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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Blonde Bomber

 Posted by at 12:34 pm  2 Responses »
May 252011
 

The Blonde Bomber. I fancy a resemblance between us.

Every single girl who plays roller derby has heard it. “Oh, I used to watch that on TV in the 70′s”.  Perhaps some of you skaters even remember the glory days of disco era derby yourselves (I don’t). My dad grew up in Oakland and talked from time to time about the Bay City Bombers and Joan Weston. In fact, every single person I know who knew anything about derby in the 70′s reminisces on Joanie Weston “The Blonde Bomber”, “The Golden Girl”, “The Roller Derby Queen”.

Several months ago when my home team The Cog Blockers played Death Rattle Rollers I had an awesome run of jams, scoring a hell of a lot more points than I have ever scored before (103). I have to give a huge shout out to my pivots and blockers, because I am not as good they made me look. Even though I know I had a world of help from my teammates, and our opponent was a little less skilled, it felt really damn good to look at the stat sheet and see that number by my name. So I sent a text to my dad exclaiming how awesome I looked on paper. He responded with “Wow. Joan Weston never scored that many points”. Weather or not that is true I don’t know. I’ve tried looking up her stats on multiple websites and archives but haven’t really found anything. While digging around for a statistic history she really piqued my interest. One hell of a broad, I must say.

The most fascinating and inspiring tidbit I found is that she was the highest paid female athlete of the 60′s and 70′s. I know “back then” there weren’t many avenues for women to pursue a professional sports career, but still. She ruled two decades! A natural athlete, she excelled at college softball and pretty much every physical feat she attempted. The surfer in me is pretty jazzed that she was great at that too (and was known to paddle out sans wet suit – my hero). She started skating for the Los Angeles Braves but didn’t really make a name for herself until becoming captain of the Bay City Bombers in ’65. During her career she skated for 19 different all star teams and maintains a reputation as one of the most beloved ladies to ever lace up. The 1972 flick Kansas City Bomber was said to be inspired by (not based on) Joan Weston. This piqued my interest even further.

Kansas City Bomber. I’ve never heard of it. I’m surprised that in my two years of skating I missed a derby movie. So I rented it. Raquel Welch plays K.C. Carr, a skater with a pretty face fighting her way to the top despite constantly being traded! Holy crap, people. I realize I’m way behind the curve here, but if you haven’t seen this go get it now. I’m accustomed to seeing Raquel Welch as a big haired, doe eyed, busty damsel in distress type. In Kansas City Bomber she is a divorced mother of two who unloads her kids on her disapproving mother to make a name for herself in the great wide world of derby. I hear a lot of girls say that they found their “voice” through roller derby, felt empowered, or even in control for the first time. Derby has not done any of those things for me (because I’ve always been the sassy pain in the ass I am today), but in her character I can really see what everyone means by that. She has a rough go of it, but as a talented skater she gets the fulfillment she is looking for and finds the strength to follow her heart. Cat Scrap Fever gives it two thumbs up! Or, is that two elbows to the face?

Kansas City Bomber is a far cry from the game we play today. And Joan Weston passed away in 1997. Roller derby captivated millions of Americans in the past – and its revival is alive and kicking. Looking back makes me so excited for the future! Weston said “All I want out of the Derby, is to make good money, get out in one piece and, years from now, when I say I was in the Roller Derby, I want people still to know what it is.  I want that.”  She certainly succeeded, I imagine, beyond her hopes. We all work very hard to sustain our sport. Who hasn’t wished we had a professional circuit to actually make some cash in? I find it comforting to know that for twenty years, the lady sports hero with the biggest paycheck was earning her keep playing roller derby.

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May 192011
 

It rains a lot here in Bellingham, Washington. I don’t know what our average annual rainfall is, and I don’t care. It rains all the damn time. I moved here from California in the fall of 2008, and previously enjoyed fog and rainy days (perhaps because the rainy days in places like San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz are infrequent and novel).  I didn’t expect the winter here to be so bad. And really, my first winter wasn’t bad at all because I spent it fishing  in San Francisco under bright blue January skies and 80 degree afternoons (meanwhile my house in Bellingham was under 10 inches of snow).

After a couple years up here I stopped noticing that it was raining. I’ve got all the fancy gear for riding my bike around in hurricane like conditions, and I found a great combination of eyeliner and primer that didn’t leave black streaks all over my face while cycling into a rainy headwind. When people asked me about the weather here I would say “It’s really not that bad”.

Well, about six months ago I had an epiphany. YES, IT REALLY IS THAT BAD! It rains all the damn time! 10 months out of the year! My skin is translucent! It is every bit as dismal and dreary as you can imagine! There is a reason we have the highest suicide rate. It is so depressing here that there is a disease for it: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Even I succumbed and take vitamin D supplements.

As you can imagine, we don’t have many opportunities to skate outside. I fantasize about putting on my adorable green dolphin shorts with my rainbow stripe tube top and skating around on my errands (which inappropriately include trips to the unemployment office).  We have had a few sporadic sunny days strewn across our otherwise rainy (and snowy!) spring. No one shows up to practice, how could we? In fact, the mayor of Bellingham should declare the first few pleasant days of the year a State of Emergency. All commerce will cease, the fire department will open up a few hydrants for us and we shall giddily skip about in big sunglasses! It is urgent that we get that full spectrum light! Wheel out the BBQ, stat! Another weather system is going to hit Friday, put your shorts on NOW!

This week has been pretty awesome. Of course, it rained all weekend while my husband and I tried to host our last BBQ (We did it anyway! Bellingham could not rain me out of my fuck-you-Bellingham BBQ!) and it is fore casted to rain all weekend again (while I’m camping). So tonight the Cog Blockers are taking it to the streets. We have canceled our regularly scheduled team practice to frolic on the finer pavement like little ponies!  WWWEEEEEEE!!!

Pimpin D Longstockings, Mae Q. Sweat, D'Luca Brassie, Wendy Belltollz, Malice Reynolds and Fraid Knot gearing up for the sunshine.

 

Me and co-captain Mae Q. Sweat battle it out on the "jam" line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was pretty much the best practice ever. Our loop involved a little over an hour of actual skating (though we stopped for some goofy fun time) and was a killer workout. We don’t experience hills on the flat track! It was clear that every single skater was stoked. We got to play outside without the guilt of ditching practice. We ended the skate with a trip to our local ice cream shop where we were served by a fellow Cog Blocker. Best. Practice. Ever. I think I might even have a smidgen of a tan… maybe. Everyone was just tickled that we could go out and have fun in the sun. SPF: awesome!

Thanks ladies! I really needed that!

Derby Road

 

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