I've been sad for about a week now. The reason is because I have had to stop taking figure skating lessons. As I'm a 40 year old father of a six year old, who works full-time, homeschools part-time (the wife homeschools on her off-work days as do I), and with my family not making all that much money, well ... you can imagine our dilemma! Throw in the fact that my family is Christian and the skating community I was around was anything but Christian-acting (even my coach made it clear that Christians are not welcome to compete using their music), and it's just a really sad ordeal for me. At first my coach was saying "I'll keep you in my prayers" when I told her that I needed to step away for a little bit to think about things, but after a month of no lessons she wouldn't even respond to my inquiries about possible lessons again. I also could not believe some of the stuff the coaches were saying about one another, and the way the skaters (such snobs) were acting toward one another. Even the parents were snobbish. (I won't get into the way they acted because I'm sure you all have seen this stuff at your own rinks)

Maybe she's heard this all before, or maybe she knows just how expensive figure skating is. I suspect that her not wanting to intervene on my behalf (when other skaters, taking their own lessons, were literally running me over in my lessons) had a little something to do with that cash she was earning. Make no mistake about it, I'm too old to be an Olympic-wanna'be, and I was only in this to learn something that would allow me to express myself and maybe even provide a message of hope to others (through Christian music in competition).

That looks pretty unrealistic right now, and in a sense I'm relieved. When I was taking lessons I had to drive nearly 1 1/2 hours to get to the rink (no one in my area ever responded to my inquiries for figure skating lessons to adult males), and the drive wore me out. It was so expensive, I was spending almost $400 a month between lessons, ice time and the cost of fuel (not to mention the other costs that were surely to occur ... sharpenings, cost of new blades and boots in the future, maybe even costumes and other fees). I think the lady who sold me my skates and knee pads *may* have been taking advantage of me. $400 per month is a lot of money to my family. We were skipping on bills and even late on the rent because of my lessons. My boots were too small, so much so that my toes were being pushed toward the center of my body, and I have no doubt that because of the boots being too small that my body weight was too far forward on the blades causing me to trip a lot. Sure, all beginner skaters trip on their toe picks, but if you saw my boots and blades you'd probably agree with me. One of the blades was also not centered, causing me to wobble when trying to do right crossovers. The coach just told me "oh, most skaters just adjust to that". My knees were really banged up from falls, and only after I haven't been skating now for almost two weeks have my knees started to heal up.

If I could find lessons at the rink closest to me it *might* help things a little, but I would have to accept that the skating community, by and large, is still going to be snobby, it's still going to be expensive, and Christian music won't be welcomed.

End of rant. Sorry (not for venting, but that you guys have to listen to this sort of stuff). I figured this might be of help to someone else, to let others know what they're getting into if they are just starting out. There don't seem to be a lot of complaints about the dark side of figure skating on google, I suspect that the complainers just go away silently or the skating community brushes it under the rug. Nevertheless, if I find a way to resolve all this, I'll get back into it. Otherwise, my wife suggested that I take up hiking. Sounds good, as long as I don't get buried under leaves by a fugitive or mauled by a bear. Let's see ...... a face plant after another toe-pick trip, or a face palm courtesy of Smokey? ;-)