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.