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.