Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year

My regularly scheduled sessions are over for the year. I'm torn between being happy and well, not so happy. Happy because the commute from Long Island to Manhattan can be a beast after work. Not so happy because I'm really only skating once a week as it is. Happy because I don't have to monitor on Sunday mornings while trying to get 15 minutes of ice time. Not so happy because at least I had 15 more minutes of ice time.

And I'm still cold.

I'm thinking of naming my facial twitches as I have named everything else happening to my body. I think I'll name her Tammy. Whenever I really can't sleep, that old movie is on Turner Classic Movies and it puts me out within 20 minutes. Thank you Debbie Reynolds.

The Sunday session may change in February. Seems the parents of the higher test skaters want their little darlings to have an 80 minute session without having to worry about the rest of us lower level skaters in the way. The session would begin at 10:00 and end at 11:20. An ice cut would follow and those deemed unworthy of the high test session would have a 50 minute session beginning at 11:30. I wouldn't mind this because the woman who monitors has a daughter who is a Senior lady. I would be more than happy to monitor that early session, however, once the Zamboni is on the ice, I am just another skater like everyone else. I would do nothing other than skate. Nothing.

My co-monitor doesn't like that idea because it would mean she'd have to get up early. Plus, I think she enjoys my only skating 15 minutes every Sunday. Personally, I'm hoping they will adopt the new schedule.

A parent suggested that the lower level skaters have (please sit down for this one) a 30 minute session. 30 minutes?!?!?! Are they mad? What in the wide, wide world of sports are they thinking? As much as they charge for ice time at this rink, who would come??

A new rink opened up 1 mile from my apartment. I think it's outdoors, but I don't care. Since my office is closed between Christmas and New Years (insert "happy dance" here), I'm going to go over and see what's what. I don't know what the schedule is because the website states the schedule will be online after Friday, December 17th and today's the 20th. I can even walk there, I think. Walking might be easier since they never did make those cars like in The Jetsons that you could fold up and put in your pocket. Plus, I've only been in that park once and I really don't remember how I got there. I do remember that I got lost. I asked a woman for directions. Never saw anyone that old run that fast before. I think she's still running and that was last year.

Regardless, I will find this rink. I knew I should have brought a bicycle.

Allow me now to change the subject. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Peaceful Winter Solstice, Happy New Year and any other holiday I may have forgotten. It seems like just yesterday it was summer and now, as I sit in my slightly overheated apartment, I realise that the year is nearly over. I must be getting old. When I was a kid, it took FOREVER for the Christmas vacation, now it seems as though I just put away my decorations from last Christmas... Wait, I think I DID just put them away in September. Not all of them, just the odd piece here and there. Doesn't everyone leave out Santa and a sleigh? FYI, this was my mom's Santa. It's animated and plays the sax. It plays two tunes: Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls. I always smile when I play it.

So, happy holidays everyone. Stay safe. Be well. I will probably be back before the end of the year.

Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Cold, Knees and Facial Flutters

I'm cold.

When I first started skating, I was always cold. I suppose it was because I wasn't moving very fast and had to constantly stop to catch my breath. I used to wear a camisole, cotton turtleneck shirt, sweatshirt, tights, knit unitard and pants to skate a freestyle session. At my old rink in Flushing Meadow Park, no matter what I did, I was cold. I used to drink two cups of hot chocolate (one before the session and one after) to try to stay warm. As time went on, I started having additional lessons and my progress improved so I wasn't quite so cold. Then I stopped skating in Flushing and started skating in Manhattan. After a year, I found myself sweating while skating and moved toward long tee shirts and leggings. I didn't bother to mention the year I skated in scrubs, but they were really comfortable.

I skated in long tee shirts and leggins until Ted. Ted was the most negative coach I have ever had. I came to Ted with all of my singles and before I left Ted, not only did I have a pair of skates stolen, all of my jumps left me; and some have yet to return. Sometimes you make a mistake. He was a nice enough guy, but not the coach for me. However, had it not been for Ted, I wouldn't have had a program choreographed by Amy who subsequently became my coach. I should note that the program was lovely, but both Amy and I said the music (chosen by Ted) was definitely NOT for me.

Fast forward to all the sessions skated recently. I am cold. Not just chilly, but as cold as I was back in the day. Some days, I can't seem to warm up no matter how long I skate. Now that I'm older, it takes longer to warm up and sometimes by the time I do, the session is over! It's like I'm starting from scratch.

My knees have decided that pain is a normal now. Last year, shortly after Thanksgiving, my left knee decided it was going to hurt all the time. I went to my orthopedic physician, Dr. Cutie (that's my nickname for him) who suggested an MRI. Unfortunately the location was not in my plan and as luck would have it, the pain subsided after three weeks of rest. I began wrapping my left (landing leg) knee with an ace bandage just because it felt stronger with the bandage (might have been all in my head). Several months later, my right knee started to bother me and I ended up wrapping both knees. I look like I've been a catcher for a major league baseball team and my broke down body needs some TLC.

The pain has returned on mt left knee so my right knee is no longer lonely.

This brings me to the facial flutters. They began in my left eye, ever so slightly and slowly, causing me to think my eye was just twitching because of allergies. Two weeks later, the occasional fluttering became longer and longer. What began as two minutes every hour became twenty minutes every forty minutes. Then, forty minutes every hour. The fluttering moved down to my cheek. So, my eye and cheek began to flutter for most of an hour. This was when I thought someone should take a look at it. However, before I had the appointment with a neurologist, my lip decided to join the party. Thus far, no one else has seen these flutters/spasms/twitches, but I can feel them. And they are annoying.

Approximately six years ago, I had my first bout with Bells Palsy. It was slight and lasted about a month. It all began with the left side of my face feeling numb. Since my dad had died from complications of a stroke, I was concerned. When my left eye stopped shutting totally, I became frightened. My neurologist (same one) told me it was stress related. Granted, this was before I purchased a car and was taking 6 buses round trip to and from work. But, my mom was still alive, which now counts as a good time.

My second bells palsy period lasted three weeks and was after my mom died. This too was related to stress, which considering the year I (and my family) had just had, was understandable. It wasn't so bad; people moved out of my way when my upper lip would raise and quiver when it wanted to. Sometimes, it made me laugh if I caught my reflexion.

This time neurologist gave me a prescription for a pill that is given to people who are psychotic. I AM NOT PSYCHOTIC! I am a woman who hates her job! I didn't get the script filled; I can't get over the reason for the medication.

I am trying to plan a vacation, alone. So far, all I have is I want to leave my skates at home.

Did I mention I want to go alone?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Rink Rants

I should give you fair warning; I'm complaining.

On my last session, I had just 10-15 minutes on the ice before my ice monitoring duties took over and my co-monitor insisted that we go over ever detail of who was on the session approximately twelve times. Grrrr......

On a positive note, the few minutes I was on the ice were lovely. I've been having acupuncture treatments and it's really helped keep Phil and Sylvie at bay. It's like day and night as far as my stroking and pain level is concerned.

Sadly, it has done noting to improve my three turns.

There is a young woman (early twenties) who guests on the Sunday morning and occasionally weekday evening sessions. She is the most unpleasant, rudest person I have ever had the misfortune of having to share the ice with (yes, I know, I ended a sentence in a preposition. And me, an English major!). She is so unpleasant, other adults roll their eyes when they see her. She finds pleasure in almost hitting anyone who is older than she is, who is not moving overly quickly, but at a slower speed. On several occasions, we have had near misses (although I think they should be called "near hits" because if it's a near miss you're not really close to one another...). One day, while on lesson, I moved my right arm while she was rounding the corner and slapped her square across the face. Another time, I was doing my artistic program, which had some beautiful arm movements. I suppose I wasn't important enough for her to notice and not be skating right up next to me because I slapped her across the face a second time. On that same day, during that very same run-through, I nearly took her head off during a camel spin I was already in because she decided she just had to do a jump right there. It only took three years, but she stopped skating into me.

I only mention this because I had to hand out copies of the schedule on Sunday. She took one, and said nothing. Now I admit, I can be a royal bitch sometimes. I stood in front of her and said. "The words you're looking for are 'THANK YOU'." She looked up at my non-smiling, annoyed face and mumbled, "Thanks." I walked off.

Damn. Did I really need to go there? Would have it killed this spoiled little witch to just be polite?

There's an adult skater during the evening session who is so oblivious to everything around her, she actually frightens me. I am not easily frightened. I've had guns pointed at me during robberies. I've walked into the middle of a drug bust. I've fallen off the subway platform. All of these incidents will be explained if you send me a comment with your e-mail address; none of them are skating related. However, this adult skater frightens me.

She is a beginner skater; working on her Pre-Preliminary and Preliminary moves and all the elements up to those tests as well. She's nice enough, but, well rather spacey. She notices absolutely, positively nothing around her. And I mean NOTHING. If she's working on her crossovers on the hockey circles, she will not deviate, speed up, slow down or move for anyone. Skaters have come to a grinding halt after picking up speed and setting up jumps because she has just suddenly stopped and stood there, looking out into space, thinking.

Personally, I've been frustrated by her on every single session. Uusally, when I'm doing my program, being a lefty, I'll jump in the lefty lutz corner. There is she is, hanging out, thinking. I ran into her once, only once, and she shouted at me "Look out!" Really? We had a young man going to Regionals skate a session. She never looked up as he tried to do triple jumps all around her.

Totally oblivious. Now become really frightened: she works in healthcare.

Of course that brings me to skaters who can only practice jumps in the exact same spot they always practice their jumps. I'm not talking about anywhere past the blue line, nope, I'm talking about the very same, exact point in the ice where they ALWAYS do a jump. I'm talking about the spot where, if by fluke of nature, you dared to land a jump three feet around that exact spot, the skater will suck her teeth and stamp her foot because you're in the way. If I skated that way, I'd get even less done than I already do. Such foolishness. Some of these skaters get angry when they can't do a jump in their pre-determined two feet of space, even when someone is skating a program.

Last rant: parents standing by the door. When I handed out the rules on Sunday, I glanced at them and noticed that one of the rules stated parents are not allowed to stand by the rink doors. No one listens to that rule. At least once per season, while getting off the ice, I will trip and slam into a parent blocking the door. It happens every year. I don't do it on purpose, but I do find it rather funny that I can manage to stay upright on the ice, but fall down on solid ground. Parents, if you see a skater getting off the ice, one suggestion: MOVE.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No One's Mother

Why does everyone assume I am someone's mother when I show up at the rink. Or someone's (GASP!!) grandmother (I'm not that old!) or someone's nanny. Oh the joys of being an African-American woman in the snotty world of figure skating! To be fair, in the neighborhood I live in, people in my building think I'm the home health aid of the woman in 2G.

I believe I told one woman three times in two sessions that I do not have any children; I actually don't like children. Most kids I have met are obnoxious, whinny, cry-baby pains in the ass. And if one more person tells me I'll feel different about my own kids, I may kick them in the ass. But, I digress...

I had a pretty decent session on Sunday. Not sure if it's because I had on enough deep heat to stop a large truck (and it was pretty warm on Sunday) or because I decided to skate the early session, but it wasn't that bad.

I may never go to the Olympics, but then again, neither will 99% of the skaters out there. I do wish that the skating parents out there would think before they speak. Adult figure skaters are growing everyday. Don't assume we're waiting for our children, like you are. We're moving. YOU'RE sitting, waiting.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tears, Nosebleeds and a Pain in the Backside

Have you ever cried so hard you made your nose bleed?

Sunday was one of those days. I've had a series of pretty bad sessions ever since I volunteered to be the ice monitor at the rink on Sunday. Between the stinky attitudes of some of the parents who yell and scream because the schedule of sessions was changed and NOBODY told them (all they had to do was look it up on the website) and the price remained the same and my own issues, it's just not going well.

Things had been going along quite smoothly and then sessions were cancelled for three weeks and my body seems to have forgotten all the things it used to know how to do: like a right inside three turn(?). They were never my strongest three turn, but I could do them and suddenly BANG! Gone. I can't even seem to figure out HOW to do the darn thing anymore. It's frustrating and I've taken some weird sideways falls because while half of my brain says "Go, you got it", the other half says "No way in hell" and my body agrees with that half. It has me flustered.

No, it has me depressed.

I don't need any assistance in the depression department. My back hurts 24/7. My sciatica Sylvie has shown up and refuses to leave. Sometimes the pain is so bad, breathing hurts. Sometimes I can't put weight on my legs. I still have that annoying cough. I'm still fat. My stomach always hurts. My roommate/sister still wants to move away. But the biggest cause of my depression is my job.

For seven years I have worked with a woman who doesn't cover her mouth when she coughs, chews with her mouth open, refuses to lift the phone receiver so she uses speaker phone all the time, tells me I'm wrong every single day, has never allowed me to finish a sentence and has never, ever, ever said "please" or "thank you" to me.

This, combined with a lack of a social life, chronic pain and no prospects for a job whatsoever, has sent me into a depression tailspin the likes of which I have not known since 2002. (That's another long story which also involves work and skating.) How depressed? I have been contemplating checking out of this world. I can be pretty anal about things, so I have made a plan and picked a date. Things have got to turn around for me.

This brings me to Sunday. People, parents really, do not assume that the person checking in your little darling is someone's mother. You have seen me and my busted body on the ice, I am wearing a pair of skates, STOP ASKING ME WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER! I don't have any children, I'm happy to report. I'm not fond of children and even less fond of parents. If I didn't have kids last week, I don't have them this week, so please, stop asking me.

Also, no, I didn't just start skating. I've already discussed how tired I am of having to defend my skating ability. Will I get back to my former glory? I hope so, and fast as time is running out (see two paragraphs above) and I'd like to stop looking like this is the first time I've ever worn skates in my life. I'd like to restore that which was lost, get that which never was, feel good about my skating again. Your comments are not helping my depression, so...

I sat in the locker room after the one and only session I skated, crying so hard my nose started to bleed. A lot. I have high blood pressure (lucky me!) and that may have contributed to it. I don't know. All I know is when I left the locker room with red eyes, no one noticed.

Perhaps that's part of my problem; I am invisible to most. Except if I get in your oblivious child's way. Or when the Zamboni doesn't resurface exactly when you want it to; then you notice me. Other than that, I am quite invisible.

Amy, my coach, thinks things are getting better. She's a very positive re-enforcement type of coach. She also very positive attitude. My attitude right now really sucks. I am in a funk I cannot get out of. So deep is this funk that I don't care that I'm only skating 1 1/2 sessions per week. So deep that retail therapy isn't helping.

I just want to get into bed and stay there for about a year.

My sister plans on going to the rink with me on Sunday. She can be very critical and caustic; just what I need. (Insert sarcasm here!) We're going to brunch afterwards because she is tired of my cooking. I wonder how much alcohol I can drink and still get on the subway. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New Season, New Issues

Now that the new season for skating has begun, there seems to be a new set of issues to face. For one, there are fewer and fewer sessions to skate. Okay, let's be real; there are NO evening sessions anywhere except the SCNY session on Wednesday night. World Ice has a Monday session at 5:30 (yeah, good luck getting to that one), but that's it. City Ice Pavilion hasn't had a regular evening session since the first year it was opened. And I loved that evening session. Landed some of my best jumps there.

Currently, I'm only skating one session. That would explain the sudden disappearance of various jumps and all of my spins. It would also explain the stiffness of my hamstrings when I do skate. Also the renewal of my sciatica, Sylvie. It's a bit frustrating. Even with everything that had happened during the summer, I was a little further along than I appear to be right now. The three turns for my MIF have gone to visit other skaters, I fear. My spins like to visit other parts of the rink, get their passport stamped and sort-of return to where they began. I have never traveled so much on spins before in life, but now... it's become a constant.

I'm guessing part of the problem is my lack of core strength, flexibility, cardio training and practice. Skating once a week is not conducive to trying to pass 2 tests by January to go to Adult Nationals. If my recent skates are any indication as to how these next few months will go, I'm in BIG trouble.

It's not so much that I really want to go to Utah, although I have nothing against the state, I would like to go to Nationals again, soon. Soon before my body and finances give out. Soon, before I come to my senses and ask myself what the heck am I doing. (I should say before I ask that question again, since I've been known to ask myself that question while in the air in mid-jump.)

I suppose I will have to bite the bullet and attend public sessions. That will work until the weather gets very cold and everyone says, "Hey, let's go skating!!" and the sessions become unbearable. Of course, that would mean a rink would actually HAVE an evening session, which are also few and far between. Out here in Long Island, there are some outdoor rinks I could try. Wish I could get my GPS to work in my car.

On another note: my last session was good. Although I'm still having that "3 turns are visiting other skaters" issue, I am working through it. I didn't feel like spinning; working on my moves takes up most of the session. Hopefully, it'll work out that my jumps will be more consistent, although since I hardly have time to do them, I'm not sure how.

I really have to get back into shape. My stomach looks (to me anyway) as though I am 6 months pregnant; I'm not. Plus, all of my elements will be stronger if I do.

But first, why do my skates feel too big?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Giving Thanks and Laying Low

Two weeks ago, maybe less, I had the most awesome skate I've had in weeks. Maybe it was because my coach was there, or maybe it was because I didn't drink the night before (working on that!) but it was wonderful. For reasons I can't figure out, everything and I mean everything worked out.

Then the rink closed for the Labor Day holidays followed by the annual Middle Atlantic competition. I think it opens up for freestyle next week. I'm not sure since the schedule ended on Sept. 3rd and a new one hasn't been posted on the website yet. I look daily.

Also, I have said goodbye to the rink in Bethpage, NY. This is no offense to the people who skate there, but DAMN! Why can't those kids look where they're going? If I set up a jump and you see that I'm already in the air (and my hang time isn't long, by any stretch of the immagination) why, really why would you go into a spin in the corner where I'm about to land. Hey kid, I'm not going to abort this jump for you, I'm already in the air! You shouldn't be spinning in the corners!

That being said, my last session wasn't bad. I left early thanks to back pain and frustration (I hope to meet you at Chelsea Piers young lady. Can't wait to see you on a SCNY session where you will be in EVERYONE'S way.) Oddly enough, I don't want to return to Bethpage for several reasons. The major one is that I would prefer not to work in Long Island and return, instead to Manhattan. I keep looking.

So, I give thanks for those three good sessions. And I wait patiently for the rink to post a schedule. However, sessions with the SCNY will be starting soon; I think I can afford them. Plus, I don't mind bringing my lunch every day; it's healthier.

My weight issues seem to have taken a turn for the worse thanks entirely to a bout of depression. My chosen career is to be a writer. So far, no one wants my writing. My sisters are in show business and have had a fair amount of success. One sister more than the other. And yet that sister complains daily when she's working on a show. And I mean daily. Something is always just not right enough. She's a perfectionist and a "my way or the highway" type of person. However, she has had an incredible career. Things have been a little slow recently, but they are picking up. I'm glad; I want my family to succeed. I want them to be happy. I want my sister to stop complaining so much. I'd like her to actually listen after she asks how I am when I tell her "not so good".

My other sister is in a slump, mostly because she needs to get out of her own way and stop listening to her "friends". I don't know these people; I don't want to know these people, but they NEVER come to visit her. She always goes out of town to visit them. We're talking a day trip here people. I think she's very talented and pretty. These friends seem to be feeding her a lot of negativity wrapped up in religious retoric. Did I mention that I don't like these people?

Anyway, my bout of depression is the culmulation of finding my college boyfriend happily married and not remembering dating me at all, a job I absolutely hate, a commute to said job that makes me wonder if anyone on the Northern State Parkway in Long Island ever read the driver's manual, a long serious bout of writers block and no one wanting to read my work anyway. I've been toying with self-publishing, but fear that I'm going to end up with 10,000 copies of a book that I tear apart to wrap up my breakables if I have to move again.

With that said, until the rink re-opens and I can write myself out of the latest corner I have put the characters of my book into, I will be laying low and working out. Besides, I feel really, really, fat and look pregnant. Why do I say that? Going into Manhattan a few weeks ago, a man gave me his seat because he thought I was pregnant. He asked me when I was due. As I sat down, I said, "I'm not pregnant, just fat. Thanks for the seat."

See you in a week.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Maybe This Time...

It's been an interesting few weeks.

I tried to be upbeat and optimistic about my skating, weight, job and general distain for listening to people complain (it's part of my wonderful job. It would be easier if people actually read BEFORE they called me to complain...). I tried.

Three weeks ago, while at Chelsea Piers, a young (23) adult skater asked if I thought she'd ever get the jumps she had as a child back again. I said sure, if you work hard enough. She asked me how long I had been skating and I gave my general "too long to be at this level" response. When pressed, I told her I had taken years off from time to time, but was a pretty good skater at one point.

She didn't believe me.

I had all my singles before I totally ran out of money. I had all my singles before my body betrayed me and started to hurt like hell. All my singles, including axel, which wasn't particularly consistant, but was there. And this snip didn't believe me.

Life is a funny thing. Just when you're coasting along, enjoying the world, something goes wrong. A car needs repair. A roof starts to leak. Occasional over-time becomes daily over-time. A company folds. A slight twitch becomes an all-encompassing pain that never goes away. Weight gains are harder to lose. All of your reserve money is used to pay bills and buy groceries. You get older. Loved ones die. I told Ms. Snip that all of these things will eventually happen to her. She doubted it. "Do you really think your parents are going to continue to pay for your skating like they did when you were a kid?" She hadn't thought of that.

My last session, which was last week, was a mini disaster. Once again, the first session went fairly well. I had some solid backspins. My MIF were actually moving. Then the second session began and I think my feet forgot what to do. It was cold in the rink and Sal decided it was time to remind me he was there. Phil showed up too, but Gerri, Sylvie and Carly stayed away. I took an interesting, out of control fall on a spin. Ms. Snip asked if I was okay. I told her I ignore the pain as much as possible, thanked her and skated away.

Amy will be in tomorrow. I'm glad because this has been one of the worse skating summers I've had in a long time. I had such hope for the summer, such hope.

My job is cutting my almost non-existant salary by 1 1/2%, which isn't much until you consider that my roommate wants to move away. If she goes, so goes skating because I won't be able to afford it anymore. I don't fault her for wanting to move; I just don't like her motives. Wanting to move to another state so you can be closer to your "friends" is just juvenile, especially when you factor in not having a job, a place to live or the ability to drive.

I am going to try to enjoy these last months of skating before the boom is lowered. I can try to stay positive and hope that I find another, better paying job (I've worked here for 7 years; I've been looking for a new job for 6 1/2 years.) that will allow me to pay the entire rent and other bills and still skate. However, I must be realistic. As much as I hope and pray, there is a very good chance this will not happen.

I don't go out. I don't date. I don't go to the movies. Sometimes I go to the theatre, but for the most part, I skate. That's it. I would hate to have to quit again, but I think this time it'll be for good. I'm getting a bit too old to start from scratch every year. I've watched adults who started after I did, fly past me on tests and elements and it hurts like the dickens. More than Sal. Maybe it's just time.

I hate having to defend my previous skating ability. No one believes me anyway.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Sided Love Affair?

Late last month, I took a week off from work to give myself my own "skate week". As with all previous skate weeks, it didn't go quite as planned. City Ice Pavilion, which, as I said before, is basically an outdoor rink with a top was hot as hell. The best part was for the three sessions I was able to skate, I was the only person on the ice. That was wonderful. Unfortunately, almost none of my jumps decided to show up and only one of my spins made a brief appearance. Still, it was nice to be the only person on the ice. Wish I had had some music to listen to...

I only made it to the rink three times thanks to yet another procedure performed in my doctor's office. This one went worse than the first one and I'd rather not have another one done, thank you very much.

My wonderful coach Amy went away for the weekend, leaving me to practice on my own the following week. The first session went well; considering I needed more sleep, would have preferred not having to stand all the way into Manhattan and then having to walk from 6th Avenue to 12th Avenue. These are Manhattan blocks people. By the time I got to the rink I was tired, really tired. But the first session went pretty well, with some decent backspins (the bane of my existance along with two jumps and outside mohawks). The second session was not as good. I seemed to get in my own way. My legs did things I didn't ask them to do, my arms went on about their merry way regardless of what I wanted. Needless to say, it was not a good session. I left 5 minutes early in hopes of getting some more sleep on the train. I did.

That brings us to this week. I am feeling melancholy. I watch other skaters on YouTube and wonder "Maybe I should video tape myself" and then I think, I'll probably quit after watching myself. I haven't lost any weight; I haven't even been trying. Where did my desire go? My determination? I only wanted four things to happen this summer and if they did, I was going to buy myself a pair of expensive shoes I've been dreaming about. I am no where close to that goal; I'm not even on the same page.

It probably doesn't help that no one reads my blog; not even my family. I feel like I am swimming upstream and no one has even noticed I'm in the water.

I still love skating, I'm just wondering if it loves me back.

Friday, July 16, 2010

That Was Nice

On Thursday, I ran out of my office like a bat out of hell. Well, that's not true. My boss likes to wait until I'm standing in her doorway, saying "good night" to tell me what she did during her day. This is a daily occurrence and daily it makes me as mad as hell. Every day for seven years. I'm lucky that I have a job. Now repeat twenty times...

I drove to City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City. It's basically an outdoor rink with a cover. I was surprised that it was still open since it's July and the temperatures are once again threatening to be in the upper 90s. But off I went.

I was already hot when I arrived because I keep forgetting that my car has air conditioning. My previous car didn't have heat, so I never tried to use the AC. (Here's a funny story: I was driving my old car from the rink and since it was cold, I turned on the heat. The inside of the car filled with smoke, but I thought it was foggy outside and continued driving. A police car pulled up along side of me and after I opened my window, the cop asked if I was okay. I said sure, I was fine. He asked why my car was filled with smoke. "Smoke?" I said, "I thought it was just foggy outside." I turned off the heat, the smoke cleared, but the heat never worked again.)

Inside the rink was no cooler than the inside of my car. I got there a few minutes late, but warmed up and hit the ice. Including myself, there were five, that's right, five skaters on the ice. It was heaven!! After having to dodge skaters all week, I got to skate with just four other people.

The session began at 7:00 and went until 8:20. At 7:30, two skaters left the ice. At 7:45 another skater left. That left me and another woman. We each basically took an end of the ice and mostly stayed there. Although at various times, we used the whole entire surface. It was great. I jumped, I spun, I did footwork, Moves in the Field... you name it, I did it. Then, at 8:05, the other skater left, leaving me on the ice alone, without the nerves of competition.

I was in heaven. I used that entire ice space. I skated bigger than ever and it felt wonderful.

8:20 came; I would have stayed longer, but hockey skaters wanted their ice, so off I went. However, it was really great to have that much freedom. I had envied people who were able to skate quiet sessions without a lot of small children in their own world, buzzing around. Finally, I had the chance to experience that feeling.

And it was nice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Mood Swings

Maybe it's the rain....

Yesterday, I spent much of the day being positive and watching other African-American (and Canadian) skaters on YouTube. I was inspired. I was so looking forward to skating today (Wednesday) and proving that while I was not over joyed with the session, I would go on. Then, I had an argument with my roommate (who is also my sister) and while we have resolved the conflict; I feel terrible. I hate to argue and I usually try to keep my anger and frustration inside where the only person I can hurt is myself. (Please see stomach issues.) I just feel as though my life has gone off on a tangent I never expected.

Like I said, maybe it's the rain.

Since the weather report stated it would be severe thunderstorms on and off all day, I decided not to drive to work. Not driving to work means not going to the rink. I hate driving in the rain, mostly because my car leaks in severe rain. If I had known that when I purchased my 2002 Ford Focus in 2005, I would have returned it immediately. It took a trip to the carwash where the entire inside of my car was soaked to discover this problem. It was also more than 6 months after I purchased the car. She doesn't leak all the time, usually when I don't want it to. As a result, I usually cover her with a car cover; except I forgot to last night and am prepared to return home to a wet car. I'll cover her anyway, and hope for the best.

I also feel fat.

And like a loser.

I know this will pass, but for right now, I just want to cry. Again.

Skating tomorrow at City Ice Pavilion. I like that rink. Had some really good sessions at that rink. Need more good practice sessions.

Maybe subliminal self-hypnosis tapes. "You can land your jumps." "You will ignore the child who only comes up to your hip who insists on doing a two-foot spin where you plan on landing your jump."

It's a thought...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hmmmm... Not As Expected....

After work yesterday, I traveled to a new rink. It's the rink I'm supposed to be going to for a 6:00am session that I've never made. Yesterday, they began their summer sessions, which includes 6:15pm sessions twice a week. The rink is about six miles from my office. So, off I went.

After traveling in the wrong direction for approximately five or six miles, I stopped in a gas station and got turned around in the right direction. "Okay!" I thought, "I may be a little late, but I'll get there." And I managed not to get lost again and arrived with little or no additional problems. Oh wait, I did drive right past the big sign that stated it was the skating rink. Thank goodness for private roads that allow you to turn around.

The rink is owned and operated by the town (it's in Long Island), so the price can't be beat. It's less than half what I pay in Manhattan. That was one very big selling point for me.

As almost any skater will tell you, there is a bit of a learning curve when skating at a new rink. You're nervous, the ice feels funny, and in my case, there are the looks. Lots of looks. No, I'm not being paranoid. I'm a 5'6" African-American adult woman with more than a few extra pounds on her. I add the word "adult" because I am writing about figure skating and while there are more and more adult skaters, the parents of the children on the ice seem to think every adult falls into two categories: 1) skated competitively as a child and has all of their double and triple jumps and is coming back to the sport; 2) a big annoying waste of ice time who is taking up space that their little darling child could be using. I fall into the second category, not having skated as a child. When I go to a new rink, it's almost as though I've never been on skates before. I always hope that this feeling disappears after a few minutes, but it almost never does. There are people at World Ice Arena and Aviator who still wonder if I know how to skate. Then they'll see me at Chelsea Piers and ask if I have a sister who looks a lot like me, but doesn't skate very well. Go figure.

So, off the the rink in Long Island. I pay my fee, change my clothes and walk over to where all the other skaters are located. I start talking to another adult skater; her name escapes me right now. Actually, her name escaped me ten minutes after she told me. Sometimes things just fly right out of my head; usually names.

To my surprise, I saw two coaches I knew from years ago; they look exactly the same. That was the biggest positive about this session. Sadly, now for the negative.

Including myself and coaches, there were 22 skaters on the ice. Just 22. I've skated with as many as 32. How 16 actual skaters, average age of 11 managed to be in the way for the entire session boggles my mind. I started off stroking, but had to stop on the other side of the rink because a little girl decided the track was an excellent place to spin. Another lap, another spot, another spinner. Crossovers on the end, no, almost tripped over a leg doing a sudden lunge.

My moves in the field were only done down one side of the rink because the other side seemed to be devoted to little girls doing whatever the heck they wanted, wherever they wanted. I was moving backwards, when I heard "heads up" by a coach who decided that was the perfect place to stand to watch her student. Never mind that I was in a pattern on the track; I was in her way. Her student was doing three bunny hops.

Undeterred, I tried jumping. After twelve attempts at lining up the jump, only to abort due to a little girl deciding that spinning in the corner was the perfect place, I did the jump anyway and scared the pants off of her. Not on purpose; I guess she never saw an adult jump. It wasn't even a good jump, nor was it a high level jump (it was a basic waltz jump). That little girl eyeballed me for the rest of the session; still don't understand why.

I've been spoiled. The ice at Chelsea is usually perfect; not too hard, not too soft, not too wet and very, very smooth. Yesterday's ice was dry, hard and in need of a resurfacing. More than once on a back edge, I heard my toepick dig into the ice, a bad habit I'm trying to break. My jumps were not my best and spinning seemed to be a waste of time; everyone else was jumping in the center.

This brings me to an important point. There is a coach who doesn't allow parents to sit in the bleachers during sessions. They may watch from the large windows on the other side of the rink. This is not because the coaches are abusing or yelling, but because the parents are a distraction. I watched a coach trying to keep her student's attention when every eighteen seconds, that kid was looking over at her parents. She would do an element and look at her parents, who clapped enthusiastically, and as a result, distracted the child. It is this need for instant praise that created the spinning in the track problem. The skaters are spinning where their parents can see them and right in front of where they are sitting; along the track. If you don't allow parents in the rink, you eliminate this problem.

I am grateful for the opportunity to skate at this rink, even with all of the issues I raised. I need more ice time, and am trying not to waste my time or money. I should be on the ice tonight at a different rink, but I have to go buy an air conditioner with my roommate, so that plan has been squashed. I'll be back at the Long Island rink on Wednesday; not sure if I'll try to go in the morning as well.

It is my hope that it gets better; both the ice and me. I marvel at those high level skaters who can skate anywhere and not have it effect them. I want that. I just have to work hard to achieve it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pardon the Interruption....

Somehow, weeks passed without a posting. Oops. Sorry about that.

I can say that I haven't skated as much as I wished. I did skate the session before my lesson 2 weeks in a row. And what wonderful sessions they were. My coach is amazing and thanks to her extreme patience and positive attitude, my skating is improving.

I have no real excuse for not skating. Well, maybe.

In late June, I had an in-office medical procedure done. While I had none of the side-effects most women have after this procedure, but I just wasn't in the mood to drive or skate. I decided to take the rest of the week off. I did skate on that Friday morning and had a lesson.

In case you're wondering, I'm fine.

The 4th of July also came up. It's a funny fact that most skating rinks close during that weekend. So, there was no skating then either.

This was followed by the first real heat-wave of 2010 to hit the east coast. I have no patience for idiot drivers. Constantly changing lanes without signalling, deciding at the last second that this is your exit and you're in the left hand lane, talking on your cell while driving; I can't stand any of that. Add to this the triple digit temperatures and I opted to take public transportation. If the MTA actually worked correctly, I would have made 2 sessions this past week. However, the MTA is one of the worse run agencies in NY.

That brings me to today. And today I skated. I think my feet are shrinking because, once again, my skates feel too big. I worked through the strange feeling and had two really good sessions. My coach concentrated on my moves in the field. They seem to be coming along quite nicely too. I seem to be having trouble with the more basic portions of some of the moves, which doesn't make a great deal of sense to me, but....

Tomorrow is another day. It's supposed to be a very, very early day. There's a session near work that begins at 6:00am. I've never been to this rink and I don't have the best sense of direction, so, wish me luck.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back To Work

I took a week off. Not on purpose, but I was just too tired to run around the city and outer boroughs to get to the rink. So I gave myself permission to sit back, go to the theatre (bad) and a movies (good). If this was a blog about theatre, I'd go into detail about how disappointed I was in the revival of a musical I saw recently. But it isn't. And no one is going to blame me for their ticket sales going through the cellar floor. (No, it didn't win Best Revival of a Musical).

Skating on Saturday was a joy. I got up extra early because the MTA still insists on screwing with my subway line. Actually the MTA is just screwing with everyone's subway line by eliminating trains in crowded areas, combining service but only in certain areas. It's a mess. I have an idea as to how to fix it, but again, this isn't a blog about fixing the financial woes of the city. (FYI: if you make over 300k annually and you work for the city, you could do with a small pay cut.)

Back to skating. The session was a bit more crowded than I expected at 9:00am on a Saturday. There were kids there as well as adults. More kids than adults. But I saw several of the skaters from the Wednesday night session and it was great to see them. I've noticed how much progress they've made since the beginning of the season in October. They've all gotten quite good and are much more observant. Adult skaters have a very bad habit of being in their own little world. We concentrate much harder than kids and as a result, lots of us don't notice the person in the air two feet in front of us. I, on the other hand, notice the people ten feet in front of me and stop for them. Or I should say, I'm trying very hard NOT to notice the people ten feet in front of me and stop for them. I'd say I have a 52% success rate.

I had located three videos of the Silver MIF test on the internet and watched them over and over. I don't know who you are, but thank you for the idea of doing a three turn and back crossovers to keep the momentum going from forward to backward in the crossrolls and the edge pumps (at least I think that's what they're called). I never would have thought of that. Of course, it's not my favorite three turn, but since they are all on the test, it gives me the opportunity to practice that turn over and over again. I find it amazing that my three turns have gotten so rusty. Lack of use, I suppose.

So I tried the crossovers and had enough speed to get almost to the very end of the pattern. I need to bend my knees more and not lean forward on the back crossrolls. It causes me to ride my toepick instead of the edge. And whoever that skater was, her crossrolls were wonderful. You could hear the "rip" on the backward ones too. I've never heard the rip on the back rolls. Wow. Something to work towards, along with riding the edge until my bum is facing the opposite side of the rink. Hard to describe, but...

Have you ever noticed that most lefty skaters do an elaborate series of three turns into a loop jump? I noticed that recently because as a lefty, I too do a series of three turns into a loop jump. And I hate it. It's easy to get into the position from inside three turns, but it's also easy to mess up the three turns and subsequently the jump. Well on Saturday, I graduated to the big girl entrance: crossovers. Just one crossover. I'm getting good height on the jump, just have to remember to land. However, I have been told: if I try 5 and they don't work, I must go back to the inside three and leave the crossover alone for that session. I agreed.

Should have gone to the rink this morning, but 4:30 is just soooo early... Can't wait for the rink to start their Monday evening session. That might get me to get up early on Monday morning so I can skate two sessions in one day.

I need more coffee.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ice, Ice Baby....

The extra Wednesday night sessions have been purchased by hockey.

I discovered this, thanks to my wonderful coach, via text message on Wednesday afternoon after carrying my skates in my trusty backpack on the Long Island Railroad.

Wish I had found out on Tuesday night. It's not my coach's fault, of course, but those darn hockey skaters. Grrrrr....... Taking all the choice ice times.... Making figure skaters skate in the wee hours of the morning....

And those skates are heavy!

I've almost gotten over the disappointment of my competition. It's funny really. I could actually feel when I started losing control of the situation. I started off well. Three elements in and it was shaky, but okay. It was an artistic program, so I didn't think I needed a lot of jumps; I had two in the program. A simple mohawk, back three turn, which I tripped over into a Ina Bauer (or my version of one. It is probably the shortest Ina Bauer you will ever see. Did you see it? Missed it!). This was followed by the first spin, an attitude spin. No laybacks for me on Sunday. Sal stopped by with all the pain he could muster and brought friends.

My first jump went well. Very well. But my knees still knocked and my feet felt as though they belonged to someone else and that person had smaller feet than I do. I have a good strong spiral, high leg, pointed toe, don't dip too far down with my chest. So far, so good. I even did the turn from backwards to forwards without looking like it was an afterthought (usually it IS an afterthought). Inside spiral, not as high. As I was trying to figure out why my leg wasn't higher, I noticed the boards were much closer that I expected. "Turn! Turn NOW!" I thought. And I did, although I think I brushed up against the boards anyway.

The only other jump in the program had footwork as a setup. I hate footwork. I don't know who invented footwork, but I think they need to be slapped. Usually I screw up the footwork and sail through the jump. Did I? Oh no. I sailed through the footwork and screwed up the jump. And I swore. Right in front of the judges and aloud I swore. I know they heard me because one of them said "oops!"

After that, the rest of the program is a blur. I did a nice camel spin at the end, my coach told me. And I didn't cough up a lung which surprised me. In the end, I felt out of shape, ill-prepared and out skated by a woman who I know and consider a friend.

I just wanted to beat her for once.

What have I learned from this experience? 1. Boy do I need to lose more weight. 2. Waiting one month before a competition to run through your program regularly is not good training. 3. Judges still expect jumps in an artistic program. 4. Try to stay in the here and now, even if you want to know why your leg isn't higher. 5. Taking a painkiller might help when you're in pain.

My sister thinks I should have a drink before I compete. It's a thought. I once had 5 pina coladas before skating a session. I thought I could do a Beillman spin and gave it a try, over and over again. I am NOT that flexible; never have been. So the next day, when I found myself unable to get out of bed because everything hurt, I remembered the spins and the drinks. I've never had a drink before skating since, nor have I tried a Beillman spin again.

I must scramble to find ice for the next two weeks. My NYC rink won't have their new schedule out for another week. I'd rather not take time off from lessons or practice, so I will start hunting for ice time. Even with the additional rinks around NYC, I find that figure skaters still end up skating at unbelievable hours. I am still not a morning person, but I need the practice...

Now that the competition is over, I can concentrate on improving my jumps and spins. Oh yes, and my footwork. Grrrr.........

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I competed today. I wish I could say I am happy with the results, but I'm not. I am disappointed because I had so many really great run-throughs. I wish I had skated the program as I had on Friday's run-through.

I just never really got my feet underneath me. It probably didn't help that I was at a level 6 in the back pain category. And while my coach seemed pleased, I think she was a bit disappointed too. I could have won this event; I should have won this event. The only thing that went somewhat well in my opinion was my final spin. The rest of it was a blur of poop.

I came in second. Not bad, you say. There were only two of us, so in short, I came in last.

I don't compete nearly enough. And currently, I am past the point of disappointment.

I will try harder; I must try harder.

Ouch... now at level 7.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's Going On?

Marvin Gaye sang that song back in the 60's. If you don't know who Marvin Gaye was, look him up, I'm not going to give you a lesson on Soul Music. He asked a very important question and I've recently asked myself.

Skating has been going really well, even with the lesson interruptions due to unfortunate personal issues my wonderful coach has been having. Losing a family member to illness is devastating; I should know. Both of my parents are no longer here and I miss them terribly. Not a day goes by without me thinking about them.

Before I continue, I'd like to specify that I live in NYC and skate at many of the rinks about the city and Long Island. Well, almost. I've never actually made it to that 6:15 session in Bethpage, but I'm hopeful. It's not far from my current job.

So, I skate my regular session last Wednesday, and except for arriving late (thank you sick passenger on the LIRR), the session goes pretty well. I'm trying to put together the elements of my program without looking like the Creature from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I'm also trying to remember to close my mouth while skating; it looks so much prettier and I'm not getting any additional air into my lungs anyway. I set up a salchow, stop in mid-air and land in a clumsy position and keep on skating through the discomfort. Ouch.

On Saturday, I decided to return to World Ice Arena in Flushing Meadow Park. I had stopped skating there after hurting my knee and truly disliking the vibe I received from all the skating parents. (Note to skating parents: the odds of your little sweetie making it to the Olympics are about 1:1000.) This was the strangest session I had ever skated in life.

First off, World Ice is one of the warmest rinks I've ever been in. You could skate in a bathing suit and not feel cold. One lap around the rink and you're sweating. As a result, the ice is sticky, tacky; you have to push ten times harder to produce the same result on any other surface. It's almost like skating on the ground, you must push so hard. Be that as it may, it's still an affordable and close-by ice rink. Anything for ice. Now the strange part.

I'm skating laps at the beginning of the session when at the far end of the rink are ten to twelve girls spinning. They have taken all the space from the blue line to the boards to spin. They aren't really in control and their spins are a bit wild. However, the oddest part is there they are, spinning and no one else seems to notice.

By now I'm starting on my Moves in the Field and need the ends to skate from forwards to backwards, but I can't. There they are, all of them below my shoulder, spinning. Camel spins, sit spins, scratch spins and a few back spin attempts. Everybody knows (or should know) that spins are done in the center. It's to prevent accidents. If I'm coming down ice to do a jump and little Suzie is doing a spin, she doesn't see me and depending on the jump, I may not see her.

I'm taken aback. Surely the coaches know spinning is done in the center and jumps are on the ends. I look at the center: children are jumping there. I am speechless. And confused. I ask a coach if this is normal for this rink (case in point: Peter Burrows used to have skaters spin in one corner of the rink so that the higher level skaters could have the other areas for jumps. Had trouble getting used to that too.) or was I just being a stickler for rules? No, she replied. When she was skating spins were done in the center and she didn't understand why the skaters were allowed to spin wherever they chose.

I made the best of the situation. I almost took a kid down when I landed a jump and didn't see her doing a dozen crossovers into a spin. After the third time, I suggested she spin in the center where it was expected. She replied, "Ohhhhh......"

Sometimes I think skaters spend too much time in the cold and it freezes their common sense.

I skated that session with a headache. This is important because I suffer from migraines. I call them Miles. Miles came to visit four days before Christmas last December and opted to stay for the holidays. Miles comes in various degrees from tolerable (Saturday's session) to debilitating (Saturday night, Sunday and Monday).

Sunday morning was the last session for Sunday and I was looking forward to practicing. My coach would not be there and I was eager to get on the ice. Miles showed up strong. I, stupidly, took 4 Tylenol 3's on a mostly empty stomach. Bad idea knowing how my stomach is. Forty-five minutes later, I felt well enough to go to the rink, but my head still hurt. I tried to skate the session. Miles had caused me to be fairly dizzy, so spinning was out of the question, as was skating backwards. After a half hour, I gave up. My head was throbbing and I had to drop something off at my sister's rehearsal.

Upon arriving home, I was in full blown Miles migraine mode. Every sound from my lead-footed upstairs neighbors sent sharp pains through my head. Every slammed door from my raised-in-a-barn downstairs neighbors made my teeth rattle. I tried to sleep; I kept the room dark. I listened to a very soft TV, I prayed, I was sick to my stomach.

Here is where I should mention that the prescription medicine I have makes me puke and causes the room to spin out of control. I cannot sit up after taking this medicine and usually just lie on the bathroom floor waiting to be sick. With that in mind and because I was home alone, I didn't take the medicine.

Miles stuck around until Monday night when his strength started to die out. On Tuesday, I went to my physician, who gave me something else to take. She also gave me something which should help with Phil. So far so good with Phil and Miles.

That brings us to Wednesday. Things were going well. The bounce-back headache that occurs after a migraine was slowly going away and I was looking forward to skating. That was when Sylvie showed her ugly head. Sylvie is my sciatica and she hasn't shown up in months. Two weeks before a competition and here comes Sylvie. Sylvie prevented me from jumping off my right leg and spinning. Thank you so much Sylvie.

As I type this, Sylvie is still here, but not as bad. Driving hurts like crazy. I'm going to try to plow through the pain and skate on Saturday, twice.

I mention all of this simply to show dedication. How many of your co-workers would go through all of this pain and discomfort for a sport they love?

It'll get better. It already is.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I was listening to some old music recently when I remembered skating when the song first came out on the radio. That's when it occurred to me: I'm at the exact same level, if not lower, now that I was then. That's not only depressing, it's sad. I've been forced to take so much time out that I've become somewhat comfortable with my abilities and inabilities. I marvel at those who seem to fly past me in skill level while I stay stagnate.

It was rather annoying too. First off, I've always liked the song. I am reminded of people I skated with, some of whom were in school at the time and who are now married with children (or divorced with children, or just with children; whatever...) and well, I'm not. I don't mind not being married, believe me, but I am annoyed that my skill level hasn't really changed. And I've spent quite a bit of cash on this sport too.

Mostly, I'm to blame. I am not good with finances. I have almost no time management skills when it comes to my own personal life. I am forever late; although it isn't always my fault. And now that I am (shudder!) older, I suppose I have that annoying adult fear. What if I get hurt? What if I look stupid? What if they laugh at me? What if they look at me?

All of those things have already happened. I once fell while doing a split jump (missed my toe pick) and landed wrist and left facial cheek first. I bit through my bottom lip, had a hairline fracture of my cheek, a mild concussion, a really bad headache and a sprained wrist. I did one more split jump because my then coach insisted that I not shy away from them (once the bleeding stopped, of course) and have not done one since.

Looking stupid? Been there, done that. Who could forget skating to The Jets Song from West Side Story and having to snap my fingers with the recording. Boy did I hate doing that and I felt and looked stupid.

Laugh at me? Oh boy, has that happened. I once had a rather odd fall on a jump only to see six faces on the other side of the boards laughing hysterically and pointing. I bowed for them and cursed them under my breath.

Looking at me is the hardest to deal with. I don't like doing my program because I know people will look at me and I don't think I'm that good a skater. I want to be a better skater and yet, I over analyse everything. And I mean, everything. I can be stiffer than Frankenstein's creature when doing a program.

Maybe I don't practice enough. I find there is an odd occurrence when I skate at a rink other than the one I have my lesson in. It takes me quite a while to get used to the surface, the air and the people. I can't understand why this happens and often wonder if I'm the only person who suffers from this.

I'm just tired of being at this level, being this bad after all this time. And I'm not really that bad. I'm just not as good as I want to be.

My coach says I'm too negative. After reading this, I see she's correct. I will abort a jump or spin if it doesn't feel absolutely perfect, and I'm a pretty good jumper and spinner. I can get some pretty good height out of these long legs and quite a bit of speed on my spins. I need to believe in myself more. And stop being so critical.

With that in mind, I will try to be more positive. I can do it.

Happily, my sessions have been good, although crowded. Where did all these skaters come from anyway? I just have to work more on consistency so that I don't try 8 jumps to land 2. Or do 10 spins and only finish 4. I can work though this desire to be perfect all the time and just do it.

No session this Wednesday. Will skate this Saturday. More later...

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Public transportation is iconic to NYC. Without it, the city would grind to a halt and most people would stand around wondering how to get from points A to B.

That's been happening almost every weekend in NYC. "Track work" has caused almost every subway line to re-route to a slightly different course, resulting in most riders having to scramble, leave early or do some extra walking. I don't mind walking. I don't mind leaving earlier. However, when a 45 minute trip to the rink takes nearly 2 hours, I mind.

I have been getting to the rink later and later, and leaving to travel earlier and earlier. Sometimes, it's the Long Island transportation that is causing the problem. Signal trouble, congestion ahead, whatever. All I know is, when I'm supposed to be on a 5:32pm train to get to Manhattan at 6:20, I don't want the train to arrive at 5:45 and not arrive in Manhattan until 6:40. I, like everyone else in the world, have someplace to go.

The subways have been working my last nerve too. Last weekend, it took 2 hours to get to the rink. Most of that was waiting for the crosstown bus. I would have walked, but it was pouring rain and I was shielding an older woman whom I didn't know, with my umbrella. I could have just given her my umbrella, but I didn't want to leave her in that downpour waiting alone. I'll take some of the credit for being late to the rink on that one, but not all of it.

What are you doing MTA? And why are you messing with my ice time??

That being said, I am now forced to wonder: can your feet shrink?

For the past week, I have noticed more space than usual in my skates. Maybe I'm not lacing them tight enough, but I can now lift my heel in the back. If you are a skater, you know that you should NEVER be able to lift your heel. Oddly, I seem to be able to compensate for the extra movement because it's not really effecting my progress. Every time on the ice, I improve a little. Consistency seems to be the nemesis at this point because what I could do on Sunday, I can't seem to keep for Monday or Wednesday. Oh, let's be honest, Wednesday.

That brings me to another issue: I haven't made it to my Monday morning session in like, ever. The session begins at (please sit down for this) 6:00am. It's in Long Island, not far from work. Yes, I would get to work really, really, really early on Mondays (and beat my boss in so I don't end up getting the "stink eye" when she gets in before me...), but it means getting out of my house at 5:00 to drive there. And since I've never been there, I'm not sure I won't get lost. (One day I will explain my direction issues, my GPS not working in my car and my general hatred for getting lost.) I have the directions, I just don't seem to have the motivation to get up. All I would/could do at that unsociable hour is Moves in the Field and back spins. I have to be awake to do more than that and at 6:00, I'm not awake.

Since I have decided to re-dedicate myself to the sport of figure skating, I need to get off my duff. Plus, I've put so much money into this sport, I feel I just should. I'm really not a bad skater, just a slightly undisciplined, under-trained skater. I used to have so much discipline. I didn't date because I wanted to be on the ice. (Was I crazy? Now I can't get a date!) I was on a constant diet, didn't drink, went to bed at 9:30 and worked out for no less than an hour every day. All while still working a full-time job. I was an adult doing this people, not a kid being driven to the rink by my parents. I've had the will, the discipline, the drive. Now I just need to get it back.

It's Thursday and I could have brought my skates in to skate after work, but I chose not to. Mostly because my feet are swollen. Don't ask why, I have no idea. Instead of skating, I will be icing my feet, trying to figure out why they hurt all the time. I suppose I could give up my heels, but I don't see that happening any time soon.

As far as my skating is going, I am still pleased. I am occasionally amazed when something goes really, really well (like my back spins yesterday) just as I am annoyed when it doesn't. The sessions are still entirely too crowded, no one seems to realize that I too am working here. There's a really obnoxious 20 year old on my Wednesday session who seems to take pleasure in skating really close to an adult skater who isn't moving as fast as she can. She's a good skater, too bad she's such an unpleasant human being. I take that back; she's very nice to people she considers to be a good skater. However, all in all, things are still going well.

I'm off to ice the balls of my feet in hopes that the swelling will go down. I plan to skate a session on Saturday night and I need to figure out why my skates feel so big.

See you on the ice.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Welcome Spring!

So, spring on the east coast of the US has finally arrived!! With the arrival of spring comes the closing of outdoor skating rinks. Boo hoo! With the closing of those outdoor skating rinks comes the masses of skaters to the indoor rinks. And with those skaters come some of the strangest skating manners/habits I've ever seen.

Feel like spinning in the track? Go ahead. You've been skating at an outdoor rink that didn't really have a track, so do what you want. Everyone else on the ice will simply have to go around you. Want to jump in the center? Ignore the "program right of way" rule? Have a long conversation with your friend about the Twilight series? By all means, enjoy.

Skating rink, want to place 37 people on a session that's only supposed to have 22? Hey, feel free! Who cares if someone gets hurt because a skater decided to do a back spiral? Everyone has 3 inches of ice to call their very own. Isn't that enough? No? Wow, who knew?

Happily, this usually only lasts for a few weeks before things settle down again. The last 2 sessions I skated before I had to go away for a business trip had 32 and 37 skaters respectively. I think I'm still trying to finish my Moves In the Field on that last session...

By the way, has anyone seen my scratch spin? It took a short vacation and is still traveling, literally. I start that spin in NY and finish it in FL. I know, I know, abs, abs, abs!

Speaking of abs, my drive to and from work is 40 miles round trip. Mind you, they are in the "opposite" direction of rush hour. Yeah, right. When there is no traffic, the commute takes about 30 minutes. There is ALWAYS traffic!!! By the time I finally get home, I have NO desire to go to the gym. Mostly, I'm just hungry. And since I cook dinner, I stay home and cook. Then I get on the computer. This is not helping me. (I hate my commute!!!)

This is a problem. I need, no I MUST go to the gym and work out. I actually LOVE working out. Spin class is my favorite and I never make it to that class any longer. I wanted to take a yoga class (actually, I did once and it was soooooo past advanced for me that I had to leave the class!) or a Pilates class, but I feel so out of shape. Ugggghhhh!!!!!!

Add to this, I'm supposed to compete in early June. The program is a short artistic program, which isn't very hard. There are only two problems: 1. I have NO stamina, cough non-stop and feel like a hippo. 2. I brought a WHITE dress to wear. What was I thinking?? Can I get away with wearing a trash bag instead?

I still need to lose weight. I have to gain the stamina to get through a 94 second (that's right, a little over a minute and a half) program. Why don't I have the stamina to get through a 1:34 second program? Damn you Phil, my cough!

I'm rambling. I've been off the ice and without a lesson for a week thanks to work. I cannot be off the ice for that long.

Just found out that a rink in NJ is having an Adult Skating Week. I will not be attending for a few reasons: 1. It's a bit pricey. 2. It's in NJ. 3. They picked the same week that the rink in NY had planned on doing an adult skating week. NY would have worked better for me. Plus, I am reminded of my disaster of last year's adult skating weeks...

The Adult Nationals were this past weekend (I was at a meeting for work). I had the opportunity to watch some of the competition online. I so wish I could have been there. However, I still haven't passed my Moves in the Field test and I've failed the freestyle test twice.

I have a lot more work to do. I need to get off my duff and just do it.

Just do it. Say, that sounds like it could be a catch phase for a shoe company...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go Away....

If you read my very first post, then you know I have a chronic back issue. It's called degenerative joint disease, but I prefer to call it "Sal". Previously, Sal took residence in my spine and decided that this was a great place to live. And there Sal has lived for years, renting with the option to own.

Lately Sal has been joined in the apartment complex of my body with "Gerri". Gerri is my chronic upset stomach. Gerri is my chronic nausea, which oddly, is helping me to lose weight. However, if you've ever suffered from this annoying condition, it loses its appeal really early on. Several trips to the doctor later and I know that Gerri is caused by stress because my stomach is fine.

At the beginning of fall and spring, "Phil" likes to come and visit. Usually Phil doesn't stay long, just long enough to give a bone rattling, crap filled cough that makes most people run from me. Phil arrived in October and decided to stay a while. Phil is still here. Occasionally, just to mess with me, Sal, Gerri and Phil join forces. Phil will cause me to cough very hard, making post-nasal drip fall into my stomach, annoying Gerri and Sal will go out because Sal feel neglected.

With all of that going on, I am still skating and still improving. Last Wednesday, I fell several times, more times than I have fallen in an entire year. What did I learn? I over-rotated one jump and under-rotated another. Don't forget to check your arms going into that turn. Keep your head up. Bend your knees. Relax into the move. Just do it.

This past Sunday, I awoke to go to the rink with Sal at a level 8.5 (I gauge my pain on a 10 point scale). I decided to go anyway because usually after warming up, I forget about the pain until the session is over. Plus, I had another lesson and really didn't want to miss it because work will keep me off the ice in the middle of the month (grrrr!!!).

My timing was off. I was tilted in the air. I fell, again and again. I knew exactly why (see the beginning of the paragraph). Sal had decided to try and show me who was boss. I ignored Sal for most of the session, but then Phil showed up too. I tried to skate my program and ran out of air 3/4 of the way through. All I could do was cough and cough and then Gerri wanted to be remembered and I thought everything I had not eaten was going to make a return appearance. Happily, it didn't. However, when I tried to do one last spin, I couldn't place all of my weight on my back left inside edge for the crossover. I was surprised as this hadn't happened in years. I had to admit defeat to my coach, who, (bless her) said I had done a good job anyway. While she was telling me what I should practice, I had to lean on the boards because I really couldn't put much weight on my left leg.

This brings me to the title of this particular blog: Rain, Rain, Go Away. If it would just stop raining so much, my bones and lungs would "dry out" and I could go on with life. I could stop limping and stop eating crackers.

However, even with Sal, Gerri and Phil, I am skating and I am improving, so, I am happy.

But just in case.... "Rain, rain, go away. This skater wants to go out and play...."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Working My Way Back

Something happened. Something not expected.

I decided to ask my coach if she could give me another lesson every week. Instead of one lesson per week, I'd have two. That meant, unfortunately, another session with the rude rich kids who can only do an element in the exact same spot every single time. Oh, who cares about them? Anyway, she was available on Sundays (there goes going out on Saturday night... yeah, like I do that!) and I said okay.

Well, after several false starts, something happened on a Wednesday evening session.

I could skate. And I could skate well.

My jumps returned. I had speed, I had flow, I had confidence. And I didn't notice the other skaters. I made a decision to jump and jump I did. Were you in my way? Sorry, didn't notice you. Was I in your way? Too bad, I was in lesson and had the right of way.

It was amazing. It was freeing. It was skating.

Best news, it appears to be hanging around. Every week, my confidence is better, my skating is stronger. There is no concrete reason for this to have happened, except my belief and my faith. If this offends you, don't read this. I am proud to say, my prayers to God were answered.

My joy of skating has returned. Now if the weather would cooperate a bit more, I could get to the rink for more practice. Darn that rain causing the highway to flood...

It is my plan to compete in June in a small, local competition. I did the same competition last year and came in 2nd out of 2. I prefer to say this rather than I came in last. This means I have to get back on my eating plan and skating more often. I'm looking forward to beating the woman who won last year, even though she is a friend. Plus, I have a new dress!

Skating tomorrow and looking forward to it . Look out world, here I come!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Welcome Back. Did You Miss Me?

It has taken me months, yes months, to get over the anger I felt in Lake Placid. Thanks to all of you incredibly impolite people, I have dyed my hair a darker brown and will probably darken it yet again, so I won't have to deal with your looks. But it's Lent and I'm trying to be a better person than the ones I have to deal with.

I am still skating. No, it's not going as well as I had hoped. Seems the session I have a lesson on is filled with kids. Spoiled, rich kids who can only skate their elements in the exact same place and cannot deviate even slightly to the left or right. I mention this only because I was in the air when I heard the sound of a screeching "EXCUSE ME!!!" from a girl who was not on programme but had to do her double flip right where I was about to land. Land I did, much to the chagrin of the girl, who sucked her teeth and stomped her foot. Very bad ice manners. If I did that every time someone was in my way, I'd spend the entire session doing it.

I am a bit discouraged that skills I had in June, first LP trip, have gone away. They disappeared in August, but I refuse to discuss August. I simply keep trying and while it isn't going anywhere near as well as I hoped, I am trying.

It would appear that my confidence level has hit an all time low, which results in my becoming discouraged about my skating. I'm working on that, along with not complaining so much (yeah, right) and of course, working out to lose weight.

That's all I got for now.