Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Four Weeks Later

I broke my leg four weeks ago yesterday. Absent major developments, I’m going to aim for blog updates every two weeks to track recovery.

Leg & Foot Condition: It’s still swollen and bruised, but not as much as it was two weeks ago. Feeling is still blunted in my foot…but maybe not as much as it was? It’s hard to tell with gradual changes. I can move my toes and ankle a bit more, but it’s still really limited. Ankle area (ligaments??) feel really stiff, and sore. Toes feel kind of stiff, too. I am more concerned about pain in ankle area now than I am about hurting the break. My calf and foot are no longer really sore when I go from laying down (or keeping foot up) to standing up-right. Hands, wrist, elbows, and shoulders get a little sore from the crutches, too. My leg must be getting really weak from non-use. PT should be interesting.

Housing: I am still at my parents’ place, and will be here at least until I am weight bearing. Maybe longer. TBA. Taking a shower is a pain in the ass. Life is definitely easier here than it would be at my apartment in the city.

Mental State: I’m bored as hell. I was bouncing around with Joe during the day when he was here, but he left the area last week. Now I’m on my own.  I need to find things to occupy myself with. At night I can go some pretty dark places when in bed/can’t sleep. The future can be a scary place. I need to stay in the moment as much as I can.

Skateboarding: This is a long way off. I’ll certainly be doing dry-land hockey stuff long before I am skateboarding again.

Hockey: I got a really nice stick (for ice). I’ll be able to use it for stick handling / shooting once I am weight-bearing. I also want to get a new pair of gloves, and a shooting pad/board for once I get cleared for all that. It’s something short-terms (before full recovery) to look forward to. 

Weight
: I am worried I’m going to get fat while being totally inactive. I need to watch what I am eating.

Next Visit: They claim I could be weight-bearing (50%?? 100%??) at six-weeks. My exact six-week date falls on the week of July 4th. I couldn’t get an appointment until July 11th, so technically that will be a SEVEN week follow-up. I am kind of bummed about having to wait an additional week for that visit, but it is what it is. Right now I am a bit skeptical that there will be much of change in my foot in the next three weeks. I’ll just have to wait, see, and hope. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

So, I Broke My Leg...




On Tuesday, May 21, 2019 I broke my fibula and fucked-up the ankle ligaments in the process. I had surgery two days later. Today I had my two-week follow-up. Stitches removed. I found out that during surgery they put in a plate, five bolts, and one big-ass screw. I’m still non-weight bearing (e.g. on crutches) for at least another 4 weeks. Down to a removable air cast which is great.

My lower leg, ankle, and foot are still really swollen. Feeling in my foot is blunted. I can barley bend my ankle. They say with time, and PT, all that will go away. All I can do is wait, and hope.

I was skating a 6' high mini ramp when it happened. It was my first time on that ramp. The previous day I stated that the ramp was "cursed." Now I know that it is. I later found out that the ramp/park is KNOWN for broken bones and other serious injuries. The place even has a nickname, "The Bone Shaker." Indian burial ground or some shit.

I did some trick on one wall, and didn't like my feet placement on the way out of it. Ok, I figured, do an easy set-up trick on the next wall, and just reset. On the next wall, I did a nollie to rock to fakie. A trick I’ve done a million times. When landed on the coping, my board slid ever so slightly. It was enough to make my foot placement even worse. I briefly considered just bailing at that point, and knee sliding out. But, I decided to hang-on. "I can ride this out, it will be sketchy, but I can ride it out." Bad decision. I should have listened to my first instinct.

By the time I got to the bottom of the transition, and just started to enter the flat, I knew I was going to go down. I tried to step off my board and just run out. I planted my foot, but my leg kept going. I fell onto my leg with foot bent to the side. I immediately knew something BAD happened. I don't really remember taking my pads off, or my shoe, or waking across the park, or up the hill to get to my friend's van, but apparently I did. Adrenaline is a hell of a drug.

I remember making a lot of noise in the ride to the hospital. Half of it was from pain, the other half was out of utter existential frustration--I knew I wasn't going to be skating for awhile. I knew I wasn't going to be playing ice hockey. I knew I would be missing work. I knew my summer was now shot. I knew bad shit was going to go down. I knew my world had just radically changed, and I was pissed, angry, frustrated, and sad that all of that was going to happen...all because I decided to roll the dice on a fucking trick I knew I should have bailed-out on when I had the chance.

I've broken plenty of bones before, and had metal put in my body (metal rod in arm from a motorcycle wreck), but never anything this incapacitating. This is a whole new experience for me.

I'm now two weeks in to what could be a "three to six month" recovery, and my perspective has changed a bit since that car ride. More on that in my next post, but some context is in order.

My dad contracted Polio when he was an infant. He is now confined to a wheelchair, but had previously walked on crutches his entire life. I will walk again. He never will. In just the last six years my mom has had a knee replacement, three spine fusions (the metal rods in her back broke), and recovered from a broken hip/femur. Both of my parents have ALWAYS been in good spirits during these situations. Real role models for how to deal with adversity. Against that backdrop, I don't have much to complain about.   


Monday, March 25, 2019

45 | 45 | 45 Challenge: UPDATE 2


Today is March 26th. I still have not been back to the ramp since the first session on March 3rd. There have been a few set-backs which have prevented me from getting over to the ramp.

First, was a major snow storm that took place on March 4th or 5th. Can’t remember the exact date. I shoveled the ramp out on March 6th.


But then then melt-off caused one corner of the flat bottom to flood-out pretty bad. It wasn’t skateable until ALL the snow and water was 100% gone. That took awhile.   

Second, my car died its final death. I am junking it next week. While I can still take public transportation over to the ramp, it just takes longer and requires more planning/time to make it happen.

Third was a this knee injury sustained on March 9th. That had me out for a week or so.

Fourth was this 9 alarm fire that took place on March 15th next to the subway station near the ramp. The station was closed down, and they were running shuttle buses for a few days, which would make the public transportation trip even more cumbersome. As of now, subway service has been restored, but it was out on a few days when I wanted to head over there (right after knee healed-up).  

Firth, and most recent is a fuckin’ kidney stone which hit on March 19th. I am getting it surgically removed on March 28th, but it’s had me out of commission for over a week now. I wouldn’t wish a kidney stone on my worst enemy.

All this said, I am still confident I can meet this challenge. Assuming no other catastrophe hits after the kidney stone comes out, I can hopefully get in a few sessions before my 45th birthday on April 17.  I did 35 trick on the first sessions, so I only need 10 more to make 45. I feel good about that. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

A Few Simple Rules, Part II.

Well, I did it again. Every few months I break one my "rules." I did it again on Saturday, and I am now paying the price. My rules are not arbitrary. The originate from experiential, and practical reasons. Here was one other time I broke one of the rules, and what happened as a consequence.

One of my rules is The 4' Pad Rule: Always wear knee/elbow pads on ramps 4' high or taller.

On Saturday I went over to the 4' mini I skate all the time. I had my pads (and skate shoes) in my bag. However, when I got there, there were these two younger dudes skating the ramp I had never seen before. For some unknown reason my ego took over (which almost never happens), and I didn't want to immediately be "the old-guy-in-pads." So, I started warming-up on the ramp without my pads on, and without even putting my skate shoes on (my "regular" shoes are Vans, too, so it wasn't a major difference). I skated for about 30 min, and was skating pretty well...but I knew it was coming, and then it finally did.

I slipped out on some trick (think it was a b/s disaster to b/s revert) and went straight to my knee cap on the flat. I tried to shift to my side to avoid direct impact, but it was too late. I stopped skating for about 15 min because of the pain. I immediately put my pads on when I did start skating again. But the damage was already done. It hurt like hell, and was swelling up. Worse, it was damage that was 100% avoidable. Even worse, my The 4' Pad Rule is in place because I have, more or less, done this exact same thing before. Hopefully this time I learned. 

But wait, it gets worse! I started taking ice skating lessons a few weeks ago (I hope to someday start playing ice hockey). Ice is hard, and slippery. The following Tuesday, I was wearing some really thin volleyball-type knee pads under my pants during the lesson. During class I went down hard on my knees. Hard enough that the thin volleyball pads didn't do much good. A few days later, and my knee cap is getting better, but still a bit sore...sore enough where I am staying of the board (and ice) for a few days. So lame. So avoidable.

Moral of the story: Follow your own rules. There are real reasons they are in place. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

45 | 45 | 45 Challenge: UPDATE 1

I wanted to kick this off on March 1st, but it snowed. I managed to get over to the ramp on March 3rd.  It’s bern several months since I skated there, and my goal was to just get reacquainted with the ramp. I’ll be honest, it still scares me a bit, especially when I’m not skating it on the regular. So, I was hoping to just get comfortable with some real basic tricks during that session. Well, things went much better than expected. I hit 35 different tricks before I had to leave for work. That gives me about six weeks to get 10 more. I’m pretty confident I can do that.

The caveat is my car died on the way home. Like, really died. Getting over to that ramp will take a much longer trip but on public transportation. I’m not sure how often I’ll now be able to get over there. It also snowed 17” yesterday. So, we have a few complications to deal with. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

The 45 | 45 | 45 | 4’-5’ Challenge

April 17, 2019 is my 45th birthday.

Can I learn 45 tricks, in 45 day, for my 45th birthday on a (4’ or) 5’ mini-ramp? Welcome to the 45 | 45 | 45 | 4’-5’ Challenge.

Last April I did the “Birthday Challenge” for my 44th birthday (on your birthday, film one trick for every year your age). 90% of it was street tricks. The rest was on a micro ¼ pipe. My friend Joe did the filming. That day Joe joked that for next year’s challenge I should do it "entirely on transition.” Man, did we both laugh hard at that. While I had started skating a lot more mini ramp a few months before, I was still very much a street skater—so much so that the idea of doing 45 tricks on a mini ramp was, well, laughable to both of us (which is why were both laughing at it). Almost a year has gone by. A lot has changed.

There is a local 4’ high mini ramp that I often skate. I know for a fact that I can now do at least 45 different tricks on it. That alone is a huge accomplishment, esp. for someone who didn’t really start skating transition until late 2017/early 2018. So, I’m bumping it up a notch. There is a bigger 5’ tall ramp in the area. I know for a fact that I can NOT do 45 tricks on that ramp (you’d be amazed how much of difference a mere 12” can make), my guess is that right now I can only do about 25 tricks on that ramp, so I’ve got to learn about twenty more. I was too scared to drop-in on it the first time we skated it in the summer of 2017. To this day I hardly ever skate there.

So, as of March 1st I am starting the 45 | 45 | 45 | 4’-5’ Challenge. Can I learn to do 45 tricks, within 45 days, for my 45th birthday, on a the 5’ ramp? (If I fall short of 45 tricks on the 5’ ramp, I’ll do the remainder on the 4’ ramp, but the goal is to get all 45 tricks on the on the bigger 5’ ramp).                 

F/S 5-0 grind on the 5' ramp, fall 2018.

IF I can manage this, I will consider it the biggest accomplishment in my skateboard “career.” Why? There are four main reasons.

(1)    I am a relatively “new” transition skater.
(2)    I am old as fuck.
(3)    That 5’ ramp has scared the shit out of me for awhile.
(4)    How laughable the idea was a year ago.

This is also the same ramp that bit my forehead the third time I skated it. There is history between us, ugly, gruesome, antagonistic, history. That incident prompted me to thereafter always wear a helmet when skating any ramp 5' and taller.

 

I’ll post some video updates as this whole thing “progresses,” which I am sure will provided for some good wrecks and slams. Wish me luck. I am going to need it.



Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Ontology of Vandalism & the Iron Oxide Dust of the Dissaffected

Today I went to a small, run-down, almost forgotten skate park, far outside the city limits. The ramps were made of metal, and most had rust.

 
Once removed from larger population centers there are palpable ontological differences. One place these differences manifest is in vandalism. Yes, vandalism. Most “Big City” skate parks are covered in “fresh,” “urban” graffiti like this.*


This nearly abandoned park had almost nothing of that kind. Instead, it flourished with words and images of disaffected youth. Which, unfortunately, is not something you see much of anymore. Seeing it now, in 2019, reminded me of graffiti I saw 30+ years ago in my home town, before “fresh urban” graffiti became gentrified in its own way, and commonplace around the globe.


   
Angst that was once scribbled on public walls is now on a virtual one, tapped-out with a keyboard. This guy was on the side of a ramp. Did they know he resembled Q-Bert from the 1980s video game, or is he just some “fly-guy” with a vintage hat and an acute proboscis problem? No “tags” are to be found here, nor any of the "Nike SB" or "Supreme" scrawls I've actually seen in the city. Here, there were only creatures that might have crawled out of The Metamorphosis. Gregor Samsa might feel at home in this skate park. I certainly did.


“Memes” have more backbone when they are illegal street art/vandalism, rather than tired social media tropes. Everyone in hell loves Facebook.

 
This one has some great irony, because it can be read in two starkly different ways (and I am sure that was unintentional). The obvious reading is that “dream life” should take precedent over “real life.” The darker and bleaker meaning is that “dream life” is now over, and “real life” has begun. Both are apt messages for a skate park that falls in the shadow of a high school, with the dreamland optimism of youth in its twilight hours.

 
The metal ramp was old, rusty, and from by-gone era. Just like me, and my generations of skaters. Knee slides left iron oxide dust on my pads and shoes.



My shoes and pads were now marred with the residue of age. They are marks from the past. Just like all this graffiti, in form, and content.

 
In another sense, all this graffiti was "fresh," but in the sense that it was "new," and "recent." It wasn't old, like me, or the rust. In the wake of modern commercialism, corporate sponsorship, the Olympics, and greater social acceptance, it makes me happy that this spirit is still (somewhat) alive in skateboarding—that there are some who still want to be outsiders. I salute you.

*I am in no way bashing serious graffiti art. I am just pointing out observational differences of time and place.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

The Old Skater Manifesto

I wrote this awhile ago for the Neverwas web site. It pairs nicely with the Open Letter to Anyone Who Sucks at Skateboarding


The world is full of really good skateboarders.
We are not among of them.

Some want skateboarding integrated into larger society. 
We do not.  

Skateboarding is mostly comprised of, and marketed to, teenagers/young adults. 
We are an old, irrelevant demographic.

These are our Truths and Decree. This is the Neverwas Manifesto. 


1.    Zero Regulation: There is no “correct” way to use a skateboard. There are no rules.

2.    Anti-Jock: Skateboarding is not win/lose. Point-scale continuums are laughable. The failure/success of one is not the success/failure of another. It is OK to fucking suck at skateboarding.

3.    Anti-Ego: We have nothing to prove, and no one to impress. We do not skate for applause or “likes.”  We skate only for ourselves. The only approval/disapproval that concerns us is our own.

4.    Counter-Narrative: Skateboarding is more than El Toro, Mega Ramps, and NBDs. We are the Common Man counter-narrative to hype media. We are proud of this role, and proud of the counter-examples we set.

5.    Kingdoms of Rut: Some say same tricks/same spot, over and over, is a “rut.” If it is, we hope this rut lasts forever. It is our kingdom.

6.    The Priority of Today: Skating becomes harder with age. We have no remorse over “lost tricks” of yesteryear. Rather, we have only profound gratitude for today’s session. 

7.    Primary Goal of Fun: Progression can be a by-product of fun, yet progression for its own sake is not the objective. We focus on enjoyment, in whatever form it takes. The Serious will never drag us down.

8.    No Illusions: We are under no illusion of perpetual youth and invincibility. We skate accordingly so that we can continue well into the future.

9.    Battle Gear: Avoiding injury today means skating tomorrow. We will proudly wear any amount of safety gear we see fit. Pads are overtly anti-fashion and anti-ego. They are part of a punk counter-narrative.

10.    Anti-Integration: We embrace outsider social status. We do not seek integration with tired social tropes of consume, compete, and outshine. We are not trying to “fit-in.” We are trying to opt-out.

11.    No Carpetbaggers: We strive to only support companies that have their roots in skateboarding, or have skateboarders as their primary market. Locals only. No outsiders. 

12.    Spread Stoke: We keep our spare skate stuff on-hand/in the car/etc. for the purpose of donating it to kids who may need, but cannot afford, better equipment.

13.    Applause: We always cheer when someone lands something they are struggling with, no matter how “simple” it may seem.

14.    Share and Inspire:
We will unabashedly post skate clips on social media, despite skill level. Others have inspired us with their footage, and we hope ours may inspire the similarly situated. That said, rampant selfie-culture is abhorrent. Skate more, film less.  

15.    Anti-Vibe: Greater skill does not mean greater entitlement to make use a of spot/park/etc. We will not be curbed by superior ability. Likewise, if our presence dampens others, we will encourage them to join the session.

16.    Anti-Containment: We seek to skate as few government sanctioned skate parks as possible.

17.    Anti-Trend: We follow no trends. We are who we are.

18.    Follow Own Truth: Others will judge us. Some may think we are “kooks.” Others may “look-up” to us. Neither is of concern. We follow our truths, not other’s opinions.

19.    Purity: We remember why we started. That is why we continue. We are Lifers.

20.    Ambassadors of Stoke: We represent that “skateboarding is fun to do, by being terrible at it.”*  Some may not understand this “contradiction.” Those who do not have missed one of life’s greatest secrets.

PLEASE SHARE WIDELY


CREDITS: This manifesto was distilled from many sources. Some phrases/quotes remain virtually unaltered from their original source. To avoid disruptive cites in every line of text, we acknowledge all sources at a single time. Thank you to the following for their endless Stoke.  

Ditch League (IG @ditchleague)
Jim Thiebaud
*Lance Mountain
Lao Tzu
Lost Boys Skate Club (IG @lostboysskateclub)
Mike V.
Neverwas Crew  (https://neverwasskateboarding.com)
Old Dude Skate Crew (IG @odsc.official / www.facebook.com/groups/ODSCOfficial)