Monday, December 16, 2013

Children (Correction) ADULTS Will Listen

I performed in a holiday show with the adult ice theatre group I sort of belong to. Considering I only attended three rehearsals, I really didn't think it was a good idea. Health wise, I felt better than I had in a long time. Plus, I had a good skate this morning. I screwed up the choreography; I know that. I did the best that I could and kinda got it right, almost. When it was all said and done, the assistant choreographer came and congratulated us all. She noted that it was so great that we came out, the stronger skaters in the front, progressively lessening the skill level until we came to the beginner skater. That was me. I was the last skater. And I'm not a beginner. I know when I've been insulted. And I have been insulted indeed. There is nothing wrong with being a beginner. I know I'm no expert; I have a lot to learn. I hadn't been to many rehearsals and haven't been skating much... Still, it hurt. It hurt to have someone believe that my skill level was not up to standard (whose standard I'm not sure). My confidence is fragile enough without this comment. Seriously. I like to think Thumper from the movie Bambi said it best: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothing at all." "Careful the things you say Children will listen. Careful the things you do Children will see and learn. Children may not obey, But children will listen. Children will look to you For which way to turn To learn what to be Careful before you say "Listen to me" Children will listen." Children Will Listen from Into The Woods. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Saturday, December 14, 2013

On Second Thought...

After some deep consideration, and a really, really bad cough, I have reconsidered doing the Lake Placid competition. Also, I am as tired as one person can be without actually being sick. My last few sessions have been frustrating and painful. I keep falling down. When I'm not falling down, everything just hurts. Add to the fact that I kept getting interrupted during that last session, I think I'm making the best decision. I spent this morning not on the ice or in class, but in my physician's office, on a nebulizer, trying to take a deep breath. My boss sent me home on Thursday because I was coughing so much and so hard, she was afraid I'd cough up a lung. I didn't, but I was so out of breath that driving on the highway was "iffy" because I was light-headed. May I say this really sucks? Six prescriptions in my hand, I'm off to the pharmacy to have them filled, which includes steroids. There goes fitting into anything sexy and tight for New Year's Eve (I had planned to stay at home anyway). Don't know how much skating I'll be able to do, but if I can, I'll be back... "Hard to tell you How I feel. Everything is so unreal Lord, this life Is a hard thing to get to... Lord, this life Is a hard thing to live And harder still To leave..." How I Feel from The Me Nobody Knows. Music by Gary William Friedman. Lyrics by Will Holt.

Monday, December 2, 2013


I have been celebrating a bit too much, evidence by my growing girth. Back to work. Yesterday, I was reminded that my coach will be out of town until after Christmas, visiting her daughter in another country. I had forgotten. I also didn't realize it would be for so long. Wow. So, should I do the competition in Lake Placid in January and just do my Artistic Program since we never did work on the technical one? I have already dropped the idea of the show program my sister, the dancer, was supposed to help me with since she kept putting off working on it. Guess this means I'll have to work hard on my own. GULP! If I don't post for a while it's because I'm so deep into practicing that all I can do when I get home is shower and sleep. Until then...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Start the Clock

Before I begin, I must get something off my chest that has occurred lately. At work, I listen to physicians (and their office staff - usually their spouses) complain. I listen to it for 8 hours a day, five days a week. They complain about payments from insurance companies, delays in payment, the Affordable Care Act, Congress, and the amount of money they must pay to belong to the organization. Sometimes, the amount of money is large; sometimes, very small. I spent a year trying to get a physician paid $20. I was willing to write the check myself. That's the back story. I mention it only because lately (and by lately I mean the last 15 years) I have become everyone's complaint desk. I don't understand it and I'd like to stop. I was almost late for school after skating because someone had to tell me why they don't like a particular coach. Or why they want to take their child out of a program and put her in another one. I don't really know this person other than to say "hello". It's difficult to withstand the burden of listening to complaints 7 days a week; at work, at home, at school, at the rink. The only place no one uses me as the complaint desk is church, and I don't attend often enough. I mention it only because if I sound really tired, that's why. Also, I really, really needed to get that out there. Last Sunday, I had an awesome lesson. I was getting over a really, really bad cold that knocked me off my feet for 5 days (okay, maybe it was the flu), so I don't know if all the sweating was from working hard, or from a fever. Either way, ALL of my jumps were landed. ALL!!!!!! They were effortless. They were high. They had speed. They were wonderful!!! And my MIF, even my outside mohawks (which I consider torture devices) were good. Were they passing? Only if the judges were being kind, but they've improved 100% and I could do a cartwheel. The only thing I couldn't do was spin, only because I kept getting dizzy. Fast forward to today. I was able to attend my Syncho Team's rehearsal on Thursday and although this was only my second rehearsal and everyone else has been going for 2 months, I worked hard to catch up. There were some things I just couldn't get, but memorized them and asked Amy to help me. Today, we worked on improving my MIF Crossrolls (I think that's what they're called), with speed and power and good solid edges. It's my best move and it's looking even better. If that was my only MIF, I would have taken the test and passed by now, but they insist that I do the other moves too. Can you believe that? The nerve... Afterwards, it was time to work on the footwork for the Syncho Team. Are you familiar with "the Drunken Sailor" move? I was not; now I am. And call me a wino, it's the outside mohawk, which, as you know is also on my MIF test. So, it's like a double practice: Footwork AND MIF. Although we only perform it on the left side in Syncho, I will be practicing it on the right (my weaker side) tomorrow. I'm still working on the double threes and the back loops. The double threes are better than I expected, having to do three turns in MIF. But those back loops! Uggh!!! I had enough trouble trying to learn forward loops (and I never could really do them) and now I have to do them backwards. It's a challenge. I accept that challenge. On another high note, I had a brief conversation with Amy, the Wonder Coach, about my skills and my hopes and frustrations. She said something that surprised me. She said I was more advanced than I give myself credit for and more advanced than many of the other adult skaters on the sessions I skate. My problem, she said, was a simple lack of confidence and commitment to just keep trying. I don't have to do everything perfectly, but I shouldn't stop because I think it looks funny or feels weird. I needed that. I accept that challenge too. "It's our time, breathe it in: Worlds to change and worlds to win. Our turn coming through, Me and you, pal, Me and you! Years from now, We'll remember and we'll come back, Buy the rooftop and hang a plaque: This is where we began, Being what we can. It's our heads on the block, Give us room and start the clock. Our dreams coming true, Me and you, pal, Me and you! Me and you! Me and you!"** Our Time from Merrily We Roll Along; Music and Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It Might As Well Be Spring

I am suffering from "fall fever". It's a lot like spring fever, but in the fall. I want the weather to get colder, mostly because my apartment has too much heat and I wake up feeling as though a large Maine Coon cat has been sleeping on my face. Being congested makes me tired. Also, I'm having trouble concentrating. Saturday's lesson was great; I was surprised as I really just wanted to sleep (I want to sleep a lot lately; some might suggest depression). My coach and I worked on transitions: mohawks, three turns, brackets and of course, speed. I am seriously a clockwise skater; most moves in the other direction are awkward to me. Especially mohawks. In group lessons, where I was taught mohawks, I never learned the right forward inside mohawk, thus explaining why it's so weak. I also had a bad experience with the left inside mohawk and well, I've never done one at much speed since. I need to get over that if I expect to pass the Silver MIF. It is imperative that they (along with my three turns) improve. My left forward outside three turn is also weak, but not as weak as my right forward inside. I really don't understand these weaknesses. Occasionally, the brain switches off and they aren't nearly as bad as I think. Then, the brain switches back on and I am frozen in that spot. My backspins seem to be stuck at the top of the three turn. After turning the three turn, I come to a total screeching halt. Any suggestions out there? Does self hypnosis really work? I could use a bit more confidence and a lot less self-criticism. That brings me to Sunday. I am ice monitoring again, and I refuse to dwell on the parents of the skaters. Heck, I don't even plan on talking about them. But come my chance to get on the ice and my heart just wasn't in it. I feel frustrated and disheartened that I'm not improving, especially when I see another adult skater (who NEVER looks where she's going and hits some of the oddest positions I have ever seen in life)and discover she is taking her Gold MIF when she started in the last three years. I don't know what to do or where to turn. Should I try to get more ice time, more lesson time, more "hammer time", more "hog branding time**" or what? When I have the chance, I will try to discuss this with my coach and hope she has something more positive to say than "Why don't you just skate Bronze instead of Silver because you'll never be fast or good enough." Ouch. "I'm as restless as a willow in a windstorm, I'm as jumpy as a puppet on a string, I'd say that I have spring fever But I know it isn't spring..." It Might as Well Be Spring, from State Fair. Music by Richard Rogers, Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein III ** Hog branding time - The Flintstones.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No One Knows Who I Am

Recently, a woman in my ASL (American Sign Language) class gave me the ultimate compliment. She marveled at how much I knew about Deaf Culture, Deaf History and Deaf Social Events (FYI: Deaf is ALWAYS spelled with a capital D, like Irish, or Italian or French). She outline that so many obstacles were placed in my way in my goal to become an ASL Interpreter: I have no one in my family to really sign with; I didn't grow up in the Deaf community; my efforts to attend Gallaudet during my undergraduate years were thwarted; I work long hours at a full time job that entails my having to drive miles to get there and yet I am determined to make this work. I watch Youtube videos, read VLOGS (video blogs) in ASL, study constantly, sign always and even dream in ASL. She commented that I have a true passion for ASL and wished she had a passion for something. I then mentioned that I figure skate and she said, "Good grief! When do you sleep?" I mention all of this in an attempt to explain to myself my passions for ASL and skating. Durning the years I did neither, I felt as though I had been dropped in a deep, dark hole and slowly was shutting off my air. I was slowly dying inside. I skate and sign because I must. When I can't skate, I get depressed. This explains why I've gone without items in order to skate: food, doctor's appointments, medication, etc. Vacations have been scheduled around competitions. Dating and social events not related to the Deaf were canceled for the chance to skate. I skate in pain every time. I struggle with my weight to aid my health and to look better in skating dresses. I get frustrated when I no longer can do a move I was able to perform just two years ago. My body betrays me constantly; yet I fight on. I cannot explain this passion, this constant drive to improve in a sport geared toward youth. I cannot explain why I become so frustrated when someone who began after I did is able to perform skill that I cannot. Nor can I explain the feeling of hurt I feel when I receive a vote of "no confidence" or when there is an attempt to belittle my desires to move forward. I know I'm not Debi Thomas, Sarah Hughes, Alyssa Czisny nor Ashley Wagner; you don't have to remind me. I know I'm slow; I'm working on it. Please, just believe in me. Let me try. It may take me twice as long, I may have many more obstacles in my way, but I will keep doing it because to skate (and to sign) is to me, like breathing. "Look at me and tell me Who I am. What I am, What I am. Call me a fool And it's true, I am No one know who I am Time's not a friend Hurrying by No one know who Am I..." No One Knows Who I Am (original concept album recording lyrics) From Jekyll & Hyde. Music by Frank Wildhorn. Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse

Anyone Can Whistle

After spending an entire summer not taking any vacation time, I decided to take my two comp days (for working a weekend) and go skating. Well, I did for one of the days as I was too dog-gone tired the next day to do it again. On Thursday, I skated the "Coffee Club", an interesting freestyle/dance session filled with people I would respectively call by their sir names. I am not a kid, but since most of these skaters are older than I am, I would be respectful and call them "Ms. Q" or "Mr. C". It's the way I was raised. Either way, any time I'm on a session and someone tells me I move too fast, I know that's a slow session. Happily, it was a double session (110 minutes) for an affordable $30.00. I didn't really care, as it was also a relatively empty session. And yet, I kept getting cut off. To the lady who never looked where she was going: how do you do that? You're doing back crossovers looking where you came from, not where you're going. You were surprised when you slammed into the boards. Why? To the lady who thought it was funny to spin just as I took off in a jump: Sorry I hit you, but you did see me coming. You really couldn't miss me. I was the thing in the air when you stepped into your two-foot spin in the jump corner. To the gentleman in the helmet who I could not figure out which way you were going: the two women listed above, whom you slammed into probably have something to say to you. Me? Well, I'm just curious as to what happened to the rule where you must be at least Freestyle 1 to skate on a freestyle session. Keep working on that snowplow stop; you'll get it soon. Bend those knees. My MIF are improving, even with a sore, stiff back which is what I had on Thursday. I pushed through the pain and stiffness to do all of the Silver Moves, not perfectly, but I plowed through. I'm still having a problem with three turns either being too early or too late. The RFO3s are too early, the LFO3s are always flat. The RBI and LFI3s are also flat, but the LBO3 is too late and the RBO3 is too early. Also, either my 3s are too small or when I'm going down the ice, the surface increases, because I'm up to eight or nine 3 turns per side. The goal is four or five. Once, I had twelve sets. Yes, twenty-four 3 turns in total. Don't ask how, I have no idea. I neglected to mention that I was asked to join an Adult Ice Theatre group. I think the coach just wanted adults and didn't base this on my skating ability. They meet on Thursdays in the early afternoon, so I can't make every rehearsal, but I will when I can. The first thing I noticed was that the moves were righty dominated, which for this lefty is kind of hard. The next thing I noticed was no one seemed to understand the concept of spacing. As we were warming up, doing right power 3s, the person on my right was so close to me we could have kissed. The person on my left was even closer as I was unable to move anywhere except behind them both. I hope the spacing issue is cured soon because I'd like to finish the warm-up without injury or having to skip parts because I have no room. After years of dance classes and doing theatre, you'd think I'd catch on to choreography quickly. Nope. There's a part that after doing it a dozen times, I still don't know what the footwork is, but I can say, it was fun. Extremely hard work, but fun. Can't wait to take another Thursday off and return. Oh yes, accidentally did an axel on Sunday; was aiming for a waltz jump. That's how my skating goes. "What's hard is simple What's natural comes hard..." Anyone Can Whistle. Music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Please Excuse the Interruption...

Just when I think things can't get any more confusing, Blogger.Com informs me every time I log on that I'm not following anyone else. Really? I do follow a few other blogs; about 7. I play a crazy game of "hot potato" trying to locate the ones I follow. Why did this happen? Who the heck knows! I am an intelligent woman, yet, I can't figure out how to put a picture into this blog; how to get the GPS on my cell to work or the shortcut to the rink in Bethpage. (I KNOW there has to be a shortcut! There HAS to be!!) If you'll forgive me, I'm supposed to be studying. I won't be at the rink this Saturday, as I have a fashion show to attend. Sunday, I return to my ice monitoring duties, with the hopes of getting more than 15 minutes on the ice. Therefore, I'm off. Until next time... (Why doesn't the format ever change? Bold? Italics? Where are they???)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Keep On Keeping On

I must say right off, I thought I posted this LAST WEEK, but I forgot. So, some of this information is a bit old. Sorry. I wanted to put a picture, or a GIF into this post, but, I don't how. Someone told me recently, but I can't remember where I put the information. So, if you know, please tell me again, because it might make this blog more interesting. Saturday morning skates are always interesting, mostly because I usually have a cocktail on Friday night. Okay, I have two, but really, who's counting?? So after six hours of sleep, I drag myself out of my really uncomfortable bed (I need a new mattress; something much firmer), put my face on and go to the rink. Since I take the subway and they are forever doing track work (which is odd because I've never actually seen anyone doing work on the tracks...) it's always a dance as to what I have to do to get to the rink by 8:00am. Today everything worked in my favor, including the crosstown bus! But boy, was that session CROWDED!! Everyone is working toward next week's North Atlantic Competition. Hyped up on adrenaline, caffeine, sugar and hope, 30+ skaters flew down the ice. One girl fell and took two other skaters with her because they were so in their own worlds. Enough about them. What about me? I believe my workouts are paying off. I have more stamina, more spring to my jumps, more speed in my spins. Heck, even my MIF look better. They look like the Silver MIF. If I keep this up (and I will!!!), I may be able to test in a few months... And pass!! Even my coach is optimistic. I can't think of a musical theatre quote. Maybe I should get more sleep and not drink on Friday nights when I know I have skating followed by several hours of class in ASL.

Monday, September 23, 2013

While the City Sleeps

Having to wake up early seven days a week can occasionally be quite exhausting. That alarm clock rings at 5:45 six days a week, at 6:30 one day a week. When am I supposed to sleep in? With no other place to skate on Saturday, I skated early Sunday morning and had a lesson with my coach. My ONLY coach, if you read my last post. I was feeling a bit sluggish, having spent Saturday in class for hours. I love ASL, sometimes, it's just so intense, I end up wanting to sleep for a few hours. I had no expectations regarding my skating. Wednesday's lesson fiasco, which included enough "stink-eye" for the rest of my life, I wasn't sure what to expect. Whatever the reason, something happened: everything worked. Jumps were high and landed cleanly. Spins were centered and fast. And MIF were better than ever. I even performed something called "rolling threes", which made me dizzy, but were quite fun. If you know how to do rolling threes without getting dizzy, please, I beg of you, tell me. I want to incorporate these into my program, but have to stop in order for the world to stop spinning. Sunday was a very pleasant experience. It was followed by a trip to the Brooklyn Museum for an ASL field trip, which was also a lot of fun. Hope I can keep up the good work, pleasant attitude and vocabulary. "While the city sleeps While the streets are clear There's a life that's happening here. While the tourist dreams In his Statler bed Here we're living those dreams instead..."** While the City Sleeps from Golden Boy. Music by Charles Strouse. Lyrics by Lee Adams. ** Decided to go a bit old school and obscure with this quote. This show, based on the 1937 play by Clifford Odets, was produced in 1964 and starred Sammy Davis Jr. There is your theatre history lesson for today.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Best Laid Plans

Did you know it's still really, really, really dark at 5:15am? I found this out this morning as I left the confines of my apartment to walk down the five flights of stairs (the elevator has been out for three days thus far) to my car, happily parked right in front of my building. I was nervous with anticipation. I had the highest of hopes. I was having my first jump lesson with a coach I had never met before (we spoke on the phone) at the rink in Long Island near work. I drove the forty-five minutes to arrive early for my 6:30 so I could warm up and maybe have a short conversation with him. Paying for the session, I asked if he was already here. I was informed that he wasn't expected, but if I had arranged a lesson with him, he'd be there. But he never arrived. Skating my MIF, which are really getting better; except for those darn back inside three turns which are forever too late and the forward inside threes which are forever too early. The rest of the moves were looking healthy. Every so often, I'd glance at the clock thinking maybe he's just running late. Forty-five minutes into the hour long session, I stepped off the ice to inquire about his whereabouts. The lady in the office called him on the phone; he had over-slept thanks to setting his clock for PM rather than AM. He had never done that before. Lucky me. We rescheduled to the first Wednesday in October thanks mostly to a series of 7:45am conference calls I must attend. Seriously, who schedules a conference call for 7:45am? I must attend because my boss doesn't get up until 7:45; thus explaining why she arrives at work at 9:30am (I arrive at 8:00). I'm not quite sure I will attempt this again. If you're familiar with the term "giving the stink-eye" then you'll understand. Upon stepping onto the ice, one young skater gave me the stink-eye so deep, I looked around to see if someone else was the intended victim. Nope, for as the session continued, this stink-eye was tossed my way over and over again. When I got off the ice to inquire about the coach, the kid's mother gave me the stink-eye. Huh? I can be overly-sensitive; I admit it. I'm a pretty sensitive person with a developed thick-skin, but when a coach also gives you the stink-eye, it's time to re-think your choices. Not sure I want to give my hard earned cash to people who give me unpleasant looks; especially if I've smiled at them to indicate that I'm harmless (Just so you know, there still are people out there who are afraid of other people who are a different skin color than they are. Yep, it's stupid and annoying, but after a while, you get used to trying to put their worries to rest.) I am not throwing the "race card" because I think I could have been green and an adult and gotten the stink-eye. I had forgotten that this particular rink isn't very fond of adult skaters. My bad! With that in mind, I'll look for somewhere else to skate. Maybe I can find some ice time within a subway trip since I no longer have a parking spot. (If you want to know how difficult it is to find parking, here's an example: Monday evening, I drove around for forty minutes looking for a place to park. I finally found one, but it meant that I would have to move my car before 7:00am or get a $105 parking ticket. You cannot arrive at your car at 7:00am, the ticket will already be there. You cannot sit in your car after 6:59am, the ticket will be written while you're sitting there. No, your car must be in gear and moving at 6:59am. I kid you not.) It's too bad about the jump coach; it would have been nice to have a second set of eyes. Oh well, back to the drawing board...

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friends from the Past

A few weeks ago, I met up with an old friend who was in town with two of her three sons (My Three Sons... maybe someone should use that title for a TV show...) for an event her eldest son was participating in. We've known each other for what seems like forever. We met years ago when she was a competitive Junior Lady and I was a rank beginner. During the time we have known one another, my friend has moved about a dozen times, briefly become a pairs skater (she's as tall as I am), fell in love, passed her Senior test, competed in more competitions than I could ever count, graduated from college, gotten engaged, gotten married and has had three children. I, on the other hand, have purchased shoes. Seriously, I don't think I've improved all that much since we met. She asked me about my tests and jokingly said that I've been working on them forever, since before we met. I think that might be true. She is toying with the idea of temporarily moving to NYC; which would be great for her son, and pretty cool for me. As a former national competitor, she would probably have a line up of kids and adult who would want to take lessons from her. I'd be one of them. Under her guidance (and I think while she was pregnant with her second son), I took my Adult Silver Freestyle test. I didn't pass (partially because I left out a required element, also fell into the boards on a required jump)but it felt pretty good going out there and trying. She made me work so hard, every night I went back to my room and iced my knees while sitting with a heating pad on my back. (Forgot to mention, this was during one of my trips to Adult Skating Week in Lake Placid, NY.) My body didn't know if I should be hot or cold. It was pretty good. Best time I ever had at Adult Week. Fast forward to my skating now. It's sporadic, thanks to pain, finances, classes and cooling systems. My heart is still in the sport, even if my body and pocketbook are fighting me. Before you suggest skating public sessions, I will repeat something I said almost a year ago: public sessions are few are far between here in NYC. What few there are, are usually held while I'm at work. I still don't believe my boss will agree to me skipping out the door, smiling and calling over my shoulder, "See ya soon! Gotta go skate." Call me crazy. As for moving out of NYC, I have three, yes, three family members. That's it. And we all live in NY; three of us live really close to one another (okay, one is my room mate) and the other lives just a few hours away. So, moving away is really out of the question. Plus, I live in New York City! Hello.... I know my friend would be able to improve my skating, if we could ever schedule lessons. But she lives in Buffalo and I don't. Therefore, I will do the next best thing: practice, practice, practice. Since I no longer have a parking spot, I am hesitant to take my car to the rink on Friday night for fear I won't have any place to park it upon my return. I'm sure this is a unfounded fear, but, try to imagine a five city block radius, with approximately ten apartment buildings on those blocks. Every other person has a car and the only parking is on the street. Also, each block has a fire hydrant and you can't park near them (I never remember how close you can park to them) and some of the other residences are houses with driveways. You see my problem. I am looking for a parking spot to rent, but meanwhile... "Are you pulling out or just parking? Parking? Okay, thanks!"

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Broken Hearted Me

Sometimes, I am left scratching my head. Sometimes, I am left shaking my head. Sometimes, I am left rather hurt. Today, I am a combination of all the above. One of the rinks I skate at decided, after being closed for 2 weeks earlier in the summer due to compressor issues, to cancel the remaining evening freestyle sessions. There was no notification until you showed up. Several skaters, myself included, arranged their schedules around these evening freestyle session, canceled trips, outings, drinks with friends, so we could skate these sessions. Two weeks, yes, two weeks before it was all supposed to end, the rink cancels the sessions and gives them to hockey. What? They couldn't wait two weeks?? I am waiting for them to post the new fall/winter session. If it's anything like last year, there are freestyle sessions at 5:00am and on the weekend. That's it. My June competition over, my feelings are still a bit hurt. I feel somewhat lost. I need to have a conversation with my coach about my skill level, expectations and aspirations for the coming season. It's my hope to compete at the Non-Qualifying Adult Eastern Championship, mostly because it's so close to home. It doesn't help when your coach asks if they'll be an artistic competition because that would be the only thing I'd do well in. Wow. Yep, still hurts. My home computer may have Malware, so if you get an email from me, I didn't send it. I haven't taken any vacation yet, and was just informed that the time I wanted to take doesn't work into my boss' schedule, so that response was "No". Although I know my schedule will work out eventually, for now, I'm feeling quite broken and battered about the whole thing. To quote an old song (which was already old when I first heard it) by The Happenings, "See you in September..."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hear Me Roar

Lately, I've been working out a lot. There is a wonderful website (also on Youtube) called "FitnessBlender". It is awesome. So good, I discovered something I hadn't seen in a while: guns. Yes, guns. MY guns, located on my arms. Grrrrrrr!!!!! I also have the beginnings of a tush you can bounce quarters off of. While this hasn't translated to a lower number on the scale, I am fitting into clothes that were too tight at the beginning of the summer. Insert happy dance here. I don't know how to put a GIF into this blog. Although I am waiting for my abs/tummy to catch up to my arms and tush, I'll take what I got. Skating wise, I have more energy. However, I was unable to skate last week and won't be back on the ice until tomorrow. Hopefully, all this energy/strength will translate onto the ice. In the meantime, I can show you which way to the "gun show".

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Green Eyed Monster

I have recently maintained "radio silence" in an attempt to calm down. Recent developments in Florida, the heat on the east coast, various SUV drivers on the Long Island highways trying to run me off the road and financial difficulties have caused me to sit down and try to relax. I do not relax well. So rather than annoy or anger some of you out there, I decided to remain silent. You should be pleased because the four postings I had originally wrote were not positive, happy or about skating; just anger. On to skating. I am extremely competitive. This comes from being the youngest in a theatrical family, where you are constantly competing against one of your siblings. I became so weary of competing against my sister that I left the theatre. It wasn't an easy decision (although I was no longer getting hired) and sometimes I regret it, but then I remember how ticked off my sister would become if I got the show and she didn't. See, we look a lot alike for two women who are not twins. We sound almost identical when singing, although I think my sister has a warmer sound to her voice. She also dances 1000% better than I do. Here is my problem: another adult skater I will call "Beth". Beth and I take lessons from Amy during the same sessions. As a matter of fact, when I put together the days/times I could make it to the rink, I specifically stated that the earlier evening session would be almost impossible for me to make. However, it worked for Beth and therefore worked for Amy. I was able to adjust my work schedule, partially because they are tearing down my parking lot and I need to move my car by 7:00am. Beth began skating as a child, but quit and returned to the sport after college and a few years of employment. She is working on a MIF from the "regular track" and is ready to test these moves. That is not the issue here. The issue is Beth is working on higher jumps than I am. I wouldn't care but I'd say my success rate on the other jumps is about 70-80%. Beth's success rate is more like 30-40%. And she can't spin, not at all, so why is she working on flying camels? Yes, there is jealousy in here. I spend the first 10 minutes of every single lesson stroking. Also, 99% of the time, I have first lesson. I hate first lesson. My body needs more time to warm up and by the time it does, my lesson is almost over. I know stroking is an essential part of skating and no one has perfect stroking. But 10 minutes, every lesson? And it's never even close to being right. Ever. Never? Upon discussing this with my sister/room mate (and former competitor in theatre), she stated, "Remember all teachers, coaches, etc. want you to come back as a repeat customer. It's a business. No matter how much you like them and they like you, never forget, it's a business." Hadn't thought of it that way. So, I will work on my own, trying to perfect my stroking, jumps, spins and MIF. I'll also work on my jealousy issues. In the meantime, I have to finish a presentation on Freedom of Information on Cochlear Implants, which has to be in ASL. I also need to wear a light colored shirt. Wish me luck with both the ASL and the skating. (No musical quotes for this post; couldn't think of any. Sorry.)

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Practice Without Prejudice

When I began skating, I made two rules for myself: 1. If I was well enough to go skating, I was well enough to go to school or work. If I skipped either school or work, I had to skip skating. 2. If I don't have the funds to skate, I wouldn't borrow it from anyone, nor would I accept it from anyone. I've only broken that rule once, when I borrowed money from my Mom. I paid her back ASAP; she charged interest. With both of those rules in mind, I am off the ice this week. Mostly because of rule #2, but I'll be back next week. Also, I began working out again like a crazy woman and well, I'm much more sore than I expected. Stumbling across a series of workout videos on Youtube, I discovered something called: FitnessBlender. If you decide to try it, I'll give you fair warning: it will kick your buttocks worse than when Forest Gump got shot in the buttocks during his time in the army with Bubba and Lt. Dan. I started on Tuesday (I have so much trouble starting things on Mondays), it's Thursday and I still have pain from things I did on Tuesday. Thus far, I haven't repeated any of the workouts (we're only talking 3 workouts here) but, this morning I was able to fit into a dress I couldn't zipper up just last month. Part of this transformation could be attributed to my lack of real appetite and lack of funds to buy food. Eating is overrated sometimes. Besides, I really want to stop taking hypertension medicine. Since I'm not on the ice, I've been watching other adult skaters on Youtube. I mean absolutely no disrespect whatsoever, because I think my skills are sorely lacking 99% of the time, but, some of the people I've been watching are no better than I am and yet, they are fearless. Watching someone throw themselves into an axel when they have the shakiest back outside edge makes me feel as though I've been way too critical of my own skills. Add to the fire the fact that my coach has another adult student who is working on harder skills than I am and I can actually land more jumps and spin better than she does, really makes me feel as though I need to cut myself a bit more slack. Sometimes I wonder if there is a prejudice of sorts when one adult is heavier than the other. In my case, I also have a series of injuries to deal with, but it has to be really bad for me to complain about it. Thus far, I've been quiet about my back, shoulder, cough and head; they've all been behaving themselves anyway. Just no gluten; figure out that's a trigger for migraines for me. Back on the ice on Tuesday or Wednesday. I think I'll pull myself up by my bootstraps and try 1000% harder and stop judging myself so harshly. Let's make this our credo from now on: Practice without prejudice.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Don't It Always Seem to Go That You Don't Know What You've Got 'Til It's Gone...

Don't you hate it when your skills go and visit other people and don't want to come back? For reasons I cannot comprehend (AGAIN), I seem to have lost the ability to skate. Not just jumps and spins, but stroking and turns. I usually blame it on a lack of practice, but I've been practicing more these days and yet, my skills are still AWOL. I find it more and more aggravating because as I get older; it becomes more frustrating. Perhaps in my subconscious mind, I am still hearing the stinging remarks of my coach regarding my technical skills. Or maybe it's because my fellow adult skater (we skate the same session, have the same coach) is working on harder jumps even though she doesn't land the easier ones any more or better than I do. I don't know what it is, but it is bugging the heck out of me. I'm a very competitive person by nature. I've been thinking, mostly because two of my rinks are closed temporarily due to compressor issues. I've come to the conclusion that I really CAN skate... And nobody in all of Oz No wizard that there is or was Is ever going to bring me down!! ** With that in mind, I checked my finances, and well, let's just say they are stretched a bit thin. I'll skate the next two weeks, even if it's only twice. I need to practice and workout. Speaking of working out, who here LOVES spin class the way I do. I love it!! And it works wonders for me. Unfortunately, a gym membership isn't in the cards right now, but perhaps in the near future. Right now, I'm working out at home and at work, alone. Please don't tell my sister/roommate, but I hate working out with the former dancer. She's more flexible, in much better shape, and doesn't have as many pain issues to deal with. But don't tell her, she seems to think I enjoy it; but I don't. Plus, she's pushy. So enough about that. I'll be on the ice one day this week and report back to you all. Keep your fingers crossed that my skills will return. I think it has everything to do with core strength. On a totally different note, I have just been informed that the place where I park my car, 8 1/2 blocks from my home, is being torn down to put up a house. The lyric is "pave paradise, put up a parking lot" not bulldoze a parking lot, put up a house. Isn't that backwards? I'm all for progress and more people living in house, but who ever heard of parking lot to home? And I should mention, it's not a big parking lot either; it holds maybe 18 cars. Odd. **Defying Gravity from Wicked by Stephen Schwartz

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On the Wheels of a Dream

This afternoon, I received a tearful phone call from my non-roommate sister. A dear friend of hers and an acquaintance of mine was found dead in his home this morning. He was in his mid-40s and as far as we knew, in perfect health. The cause of death is unknown at this time, but it really doesn't matter. A vibrant, witty, funny man has left our lives and we are in shock. I've mentioned this for one reason only: life is short. Do what you want, as long as you don't hurt anyone. Stay healthy, happy and whole. Kiss the man or woman. Dance like no one's looking because those who are, don't get it anyway. Sing at the top of your lungs. Wear the fancy shoes. Buy that one over-priced drink in that trendy bar and sip it all night while you look at handsome men. Dye your hair, cut your hair, shave you head or wear extensions if you always wanted long hair; whichever you prefer. Wear the pink skating dress, the over-the-boot tights and the flower in your hair. Don't do something because you don't want to upset your friend, but you end up miserable (dog sitting, anyone?). Don't let a coach convince you that you can't because he/she can't see it. You just do it. Don't let any ex husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, whatever tell you that you're not enough. THEY weren't enough for you. Everyone has said goodbye to a lot of people; I am not special in this. Both parents, one so many years ago, I was a kid. God-parents, grandparents I never knew, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers... the list is never-ending. Someone once wrote "nobody gets out of this alive" meaning life. Yes, they were correct (I don't remember who said it, if you do, please tell me), but the QUALITY of you life is just as important as the length. Don't live thinking "woulda-coulda-shoulda". Just DO! My sister's friend was an actor at one time in his life, then a director/producer. I think he would appreciate these lyrics from a show he once did... "Beyond that road, Beyond this lifetime That care full of hope Will always gleam! With the promise of happiness And the freedom he'll live to know. He'll travel with head held high, Just as far as his heart can go And he will ride- Our son will ride- On the wheels of a dream." Wheels of a Dream from Ragtime. Music and lyrics by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens. Rest in Peace "Richard".

Monday, June 10, 2013

Two Steps Forward, Five Steps Back

Just when you thought it was safe to go into the water. The club had an end of year party, which for once, I decided to attend. Any member who medaled at a major competition was invited to do an exhibition. Needless to say, I announced and did not skate a program. I witnessed some wonderful skating and at least two artistic programs I'm still trying to figure out. During the party afterwards, I met up with my coach. I briefly mentioned that a local rink is holding a competition in August and I'd like to do it. I figured, the more I'm out there, the better it is for me. My coach said that was a good idea, and then asked if there was a showcase or artistic competition because a technical competition wouldn't be a good idea because I wouldn't do well in a technical Adult Silver Ladies competition. Wow. In a week I went from being champ to chump. Once again, I was speechless. I believe I mumbled something like "I'll see" and walked away, hurt. Am I that bad? Why waste my time then? Years ago, I played the flute. I loved playing the flute and would practice as much as I could. I auditioned for colleges with my flute in hopes of being a "pit musician" on a Broadway show. While in college, as an un-official music major (because the chair of the department had to approve your major), I was told by my college music professor that I simply would never be a music major at this school, much less a pit musician because I was just not that good. I could practice forever, but I just wasn't good. It was a bitter pill to swallow, but I did. I put my flute down and never picked it up again. If my skating is that bad, I wish my coach would tell me to just stop, put my skates down and return to tennis or softball (or even lacrosse). If I'm that bad, stop giving me hope and then dashing it against the boards. I'm pretty tough; I can take it. Instead, I'll spend the three weeks I have to decide about the competition to skate as much as I can. That will be hard, as I am dog sitting. If a friend (with dogs) asks if you like dogs, just say no. If not, you will be spending 2 weeks watching someone's dogs (and 15 birds) in their house while your own life is left in the "pause" position. The only pluses: It's 20 minutes from work and not far from my Friday night rink. That last one is a plus AND a minus. I will never get used to skaters throwing spins in all over the rink. I couldn't find a show lyric to fit this situation. Maybe because most musicals are supposed to make you feel uplifted, not like you've been kicked in the back pocket.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Maybe This Time

Competition. It's a love/hate relationship. Love the idea of skating on the ice alone. Hate the idea of people watching and judging me. I get so nervous, it can really be an unpleasant experience. While I no longer want to puke, I do usually want to run from the rink, screaming. The costumes are beautiful in competition. Usually, mine is something I've thrown together, thanks to my weight. I must admit I am tired of that. If you've ever had a weight problem, you know what I'm talking about. I have approximately eight competition dresses, only two of which I've ever worn in competition; both black. I have two white skating dresses; I wore one in an exhibition. I thought I looked cute; then I saw the pictures. Who knew those hippos from Fantasia could skate? Sorry; self-deprecating humor again. Skating in front of people, even practice, makes me uncomfortable. It's silly that I even get nervous practicing and choreographing a program. What really makes it silly is that I spent the first part of my life doing theatre. So I signed up for this local competition, mostly to try to calm my nerves. This hasn't been the best season for me. Illness and injuries and self-doubt and of course, the recent vote of no-confidence, left me with little to look forward to. All of my dresses were too small; I looked like I was trying to squeeze into someone else's clothes. But I paid my money and went with the attitude of "why not"? Along with my sister/roommate, I created a dress to wear by sewing material onto a leotard and then wearing an over-dress. It hid the lumps and bumps, but couldn't deny the fact that I am fat. On video, really fat. I arrived at the rink to skate part of the public session to warm up. Are people really that crazy on public sessions, or was everyone drinking spiked koolade? A little boy in a helmet skated up behind me, yelled something and skated at me as though I was supposed to help him stop. No, sorry; I don't play that game. My competitor is a friend of mine; we've known each other for years. Lately, we've ended up being the only two in our category and she usually wins. This was the same Artistic competition that we've been doing for the last four or five years. She wins and ends up in the Artistic Adult Run-off. Names were announced to take the ice for warm-up. Several names. The only skaters waiting to go on the ice was my friend and me. Three other skaters for two other categories scratched. I figured worse case scenario, I would get a silver medal. I stoked around the ice with "Beth", my friend, trying to get my feet underneath me and to slow down my breathing. Then it happened. I didn't see it, I only saw the aftermath. Beth skated across something on the ice and fell. Me being me, I skated to her when she didn't get up right away to ask if she was okay. She said yes, my coach was screaming at me to warm up and I continued skating. Minutes later, I noticed I was the only person skating; Beth had stopped. Seems she broke her wrist on that fall and although she wanted to continue, her coach and my coach told her not to. Suddenly I had no competition. I wish I could say I skated beautifully, but I didn't. I missed a jump and sort-of sat down on another. In the end, I won. It was bittersweet, not only because Beth broke her wrist, but because I didn't feel that I skated my best. But, as my family told me, a win is a win. So, I won. It was a good thing because Amy said I tried hard and that if I practiced more I would be able to do more, which is true. I also won the run-off, which they had the option of eliminating, but they didn't, so now I have a trophy. What have I learned? 1. I need to prepare better. 2. I need to lose weight. 3. I need to practice whether people are staring at me or not. My sister brought the DVD for me and when I've had some alcohol, I will watch it. For now, I'm looking into other competitions to keep myself sharp. On another note; the summer schedule. There was only one session I didn't think I could skate due to location and work. Wouldn't you know, that's the session my coach and the other adult skater thought would be perfect for lesson time? Give me strength. "Not a loser anymore Like the last time And the time before..." ** **Maybe This Time from Cabaret by John Kander and Fred Ebb.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I'm Still Here

This is an open letter to all children, tweens, teens, young adults who skate freestyle sessions with adults; well really, me. Dear Kid: I see you eyeballing me strangely as I come into the rink without a child in tow. I can hear the whispers and the giggles as I warm up for twenty minutes before putting on my skates. I know I'm probably the same age as your parents. And I know you're going to do everything in your power to cut me off and then laugh at my frustration. But guess what? I don't care because I'm still here. That look you're giving me? If you keep doing that, your face will freeze that way. You're sucking your teeth every time I pass? Go right ahead; it does nothing for your braces. That eye roll, child I perfected it twenty years ago. I can roll my eyes so well, people in other states can see it. I can also do the neck thing so well, I can make you cry. You think it's funny to do a sit spin right where I'm about to land a jump. Kid, I out weigh you and I'm not above using you as a cushion. You see me step into a camel and decide that you're going to do figure loops there? I have a 32 inch inseam and I'm not afraid to use it. You think skating closely to me will frighten me? Don't make me laugh. I have walked into the middle of a drug bust while buying shoes; I have worked in a store that was held up by shotgun; I have been mugged. I fell off the subway platform and I walked home across the 59th Street Bridge on 9/11 in heels. Your childish behavior does not frighten me; it makes me more determined. Long after your parents have decided to no longer pay for your skating; I'll be here. After you've decided to quit because you now want to play Lacrosse; I'll be here. When you meet that person that you can't stand to be without and have to spend Friday evenings with him/her thus eliminating Friday night or Saturday morning skating; I'll be here. I know how much this costs, financially, emotionally and physically. The only two things that will keep me off the ice are money and debilitating injury and in both cases, I'll probably find some way to get back on the ice. So, save your looks for your peers; I do not care. Soon, you'll be at camp, out of my way and off of my sessions; I can't wait. In the meantime, allow me to remind you that, when you go off to slay your own personal dragons, leaving the ice behind, I will still be here. "Good times and bum times, I've seen 'em all And, my dear, I'm still here. Plush velvet sometimes Sometimes just pretzels and beer, but I'm here I've run the gamut A to Z Three cheers and dammit, C'est la vie I got through all of last year, and I'm here Lord knows at least I was there, and I'm here Look who's here. I'm still here!" ** **I'm Still Here from Follies, music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer Sun

I think I was still ticked off at my coach's comments because on Saturday, I couldn't do anything. It probably didn't help that the session was over-crowded and crazy, with some of the absolutely rudest children I have ever had the misfortune to skate with. Nope, it was bad, very bad. And I didn't help by refusing to do my program. What makes it so bad is that I skated on Friday night in Long Island and everything went really, really well. Friday nights in Long Island is a mis-mash of skating levels and heights. There's a 4 year old who is so tiny, I didn't see her at all until she ran into me. I looked so far down, my neck cracked. She mumbled something that might have been "sorry" (I don't speak kid) and skated off. Whatever. I had more important things to think about. So, I did my program and skated it well. I was satisfied, sore and a bit hungry. However on Saturday morning, none of that showed up. I couldn't do a waltz jump without tripping over my feet. Maybe I was due to a lack of sleep, or because I have to skate with my mouth guard in because I grind my teeth while skating, either way, nothing worked. Amy didn't seem too thrilled; she may be tired of me and my injuries and my lack of faster progress. She wouldn't be the first coach to want to drop me because I don't progress faster; she probably won't be the last. There is another adult skater that Amy is trying to schedule time with and I suggested one of the other rinks. Given the task of compiling a schedule of possible freestyle sessions, I was pleasantly surprised to see that there are quite a few this spring/summer. I did a dance. If all goes as planned, I will be skating Tuesday - Saturday. That hasn't happened in years. And the last time that happened, when I competed, I did really well. I didn't win, but I came in 5th out of 16 and as far as I'm concerned, that's a "paper" medal. You know, gold, silver, bronze, pewter, paper. I'm excited. "Stand well back - I'm comin' through - Nothing can stop me now! Watch out, world - I'm warning you - Nothing can stop me now!.... I'll make all my dreams come true Before my final bow! How I'll do it, who can say? But I know I will someday. Watch out, world - I'm on my way - Nothing can stop me now! I shall find success today - Nothing can stop me now! Yesterday was yesterday - Nothing can stop me now! Now I know the future is mine to have I'm hereby makin' a vow! From now on I'm gonna begin again - Stick out my chin again - Go in and win again! Get you gone, you sky of grey! Farewell, you furrowed brow! Now my future's crystal clear! No more woe for me to fear! I'm gonna stand this world upon its ear - And I'll succeed somehow!... Nothing can stop me now" Above lyrics from The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Self Deprecating Humor

I am guilty of self deprecating humor. It usually means three things: 1. I'm going to say it before you do so I have that power. 2. I'm angry as all get out and I'm trying not to curse you out and or pimp slap you. 3. You have really, really disappointed me. On Sunday, I had a lesson with Amy where we went over my program over and over and over again. You would think after the third run-through, the other skaters would realize that the 5'6 1/4 overweight lefty adult female skater's program starts with her traveling backwards. Practicing your backspin or your figure loops on the red line when I'm heading backwards at you is probably not the smartest thing in the world. Sorry Lauren; didn't mean to knock you down... twice. After the fourth or fifth run-through, Amy asked me about my dress for the competition. I told her I had something and she suggested that I wear it on Saturday's freestyle. Ah... no. She asked me what it looked like and I said, "It's black." For some unknown reason, several coaches were standing around and Amy asked if it was sparkly. I replied, "Yeah, it has some sparkles on it. It doesn't really matter; I'm the fat girl in the black dress. I'm always the fat girl in a black dress; I only have black dresses. I can't lose 60 pounds before the competition, so I'll be in a black dress, wearing a support garment." The coaches found it funny, and I tried to just laugh it off, but I know the truth. I AM the fat girl in the black dress. I've been fat so long, I don't remember what it feels like not to be fat. For the record, I hate it. I used to be really, really fit and pretty darn skinny. I'm not even sure when it changed, but it was gradual. I went from a size 9 to a size 14 seemingly overnight. It really sucks. Being ice monitor on Sunday (free ice, that's the only reason) usually means I'm going to get frustrated. When trying to explain a financial issue for the fifth time didn't clarify it, I got annoyed. The session had 20 minutes left and I still wasn't on the ice. The amount in question: $6.00. I just wanted to get on the ice; I had a lesson in 30 minutes. I said. "Why don't I just give you the $6.00 so I can get on the ice and disappoint a whole bunch of people who think I'm Debi Thomas until they actually see my awful skating." The other people at the table thought that was funny, but in truth, I just wanted it to end. Immediately. I missed the first session entirely. Prior to gaining a tween, I was a pretty good skater. I had a cheated axel, all of my single jumps and the world's slowest backspin. Between injuries, gaining weight, running out of money and not having a positive coach, I lost a lot of those skills. I went from skating 4 times a week to once a week and naturally, my skills suffered. Why do I say this? Because I had mentioned to Amy that I wanted to do Easterns as they have a Non-Qualifying competition for Silver. She asked if I wanted to do Bronze. Nope, I wanted to do Silver. She asked me if I watched Silver Ladies on Ice Network, because those women were really, really good and I would never get to that level. They were confident and moved quickly and had all of their skills solidly. I wasn't going to ever medal in Silver Ladies. I'll never be that good. I probably wouldn't beat the only other person in my category in the competition that's next month. Was I prepared to come in last? I smiled and said, "I'm used to coming in last; been doing it for years. There's a special medal for those of us who permanently suck." Everyone in earshot laughed and I continued smiling. In truth, I was crushed. And incredibly disappointed. This was my coach who just gave me a vote of no-confidence. She didn't believe I had or would ever have the skills to participate in Silver Ladies. That explains a lot, like why I'm not working on harder elements when other skaters are working on harder jumps. I won't mention that some of those skaters (all adults) can't do some of the elements I can do, but I'm stuck constantly doing the same thing, while they keep on going. If you tell me I can't do something, I will break my neck trying to prove you wrong; it's a family trait. I'm going to work as hard as possible to improve, lose weight, skate faster so no one will laugh at me again. And I can leave the self-deprecating humor at home, forever. Sunday's frustration caused the TMJ to return. Sadly, neither my dentist nor my doctor gives muscle relaxers. Dang! Where are those advocates of better living through chemistry when you need them? I'm through accepting limits 'cause someone says they're so Some things I cannot change But till I try, I'll never know! Too long I've been afraid of Losing love I guess I've lost Well, if that's love It comes at much too high a cost! I'd sooner buy Defying gravity Kiss me goodbye I'm defying gravity And you can't pull me down: And nobody in all of Oz No Wizard that there is or was Is ever gonna bring me down! ** Just watch me. ** Defying Gravity from Wicked

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Pain and Boas

I have just received a diagnosis of TMJ, which explains the excuciating pain on the left side of my face. It is incredibly painful, and that comes from a woman with chronic pain. It also makes me dizzy. A mouth guard has been molded and ordered for me. I have been sleeping with one I purchased at a local drug store. Who knew I had the skills to take it out of my mouth without even waking up! I can add this to my list of little known skills, along with: changing the TV channel while asleep; answering a non-ringing telephone while asleep and then being annoyed that someone called; cursing someone out in American Sign Language while smiling in their face because they have no idea what I just said; falling asleep during conference calls with my eyes open. The only really useful skill is the last one. Who invented conference calls anyway? My TMJ is bad, really bad. It makes my ear hurt to the whimpering point. Adults should never have ear aches; they are painful. And most adults have no sympathy for you; especially if they have kids because they went through this ear ache pain with their kids. Regardless, this TMJ issue has prevented me from attending the last reunion of my elementary school. It is a Catholic school and it's closing. I haven't seen these people (with the exception of one woman who I am still very good friends with) since I was 12 years old. I am sure that this unmarried, childless, no prospects on the horizon, back in school grown-ass woman has nothing in common with these people who are simply fuzzy memories in my head. My friend is going with her husband. I asked her to tell me all about it. I would attend, but when my ear and mouth start to throb... well, let's just say it's not very pretty. Now that Adult Nationals are over, I have had time to think about my goals for the next skating season. My goals are occasionally more than I can accomplish given the time constraints and financial issues. However, I am sitting thinking about them. I really am determined to pass my Silver tests this year; yes THIS year. I will have to drag my behind to the rink more often. Since I have no social life to speak of really, it shouldn't be that difficult. (My social life is really just Deaf Events I attend. I have recently discovered that I prefer the company of people who know American Sign Language to those who do not.) With that in mind, during a rare practice, I managed to remember to over twist into back three turns. It worked. Duh! Now my back inside three turns are back to normal. I sometimes wonder how I did them before without thinking about it. I used to do a lot of things without thinking about it; like driving a stick shift. I signed up for a competition on June 2nd. Same competition (and currently ONLY competition) I've done before. It's me and one other woman, a friend, against one another in an artistic program. She out-jumps me and wins, every stinking year. And while it sucks, I refuse to dwell on it. "It's gotta happen, happen sometime. Maybe this time, maybe this time I'll win"* As you know, I've struggled with my weight for years. It all came to a head when I tried on a competition dress I ordered two years ago and never wore. Pulling on an all-in-one to counter-balance my fat, I pulled the dress on. Suddenly, I couldn't breathe. I felt a gripping pain in my abdominal area similar to what I imagine being attacked by a boa constrictor feels like. I struggled to get the dress and the support garment off, all the time alternating between saying, "I can't breathe" and "What the hell??" and laughing. It's always good to laugh at yourself. When I finally got both torture devices off, I realized two things: 1. I was fat. 2. I had nothing to wear for this competition. Without enough time to drop 60 pounds before June 2nd, and dealing with the intense pain the TMJ brought me, I fell back into an old habit: I stopped eating. It was okay, really, since my mouth and face hurt so much that chewing was too painful to think about. As a result, I lost six pounds. I should plan better. Make a list, check it twice, find the foods that are naughty or nice. And workout more. It's funny because I love to workout. But, I've dropped my gym membership in an effort to save money and I live in an apartment with really thin floors. I still workout during lunch, when I don't have a conference call, but I feel something is missing. If you can help me figure it out, I'd appreciate it. Now I'm off to buy something that flows to wear for the competition. And maybe burn that all-in-one... *Song: Maybe This Time from Cabaret.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Like a Handprint On My Heart

Some of you recall a post I made about "Sebastian" almost two years ago. This post is about him and not skating. So, if you just wanted to read about skating, you may want to skip this one. Every week, I anxiously awaited my Saturday afternoon class because I knew I would see Sebastian and learn so much in those 2 1/2 hours. Not only would I learn new signs, classifiers or idioms, but about life and experiences and culture. Heck, I would learn about everything. I would leave class, reluctantly, wanting to still drink from the endless fountain of his knowledge, allowing the experiences to wash over me like the water from a lake on a warm summer's day. I loved going to his class because Sebastian is such a wonderful man. So, you can imagine my shock and sadness when I learned, via Youtube, that Sebastian was moving away. He wasn't just leaving the school, or New York; he was leaving me. I cried uncontrollably for several days. I wasn't losing a teacher; there are plenty of great teachers out there, Sebastian being one of the best. No, I was losing a friend. When I first met Sebastian, he was my ASL Level 5 instructor and I didn't like him one bit. He made me... no, he demanded that I work harder. He expected the students in the class to be at a certain level and I'm ashamed to say, we weren't. No one in my class ever practiced. I think I came the closest, only because I was also taking classes at another school. Still, it wasn't good enough. I could see the frustration in his eyes when a woman in my class didn't remember the sign for "family" (FYI, you learn that sign in Level 1). He signed faster than anyone could understand, his fingerspelling was like sonic jet taking off and he's left handed. So I went home and studied. I watched Youtube videos of native signers. I watched his Youtube videos and read his blog so I might understand him a bit more. I practiced while driving to work and at work, talking to myself and making a list of vocabulary words. Every free minute not spent driving, working or skating was spent studying and practicing. The second week, he made me laugh and I was hooked. Sebastian would take the summer off to backpack, explore and do all the things this city girl couldn't understand doing. I would read his blog about his adventures and be magically transported to wherever he was, sitting next to him, experiencing the same things. I waited in anticipation the next entry and vowed to read only one per day to allow the experience to last. When the last entry was written, I started all over again to re-live the adventure. An adventure that sounded almost foreign to this native New Yorker. Sleep outside? In a sleeping bag? In a tent? Without indoor plumbing? I couldn't do it; I went camping twice and the campsite was over-run by caterpillars. I was 15; I never went camping again. But to Sebastian, it was second nature. Upon his return, he remembered me (I like to say that I am hard to forget, but that isn't true). Again he was my instructor and again I anticipated our weekly chats. I didn't care that there were others in the class whose signing I didn't understand at all, or who seemed to be totally lost in the class. As far as I was concerned, the only important person in class was Sebastian. And me. We would sometimes hang out after class. I don't know if it was because I was so serious about ASL, or because I was sort-of interesting, but I like to think it was around that time that we became friends. I invited him for Thanksgiving, if his original plans fell though. I must mention I never invite anyone over to my house. I have friends whom I've known for ten years who have never been invited over. Sebastian was and is always invited to come over to my home. At any time, day or night. We would talk about so many things; things I didn't mention to most people because I didn't think they would be interested. But mostly, I wanted Sebastian to take lead of the conversation. He could read the dictionary to me and I would be captivated. He is such a wonderfully fascinating man, and not bad on the eyes either. The Youtube video took me by surprise. I was still sick with the tail end of the flu when I couldn't sleep and watched the video. I felt like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. I knew I had a heart, because it was breaking. I was being set adrift without a paddle to return me to shore. Was he ill? Was his family all right? Why would anyone move out of New York? Only a New Yorker would ask that question. 49 other states and a New Yorker believes New York is the center of everything. As Rose Hovick says in Gypsy, "New York is the center of New York." I can almost understand moving out of my hometown, but Sebastian was moving all the way to the west coast. If you know any native New Yorkers, the west coast is another country to us. And he was leaving soon. The rug was pulled from under me. The sweet nectar of friendship and knowledge snatched from my lips before I had the opportunity to enjoy the taste. I couldn't think or even breathe. All I did was mourn the loss of a friend. No, Sebastian isn't dying; thank God. He's just moving on with his life in another state. A state so far away that there's a different time zone. A state so far that returning to New York is a major event. By leaving New York behind, he was leaving me behind too. There have been parties celebrating the man who brought so much to so many, both in the Deaf community and the hearing community. I attended these parties and tried so desperately not to cry. I did not succeed. My days with my favorite teacher and friend have come to a close. "I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend." And while I am not Red and Sebastian is not Andy from The Shawshank Redemption, the sentiment remains the same. I guess I just miss my friend. Knowing Sebastian has made me want more. I want to try more, be a better signer, a better skater, a healthier person, a better person. I want to just be better. All of that comes from knowing one man who touched my heart. He will always be with me "like a handprint on my heart". I will leave you with these words from the song "For Good" from the musical Wicked, written by Stephen Schwartz: I've heard it said That people come into our lives for a reason Bringing something we must learn And we are led To those who help us most to grow If we let them And we help them in return Well, I don't know if I believe that's true But I know I'm who I am today Because I knew you... Like a comet pulled from orbit As it passes a sun Like a stream that meets a boulder Halfway through the wood Who can say if I've been changed for the better? I do believe I have been Changed for the better Because I knew you... I have been changed for good... Thank you, my friend.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thank You, Henry Ford

Have you ever noticed that just when things are going in the right direction, someone tosses a banana on the ground and hides until you slip on it? There you are, one foot on the peel, the other up in the air, struggling to stay on one foot, trying not to look like a complete idiot (when looking like a partial idiot will do fine, thank you)when you hear the jokester laughing in the bushes. What do you do? Do you throw the peel and everything else at said joker? Or do you try to upright yourself and continue with your day? I am trying the higher road. The "check engine" light came on in my car on my way to work on Wednesday. Rather than risk it, as was suggested by my boss, I returned the car to her parking spot and took the Long Island Railroad. Round trip is $15.25. Ouch. I can fill my tank on $35.00. I decided to take the bus instead. It's cheaper (a 7 day MetroCard for the bus and subway is $30.00) and I have a few more options than the 2 trains that will get me to work and/or home. For the past 2 days, I have been getting up at 5:15am and leaving home at 6:30 to take 2 subways to walk to the bus terminal (5 blocks) to get on 2 buses. With all of that, I arrive at work at 8:45am. Yes, that's a 2 1/4 hour commute for a location 21 miles away. Don't you just love public transportation? As a result, I am unable to get to the rink to practice. This was quite obvious when on Wednesday I was unable to do ANYTHING. When I say anything, I mean anything. Stroking seemed off. My feet hurt, my shoulder hurt. I couldn't balance and nearly fell standing stock still. I couldn't do the simpliest of jumps. My program, such as it is, looked like crap. It is an artistic program, but I really think there should be JUMPS in the darn thing. Amy disagrees. I have done this competition 2 or 3 other times and come in last each and every time. Why? There are NOT ENOUGH jumps in the program. It's that simple. I can be artistic and flounce around until the cows come home, but jumps are what gets you a first place finish. With absolutely nothing working right, I was taught the Dutch Waltz. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate footwork? I've been reading other people's blogs. I know I shouldn't compare myself to anyone, including myself in the past, but everyone seems to be improving while I'm going backwards. It's as exhausting as my commute. I was thinking of video taping myself, but I fear I will just quit the sport all together. It's times like this that I miss the two friends I had who skated: one quit the sport all totally and the other stopped speaking to me. In truth, they have both stopped speaking to me. I mentioned to a skater/coach that my skills were deteriorating. She looked at me blankly for several seconds. I asked her how her family was doing and she proceeded to talk for twenty minutes about her husband and their plans. Wow. Never knew I was that dull or that my skills were that bad in the first place. I am getting votes of "no confidence" on all sides of the table. Not sure if I'll do that competition; it depends on a lot of thing. Mostly time and money. And skills. If you see some lefty jumps just hanging around, looking all sneaky like they're hiding, send them back to me please.

Monday, March 11, 2013

In Sickness and In Health

I've had the flu for three weeks. Just when I thought I was better, it added a gastrointestinal portion that also knocked me off my feet. Being the stubborn fool that I am, I skated a few times with this problem. Funny how many colors are on the ice when you start to feel woozy. Everybody starts spinning, but nobody is moving. My sister/roommate has had it worse. Let's just say many a meal has made a repeat appearance in this apartment. Uggh!

Friday, February 8, 2013


NYC is supposed to get hit with a massive snow storm. According to NY1 (a local TV channel), the snow will start at 7:00am. My job took that information and ran with it, closing the office at noon. It is now 3:30pm and it still hasn't started snowing. Insert a photo of me shrugging here. I had two things planned for this afternoon: either a freestyle session or an echocardiogram. Both have been canceled. But it isn't snowing. I should get that echocardiogram; I've been having odd chest pains for over a month. Sometimes they make me lightheaded. Most of the time, they just make me have to sit down. I can't catch my breath, and I feel as though I'm about to pass out. Yeah, I guess should have that test done. But it cuts into my skating time in Long Island!!!!! Not today. The weather channel is still saying that it will be a major snow storm. It's raining here; freezing rain, but rain just the same. Maybe next Friday... I'll go have that test. Why is my body falling apart? Wonder if it's related to my weight. Is everything related to my weight?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


There's an old Broadway (and movie) musical titled "The Unsinkable Molly Brown", about Margaret (no one ever called her "Molly") Brown and how she survived poverty, not being well educated and The Titanic. She was "unsinkable" in both her spirit and her luck. I'm going to remember that unsinkable attitude. Today, after much debate and creative accounting, I have to say goodbye to my Wednesday night session. My 8 session card ended last week, and I struggled to try to find a way to pay the outrageous fee for another 8 session card. Sadly, I can't. Between sign language classes and University classes, there just wasn't enough left over to justify paying over $300 for an 8 session card. That means the sessions are $39 each. I couldn't do it. So, with a heavy heart, I contacted my wonderful coach and told her that I couldn't return for Wednesdays, but would indeed be there on Saturdays. I had to leave a message as she wasn't available. I don't know how she feels about it. I understand that real estate in NYC is incredibly expensive, but a $39 session? Out in Long Island, for the amount of an 8 session card, I can purchase two 10 session cards. While I wouldn't have Amy with me, I'd have the opportunity to practice. That is, if it doesn't snow. I hate driving in the snow. I used to love it, but now that my car is so much lighter, I feel that I will be lifted up off the highway and set adrift into the eastern shore. Back to skating. I'm disappointed, mostly because things were finally starting to click; both on the ice and in my left knee. My knee doesn't hurt when I skate, only when I walk. Or stand. The Sunday skating club (which I am still substitute monitoring for) has an exhibition at the end of the season and I was so hoping to be able to participate. You see, there are some people who don't think I can actually skate. These are mostly parents. Non-skating parents. Because the Saturday session is so incredibly crowded, I'm not sure I'll be able to practice anything other than MIF. I can try. I would like to say thank you to all of you who read this, although, I wish you'd write back from time to time. It makes me feel as though you stumbled onto here by accident and can't figure out how to get off the page. I have a mental picture, very similar to a cat accidentally falling into a tub of water. Both you and the cat are surprised and shocked and can't get out of it soon enough. It's a funny picture. Wish rinks had more public sessions, but they seem to have gone the way of the horse-drawn wagon. The only ones are in the middle of the afternoon and I think my boss would frown on me saying, "See you in two hours; I gotta skate!" Or they're on Friday evenings when teenagers on dates go skating in pants that are either too tight or too loose and they fall down a lot. The teens, not the pants. This will all work out. I used to only skate once a week and somehow managed to keep my skills, so it's not like it's the end of the world. Just the end of Wednesday nights.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Knee Bone Connected to the Shin Bone....

I know I'm fat; my body does not have to remind me by hurting. Lately, my left knee feels as though someone has taken the kneecap and given it a proper twist. If I hold the knee cap, I can bend it to stand without pain shooting through it. Makes for some interesting subway trips. People look at me strangely when I grab my knee in order to bend it to stand. On a positive note; they do leave me alone. Unfortunately, it's also my landing knee. It only hurts when I keep it in the same position for long periods of time: driving, working, etc. However, I have recently begun putting an ice pack on my knee while I'm working and it hurts a lot less. YAY!!!! Saturday's lesson was interesting in the fact that I got angry at a kid who screamed at me (I really was trying to get out of her way, but that odd change of edge into a jump just caught me by surprise) and landed a jump out of sheer annoyance. I didn't expect to still come across kids who resented adults on free style sessions. This particular little darling only screamed (and yes, I do mean screamed) at the three adults on the session. All of us were in lesson and we were trying to figure out where she was going. I understand she was doing her program, but there seemed to be no rhyme or reason behind the movements. She also has a really bad "flutz" jump. The resulting anger caused me to be successful, although slow, performing the Silver test mohawk MIF, and the forward outside 3 turns. YAY!!! I suppose that sudden surge of success caused me to jump without caution. It also helped that I am no longer performing a loop jump from the dreaded left forward inside 3 turn. YES!!! Mohawks are my friend. Although I land loops from the inside 3 turn, I find that if one thing is off, the jump sort of looks like I hicupped. But the mohawk allows me to ride the edge longer and what a lovely ride it is! The skating club has decided to extend the sessions on Wednesday night until April. I don't know if that's the beginning of April or the end of April. No one has updated the website. It'll all workout in the end. On a non-skating note: I spend a lot of time using my ASL (American Sign Language). So much time that recently, I could not think of the verbal words to describe the barametric pressure and how it effects my sinuses. I was, however, able to sign it without thinking about it. That's good and bad at the same time. I was an English Creative Writing major, so I need my words and forgetting them is not a good feeling. The good is that I was able to express myself in sign without thinking. The other person in the conversation didn't sign, so it meant nothing to her at all. Eventually the words came and I told her. At that point, I don't think she really cared. If it doesn't snow, I'll be on the ice on Friday. What strange weather the east coast has been having lately...

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Better Days

Maybe Musical Theatre is not your forte. Bruce Springsteen song: Better Days. Don't actually know the lyrics, but understand the sentiment. Everything makes me sick to my stomach again. I mention it here only because sometimes skating is difficult when you fear your food will make another appearance. Gave up gluten, helped a bit. Probably giving up drinking... I may cry about that one. I've been filling in as the ice monitor on Sunday due to some personal issues the current monitor is experiencing. I have no complaints; it's free ice when I do get to skate. I usually get to skate one of the two sessions; not the entire session, but at least 20 minutes. Today was one of those days. Decided to concentrate on one thing: back spins. So after stroking, all I did was back spins. Imagine my surprise when they started to improve. Yep, a positive thing. I've also decided NOT to do the competition in February. Unfortunately, the competition is on a Saturday, not a Sunday as I thought. For those of you who were paying attention, I'm in school on Saturdays and it's not worth missing a class for a program one minute and forty seconds in length. I'll do the June competition instead, no bigs. Better days indeed!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Second skate of the new year. I apologize a lot; more than the average person. It's an annoying habit I need to break. I apologize to Amy when my lesson isn't going as well as I think it should. What I really need to do is turn my brain off. Having decided to compete in a February competition means having to practice my program and accept the fact that people will be watching me. That's not easy, and it should be. I come from a theatrical family a was in the business called show for several years. But I left show business, for various reasons, and now have a hard time dealing with people watching me. However,I am happy to say it is only with skating. If I had that problem with sign language, I could never become an interpreter. Going on... Because the competition is an artistic event, jumps are not as necessary. Good. Not that my jumps are horrible, they just aren't as strong as I prefer. So, there's a lot of footwork in this program, and graceful movements. I excel at graceful movements. What I am really struggling with are transitions. You know: mohawks, brackets, three turns. I can do them UNTIL you put them in a program, then my feet become all thumbs an my legs get all tangled up. When you have a 32 inch inseam, it makes for a very amusing picture. Thus explains why my last two lesson have been all about transitions from one move to another. Doing them over and over and over again until I get it right. Early in my skating career, I learned to do a left forward inside mohawk. I did not learn a right forward inside mohawk until much later. As a result, the right forward inside mohawk is very, very weak. If I think about it too much, I am almost paralyzed and unable to do it at all. That explains the difficulty I have experienced with the forward outside mohawks on the Silver Moves test. The left outside mohawk is almost ready to test while the right looks a mess. Will just have to keep working on them. What I can't understand is the inconsistency of my 3 turns. I came along during the last days of figures, so I did do 3 turns in figures. The 2nd figure test is all of the 3 turns, and I could do them. Now, as with so many other things, if I think about my RFI3 or my LBI3 or my LFO3, my legs get tangled up in one another, my shoulders are up to my ears, my arms are flopping around like a freshly caught salmon and my mouth is wide open. Ugggghhhhh!!!!!! And please, don't get me started on brackets. The last time I did a bracket I took down a skater and I didn't even know her. Sorry kid. I'll keep right on practicing, trying, falling and getting up. To me, skating is like breathing. It's necessary, but sometimes it really hurts and sometimes something just doesn't smell right. I leave you with a quote from the musical 1776 (if you get the chance to see it on TCM, please do. It's a history lesson to music.) "Is anybody there? Does anybody care?"