Sep 072011
 

It’s Fresh Meat Season!

I’m feeling pretty fresh myself, landing in a new league without any friends, but not as fresh as the actual “freshies”. Last year I was helping to assess new skaters and decide who would be invited to join our league. The year before that: Cat Wiest put skates on for the first time in 20 years and tried out for the Bellingham Roller Betties.

How do you like that meat? He he he he.

The summer of 2009 was ending. The Bellingham Roller Betties were holding their Booty Camp. I borrowed my husband’s bike helmet and rented some skates. I wore jean shorts (that never happened again). Surely I mentioned before that I am socially awkward (much later a skater confessed that many girls interpreted me keeping to myself as conceit – hahaha!). I slowly and stupidly made my way around the track, never once attempting to cross over – I thought if I fell down they would send me home. Coaches would tell me to do things that I literally could not comprehend. That night I had dreams about what would happen after 8 weeks: they would tell me I tried really hard but I couldn’t be a skater. I would proudly thank them for giving me a chance, hold my head high and go back to my mini van, then cry all the way home.

I love me some Pearl Haggard.

At the following weeks Booty Camp, a skater who wanted me to wear her extra set of wrist guards (because I had none) approached me. Enter Pearl Haggard. I thanked her and put the wrist guards on. They were kind of damp and smelled funny. She laughed and told me “That’s how I like ‘em!” as she skated away I caught my first glimpse of one of Pearls favorite derby accessories. A thong pulled up “whale tail” style out of her shorts with Bellingham Roller Betties stitched across the top.

When I gave her wrist guards back I felt like we were then close enough that I could ask a few intimate questions. Like, “How many girls are you taking into the league?” She immediately asked how dedicated I was. That what mattered most was potential fresh meat have the time to put in and lots of “heart”.  This round about answer had me sweating for the full 8 weeks (I mean, let’s be honest, the only thing they were looking for was a checking account). I figured I needed to be in the top 3 or I’d be cut. Every time I fell down I swore there were eyes rolling all over the track.

When the 8 weeks of Booty Camp were up, we had our skills assessment. I broke down and bought kneepads and a mouth guard (because they were required – yes I went 8 weeks without that stuff!). I kept telling myself “You have now invested $50 in gear you cannot return”. I did my 25 laps in 4:22 and kicked myself extensively because another girl did it in 4:18. League members who had not previously been attending Booty Camp came out to help with skills assessment and timing. It was like having a jury. Contra VersE assessed my skills and wrote notes about me (which I never got to see) but kept mum about my actual performance and grades. I went home.

It was over.

A week later I got the magical phone call saying I had been invited to join the league and could start attending practices. Time to graduate from rental skates, I bought an old pair from Ivonna Brakebones (who introduced herself to me by saying “I just want you to know I’m one of the only people who will say hi to you. You need to go talk to people”). I bought elbow pads and all the other required stuff. I quit the bowling league.

I steadily became Cat Scrap Fever.

So here’s to you, fresh meat! We all start someplace. Good luck!

 

 

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Aug 172011
 

Together again!

I’ve been off the radar for a while now (working in the great north, moving), and I’ve been off skates even longer. But I’m back now and the dust is finally starting to settle! Literally!

Alaska was cold and miserable. Maybe that’s how you envision AK anyway, but the summer is usually pretty sweet. Not this year. I couldn’t do any of the feeble off skates exercises I planned on to keep me at least a little in shape while living on-board, because I was too busy holding on. To anything. You could say it was a rock and roll summer, but really it was just big waves, shitty weather and not enough fish to make it cool. The sun exposed itself literally 2 times. In the land of the midnight sun! What a drag!

I spent most of RollerCon with my former Cog Blockers, co-cappy Mae Q. Sweat and new cappy Fraid Knot. Champs.

From AK I was magically whisked off to Las Vegas for RollerCon via four flight legs and 30 hours of travel. Wooo! The drastic change in temperature really threw me for a loop but I did not get sick! After spending close to 5 weeks on a rippin’ and rollin’ sea, I found myself not only lacking land legs but skate legs (duh – I totally expected this). Several things triggered boat like sensations that made me want to grab something and hang on. Like the elevator at the Riviera (no, I’m not the one who puked in it). Also, skating. I figured Atomatrix’s no contact speed and stride class would be a great way for me to break my feet back in, but getting low in the corners and crossing over made me feel all weird. So I stuck to volunteering for most of the time and took all of Mercy’s super awesome off-skates classes.
Last year Mr. Fever accompanied me to RollerCon (because it was our honeymoon) but this year he felt he should stick with the husbandly duty of driving around the bay area looking for a new place to live while sleeping in our van. Isn’t he the best? Meanwhile I was trying to hunt down and make friends with some B.A.D. girls (my new league) without acting like a chump. Honestly, I’m pretty sure it was an epic fail. I didn’t get much skating in, I didn’t make any new friends and I’m such a half assed volunteer that I’m pretty sure I won’t do it again.

So here I am, in my new little nest in Crockett (don’t know where that is? No one does). The piles of boxes getting smaller and smaller everyday, the aquarium was successfully moved with zero fatalities (!!!), houseplants healthy and situated, and me on the couch with the second worst shin splints I have ever had in my life from going back to skating on a slick floor with 95a wheels.

Monday night I went to my first B.A.D.  all-league practice. It was truly nerve racking. I realize it’s the off-season, and that they just hosted a major event, but in the wake of it all getting new skater information has been like pulling teeth. Fortunately I had the intersection for the practice space, but not an address. So I parked on the street and waited in my car until I saw skater looking girls go into a building. Then I followed them like a creep. I didn’t want to start by making excuses, so I suppressed my urge to let the coach know I had been off skates for two months and would probably suck. I just went ahead and sucked, slipping all over the damn place in my Lowboys. People sometimes tell me that I am outgoing, or cool. I don’t know what the hell they are talking about. I hate new-ness, and I am perpetually uncool (ironically, I also hate same-ness and nothing sends me fleeing to a non-English speaking country faster than a “comfort zone”). I talked to a few ladies, I demanded a coaches phone number, and then I went home listening to Wolf Parade and singing “nobody loves you and nobody gives a damn anyway”. But I got it over with. My first day.

So the next day I went direcetly to Cruz, my new local skate shop, for some grippier wheels. The idea of putting 88′s on felt scary. I mean isn’t that so sticky? So I got to rent a pair to test out. Rent wheels! Fucking brilliant. Later that night I went to practice #2. This time the coach actually asked me a little about myself, which was nice because I just do not know how to act around new people. I am super awkward, I always have been and I always will be. Practice was great (exhausting). My grippier wheels helped a lot with the turns but my shins were still damaged from Monday. So I still suck. Actually I expect to suck for a few weeks.

All I know about roller derby I learned from the Bellingham Roller Betties. The good, the bad and the bullshit. I find myself longing for those days of comforting bullshit.  Knowing which girls were giving it to me straight and which ones only answered my questions so I’d go away. B.A.D. is more than twice the size of Bellingham (in terms of their skater base). With the Betties I got to play on the travel team, captain my home team and be a primary jammer. This is a much bigger pond and I have reverted to pond scum. The upside is that I will have to push myself a lot harder. And once those shin splints subside, I am totally ready for that. I may be an achy-footed-pond-scum-introvert, but one day I will fly like a peacock.

So far I haven’t accomplished anything other than getting started. But isn’t that all I need to do anyway? Begin?

 

 

 

 

 

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Happy Endings

 Posted by at 1:07 pm  2 Responses »
Jun 012011
 

Still on my Bucket List: Take a photo in front of this wall.

 

It’s almost time for me to go. Bellingham is running out of time and I am running out on Bellingham. My darling husband will be pursuing a career in marine engineering which will relocate us near Vallejo, California. I came here from the bay area, so when he told me he was accepted to Cal Maritime I was stoked. California is my home. I’m not ruling out the possibility of returning to this community later in life but I can tell you for certain that right now, right here is not my place to be.

 

I’m starting to tally my “lasts” and check things off the “Bellingham Bucket List”. I just had my last scrimmage. I finally went camping on Orcas Island. We are driving away 12 days from now, which gives me little anxiety attacks when I think of things like my last bout with my team or the last time I go bowling downtown. When my then-boyfriend and I rented a truck and moved into this apartment three years ago we hesitated signing a 12 month lease. We are vagabonds (a former room mate referred to me as the “consummate vagabond” because I never unpacked and slept in my sleeping bag for months before buying a comforter). Could we commit to one full year? We had to. So we did. Then we renewed it. Then we got engaged. Then I started playing roller derby. We renewed the lease again. We got married. Another renewal… and now, at long last, the departure.

"Sorry guys..." photo by David Willoughby

My team knew I would split before the championship bout, I go to Alaska and kill fish for a living. This time I won’t come back though. Right now I have one game left with the Cog Blockers and one more with Blunt Force Trauma. Then it’s “Thanks Roller Betties, I’m taking everything I learned and maybe I’ll skate against you one day”. It is my intention to go play with B.A.D. girls. I really look forward to skating with new ladies, being watched with fresh eyes and getting some new feedback. I’ve become comfortable here and I don’t think I’m trying as hard as I could. Actually, I know I’m not. Time to kick the tires and light the fire!

I’ve been spending quality time with skaters who I’ve always really liked, but never made dates with. When Mr. Fever and I met we were both full time fishermen and went 2-4 months apart followed by 3 weeks-2 months together – year round. We have yet to graduate from that phase where every moment together is crucial, and as a result, I don’t spend a lot of time with other people. However now that I’m moving I find myself getting tattooed with my co-captain and going for long walks in the park with one of my fiercest competitors. And I’m not done! I’m trying to make arrangements with girls who I am deeply happy to have met, even though we only share time in committee meetings. Geez, what’s wrong with me?

For my 25th birthday I put on a tiara and hitched across Maine. As you do. Photo by drunk truck driver.

I am moving away from a geographical place where some significant experiences took place. Domestication (I own furniture!), roller derby (I am passionate!), marriage (I have unquestionably found my life-mate!) and the realization of the imminent future (oh shit, I need to save money?!). Often I say “I’m like a real person”. What I mean is, I’m acting like an adult woman who owns her own couch, cooks out of Martha Stewart Daily Living, and pays taxes! This time five years ago I was living in the woods and hitch-hiking about for supplies. Literally. I’ve come a long way (or digressed – that is totally up for discussion). This time, when we move we are looking at the future and not just a place to sleep for a little bit.

Bellingham, I will cherish these last 12 days and I promise to forget all the bad things I ever said about you. I know you won’t miss me, but I hope from time to time you see or hear something that makes you think of Cat Scrap Fever. Even if it’s just that damn song on KISM.

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Apr 202011
 

No, really. How far would you go for roller derby? Would you drive 30 minutes to and from every practice? An hour? An hour and a half? With leagues seemingly popping up all over the place, it seems no one should have to drive too far to get to derby, but depending on where you live, you very well may have to.

Very soon I will be moving back to California for my husband to go to school. I will be leaving my league for a new one. I’m not committed to anyone yet, but I’ve got my eye on Bay Area Derby. Between their practice location and the neighborhoods we are looking at to position my husband close to school I could be driving about 45 minutes to an hour depending on traffic to and from practices. That sucks. Big time. But it’s what I’m going to have to do.

For the record, I hate driving. It is important to me (if I must own a vehicle) to own a car that I can sleep in comfortably. So I drive a minivan. The gas bill is devastating (but road trips are soooo nice). How far would it have to be for me to decide it isn’t worth it? Would I get my own separate “commuter apartment” away from my husband to be closer to roller derby? Will I sleep in my car? Would I (gasp!) trade in my luxury sleeper car for a sensible commuter? Would I demand that he commute to school so that I don’t have to commute to practice? I won’t know until I’ve been doing it for awhile. It all seems a little ridiculous. Moving is already a pain in the ass and logistically, this will be a nightmare. But I am so focused on where and how I am going to skate that I am probably neglecting the bigger issues.

Is this the part where roller derby starts to put strain on my relationship? If it takes me 90 minutes to get to and from a 90 minute practice, will I start to be a flake? It’s making me a little anxious.

Me and my happy home team, The Cog Blockers. Awesome photo by Kim Lincoln.

Perhaps the anxiety about commuting is a disguise for something else. Perhaps I am insecure about going to a new place with new people and asking them to accept and like me. The Bellingham Roller Betties was my introduction to roller derby. Usually I feel it’s more “dysfunctional” than “family” but after 2 years I have sort of found my place in the league. I’ve become comfortable with my committee role and I know how meetings are going to begin and end. Switching leagues is like changing elementary schools. I’m not going to have any friends!!

I do realize this isn’t the first time a girl has moved to a new league. I just want it to be easy. Would someone please make this easy for me? While I’m working in Alaska this summer find me a nice apartment walking distance to the practice location of a competitive derby league and cycling distance from Cal Maritime? Thanks.

 

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Mar 122011
 

Last year’s Wild West Showdown was my first a lot of things. I’d only been on my league for 5 months and our home season hadn’t started yet. Actually, not only had I never played a bout, I hadn’t even seen one. So it was Rocky Mountain vs. Bellingham Roller Betties that popped my derby-watching cherry. I can’t say it wasn’t pretty because there were some truly inspiring moves, but it was a major kill. You know… Rocky Mountain kind of, um, rocks, but Bellingham is my team. Despite all the top shelf derby going on in the main pavilion, I spent most of my time on the challenge bout track. I had never been in a bout or skated with ladies outside my own league, so I was pretty stoked by all the encouragement and support demonstrated by perfect strangers. My first day, I believe I had already managed to get into 5 scrimmages when my coach gently reminded me that watching great derby would benefit me, as well.

Blunt Force Trauma

Anyway. Here I am, in Bremerton one year later, a little less fresh and rostered on the travel team (Bellingham Roller Betties’ Blunt Force Trauma). We have some big goals. It mostly involves a lot of winning. So Friday night we kicked off the weekend with a game against Santa Cruz. First bout of the wild west weekend! I lived in Santa Cruz for several years before moving to Washington. It was difficult for me not to ask things like “What’s your real name? Did you work at The Bagelry? You look familiar from somewhere..”, but the pivot line is not really the place to figure out if your opponent dated your ex-girlfriend or if her crack head boyfriend stole your bike. So I left all that alone. It was a great game and I’m pleased to report we won (by a single point). I really can’t give an awesome account of what happened. Skating, talking on the bench and riding the emotional roller coaster of a close game does not lend itself to accurate, unbiased reporting. Hopefully experience will give me greater track vision in the future, and if not I can settle for watching the bout footage. Santa Cruz got what seemed like the majority of lead jammer status, but we made up for it with grand slams aplenty and concise pack work. We are a physical and defensive team, but could have widened the point spread with some better offense. You know, “help your jammer!!!”. Good times.

Saturday we got to skate against Sacred City Roller Girls from Sacramento, currently ranked #8 in the western region. Those girls are tight, and don’t do anything by accident!  I didn’t skate much in that game. I’m the girl who gets pulled when there are skaters in the box and we seldom started a jam with a full pack. Penalties, penalties, penalties! In probably one of the most physical games we have played, we came within 20 points of them in the last 10 minutes but unraveled from there. We lost the game, but I think it was noted that Bellingham is a worthy adversary. Next time, Sacto, next time!

Overall I can say I’m leaving WWS just as inspired and eager as I did last year. The more I play the more I see what I need to improve on, and the more I watch the more my head is filled with fancy footwork and smart plays. I’m proud of my team this weekend and I look forward to the rigorous practices we have in our future. Our next big bad Blunt Force adventure will be the Dust Devil in Tuscon come April. Did I mention we plan on doing a lot of winning? I know some familiar teams are on the slate for that tournament, and many teams from outside our region. Hooray for Blunt Force Trauma! We are finally an actual travel team and we are going places!

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