Prissy Pants, or “I can’t believe YOU are in roller derby.”


“What do you mean, like that thing on skates, where people skate around and hit each other?” “Well, there are rules and stuff. We don’t just haul off and clock each other in the face…but, yeah.”

“That’s what I thought. I just never would imagine YOU doing it.”

Maybe it’s the pretty shoes I wear. Or the quiet office I work in, where most people try to speak so their voices are drowned out by the air conditioner. For whatever reason, most people I work with have a hard time placing me in this world—a world that is beginning to resonate more with me than the one I inhabit during the day.

The company I work for is a development house for educational publishers. So, instead of discussions about wheels or bearings, you’re likely to hear a heated rant about the state of Texas educational standards. More than likely, though, what you’ll hear walking through our office is silence. A large portion of our day consists of sitting and reading quietly. On occasion, you may overhear a discussion on the differences between Roman and italic bullets, or the lack of grammar acumen of someone who’s paid to write. Then, back to silence.

Like anything, the job has its ups and downs. In a world driven by deadlines, however, those ups and downs trend toward the extreme. Know what it’s like to work a 70-hour week? Me too. Or have you seen someone leave work at 9:00 in the morning, only to be back at 2:00 p.m. to start all over again? I have. In my book, we shouldn’t be hauled out of bed for a work emergency if nobody’s life is on the line. Yet, somehow, there are publishing emergencies. “Get me a writer and an editor, STAT! We’re losing it, here! Lives are at stake!”

Often, the job can feel like a game of “Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader?” Last month I was working on middle school geography; this month I’m on to elementary science. Science, at least, I can relate to. Do you remember your science classes in school? I do. And I loved them all. But social studies…let’s just say it’s never been my strong suit. For instance: did you guys know that Laos is a whole separate country? Or that the whole Vietnam war thing didn’t go so well for us?

Shut up. I’m the one responsible for the next generation’s education. Show some respect.

And check it out; I get paid to learn stuff—about the world.

Even so, it’s not exactly the kind of thing you talk about at parties.

“What do you do?”

“I’m in educational publishing.”


Maybe I should lead with something more like this, “By day, I read books. By night, I lay down some hip checks and booty blocks.”

Say what I want about it, the job has brought me a lot of good. It rescued me from a terrible boss and terrible pay. It took me to content editing, writing, and eventually, project management. In my time here, I’ve gotten married. I bought a home. I made good friends. And, ultimately, my job brought me to Chicago, which eventually led to roller derby. Doesn’t everything eventually end up in roller derby?












-Sue Flay