sangre_fria: (Default)
Thursday: Our second day that the ChCh regatta. The current in the river was so strong, one of Merton's shells crashed into the bank and had to have people rescued. (We passed by the accident site later, and the shell was complete wreckage.) Because of that, our race was delayed an hour. So we sat out in the freezing cold, in a boat, fighting the current for an hour. Two (Irina) and I had to constantly row so that we could stay in the same place; I'm not kidding. Then it started to rain (freezing rain) right before our race. By the time we finally started our race, it had started absolutely pouring. We couldn't even see, and we could barely hear our cox, even though she was screaming at the top of her lungs. Halfway through the race, hail started to come down on us. Chunks of ice, about the size of marbles. The wind made the current so bad, we almost crashed into the bank like the other crew. And, of course, after our race they had to cancel the rest of the regatta for the day...

We did manage to make it to the finish line. When we rowed past Merton's wrecked shell, I felt like crying. It was so sad; it was a wooden one, hand-crafted and polished to a shine. Broken more ot less in two, the riggers all twisted on one side. It was a horrible crash, and such a shame losing such a beautiful shell. And we almost knocked a goose senseless, because it was just too stupid to get out of our way. Strokeside accidentally knocked it about a bit with their blades before it swam on. Yeah, geese are pretty dumb...

Pictures, anyone? I'm the bow, which for you non-rowers means that I'm the one on the end...

http://www.rowtherace.co.uk/chch05/slides/IMG_3211.html
http://www.rowtherace.co.uk/chch05/slides/IMG_3212.html

Thursday night was spent at Katie's party, which was absolutely fabulous. She had a murder mystery party, and each of us was given a character to dress up as and act the part of during the game. These mystery party games are all the rage here in Britain. It's all in a kit that you buy in party shops and such. You buy one that has the right number of characters for your party, and it contains invitations that tell everyone who their character is and how to dress. So then you get there; everyone's in character, and you put on a tape that came with it. A "detective" starts talking about the murder, and gives you clues here and there to help you solve it. Each of us gets a booklet for our character, telling us who we are, and what our real motives are; what we're supposed to tell people, and the things that we should try to keep secret. Then we go around accusing each other and questioning to figure out who did it. No one knows who the murderer is until the very end, after you go around guessing who did it. Then you play the last bit of the tape, and all the pieces fall together.

And just in case you guys were wondering who did it, I can tell you that it was just about everyone. It was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. Apparently, the dead Butler had been stealing the Uncle's port, and since the Uncle was pathologically insane, he put poison in the alcohol to "teach him a lesson". That would have killed him, except for the fact that the French Girl he had an affair with tried to poison him too, because he was blackmailing her. The two poisons canceled each other out, but he was feeling very sick and had to stay in bed. That's where he was shot, but the curious thing was, there was blood on both sides of his pillow. As it turns out, the Nun was his long-lost sister; when their father had died, their family became penniless so the Nun was sent to America and the brother/Butler was sent to London. Their mother later married a rich German, who already had a daughter, the Caberet Star. When she died, the money was going to go to the Butler, but he died so the Caberet Star was going to inherit it all.

The Nun was my secret lover, and I wanted her to inherit it all instead; so I was going to kill the Butler. I even had a suicide note all written up. But when I got there, he was already dead. So I left the suicide note and snuck away. The Butler was killed because the Niece's Fiance owed him money. The Butler was actually a member of a the crime underworld, and the Fiance didn't want to get mixed up in it. So he convinced his wife-to-be to actually pull the trigger. But the shot to the head didn't actually kill him. That's why there was blood on both sides of the pillow. The Nun (his sister) had come in afterward, and had seen that he was shot, but still breathing. She smothered him with the pillow; a mercy killing.

Man, it was so much fun...

Friday: An unspeakable amount of work was done.

Saturday: Errands were run, inquiries were made, and laundry was done. The dryers only take twenty pence coins, and I ran out halfway through. Despite borrowing money from a porter, there still wasn't enough to actually dry my clothes. Or the sheets I was supposed to sleep on. Or the towel I was supposed to use after showering. I'm almost positive that my annoyance could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt a chill come over you that afternoon, then yeah, that was me.

Sunday: Finished my last cells and genes paper a day early. I'm almost positive that my jubilation could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt the sudden urge to laugh hysterically come over you that afternoon, then yeah, that was me. My clothes and sheets and towels were still wet, though. But on the bright side, the regatta after-party was that night. So I got to hang out at Filth with some of my crew, and more or less danced the night away. I ended up getting to bed at three o'clock in the morning; not because of leaving the club late, though. I actually left around one o'clock. When I got back to my room, I remembered that Biz had borrowed my extra mattress because she had had a friend come to stay with her. Of course, I didn't really "remember" this by myself; I saw the mattress laying out in the middle of the hallway. So there I was at about two in the morning; single-handedly dragging a mattress through the hall to my room. Ducking under the clotheslines still covered in drying clothes, I finally managed to shove it back on the bed. Then bed for me.

Monday: Last dissection for the term; the poor little starfish never had a chance. I turned in my cells and genes paper, but I have my last invertebrate paper due Wednesday; so it was off to the library for me. I stumbled across a book written by Dr. Speight, which was interesting (though not really surprising, at this point). He gave his last lecture this morning, so I suppose I'll just have to chat with him about it after I get back from winter break. Like most of our dissections, today's had been a bit rough on the nerves, so Ada and I took up our habit of hanging out in the college bar for a while after dinner. She doesn't like cutting things open (not to mention that she's a bit of a vegetarian), so I bought her a drink for being such a good sport about it all. Afterwards, I walked back to my building.

It started to rain, but something just wasn't right about it. The rain wasn't falling as fast as it should have, and it wasn't very wet. I looked down at my coat and got the shock of my life. I'm almost positive that my childish wonder could be felt across the Atlantic ocean. If you felt the sudden urge to dance in the middle of a snowfall about four hours ago, then yeah, that was me. They weren't proper snowflakes, but it was still snow.


I'm in complete awe.
sangre_fria: (Laura- Red dress)
I had fun today, and I think we all did. To spare you the suspense, I should go ahead and say that we lost. But it was a close race the whole way, and Pembroke only won by less than half a length. Everyone was a little bummed out, but we tried our best. Our coach, Alice, said that she was proud of us anyway, and that everyone along the river was telling her how good we looked.

Our cox, Peri, was proud of us too. We didn't panic at the start, and nobody really caught a crab. We did have a problem with catching air, but I think we'll do much better in our next race. Now that we know what racing actually feels like, I think we'll be able to put that experience to good use when we race again tomorrow against Worchester's novice A.

They don't celebrate Thanksgiving here, but the Principal has invited all of the Americans and Canadians for celebratory drinks before lunch. And my friend Katie is celebrating her twentieth birthday tomorrow, and she's having a murder mystery party. Kind of like Clue, really. Each of us is given a character to play, and we all dress up; we're suspects, and we have to figure out who did it by the end of the night. The party is set in the year 1912. My character is Oscar Hemmingway III; I'm an American businessman of shady dealings (possibly armaments) with a passion for big game hunting. I'm also supposed to be very loud, and carry around a large cigar or something like that. Hooray for being a man. I'm going to have so much fun with this...

In other news, [livejournal.com profile] laurelin_kit made me many, many beautiful icons of joy! They're so lovely, and I wish I could use them all. Sadly, I'm a cheap "free LJ account" whore. But I do have three of them up. Thank you, Laura! *snuggles*

I saw some shoes like the ones Evangeline is wearing in the "glorious red dress" one; they're in a shop on High Street, and I almost fell to my knees and wept at the sight of them. Of course, it didn't help that I was walking down to the ATM at the time. Sadly, I have to spend my money on food, not the Shoes of the Gods...
sangre_fria: (Default)
Alright, there's a lot to say and not much time to say it.

Prince Charles walked through our laboratory while we were doing a practical on arthropods. Hooray for bugs. Very surreal, really. Security everywhere, and apparently the Press were being shepherded around the building while I was practically pressing my face up against the glass of a scorpion's cage. The lab went on per usual, and they didn't even announce him when he came in. He just walked right in, and since I was right next to the scorpion at the time, I was about four feet from him. He was a tad bit shorter than I thought he would be, but other than that he looked exactly the same as any picture your could find of him in the Media. Once he and his entourage of official-looking men in smart suits passed by, it was business as usual. Part of the lab was to create and label diagrams in order to show the diversity of form within the arthropods as a whole. Which more or less means that I drew a pretty picture of a butterfly. I wonder if my mom is going to hang it on our fridge...

For those of you that don't know, my schedule has been a bit tight lately because of the coming regatta. Monday mornings are off. On Tuesdays, I have to get up at six o'clock to make it the the gym session, before my morning classes. On Wednesdays, I'm up at five o'clock to go on outings on the river. Thursdays are the same as Wednesdays. Fridays are off, usually, but we had an outing on Friday last week. Saturdays have afternoon outings that last several hours. And Sundays either have outings or sprint erg sessions (when you get on a rowing machine and row as hard and fast as you can until you can't really move anymore), followed by an evening gym session (heavy weightlifting). Not to mention that I have nine o'clock lectures every morning, and Mondays and Tuesdays are lab practical days (i.e. I'm there until past five at night). Not to mention essays to write for tutorials and reading to do for the lectures. And we can't forget the little things like laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, and going to the bank. Those sorts of things seem insignificant, but they do add up when you have things to do and places to be.

I also have to figure out how much (and what) stuff I'm storing here over the holidays. (Luckily I already found a place, emailed them, and got a reply back so that's one less thing left to do.)

Christ Church regatta starts tomorrow, and we'll be racing Pembroke's novice B team first. Depending on how well we do, we might be having races all the way until Saturday. So I'm going to miss one lecture tomorrow to race, and who knows how many others in the next few days. I'm excited, but a bit nervous too. I have been trying my best, though, and I know we'll all enjoy it so I'm not really freaking out (yet?). On Friday, we had an almost mock race with one of Balliol's teams, since we both spun at Longbridges at about the same time and that just happens to be the starting point for the Christ Church course. We started out and passed them; then three different people caught crabs at the exact same time, so we actually had to stop completely while Balliol kept going. Then we all recovered, started rowing again, and passed them again. Balliol was not best pleased.

It really felt good, and it gives us a certain level to aim for when we race tomorrow. Trust me, we're not cocky; about as far from it as you can get. I always put my all into our power tens, even when it's just practice. We all do, and you can hear it...Sadly, you can be fined for using profanity during a race at Christ Church. Irina (who sits at Two, right in front of me) is quite fluent, and we were joking about that tonight. Since she's Russian, she said she'll teach us all to curse in Russian (and especially Estonian since no one here speaks it) so we can't be caught. I don't really need to worry about that, though. I only talk to myself silently in my mind, really.

"Pull, you fat bitch! PULL!!"

And I don't want to hear any "But Cassie, you're not fat!" and such; when I'm in the bow seat and we're doing a power ten or power twenty, I am the fattest bitch on the face of the planet. End of story. I'm not going to be a weak link; I won't let my crew down, no matter what. I prefer to take the mindset that I need to work twice as hard as everyone else in the boat; that way, if everyone is thinking that way, we'll all just fly down that river.

This is not fun and games. It's cold here. The highs are in the low forties and the lows are in the low twenties, so if you ride from Hilda's to the boat house without gloves on, you will actually hurt your hands. But when it's time to row, the gloves come off and stay off. Even though frost is covering everything, and the sun hasn't even risen yet, and you have to watch your step when you're putting the shell in or taking it out of the water, because the raft under your feet is slick with ice. Even though your blade is covered in ice, and when you grab it to put it away, your hand actually freezes to it, like getting your tongue stuck to an ice cube. It hurts; it's so cold at first, your knees ache. You're tired, and probably have the start of a cold, and you have to go to a full day of lectures and practicals and tutorials afterwards. But you get out there anyway, and you concentrate on keeping your back straight, and squaring early, and slowing down the slide, and catching in time with Stroke, and keeping your arms straight, and tapping down sharply, and all the other tiny details that could make your rowing perfect if you can manage to pull them all off at once. And while you do that, your putting all your strength into the strokes; really trying to put power into the water. And after about ten minutes, you need to take off your jacket, and your jumper, and your shirt, because it's just too bloody hot.

So there you sit, in the middle of a river, before the sun has risen, in below-freezing weather, clutching an iced-over oar, and wearing nothing but a tank top.

And the funniest thing about this is that your thoughts ("I'm a masochist...") perfectly match what your timing should be. Let me explain. When you're rowing, it's best to have a stroke to recovery ratio of two to three. Two beats for the stoke while your oar's in the water, and three beats to take down the slide. No matter how fast you're rowing, the 2/3 ratio shouldn't change. Sometimes the cox will count it out loud, but usually they have more important things to scream at you. So you have to do it in your head, and it helps to do it a little something like this. Stroke. Recovery.

"I'm a masochist. I'm a masochist. I'm a masochist. I'm. A. MAS-oh-KIST..."

It works, and it's oh so true...

But despite how horrible it may sound, I love rowing to death. And I'm not going to stop, no matter how tough it gets.



Wish me (and the rest of my crew) luck tomorrow at Christ Church, guys.

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May 2008

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