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...