Barely Passed the Test

Since I will be on vacation next week, I took my ice skating test for Freestyle 1 ahead of schedule. I thought I would have done well since I nailed all the required techniques and I had been practicing frequently. To my surprise, I passed with the minimum scores. My coach wanted me to practice more before taking Freestyle 2.

My posture was terrible. My arms weren’t coordinating with my legs when I did backward edges. I jumped too early on the waltz jump. I didn’t lift my leg far enough for the spiral. My half-flip was decent. My spin was good even though I practiced it the least. I didn’t like spinning because I would get dizzy after 2 spins.

After the test result, I am not sure if I should go to the next level. I want to focus on my posture like my sons, Đạo and Xuân, who are taking private lessons and their coach scrutinized their every move. They are relearning from the beginning. After six weeks, Đạo only passed forward crossovers. He still needs to work on his backward crossovers. I don’t know if I want to go that far back in order to learn proper posture. I don’t skate to be a professional. I just want to have fun.

Should I sign up for Freestyle 2 or should I learn on my own using Coach Julia’s YouTube instructions? I am exhausted. I am taking a much needed break to clear my mind. I will spend my vacation thinking things through.

Too Much Activities?

Yesterday morning, I took Đạo and Đán to try out Vovinam. While they were training, we had a parent meeting. I raised a question about practice. Since the class is only held once a week, how would they practice at home? I wouldn’t know what to help them. The master suggested that I should join the class as well so I can practice at home with them. Instead of waiting around for an hour and a half, why don’t I just take the lessons? That’s a great suggestion. Even though I would love to use that time to read, I am considering joining. I need the exercise anyway. My only fear is that once I am committed, I will need to dedicate my time to it.

I started ice skating lessons because I wanted to learn and practice with the kids. Now I am more devoted to it than they are. After their Vovinam lesson, I asked them if they wanted to go to the ice rink to practice. They all said no. I didn’t want to force them so I went alone. I practiced for almost three hours. I reviewed all the techniques for Freestyle 1 since I will have a test coming up in two weeks. I also learned the ballet jump from watching Coach Julia on YouTube. My poser was not that great, but I got the technical part down. I felt great and guilty at the same time knowing that my kids were playing video games with their cousins for the same amount of hours.

My wife and I got into a heated argument over her work schedule again. I don’t know how she prioritizes her work, but she always scrambles at the last minute to meet her deadline. On Saturday afternoon, I asked her how she was doing with her work and she chewed my head off. When I didn’t ask, she would say I didn’t care. When I asked, I got an earful. There’s no win in this situation.

I don’t know what her work involves, but she has a deadline at midnight every other Saturday. I suggested that she tries to get her production done the first week instead of the deadline week. It might not be possible, but it would give her less stress trying to meet the deadline. Then again, what do I know?

I thought that getting involved with the kids’ activities would give her free time at home to do her work. By taking them out to eat, she wouldn’t have to cook as much to give her free time to do her work. I took them to hockey, summer school, private tutor, and private lessons, so she didn’t have to and she can do her work. Still, I am not doing enough.

I was considering joining Vovinam with the kids, but I won’t. Now that the kids aren’t into skating anymore, I should quit as well after my group lesson is done. We should wrap up private lessons for Đạo and Xuân since they don’t seem to be enthusiastic about ice skating anymore. Once Đán is done with hockey, we’ll call it quit as well.

I realized that my motivation for doing all of these is to get them off their screen. It would be much easier to let them have their way. Why bother?

Trượt tiếp

Sáng Chủ nhật trời mưa nên không đi được skatepark. Đành nằm trên giường đọc sách. Cả nhà vẫn còn ngủ nên không gian yên tĩnh.

Trưa nay sẽ rủ ba thằng lớn đi ice skating. Đã lâu rồi bốn cha con không có dịp đi chung với nhau. Tụi nó không còn hào hứng với môn này như lúc trước nữa. Đán thì đã chuyển qua chơi hockey. Một tuần chỉ có một tiếng đồng hồ. Đạo và Xuân vẫn đi học tư (một dạy một) mỗi tuần cũng chỉ nửa giờ. Tụi nó không chịu tập luyện nên không tiến triển lắm. Không biết có nên cho hai thằng học tư tiếp tục hay ngưng.

Trong lúc Đạo và Xuân học, tôi xem mấy đứa khác tập và học. Đa số là những đứa gái người Châu Á (Tàu và Hàn Quốc) trượt rất hay và rất đẹp. Tụi nó cũng rất chịu khó. Nhảy té đứng lên nhảy tiếp. Tôi thấy người mẹ ngồi xem con tập tôi cũng đến hỏi thăm vài ba câu.

Tôi vẫn tiếp tục học nhóm gồm sáu học sinh một huấn luyện viên. Ngoài giờ học tôi muốn luyện tập thêm ít nhất là ba lần một tuần nhưng cũng cảm thấy guilty vì phải để vợ trông con. Có bọn nhỏ theo thì vừa tập vừa dành thời gian với bọn nó luôn. Tiếc rằng bọn nó vẫn mê chơi game điện tử hơn là đi skating. Nên giờ đây tôi cũng đâm ra chán nản.

Lúc mới bắt đầu tôi tập trượt vì muốn đi chơi cùng đám nhỏ. Giờ tôi lại thích hơn bọn nó. Muốn tiếp tục khám phá thêm để xem mình có thể đi đến đâu. Dù sau thì ice skating cũng không nguy hiểm bằng rollerblading. Từ lúc bị té, tôi cũng ngán ngán rollerblading. Không dám thử những chỗ cao hơi nguy hiểm nhưng tôi vẫn thích tập. Mỗi buổi sáng tôi tranh thủ đi nửa tiếng hoặc bốn mươi lăm phút ở skatepark trước khi vào làm việc. Tôi cảm thấy thoải mái và làm việc hăng say hơn.

Is Life Worth Living?

After dropping Đán off to summer school, I drove to Wakefield, the skatepark that I fell hard off the high ramp. Although it was still early in the morning, there were a few skaters already on the scene. The roller skater girls already took over the half pipe; therefore, I couldn’t hop on it.

I skated down the straight ramps a bit then headed to the high curve ramp that I had successfully dropped down twice in the past. After my second fall at a different skatepark, however, I hesitated. The ramp looked high and the curve looked steep.

In the past few weeks, it kept bothering me that I could not work up the courage to drop this ramp again. I internalized it when I went to bed. Why can’t I just ignore it? What am I trying to prove? If I were to fall again, I wouldn’t be able to take my ice skating lessons.

I put my left foot on the coping, but I stopped. I stood there for a while and took my foot off the coping. My body was telling me no, but my head kept telling me yes. Then I put my left foot in the coping again and waited and waited. I finally told myself, “Fuck it! Let’s just do it.” I put my right foot in and off I went. I made it down smoothly. The speed felt incredible.

A mother congratulated me. Her daughter asked her if I did it. A guy on the skateboard asked her something and I heard her say, “He went for it.” He gave me a fist pump. I was a bit embarrassed. I did not realize that folks were waiting and watching me from afar to see if I would go for it. I was focusing on my own dilemma. If I knew they were paying attention, I would have backed off.

I was not trying to show off. I didn’t want to prove to anyone, but myself. I wanted to conquer my own fear and to regain my own confidence. Life is too short to not take a bit of risk.

As I drove home to start my work day, I listened to 2pac and “I Wonder If Heaven Got a Ghetto” reminded me of my homeboy Nate. There’s a line that we loved, “I wake up in the morning and I ask myself: Is life worth living? Should I blast myself?” I asked myself the same questions whenever I felt down, but my life now is definitely worth living. I have my ups and downs, but I never let myself fall into depression. I need to stay strong for my boys.

Skating is an activity that I love to do with my boys. If this old man can do it, they have no excuse. I encouraged them to try out the high ramps, but if they don’t want to try, I do not force them. They understand their own risk level to make their own decisions. I hope one day, they will go for it.

Getting Back Into Rollerblading

I am slowing getting myself back into rollerblading. I went to skate parks. I dropped into quarter and half pipes, but staying away from higher ramps even with a high ramp I had no trouble in the past. I don’t want to risk hurting my sacroiliac joint again and won’t be able to ice skate.

I want to step away from going down the ramps and develop more rollerblading techniques like 180-degree and 360-degree jumps, backward crossovers, the T-stops, and the hockey stops. I still have a lot to learn. I am going to pick up a few techniques from Flow Skate’s Shaun Unwin as well as Skatefresh’s Asha Kirkby.

I have my goals set out for me. Since these techniques are on flat surface, I can ask Đạo to join me. He doesn’t like skating down ramps, but he is good at picking up techniques. We’ll see.

Private Lessons for the Boys

I enrolled Đạo and Xuân to private lessons with a Japanese-American coach who competed in the Olympics and worked for Disney on Ice. I had observed her giving private lessons many times and her meticulous methods caught my attention. She didn’t just focus on the techniques. She made sure that her students had correct postures, forms, and hands.

I watched her giving Đạo a private lesson on Thursday and she showed him how to do forward crossovers, which he had learned a while ago. His form didn’t look too good. She showed how to lift up his chest, how to push his leg correctly to get the power, and how to move his arms in accordance with his legs. I appreciated her attention to the details. Even though she was strict on the forms, she had a friendly approach to teaching them. She didn’t make him feel intimidated. Đạo liked her coaching style too.

Xuân is still young and he has a solid foundation. It is important that he learns the proper techniques, forms, and postures. He started to cry when I asked him to go into the rink with her. He didn’t want to go in without me. I asked Đạo to accommodate him for a bit and five minutes later she completely put him at ease. After their first private lesson, he asked me when he could take it again. I said, “You were crying and now you want more?” He replied, “I was fake crying.”

She is a great coach; therefore, her rate is quite high. I could only let each of them do half an hour each week. Not only do we have to pay her fees, we also have to pay for the freestyle time on ice. She is no longer working at the Fairfax rink that we normally go to. We have to drive thirty minutes to a different rink. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely, if money isn’t a concern. When I discussed with my wife the reasons I chose this particular coach, she asked me my end goal for them to take private lessons. I just want them to learn proper skating techniques, to develop an appreciation for how our bodies perform on figure skates, and to enjoy ice skating.

My wife suggested twice private sessions a week if they are doing to do it. Hell no! I already am worried financially with once a week.

No Rollerblading In a While

I haven’t been to the skate parks since my last falling off the ramp. The pain in my sacroiliac joint is fading away, but I am feeling a bit intimidated to get back into rollerblading.

My helmet cracked when I fell the previous time and blacked out. If my head were hitting the ground instead, I don’t know if I could have survived. That helmet saved my head, but now I need a replacement.

I need to get back to the park to rebuild my confidence, but I will not get near the high ramps. I need to be more mindful of my age and my health. I am no longer a young man. The pain took way too long to subside.

I have been spending more time ice skating. The ice rink is much safer than the skate park. I don’t want to give up rollerblading though. It is still a fun sport I can do whenever I want and not have to wait for the rink to open. Maybe I just rollerblade on the bike trails instead of the skate parks.

My Skating Roadmap

Today, Đạo and I learned the waltz jump, which is the last technique for my Freestyle 1 lessons. To pass Freestyle 1, I have to complete forward inside pivot, two-foot spin, arabesque, backward edges, half flip, and waltz jump. Now that I have all the technical down, I just need to practice my form for the test, which will be the second week of August.

I like this new learning method. Instead of focusing on nailing down one technique before moving on to the next one, I am learning all the techniques first then taking my time to refine them. Practicing several techniques seems less monotonous than just one at a time.

When I was making the transition from hockey to figure, the toe picks kept getting in my way. I tripped on them. As I am doing more jumps or hops (in my case), I begin to appreciate them. They are my new favorite tool for techniques.

After Freestyle 1, I will be done with group lessons. The pressure is both rewarding and stressful. I am the oldest and the only guy in the group. The girls are much younger and they can do the techniques with ease. I am too old to keep up with them.

I like to learn using Coach Julia’s YouTube videos and some encouragement from Đạo. He is keeping me motivated as we are trying to learn new techniques. The process will be slower, but I can learn at my own pace. I don’t need to take any test and I don’t have to keep up with my skatemates.

Đạo had written about our time together.

Crazy Tuesday

I woke up and felt recharged after eight hours of sleep. I had about three hours the night before. I ate a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats, one of my favorite types of cereal. I went straight to work with a WordPress developer at the University to change a domain name for one of our centers. The developer was awesome and we worked together well. I appreciated her talent as well as her honesty. She didn’t shy away from letting me know what she didn’t know and I did the same. Fortunately, we had different skill sets; therefore, we had each other covered. We completed the project right before noon. Everything worked out as expected. Even though we had worked together in the past few years, we had never met. I hope to have a chance to thank her in person one day.

After wrapping up the project, I went to the public library to pick up Đán. He had a private tutor session with his recent teacher to help him with language arts. The wasp removal specialist called to come by to take away a wasp nest that was as huge as a basketball. Then I helped my son Đạo set up his Zoom meeting for his writing workshop. That was only noon time.

I took Đán, Xuân, and their cousin Khôi to the ice-skating development camp at Ballston Quarter. After checking them in, I headed straight down to Copa to have lunch and to watch England versus Germany. I ordered a glass of Sangria, opened up my laptop to do some work, and relaxed for a bit. Around 3:30 pm, I took a break and decided to head to the Powhatan Springs Skatepark to do some drops and to skate around. This park is for serious skateboarding. It had three bowls. A young kid, probably around twelve years old, just dropped into the deepest bowl like nothing. He had no helmet and no guards. He was skating on his board like surfing.

I tried dropping in the shallow end of the lower bowl first and then the shallow end of the higher bowl. Then I peeped into the deep end of the higher bowl. It was not that deep, but the curve was a little deep. I went for it and busted my butt. My whole vision collapsed as the 95-degree Fahrenheit kicked in. I managed to get myself out of the bowl and found a cool grass spot under the shade to crash. I texted my wife to say, “I love you,” and then closed my eyes. I closed my eyes for 15 minutes to pull myself together. When I woke up, my butt was in tremendous pain and I could barely pull myself up. I didn’t receive a reply from my wife.

I managed to pick up the boys from skate camp with tremendous pain in my butt. I feel like an old fool. No wait, I am an old fool. I didn’t let my kids rollerblade because it looked dangerous skating on the streets. Then I got into it myself and now I am the one that takes the risks. It is true what they said, “No pain, no gain” and “Getting injured is part of the game.” As I dragged myself out to my car, I heard the kids say to each other, “Go hard or go home.” In my case, go hard and go to the hospital.

My Obsessions

I went back to the ice skating rink yesterday to practice after being sick for 24 hours. I spent three hours working on backward outside edges on both feet. The techniques look simple, but difficult to follow. I can’t imagine pulling off the arabesques, half-flip jumps, and waltz jumps.

When I first took ice-skating lessons, I didn’t even think about going into Freestyles. The techniques are way above my physical ability. What amazes me about ice skating is the building block from one fundamental technique to the next. The lessons have been carefully planned out like building LEGO bricks. It is important to master the foundations before moving on.

I also learned another important aspect of ice skating. Although ice skating is working with my feet, my hands play an essential role as well. The best skaters are the ones with hands and feet coordinations. Coach Julia (via YouTube) always took her time to explain the hand movements. I had always been confused about how to use my hands until now. As I was working on my backward edges, I realized that my hands must copy my feet. They helped me reach the destination I am skating to.

You must be bored out of your mind reading my rants on skatings. That’s the reason I am writing it down here rather than talking to anyone else about it. Imagine having a beer with a buddy and wanting to talk about ice skating instead of football. No wonder I have no drinking buddy.

I don’t even talk about ice skating with my wife. She is already fed up with my obsessions. I observed her the other day when we were resting on our chairs at our family picnic, all I saw was disappointment and disengagement in her eyes. I apologize.