Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Moar Swimming

I went back to the pool today, and this time got a swimming lesson from the friend who didn't make it yesterday. My technique is pretty poor all around. No one ever taught me how to breathe while swimming, or apparently more than one kind of kick, or how my arms are supposed to move in a freestyle stroke. I think the extent of my swimming lessons was a summer of lessons, long enough to learn how to tread water, float, and get from one end of the pool to the other without help or doggy-paddling.

I suspect I'll be making this a routine and trying to mix days I swim with friends with days I swim on my own to practice technique without people watching me. I might make the solo days a morning thing, provided I make time for it.

Swimming feels great, even with how much I have to learn. I took a shower afterwards and brought my shampoo and conditioner with me (think I might be adding leave-in conditioner later and/or acquiring a cap, because my hair is going to be really unruly otherwise). I just felt good afterward, and my skin ended up at that stage where my nerves feel really alive, nothing hurts (even the parts that were hurting prior to swimming), and clothing feels good but not necessary. I've had that happen with dance before, only I took a shower back at my dorm and then sat in my room naked because of how good it felt.

In short: I don't know why I didn't find an exercise routine of some kind after I stopped taking dance classes, because physical exertion makes me feel so good.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I just came back from a trip to my university's gym. It's on the far side of campus, and this is only the third time I've been there for the entire time I've gone here. Once for some freshman orientation thing, once during the blackout back in October/November in order to get a shower, and now today.

I've been dealing with family stuff again. I spent break at my father's house, and most of what happened there was fine with me. I helped my stepmother out by keeping up with the dishes since I was home almost every day while she was at work and I had time to spare. My dad, sister, and step-mother are starting to treat me more like family (especially my sister!) which is awesome.

And then there are things I can't currently deal with that involved a panic attack on my part and a major fight with my mother. I don't want to go into detail, because that's not what this post is about, but I forwarded one of her emails with a letter attached to a friend and then deleted it entirely from my email account until such a time as I'm able to handle her letter without affecting my grades too much.

So today I decided to try something different as stress-relief: I went swimming. Initially, I was going to swim with some friends, but they didn't make it, so I swam laps by myself.

My stamina is not very good right now. I'm not sure if it's due to lack of practice swimming or just generally not having done much physical since I stopped taking dance classes (because I don't have time).Either way, I achieved what I set out to do: raise endorphin levels and exhaust myself. That I did it in <20 minutes just means I need to go more often and get more exercise.

I did a total of five laps: twice both ways in the lane I picked, and then one more after I swam sideways a bit to get to the part that had a ladder on the opposite end I was on because I could not figure out how to get out of the pool in what I'm calling the "swim team lanes" where there's a ledge and a mini thing that looks like a diving board only much shorter that was making it impossible for me to climb out on; it was too far above my head and slanted toward the pool. Turns out I didn't need the ladder, I just needed to get to the area the side was low enough to climb. So I did an extra lap for no reason. I also ended up doing two laps on the breaststroke and three on the back stroke/half of the last one was a butterfly stroke (I think? I haven't had swimming lessons since elementary school when my aunt made me learn how to swim).

At any rate, holy cow am I tired.

And! There were a few nifty features in the locker rooms. The showers had soap dispensers; judging by the scent, this wasn't just regular hand-soap despite the similarity in containers. My hair is rinsed out enough that my comb went through it okay. There was also a little machine to put swimsuits in, and it would get them reasonably dry in about 30 seconds (they were still damp, but not dripping wet anymore). And last, they had things that looked like automatic hand dryers, except they said for hair and stayed on as long as I stayed under it. There were some about chest height (I'm assuming for children) and some a couple feet above my head, and my hair did indeed get pretty dry within a couple of minutes, so I was reasonably dry when I left the pool.

I think I might start coming to the pool more often. I have transportation so that I don't have to spend half an hour walking there, and it did me some good. I'd like to improve my stamina in order to do more laps without having to push myself really hard for every single one of them. And next time, I'm going to go in the shallow end so that I can put my feet down as necessary. This time, I was in something like 8'3" of water, and had to be able to go the full length or not at all.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Cooking and Baking Squee

I've been on hiatus while midterms happened. My last one was last Friday, and I've been on break ever since. I'm staying at my dad's house, where I had books from B&N delivered, and finished two books in three days. A couple days ago I decided to cook dinner for the house because I got a craving for a friend's chili recipe, and she kindly gave it to me.

I started that morning with reading the recipe, making a list of ingredients for the chili and for chocolate chip cookies, and searching the kitchen for necessary items. We had everything for baking except chocolate chips, and about half of the things I needed for the chili.

I even managed to go shopping and be back at the house by 12:30 in the afternoon, which made me feel extremely accomplished. This was my first time planning a fairly complex meal and shopping for it without input from parents or other more experienced adults.

Cookies, which I've made many times before, came next. Everyone who had one went back for more and sang praises, which made me really happy. I use the Tollhouse recipe with a few modifications: add slightly less vanilla extract than the recipe calls for (I just discovered that the fake stuff tastes just fine), don't add nuts, and use a bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus ~1/4 bag of some other kind of chocolate chips, in this case Hershey's dark chocolate. When I first started making these, I would add some extra choc. chips I had just for the hell of it, and discovered that I like having two different kinds of chocolate chips in the mix for varied flavor.

Later on, I started the (mild) chili, and actually managed to time it so that it was done more or less when people were ready to eat. I split the recipe my friend gave me between two pots so that I ended up with one pot of vegetarian chili and one pot of meat chili sans corn to account for various dietary needs. (I, for example, try to keep kosher-by-ingredient, especially when I'm cooking, and like to add cheese to my chili, so I needed the vegetarian one. Other people in this house *coughdadcough* won't eat a vegetarian meal, so I also needed a meat pot.) My step-mother told my aunt while they were at work that I was making chili, so my aunt showed up for dinner, too. Luckily, the chili made enough for a group--though by the time dinner was over, all of the meat chili was gone, and there was barely any veggie chili left, either.

I am well satisfied with how both pots of chili turned out, especially since it seemed like everyone loved it who tried it, including those of us who are picky about chili (myself included).

The best part? This was the most complex recipe I've ever cooked (I've had more difficult/more involved baking recipes, but that's a different skill set), and I did almost all of it by myself. The exception being, I had to ask how to peel the onion because I'd never done it before. I did the prep work, including chopping and cutting, I kept an eye on both pots and managed not to screw up the order I did things in even though the two pots had slightly different instructions and were cooking at slightly different rates, and I did the final taste-testing.

It's amazing how different the starting products looked than how the final product looked. I'm so excited! Further proof that I need to start cooking for myself more often...