Sunday, 17 June 2012


Sometimes it’s disheartening to be me, I am such a slow learner. To counteract this I have to remember how far I’ve come and count all the baby steps.

For example rowing. Rowing in a straight line is working reasonably well for me now, however, I do still run into trouble when I need to cross the river to go the other way or back the boat. Then it’s as if I’ve just gotten into an alien craft that will not obey any of my directions. And my brain goes into NFI* mode.

As I peer around behind me I see the riverbank looming close, then know I need to steer more to the left or right. However, figuring out which side to row, or to simply plant my oar, is often more a matter of trial and error than actually knowing what I’m doing. Still. (Dammit brain work harder!)

So, this week I need to acknowledge some progress, as small as that may be. I remember the very first time I sculled by myself I swore that rowing wasn’t for me and was just about ready to give it up. Despite having rowed for five months now, I have only rowed by myself four times and this week I didn’t have a mild sense of panic as I crossed the river to go in the other direction, unlike last week. Nor did I end up behind the two poles sticking up in the water causing me to need to back up the boat.  I didn’t get so close to the bank that I couldn’t row either. (Oh, OK, maybe once but I knew what to do this time.)

Backing up the boat still meets with some brain freeze. For a start when you back up the boat you want it to go ‘forward’ in the direction you are seated. In reality ‘forward’ is behind you as you sit backwards in the boat. Then you need to do the opposite of rowing; push the oars away from you. Looking at the end of the oars and hoping your arms will automatically do the rest is not helpful.

I spent some time dithering, talking myself through it as our coach yelled from the bank, “Back it, Stella. Both oars.”

Well, Good Garden Party! if I could just easily do it I would’ve done it already. I knew I had to back it, I’d gone past the start line as we practiced for a race next week. I was meant to be next to someone else instead I'd pulled ahead. (In my defence I thought she'd wanted to me to start rowing.) Yelling at me to “Back up, Stella!” was not helping. Neither was looking helplessly at my arms. “You have to do it quickly!” Didn’t have the desired effect either.

When I returned and spoke briefly to another rower she suggested “B for backing, B for body” and that means I start with the oars at my body, and then push forward. That makes so much more sense for me now I have a starting point. 

I know my brain is acting as if it’s gone on holidays but there’s not a lot I can do about that. I had wondered about the wisdom of entering a race where I have to scull by myself but I figure it’ll be good practice. And I need the practice, it’s the only way I’m going to improve.


* No Friggin’ Idea

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

A change of heart, and muscles

I have become a rowing tragic; I have signed up for the Winter Sculling Series. This consists of six sculling events, in a boat by yourself, over the month of July. My aim will be to row in a straight line, not to get caught in any of the garbage traps (they're a hazard, honestly) and not to row into anyone else.

It'd also be nice if I could keep warm. I almost lost the proverbials (you'll have to fill in the blanks) at the regatta. My teeth were chattering and I'm surprised I still need to wear a bra. (There, I've made it easy for you.) To this end I've gone out and bought thermals. 

The upside of rowing is that I'm developing some awesome muscles. I'm really impressing. . .well, myself, actually. I'm sure everyone is sick of me talking about it but it really is an unseemly waste that I am single right now because I look better than I did in my 20s. (Not that I can remember that far back.) An extra bonus is that I can eat anything I damn well please and not worry about it. OK, so this overlooks the fact that I always eat anything I damn well please and not worry about it, but still . . . it's a bonus. Now I just have to  make a bigger effort because I'm hungry more often. I also have this huge "buzz" for a couple of days after rowing. 

Despite my awesome new muscles, I absolutely no longer care that I am single. Or more correctly: I no longer care about finding a man. I don't think this has ever happened to me before. I'm enjoying rowing, working (somewhat), and going out with friends drinking and dancing; so much so that the other day I realized that I'm just enjoying my life and don't care that I'm single, in fact, I'm enjoying the fact that I am single and can blithely ignore anyone else's expectations of me. 

How did this happen? I wish it had happened sooner. I'm no longer doing on-line dating. Yes, I realise that you've heard that before but it's been a couple of weeks now and I don't even have the desire to go and look. I'm not that interested in continuing to go along to the social Friday night drinkies group and chat to the men, I'd much rather hang out with my friends and dance.

Now if I can just sort my working life out everything would be super groovy, baby.

Stella x

Thursday, 7 June 2012

On being a nerd

Despite being incredibly hot n' sassy, recent events have confirmed my long held belief that I am a nerd.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, after all, someone has to do it. Plus I believe Big Bang Theory is lending nerds some kind of It's-sort-of-OK-To-Be-A-Nerd-Aura.

I was recently on an excursion in which several schools participated. I had wandered outside to sit in the sun at lunchtime. My students were busy chatting to other students. Of the opposite sex. I knew enough not to go and sit with them so I found an empty table and sat down there. 

I was soon joined by two others; they were senior students from another school. They had the kind of poise and self assurance I did not have in my final year of school. They proceeded to chat with me quite pleasantly, apparently showing a genuine interest in where I taught, what subjects I taught etc. 

I was enjoying this little interlude until the moment when "I like your uniform" came out of my mouth, apparently before I could engage my brain. Damn. Such a nerdy teacher thing to say. In my defence it was quite a nice winter uniform. You'll just have to believe me on that one.

I was also likewise chuffed when an ex student stopped to give me a hug the other day. 

And finally, I raved to the Principal today about the quality of some of the work that I am marking. And how enjoyable it is marking it. (Yes, I am being paid to do this marking but still . . . .)

Again in my defence this Year 10 student (probably 16 years old) had written a sophisticated university level thesis - I'd be proud of the piece of work if I had written it myself. Actually I'd be surprised if I had written it myself.

Now I think about it there is more evidence. When out dancing on Saturday night I recognized a guy I had danced with a month previously. He was such a good dancer I was secretly hoping he'd be there again this time and ask me to dance. S-o-o-o encouraged by my friend to say hello I wandered over and told him I remembered dancing with him last time. 

My friend didn't tell me to be a nerd, she encouraged me to say hello. I managed to be a nerd all by myself. I mean, "I remember dancing with you last time" is hardly the best opening line I've ever heard. 

His friend then also proceeded to be less than socially graceful as he mocked me by saying, "Gee, it must've been a memorable dance then! Haw, haw."

He didn't actually say "haw haw" I just threw that in there to get some of my own mocking back.

It's a good job I've taken up rowing as I believe this redeems some of my nerdiness.  See Exhibit One below, my very first regatta. We called ourselves Operation River Storm.

That's me at the end, in the bow of the boat. (See how good I am with the terminology?)
Actually, no I don't believe the rowing does redeem me. I was at the library today; I have lost my library card. I discovered I know my library membership number by heart. Sigh. But that's only because I've been logging on electronically to download free ebooks to my ipad. (That reason doesn't help, does it?)

Stella x