Thursday, November 18, 2010

Testa Patience

What. A. Day. Oy! It began with an 8:00 meeting and went downhill from there. Star attractions were traffic, meetings, stress over a deadline (tomorrow!) and crushing workloads that prevented oxygen flow to the brain and resulted in a morning dominated by dizziness. Okay, I was only dizzy when sitting still, and it felt better if I moved quickly, like maybe it couldn’t catch up with me. That would have been fine on a normal day full of jumping up from my desk every few minutes and speed walking to the copier, but this morning’s schedule included a three hour meeting. The fun part (if there was one) was when Boss 2 started feeding me Tootsie Rolls and asked if I was hypoglycemic. I didn’t know. The production manager, who, after nearly five years of working together is attuned to my peaks and dips, mentioned I didn’t look very well. This news was not surprising.

I felt like death on a cracker, but there was nothing I could do about it. Especially not today. I can’t actually be ill until January 22, after the other fast-tracked, top priority project I am also currently working on is due. And the derby skills test was after work, and I had every intention of nailing it, which is why I spent an hour cleaning my wheels and bearings last night.

Lunch was eaten while writing copy, flipping through checklists, and reviewing photos with Boss 2 and a historian. Food improved the lousy feeling, but not as much as hoped. The early arrival, working lunch, missing lunch on Monday and working late Tuesday, justified my intention to leave at 4:15 and arrive home without rushing and get to practice with plenty of time to warm up and stretch.

Heading to practice 20 minutes earlier than usual set me loose in a new world of traffic I was unprepared for. Arriving at the rink early was a waste of time, because it wasn’t even open yet. I sat in the car listening to CDs and trying to relax and mentally prepare to nail 25 laps in 5 minutes plus all the other skills on the test like jumping over things and shoving girls. At least I felt loads better, an instantaneous improvement that coincided with the departure from work.

Gearing up, I engaged in my wheel ritual. Ever since the time my wheels were too loose and uncontrollable on the turns, I check them before every practice and 100 times during. I flipped my skate over and spun the wheels. Most of them didn’t move. At all. The ones that moved made a clicking noise. Blood turned cold, I stared at them. Obviously, my skate tech skills stink and obviously I should not have messed with my wheels the night before a skills test. Because whatever I did stopped my wheels cold. They were fine last night when I was skating around the house. I panicked and started pulling wheels off and checking bearings, almost none of which spun. The last skills test, I had lost my mouth guard and had to run over to WalMart for a new one, missing the warmup and stretch. The dramatic ordeal was familiar and maddening.

Some lube from an angel was a godsend. Or so it seemed, until I got on the rink, and my skates were squeaking loudly enough for other people to hear. And the wheels where barely spinning with my weight (all 120 lbs) on them. I left the rink and added more oil. Meanwhile, warmup laps and group stretch were taking place, and I was missing it. It finally seemed like the wheels were okay, so I hit the floor to skate the 25 laps in 5 minutes speed/endurance test. And that was when my wheels felt like they were mired in mud. They had been turned into decorative stage props designed to not actually function.

I was more frustrated and angry than I have been in a while, which anyone who has been around me in the past year will realize is a LOT. I stopped trying to skate – it was pointless as they wouldn’t actually travel. When everyone else finished their laps, I added more oil and did the test for T-Stops. My left inside wheels seemed loose. I tightened them. The right skate was still clicking. Colonel Cuntroller checked them. After an hour of testing and skating, they were finally operating better. As in spinning, and I could travel. We were given another attempt to skate the 25 in 5 test. People were cheering us on, timing us and counting laps and I was damned if I was going to let my screwy wheels stop me again. And I did it. I think someone said with a five seconds to spare, but it was more likely .05 seconds. In any event, 'tis done for a while.

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