When I was five, my mom, in a concerted effort to drag me away from Saturday morning cartoons which were clearly eating away at my brain, signed me up for roller skating lessons.  After 12 years of countless competitions and an estimated $30k later, I'm a dedicated skater and I know nothing about cartoons.

It's absolutely essential that I roller skate now, for a couple reasons.
  1. Because I love it, it's in my blood, and when I don't skate I dream about skating.
  2. Because if I don't skate, I will sit on my bum and never, ever exercise.

So I have been hunting madly for a rink somewhere in New York, with limited success.  Rink skating is far superior to outdoor skating (no twigs, no wind, no hills, no cars...need I go on?), but rinks are not in vogue.  They struggle, like any other business in a crappy economy, and have struggled for a while.  My home rink, Skatetown, was the site of some disturbing gang activity in the nineties and had (for a while, at least) cut almost all public skate sessions from its schedule, relying more on church groups, school skates, and birthday parties to keep it going.  Whether there's a functioning rink in Brooklyn that I would go to without feeling I was risking life and limb remains to be seen.  

In the meantime, we skate outside.  It's fun and kinda charming.  Alan and  I spent this afternoon rolling through Prospect Park.  We passed bicyclists, tiny humans with their parental units, and a drum circle pounding away in the shade.  I did tricks and flippy things and twirls, and Alan didn't fall.  It's no rink, but it'll do.

I grew up in a small, blue-collar town in Southeastern Wisconsin called Racine.  As I am wont to point out to any total stranger, Racine is "famous" for a few things:

  1. Remember that movie "A League of Their Own" about the women's baseball team where Tom Hanks spends most of his role swearing and peeing?  The team called the Racine Belles (this really happened...at least according to the film) won the big game at the end.  Woot woot.
  2. Johnson's (a family company) has its corporate headquarters in Racine.  They make such critical products as Windex, Pledge, and Off.  Ironically, the windows and wooden counter-tops in Racine are typically neither shiny nor bug-free.
  3. The lovely Danish people who settled in Racine hundreds of years ago brought with them a tasty pastry made from the scraps of other pastries called "kringle."  It's good, and even certified kosher from the local bakery.

I went home today because for the past week my mom has been protesting the Wisconsin's governor's massive, really egregious, cuts to the public sector.  Without going too much into the politics of it all, these cuts threaten not only my mom's job and both my parents' benefits, but any future prospect of collective bargaining - in other words, any hope of worker ever determining the quality of their environment or standing up for their rights.  It's pretty despicable, and pretty scary for my entire family.

In just about a month Alan and I will be moving to New York for me to start a new job.  We're leaving a stressful, but overall happy, situation to set out on a new adventure and start a new life.  My mom, meanwhile, is struggling day in and day out to secure the grueling, thankless job she already has teaching art in an impoverished school.  The juxtaposition is painful.  It's hard to go home.