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