My name is Jo, and I have an addiction.

Hobbies come in all forms. Recently, I heard of a popular new pastime: rage rooms. I read about one in Russia a few years ago, but I put it down to being a quirky one-off. Apparently, I was dead wrong about the need for outlets for frustration. Now there are rage rooms all over the world. The premise is that you pay a fee (around fifty dollars), are handed a bat and given access to a private room that you proceed to demolish for the next hour or so. I think of this as the definition of “truth is stranger than fiction”.

You can’t make this stuff up, really. People willingly handing over their hard-earned dollars (rubles, pounds, shekels) for a chance to release their inner Yeezy. Years ago, these same people would probably have been told to go home and scream into a pillow or take up boxing.

Yes, it may sound like a First World solution to a First World problem. People so pressured by their lives that they need to indulge their destructive impulses just to relax. However, if it’s not hurting anyone, I say: whatever floats your boat.

New Addiction: Try Screaming in a Rage RoomMe? I’m addicted to water.

Doesn’t matter if it’s a kiddie pool, a splash pad, a lawn sprinkler, the beach, a backyard pool or my own bathtub: if it’s water, I want to be in it. I’m not sure why, since I’m not a particularly fabulous swimmer. Besides a so-so front crawl and an “okay” dog paddle, I’m not much for form. I can’t hold my breath for more than ten seconds. I detest getting water in my ears. I can’t dive. I suck at new skills.

Case in point: I once tried getting in shape by doing laps at my local pool. The person in the lane next to mine was obviously skilled, doing underwater flips at the end of each lap like a pro. I tried a kick-turn underwater with the result being a nose full of water and a sore head from smacking it against the side of the pool. Penny Oleksiak I’m not.

However, my lack of skill doesn’t equate to me giving up swimming. Nope, I’m still the nut that races to water like a dog races to roll in poop. I can’t help myself. There’s something in me that is drawn to submerging myself in H20, and I’m assuming it always will be that way. I didn’t have to learn to love the water. I always have.

There are other things that I’ve come to later in life. Crossword puzzles, for instance, have been my addiction for a few years now. Based in equal parts on my love of the written word and my fear of Alzheimer’s, crosswords are catnip for me. I will forget to buy milk, miss the occasional appointment, yet faithfully scout out the local paper just to take a gander at the latest NY Times Crossword.

And then there’s my best friend, Jenn. Several years ago, she decided that she needed something new in the way of pastimes. It’s not like she wasn’t already crazy busy. As do many people, she has a full complement of time-burning activities: work, family, volunteering, etc. Something was missing for her, though, and she decided she needed to find what that something was.

New Addiction: Try Screaming in a Rage RoomIf you had asked me what my best friend would have chosen as her new interest, roller derby would likely not have made my Top Ten. Heck, it wouldn’t have made my Top Ten Thousand. Be that as it may, Jenn decided that she would try out for a local team.

She was kind enough to invite me along for the ride, but as a card-carrying member of “Klutzes Anonymous”, I opted to sit this one out. Although I did go to a practice skate one night and ended up nearly breaking my collarbone. So there’s that.

Now, there’s nothing that will keep my buddy from a practice or a meet, short of a natural disaster (or a new episode of Outlander…I mean, come ON.) I’ve had the privilege of meeting a few of her teammates, and I have to say that they are an amazing group of women. Their names—Rantz In Ur Pantz, Phlegm Fatale and Pain Goodall—may be tongue in cheek, but the affirmation and support they give each other to be themselves, warts and all, is no joke.

Watching Jenn skate in a derby match is a joy, and not just because I get to see her elbow and hip-check her way around the track. No, it’s because I see how happy she is while she’s competing. The camaraderie, the action, the thrill of winning: all of it adds up to that “thing” she felt she was missing in her life.

Now that’s an addiction I can support.


About the author

Jo Holness

Jo Holness is a 48-year-old writer based in Winnipeg who has spent a lifetime playing with words. A regular opinion piece writer for, she also blogs at "Rick Mercer Is My Idol". Her favourite pastime?Ranting about injustice, impolite behaviour and the push towards acceptance of mental illness as just that: an illness. Jo is currently working on her first novel, set in Jamaica.

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