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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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Well, our Organisms lecture today was taught by the Head of the Department, Dr. Martin Speight.

Now, Dr. Speight is one of the funniest people I have ever met in my life. I'm not kidding. Every lecture he gives is like a comedy hour; the whole class laughs all the way through it. Well, today Dr. Speight had an announcement. We've been doing dissections for a few weeks now, and we're slowing moving our way up to higher organisms. Well, apparently we're going to have a visitor on Monday afternoon.

Prince Charles is coming to get a tour and a demonstration, so we'll be seeing him while we work.

Yes, that's right. Prince Charles. And no, I'm not joking. Though Dr. Speight certainly was.

"Right; make sure you all look very interested and interesting. And you're not allowed to mention either his ears or his wife...."

So, yeah...

All those times before I left, everyone would say, "Oh, Cassie; you're going to be meeting royalty and stuff!"

And I was just like, "Yeah....right."

Freaky to the max, man.


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May 2008

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