Sunday, August 12, 2018
Where have I been?? I wish I could say on vacation in Europe or Australia, but no. I've been right here, deep in school, work and the limited amount of skating available to those of us NOT in the summer school programs at the local rinks. To be honest, I have never experienced so little ice time in the summer in at least five years. Hello, rink managers, don't be so cheap with the ice time. When I skate the early morning sessions at Chelsea Piers, there has to be 28 skaters, 12 coaches and an assortment of small animals on the ice. Okay maybe not the animals, but the numbers are correct. All those skaters, of different skill levels... what can I say? Scary doesn't begin to cut it. And on the other rink, 4 skaters because they are part of the summer school. It's like trying to cross the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) on a tricycle. Once summer school is over, we have the Middle Atlantic competition for another week. Things don't really get back to normal until late September/early October. By then, I will be in my second semester and hoping for the best. Side bar: My first class wasn't so bad. No one pointed at the door and told me to "get out!" Did I understand everything? Oh heck no. But I'm taking the 4 weeks off that I have to attend more Deaf events, study my ASL more and pray, a lot. Back to skating. I should have my bunions punched out on my skates because they become so inflamed when I take my skates off that it's almost funny. If my life was an old Warner Brothers cartoon, my feet would actually be red and throbbing. Come to think of it, my feet ARE red and throbbing; no cartoon needed. At the continued insistence of my coach, I am once again, learning my Preliminary Dances. I'm sure she has grown weary of my Silver Moves (on another note: my GOLD moves are improving. Go figure) and has been teaching me the three Preliminary Dances. Two lessons in and my Dutch Waltz is passable (when I remember the steps correctly). The Canasta Tango... well let's just say I'm not catching on to that one as quickly. Due to my final, I was unable to meet with my jump coach last week, but I'll be contacting him this week. I have, without much thought, mastered my waltz jump and salchow again. And I think I've figured out what's wrong with my toe loop. I just need some more practice. Also, I need to find out whether or not I can get out of jury duty for a few months. Thinking about contacting one of my old coaches to see if she can straighten out my moves. She was able to get a woman who hits the strangest positions to her Novice moves, so it's my hope she can help my back threes and mohawks. As soon as I find out about jury duty, the sessions return to normal and the competition is over. I got a schedule to keep. No longer absent without leave or absolutely off line.
Thursday, June 21, 2018
How is it that nearly a month has gone by without me posting? How did that happen? Oh yes, I remember... I can't get my tablet to work at work. Grrrr.... So much has happened since our last talk. Well, not that much, but some interesting things. I was selected to the Adult Figure Skating Committee. Since it is in transition, my term is only one year. That's okay; you can get a lot done in a year. I was also accepted to the American Sign Language Interpreting program that I have applied to at least three times previously. When I received the acceptance email, I didn't believe it and asked someone else to read it to make sure that they said "yes". And then I had my sisters read it and another person. Guess you could say I'm in shock. Excited, nervous, thrilled and in shock. Back to skating. I've been struggling with my jumps; jumps I could do with my eyes closed at one point. Grant it, I have neglected freestyle for those blasted Moves in the Field, but I should still be able to jump. They're kinda coming back, sorta... It's frustrating and disappointing to spend so much time working on things I mastered years ago. Elements I could do two years ago that have now disappeared. I thought long and hard as to why this happened. Why it still isn't fixed and I could only find one reason: my weight. I am closer to 200 pounds than I have ever been in my entire life and I'm only 5'6. I have no core strength. I don't even work out any longer. The reason for that, I already know: I work entirely too many hours. At my old job, I had reasons to get up and walk around. The office was about a block long and several times a day, I would have to ask someone something, so I'd just get up and walk over. Back and forth, back and forth. The commute was about the same length, and now I get to sit on the subway and allow my mind to wander, rather than wonder if that SUV in the middle lane sees my small car and how are my brakes doing and I wish the A/C still worked... I'm hoping my manager will allow me to change my hours so I arrive at work earlier and leave earlier. It was my plan to skate at City Ice Pavilion on the days I don't have class (yes, my first class starts July 10th), but City Ice decided to eliminate the early evening freestyle sessions. Naturally. Sky Rink's Black Diamond sessions are totally different this year. Rather than having 1 1/2 hours for a freestyle, it's 30 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly, 30 minutes. What can you do in a 30 minute freestyle with 20 other skaters on the ice? Not much. Several previous participants have abandoned the idea of Black Diamond because, a 30 minute freestyle is a slap in the face. Even Learn To Skate has the public session after the class and the public session is longer than 30. Getting back to my jumps; I have come to the conclusion that in order to successfully shift axis, you need core strength. Yes, the core is key. And yes, I know, I've had my coach tell me this for years. Sometimes you have to realize something yourself before it finally sticks in your head. I've been working out in the morning (it's just too darn hot when I get home)and feel that that will assist in my jumping. There is nothing wrong with my jumps; my body is capable. My gut is just in the way.
Monday, May 28, 2018
Sometimes, you get used to being the "only" one. In a company where I daily hear many different languages: Punjabi, Italian, Greek, Spanish, French, Creole, Farsi... I have yet to find another person who knows ASL other than being able to fingerspell their first name. Strangely, these same people cannot fingerspell their LAST name. I find the lack of ASL knowledge sad since ASL is the 3rd or 4th most popular language in the US. The ranking depends on which study you use. But alas, I have not found a fellow signer... oh well... I'm quite used to being the rare African-American at the ice rink. There are really many of us; we always acknowledge one another at competitions, even if we are competing against one another. It's a camaraderie based on an odd observation: we all know that if there are children around, someone will assume that we are someone's nanny, caretaker, baby-sitter or housekeeper. Whatever. We know that someone is going to assume that we are not the skater, but the help. Okay, got it. Been there; experienced that. Recently, there was an international adult figure skating competition in Germany. I've watched the videos for several years can safely say that NO ONE who who even remotely resembles me has participated in this competition. No one. For three years. I know enough German to know the derogatory word for a black person and I know that I wouldn't react well if I heard that word. And I'm not sure who much it would cost to bail me out of jail in Germany. It's sad too because this is a pretty large competition with people from Spain, the Czech Republic, Russia, Australia, Great Britain, Canada, and of course, Germany. This IJS competition seems to run very smoothly with several professional flashes tossed in. The skaters and their home country flashes up when they start their program; the slow-mo repeat of key program elements while waiting for the scores... it just seems lovely. Alas, I don't see myself joining them in 2019. But who knows? Maybe I'll surprise myself. Rinks in this part of the world are closed for the Memorial Day holiday. As the child of a veteran, I say to all who served, "thank you".
Saturday, May 5, 2018
I am sick again. I have now been sick for a month. I blame it on the people I work with who refuse to cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze because it's not something they grew up doing. Like writing in cursive (script if you don't know the word cursive), which is something I do everyday, just to annoy them. I'll leave notes for them on their desk in my fanciest, flowing cursive just to tick them off. Make me sick for a month and be happy I don't jot down notes to you in braille. And no, the Deaf do not read braille. I just happen to remember a little braille that I learned as a child. No particular reason; just something to do that summer. Although I am still low in stamina, I have been trying to skate. Didn't make it last week but that's not for lack of trying. I have been following various skaters on Instagram and I have to ask: Don't you guys work? How can you be at the rink at 11:00 in the morning, almost every day? Or at 1:30 in the afternoon? Or my favorite, 3:00am and then again at 9:00am. How? Are you all independently wealthy? Do you have someone else paying your bills? If that's the case, I want in. I really just don't understand. When I skate in the morning, it's a chore to get there, skate and then get to work, dragging all of my stuff with me. And there you guys are, day after day, looking a fresh as daisies, skating and improving. Where am I? Sitting in my office, getting coughed on and remaining sick. What is the secret? My money is on being independently wealthy. Two more Sundays (not that I'm counting)and I'll be free. I may give myself a party.
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Well, I'm back. Fighting my way through the crud-like illness, I was finally back on the ice. For the first and probably only time, I'm glad I didn't sign-up for Adult Nationals because I would have been sick during the competition and would have had to withdraw. Not happening. Progress is being made; again, my Salchow has made a return appearance and my other jumps are peeking around the corner. Even my spins are back on speaking terms with me. I just wish I had some stamina and didn't have to stop so often to catch my breath. Damn this illness! It's important to note that the other coach I had wanted to work with (not my primary coach, nor my jump coach) well, things didn't work out between us. Our schedules didn't jive and it was just better that at this point we go our separate ways. I wish I could say that we came to a mutual decision, but that isn't true. She simply didn't come for my lessons. I have made myself into an early morning skater and she is not an early morning person. To be honest, neither am I, but for the ice, I will go to bed at 9:30pm and wake up at 4:30, leave at 5:30 and get to the rink at 6:30 for a 7:00 session. It's hard, but it has to be done. And I understand that not everyone can make that commitment to be at a location that early in the morning. No hard feelings; it just didn't work out. Previously, I have announced that I was ending my tenure as Ice Monitor. I had promised myself that it was over and I wasn't doing it again, only to return the following season when asked. Well, this time I've had enough. I can no longer be verbally abused by skaters, coaches and parents because I'm trying to enforce the rules. I have to say that if I were white, no one would speak to me in that fashion. No skater would scream at me to the point where I stand there debating calling the police. No parent should tell me I'm a waste of time because she has to pay for the ice. No coach should argue with me about what level the skater has to be in order to skate the session. That is a rule that has never changed. I don't make these rules; I just enforce them, or I did. There are two sessions left, and I have already told the club president that I will not be returning. She would like to return, but when I mentioned the issues I have been up against, she said she understood. The skater who screamed at me is being spoken to, but to be honest, he can twirl on it. He's not as wonderful as he tells everyone he is. My job, like everyone else, has a certain amount of stress. Since I negotiate payments, there's a bit more stress in my job. I have to tolerate a certain amount of disrespect at work both from some of my co-workers (some of whom think I'm too old to know ANYTHING!) and from the office managers/financial managers I have to negotiate with. I do not need to be spoken to like the field help at the rink. The rink is my oasis, my safe place. Not a place for additional stress. I look forward to sleeping on Sunday mornings. I look forward to the adult skating camps I will be attending. But most of all, I look forward. "Look, look Look to the rainbow. Follow it over the hill And the stream. Look, look Look to the rainbow. Follow the fellow Who follows a dream."* *Look to the Rainbow from Finian's Rainbow. Music by Burton Lane; Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg