Pick me up?

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Oct 262011

I am now officially BAD. My “probationary” period is over and I am eligible to be picked up by any team who wants to give me a home – or just use me on their roster for away games. Recently at about the same time I finished up my probation, I turned 30. I fantasized about being invited to join a team all weekend long! Birthday festivities came and went, and Sunday night while the Mr. and I sat on the couch and decompressed I told him “It’s not too late, there’s still time”. But the weekend officially ended. I received no emails or phone calls, I was not “kidnapped” in a van full of beer drinking lady-hooligans. There are some logistical problems with me being picked up right now – because the freshie draft is one month away and coaching has not yet decided what is to be done with me. But I’m super antsy about it and I even have a bottle of (cheap) champagne on standby. Seriously.

So when I received an invitation to fill in on the unraveling roster of the San Francisco ShEvil dead I was stoked. A thousand times yes! It would be in Sacramento vs. Sacred City B team. Immediately I began to imagine how they were going to have me bout with them, and then when it was over say “Hey – just kidding! This is permanent!” and it would be glorious. Yes, I always get that far ahead of myself.

I really expected to have a minor flip out before the game (I have not bouted since June) but it never happened. And actually, I jammed quite a bit and didn’t cry or anything. I feel like I did okay. I make a lot of mistakes as a blocker and it really pisses me off, but everyone else told me I did well.

photo by D.E.Sign


No. I was not invited to join the team after the game. This whole “Will she or won’t she go into the draft pool” is delaying business. How am I supposed to plan my life without team colors? “What color socks do you want for Christmas?”  I don’t know!!!

There is something to be said for being team-less. I know this from a variety of different experiences. Most recently being homeless. When you have nothing the possibilities are endless. When you have nothing you could have anything. A few months ago Mr. Fever and I were sleeping on a mattress in the back of our van looking for a place to call home. So long as we were still van-folk, the possibility that we would find the most amazing apartment with all the yard/kitchen/garage space for a bargain was great motivation. Once you move in though, it becomes your reality and either is or is not as enchanting as you envisioned. “Sure there is lots of space, but the outlets are in such inconvenient locations…” You realize that dozens of freight trains will go by everyday. You begin to nitpick.

I guess what I’m saying is, I can’t wait to experience the elation of a new team, so that we can become comfortable enough with each other to get real. The sooner the better – my bags are packed and I’m ready to move in.


Sep 142011

I’m starting to get nice and settled into B.A.D.G. (I’m still in my probation period, but I’m getting comfortable). The house has come together nicely. The Mr. is on his second week of school. Now it’s time for my annual job search! I have to find a new job every year because most employers are not down for my 6 week jaunt to Alaska followed by extensive relaxation and vacation time. So I always have to quit. Don’t feel sorry for me, it’s totally worth it.

So here I am running the gauntlet. Are you unemployed and searching for a job? You can probably relate to the ludicrous questions asked by the online automated “pre-employment screening” that just about every company is using these days. I’m here to gripe about it. Sure, we all know the economy sucks and employment opportunities are few and far between and you are either under-qualified or over-qualified for damn near everything, but that does not give potential employers the right to degrade and belittle us in our desperate searches.

To be clear, I’ve only been searching for about a week. But I have spent the majority of the last 2 years unemployed and desperately searching for work. So I do know what I’m in for. During some point last fall, I found a job description on craigslist that I felt would be a pretty good match for me. However, the employer had me balling my fists before I even finished reading the post. “Attention ladies: you must understand the difference between classy and trashy” is just plain shitty (offensive) to say in your advert. The boss already sounds like a prick. So I went ahead and wrote him an email saying so (no wonder I can’t get hired?). Here are some of the questions I’ve had lately (all in strongly agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree format):

I have not had my feelings hurt in the last three years.

When my friends have  a problem I am the first person they call.

My family disapproves of my lifestyle.

I am often sad.

I enjoy being the center of attention.

I strongly considered dropping out of high school.

It doesn’t matter if I work hard or not because this job doesn’t matter.

People are often hurt by my actions.

By way of this “integrity testing” they get a full psychological evaluation before they’re even done with your application. The purpose of this survey in the employers eyes is to “spot applicants who share attitudes with criminals who have not been caught and convicted”. God forbid that when the survey asks me “You work best at a slow but steady pace” I merely ‘agree’ when the only acceptable answer in is to ‘strongly agree’. Well, yesterday I got a couple real gems. Types of questions I have never even dreamed possible on a job search (and I filled out a 96 page eQip form for homeland security)! Both were multiple choice with different numbers ranging from zero to “I lost track”: ‘Number of times you have been involved in a fist fight with a co-worker on the clock’. What the fuuuuuuuck? Would anyone be honest about a fist fight at work? Anyone? The other: ‘Amount in dollars you have stolen from your employers in the last five years’. If you stole money or “time” or merch or “secrets” from your previous workplace, would you fess up to it later? Is this to weed out the insanely stupid?

(If you are interested in reading a sample “integrity report” I went ahead and posed as a potential employer so I could see how these answers are translated into scores. You can download the report here.)

How about those tedious and asinine questions asking you to “describe a time you delivered excellent customer service” or “describe your greatest accomplishment in a leadership role”? Am I alone here? What do they want me to do? Escort a bunch of blind girl scouts to a kitten petting zoo?

I’ve also noticed that there is almost always a field for planned vacations (am I the vagabond responsible for this?). They ask me what days I plan on taking off in the next 6 months. Well, six months is a damn long time. And my birthday happens to be in it. As we derby people know, sometimes you gotta go out of town to watch the Western Regional throw down (because no matter where you live, you always have to fly there.. grumble). Bouts and training camps spring up all over the place. Besides derby, my personal philosophy is to vacation as much as you work. In fact I already have plane tickets to winter in Mexico and I’m not even working yet. No way in hell will I admit this on a job application.

What is up with the credit check? Employers now require not only background checks and drug screening… but credit checks. That’s none of their fucking business. Maybe if we are talking about a position of power or some other seat that may give you abilities to steal massive amounts of money to pay off your gigantic debts (federal reserve?) or a job that gives you coveted information you could be bribed for by evil terrorists… but you know what? That job isn’t at fucking Starbucks.

Now, I’m a great employee if my conditions are right, and by “right” I mean not exploitative. Which evidently is a lot to ask. For example, if you make me pray at work, I’m going to be an asshole about it (oh believe me, this has happened). If you don’t pay for my mandatory overtime, I’m going to make you real sorry.  If you are reasonable with wage increases and time off requests I will be very good. If you give me a benefits package that covers my husband I will be even better. I am a person damnit. And I do not suck dick for $10 an hour. It’s time for potential employees to lay down some ground rules. Companies get fat and rich asking the world of low lives like me and giving nothing in return.

Today I declare bullshit on the “job market”. Show me some money and an environment of mutual respect.


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!



Sep 012011

Mr. Fever is going back to school. He graduated from college the first time… gee, 14 years ago? He’s going to the California Maritime Academy. That degree in philosophy just doesn’t pay when you’re a commercial fisherman. I applaud his desire to make a more secure future for us and his ability to stoke up the self motivation. I’m not very motivated. I’ve attended several colleges around California, usually just for one or two semesters at a time. When a girlfriend asked me “How many times have you gone back to school?”, I told her “I only go back”. It’s just what I do.

Captain Cupcake

He's gonna go far...

In all this back-to-school melee (which included removal of long since established facial hair) Mr. Fever has had to do some seemingly tedious “exercises”, including an online alcohol education course. This course was designed for graduating high school students, and to us, was pure comedy. Now he is working on trying to establish his educational goals through guidelines set out by Brigham Young graduates. The more my husband talks about this goal setting guideline, the more I wonder if I have any goals of my own, and if I do, what the hell are they?

Well, as we are learning in “Introduction to Engineering Technology”* goals should be both specific and measurable. Thanks. Coach Nottie A. Siwant had ingrained the importance of measurable goals back in the dark days of the Cog Blockers (who reigned supreme at goal setting/achieving). What is clearly laid out in these guidelines is that “a goal not written is merely a wish”. Far out. Goals should be tiered into attainable sections, baby steps, leading up to the grand prize. Immediate goals followed by a year or two out, five to ten years all coming to the summation of lifetime goals. We must have tools for measuring written goals and how to face failure should we meet it. Your goals should be realistic, but still aim high. If you don’t push yourself to grow, you will not grow (how zen). The “Goal Integrity Spectrum” shows us that a superficial goal will meet it’s end upon the first failure. When failure is experienced with a “well desired” goal our progress will slow, but may still continue. If the goal was made with strength and sincere intent, then failure will be corrected immediately and progress will endure. So let’s not be discouraged, but learn from our mistakes and plow on!

I have some derby goals. They have never been very specific and I am lax about time lines and accountability (especially accountability!). Part of making an achievable goal is to make them public, to people who will both understand and support you (example: if you want to quit smoking you don’t confide your goals to your tobacconist). Alongside the Mr. who is making his educational and monetary goals for the future, I decided to outline what roller derby goals I have.

Previous goal of earning "MVP" from visiting team achieved. Stoked.

Cat Scrap Fever’s Roller Derby Goals:

I want to pass my probation period (3 months) and be picked up for a home team immediately. This will be accomplished by not only attending the 3 practice minimum per week, but 5 practice units per week. I will encourage my league mates and graciously accept all criticisms/tips that come my way. I’ll do my damnedest not to piss anybody off (this kinda means not talking).

Within the next 8 months I want to be invited to scrimmage and/or practice with the travel team. This will be accomplished by continuing to exceed the 3 practice weekly minimum, getting tips from a personal trainer, and doing derby specific cross training no less than 4 days per week. As specified by B.A.D. handbook standards I will progress from 3.5/4 star skater to a 4/4.5 skater. I will also watch lots and lots of good derby!

Before the winter of 2012 (and the end of days… right?), I want to be rostered on the Bay Area Golden Girls All-Star team. I will accomplish this goal by pushing myself at every practice and scrimmage, meditating on all feedback, spending commute times focusing on how I can improve my skills, becoming more realistic about how healthy my diet is and trading sexual favors to each and every girl already on the roster (just kidding?).

Within the next five years I want to compete on a national level. I will be a 5 star skater by B.A.D. standards. This may be a national tournament, it may be against a team within the top 3 rankings of it’s regional bracket, or it might be a game or tournament that hasn’t come to fruition yet, but I will know it when I get there.  I will achieve this by spending even less time with my husband (sad but true – he knows it). I need to recognize my talents in order to nurture them. I’m easily frustrated which slows my personal growth, I will tell my inner JoyKill to shut the hell up because I am attaining awesomeness, and cooking fewer meals.

After five years… how can I even see that far ahead? I’m getting older. Right now I am the median age (according to WFTDA survey stats) for a skater. But with Jr. Derby popping up and a rise in popularity, I don’t see room for me in the game ten years from now. I don’t see myself becoming another Hot Flash. This seeming negativity should be stiffled but I am counting it as realism. I consider myself humble and realistic (please do call me out if you see otherwise). For derby: five more years is a long time. I have time sensitive realistic goals, and if I can accomplish those, then I will feel fulfilled. I’m a peacock… I’ve got to let myself fly!

These goals are all barring injury or other outside-of-derby life traumas. Should I become injured, I expect myself to kick my physical therapists ass, get back on skates in record time and carry on as usual.

What do you want to do with derby? Is this just a hobby? A women’s liberation experiment? Sexual exploration? A long felt dream? Something to do in your spare time because the dodgeball league is full of creeps (seriously)? A goal not written is only a wish. And if wishes were horses all beggars would ride. So go ahead and tell yourself what you want (then tell someone else who will both encourage and keep you accountable).

This is Cat Scrap Fever telling you to tell yourself: “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn-it ,  people like me.”


* “Introduction to Engineering Technology” by Val D. Hawks and A. Brent Strong published by Prentice Hall – Required reading for Marine Engineering Technology cadets




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?