Monday, April 28, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Obtains Rather the Hangover.
After a good but tiring week of twice daily practices with the kids, yesterday was the long awaited day off. Apparently days off for me now revolve around food. And sleep. Having kicked in with the long lay in, pancakes with Liz were already jazzing up what looked like a pretty miserable day weather wise. Nothing says Saturday morning like pancakes. And then, more sleeping! Ah, nap. Awoken only by Mike calling to check that we were still on for the scotch tasting at the Boat Club that night. Check. See you at 5:30 ish.

By 5:30, it was no longer drizzling. It was flat out pouring. Mike was glad because he'd been helping his upstairs neighbor move all day and it hadn't been raining hard all day for that - it is important to find your happiness where you can. But still, it wasn't shaping up to be that wondrous spring evening all had been hoping for. But inside, it was just like Scotland, which is just as well as outside it looked just like Scotland anyway. This is why the Scots invented single malt whiskey in the first place, to warm up and to forget it was miserable outside. A cunning breed, those Scots. For just standing around waiting for dinner, there was a mixed scotch - Johnnie Walker black label. Feeling adventurous, I drank it with Drambuie. Larry Cabot pours them strong, it turns out. But I was nursing it for an hour (Mike sensibly sticking to the less toxic seeing as he had to do the driving), so I just got warm, not drunk. Which enabled me to stay sober enough to notice that Mike and I were about the only people there under 45, and that none of the people I knew from the club were present at this event. Luckily, Mike is a good conversationalist. Then all of the sudden, we were talking to Jack and Nona, who despite being my mother's age were fun, good people. And at long last, dinner time. But first I encoutered our table companions. I could tell the scotch was kicking in. On overhearing our table companions speaking in French (which is hardly suprising since Patrice is from Paris.) I amazed even myself by lauching into an increibly rapid, grammatically correct spiel about how I hadn't spoken French in ten years, took it for five in school, this was Mike and what part of France were you from? I didn't know I had it in me. Time for food. With more scotch. There were two drams to go with the soup, two to go with the main course (We both went for lamb, but Mike actually tried the haggis. I've had it before three or four times. That was enough.), some Lagavulin to go with the sticky toffee pudding, and another to go with the cheese course. And then of course, refresher samplers at the bar if you've fallen for a particular.

Of course, people had to stay sober to drive, and there is really only so intoxicated you would want to get as it is neither pretty nor clever to be drunk, so the entertainment planned for after the meal was a celidah - Scottish country dancing. Which since no one knew, they had to be taught. This was very interesting to watch, seeing as rowers are not known for their coordination off the water, and only one couple (the British Consul-General and his wife) actually knew what they were doing. I confess to not participating myself. I was still reveling in the fact that for the first time in quite a while I was all girled up. Cleavage, makeup, hair done right. Yeah, girliehood!

If you're going to get a bit dippy on scotch, I suppose it is best to do it on the stuff that is on special for only $225 a bottle (the 32 year old Oban). Because the consequence of drinking alcohol is a hangover, so you might as well get hungover on something that is a real treat to drink. This is not something they show when they show teenagers or people getting drunk on TV. And I think they should, because there would be a lot less underage drinking and certainly a lot less cool points for binge drinking, which isn't cool anyway. There is a lot in the press at the moment about "The Real Cancun" which seems to be MTV's Real World on spring break. I think this stuff actually could have social value, but there needs to be the follow up. All that willy nilly casual sex? Let's show the fallout - diseases, unwanted pregnancy, lowered self esteem from letting your body be used and abused in such a way. All that constant drinking every night, it should show the skin damage, liver damage, and loss of brain cells. Show some connection between actions and consequences. Of course, the one thing that wouldn't come across are the two things that I had to deal with today. First, having to do work while being tired and dehydrated (which late nights and alcohol do to a gal) is not highly productive, but there is still work to be done, and only so much time to do it in, so suck it up buttercup. The other is that the byproducts of alcohol will start to seep out your skin as it breaks down in your system. So you will smell scotch on your skin the minute you wake up. True, you can shower this off. Which I did, but by the evening, I could smell it again. This was not a pleasant smell on the way home from church this evening. Again, something that should be demonstrated "Tonight, On a Very Special After School Special."

Speaking of which, it is time to finish off the weekend the way it started. Wth plenty of rest. Be good boys and girls. Apparently we're about to invade Syria next, so you need to grow up big and strong.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Summer makes me drowsy, Autumn makes me Sing. Winter's pretty lousy, but I hate Spring. - Dorothy Parker

Saturday, April 26, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Spends Friday with the Squad
Milhouse Update: Miles rowed today: 8. Total miles: 20. Money pledged: $1170. We're getting better. Drills are good for people.
The kids have been working hard all week, what with double practices. So Friday, I told them that if everyone brought in five dollars, we could hang out in between practices, order pizza, and watch DVDs. Which is exactly what we did. The kids were really good. They had an excellent first practice, long, with some good rowing. Although I added yet another adventure to my rather traumatic season so far. Dale had been nice enough to bring us the Lesley wakeless launch. I checked it over when I got there, and it looked set up. Lifejackets, paddle, the essentials. Engine started up on the first pull, no problem and we were off. 100m down the river, we stopped, and the engine wouldn't start again for love or pulling. This was because, as I figured out *20* minutes later (not so quick on the uptake, is me) Dale had safely put away the gas can so that it wasn't sitting out overnight in the boat. Which is precisely what you're supposed to do. Not being used to the boat, I wasn't expecting to see it there. But since the boat isn't particularly complex or different from the other boats, really is was just me being not so bright! We (one of the kids and I) paddled back to the dock and got the gas tank. Problem solved. This was almost as rich as the afternoon's adventure. I pulled up in the launch to three seat shouting "Scott, take half a stroke!" followed by the coxain shouting about five times consecutively, each time more and more aggressively "SCOTT TAKE HALF A STROKE!" Scott, of course (otherwise it wouldn't be much of a story), was just sitting there happily, without taking a stroke. From the bottom of my toes, I brought up a shout. "SCOTT!!!!! TAKE HALF A STROKE! AND IF YOU'RE NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO YOUR COXSWAIN, YOU'RE GOING TO LISTEM TO ME AND I'M GOING TO HAVE AN AWFUL LOT TO SAY!" It turns out that three seat was actually working with the coxswain to perfect her tone to be more aggressive than more cheerleading. Scott had indeed taken the requested half stroke the first time. But dagnabbit, he took it again when I shouted! When I found out the full story on the dock, I apologized to the kids, which they more than deserved, then burst into laughter when three seat informed me "well, you did give a really good example of an aggressive tone which gets results." They understood what I was doing and the mistake I had made. And they accepted my apology, thankfully. It was a fun day with the kids, but slightly tiring. While my kids followed the rules really well (and offered great home made cookies to the Head of the Charles staff, Dale and other people to keep us in good stead), it was still my responsibility as the adult in question to be there and make sure they followed the rules. Not a problem, but it does mean keeping tabs on them, which just gets tiring after a while! Or maybe it was the practices. While the rowing is getting better, the coxing is also getting better. In a flat out scary way. She's taking turns so tight it is giving me chest pains to watch. The mantra "she's not going to make it, she's not going to make it, she's not going to make it, Holy Hannah! Wow that was a sweet turn!" is going to kill me.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Team Milhouse Today
Miles rowed today: 6. Total miles rowed: 12. Money pledged: $1030. Today's progress was a little frustrating. We're getting the rigging checked on the boat. Honestly, it wasn't so bad. Compared to other rowing programs I've had, it was about par. A long slog, and we get somewhere, but it doesn't fly. But luckily, Liz and I have the image of the 20 stroke pieces we've taken. To quote Mazda, zoom zoom zoom! It will happen. There is something about the stroke seat that isn't getting the oomph. The rowing chair at CBC is going to take a measure of it. And I am going to read my sculling books and rack my wee brain for drills that will improve us. As one of the great rules of rowing is "row the boat you've got." Also paraphrased in the mantra "suck it up, buttercup." We can do it. We are Team Milhouse!

The more I think about the Milhouse concept, the more I think it is truly fitting. I mean, we're going to row in the Head of the Charles but in the Championship event. Neither of us have rowed much in the last two years, and we're out of shape! (Well, Liz is in better shape than I am.) Ok, we're starting now, and with my great motivation we'll be fitter than something really fit by the race, but we'll be up against national and international caliber rowers. Complete "My Mom says I'm cool." territory. And the whole point of it is we'll have a blast. So much fun. And in the meantime, we'll raise as much money as we can for charity, which is almost a better point.

In the meantime, the children continue to delight me. They work so hard, and it really really is paying off. For all of them. There are one or two who seem to be a little apprehensive that they aren't progressing the way they should, or at the pace that others are. But the point is that they are progressing, and continuing to progress. I'm thrilled with them all. TOmorrow, I'm hoping we'll get to race BB&N in the afternoon. More of a friendly than anything else if we can arrange it. I hope we can win. But in the meantime, between the practices we're staying in the boathouse, watching movies, and having some pizza. A little party for the squad.

Off to the tub. The lats need a soak.
Anne of the stroke seat

Thursday, April 24, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Is Present at the Birth of Team Milhouse
Well, that's your typical day around here. Today was race day for the kids. Up and out of the house nice and early. It was an astounding thing, and a testament to the mothering streak that I have that I was running around the flat at 6:30 in the morning going "they're going to be cold, they'll need hats, where are my hats?" I have no children, but suddenly I am mother to the novice squad. Three hats and an ear warmer later, plus shirts, oranges, power bars and water bottles at the ready, I headed into Cambridge, hopeful yet still having to pray that everyone turned up. Which they did. We got up there, got rigged, got the directions and got on the water, no problem. I was in proper coaching mode - supportve, excited, answering questions and once they shoved off, ready for my heart attack any minute. They were out of range to see at the start, but when they rowed by me, they appeared to be rowing fine. Not great, not as great as I've seen them, but fine. Which is why I could not understand why we were so far behind another crew that was really rowing quite badly. I was shocked, stunned and very confusd. So when they landed, I asked them what happened, stressing that I was proud of them and how well they had rowed. Apparently, I missed all the fun! Crabs galore, tipping, "we thought we were going to fall in," and two seat's seat coming off the slide. Apparently, they had the other squad until they came off the slide. "But we did what you told us coach, we picked it up on the next stroke." and the kids seemed in good spirits. I am quite proud of them, but I think we can do even better in the next race, whenever that is.

Then in the afternoon, it ws time for my practice. Now that Liz and I have our HOCR entry, we are kicking into the high practice gear. Every day. But we still had to sort out our membership at CRI so that we could row our arranged boat there. As our ongoing luck would have it, we ran into the CRI director outside CBC. I've been friends with Alyson for years now, and have great respect for her. So I told her the situation, and she sorted it out, there and then, and told us what we had to do. It was that easy. It is all amazing to think that not even a month ago, none of this was happening, and now all of the sudden, without too much effort we've found a boat, a Head of teh Charles entry and in two days have already raised $1000. (Of course, we still have $1000 to go. And we'd love to get more than the minimum. If you want to contribute, please e-mail me.) All of which prompted Liz, as we were going through the gate of the club, to utter the now fateful words:
"Everything's coming up Milhouse!"
This line from the Simpsons just cracked me up. Bent me over double laughing. Liz knows when to utter the good line. After a tiring week, this was exactly the relief needed. I went into the bathroom to change, and came out and announced to Liz that sadly, we were now "Team Milhouse." I'm right behind this. I think it is great. If anyitng, I'm a little toooooo into it. Go Team Milhouse.

I've just noticed that I am sooooooooooo tired I can barel focus. More tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Goes Racing!
This time yesterday, I wasn't racing. This time today, there are two on the calendar. The first is tomorrow: the CRLS novices have their first race! Up in Lowell, against Lowell. All organized at the last minute. I only got the e-mail about it at lunch. Then I had to go to practice to make sure we'd have enough kids. We did. Our regular cox won't be there, but everyone else will, which means we take our fifth kid and make him a cox. Who is our fifth kid? In this case, it is the smallest one. No erg or seat racing to find out who is the slowest on a weight adjusted basis. Thankfully, I had taught them the racing start in the morning practice, so we could refine it with power tens and some long pieces at the afternoon practice. The kids are getting fast. Tomorrow we find out if we're fast enough. Fingers crossed!

The other race of the day is the Head of the Charles. Liz and I have committed to doing it, and the miracle is that we know we have an entry secured, and it is only April. How is this possible? Because we have been admitted into the charity program. This means we have to raise a minimum of $2000 by July 1 for any combination of the Red Cross, Cambridge Community Foundation, The Home for Little Wanderers, Community Rowing Inc. and/or Access Sport America. I'm on the pledge trail, and the money is coming in already. If you want to pledge, e-mail me please! ( The real bonus is that in every prior year the program has been run, the Head of the Charles has either matched donations, or donated a lump sum to the charities in question, so you definitely get more bang from your buck for making a donation, and of course everything is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. So now Liz and I have to get going, get training, get ready. Of course, knowing already means that we can start in earnest NOW. Expect times from time trials to be posted here in the near future. And lots of boring things about drills, pieces, and the like. Of course, I thrive on it. First post race acceptance practice is tomorrow, after the kid's race.
Must sleep! Must rest!
Speed Racer

Monday, April 21, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Jumps Out of the Frying Pan Into the Fire
Well, that is one week down, lots of work ticked off. So it is Easter vacation week. And what does it mean? It means.......twice a day practices with the niblets. Trying to arrange races. Getting the kids to turn up, when they'd rather be on vacation. Hey, so would I! Plus, tomorrow I'll squeeze in my first practice run as a Make Way for Ducklings Tour Guide. I shall be taking my favorite three year old, and possibly one of her friends, on a practice run through Beacon Hill. Then I can do it later in the week for Liz, to practice as well. Do I know my column types? Here's hoping.

Still, to celebrate the Easter holiday, I headed out to church this morning. Pomp, circumstance, all the full works. Say what you like about Trinity, they do manage to put on the full palaver pretty well. I was going to go to the 6pm service with Matt, but he had given up maple syrup and beer for Lent, and decided that he couldn't make it another day without maple syrup. So we opted for the earlist service Trinity had, which seems to have been a good call as the 8am service, despite there being no parking and major barricades due to tomorrow's Marathon ending there in Copley Square, was almost standing room only, and there was a line around the block when we left, 45 minutes before the 10am service. Wise move on our part. And we even managed to snag a parking space. It is funny going to church with Matt, as there is a torn commitment there. Our friend Tim sings in the choir of another church in Cambridge. So somedays it seems like dueling Episcopalians - which church should we go to today???? Somehow this seems slightly inconsistent with Christianity in its way.

Bracing for tomorrow,

Saturday, April 19, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Tortures Small Helpless Children
There are many joys in being a rowing coach. Great financial reward isn't one of them, of course, but still there are rewards. Depending on your point of view, one of them is making small children suffer. This is almost a universally accepted perk of the job. In fact, when I was sitting in the Good Life last week, the waitress came up to us while I was saying "I made her cry." (referring to obnoxious lying teenager, not one of my kids I hasten to add.) and said "What do you DO?" When I told her I was a high school rowing coach, she offered to bring me a stronger drink. But today, it was my turn to torture "my" kids. We were all set to row, but the launch was up on the dock being repaired, so it was time for land training. Break out the ergs, little children. Today we are going to discover our lactic acid production. 1000m, two minute rest. Repeat five more times. I tried to be diplomatic. I announced from the start that they were allowed to curse me. They didn't understand at first, but it didn't take long. But still, they double checked first. "We're allowed to hate you?" "Yes, you can hate me." "Anne" "Yes?" "Um, I really hate you right now." "Good, then everything is as it should be." They're really turning into rowers. How can I tell? Because all of them when they finished said "I really hated it while I was doing it, but now that I'm done it feels really good." As I said, all is as it should be. Tomorrow, two of them are coming to scull with me, which should be much fun.

Well, I have trained for my next job now. I am to be a "Make Way for Ducklings" tour guide. This will take up my mornings, when rowing takes up my afternoons. I will lead groups of 15 kindergarteners around Beacon Hill, through the State House, and down Charles Street. "With a tilt of their bill and an extra swagger in their waddle." I also teach them about architecture (different types of columns, which has required my learning them first, window types, boot scrapers, that sort of thing). Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking as I learned the tour and forgot to wear my sunblock and am now a bit pink across the old nose. And I don't think I impressed my boss by losing my book and file the first day! They do have lots of extra copies lying about apparently. Still, not the way to go first day out. Sunblock now acquired and applied without mercy. SPF 30.

Happy Easter, all!

Thursday, April 17, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Frightens the Chickens
The complexities of rowing can get on your nerves sometimes. Or really, maybe it is just the complexities of the weather. Yesterday was completely beautiful, temperature wise. I was excited to be scheduled to row that afternoon. I was at the boat club early to do work, and Jane was there to go out with Peggy. Envious, yes, but I knew it would only be a couple hours. And first there was my practice with the children to complete. This was the big day - they were going to row all fours. They all arrived in a group, bright and early, so we were out quickly. In a wind that had to be experienced to be believed. Just astounding. Not to mention that since the weather was warm, EVERY HIGH SCHOOL CREW ON THE RIVER was out and doing their thing. It was like rush hour on the M25 out there. In a high wind. My heart is never going to take the strain of this season, I swear. But the kids did well. I was very proud. Somewhere, somehow, they are learning to row, and frankly I'm left with this feeling that I don't really have anything to do with it. Sure, I tell them lots of stuff and make them do drills, but at the end of the day they've got to want it, and they've got to learn it. And suddenly, they had. A wonderful moment. If rather a terrifying one as now all of the sudden they were going along in and amongst the other crews. I suppose it is like a parent watching their child getting their learner's permit and waiting for the car to crash.

In the end, when it was my time to practice with Liz, it was too windy to do anything. We launched, we landed. To do drills and the like it was just getting to be too much. So we gave up and lived to row another day. And we decided that that day would be the next day, when it was forecast to rain, but rain usually makes the water flat. Cold, sure, wet, sure, but we have gear for that.

We were wrong. There was no rain. There was, however, as I turned up to the boathouse, a wind gust that offical records later revealed dropped the temperature 20 degrees in 10 minutes. 38 degrees in an hour. Not to mention putting white caps on the water. Eight car windows blew out in Cambridge, a roof blew off, and a cinder block wall went down from the wind. I decided then and there that there would be no rowing in the double that night. My kids did land training. Liz turned up and we pondered whether or not to go. Being in the mind set of having seen what I had seen, I was resigned to not rowing, but Liz accurately pointed out that the water really wasn't so bad at this point and we should just suck it up, maybe not drill, and row. Which is what we did. Correct call on Liz's part. Rowing was wonderful. More discovery of boat speed. It is quite amusing to me. You're working very hard, and all that happens when you find the boat speed is that you just become inspired further. I must ride my bike every where to increase my cardiovascular stamina! I must eat better! I must do bench pulls, I must, I must, I must do everything in my power to dedicate myself to this boat and this feeling and go this fast for miles and miles and miles. I must quit my job (I have a job?) and train all day, every day. Lunacy, I know, but even Liz admits she's thought much the same. "I'll just take the summer off and row with Anne." - it is a seductive proposition. Unfortunately, neither of us can afford such a thing. But the cold had meant that over my *bright* orance fleecey stretchy top and blue shorts I had thrown on an old sweatshirt that was lying in the boathouse. Roughed up and slightly too small, it was good for rowing as it was an extra layer, but being too short it wouldn't get caught in the boat tracks. Heading home, I caught sight of myself. No wonder no one wanted to sit next to me on the bus. Sweaty, multicolored, grubby too small sweatshirt, green ankle socks with sandals. Gives kids nightmares, it does. And of course it seems perfectly normal to me. Most people see the sandals and socks and think "European" - I think "rower."

The time is still crazy busy, I shall sleep one of these days.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Discovers Boat Speed
Ah, boat speed. Liz and I went out yesterday in one of the CBC boats. Now, we've done this a couple of times now. And it hasn't been bad. In fact, quite the opposite. The first go round was enough fun to get us to want to do it for the rest of the season. The second time was fun enough to be a little frustrating, because we could see the amount of work we had to do. But, ah, this last time. What a difference a little rigging makes.

For those of you not in the know, rowing is actually a very technical sport. The simple version of the technical bits are that if you think of a lever, if you put the fulcrum at the right point, you get a lot more lift for a lot less effort. There are roughly a bazillion different little adjustments you can make in a boat to rig it to your size, relative body strength, wind conditions. For a better discussion than this, read pages 257 onward in Peter Topolski's "True Blue" - it is the best description of rigging and boat placement I've ever read. But getting back to Liz and I, we put the boat in the water to discover that someone had moved my footstretchers back very far in the tracks. Certainly much further than I had ever had them before. I had been planning on moving them back a bit anyway to see if it helped my front end catch, but not this much. I checked the positioning of my hands at the finish, and it seemed that I could move a bit back, but something in me made me leave it. Whatever that something was, I now bow down and worship it. It was astounding from the first stroke. Which should have been very heavy and slow on the oars, as we were moving from a dead stop and I was pulling Liz to warm up, so there was her weight dead in the boat. I know what this feels like. Or rather, is supposed to feel like. This was far, far, far too easy. And fast. The boat was already moving through the water far quicker than it should at this stage. I took a couple more strokes. It was insanely easy. I mentioned it to Liz, but of course she couldn't appreciate it. Yet. She did soon though. After my warm up, she had hers and then it was time for me to join in. On the second stroke you could hear her say "wow!" It was that amazing. We paddled up to CRI with relative ease, and then figured out what to do next. The boat was set better, the steering was highly responsive, and there was of course the speed. The speed! We thought it out and opted to do some drills to improve our technique, which was without question rusty and in need of improvement. We've both been out of practice a couple years, and while I'm a sculler at heart and primary experience, Liz is a sweep rower with only a rough dozen sculling outings. Time for the drills. And it worked. We started improving. We did the drills individually, which lets the other person set the boat. Liz made loads of improvement in her roll up timing and her power application. Then I did the same drill. And I realized I was "skying" at the catch, which is at the last second lifting your oars in the air before setting them down in the water. This is bad for a couple reasons. 1) The lift up throws off the balance of the boat. 2) The act of putting them up into the water tends to mean that when you finally put them into the water, you place them too deeply, which gives an inefficient stroke. Having noticed this during the drill, I tried to rectify it. And the strokes when I rowed correctly were astounding. If you get a certain amount of speed out of an Empacher, you get a hum from the rush of the air bubbles running under the hull. I actually managed to get the hum while rowing solo, lugging Liz around. (Poor thing, on her drills she had to lug my fat butt around.) Stunned, I was stunned. Liz couldn't belive it either. Inspired, we gave it a push for thirty strokes to try us out. I can't say it went that well, but over all the effect was positive. Which is how these things go. It is all easy enough during a slow painstaking drill. Then you have to think about it at speed, with the boat not balanced for you by someone else, steering, etc. But I could feel it on some strokes. We both could. I didn't want to land, but I did have to get back to the library. But now Liz and I are both so excited. Even more so than before.

This led to some interesting challenges. First, we had to find a boat. The CBC rules are quite firm - Liz, not being a member, can row with me 10 times in a calendar year. There is not a way around this rule, it is sacrosanct. I asked anyway, not expecting the Rowing Committee to say yes, but rather hoping that their answer would provide some clues about how to proceed next. Which it did. In short, if we could find another boat that wasn't a club boat and convince someone to let us row it, we could do that. But people don't have a double laying around usually. Plus, to add to that the boats are built for efficiency for particular weights. So it had to be a heavyweight double. Just to add a little challenge to it. Amazingly, the problem is already solved. My friend John owns a heavyweight Empacher double. And he is willing to let Liz and I use it. He just has to get it down here. We're negotiating a price of some sort for the season. In the meantime, beer and dinner! Huzzah! Huzzah! Viva my current serendipity. There is no logical reason why it should be this easy. But it was, so I'll be grateful for what I've got.

I'm still so amazed by the boat speed we found. In a nutshell, we're totally out of shape, we're very well out of technique, out of practice, and Liz isn't a sculler. And we're STILL going faster than I've ever gone in a boat before. Wheee! To make a bad joke, I'm not a fast woman, but I want to be.

All this is good. We've decided to put ourselves in the lottery for a Head of the Charles (HOCR) entry. We stand about a 50% chance of being successful. But the real fun is once we clear the mere entry hurdle. For most events, there are three or four classifications. The club, the lightweight, the championship and the masters. Masters are old people - by HOCR standards everyone in the boat must be over 30 and average age has to be 40. Anyone can enter the champ events. You have to qualify for the club events, but you qualify by *not* competing in Olympic, national team, or world championship trials or having come within 5% of the winners time in an HOCR event in the two years previous. So in short, the slower people (they're still pretty fast) are in club. And lightweights are under 165 lbs for men, 130 lbs for women. But for the double, there are only two classifications: champ and masters. We're not old enough for masters, so hey presto! We'd be in the champ events. We're not competing to win - that wouldn't be fun. But it will be interesting to see where we wind up in the pack. Of course, we first have to get that entry.........

And then, of course, there was today. Internship, good but busy. Then presentation. Good, but always stressful. It is my only grade after all. And then a meeting with the athletic director over the girl who quit when I yelled at her. While without question I was inappropriate, the parents have decided that any criticism of their beloved daughter would have been "unwarranted" as this is a girl who "has consistently given her best" to the squad. I want to know who they're talking about. The girl almost quit early last week anyway. When I see her on the runs, she's walking. She's disrespectful. She didn't pay attention to the safety video - she was ignoring it talking to her friends. She didn't pay attention during the safety lectures - she was ignoring it talking to her friends. She was warned three times by me and once by Dale. Her parents say she was standing up for the other kids. I don't see how, seeing as all three times she was leading the kids in being where they weren't supposed to be, and they were being loud which they weren't supposed to be. What is to stand up for? And if you even want to make that argument, bad mouthing the coach the minute she leaves the room isn't standing up for yourself. I'm lucky enough to have the full backing of Dale and the athletic director. Which is good, as the parents are meeting with them tomorrow. I'm not invited, as the parents don't seem to see the wisdom of speaking to me about it. The attitude of the parents pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the kid.

To add to the fun, I now get the pressure from the CBC members (since I am also a member) to see if I can crack down on the kids being loud and running around the boathouse. Look for me squeezed between that large rock and that very hard place. I'm going to be a hot topic at the next parents meeting. I'll have to double check my medication levels before that one I think. I'm still debating quitting, just because the season is so aggravating. Most amusing statement of the day is that the girls don't like me because I make them follow the rules. What is a girl to do???????

Go to bed, that's what. Sleep, perchance to dream.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Goes to New York and Buys a Bay Tree
Ah, my new bay tree. Which was abandoned last night in a locker here at the law school but will come home with me this afternoon. After the working is done for the day, and dagnabbit, there's a lot of that to be done.

I suppose the natural place to start the story is Friday. Friday started out pretty well. I was tired from going to bed late, and of course getting up early to be downtown for meetings, but the 10 o'clock meeting was good, the 11 o'clock was fun meeting for a bagel to give Liz her Dar Williams ticket for Saturday night, then the two o'clock went well, over and done with quickly, and as it started to rain and get ooky I headed out to practice, thinking I would get to the boathouse early and unwind there. The benefits of membership and all that. And as I walked, and got my cup of tea at Darwin's (as is my wont, custom and practice), I finally popped into the store two doors down from it that makes all the beautiful beautiful wood furniture. I stare at this place every time I go by, but I had never gone in before. I could see the prices, and my luxury is that cup of tea! My official excuse was the auction; I was hoping they had something like a box or whatever they would donate to us. They were utterly wonderful! It would appear we have an incredibly beautiful end table, valued at $750 (which personally I think is a bit cheap - it is a gorgeous piece). The problem of course now is that I really really want this table. I think it is a good price for what it is, and I could maybe get it a little cheaper at the auction, but I would still need plenty of cash for it and even were I to come up with such cash, there are other things it needs to go for at the moment, such as rent, food, and wick away socks. Still, it is in June. I can dream. And well, with what money I do have, I can bid so that CRI will make the most money possible on this table.

So I continued my trek to the boathouse, with a happy little "this auction's going to be great, we're going to raise so much money for CRI" spring in my step despite the fact it was raining quite hard, windy, and frankly such miserable weather that not even the colleges were out rowing. I got to CBC, had a quick chat with Nick about coaching the niblets, some tips, some technique questions (he is a college coach, and a former Ukranian champion sculler. Disipline!), and then retired to the library to work stuff out. But not for long. The varsity girls had somehow gotten let into the kitchen and were hiding in there. Fine, but they're being noisy. Plus, they're not supposed to hide in there. They are supposed to come in, go to the bathroom and leave. It is not their clubhouse, we are there at the sufference of CBC and frankly a LOT of CBC people don't like the CRLS kids. So part of my job, walking the line between being a CBC member and a CRLS coach is trying to get CBC to like us more. We struck a big blow in our favor when the novices turned up and helped clean up the boathouse the other week. But no, this time it is the varsity girls doing what theyr'e not supposed to be doing, where they're not supposed to be. So I went in and kicked them out, and proceeded to get a bunch of lip back from one girl. This, of course, is the same girl who leads the way in disrespecting the coaches, equipment, safety, etc. I don't have to deal with her often, but she burns my buttons anyway as I get driven crazy when Dale's busting hard to keep this program going and she's there doing her best to keep it from succeeding. I can't figure out why she's there, but she's not my problem. She's Dale's. Until she's in my face, despite the fact she's in my boathouse and she's not following the rules. Never mind. Kick them out, talk to Dale, Dale talks to them, tells them not to be loud. Then, unfortunately, one of the girls reveals that she's been driving to practice. This is megastrictly uber verboten. They all know it. Heck, they've all signed rules that they've supposedly agreed to be bound by. It is a massive legal liability issue. Dale, having just announced lineups, sent all the girls home. He's just as fed up and burned out as the rest of us - the varsity girls have failed to row the same lineup twice as they can't be bothered to turn up for practice on a regular basis. I can honestly say if I was in charge of his girls, I'd probably have quit by now. I may quit yet. My novice kids are incredibly fabulous (this cannot be underemphasized), but the rest are in your face, up your nose, trying to get in your way because they think it would be fun. There are five varsity girls that seem super keen, dedicated, actually want to row, and also give Dale the respect he deserves. The rest can be a misery. That said, I personally wouldn't have sent all the girls home, just the one in violation and just picked up without her. But a) he knows his crew far better than I do, and b) it is his program to run his way. If he wanted to send them scuba diving in the Ascencion Islands because he thought it would improve their rowing, that's his perogative. Although come to think of it, if he did that, I would try to join them. Hmmmmm. Thinking there a way to justify such a trip?

Having been sent home, the girls didn't go home. They went back into the kitchen area. I really don't care if they're there, but they can't be loud. They're directly under the Head of the Charles' directors office there, and if they're running a risk of disturbing him, or god forbid another club member (many of whom find the children disrespectful anyway, and some of whom actually resigned in protest when CRLS was allowed to use the space) its my job to say "girls, stop it." The response previously had been a most pathetic "we didn't know anyone was here." That doesn't cut it. A) They're not supposed to be there in the first place, and B) Whether or not they knew someone was there, it isn't their club and they need to treat that with the respect it deserves, seeing as they get massive benefit from the CBC members through use of excellent and highly expensive facilities on the river. Not to mention C) the logic that not knowing someone was there means you can violate every rule you've signed off on is something that only a punk teenager would pull. Unfortunately, that's what we were dealing with.

The noise level came up. I came out of the library and said "You have to be quiet." Then, to be certain, I left the door to the library open. The obnoxious girl started slamming me thinking I couldn't hear, and then just shut the door to the kitchen. I left them to it, so long as they weren't loud. Within five minutes, the noise through the closed door was even louder than it had been the two times previously. That. Was. It. I was in the kitchen, and I was yelling. How could I not yell? There was no other way to be heard. I reminded them this was the third time I'd spoken to them that day, and Dale had spoken to them as well. And then I pointed out they'd been sent home, and this was not their home, so what were they doing here? Get. Out. (I suppose it is worth mentioning that it was still cold and pouring with rain at the time, which is no doubt why they were so keen on hiding in the kitchen in the first place.)

They got.

But not without one last final salvo from the obnoxious one. I really do not know who this girl thinks she is, but I am finished with her. But first I have made myself more than perfectly clear. I was in her face, big time. Thankfully, she finally shut up in the face of superior lung power (you know, if she actually worked out, she too might have lung capacity. Hmmmm.) , thus proving miracles exist. I pointed out to her that she had failed to row that day (as had they all, through their own behaviour), she failed to show respect to any of her coaches, she completely failed to respect the fact that I busted my ass so that they could row and get better facilities there, or that anyone else did anything. Then I went back inside into the warm. I was so angry my hands were shaking. They'd been given three warnings by me, one by Dale, what was the problem with these kids? Then I went down and told Dale what had happened, and that I felt I'd been a little out of line. Then a parent came down to check with Dale what was going on as she said she was the only parent who seemed to know there was no practice. Dale pointed out that the girls had been sent home, and should have been running back to school. Then she said that something was going on upstairs, and that a girl said one of the coaches pushed her. WHOA! I never touched her. Never would, never will. Obnoxious girl is now obnoxious lying girl, but the bigger problem here is the classic one that rightfully so, an adult accused of such actions against a child needs to make certain of whether or not the statement is true. Children get discounted every day when they complain against adults, which is why many children never report child abuse. The abuser tells them no one will ever believe them, and the kid feels they're right. I do feel this is the way it should be, mainly because I can't come up with a better system to address the problem, but it means that suddenly, I'm the one who's gotta act fast because it is MY reputation on the line, and for something I didn't do. Hey, if I've done something wrong, I'll take the consequences (as one should) but I'm not going down for something I didn't do. Particularly for this girl. Luckily, when confronted by Dale she immeditely admitted in front of many people that I never touched her. Whew. Big relief. Any person who says such a thing will have a writ for defamation on their doorstep as soon as I can draft one up. For as Iago said in Othello (Act 3, Scene 3, for those who want to know):
Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
Who steals my purse steals trash; 'tis something, nothing;
'Twas mine, 'tis his, and has been slave to thousands:
But he that filches from me my good name
Robs me of that which not enriches him
And makes me poor indeed.

Dale sent me home. I went to town. I was supposed to be meeting Mike for a drink before going to Hartford, but now I had an extra hour and a half. Mike was thankfully ready to leave the office anyway. I sent a quick e-mail to Dale asking whether or not I should quit (I'm thinking about it, I really am. If I stay, it is for the good kids. Which is who we do this for anyway, let's face it.) and headed to the Good Life. Where Mike let me vent, and bought me cosmopolitans and buffalo wings until it was time to hop the bus. Frankly, by that time I was slightly unsober, but I felt better. Off to Hartford. Reed met me at the station, still in the miserable rain, and we went off to his house where I was plied with peppermint tea and a video he had to watch to determine whether or not he wanted to show it to his class (Reed is a professor of comparative religions) about the evolution of the Christian faith from small following to the foothold of what it is today, and then we went to bed. (Me in the bedroom, Reed on the kitchen floor. Yes, I do feel guilty about this! I would happily have slept on the kitchen floor!) Except I couldn't sleep, which was shocking since I'd only grabbed four hours of sleep a night for the last two nights. But I stayed awake and after lying there for an hour and a half in the dark, I got up and starting knitting. The scarf got nice and long. Finally I fell asleep around 4, only to get up again at 7 to hop the bus at 8 to NYC. The bus ride was a nightmare. The weather was so bad that there were accidents on the road and it took us an extra hour and a half long to get to town. So I got to Harter's hotel to discover a message saying he'd meet me at Bloomingdale's at 1. This wasn't going to leave too much time - I had to find when my train was. Luckily, you can do this all by phone. I got a reservation for the train at 4:03. Perfect. Then I had 50 minutes before I had to meet Harters. Since I was at Union Square, my old stomping grounds, I wandered through the farmer's market, which is what I used to do on Saturdays when I lived there. There were loads of herbs, but nothing special. And lots of flowers and branches, but nothing I could really take home with me. This was just window shopping. But then, there it was, bay tree seedlings for sale. I have been looking for a bay tree for about three years now. I couldnt' find one, and here were five staring me in the face. All priced at $10, but there was a smaller one which would be easier to take home on the bus (not to mention lug around all day) for $5. Sold! Sold! Sold! And then me and the tree went to meet Harters.

Harters, as ever, looked great. But we didn't have much time, so we grabbed a cab down to Wall Street. I'd forgotten about NYC cabs. Harters, of course, hadn't had the experience before. This cabbie was particualrly off his trolley. I think at one point he managed to be in three lanes at once on the FDR. At sixty miles an hour. With some truly awful music turned up so loud he couldn't hear Steve as him to turn it down. Steve felt carsick when he got out. So we went for a walk and then two blocks later there we were at Ground Zero. I'd thought a lot this week about whether or not I wanted to go there. At first, I thought it would be good. Then with the week so stressful, I thought that it would not be good right now. And I was still on that mindset. But of course I had not articulated it to Steve, so I was dealing with the suprise. I think my reaction is slow and a bit delayed. At the moment it was just this overwhelming sense that it had all been vaporized. (Of course, there has been excavation.) First Peter was here, and then he wasn't. And at the same moment, the Twin Towers were there and then they weren't. And aren't. And there is currently no real concrete memorial to say "here were disappeared many people, including Anne's friend Peter, who got up in the morning, boarded a plane, and then wasn't here anymore." (Peter was many people's friend, but this is personal.) But there we were, and the next immediate step was to get some lunch. Amazingly, the weather had cleared, it was warm and the sun was shining. So we ate outside, which seemed so incredibly decadent. Lobster rolls, a bottle of chardonnay, ah, life is nice. And then a rush back to the train station, quick kiss goodbye, joy because he's coming up to spend the weekend in a month (he keeps being in the country because the home company is bringing him over from London to NYC for things.) and dash to the train, just catching it with a couple minutes to spare. It got me to Boston at 7:47, with Dar starting at 8. I just made it.

Was it worth it? It was so worth it. The opening act was the Ben Taylor band. Ben is James Taylor and Carly Simon's son, and it turns out he is the new millennium embodiment of his father. Shut your eyes and listen to the voice and you won't be able to tell the difference. Bit more rocking though. And good fun. Although at one point he made everyone get up and dance. People did it, led by my friend Lolo. Good fun, but we were in the front row of the balcony and you could feel the floor move up and down as people hopped to the beat. A little unnerving. And then it was time for Dar. I haven't seen her in concert before. But man, she rocks out! I wasn't expecting that somehow. I was expecting something more plaintive. And occasionally, when it was just her and her guitar, it was. And then she'd go back to rocking on. Awesome. Totally awesome. Caught myself singing "And I can't believe what they're saying, they're saying I can leave tonight, start over on Spring Street, I'm welcome any time." in the shower this morning. It makes me want to exercise. And I will exercise today. I'm meeting Lizzie at three thirty to row,a nd the weather is good enough for it too. But first, I have to prep tomorrow's presentation. So I ought to get to it. Much work to do!
Love and good behaviour!

Friday, April 11, 2003

In Which Our Heroine Has a Busy Busy Day
Well, after a week in which numerous overseas e-mails were sent regarding domains, servers, ownership, etc of this website, somehow it all came together and I'm back up and running. It is amazing how one can miss blogging. Having spent a year effectively journalling my life, it was odd to have it out for a week.

And what a week it was. My friend Liz says my life is very serendipitous. This was proved this week. Thursday, I ran into and had drinks with a friend I hadn't seen for a year and a half. Friday, dinner here as planned. Saturday, I was wiped out. So I went to sleep. I was awakened by a phone call from my friend Tel. She needed a babysitter, and NOW. I hopped the train, and immediately ran into Kit, which was odd as a) I haven't seen him in a while, and b) he doesn't take the train since he has a car and three (he revealed he got a new fixed gear he loves) bikes. Very "Sliding Doors" but good. Sunday was relatively uneventful, seeing as I spent it asleep. Some kind of mild bug or something. Monday, log on to the e-mail and bestest friend in the whole world (and I've travelled it, looking for another one) Harters sends me a quick e-mail saying "Hey, are you free for lunch on Saturday? I'm in NYC from Wednesday to Saturday night. Please come meet me." Um, sure! I would move heaven and earth for that man. It is a strange bond, but a wonderful one. I could live with him for the rest of my life quite happily, but couldn't actually date him. People tend to interject when I say this and say "Oh, so he's like a brother." but no, it is different and stronger than that. With everything I have to do this weekend, I wouldn't run to NYC for my brothers! (Or my sisters.) The next day, my cousin popped up out of the blue after a couple years of drifting out of touch. We're getting together on Tuesday.

It is very exciting to see who or what pops up next! Granted, time is passing quickly. Harters is coming back in May, and Emma will be here in June, the same week as James, Charles and Denver.

In the meantime it is all very very busy. I have had a different deadline every day this week, what with writing, classes, presentations, and things. It will be the same thing next week. I had to say to someone this week "You are my Thursday deadline. Is that ok?" They seemed shocked I was operating on such a scale.

And in the midst of all this business, there has been such foul weather. I described it to someone as the feeling you get when you go on a date with someone, and then you wait for them to call, and they don't. You never quite give up hope that they're going to, at least for a while anyway, but you get very cranky as it becomes obvious that they just aren't. And after 10 days ago and rowing four days in a week, and biking all over, and just generally soaking up spring like a sponge, having ten days to sit around and watch it snow is leaving bald patches where I'm pulling my hair out. And that's just my personal rowing/fitness. It is even worse with the kids. We haven't had much water time because the weather is so miserable, and we're not getting any. Luckily, I discovered the sliders at CBC and we've been learning our racing starts on those, and tonight we actually practiced timing all fours in the tanks at MIT. (A favor for which I was up late last night baking lemon iced cookies to stay on the good side of Ian, the one MIT rowing coach I've never met.) Tomorrow, hopefully not in the rain, we try it all by fours. Fingers stay crossed.

And then of course, there are classes. I have lucked out (in the middle of my serendipity) of exams entirely. Two credits of internship, two credits of International Intellectual Property Licensing now hanging on Monday's presentation on restrictions on reverse engineering, for which I have been corresponding with the Finnish patent board via e-mail (don't ask), a conversion which was just made on Tuesday. Until Tuesday morning, we were having an exam. And then of course my presentation, already given, for Comparative Legal Systems. We're still presenting them. In fact, today's class very nearly degenerated into an international incident. A Mexican lawyer was giving her presentation on the Mexican legal system, and a Swedish lawyer referred to Mexico as "uncivilized" and then proceeded to stick her foot in even further. Once it was well and truly degenerating, the Mexican lawyer informed the Swede that "as a lawyer, you may wish to choose your words with more care." Ouch, baby. It went downhill from there.

Well, it is now 2am and I've been up since six. I"m tired, and I need my sleep. Tomorrow is yet another very very busy day.