Dragon Boat, you're cruising for a spot on my Murtaugh List

April 16, 2014

"It's the butt chafing that's actually bothering me more" is a thought I just had. 

Naturally, I thought I should probably share it with you.

See, we had our first dragon boat practice in an actual boat on Sunday. I tell you what: OW. We were scheduled for an hour in the boat, but lucky us, it was available half an hour early! So we got a practice and a half! I had followed the suggestion to bring a dish towel to shove into my sports bra on one side to cushion my body against the side of the boat. This turned out to be insufficient.

By Sunday night, I thought I may have cracked a rib from repeately smashing the area under my left arm into the side of the boat. I'd love to show you the bruise so you may all be suitably impressed, but said bruise extends into territory that is not family-friendly, so you'll just have to take my word that for once in my entire life, I am actually not exaggerating. It's roughly the size and shape of an index card. A small one, so I guess 3x5. So I guess I could have just told you that my bruise was roughly 3x5 inches, but my mind works in picture analogies, not measurements, alright? I iced it (well, I didn't use ice so much as a bag of frozen green beans, but you can't say I frozen green beaned it without confusing people) Sunday night and a couple of times on Monday and it's gotten better.

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I took this to send to Raj on the ship. Hard to imagine how he can stand to be away from me when I send him such sexy photos.

I was well aware by the time we exited the boat that my side, as well as my less impressively-bruised left knee and basically all of the muscles in my body were going to cause me pain later. It wasn't until I got in the shower after getting home from practice though that I discovered the more distressing problem. The water hit the spot right where the edge of my butt had met the edge of the boat seat where I rocked back and forth while rowing for an hour and a half, causing me to think VERY BAD WORDS while executing a quick 180.

The skin there is just gone. Not in terribly big spots, but it really doesn't take much to make life pretty uncomfortable. Some of the other women have been dealing with this for weeks now as a result of our practices sitting on the dock, so I suppose I should be glad to have escaped it for so long. Apparently it happens a lot to people in Crossfit who do crazy amounts of sit ups. Meaning I just added another item to Lori's Giant List of Reasons to Never Do Crossfit.

I will, however, be back in the dragon boat this Saturday, though I plan to have a lot more padding this time. That's our last practice in the boat before the race, which is less than three weeks away now. Our Okinawan rudder guy thinks we've got a good shot at winning our heat based on what he saw Sunday.

Here's a picture a teammate's husband took of us rowing backward when we were just getting started and leaving the dock.

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I'm on the near side of the boat, near the middle, wearing a white hat. Next to me in the pink is a woman who came along to translate for our rudder guy who was giving us lots of helpful tips. She won't be in the boat on race day, nor will we have our two alternates or the second of the two race officials standing in the boat, so that will help some. And we'll only row for about five and a half minutes (though hopefully less) one time, then potentially one more time later in the day if we make the finals.

Also? We'll have our tutus. Last year they wore tutus and were the first all women's team ever to make it to the finals. Probably it was the hard work and dedication that made the difference, but we can't take the chance of assuming it wasn't the tutus that did it. Gotta cover all your bases. And all areas of my body that make contact with the boat. Lesson learned.

Stream of (semi)consciousness

April 03, 2014

My parents are arriving in just a couple of days. I'm excited to see them and to play Okinawa tour guide and to have company. Raj has been gone for over a month now, though he did get to stop home briefly one day last week. Which was 99% wonderful because I got to see and touch him and 1% awful because then I had to say goodbye to him again. But, you know, 1% awful is hardly very awful at all.

I've got two papers and a couple of other assignments to get done, one of which is a group assignment with the same very unmotivated group I've already had and the professor gave us 99% freedom and 1% direction, which is far from ideal. At least nobody has emailed yet to let us know she'll be late contributing because she'll be on vacation. This time.

I also need to grocery shop and clean my house. It's a disaster in here. Which, yes, is partly grad school. The house has been a mess throughout most of this semseter. But now it's more of a mess because when Raj leaves, I turn into a teenager who no longer picks up after herself or goes to bed at a reasonable hour (Oh, hey 1:34am!) or cooks food. String cheese, edamame, and yogurt - it's what's for dinner. Plus I recently discovered some Ghirardelli dark chocolate squares in the pantry that I'd forgotten I bought. Let that sink in for a moment. There was chocolate here and I forgot to eat it. I don't know who I am anymore. I mean, sure, the forgetting part sounds a lot like me. But some things are important.

To be fair, I did cook once this week. I made a quiche. Which might sound impressive, except it was really a product of finding a roll out pie crust in the freezer and thinking how the spinach and tomatoes in the fridge were about on their last legs. I googled a recipe to find out temperature and time for quiche baking and noticed that it wanted me to cook my spinach and tomatoes first. This sounded like more work (come on, I already chopped them and unrolled a pie crust, which I had also defrosted with my own two hands by moving it from the freezer to the fridge) so instead I just threw them in the crust, poured in my eggs beaten with milk (the recipe wanted me to add chopped fresh parsley, which I didn't have so I was going to add dried parsley but I found dried basil first, so I threw some of that in). Then I got out my container of bleu cheese. How much should I add? Well, probably my quiche was going to need a lot of extra flavor to make up for all of the steps I skipped and things I didn't put in. Also bleu cheese is amazing, but I don't think my parents like it so if there was extra it might go to waste and WHAT THEN? So I dumped all of it right on top of my quiche, which I covered in foil and cooked for the stated time (40 minutes on 400) removing the foil for the last ten minutes. Then I cooked it for an additional ten minutes because it wasn't set. Then another ten minutes. This always happens to me with quiche. Maybe I put too much stuff in it? It did turn out to be delicious (Too bleu cheesey? Nope.) though maybe a little liquidy since I didn't cook the liquid off the tomatoes or even bother to salt them when straining. I didn't mind though.

I'm not going in to work tomorrow since the teacher I work with is showing a movie because next week is spring break and the children are nutty and this teacher was already, by Tuesday IN NO MOOD. When a teacher as laid back as this guy begins to speak in all caps, it's clearly desperate times. So tomorrow I'll write two papers and vacuum and put away the clean laundry that's been sitting on Raj's side of the bed for...a while. And carry ten pairs of shoes upstairs and clean the sinks and all of that. And email my group members to say No, seriously guys, what are we doing for this? and also figure out where I need to go to get passes for my parents to get on base for a week.

But first? Sleep. Then coffee. Amen.

Three Decades Later

March 21, 2014

If you know me or have been reading things here long enough, you know that I've never been good at sports. Any sport. Ever. I'm uncoordinated, slow, lazy, have poor reflexes and lack depth perception. I was a chubby kid. I'm afraid of the ball.

So it would not surprise you to learn that I hated PE as a kid. I hated it so much. I think it must be the same way my students feel about reading: a thing teachers make them do in front of everyone to demonstrate how much they suck at it. And it seems like it's pretty easy for basically everyone else.

It would also then not surprise you to know that I did not have much love in my heart for my PE teachers. I kind of figured they chose physical education out of a desire to torture children. Maybe they also wanted to play sports all day, but probably it was mostly the torture thing.

If you know me or have been reading things here long enough, you also know that my BFF Amy and I have known each other since God was a boy.

Behind Bars

Or at least since children could be imprisoned inside fiberglass hamburgers.

She was basically our much taller triplet from another mother. To say she was the athlete of the three of us would not be much distiction since my sister possesses roughly the same athletic prowess as I do. Amy, on the other hand, was a three season athlete in high school and played college basketball. So yeah, she's real sporty.

I kind of envied Amy coming out of college because it felt like she found her calling right away. She became a PE teacher and coach. Of course she did because it was perfect for her. She's athletic and great with kids. I wrote a post long ago in which I talked about there maybe being one word to describe a place or person and the word I immediately think of for Amy is play. Yes, we played a lot of Barbies togehter as kids and she played sports, but she's also just playful in general. And while I'd rather sit and watch, Amy wants to get out there and play. Put her in, Coach, she's ready.

Over the years, Amy has completely ruined my judgments regarding PE teachers. I mean, sure, there are PE teachers who choose the job because it seems easy and they can wear basketball shorts to work and yell a lot. And sure, I think Amy does like that she can play sports at her job. But she also really, really cares about what she does. She cares that kids learn the value of teamwork and physical activity. She cares that they challenge themselves. She cares, like I do with reading, that kids try their best at these things that she loves and knows are good for them. 

And she cares about the kids like me who would rather be anywhere else in the world than in the gym or on the field feeling perpetually humiliated. I always figured my PE teachers hated having me in their classes, being bad at everything they wanted me to be good at. And maybe some of them did, the way some teachers only want the kids who are good at math or writing or music. But most of them were probably more like Amy, who loves the kids like me and really wants to help them find a way to succeed.

I didn't learn until I was in my 30s the benefits of physical activity, which go beyond improved health, to improved self-confidence and finding positive feelings toward my body based not on how it looks, but on what it can do. Once I understood that, I could better understand what drives Amy. Like a lot of people, she thinks sports are fun and wants to share that joy with kids. But she also sees beyond that to the even more important parts of what she does. I get that now. It gives me a whole new respect for PE teaching as a noble profession and it makes me love Amy even more than I already did. Which was a lot.

Thank you, Amy, for putting your heart, sweat, and time into helping kids become stronger, healthier, and more brave. Thank you for being the athlete in my life who never treated me as less than for being terrible at sports. Thank you for 30 years of playing together. Here's to 60 more.

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My name is Lori. I write. I teach. I run. I enjoy intelligent conversation, professional football, big government and the public library. I married a libertarian. We live in Okinawa, Japan.

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