Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Skatemares and Showmares

It's not good when I'm having skatemares about the Holiday Show and it's only August. But the dream itself was pretty telling in its reveal of what I am afraid of...

I showed up to the audition alone. My skating partner was not with me. What made this bad was that there was some kind of procession of everyone auditioning, and I was very obviously alone.

I brought my show/character dress and not my audition/test dress. I had already remade the skirt portion so it was longer and fuller, and my legs were swimming in heavy fabric. (Something I'm planning to do but haven't done yet.)

I forgot my tights, and had no socks. I was asking to borrow tights.

We had absolutely no program, and I knew it. I had no idea what to do. When I finally met up with my skating partner, I asked "What are we skating?" in a very sardonic tone. He was in his costume and skates and looking very relaxed while I was struggling with the skirt and only in one skate.

"Oh, I don't know, it doesn't matter," he replied blithely, and disappeared again. I immediately began piecing some moves together, figuring no one really knew what our program was anyway. Partner could follow along or not.

This dream is fairly clear: I am afraid of being alone and completely unprepared.

I won't say last year was a disaster, it wasn't. But it was Hard. I'm already taking steps to avert the Hard as much as I can, but there are things beyond my control that happened last year that can still happen this year. I know Circumstances are very, very different this year, but I can't make people do things they are unwilling or unable to do. I can't make people be at practice and on time. I can't make people focus or be supportive and positive. But this year I am either a part of a Team or I'm not. If I'm not part of a Team, then I'm out the door.

If this makes me "Dramatic," so be it. Contrarily, I think setting clear expectations like this affirms my position on "No Drama." I just need to remember my cardinal rule: My skating serves to make me happy. If it doesn't make me happy, then it's not worth my time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Coach Disapproval Techniques

When learning any new skill, you're bound to mess it up. When learning anything new on the ice, I usually go through a two month period of total cluelessness before things begin to gel for me. The Body/Brain Disconnect must be worked through, but while that's happening you're bound to see some disapproval from your coach. This comes in many forms, and its degree of severity is usually in direct proportion to the experience of your coach, and its expression is in inverse proportion to same.

The Repeater

I work with a Repeater for Dance. It's nice. No matter what you do wrong, how badly you screw it up, or how many times you try again, the Repeater just repeats the instruction, over and over. He repeats it verbally, he repeats it physically. He demonstrates, over and over. And he never seems to get ruffled or upset, he just Repeats. I have been tempted to try to do something overtly wrong to see what he'd do, but at the same time it's soothing so I don't want to mess with that.

The Sigh

A Sigher usually won't get very upset, they'll just sigh as they watch you. And you see their resigned expression as they explain it again, and you vow to try a bit harder to avoid that Sigh. But you get it again, and again, and again....

The Eyebrow Pinch

In the Theatre,  I am an Eyebrow Pincher. Missed cues, late entrances, or watching an actor go up on his lines in spectacular fashion will cause me to eyebrow pinch. For Coaches, it's a jerky crossover, a wobbly edge, a bad landing... or whatever is on their plate that day. You look up and you see them doing it, and immediately try and correct whatever it is you're doing wrong. But the damage has been done.

The Proximity Push

When my coach watches from a distance, I know I'm okay. It's when he's skating towards me as I'm doing something that I know I'm in trouble. Skating something new is hard, but skating something new with a coach twelve inches away and giving orders is absolutely nerve wracking.

Old Yeller

There are coaches that Yell. And sometimes they are raising their voices over the music of the Freestyle girls, but more often than not they are yelling in frustration. "Hooooooolllllld!!! Hold the edge!! What was that??" and watching a girl doing a spiral with shouts of, "Higher! Higher! Higher!" are common on freestyle ice. Coaches who coach from the boards *twitch* are the usual criminals, as they just have to yell to be heard.

Name Calling *Bad*

On rare occasion, I have been called Stupid. Looking back, I see that I should have stopped this behavior right away and not allowed it to continue. While the Coach insisted that it wasn't personal and only applied to the skating, it's very much a reddish-gray area. No other coach I have ever worked with in any capacity, (private, group or clinic) has ever called me Stupid, no matter what I did. This was also a big clue that it was not normal. It's far too easy, when in the throes of awkwardness learning a new thing, to apply it personally. Best to avoid it, and immediately stop those that try it.

I just try to remember that if my coach cares enough to disapprove on a regular basis, and if all disapproval gets broken up with a hearty compliment every so often, I'm doing all right. If I'm continually improving, making progress toward my stated goals, and I'm happy with my skating overall (and there are good days and bad days,) then all the sighs and brow pinches and shouts are working.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Case for Adults Only Ice

I'm a big fan of Adults Only Practice Ice. Adults get very few safe spaces in which to work on their skating, without the eyes of judgey skating parents and careless kid skaters. I have kicked kid skaters off of Adult Ice, ignoring the cries of parents, "But she neeeeeds it..." This was on the Shoebox Studio, where high level skaters attempted to barge in to get one last run of their competition routines amidst Delta level Adults.

Tough cookies. This ice is rare and and valuable, so shove off.

There was one Dance Practice Session where we had a kid visit for some reason, I think it was something about a grandparent visiting who wanted to see Pweshus skate... and what followed was pretty indicative of why I am a staunch advocate for NO KIDS on adult ice.

All us adults were skating fine, practicing things and involved in ourselves, and then here comes Pweshus. She's got on her pink Chloe Noel and matching pink hair bow, and mom and elder relation are in tow. All the adults, who had not five seconds earlier been skating around, suddenly began moving to the wall. Pweshus starts warming up, zooming around, and as she did so, I was watching all the adults. They kept their eye on her, and watched as Mom and Elder Relation began the Coofest that universally surrounds a very young cute skater.


I kept skating. Pweshus kept glancing at me, and Mom kept glancing at me, and the message I was receiving was, "Why are you still here?"

Well, I paid for this ice, so I will be skating on it, thankyouverymuch.

Yeah, Imma skate on ur  mah ice!
But all my fellow adults had retreated to the boards, chatting and talking, watching Pweshus dutifully perform with the Coach for Elder Relation, on command from Mom.

When the show was over and Pweshus left, the Adults crept back from the boards and continued skating. They had lost about twenty five minutes, but at least they didn't have Mom glaring at them like I did.

I'm not placing the blame squarely on Judgey Parents and Kids. Adults need to get some cajones and skate on the ice they paid for, regardless of who is watching and what they think. (Protip: No one is a great skater overnight, and no one gets better without skating! So LET US SKATE!) But a safe space helps, even if it's something you get just once a week. (For very new skills, I actually like to practice those on Public Sessions. No one cares if you look awkward and slow on a Public.) But don't think Adults Only ice is all slow skaters. There are plenty of fast adults doing high level jumps and spins, but they have the grace and courtesy that is sorely lacking in most kids.

The Adults Only ice has only a few weeks left, and already the laments of, "Why can't we have this all year," and "Who can we talk to... This is so nice, how can we keep this," have started. We've petitioned Rink Management, but it's always fallen on deaf ears. In the meantime, I will be skating on my beloved Adult Only ice, treasuring it while we have it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Meanwhile, in my Other Lives...

My Theatre Life took a turn for the Very Serious lately. Over the past two months, I have spent hours in meetings, executive sessions and Google hangouts when there was no other way to talk. I had many hour long phone calls and private meetings, which were preceded by me saying, "This is all off the record and between us, but I need to know..." and I'd just listen for the rest of the call. There were letters and statements and lists and money and tears and emotion, and what struck me the most is that all the people I spoke to, no matter what they were saying, had the good of the Theatre at heart. It all just reiterated my belief that passionate people just have no other way to exist than All Out.

I'd go to bed, emotionally wiped out and physically exhausted, and wake up to yet another email. But I had to go Skate.

I had to Skate because whatever was outside those dasher boards wouldn't follow me in. Skating has become a bit of a refuge, because everything else falls away while I skate. Coach has a laserlike focus on the ice, and that has become a priceless gift to me. I need that. Even with all the Rink Drama that is happening (and there is a lot!) what happens on the ice is completely isolated from it.

It's kept me sane.

Theatre Serious is not over yet; we have a whole season still in the balance, I'm designing lights for one of the shows in addition to taking on the roles of Treasurer on the Board of Directors and Chairing the Fundraising Committee. These new positions within the Theatre do scare me a bit, as I've never done anything like this before. We'll get through it, I have faith, but I will look to the ice as my refuge. Because if the past two years on the ice have taught me anything, (strained hamstring, scar on my chin, broken tailbone, knee in need of ongoing care, and unexpectedly cruel words) I've learned I can survive just about everything. And while I may not always come out on top, there is always the other side.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Motivation Monday - Looking Forward!

Well, I can honestly say I am not going in circles anymore. Between Moves and FS1 tests, endless mohawk and 3 turn drills and the given Challenge/Bonus material to work on, I am busy on the ice. I remember the days where I'd run out of things to do, and idle around for awhile before deciding what to do over again. My pet project of juggling on skates, just because I was bored, has taken a backseat to correcting all my Basics. I used to do scheduling as a way to motivate me to go, now it is a necessity to ensure I get to everything.

I ran into Coach briefly outside of lesson, and I gave him my test papers. He said he would date and mail them. And he said that it wasn't too much of a hurry, given that "we aren't going to Nationals this year."

"But I want to compete," I said firmly. "Please. Next time we'll do Nationals."

"Okay, next time." He seemed amused.

This morning he brought up the Pre-Bronze Freeskate test. He wants that done next time. The only thing holding me back is spinning, which is getting better. I'm pretty good at motivating myself, but I do get tired sometimes. Having that added Push from Coach this morning felt tremendous. I felt respected, that I was being listened to and taken seriously, and more than those things, that he believed I could do it.

I walked into my lesson very sore and tired and a bit demoralized from a week where any progress I made in spinning seemed to evaporate. But one good spin, a few improved drills, some positive words and a hard nudge from Coach, and I felt like I could face another week.

Testing is a serious goal of mine, but I'm starting to see what's beyond it. And it's very exciting!

Next time for Certain!!