Tuesday, March 30, 2010


When my sisters and their families got together at our parents' house in the summer of 1993, these skating episodes were captured on video*.

I learned how to rollerblade at my sister's home in La Mesa, California, some months earlier. I borrowed my nephew's inline skates and set out from their back door.

The start was not fortuitous, as I began by going downhill on the driveway behind their house. When I got to the small level area at the bottom of that, I was unable to stop, and panicking, because there is a much, much longer downhill section next, I fell to the asphalt, tearing quite a bit of skin from the knuckles of my left hand.

Rather than give up, I began to teach myself how to stop. Starting at the bottom, I worked my way up a couple of feet and came down from there, stopping awkwardly. Gradually, I worked my way higher and higher, each time stopping at the bottom. Finally, I was able to descend the entire way and stop correctly.

I have used a similar technique to learn my parts in theater productions. Memorize the last line. Read the second to last line, they repeat the last line. Work forward until the entire part is in memory. It may be backward, but I have found that it works for me.
* Thanks to Judith Breitenstein for filming and for lending me the tapes of this footage.

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