Friday, December 22, 2017

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays!!!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Ice Monitoring

I don't recall exactly when I began ice monitoring. I've checked my older blog entries and I'm still not sure. I remember why I started; it was lack of funds and a desire to still skate. Now I'm not quite sure why I keep doing it. Am I having fun?
Most of the parents I deal with are polite and do as they are asked. A hand of parents are idiots, but you can find idiots anywhere. There are simple rules when skating a club session, any club session. Rule #1: PAY FIRST. It's that simple, cash, check - no credit cards please, whatever. But pay first. Rule #2: Check in. No one wants to look at a sign-in sheet, see 7 names and walk out to the ice and see 22 skaters. You then spend up to 10 minutes trying to figure out who is on the ice. Is that Brenda? Or Melissa? Or Bethany? Those ponytail girls all look the same when they're moving. Rule #3: Don't abuse the ice monitor. Unless that person works for the rink, the ice monitor on a club session is a volunteer. And from experience, I can state that 99% of skating parents are not willing to show up every single week and put up with the nonsense that is ice monitoring. Rule #4: Remember, it's not the ice monitor's fault if: 1) the music box doesn't work; 2) the Zamboni didn't do a good job; 3) the Zamboni is late; 4) the price of the session increases; 5) you, your student or your child is pulled off the ice for not adhering to rules 1 & 2.
Well, I'm off my soapbox. Hope this has given you a thought or two about the ice monitor at your session. If he or she is a skater, you can bet they have less ice time than you do. If he or she is a parent, they probably have enough crap to deal with without you adding to it. So, next time you see your local ice monitor, stop, pay, check in, don't complain and smile and say, "Thank you." Enjoy your week.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Pre-Bronze Free Dance

At the suggestion of my coach and in an attempt to get me to compete at Easterns, I now have a Pre-Bronze free dance program. What can I say? I have a pretty hard time remembering footwork and a dance is ALL footwork. It does take me out of my comfort zone because it's all footwork with changes in diirection and I must keep in time with the music. Since I picked the music myself, I can't complain about it. Sexy Silk. If you saw the movie Easy A, it plays in the background. As you have probably guessed, I have to be sexy. I find it almost impossible to feel or be sexy at the weight I'm currently at. I also have a hard time dealing with people watching me practice the program when it plays over the loudspeaker at the rink. What have I gotten myself into? I'm still trying to find out if I have to actually take the Pre-Bronze dances first (I only know the Dutch Waltz and Matt, the coach who was teaching them to me this past summer always had to tell me what the next step was. He also had to tell me to relax my face because it was in a constant panic.) Having to take the dances first might toss a spanner into the works since I don't see Matt any longer and Amy can't take me through the dances.
What to do? What to do? I've haven't really had a lot of ice time, except the Sunday session that I ice monitor on. Skating once a week does not a passsed take make. And let's not forget that I really, really, really want to take my Silver MIF. I'd also like to pass my Silver MIF and freestyle. We've been working on this bronze free dance so much (the footwork sequence was cheographed BEFORE I picked the music, so we just had to make it work) that I haven't had a lesson where I jumped in quite a while. As a result, I've just been working on jumps, spins and the Silver MIF on my own. I wish I could say that they are improving, but I'm not quite sure. My right forward inside three turns are so hit and miss, really mostly miss, that I'm at a loss as to how to fix it. Maybe now that the freedance is finished, during my next lesson after running it a few times, we can work on my jumps, spins and those MIF elements that still give me grief. I'd like to know who thought up the outside mohawk. Those of us who are not naturally turned out have some difficulty hitting that outside mohawk. Add to the problem, my right outside mohawk is pretty bad and you can see my problem. I'm hoping the judges won't notice that the edges aren't absolutely perfect when I take that test. However, that's not something I have to focus on at this particular second. Right now, it's the Bronze (or Pre-Bronze, I forget) free dance to Sexy Silk. And the need to drop enough weight that I don't feel like the hippos in Fantasia. Look it up; it's worth watching.
UPDATE: I have reached out to the USFSA and it seems that I would have to take AND PASS my Preliminary AND Bronze dances. Soooo..... guess who ISN'T going to Easterns.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Just An Update

For those of you who read the post right before this one, I have an update: I emailed the president of the Great Neck Figure Skating Club, inquiring whether or not they allowed guests at their club sessions. I received a response the next day, informing me that guests were more than welcomed. I then emailed her again and told her about the woman at the rink. The club president apologized profusely, insisting that the woman I spoke to did not represent the club and that I would be more than welcomed when I came. As far as other skating is concerned, I am trudging along with my Pre-Bronze (or is it Preliminary; I have no idea) free dance. My heart really isn't in it, as I wanted to fix a few of my jumps and the entrance of my spins which has gone completely off the rails for reasons I cannot comprehend. Spinning has always come easily to me, until it didn't... This may be my coach's way of trying to motivate me. News flash: I don't work that way. Don't most adults need more encouragement, rather than negative feedback? Does that work for anyone?

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Rink

Actually when I got to the rink. And no, it wasn't funny. Since I still work in Long Island and I'm fairly close to Great Neck, I decided, why skate there? There are two evening sessions that I recently discovered, and since Great Neck isn't THAT far, I thought, why not? I put the address into my phone GPS and off I go; 7 miles down dark, twisting roads without adequate street signs. Speed limits changing from one block to the other and that odd realization that Long Island doesn't have a heck of a lot of sidewalks. I make a wrong turn, ask someone for assistance, and find my way to the rink. Several years ago, I skated at the Great Neck rink. It was on Sunday mornings and I am much better with directions when it's still light outside. However, as soon as I walked in, I remembered this rink. It was colder than any rink I'd ever skated in and it still is, in more ways than one. Seeing a woman who worked at the rink, I asked who I had to pay for the Great Neck Figure Skating Club session. First, she looked me up and down, twice. Then she pointed to the man driving the Zamboni. I nodded and said thank you, and went into the lounge area. As I was trying to navigate around the small children from the public session (which included a small boy who apparently just discovered turning around really, really fast can make you dizzy and he liked it), find a seat and warm-up my feet, that same woman came looking for me. This isn't a freestyle session, she informed me. I mentioned that it was on the schedule. Oh, well it's a freestyle session for club members only. So, you can't guest on this session, like at every other skating club? No. It's for club members only. There's a public session at 8:00. No thank you; not sticking around for that. Not giving you my money. And I left. Great Neck doesn't need my money; they are rich and generally obnoxious. Was I turned away because I'm an adult? Or because I'm over-weight? Or because I'm black? I've skated at a lot of different rinks, at a lot of different club sessions and I have NEVER heard of a club session for club members only. Even the Cantiague club sessions that were basically closed to anyone not in the club, allowed guests if there was room. That was a few years ago; now they welcome guests. Money is money. However, Great Neck Figure Skating Club, you won't be seeing mine. You may be the closest rink to my job, but after today, I only have two words for you.... BYE FELICIA!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Bucket List

I recently had a health scare when I presented to the Emergency Room with severe pain. After a series of incredibly uncomfortable tests that I wouldn't wish on my worse enemy, I was told that I might have cancer. I don't. But what a thing to say to someone when you're not sure! It took another week and more tests to prove that I did not have anything (or at least anything they could identify.) As a result of this health scare, I made a bucket list. There are things on this list that I probably will never have the opportunity to do, such as kiss that actor who played Smith on Sex and the City (his name is Jason Lewis and he's on another TV show now). However, there are plenty of things that I can do. Hopefully. I once again am getting serious about my skating and finishing the ASL Interpreting program I started. Since none of us are getting any younger, it's best to take the bull by the horns and jump in. Currently, I'm taking an online interpreter course on English to ASL and another one that is ASL to English. If you think ASL is easy, I dare you to try to learn it. NOT coded signed English (which is ASL signs in English word order), but true ASL. After you finish one course, come back and tell me how it went for you. Although I had wanted to switch coaches, the powers-that-be decided to cancel ALL evening sessions in NYC, including Long Island. I will have to stay with my current coach, but something has changed and she no longer thinks that I can't do anything. BTW, if you tell someone that they can't or aren't able to do something, eventually, they start to believe it. With that in mind, I've been working hard on my Silver Moves, Silver Freestyle and the Preliminary Dances. The MIF are moving along and I am hopeful for February. It has taken me longer than I hoped to restore my jumps, but they are slowly coming back. My spins are making a come back too. I know the issue is, once again, my weight, which has creeped back up again, much to my chagrin. However, that too is part of taking the bull by the horn. Since I don't know when my company is closing, I won't purchase the season at the closest rink to my office. The last thing I need is to sign up for 50 sessions and then find out that my office is closing in ten days (it won't). The one advantage is that the State has to tell us when we can close; that is the beauty of working in healthcare insurance. More information will be coming. For now, I'm working on learning my free dance for Easterns. My coach has decided that I'll be doing that, this way, I still get to go to Easterns whether I pass my Silver tests or not. Going to Australia is on my bucket list too. I'm hoping there's a guy waiting for me there who looks like Simon Baker and Hugh Jackman, combined. Nice, eh?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Another Suitcase In Another Hall

For several weeks, I contemplated hanging up my skates. Things were not going well and I was feeling more and more frustrated every day. Add that my ice dance partner had suddenly decided to not skate any longer (and we hadn't even started yet) as well as being told once again that I would NEVER be good enough to compete as a Silver Lady and well, I had had enough. What was the point in continuing? I could have purchased a house with all the money I had spent on skating. Or at least, a very nice car, maybe even a boat. Or a small island. Whatever, the bell was tolling on the end of my skating life and I was agreeing with it. I skate a session on Thursday evenings that is filled with the rudest, most obnoxious children I have ever met. And I did theatre as a child, so I know what a rude, obnoxious child is like. Now multiply that by 12 and add their parents. These little brats monopolize the upper or lower portion of the rink, you know, where you usually jump, and practice being stupid. They'll all work on hydroplaning or illusions or anything that will take up a lot of space. If you dare to venture into their space, they usually suddenly move, while you're in the air and cause you to abort the jump. Except when you don't and you either fall (which they laugh at) or you fall on them and then their parents spend who knows how long, screaming at you. I'm used to people screaming at me; I drive 20 miles to work on the highway and I work in healthcare insurance. It's the laughing and the frustration that gets to me. And two weeks ago, I had enough. Since I had already paid for the intensive adult skate program on Saturday mornings, I was going to continue going until it was over. I told my friends that I had planned on hanging up my skates because I was going backwards and nothing was working. Everyone tried to cheer me up, but I figured, what was the point? We talked, I listened. We talked some more. I received text messages telling me not to quit. Then I decided something. Something important. It's time to switch coaches. I've never been good at ending relationships; I usually get dumped. But this is one relationship that I will have to end. I'll probably do it gradually, which will be pretty easy considering my ice options dwindle to almost nothing really soon. Also, I'm not quite sure my current coach will really notice. She seems bored with me and with my progress or lack thereof. As for me, I cannot believe that my crossovers are so bad that it's necessary to spend a third of my lesson working on them. Every. Week. Every. Lesson. For. Years. I realize that stroking and crossovers are skills that always need improvement, but every lesson? For years? Anyway, I've decided a switch is needed. I had been working with another coach last year while my current coach was on one of her many vacations and decided to return working with him on Thursday nights. Then I checked the schedule and discovered that Thursdays are being eliminated with no replacement scheduled. Thank you World Ice Arena. The only evening session (I'm not counting the one Power Skating session because it's Power Skating) in NYC and they discontinue it. For what? I'm sure it's hockey. When you consider that hockey has 89% of the ice time here in NYC, it's just annoyingly frustrating. Oh and before someone says to either move, or skate public sessions or skate early mornings, imagine saying that to one of your friends. Keep your snide comments to yourself; there's quite a bit of crap going on in my life right now. The same day I found out that the Thursday session was being eliminated, I was informed that the company I work for is going out of business. Seems the upper management didn't know as much about healthcare insurance as they thought they did and we will be closing. Apparently, I pick companies as well as I do romantic partners. I don't know when we'll be closing, I only know that the CEO, CFO and one other guy have already been let go. And for those of you who want to blame this on the Affordable Care Act; don't. Bad management is bad management. Period. So, on top of not having anywhere to skate, I have no idea how long I will be employed. Yes, I am applying for other jobs at larger companies and trying to finish up my education, but it still stinks just the same. I have been interrupted during several lunch hours (where I watch ASL videos while wearing large headphones in hopes that people will leave me alone; they don't)by co-workers who are upset and curious as to how I can be so calm. If you are only laid-off once in your work career, consider yourself lucky. This will make either my third or fourth time of being laid-off. Getting upset isn't going to change anything. I can only hope that the transition to another job is smoother and quicker than the last time. You remember: fourteen months. "Call in three months time And I'll be fine, I know. Well maybe not that fine, But I'll survive anyhow. I won't recall the names and faces Of this sad occasion, But that's no consolation Here and now. So what happens now? (Another suitcase in another hall.) So what happens now? (Take your picture off another wall.) Where am I going to? (You'll get by, you always have before.) Where am I going to? (Don't ask anymore.)" ** Another Suitcase In Another Hall from Evita Lyrics by Tim Rice; Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Ahha Moment

Oprah Winfrey is constantly talking about "Ahha Moments" in her magazine, on her network and probably while having her hair done. I had such a moment a few weeks ago. As you may recall, I had been experiencing intense and incredible pain every time I put my skates on. It was awful. The pain would travel up my legs and eventually cause both my feet and legs to go numb. I couldn't figure it out and was ready to toss the skates and skating aside, believing that it could not be fixed. Then one day, while in a rush, I laced up my skates but not as tight as usual and.... AHHA!!!! No pain. Why? Apparently, I had been lacing my skates entirely too tightly. My old skates were on their last legs for years and I just kept making them tighter and tighter until I foolishly thought that was the way I HAD to lace them. Uggh! I wasted two years of skating due to this. Two years! Well, not wasted, but I could have been so much more comfortable. On another note, I apologize for being negligent with this blog. I don't think many people read it, so I figured no one would notice if it suddenly slowed down. If you did notice, thank you and I'll try to post more often. If you didn't notice, well then, why not? I'll continue to write whether you notice or not. Until next time.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Is a Puzzlement...**

"I do not know... I am not sure... I am not sure of anything..."*** Have you seen my skating ability? If you have, please return it at the soonest possible moment. I seem to have lost my ability to do the simplest of moves, like stroking and crossovers, not to mention those which were a bit more difficult, like everything else. Along with my ability, I have misplaced my confidence. It is at an all-time low. Actually, a worm would have to crawl down several hundred feet to be just above my confidence level. I have no idea what's going on... Well, maybe I do. First off, it takes me a longer time to warm-up on the ice. I used to do an off-ice warm-up which consisted of running in place and jumps and stretches. Now, because of my feet/skates issue, I spend the entire time trying to warm-up my feet so they don't cramp. While my feet are no longer going numb and causing that to radiate up my legs to my thighs, I hit the ice without a sufficient warm-up. By the way, my feet still hurt. So without a sufficient off-ice warm-up, I try to do harder elements and it just doesn't happen, causing me to get frustrated. I spend entirely too much time at the boards trying to convince myself that no one is watching me and laughing. Did I mention that my self-esteem seems to be in the crapper too? That's a much longer story and probably not one for this blog. I am watching adult skaters who started last year work on brackets and I'm struggling with a right forward inside three turn, which, I'd like to add, I used to be able to do! Uggggh!!! Second: my lessons have been incredibly inconsistent. I truly understand that family and other commitments get in the way, but I don't have any family commitments that get in the way. I'm almost always available. I sometimes wonder if coaches get sick of you when you don't improve as quickly as they would like. Personally, I wouldn't blame my coach for being sick of working with me. I've been working on the same things for so long, I hate doing the Silver Moves. I really just want to get the elements of this test, practice them and take the damn test. Pass or fail. I need to get past the issue of truly hating this test. I can't tell you how long I've been on them, but I'm so sick of them. And then I see people who can't hold a decent edge and they have passed this test. I want to scream. Third: I'm fat. I know it. Anyone who looks at me knows it. There is no such thing as "big-boned". I was on a diet program, you know, the one advertised by Marie Osmond, and the first two weeks, I lost weight. After that, not only have I not lost weight, but the food causes a build up of intestinal pressure... oh heck, it gives me gas. I'm still on the program and I will keep trying, but I'm starting to wonder if I really am losing weight, but the gas is keeping the numbers on the scale the same. Fourth: No stamina. None. I get winded climbing the stairs in my apartment. I did a 30 day challenge, where I worked out every day for 30 days. The result: no change. Apparently I did something wrong. It is still my hope to take this test by the end of the summer; or at least be prepared to take it by the end of the summer. I skated better last year when I had to remove my skates every 15 minutes to get the blood back into my feet. I don't know and I don't understand. If you have any suggestions, any ideas, any tricks, please send them my way. I will try anything and everything. ** "Is A Puzzlement" from The King and I. Music by Richard Rogers; Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II *** This is not the actual song; this is the spoken introduction to the song, sung by the King.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Might As Well Be Spring

Apparently, rink managers all over the tri-state area read my last blog and decided to throw figure skaters a bone. There are now evening (or at least late afternoon) sessions at various rinks in the area. The power of the keyboard! Actually, hockey season is over and the rinks still want revenue. I can dream... I am struggling to obtain my stamina after a bad cold, which always starts in my head and ends up in my chest. Yesterday's lesson, which lately has been nothing but MIF, was cut short thanks to my asthma reminding me once again that it exists. Of course, this was before I picked up my medication, so after several minutes of coughing, I sat down. The good news is that the three elements that are troublesome for me are slowly starting to improve. For the record, I still hate mohawks and right forward inside three turns and left back inside three turns. In all instances, I've realized that I don't twist enough. When you really twist in a three turn, your body automatically allows you to turn. BOOM! You've turned. I need to relax and just allow my body to turn without hunching up my shoulders so I look like I'm trying to make my neck disappear. It's a look that's hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. There are several elements of the Gold MIF test that I do very well, so it's a bit frustrating to struggle with the three above referenced elements. It makes me much more determined. I have to pass this test, just so I can show off my back eight on the Gold test. If I may toot my own horn; I'm really good at that.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Dear Rink Managers

This is an open letter to all Ice Rink Managers in the NYC area. Dear Managers: The cries, hopes and desires of figure skaters have been unheard. Apparently, you don't care. You believe you won't make enough money with us in the evening hours. I am here to tell you that you are wrong. Recently, I skated two evening sessions; the ONLY evening sessions offered by any rink in the NYC area. There were 32 skaters on the ice at $22 per skater. That equals $704 for 50 minutes. There were two sessions. The second session had 28 skaters. For two sessions, the rink made $1,320.00. That's a healthy chunk of change. And you'd continue to make that money because skaters are hungry for evening ice. I know, I know, hockey is your big money maker, but I am here to say that if you schedule it, we will come. I can hear you saying, "what about those Friday evening sessions during the summer with only a dozen skaters on it?" Well, here's your problem: no advertising and camp. If most of your customers are in camp during the day, they're not going to stick around for evening ice. And many skaters didn't know you had evening ice during the summer. Besides, think of the money you did make; originally, you had nothing on the schedule. Lost revenue opportunity. In case you did not know, evening is 6:00pm onward, until about 9:00 and then it's night. Evening is NOT 3:30. THAT is afternoon, when almost all adult skaters are still at work and most kids are just getting home from school. 4:00, 4:30, 5:00 and even 5:30 is considered "early evening". You know, when it's time for the early bird special meals. No, an evening session is 6:00pm onward. Those of us who commute over an hour to work, would appreciate being able to skate after work, then jump into our mode of transportation and go home. Some of us aren't good in the morning and the thought of taking public or even private transportation at 5:00am is not a welcomed thought. There hasn't been a winner from NYC at Adult Nationals in a while, if at all. No, those skaters with available ice time win. Even New Jersey, our neighbor across the water, provides more ice time than have here in NYC. Long Island has many rinks. NYC may just have the one all-year rink, but Queens and Brooklyn have rinks. And yet, none of you have a decent number of sessions. This is New York. It is inconceivable that in a city that "never sleeps" we can only scrap together an evening session that is really just an over-priced public session once a week. I can't find another evening session, yer I can order and receive sushi at 2:00 in the morning and I don't live in Manhattan. Dear Rink Managers, throw us a bone. Wouldn't you like to support the people who support you? Maybe see your name in print in an article? Please. You'd make a lot of adult (and some older kids) very, very happy. Thank you. Sincerely, Adult Figure Skater (who is in too much pain early in the morning to skate at 6:00am)

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Good News

As many of you know, I have been struggling with my skates for over a year. I've battled arch issues, numbness, heel pain and the feeling that my feet were being strangled. Many sessions began with hopes of accomplishing so many tasks, only to have those hopes dashed by numb, painful feet. Hopefully, that's all over because I've had my skates stretched and the heels heat molded and today I skated with (drum roll please) NO PAIN!!!!! The skates feel best without the innersole that came with them,so I skate without them, but the key, the absolute key is the lack of pain. How good was it? Ladies and gentlemen, I landed every jump I tried. I know!! With the exception of the rink being wicked cold (everyone complained about the cold), I have no complaints about my session. None. The Tri-State area has been hit with snow and my current car hates the snow (great fuel mileage, really light-weight car). Therefore, I will be unable to hit the rink before next week when we're supposed to have a warm spell. Also, I haven't started to dig out my car. In the meantime, I will stay the course and keep eating right and exercising. Now that I'm not in pain, I am beginning to enjoy skating again. Also, just found an evening session. If I could do a cartwheel, I would. I'm in such good spirits, I may start twerking. How I wish I had tried this fix twelve months ago; I might be going to Easterns. Oh well, there are other competitions....

Monday, January 2, 2017

Let's Try Again

Can you believe that I'm still having trouble with my skates? I've lost some weight and it appears that the "fix" that worked before, no longer works. So back to the place where I purchased the skates I go. What did they say? "We may have sized you incorrectly." WHAT???? I've been suffering for 14 months trying to make these skates work and they may have sized me incorrectly?? If I could figure out how to put pictures into this blog there would be one of an annoyed person right now. So it seems that the skates aren't wide enough (I have Jacksons, they now suggest Graffs). They are going to stretch them and hopefully that will eliminate the pain and numbness that travels up my leg. I hope so. I had so wanted to compete this season and my progress has been regressing, so it was pointless to even try. I also am sick of my Silver tests (which I think my coach is sick of too since she hasn't been showing up a lot for me, but is showing up for my friend who is on her Novice moves...) I will take and pass these tests by the summer, and I don't care what I have to do to do it. In the meantime, my sore feet and I are wishing you all a Happy New Year.