I spent a couple hours in a dance studio the other day, sliding around on the floor in fuzzy socks. I didn't feel as stupid as I thought I would. I'm considering making another attempt at ice skating -- the first and last one was about fifteen years ago -- so it was less a case of me being kind of seven-years-old and pretending to be in the Olympics, and more a matter of evaluating whether I have any gross physical incompetencies that would make it a terrible idea to try whizzing around on skates in the presence of other people.

Surprisingly, I wasn't that bad at it, as a teenager. I clung to the boards for a couple of circuits and then was fine. Ice physics and I get along, for some reason. I grew up in Phoenix, but have spent my entire adult life intentionally living in places that have real winter. It took me a while to realize that falling on ice was not just a thing that happens in sitcoms, in fact, because I didn't, and I figured if anyone was going to wipe out, it would probably be the desert rat who was used to getting ice from the Circle-K in five-pound bags. People in Flagstaff used to flail around and grab me when they slid, because even when they were hanging onto me, I still wouldn't go down.

I'm not awful on socks, either. I feel weirdly steadier in motion in a lot of ways when my feet aren't sticking to the floor -- objects in motion remain in motion, along a predictable trajectory, instead of stopping short when I least expect it. Socks are worse than ice skates in that regard; ice skates cut a groove in the ice and will slip forward and back, but socks on polished wood go in whatever direction they damn well please. I expected to land on my ass a lot more times than I did, which was actually none. It turns out that I catch myself pretty damn calmly when one or more feet shoot out from under me, even when I'm intentionally being reckless and flinging myself around.

So now all I have to do is rationalize myself into going. I have not got a great track record when it comes to random forms of exercise. I'm plenty active for my overall health, and while I know other people get runner's high, physical exertion per se does somewhere between diddly and squat for my mood, my appetite, or my sleeping patterns. When the point of an activity is to be fun, I have no patience for long boring chunks in the beginning -- it has to be enjoyable while I master the basic skills, or I just go 'screw this' and wander home to play on the internet.

I'm also positively brimming with daft ideas. Moggie will testify to this. It is one of the small mercies of life that most of them fall out of my head as quickly as they fall into it, before I've had the chance to act on the new obsession. It's one thing when I do it academically -- library books are free, and you can't really know too much stuff -- but I'm constantly reminding myself to apply some common goddamn sense when it comes to anything that is going to cost me time or effort or especially a significant amount of money. I get all excited and gather all the things I'm going to need and then find out that whatever it is is not nearly so absorbing as I thought it was going to be, and wind up sitting there berating myself for being apparently unable to correctly assess either the interestingness of other things, or my own tastes in activities.

The disappointment is especially pernicious. And a little scary. One of the biggest, nastiest symptoms when I get depressed is that suddenly everything feels like that, even things that I know I've enjoyed in the past. I anticipate something being interesting or fun or in some way satisfying -- I expect a dopamine spike, in other words -- go do it, and realize afterwards that nothing happened. I have absolutely no feelings about it whatsoever, other than the nagging sense that I've just wasted time. Often it turns out that the thing just wasn't interesting, but I can never quite trust my initial reaction without first checking to see if my brain is broken that week.

One piece of common sense that I will be applying is to make sure that all the kidlets are back in school before I go. Free skate hours are generally in the middle of the afternoon. I don't want to be at the mercy of a bunch of hyperactive 12-year-olds in hockey skates whose idea of fun is slamming each other into the wall.


  1. Most all my skating was on roller skates in the late 70's and early 80's. Mostly I just skated to the music, and since it was the 70's and 80's in suburban California, the music was mostly Rock ballads and Pop. Skating with all my might to Treat Me Right by Pat Benatar, or something by ABBA, or Blondie, or Foreigner was exactly my speed.


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