Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Observations

2012 is just about over. It's been a bit of a roller-coaster ride for me. Some things have changed, some have stayed the same. I've been lucky enough to be able to do some of the things I've wanted to do, so no complaints there. I've noticed a few things over the past 12 months. I write this blog; a handful of people read it, and I thank you. Recently, I read that there aren't a lot of skating blogs, but all of the ones that are listed are blogs I subscribe to. Except this one. Seems I don't actually fit into any particular mold. Maybe it's because I don't just discuss skating. I talk about the job I hate, my chronic injuries, my struggle with finances and my desire to become a certified sign language interpreter. I doubt it's a race or lefty thing. Maybe I just rub people the wrong way; I don't know. I don't get many comments from my blog; I think some people just read it and continue on. That's fine; it's all good. I'm not overly positive, but I'm trying. Regardless, this is my year end observations. Some skating, some not. I hope in 2013 I will figure out how to post pictures, video or maybe a song. In no particular order, my 2012 observations: 1. Skating parents will always view adult skaters as an oddity. Really, how many times can you ask me if my kids skate or if I'm doing this for exercise? 2. I'm still NOT Debi Thomas, Serena Williams or Oprah Winfrey. If I were, do you really think I'd be on the crosstown bus? 3. Somehow, three people on a freestyle session will still get into one another's way. How? 4. It's disappointing to know in your head and heart that you can perform a skill only to have your body say, "NO!" 5. Time is no longer my friend, however, it is not my enemy. 6. One should compete more than once a year; it helps with nerves. And by nerves I mean, not puking right before getting on the ice. 7. Surely I can't be the only person who has trouble skating on ice they have never skated on before. 8. Sometimes doing a favor for a friend (ice monitoring) is just not rewarded. 9. As a childless unmarried woman, I pay for all of my ice time. Heck, I pay for all of my everything. Don't complain to me that you can't afford your vacation in Mexico when I'm trying to figure out if I have to quit skating, quit school and get a second job to keep my apartment because my job hasn't given raises in 5 years. 10. I know I'm fat; don't ask me if it's safe to skate while pregnant. I haven't a clue. 11. Yep, I complain about my job. Why? Because it sucks. No I won't move out of NYC. Why? Because it's home. And it's NYC. (Don't need to see the movie Les Miserables; saw the original Broadway production, thank you.) 12. Siblings are wonderful things. You love them and they drive you crazy. That's their job. 13. Sometimes a once in a lifetime event (Drama League Gala) is worth skipping a freestyle session. 14. No one believes you can skate when you're 40 pounds overweight. 15. Your knees actually hate you when you're 40 pounds overweight. 16. Skinny people tell you a lot of lies about the amount of food they eat. 17. Being an overly enthusiastic signer has it's advantages. If you practice on the subway, people leave you alone. 18. One should have your skates sharpened more than three times a year. 19. I hate waking up early. 20. Spin class is worth waking up early, but why must it be so early? 21. Lefties do left over right back crossovers into spins; stop cutting us off. 22. Drinking alcohol before skating is good AND bad. 23. Why did I buy a white competition dress? 24. When did entrance fees for competition cost more than a pair of dress shoes? 25. To the two little girls who suggested I try J-Date. Really? Why not? Tried all the other websites. 26. How amusing it was to discover those two little girls aren't Jewish. 27. Having a chronic cough for over 7 years that has never gotten better is cause for alarm. 28. Getting winded because of said cough just walking to the subway is also cause for alarm. 29. When you mess up something while skating, cussing in sign language is a much better option than saying it out loud. 30. I make a lot of kids nervous on the ice and I have no real reason why. 31. Does returning to my natural hair color mean fewer people will stare at me when I get on the ice? 32. I think way too much and over analyse everything. I need to stop and just do/be. 33. Surely somebody recognizes the theatre references I make. 34. Is it worth having my skates re-built? 35. How is it some women always look so perfect after skating and I always look as though I've forgotten a comb, need to shower and am surprised that I made it out alive. 36. Note to self: put a comb in your skate bag. 37. Never wear a Victoria's Secret demi-cup bra to a freestyle session. I think I gave myself a black eye last week. 38. When rinks have competitions with children and adults, why must they schedule the medal ceremony for the kids during the adult competition? It would be nice to have more than 9 people watching. 39. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you skate with your mouth wide open. 40. I love this sport, even if there are times that love is one-sided. So there you have it. Just a few of my observations. If I think of any more, I will write them. Here's a thought: if YOU have any 2012 observations, send them to me. Write them in the comments box so we can all share them. Until we meet again (online), I'm signing off. Wishing you the healthiest and happiest new year. God bless you all. Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Numbered Days?

I am concerned. My skill level seems to be deteriotating rapidly, and I am powerless to stop it. I feel as though my skating days are numbered. Amy keeps telling me that I'm improving, but I'm skeptical. No, I don't think she has an ulterior motive, I just think she sees glimmers of hope that I can return to the level I once was. I have my hopes. I skate more than I used to, in hopes of improving, but it seems to be alluding me. Maybe it's the core strenth issue, maybe it isn't. Maybe it's a lack of confidence, or this strange balance problem I've been experiencing. Or maybe it's my body aches coming around all the time to remind me that they are there. Whatever it is, it has caused me to doubt whether or not I'm actually enjoying ths any more. If I quit skating, who am I? What do I do? I can't quit while I'm a flop, to paraphase Rose Hovick in the musical Gypsy. It's one thing to quit when they want you, but it's different when they don't want you. Rose Hovick was right. There's a competition in February I'd like to do. I have a lot of work to do. Hopefully, it's not my swan song.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, No Park, No George

I will continue to make references to old movies and musicals (Sunday In the Park With George by Stephen Sondheim. Original cast included Mandy Patinkin and Bernadette Peters) until someone, some day finally acknowledges these references. On to skating. I have been somewhat absent since Hurricane Sandy, but I have been skating. My tablet hates the speed at which I type and my computer at work just hates everything. From time to time, it shuts itself down. However, last month, prior to Chelsea Piers re-opening (YEAH!!), I skated at another rink. Here are my thoughts about that situation... City Ice Pavilion was open on Sunday after the storm. Imagine my surprise. Therefore, Amy contacted me, asking if I wanted to skate. "Why not?" I thought, "How bad can it be?" Bad. It could be bad. I believe the cut off number for skaters was 30. We HAD to have had 30 skaters on the ice. While stroking, I think I smacked someone in the back of the head; I can't be sure. I almost didn't get on the session, as I was number 27. Funny, I left home early, it took 22 minutes to get to the rink via subway and I almost didn't get on. Be that as it may, off I went to skate. Ten minutes into the session, my feet began to cramp. The cramps moved up my leg to my ankles. I hate when that happens because I miss ice time. Off the ice, massage the feet, try to pick up a pencil with my toes... Blah, blah, blah. If you've ever had this problem then you know the routine. It took 15 minutes to get the feeling back in my feet. Back to MIF, which would have gone better if there were 10 less people on the ice. Actually, I would have been happy with 5 less people on the ice. It was a challenge. I got through 1/4 of my cross rolls, when a pair team, yes, a pair team decided to do a press lift right there. Funny thing is, they weren't the only pair team on the ice. There were 2 pair teams and 2 ice dancing couples. I don't get it; Wollman was open. Since all four teams usually skated there, why not GO there?! The weather was even nice. I am confused... Two little girls just HAD to skate where their parents, sitting in the bleachers, could see them. Forget the fact that they caused several near-hit accidents. They were happy and their parents just beamed. So happy I'm childless.... It wasn't a bad session as far as my skill level was concerned. I learned that another rink was having a competition in a few weeks (I think in Westchester) and that's why there were so many skaters. "Okay, go with it." And I did. The following Sunday didn't go as well. I was number 30 and the cut-off was 26. Didn't skate that session; felt bad because Amy drove all the way to Queens for me. She's great. Now that Chelsea Piers has reopened, some of my skills stayed, others have gone on vacation. My biggest problem is my lack of core strength and a sudden balance issue I never experienced before. Also, my feet hurt ALL THE TIME! In shoes, in skates, in just socks! I am blaming it on my weight. I blame everything on my weight. Today I found out that Chelsea Piers is having a spotlight competition in February. I think I'll give it a go. Can I get some core strength to go with a side of coffee to go, please?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

As many of you know, I live in NYC. Many of you also know that the East Coast of the US has been hit by a major storm. Parts of the outer boroughs (Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx) have been devastated by the storm. The Coney Island Boardwalk is all but gone. Neighborhoods everywhere have almost vanished under the water and down trees. Downtown Manhattan is dark, very dark. Sky Rink is temporarily closed due to the damage of being on the water and compressors being flooded. According to the website, it should be up and operational in a few days. I can think of only two other times that Sky Rink has been forced to close. Once was in August 2005 when the entire East Coast had a blackout. The other time was 9/11. For the record, NO BODIES WERE ON THE ICE AFTER 9/11!!! That urban myth is just that. Long Island is also damaged. My job has no electricity and so I've been home (eating and drinking) since Friday. I'll be back at work on Monday. On another note, those idiots (yes idiots) who are making fun of the facial expressions of the Sign Language Interpreters standing next to the Mayor of NYC (Bloomberg) need to stop. You are apparently ignorant of ASL and the fact that it's not just a "bunch of hand waving" (I've forgotten who called it that) but a language that involves the entire body. I would go into detail, but I don't think the audience of this particular blog are among those who made fun of the Interpreters. Until everything dries out... See you soon.

Wobbly, Wobbly, Can't Do Squat

My new nickname should be Wobbly, Wobbly, Can't Do Squat. The hemorrhaging of my skating skills continues. Wednesday night was a continuation of Saturday. I felt so bad for Amy, I kept apologizing. I felt awful. It got so bad that we ended up doing spirals, as that was the only skill I could do without making a total mess of it. It was incredibly disappointing. It has been the kind of skating that would leave me in tears, if I were still able to cry. Instead, I solder on, believing that my skills will return to me once they have finished their vacation. Seriously, come back Shane! On Friday, I finally made it back to the rink in Bethpage. I thought, "okay, my skills are lacking because I haven't been practicing." Off to practice I go. Unfortunately, my skating skills are still on vacation. The practice was a disaster. How bad? A man asked me if I had just learned to skate because I was struggling so much. When I replied that I usually skate better than this, he obviously didn't believe me. Another session I would usually cry over. No longer being able to try (it's psychological, not physical) has its advantages. No matter how upset I am, no one will see me cry. Works for me. This morning's lesson with Amy resulted in a lot of apologizing on my part. Things I could do last month are gone like a plastic bag in the wind. We spent most of the session doing edges and crossovers, which I hate doing but understand the reasoning behind it. It doesn't make it any easier to spend a freestyle session working on skill I learned years ago. But since they appear to have gone, I'm almost okay with it. After all, what is your coach supposed to do when you are unable to perform the simplest of skills? Sometimes, if I don't think too hard, I am surprised by a jump or a spin that actually works. Sadly, it's not often. I am confident that things will improve, that they'll change. I need to lose weight, to get healthy, to get back the confidence I once had. It's a long road ahead and I know it'll happen. In the meantime, have you seen my lovely spirals?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Misplaced Skills

I hate back pain. Lately, my back pain has been bad, really bad. Back brace all the time bad. Popping pain pills back. Sit with a heating pad on it bad. Trouble bending forward bad. Even with all of that, I skated on Wednesday. I decided to attend because I had to cancel last Wednesday and last Saturday's lessons, due to a migraine and a fashion show. I was excited, even though Wednesday night sessions are stupidly expensive ($42.00 to guest an 80 minute session; or $33.00 if you subscribe), I see other adult skaters and I get a lesson from Amy. The lesson started off well. My stroking and crossovers were good. The first two moves were pretty solid, but the transition from forward to backward was awkward (I prefer a right forward outside 3 turn; remember I'm a lefty and Amy wants a left forward outside 3 turn), but passable. Then we worked on the dreaded forward outside mohawks. My body does not like a right forward outside mohawk. My brain doesn't like them. I know it's very close to a waltz jump for me (right forward outside edge, left back outside edge), but that doesn't seem to help. I had these bad boys about a year ago and then they decided to go visit other skaters. Come back Shane! Come back! (Obscure old movie reference. Look it up.) Also, due to my history in figures, I only seem to be able to do a decent 3 turn on a circle. When I do them in my MIF, they are all over the place. On Wednesday, the left forward outside 3 to right back inside 3 somehow ended up in the middle of the ice. And I had only done two! When I almost bumped into a friend about to step into a spin, we looked at one another and giggled. Amy asked me where I was going. I wish I knew. She suggested practicing the 3s as a figure and then moving on from there. Freestyle was a mess. I squeezed out one good waltz jump. One. The rest of them got away from me. Apologies to the new skater I accidentally hit on the shoulder when my arms got away from me. And to his coach, who I nearly slapped across the face. When you're 5'6", you usually have long arms. Mine are a little longer than others; family trait. We tried spins, but my balance seemed to be totally off and after nose diving into a scratch spin, we figured spirals would be an easier option. They didn't quite work either. But by then, my back totally refused to bend and my lesson was over. Thank goodness! Dear Mother Nature: Please make the rain stop. My body is okay with cold, but it really hates the rain. Thank you. "Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes on it. No mistakes, yet." Anne of Green Gables.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Balance and Core Strength and Practice

Apparently, I am lacking all three. On Friday, my office closed early for Columbus Day. I took that opportunity to go to the local rink in Bethpage to skate the 2:45pm freestyle. It was wonderful!!! No, not my skating. What was wonderful was the number of skaters on the ice. Three. That's right, three skaters. Somehow, we still managed to get in one another's way, but that's not important. What is important is the number three. Since it was only one hour long, I decided to concentrate on my Moves in the Field. I got through two of them. I found myself struggling with crossrolls, my favorite move on the test, going forward anyway. Going backwards, I am usually a little "steppy", rather than allowing the edges to just flow. On Friday I was extremely "steppy" both forward and backward. And slow. I really struggled with this usually easy move. After working on that move for ten minutes, I figured it would be best to work on something else. Knee pumps (that's my name for them because I can never remember what the real name is) is another move I perform fairly well, but on Friday, they too seemed to elude me. I seemed unable to get my feet underneath me going forward and kept rocking backwards. Performing the move backward, I nearly face planted when I rocked up onto my toe picks. Undaunted, I blamed it on my back which was really painful that day. Did it stop me? No. So, Saturday morning, I asked Amy to help me with them. After forcing my body into an upright position (back issues still), we worked on the move, unfortunately with much the same result. Amy's verdict: my balance is off because I have no core strength. This saddens but doesn't surprise me. I have only half-heartedly tried to lose weight and work out. I was juicing, but stopped; it can get quite expensive. I also must thank those wonderful people who schedule meetings or conference calls between 12:00-2:00, ruining everyone's lunch hour. And I haven't made it to the gym or the rink in the morning yet, therefore I am not surprised. I need to get off my ass. That being said, a recent trip to the doctor has revealed that on top of my high blood pressure (controlled with medication), I have elevated levels of sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides. Add in my constant pain from my back, shoulder and knees and it's safe to say that my body is rebelling. It's all fixable. Saturday morning, Coach M said to Amy that I was a good skater. Not just a good adult skater, but a good skater who could be so much better if I practiced more. Coach M (who I don't work with, but know) was amazed that I could maintain what I have based on the fact that I don't practice enough. Frankly, so am I.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Full Circle

Many years ago, when the world and I were young, I used to skate very, very early in the morning. I began skating during the last years of figures and would get up to practice. Back then, I lived in what was called a "two-fare" zone; meaning, you had to take a bus to get to the closest subway. So, I did. I awoke at 3:30am to get ready to go to the rink. I would catch a bus at 4:15am to the subway, then travel on the E train to 34th Street and walk 3 NYC blocks to the rink for a 5:45 patch session. Afterwards, I either went to school or work or sometimes both. I did this three times a week for about four years. Then I had a fight with my then coach (she called me a talentless, hopeless case) and I started skating in Long Island. That brought with it a whole different group of travel problems which included taking the Long Island Railroad, taking a cab from the station and getting mugged. I mention this because I now skate on Saturday mornings at 7:00am. That means, thanks to NYC MTA, in order to arrive at the rink on time, I have to leave home at 5:30. There goes my Friday night social life. Oh wait, I didn't have a social life. I had been skating the 10:00 session, but it was cancelled. Last week, I tried the 9:00 session. I swear there were 40 skaters on the ice and then coaches. It was a zoo and that's an insult to the local zoos! So, this morning, still half asleep and dealing wih early morning coughing jags, there I was, back on the ice at an un-holy hour. I must love this sport to take the subway at 6:00am and have to stand up and then run 4 blocks from to subway to the rink because the crosstown bus wasn't coming. Highlight of the trip? The homeless man who did a strip for no partcular reason. Highlight of the skate? Moves in the Field are moving along nicely. Slowly, but nicely. Now, I have 4 hours to kill before class. Oh well... I initially began this posting while killing time. Now, in the light of day and after several cups of coffee AND a nap, I will continue. I was hoping there would be some place to take a quiet nap. Apparently, I had forgotten about one very important feature in all skating rinks: hockey parents. Wow, are they loud. One man keep trying to pump up his sleepy daughter and his reluctant son to "go out there and kick some butt". The daughter was maybe nine and the reluctant son (who kept saying "I wanna go home!") was maybe six. And I thought skating parents were nuts.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

US Open, Hackers and Schedule Changes

Funny how something you don't expect to concern or involve you does just the opposite. A few weeks ago, NYC, Flushing Queens, actually, was the host (as it is every year) to the US Open Tennis Tournament. No big deal for me since I gave up tennis years ago. The tennis stadium is in the same park as World Ice Arena. Still, no big deal for me. Or so I thought... For reasons I still can't comprehend, all of the parking areas in the park were on lock-down. If you didn't have a season pass to the tennis matches, you were not permitted to park in the park. As I drove through the park to the rink, I watched several motorcades fly past (the speed limit on the park drive is 15 miles per hour, so doing 30 seemed like speeding) I wondered what was going on, thinking it couldn't possibly be because of the tennis. WRONG! As I drove to my usual parking spot, a man asked me for my pass. I was reminded of being in high school and being asked for the same thing by the Hall Monitor. I think I got through HS without EVER having a hall pass. When I told him I was going to the rink, he said "Oh no you're not." Huh? He informed me that to park there, I would need a pass and suggested I try further down the park drive. Off I went. I passed a cop who asked where I was going. To the rink, I replied. She shook her head and told me it had been torn down. "That's the old rink. There's a new one." Nope, she was positive. I pointed to her left, to the big silver/gray building NEXT to her. "That's the rink." She told me that it was a swimming pool. "It's BOTH!" It didn't matter; I couldn't park there anyway. When I thought I had found a parking spot, a different cop told me no and suggested that I just go home. I decided to go home, but couldn't leave the park my usual way. I only know ONE way to exit the park. Thirty minutes, two highways I had never been on in my life and didn't know they were that close to the park and one trip on a highway I did know, but headed in the wrong direction later, I was on my way home without skating. For two weeks! Of course this brings me to my issue with AOL and my email getting hacked twice in less than six weeks. Dear AOL: You suck. I am dropping you and your terrible service. I will find someone else, who has (hopefully) a Help Desk in the US so the Representative will STOP calling me MISTER. As it turns out, World Ice Arena has eliminated ALL of their evening sessions, as has their sister rink City Ice Pavilion. Dear Rink Manager: Thank you so much for hating figure skaters. Your schedule sucks. With that, I bid you all good night; unless you're reading this in the morning. If so; good morning.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

With Apologies

It has come to my attention recently that I complain about my job a lot. You would too if your job caused you to have two bouts of Bells Palsy. However, in an effort at being positive, I will try to curtail my rants about my job and keep this blog focused on the art of figure skating. Also, I cannot move away from NYC. I am a proud native New Yorker. This is where I was born, raised, educated and almost died at least three times (walked into the middle of a drug bust with guns a-blazing; fell off the subway platform; 9-11). This is where what remains of my family (all 3 of them) live. Yes, I said 3; two sisters and a brother are all that remain of my family. We are extremely close to one another and the thought of moving away from them breaks my heart. On to skating. A funny thing happened at the rink on Saturday, and not the usual "I was spinning and snot started to fly out my nose" funny. Okay, that happened too, but I was practicing sans Amy, the Wonder Coach and "it" happened. Everything worked. Shhh.... Don't say it too loud. I can't figure out why, no matter how early I get to the rink, I get on the ice 3 minutes late. Be that as it may, I stroked around, did crossovers on the ends and launched into my warm-up. My warm-up is: 1. Forward inside edges with crossovers, alternating feet. 2. Backward inside edges with crossovers, alternating feet. 3. Backward outside edges with crossovers, alternating feet. 4. Cross rolls 5. Power pulls 6. Spirals, inside and outside - forward only. (I hate back spirals) 7. Twizzles (or at least my attempt at twizzles - can only go around once - working on that). After that, it's off to the other MIF since I've already done 3 of them (#4, 5 & 6). Three turns and I are now on speaking terms and well that outside mohawk occasionally has a mind of its own, but I'm working on it. When I went on to jumps, I started with the usual: waltz jump. No problems there. Followed by salchows, toe loops, and then loop jumps. THAT was when it happened. I tried a different entrance and it worked the first time. Then the second and third and fourth... I decided to stop at eight, since I had landed six out of eight attempts. Yeah me! Spinning hasn't been a problem lately; it all really depends on how much pain I'm in. Sometimes sit spins are just a memory, other times, I can perform them without a care in the world. Saturday was one of those days. After a series of spins, I decided to try for the back spin. Amy had given me a tip; keep my right arm bent in front of my chest going into the spin. And, it WORKED! My back spin spun like no body's business. Sometimes it's good to be the Queen (twist on Mel Brooks' "History of the World - Part 2" Off to the rink in a few minutes for a practice at a different rink. The nice thing about Saturday mornings is that there are plenty of adults around, so the parents don't give us the "stink eye" that adults sometimes get at other rinks. Not so much at other rinks. I suppose they think we adults are taking away ice from their children. So happy I'm child-less. I'm going to see if I can figure out how to video tape myself using my phone and end up in the right spot. Wish me luck! Say, does anyone know how to add photos to this blog? I've seen others do it. Wonder if it's in the owner's manual that I never read. And what happened to the spell check??

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back In Action

Time flies way too fast. I had started an entry about a month ago, but never finished it. However, this was one of those rare occasions where I actually saved the entry before logging out. Imagine my surprise! So, as of July 4th, I had only skated once since May. The main reason was because my ASL class orginally scheduled for Tuesdays was changed to Wednesdays because Hofstra University neglected to hire an instructor for the advance level class. My previous instructor stepped in to teach the class. I am in her debt because I now have my certificate and never have to return to Hofstra University again. Another reason was because I was hard at work at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC for the first two weeks of July. That was an intense two week program in American Sign Language. I foolishly signed up for 3 classes, which meant I was in school for approximately 11 hours a day. Usually, I dragged my exhausted butt to bed at 12:30, only to get up again at 6:15am. Didn't sleep much, ate too many potatoes, gained 8 pounds. The best part about the entire experience was being part of the Deaf Community for 2 weeks. It was wonderful just signing and turning off my voice. My signing improved ten-fold. I've started to save up to go again next summer. Now that I'm back home, I've returned to skating. A funny thing has happened: I've improved. Even without being on the ice for two months, somehow, I've improved. My staminia could use a kick in the pants, but I've returned to the gym and taking spin classes. I love spin class; you burn a lot of calories and you feel as though you're about to collapse, yet, you don't...usually. Even my practice sessions have improved. I mention that because I always feared I was one of those "great lesson" skaters. You know the type, the ones who can only bring the goods when in lesson, but come competition time, they fall flat. Speaking of competiton, the Adult Figure Skating National Championships will be held in April 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ. Never been to AZ (although I was hoping for Colorado, but I was told the air is very thin there...) so I've been working hard on my Moves In the Field in hopes to take that test by the end of the year. I know, it's already August, so I really have to get moving. With the exception of my job, I am very optimistic about things. I'll be returning to my favorite ASL classes in another month, as well as another school for ASL. I'm back at the gym and back on the ice, trying to skate 4-8 hours a week. I'm also attending Deaf Social Events, alone. I'm not really good in social situations, although family would beg to differ; it's an act, so attending alone is a big deal for me. As for work; it is my own private hell. For reasons I cannot comprehend, I have been sentenced to endure the torture and madness of a job I hate, with a commute I hate, working with people I dislike and for people I wouldn't cross the street to help. And that says a lot, because I am the type of person who WOULD cross the street to help anyone. It doesn't help that I listen to people complain all day long; it's getting to me. You never want to be in the car with me as I drive to work because every other word out of my mouth is a four-letter word. Every other word. Upon my return to Hell, I made a note to myself to stop talking. Mostly it's because no one listens to me anyway, but it's also because my boss and co-worker constantly tell me that I'm wrong. Every day, regardless of the subject. Several years ago, while running for the subway, I slipped off the platform into the gap between the car and the platform. My co-worker, who of course was NOT there when it happened said, "That never happened." REALLY????? That did it for me; I have nothing to say. But, back to skating. My backspin is slowly getting stronger. My Moves are slowly coming together; all I need is some confidence. And more speed. And a new job.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Skating Rinks, Why Do You Hate Adults??

It's summer. It's hot. I want to skate. Can I? Well, the answer is relative, based entirely on whether I'm having a good skate or not, but I digress. My question is more of time. I have time to skate, but what I don't have is location. I was hoping that the rink closest to that hell-hole I call a job would have one or two evening sessions I could make, but no. They consider 4:00 evening; making the session perfect for kids, people who are teachers and those who stay at home. For those of us who work a 9-5 gig, you are "SOOL" (s^&t out of luck). Just trying to curb my swearing to when I'm driving in the car. Okay. There's City Ice Pavilion, a lovely rink, but about 30 miles from my job and the session begins at 5:30. Even if I leave work at 4:30, I still wouldn't make it on time. Thank you for the evening sessions City Ice. Why couldn't you have had the brat hockey skaters at 5:30 instead of 7:00? World Ice Arena happily has 7:00 session. Right now I can do one day; this will change in 3 weeks when my Wednesday class is over. Yeah! My coach can't come to World Ice. Boo! What I really don't understand is the reluctance to have honest to goodness evening ice sessions. City Ice, when it first opened had real evening sessions three days a week. Usually, I skated two of them. They were happy to have us and our money, but now, I suppose our money doesn't generate enough revenue. Too bad; I really like that rink and the people who skate there. That leaves me with good old Chelsea Piers on Saturday mornings before ASL classes on Saturday afternoons. Nothing is more fun than running around Manhattan like a crazy person in the summertime. Ah, New York in the summer. Please insert your favorite heat related song here. Mine is "Summer in the City". Sadly, I don't remember who sings it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Imagine My Surprise!

Yes, imagine my surprise when I checked the schedule of events for the competition held this weekend to discover there were NO adults listed. Now I'm annoyed at myself because even if I skated like crap, I would have won a medal! Next year I'll be ready with both an artistic/dramatic program and a technical one. I had started before the Wednesday night sessions had ended. I haven't skated in 2 weeks and I miss it. My heel spurs don't miss it right now, but when my weight gets high, I get heel spurs. Guess that's my body's way of saying, "Yo! Fatty! Lose some weight!" No pressure, right? Went to an ASL meet-up yesterday. That's were some Deaf and hearing ASL students get together and chat. There's a woman, pretty nice, but she asked me if I understood what was going on. Excuse me? I've been attending these on and off for almost two years. While she is in an interpreter's program and I am not, I don't appreciate anyone thinking I'm not catching on. If I had a problem, I'd ask the person I was talking to, not someone not in my conversation. I guess she means well, but it struck me as odd. Very odd. Hope to find out my skating schedule by the end of the week. Will keep you posted. Until that time, be well.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Is It June Already??

My sentence as the ice monitor for the Sunday sessions has finally ended. It actually ended a few weeks ago, but Blogger wasn't cooperating and AOL no longer supports it. AOL doesn't support much these days: YouTube, Blogger, Ice Network and another site that I can't recall the name of, but shows musical numbers from Broadway shows. My final two weeks as monitor were punctuated by my not skating at all. I suppose because the outdoor rinks had closed, everyone and their cousin showed up for the club session. They all brought their attitudes and their obnoxious parents. So, what did I end up doing? Playing the music. Program after program. It was because of the music hogs; those kids and coaches who have to play their music over and over again. Uggghhhhh!!!!! Happily, some of the kids were really grateful that I played the music. One girl asked if I would get the chance to skate the session and I told her no. She stated, "That's not fair." And I said, "No, it's not. But it's okay because it's the last time I'll do it." And it was. There's a party next Sunday to say good-bye to those skaters who are going off to college. It's also to say good-bye to me. I've already told the other monitors and several of the club officers that I won't be available to monitor next year. While everyone understands why I don't want to come back, everyone still wants me to return. When I asked, why? What was in it for me? No one could answer me. It was for the good of the club, I was told. Allow me to mention again: this is not my home club. Tomorrow is the competition that I'm not doing. I'm really disappointed that nothing worked right this season. I'm still fat. I still have an annoying cough, a back that always hurts and a job that I hate. I have spent so much time concentrating on studying ASL that I have let other things slip through my fingers. Skating, writing, dieting, working out. I need to find a balance. I need to find some way to lose 50 pounds. I'd also like to have a date sometime this decade. I just want a little happiness. And three solid double jumps and maybe one triple.

Monday, May 7, 2012

One More Day

This past Sunday, I headed to the rink reluctantly. I knew, thanks to my monitoring duties, that I would get in very little ice time. Little did I know that that ice time would be less than I expected and that I would lose something. There is only one day remaining to the Sunday morning torture I call Ice Monitoring. I have announced that I will NOT be returning. And this time I mean it. No amount of begging will convince me to return. I have not skated these past Sundays and since I am the skater and not my non-existing child, it bothers me. That being said, after what seemed like forever, I got on the ice. I was immediately interrupted because the music wasn't working correctly. I should mention that I don't know how to work the music because I do my program so infrequently. Off the ice I go to walk to the office and ask if someone can come fix the music. While heading back to the ice, I was interrupted for some ice monitoring duty; I don't remember what it was. Back on the ice. Two laps around the rink and I started my first Move in the Field. And was interrupted when someone was breaking the rules. I was handed a copy of the rules which I had to deliver to the rule-breaker. I started my moves again and got half way down the ice when a little child decided that was the perfect place to do a spin. She was in lesson. I asked the coach if she could possibly move her student out of the track. And started my moves again. I was successful in doing half of one move and was on the ice a total of six minutes. Yes, six minutes. Out came the Zamboni. While preparing for the second session, I watched a mother and her two daughters prepare to get on the ice (the kids, not the mom). I had never seen these three people before and waited for the mom to ask someone "who do I pay?" She never did, but whisked her children onto the ice with their coach, who I also had never seen before. The rule for this skating club is the same as the rule for the rink and 99% of all other rinks and clubs: YOU PAY FIRST. So, since my co-monitors had not seen them enter, I calmly went up to the mother and told her she had to pay first. She told me she'd do it when she got around to it. Usually, I'm not that much of a bitch, but, I had only six minutes on the ice and was quite pissed off. I said to her, "I'm the ice monitor and I can throw your kids off the ice immediately if you don't pay right now." I got "the look". As an African-American woman, I get "the look" a lot. What's "the look"? It's the look that says, "who the hell do you think you are? Don't you just work here? I don't have to listen to you." I got on the ice and skated towards one of her daughters. She went go pay. Unfortunately, the coach decided that the 6 or 7 year old child should skate on the end of the rink where the high test skaters do their jump patterns. I asked the coach to kindly move to keep the kid safe. She rolled her eyes at me and said, "Whatever." This coach is on staff at the rink. I know her boss; we are friends. Mistake. BIG mistake. Not only did this chuck-wagon piss me off, but she succeeded (as did the mother of the two skaters) to piss off the other two monitors and an officer for the skating club. Good luck getting anything signed by the skating club now. But wait, there's more! For some unknown reason, everyone and their cousin had to do their program. And we have music hogs. You know, those people who start their programs over and over and never actually finish skating them. As a result, I ended up playing the music for the second session and not skating at all. All of this hell ends next week. I am counting the hours until I say "GOOD BYE" to monitoring. I will show up for the end of season party because I want someone to say thank you to me. On a totally different note: there is a summer program at Gallaudet University. It's an intensive 2 week program in ASL. I was evaluated for the program this morning and ranked into the Advanced class!!! I don't know how to add photos, but if I did, you'd see me dancing!! Makes up for Sunday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Have Feelings

The above statement is probably a surprise to many people. Yep, I have feelings. You wouldn't think it, since I am a "big" woman of darker complexion. Yes, I am 5'6 1/4 inches tall and weigh over 165 pounds (although I don't look THAT fat, but I do look fat; I like to think I carry it well, but no longer wish to carry it at all). I mention that because in the past few weeks, I have been truly insulted.

Let's not bother to mention the obnoxious skating children who think of me as "the help". Screw them. I'm talking about adults. And I'm not just talking about skating adults.

Yesterday, in school, another student brought her dog with her. It's was a cute dog, a small dog and I like dogs. I prefer cats, but I like dogs. During a break, I was playing with the dog, who, surprise, surprise, liked me. One of my classmates signed, "It's so strange to see your softer side." Huh? She went on to explain that because I don't like children, she assumed I didn't like animals and it was so nice to see me being kind to something.


But it didn't stop there, oh no. She had more to say: Since I didn't have any children and expressed no interest in getting married, it was nice to see that I had a softer, kinder side and that I should show that more often and that I might find a nice guy and start a family.

I think my face cracked at that point.

For the record: I love babies. They are sweet and cute and they (usually) smell wonderful. Everything is new and exciting to them. That is wonderful. I actually like kids until they're about 7 and then don't want to be around them until they're about 17, unless they are spoiled and then I never want to be around them. I spent three years teaching skating to little girls. My last class left such a bad taste in my mouth that kids and I really just don't gel. How old were my students? Between 10-16: the annoying ages.

As for a husband, I have been dumped more times than I care to count. And it hurts; a lot. I give my heart freely and love deeply and when the last three guys you dated tell you that the sight of your face makes them want to vomit, well, you close yourself off to relationships. Also, I fell hopelessly in love in college and when he disappeared, I waited years for him to come back. By accident, I found him on Facebook. He's happily married with two kids. He doesn't remember ever dating me. That really hurts, a lot.

So to be told that showing my "softer side" will get me a man and a couple of kids and believing I wouldn't be insulted or hurt by that comment... Surprise. I have feelings too.

Staying on the school theme, I asked my instructor if she'd write me a letter of recommendation because I want to apply to the Interpreters program at a local college. While she didn't say no, she did insist that I just try to take classes at the college and NOT apply to the Interpreters program. For the record, I want to see what they have to say about my signing since they don't know me and would be more impartial than others. I'd be surprised if I got into the program. Thrilled, but surprised. In short, my instructor didn't think I was ready nor that I had the skill. There's another woman in my class who's signing is a little "muddy" for lack of another word. Everybody thinks her signing is wonderful. I sometimes have trouble understanding her because her favorite sign is "whatever" and she signs it all the time. As in after every other sentence. Perhaps it's jealously, but I have met others whose signing is better, but according to all the instructors at this particular school, her signing is perfect.

I don't think of myself as being anywhere near great, but I didn't think I'd have to convince my instructor to write the damn letter. Color me: hurt.

Amy will not be at the rink this week and next week I will be out of town. Tonight, I will go and practice and there is a 99.9% chance that someone will ask me to watch them do something if I stop for more than 3 seconds. Watch me! Watch me!! Watch me!!! And if I do, I always, always give positive reinforcement. I think it works better than saying "you suck". But what do I get? "Wow, I thought you'd be better than that." "You STILL can't land that?" "What was that supposed to be?" And my favorite, "You were trying to do X? Let me show you what it's SUPPOSED to look like" followed by eight attempts of X and each one proceeded with the comment: Look at me!

I am a pretty good spinner and a pretty good jumper. Yet, every week as I step into a spin or go up for a jump, there is a woman who sees what I'm doing and does the exact same thing, and gets in my way. She never backs off. I've come very close to taking her down on more than one occasion, but I know what she's doing. She is trying to show me "the right way to do it." How do I know this? She has told me. First I am asked what I supposed to be doing, followed by the question "really?" then she shows me how it's supposed to look.

I do not skate for exercise; I compete. I am not "big boned" since there is no such thing. I am just fat, but thank you for pointing it out to me; I guess I never noticed. Thank you so much for saying it to me every time I show up at the rink. It hurts when you say that.

My sister/roommate has more mood swings than the pendulum of a clock. She constantly tells me what to do; not make suggestions, tells me, almost a demand. I have been called names that I won't bother to repeat and I say nothing. She sees nothing wrong with her actions. Why? I don't have feelings, or if I do, they are only slightly important. I am trying not to start an argument, so I keep quiet. I also repeat myself because I will get cut off at the knees. Still, I have feelings.

My other sister doesn't pay attention to what I say long enough to actually hear it. She is in her own work world and it is all encompassing for her. Between the two of them, I occasionally have the chance to finish a thought or comment. However, if I talk too much about skating, school or work I can see their eyes glaze over, I can hear the sign in their voices. I stop talking and ask about them. I have feelings too.

At work, I'm always wrong. I don't fall into my boss' "chosen" category of white, Irish-Catholic. I'm Catholic; one out of three ain't bad. But no. And so, I never get to finish a sentence. And when I start one; I'm wrong. (Side bar: my boss has to read everything aloud. Do you know how annoying that is? Think about it for a minute.) At a meeting, my boss said the division secretary was just a wonderful person who does so much and gets so many things done. The division owes everything to this woman (who is almost always on the phone with personal calls) and she is so knowledgeable about the business thanks to emails and phone calls where she funnels information through. And oh, my boss added, there was also me. Considering the amount of work I do, color me: hurt.

I am not petite. I have recently been told that I'm not pretty. Still, this over-weight woman has feelings. And those feelings are constantly hurt.

Maybe I'm too sensitive; I always have been. I go out of my way NOT to hurt anyone's feelings. Couldn't someone do that for me?

Friday, April 6, 2012

A Brief Intermission...

I have injured my wrists (along with my rotor cuffs) doing who knows what. The end result is forced rest with no typing or signing for several days. I can't turn a door knob, open a bottle or carry anything heavy, or even light.

With that in mind, I want to temporarily leave you with this: Sometimes courage is saying "I will try again tomorrow".

Until "tomorrow"....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

If I Only Knew...

I have been battling a really bad sore throat on and off for a month and a half. It comes, makes it almost impossible to swallow and quietly goes away. I've been trying to get to my doctor to have her look at it, but it disappears before I can be seen.

It is a plot to drive me insane! MORE INSANE!

I was recently told that, since I was grandfathered into the Silver level of adult skating that I could compete in Silver at Adult Nationals. REALLY!!! No one could have told me this sooner? I could have been preparing for AN, even if I couldn't go because of work, but at least ready? I could have competed in the non-qualifying portion of Regionals?

Couldn't someone have told me sooner?!?!

It's okay; it's something to strive for.

Before I go to bed, I must mention that "Sebastian" is embarking on a new adventure: storm chasing. I wish I had his spirit for adventure. He is amazing!

It's late. Good night.

Thursday, March 29, 2012


I wish I didn't have to write this particular entry. It is something I feel must be said, but I really wish I didn't have to.

No, I'm not quitting skating; at least not yet. That entry may be written in a few months at the rate things are going. This is about something else:

Being African-American is not something I can change, nor is it something I WOULD change, if I could. I am comfortable in my skin and THAT has taken a long time. I grew up being made fun of for various reasons, not the least of which was the color of my skin. I always loved to read and as a result, scored the second highest reading score in my school (my sister scored the highest). I scored an upper class high school level reading score while in the 4th grade. Several of the teachers didn't believe it, thought I had cheated and wanted my sister (who in the 5th grade, scored a college level reading score) and I to take the test again.

We didn't.

I mention that because of an incident that occurred on Sunday at the rink. I have been one of the monitors at the Sunday morning session for two years. I know the name of every little pony-tailed skater out there; even the ones who look alike. Until last year, I didn't realize that little girls between 9-11 years old who hang out with one another actually start to resemble one another. Be that as it may, I know their names. Until last month, no one knew mine.

When I started monitoring, I introduced myself to every skater and every parent. I learned their names; two minutes after meeting me, they forgot mine. Week after week, I was called "The Monitor". I have a name.

One morning, while checking skaters in, I stopped, looked down at the girl in front of me and asked, "What's my name?" She stammered and looked around and finally admitted that she didn't know. I reminded her that I told her my name last year and she said, "Monitor?" I suppose that was her attempt at being cute; it wasn't.

I asked every single skater and parent if they knew my name: only the other monitor and her daughter knew my name. After telling all the skaters and parents my name, I've tested them every week since.

These people knew the name of every other skater and every parent, yet, no one bothered to learn MY name.

Did I ever mention I am the only African-American on the session?

It is as bad as when I went to Lake Placid, and being the only one of color on the ice, every coach knew my name. It's either too much or too little.

The real reason I mention this is an incident that occurred last week. One of the skaters (and she's 16 years old, so youth cannot be blamed for this) arrived at the rink without her mother (and her mother is very vocal in the club). Skater needed a session card and mother had given her a check for said card. On the envelope was the name of two other monitors. I was sitting at a table talking to a parent who is also a coach. Skater walks up to the table, looks at me, announces that she needs a session card and hands it to the parent/coach. Looks at me again and sits down.

I turned to the parent/coach and said, "What the hell was that? I am right here and she couldn't hand ME the envelope? What did she think I was going to do with a $220 check? Buy drugs?"

The parent/coach made excuses from "maybe she didn't see you" to "she's young", but I knew the reason. "I have to put up with this nonsense every single day in my real life. I don't need to put up with it here. This is one of the reasons I will not be back next year. This skating club doesn't deserve my money and I don't need to skate their sessions any more." While the parent/coach tried to tell me otherwise, I knew that the skater never saw me as anything more than "the help". I had no name, served no purpose other than to help her and the other skaters.

I feel sorry for people like this. I wish I could make everyone a different ethnic group for one month, not one day, one month. Experience what it's like to deal with DWB (driving while Black), being followed around in a store or when speaking passionately about something, having some chuck-wagon think you're angry. Experience the negatives and the positives: being able to keep time with music, (for many) having a strong relationship with your chosen religion, and (for women) having the curves some other women envy and some men lust after. Yes, these are stereo-types, but I wanted to paint a broad picture. Hollywood paints a very broad picture of African-American women. We are only beautiful if we are part white (Halle Barry) and if we're not, we have to be "big boned".

I will step down from my soapbox now. I have had my feelings hurt and I have been slapped in the face. Maybe this is why I like the Deaf so much. They don't care what color you are; they care if you can sign or not.

Wouldn't the world be a much better place if that's how we all felt? Who cares what color you are. Can you communicate with me? Yes? That's all that matters.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Really People? Really??

Under most circumstances, I don't mind when someone suddenly cancels on me. Things come up, people get sick; I understand. I am not so egotistical that I believe the world revolves around me. The last time I looked, the world (earth) still revolved around the sun. Yep, just checked again. Still earth revolving around sun.

I am annoyed when you have convinced me to attend an event I had not planned on attending and then just hours before we are to meet, decide that you aren't going. Had I not sent you a text, you wouldn't have contacted me. What was your reason (since you didn't give me one)? Your boyfriend? The fact that you'd have to pay your own entrance fee? Or maybe it was because you'd have to take the LIRR out to Long Island to meet me because I refused to drive from Long Island to Queens and then BACK to Long Island, past my office to arrive at the original destination. Whatever the reason, I am NOT pleased. Please, do not attempt to convince me to attend an event again.

That being said, on to skating.

I don't skate enough; this fact has been well established. The fact that I can maintain 90% of my skills while skating just one day a week amazes me. It amazed a fellow adult skater, who, after I finished my lesson, disrupted my flow (and wasted what precious little ice time I have) by telling me that I "seemed to be coming along". Coming along? This from a person who can barely perform a forward edge roll. I'm not sure whether I should be insulted or not; I sort of am insulted. Be that as it may, the skater then took up ten minutes of my ice time asking me how many times a week I skate. "This is it, really." I replied, to his surprise. I explained that I practice everything off-ice from foot work to jumps, workout during lunch and after work, stretch, do yoga and pilates and ab work. He said that my abs must be in great shape, and I replied, no, they aren't. I informed him that I just try to work as hard as possible on everything (exception is my job as I am suffering from a major case of spring-fever). More of my time was taken up while he picked my brain about yoga (which he hates), pilates (which he's never tried), kickboxing (which he's afraid to try) and skating.

By the time we were finished, my back was cold again and ten minutes of my ice time had disappeared.

Note to self: Don't stop moving long enough to allow anyone to talk to you.

On to the session: Excellent session. Almost everything worked. Amy and I worked on my program for the local competition in June (which I may or may not do). Although the program is still in the planning phase, it looks pretty good and is technically challenging enough.

Just think, if I actually skate more than once a week, I might do well and not keep coming in last.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Few More Lessons Learned

Really, I must get to the rink more often. This would be accomplished if I had the monetary funds to do so and didn't park my car 8 1/2 blocks from my apartment. Now that the time has changed (Daylight Savings Time, I think) it seems so dark at 5:30am. This will change, right?

So, another week down and once again, I have learned a few more things.

1. Never listen to the weather person on Channel 1. On Sunday, he said it would be warm. Really? In what universe is 40 degrees warm?

2. If the weather person says it's going to be warm, expect the rink to crank up the cold making it almost unbearable.

3. Very cold rinks, no warm-up and dressing inappropriately will make my knees hurt. And various other parts of my body.

4. Most former Olympians are extremely sweet and interesting to talk to.

5. No, I don't skate for exercise. Please stop asking me.

6. Still don't have any kids. Didn't have them last year; don't have them now. Please stop asking me.

7. If you drink water after every bite of food, you will live in the bathroom.'

8. If you do drink that much water, bring something to read in the bathroom. Leave it there because, you will be back.

9. Skipping lunch, dinner and breakfast the next day can make you really, really dizzy while sitting in a warm classroom. Thank you "Sebastian", my hero, for making sure I was okay after becoming ill.

10. Your co-workers truly believe that anything that happens to them is much more important, tragic, funny, exciting... than anything that happens to you. Your DOG is sick, not your kids, not you; YOUR DOG!!

11. Taking a class at another school that is supposed to be a high level ASL class and you learn absolutely nothing, can make for a really frustrating drive home from Long Island.

12. Had a dream where everyone was signing AND skating. Cool.

I am really at a loss as to how I can get more ice time when even the most creative accounting is leaving me with a negative number after paying my bills. I would hate to think that my skating career is coming to an end thanks totally to my lack of funds and terrible job.

While ASL is incredibly important in my life, skating has been part of it for almost as long. (I started signing as a kid after seeing the movie "The Miracle Worker". My sisters and I learned from books, not knowing that the sentence structure is different, etc. I learned as much as I could from those old library books and still remember some of the old, outdated signs I learned as a kid.) I would like to stay as well-rounded as possible by signing and skating. Although right now, I have no idea how I'm going to do that.

If I had a bit more free time, I'd get a second job. As it is, I am sacrificing sleep to study and work out. Maybe after I pay for the workshops I have to attend and my car insurance and cell phone, I can squeeze out a few dollars for another session.

It'll all work out, if it's meant to. In the meantime, I'm off to finish that article I was reading in the bathroom ten minutes ago...

Friday, March 9, 2012

Lessons Learned

Having crawled my way out of my hole depression enough to see the surface, I have learned a few things:

1. Don't complain about your depression to certain friends; the conversation will suddenly become all about them. And you know who you are!

2. Chocolate really CAN make you feel better, providing the amount doesn't make you sick first. I scored high on that test, having experienced both.

3. It sucks to be unable to cry. This is not a physical ailment, but an emotional one that I've noticed since the passing of my mom. Tears well up in my eyes and that's as far as they travel. Maybe they need a passport.

4. Depression can cause insomnia. I am still due 2 or 3 days of sleep.

5. Too much chocolate can also give you a migraine.

6. Skating, when it works well, can make me smile.

7. Signing almost always makes me smile. Except for that time my instructor said I was an "overly enthusiastic" signer. I took it as an insult; I still do. I attending a seminar on Black ASL; Black people ARE enthusiastic signers, so THERE John!

This past weekend, I had the best weekend I've had since my visit to Gallaudet University and the surprise birthday party my sister gave me. I was working with my signing mentor (we sew) and she needed to make a voice phone call. Guess who had to interpret? ME! I was soooooo past nervous, afraid I was going to totally screw it up. But guess what? I didn't. Yes, it's difficult to listen to someone over the phone (speaker phone - my speaker phone) and sign what they're saying and then voice what my mentor was signing, but it was WONDERFUL!!!

On Sunday, there was a competition at another rink, which meant, many of the little pony-tailed Divas wouldn't be on the session. It was heaven! I was actually able to skate both sessions. And actually skate them. I did my MIF, jumps, spins, footwork and even went through an old program I haven't done in over a year. It was so wonderful I was exhausted when I finished. How I wish every session could be that productive!

Now that my annoying depression has abated, I can return to taking a page from "Sebastian's" book. No one can stop me unless I allow them to stop me. I need to get out of my own way and stay out of my own way.

There are few things in this world that I am passionate about: skating and signing are two of them. So hear this world: don't get in my way when it comes to my passions. You will stepped on and you won't like the fact that I'm wearing skates and cussing at you in sign language.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Totally Off Topic

This has very little, if anything to do with skating. It does, however, have a lot to do with, well, me.

On top of my other annoying ailments (back, cough, stomach, weight and now knees), I suffer from a sometimes debilitating depression. There are days when I struggle to get out of bed, put on a semi-happy face and go out into the world. Today was one of those days.

I have been lucky because I haven't been this depressed in nearly a year. That's cause to celebrate in my book; but I gave up drinking for Lent and well, Easter isn't for another month. So, I ate some chocolate. Not to celebrate, but because I was having trouble coping.

As you know, I hate my job. I mean, I really, really hate my job. There are days when I think committing suicide would be an excellent choice rather than having to come into work the next day. This week was one of those weeks. I was cursed at, told I was an idiot and a waste of time and had total strangers scream at me over the phone. Add to that the commute from hell and well, you see where I'm coming from.

I have been able to deal with this madness, but recently, I just wanted to crawl into a dark hole and stay there. Nothing has been able to lift me from this feeling of total darkness; not skating, not signing, nothing.

While I know these feelings will pass, I can't seem to wrap my head around it right now. I've tried therapy; my last therapist was such an annoying piece of work that I walked out on my last session muttering "Good riddance, bitch!" burning from my lips. I've tried medication, but with my stomach, well, let's just say they weren't on the same page. So I just push it down. Keep myself busy. Try to get over it.

It didn't work this week.

When you realize that you are underpaid by over $25,000 and no one will give you an interview because the organization you work for is considered "the enemy"; it gets to you. When your boss treats you like you're an idiot because SHE'S an idiot; it gets to you. When your 40 mile-round-trip commute causes your blood pressure to rise each and every day of the week; it gets to you. When a total stranger who can't remember HIS email address curses YOU out; it gets to you. When you have to take money out of your 401K because you have absolutely no money left and it's pay day; it gets to you. When people complain every single day of the week and three times on the weekend; it gets to you. When one more person asks if you're pregnant and you're just FAT; it gets to you. When someone assumes that you're angry and you're just passionate about what you're discussing (and you're discussing it quietly)and they are only assuming you're angry because Black women are ALWAYS angry; it gets to you.

I have tried to be optimistic. I have tried to look on the sunny side of life. But I'm tired. And it's raining. The sun isn't smiling back like on the Raisin Brand box. The sun is just as sad and tired as I am.

This will pass, but for now, I will retreat to my bed, where I've spent most of the day. I got up and sort-of got dressed so I could buy chocolate; three bars, which I ate myself. Yes, I know that does nothing for my weight, but when you consider that I've been busting my ass and have GAINED 3 pounds, I don't give a damn.

I know I have a job and I should be grateful for it. Believe me, I am. It almost pays all my bills without having to do some clever accounting. I've been looking for s new job for eight years. EIGHT YEARS!!!!!! My job is sucking the life out of me. It's slowly killing me.

Anger is another form of depression, so since I'm already depressed, I have a double dosage of it. As I said, I know this will pass. It has to. I have school tomorrow and skating on Sunday. Everyone expect me to be upbeat and chipper.

Why did I give up drinking for Lent? Right now, a 48 oz Cosmo would make me feel so much better. Did I mention I have a crooked cd stuck in my cd/dvd drive? I can't get the damned thing open and will have to bring it in to have it fixed. Watch me perform some clever accounting!

We will return to our regularly scheduled program on Sunday after skating. In the meantime, please allow me to wallow in self-pity for another hour. By then, it'll be another day and this one, this week, will be over.

Personally, I've never been that fond of people, in general.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pleasantly Surprised

There was no session on Sunday due to President's Day weekend. That is not to say that I slept in. No, I had the opportunity to work with my ASL mentor earlier in the day. Who knew reupholstering a chair could be so much fun?

I attend three different schools in an attempt to become more fluent in American Sign Language: a university in Long Island, a school for the Deaf in Queens, and a small, relaxed, friendly independent school in Manhattan. While I enjoy classes everywhere, it is the last one, the small independent school where I feel the most at home. The instructors there are skilled and wonderful. There is a warm, friendly atmosphere that makes everyone feel at home. I feel as though they are as close to being my friends as they could possibly be.

It is at that last school where I had the pleasure of having an instructor who I can only describe as my hero. Since I didn't ask his permission to use his name, I will call him "Sebastian".

"Sebastian" is amazing. He has traveled to places I never would have dreamed of: Vietnam and Sri Lanka. And places I've always wanted to visit, like Great Britain and France. He is fearless.

"Sebastian" backpacked from Mexico to California. Alone. Did I mention that "Sebastian" is Deaf? And that he traveled alone? During this trip. he encountered snakes, bugs and at least one cougar.

Did I mention that "Sebastian" is Deaf? And he did this trip alone?

Last month, "Sebastian" went ice climbing. He is fearless and my hero. He never lets anything stop him from doing what he wants to do. He is planning another backpacking trip and I am in awe of his determination.

For that reason (and his incredibly beautiful eyes!) I am one of his biggest fans. "Sebastian" has inspired me to try as hard as I can to do whatever I want to do. Nothing is too hard. Nothing.

With that in mind, I headed for the rink on Wednesday. I left work later than I wanted to and hit a small amount of traffic. After dropping off my car, I got on a subway that was delayed for reasons I can't imagine. But I did finally get to the rink. Although I was a half hour late by the time I finally got on the ice, I was determined to work as hard as possible.

Perhaps I was inspired by "Sebastian", or maybe because my pain level was low, or because I am still a little light-headed (don't know why; I think it's sinus related), but I worked really, really hard. I've been working on my Moves in the Field for so long that I can't stand them anymore. Plus, I needed to be able to concentrate really hard and I just didn't have it in me to do that. So, we skipped the MIF and went on to spins.

That's when it happened.

I don't know what caused it, but all of my spins were good. They were fast, tight, centered and had more revolutions than I've ever performed. Bad habits seemed to disappear and all the spins were good; even Amy said so.

I was amazed. I was thrilled. I worked so hard I had sweat running down my face. (Side bar: I don't sweat a lot) It was wonderful. It was the best session I had in a long time.

It's time for me to take a page from "Sebastian's" book and become more fearless. I have spent too long wondering if people will laugh at me (they already do/already have) or if I look foolish. I've already looked foolish and it didn't kill me. I've already taken bad falls and it didn't kill me. I am tired of trying not to be noticed. I am here and if you don't like it, too damn bad.

Skating on Sunday will be a challenge; I already know that. But I'll be on the ice and that is the best part. On Monday, I'll be getting up to skate really, really early. And yes, I know, I've said it before, but this time I mean it!

Thank you "Sebastian". You have educated me in ASL and you have opened my heart. As with all the instructors at that wonderful school, I will hold you in my heart forever and never forget any of you. You have made me see what I could be and what I should do.

Now, it's off to bed so I can get up to skate in the morning. I want to take that MIF test before the summer, so I have some serious work to do.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Slight Step Backwards

I caught a cold two weeks ago. It won't away. Now it's in my chest and I sound like I'm coughing up a lung. I can't catch my breath. I had to stop working out at lunch because all I want to do is sleep. And I can't breathe.

I didn't go to the rink on Sunday because I had an ASL workshop to attend. It was great. Unfortunately, my hands hurt, a lot. I'm thinking it's from typing, texting and flipping the channels, but NOT from signing. That's good.

So for those two reasons, I have almost nothing to say about skating. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon. Really soon.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Was Inspired!!!

Yes, inspired. Why? Two women are representing the US at the World Championships. "Okay," you're thinking, but here's the kicker: BOTH are LEFTIES!!!! That's right! Or left! Both Ashley and Alissa are lefties. Take that!

So, with a fire in my belly (and not the usual fire I have that's caused by something upsetting my tummy...) I awoke this Sunday morning, looking forward to skating. Planning what I would do once I got on the ice. I dared to dream big. I had plans people, BIG plans!

I still felt that way even though by the time I wrapped my knees, took attendance and did the head count of skaters flying past me, there was only 15 minutes left to the first session. "It's okay," I told myself, "just get out there and work."

Then I stepped onto the ice.

Twenty-two skaters are too many to be on this session. The rink, I have discovered, is slightly smaller than Olympic size. Add to the mix the fact that 90% of the skaters come up to my shoulder, maybe. So I have to look down a little to see them. Did I ever mention that they can be a bit like gnats? They sort of buzz around you until you swat at them and then they scatter.

"No matter!" I said and decided to push on. Three laps around the track, half of a move in the field and the session was over. The Zamboni came out and did a resurface.

Then it got a little worse.

The head-count was already 18 when more and more people came up to me to sign in. I did the count on paper three times because I couldn't believe the number: 29. 29. The max on the session is 27, but really, 22 was too many. I had to do the head count six times before I got 29 skaters, although the first count yielded 44. (They're moving as I'm trying to count. And ALL little girls with long brown ponytails look alike from the back.)

I got on the ice and was promptly cut off doing... nothing. I gave up trying to finish my moves when I stepped forward to do the preliminary strokes into one of them and had a skater slam into me. She was looking right at me at the time.

"Okay, I'll do back spins." WRONG!!! In a space less than my height (5'6 1/4"), another adult skater thought that was the absolute best place for her to practice everything from kicking her leg in the air, to just doing crossovers. I tried ten back spins; did three successfully and ducked my fellow skater's leg four times, the other times, I just fell out of the spins.

I got off the ice.

I had gotten cold and stiff in that time and thought it would be best to just throw in the towel today.

On another note: music hogs are really rude. And I mean you Miss Missy, who played her program FOUR TIMES in a crowded session where there's another skater who is going to a competition next week and didn't get her music played at all.

I need to sleep now. This morning took so much out of me and I didn't even get to do anything. But, to quote Anne of Green Gables: "Tomorrow is another day, with no mistakes on it... yet."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


So, at work I got a new title. Nope, no money involved, but the title "Director" sounds cool. There are only 3 people in my department. In my company EVERYONE was made a director, so, it's safe to say that this was something to make everyone happy. I'm as happy as I can be there, which means I'm really not happy at all. Moving on....

On a totally different subject (and not skating just yet), when I dream, people are signing, not speaking. That's right, I am now dreaming in ASL, not PSE (Pigeon Signed English). I think it's cool. My mentor thinks it's cool. Even my family thinks it's cool. My co-workers think I am one step away from the looney bin.


In an effort to embrace good health and more skating, I have been doing a kick-ass workout during lunch. It takes about 30 minutes for most people, 37 minutes for me. Why? I spend 7 minutes after the workout is over lying on the floor unable to move. I'm just too tired to move. I was really hoping I would look a bit fitter after a week (and some pretty decent eating), but I still think I look like a brown Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man.

So, thinking I was doing the right thing, I launched myself into skating. Maybe not launch. I'm still only skating 2 days a week. I skated on Sunday and had a pretty good session; actually two pretty good sessions. Imagine my surprise. I landed jumps, I did spins, I even did those annoying MIF (Moves in the Field). I even laughed, which almost never happens when I have to monitor the session.

About two weeks ago, I was walking to the supermarket when something struck me: I work very, very hard on my sign language, in attempts to become fluent because it means so much to me. Skating means a lot to me too and I haven't been putting in nearly enough time. If I want to improve, I will have to do things that I'm not looking forward to. What? Getting up at 4:30 in the morning and driving to a 6:00 session two mornings a week before work.

I'm not really looking forward to it because I park my car 8 blocks from my apartment. Yes, 8 blocks and I pay to park there. (On a side note: because I park my car in a lot, near a tree, by a fence, someone decided to walk their dog on the property. I stepped in the deposit and spent my entire drive into work screaming "WHAT IS THAT SMELL??!!!!") I will probably look for parking the night before closer to my apartment so I can avoid the walk at 5:00am.

This past Sunday, I saw an old friend from skating. I hadn't seen her in over 3 years and she was kind enough to say that I looked like I lost weight. Okay, very kind. We started skating at about the same time. She is much more advanced than I am. And that kinda hurts now. Okay, sure, I've had more than my share of injuries and set backs, but come on! I'm at the same level I was at eight years ago. It's almost as though I've never improved. Or rather, that I improved for a while and then, suddenly it was gone again. I am NOT consistent. I chalk that up to not enough practice.

So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to bed. Yes, it's past 11:00pm. And no, I won't be getting up to go to the rink tomorrow morning. It's Tuesday night. I skate Wednesday evenings. I will (hopefully) go to bed early on Thursday night to get up and skate on Friday morning.

Wish me luck with that.

In the meantime, be careful where you step.