I'm trying not to troll the blogs and websites with reactions to my book. It's all a little too much. But I've peeked at some. There are those that seem upset by the book, claiming it's all lies, that I'm a hopeless, pathetic pessimist that never got over not making the 1988 Olympic Team. In truth, I pulled myself out of that race, as it just didn't matter to me anymore. Seemed pointless suddenly, after having dedicated my young life to the sport. I've never once felt a single pang of regret, sorrow, sadness over not having made that team though parents and coaches promised I would.
In point of fact, I am more of a hopeless optimist than most people I encounter; friends would likely vouch for me on this. How else could I believe that I could write a book while maintaining a demanding job and full family life? And do so with no formal writing training, no 'ghost writer' and then, upon completion, have the perseverance to find an agent and get it published? I have a shoe box full of rejection letters from agents. But I kept going as I did back when I was a gymnast. I pulled it off through sheer force of optimistic will. Gymnastics taught me that and I am grateful.
I take offense at being called a pessimist more than I take offense at being called a liar. Isn't that something? I just learned that about myself this week when I found this post on a gymnastics website:
"... the Parkette's are very upset...much like when they were blindsighted with that CNN documentary, which was supposed to showcase what a wonderful club it was (and of couse made Donna look like a horrible person) The whole lot of us from the 80's....Gina Stallone, Tracy Butler, Tracy Calore, Jamie Raines, Sarah Balagosh, Cindy Rosenberry, Lisa Panzeroni...even on to Hope Spivy and Kim Kelly etc...all recall things a lot differently. My time at Parkettes was great and we all go back for Alumni programs and still all keep in touch.
I really do think that a lot of on'es perception of inicidents has to do with the outcome for them, as well as their general outlook on life. Some people are genreally psimistic and are going to see any little negative thing as so much bigger than it was, where optimists are the opposite, and can shrug off the negative ... It seems maybe Sey never got past that one letdown ['88 Olympics], and htat is really sad.
Ok. A few things I have to point out about this post, none of them related to the typos that I've left in for authenticity's sake (and I'm sorry for being a tad snarky):
1) The Strausses weren't made to look bad. They behaved badly and it was aired on national television. There is a difference. Editing can't force the insults and epithets from their mouths.
2) I am in touch with some of the women she cites above as her friends. They have been wholly supportive about the book, as have many other former and current gymnasts, some I don't even know. One of the Tracys referred to above wrote me this email the day after the book came out:
"Hey, Jen. I just finished the book. I really enjoyed it....yes, I cried and laughed...You took me back to a different time and place. At times I could feel the gym again. But I also realized how alone we all felt. Interesting how we all internalized so much of it...and tried to battle the demons within us alone. I wish we could have been there more for each other! "
I stay in touch with many of my friends from Parkettes as well as other gymnasts from the 1980's that I competed with and against. The women that I speak with look back on that time with some fondness and some sadness. Same as me. There were hard times, filled with triumph as well as tears and devastating physical pain. We don't feel the need to whitewash the whole experience in order to feel good about it. We are proud of our accomplishments as gymnasts. And prouder of those after. The hard times are what made us the people we've grown up to be. I, along with my former gymnast friends, embrace it all. The whole kit and kaboodle.
Now that's a positive outlook!