over, BankAtlantic Center is definitely at the top of that list.

What I find amusing about the pink jersey is the absolute rage it induces in female hockey fans. It’s like the ridiculous threat of the puck bunny on the non-puck bunny. Wearing a pink jersey suggests that you aren’t a real hockey fan because you don’t wear a real hockey jersey. When really what it means is that the person wearing said jersey may actually just have a thing for pink. But, oh, that’s right! Liking pink is also a telltale mark of a puck bunny, as pink is a feminine colour, and only masculine females like sports. The most amusing thing of all is that the very fact that the pink jersey exists sets off the people that don’t intend to buy one, and likely are not the target market to begin with. Hmm what does that remind me of? No one is holding a gun to your head to make you buy one, ladies.

It is, of course, that absolute rage that makes me wear my pink jersey with pride despite the fact that I don’t particularly like it. I had an encounter with two really special broads that fed right into it, too. The looks and snickers they gave me have even succeeded in putting a smile on my face as I’m sitting here typing this out. Oh, puck bunnies. If you hate me because I’m a puck bunny, and all that it implies, then you’ve just implicated yourself as a puck bunny because only a puck bunny would be angry at my (imagined) involvement in the personal lives of hockey players. Girls that are sincerely NOT interested in hockey players wouldn’t care what I or anyone else may or may not do with them. God, how many times have I had to write that over the past 3 years?!

There was, however, one major problem with wearing the pink jersey to the Prudential Center that night. Sadly, my C-DILF love, Pete DeBoer, was likely to get the wrong impression, as I was wearing an enemy jersey albeit an unrecognizable one. I swear most people couldn’t tell that I was wearing a Panthers jersey. That is everyone except for the two 7 year olds sitting next to me that kept smiling nervously at me every time they celebrated a Devils goal. They knew. They knew. But Jesus! It’s the SAME logo, just pink and sparkly! The icing on the cake was when the owner of a sports memorabilia shop (with a heavy hockey flavour to it, I might add) asked me what jersey I was wearing. Actually, no, maybe it was the guy in the Ice Lounge that asked me (me in my Panthers jersey!) who was playing the Devils that night!

Overall it was a great game. I stuffed myself to the brim in the Ice Lounge, and I’m really not quite sure how I managed that after the huge “Spanish” lunch I had, but I must have put about 6 plates of food away. Both games I saw at The Rock were brimming with talent from two of my favourite OHL rosters – the 2002-03 Kitchener Rangers, and the 2003-04 Guelph Storm. It was practically a Highway 7 West hoedown in Newark that week! Oh, and let’s not forget my all time favourite Plymouth Whaler, Stephen Weiss! P.S. I love that David Clarkson still has the exact same presence on the ice as he always did. He skates in an unmistakable way. I could probably spot him in a numberless jersey from a mile away at least!

After gorging myself on free food and bevies, and creeping on the young Erik Gudbranson, which has become my January tradition as of late (Yes, I’m aware he’s a child, but at least I don’t feel as bad about it since he’s no longer a Front), I retired to my shit-tastic hotel to rest up for the long journey back to Canada and beyond. I had a few things on the agenda that day. I had to pay a visit to the first Cracker Barrel location I encountered, I had to finally track down the elusive Rockstar energy drink (don’t get me started on that, but I couldn’t even FIND one until my trip home! I was stuck with the pink can, too!), I had to make my rounds of goodbyes with the family, and I had to pack my bags for Japan.

24 hours later I was on board an Air Canada flight bound for Narita, and I was absolutely miserable. I thought for sure that the next 80 days would be impossible to get through with nothing to look forward to, and I was certain that I wouldn’t survive much more than the 80 days left on my contract. However, that first night back, I found myself driving along the Pacific, as I normally do, and I think I may have actually been glad to be “home.” Now my fate is once again unclear, and the remaining time on my contract will no doubt be extremely stressful as I try to work out where I will be when March 31st hits. Will I stay in Japan? Will I return to Canada? Or will I find myself on yet another adventure in some far off and unknown land? Only time will tell, I guess.

Top Photo: At Rockefeller Center after being shit on!

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