Women’s Equality Day

Today is Women’s Equality Day, marking the day a mere 88 years ago that women won the right to vote in the US. Here’s a bit about Women’s Equality Day:

At the behest of Rep. Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”

The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, New York.

The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality. Workplaces, libraries, organizations, and public facilities now participate with Women’s Equality Day programs, displays, video showings, or other activities.

As long as we’re on the topic of women’s equality, I want to comment on Michelle Obama’s speech last night at the DNC.  I found it really moving and I thought she did a really good job and showed a lot of passion.  If you haven’t seen it, you can go watch it here.  This morning I read the New York Times article “Michelle Obama, Reluctant No More,” and I have to say I was not that happy with it.  It was mostly subtle wording choices and ordering of the information the author chose to include, but I felt like the article highlighted more about what she didn’t like about campaigning and her reservations about her husband running for president than it highlighted how she did choose a life in public service, how she made it so far from such humble, but thoroughly American, roots, and how she is such a strong female role model.

So many emotions

I’ve been watching Olympic gymnastics online everyday, to see the new performances from the night before. I wrote about it a few days ago – how great it felt to watch the men’s team perform in the all-around finals. After the first few days, it was really making me itch to get back to the rink and to maybe even train and think about some recreational adult competitions. But now my feelings are changing a bit – after watching the women’s all around final, and the women’s team final. With the men’s competition, it was much easier for me to just enjoy their display of athletic excellence – to watch their ridiculously strong, muscled bodies performing feats of strength and acrobatics.

But with the women’s competition, all sorts of other emotions are stirred up. I can’t extricate my enjoyment of their graceful and athletic performances from my concern over the immense pressures and stresses they all clearly face, as well as the physical evidence of what they’re putting their bodies through to reach this level. Also, there are parts of olympic gymnastics that seem even more cruel than figure skating – the shortness of the time they are actually in the spotlight, particularly for those members of the team who only competed on one apparatus in the finals; the team dynamic aspects of the team events; the intensity of the olympic team selection process (in figure skating it’s nearly always the top finishers at Nationals who carry on to the Olympics in that year, although the sport’s governing body, the USFSA, reserves the right to change that and did the year that Nancy Kerrigan couldn’t compete at Nationals due to the knee injury). The commentators seemed particularly unhelpful in creating an atmosphere of friendly, healthy competition – I couldn’t believe the questions the interviewer asked Alicia Sacramone after her performance in the team final. Seriously, the interviewer just kept asking her questions that basically forced her to talk about the negative aspects of her performance – I had to turn it off eventually. That was NOT what I wanted to know about her after the performance!

For the most part, I am very impressed by the American team; the athletes seem to not only have come well-prepared and ready to medal, they also have been exhibiting excellent sportsmanship.  I like to think that maybe at least some of them have managed to reach this level of elite gymnastics without causing themselves too much mental and physical distress. It’s encouraging to me to think that.  But I definitely know a lot about the pitfalls that many less well supported and mentally strong athletes have encountered.  Watching these girls perform, I remembered my own experience with gymnastics, and of course my experience with figure skating, with eating disorders, and with the cutthroat competitive atmosphere that one can often find amongst the competitors and their parents.

I watch them and remember how I enjoyed swinging around on the uneven bars, tumbling and jumping on the springboard floor, and dancing on the high beam.  I think to myself “that would be fun to do again!” but then I remember that I’m a full-figured woman now, and that the physics of the situation will definitely make it hard to do some of the things that I found most fun.  It’s harder to enjoy the feeling of flying through the air when I know that I won’t be able to rebound as high or swing as fast as my more daredevil childhood self could, and that the likelihood that a fall or misstep would end in a more painful injury is much higher.

I’ll definitely be sticking with skating then, because at least I can fall back on my years of serious training to hope that I don’t injure myself.  Ever since I quit training competitively, I struggled to enjoy the sport without feeling loss and sadness at all the things that I used to do well in it but no longer can do.  I’m proud to say that I think I’m getting fairly good at that – enjoying each and every movement that I can do for the joy that I can feel in the practice itself.

The Competitive Spirit

I’m really enjoying watching the Olympics on nbcolympics.com. I just watched the entire NBC Encore: Men’s Gymnastics Team Finals and it was intense! One of my favorite things about it was the imagery and symbolism that I saw. It was so great to watch some of the performances in which someone really rallied through a high pressure situation and came through above expectation. It made me think of my old days as a competitor and miss the thrill of the competition. I used to love competitions – I think it was the feeling that here you were, going to put it all out there, and show everyone what you’re made of. It’s all eyes on you, a performance, and you have to come through under pressure, and try to enjoy the ride. I miss that.

I will soon start experiencing a different aspect of my favorite sport of figure skating – teaching private basic skills lessons. It will be a little bit new for me in that for the past few years I’d been planning to train to be a judge, but now I’ve decided that at least for now, coaching would be fun. And we could use the steady income – it’s certainly the most I can make so easily for an hour for a self-scheduled part-time gig. Hopefully being around the rink more I’ll have time to practice some on my own and to just enjoy the ice the way I used to. It can be a really comforting place for me, particularly in stressful times.

Watching the Olympics Online

The Olympic Games opened today, so I looked up information on watching the olympics online.  My favorite summer olympics event is gymnastics, so that’s what I was looking for first.  You can get pretty comprehensive coverage on NBColympics.com, except that it has an aspect I haven’t seen before for watching tv online – the requirement that you subscribe to a TV service which partners with NBColympics.

I don’t subscribe to any tv service, choosing instead to get my video entertainment on the web through major network’s websites and Netflix.  I prefer this, because not only can I watch everything that I care to see, but I can pause them and watch them whenever I want, at a much cheaper price (usually free!) than premium tv service.  We do subscribe to cable internet through our local tv service provider, so I tried typing that in when it asked for provider information, but my local service isn’t a partner.  …so I used the info I had as an undergrad student in the dorms, and that worked fine. Voila! Olympics online tv access.

So, if you want to watch gymnastics video online, go to NBC olympics’ gymnastics page.  I just watched the women’s team preview, and it got me pretty psyched! They’re talking about it being the best team since the Atlanta 1996 team, which I remember well because I was a competitive athlete at the time.  Watching this year’s girls talk about the impact of watching Team USA’s first ever olympic gold in the gymnastics women’s team competition in 1996 really brought back memories.  I can’t wait to watch this year’s team compete!  Go Team USA!

August brings such joy…

Hot, summer weather…the smell of NY intensifies…the subway stations are stuffy and full of sweaty people, myself one of them…I sweat buckets yesterday and this morning taking care of babies in under or non-air conditioned apartments…got so dehydrated I vomited last night (did a horrible job taking care of myself during a very busy day, and am much better today, thanks)…oh, and I just found out I need a root canal.  Which I have to ask my parents for help to pay for, which I hate.

Fingers crossed that soon…soon, this will be over.  August will end, the hot humid weather will subside, good work on T! will be done, and we will raise our Series A round of funding for the company, which we are currently reincarnating from an LLC to a C-corp (business & tax law – oh so much fun!).  September will bring my 25th birthday, and may it also signal the beginning of Husband and I’s lives as salaried employees of our own company. With health and dental, and vacations, and a flexible schedule, and the feeling that our work makes a difference, and is a creative and fun outlet, and the potential for serious $$$ a few years down the road, and the ability to start paying back our debts…