Category Archives: adhd

Thursday Class: Slow Burn

I’m still playing it safe with my foot, which means still no jumping in BW’s class last night—but I think that’s actually turning into rather a good thing.

No jumping means we have tons of time for everything else, and that we can work at a borderline-glacial pace.

As a kid, this would have driven me insane. That’s half the reason it’s so good for me now.

~

For much of my life, I tacitly equated “slow” with “boring,” though I didn’t admit it even to myself.

Like many with ADHD, I am best at remaining focused when I’m moving quickly.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing—it made me a good skiier; it still makes me a good cyclist. It serves me well in the midst of grand allegro. It might be related to my tendency to stay calm in acute crises[1]. But it’s limited, and doesn’t cover so much of daily life.

  1. At least, the physically-actionable kind: I’m great when faced with a panicky horse or a bike crash, but when I locked my keys and my wallet in the car in Cincinnati with only 15% battery charge left on my phone, I rapidly descended into meltdown mode. Physical action couldn’t solve the problem at hand, and the only solution I could think of—calling D—wasn’t working. Cue utter panic.

This is one of the things medication improves. I may sweat even more than usual, but it’s worth it to be able to remain mentally engaged through a slow and repetitive exercise designed to tease out the deep and subtle essence of technique.

I suspect that BW is the kind of person who was born with that ability to reflect and synthesize. Nothing that I know about him suggests that he is, in any way, more than typically impulsive; if anything, I’d guess that he’s better at planning and implementing his plans than the average human being.

As a teacher, he’s a master of the slow burn: the exercise in which one folds and unfolds through slow tendus, fondus, ronds, and extensions, battling gravity and all the weirdness of the human body in order to maintain placement, aplombelan.

This doesn’t mean he doesn’t excel at the fast stuff as well. Last night’s class involved, among other things, a super-fast degagé-frappé that fried my brain even as it forced me to use the right muscles to close because there was literally no other possible way to make it happen. When we do petit allego, it’s light and quick, as it should be.

But I suspect that I learn the most when we’re working slowly. I come out of every single one of his classes with greater awareness of technique and of how my own body works in conjunction with technique. Nothing will make you more aware of the body mechanics required in attitude devant than finding it, then holding it for sixteen counts.

~

Last night’s class felt like a watershed, in a way: things that we’ve worked on for weeks suddenly made sense, physically and mentally, in new ways. It was like the day last year that I realized I had developed the ability to feel and activate my deep rotators with much greater precision.

As human beings, we can take many routes to learning. We can flail or inch towards transcendence. I suspect that ballet requires a bit of each. You can’t inch your way into grand allegro, for example: you just throw yourself at the target, dust yourself off, take your corrections, and adjust.

But in order to know how to adjust—in order to operate the minuscule muscles that control turnout and maintain the subtle adjustments that define placement as you soar like a lightning bolt—you must first have inched your way into the control room of your own body, taught it to do things, built those things into habits.

Last night, we worked slowly and with precision. There were no fireworks. No grand allegro. No triple turns.

Instead, there was what BW calls “medicine”—those dry, academic exercises[2] that lie at the heart of sound classical technique—and one exercise with turns and balances, and at least one really impeccable single from fourth with a fast spot.

  1. Full disclosure: I love dry, academic ballet exercises. Not everybody does. To me, they feel like playing Tetris with my own body, and those moments when I suddenly “get” it really give me a charge. That said, Adderall makes me a lot better at doing them for an entire class.

At least, it felt really impeccable. Chances are that, one year from now, I’ll remember that turn and think, “Huh, that really wasn’t so great.”

The final combination was pure medicine: tendu side with arms in second, hold, petit rond, petit rond, petit rond, hold and carry the arms through first to third without changing anything else, tendu, close back, reverse, other side.

It sounds easy; if you brute-force your way through it with no attention paid to the finer points of technique, maybe it even is easy. But when you’re thinking about everything, when you’re keeping the placement of your head and body and legs and TOES absolutely precise as you try to move only your arms (without automatically doing a petit rond or bringing your leg in), suddenly it’s not so easy anymore.

It takes a lot of a thing I’m going to call “microtechnique;” a lot of management of the tiny muscles that control placement, the awareness of which is essential if you want to dance well and for a long time.

You’d better believe that I’ll be working that one in my kitchen pretty often from here on out.

And then we stretched, and that was it.

Slow and steady, as they say, wins the race.

Day “Off”

The Time of the Allergies(1) is upon us again, and D had a coughing fit at 6 AM that woke me up.

  1. Or, if you’re me, the time of EVEN MOAR ALLERGIES, because all times are the Time of Allergies.

Since then, I’ve actually managed to put dishes away, wash last night’s remaining dishes, put those away, make waffles (because either someone in the neighborhood was making them or I was totally hallucinating the scent of waffles, and I just couldn’t stand it anymore), eat a waffle, feed D a waffle, clean up after the waffles, and run a couple of loads of laundry.

I also failed at making tea, however: boiled the water, then forgot to actually make the tea for two hours, so had to start over. Anyway, I have tea now.

facetea

I’ve got this, guys.

Fortunately, D picked up some allergy meds for me, so I’m breathing through my nose pretty decently at the moment. #smallvictories

Anyway, ballet-wise, I feel pretty on top of my choreography, including the Partner All The Girls! bits (actually, those are the easy bits; I really basically just stand there, look pretty, and put my hands where they need to be). However, we still have the last 23 seconds to learn, so I’m going to rehearsal tomorrow instead of going to see Wendy Whelan’s “Some of a Thousand Words.”

Funny thing is that it really wasn’t a question (because apparently my #priorities are properly aligned, or something). If we’d finished the dance last night, I might have gone to the performance instead, but I really actually want to go to rehearsal.

Fortunately, D isn’t offended that I’m opting out on my birthday present, and in fact agrees with me that going to rehearsal is the right choice. He is going to give our tickets to someone who wants to go and doesn’t have tix, which is a nice thing as well. So instead of seeing Whelan’s show for my birthday, I get the pleasure of giving someone else the chance and still getting to go to rehearsal 😀

In other news, I still have no idea what I’m wearing in the show, besides white socks and white shoes. I keep forgetting to ask, and people keep asking me, and I keep having to say, “Um, actually, I have no idea.

BG described the tights I’ll be wearing as “awesome,” so of course I’m picturing something like this:

matador

Ganked from the Googs because I’m lazy right now. (Also, I’m guessing matadors don’t wear dance belts. Huh. Honestly, that looks hella uncomfortable.)

…But I suspect that reality will be somewhat less ornate, since all the girls are wearing pastel leos and white romantic tutus, and not so much with the bling.

In other news, today is perfect soup weather, but I forgot to buy soup, so #firstworldproblems etc. I could make soup, though, if I get desperate.

 

Addendum:

Here’s what I wore last night, anyway:

White-Socks-Blue-Tights

Lo-res video is low 😦

I was use-testing the socks, which are new. BG and I agreed that we kind of liked the blue tights (which are brighter in real life) with the socks, but also that they would clash with the rest of the performance.

The shirt, OTOH, is just the same shirt I wear every damn day.

Cooking with ADHD: Bread 2.0

I think I may may have posted my bread recipe at some point in the past, but I’ve updated it a little bit, so here’s the update!

I have a kitchen scale now, so later on I’ll add metric mass values so those of you cooking in Europe can give it a whirl without having to guess. It works fine by the fairly-inexact American volumetric method, though! 

You will need:

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 4.5 teaspoons highly active dry yeast (I recommend SAF red; also, that’s 1.5 tablespoon, by the way; or if you’re using packets, 2 packets)
  • 1.5 cups hottish (not boiling) water (or 1 cup hottish water and .5 cup milk)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (margarine or veg oil will work, too!) 
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar, brown sugar, honey, or malt syrup (your choice)*
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt *

Ingredients marked * are optional. I like the flavor of bread better with salt (and need tons of salt because my body is crazy), but you can leave it out. The sugar/honey/syrup changes the flavor of the finished bread only a little, but it can help get your yeast going if it’s sluggish. Honey or malt syrup add a little moisture, but not enough to require adjustments (edit: usually).

I think you can also bake bread entirely without fats, but I haven’t tried it, so I’m not sure how it would turn out. 

To make the bread:

  1. Combine water, yeast, and sugar. Stir to blend them, then set aside. 
  2. Combine flour, butter/oil, and salt in a large bowl. 
  3. When the yeast mix gets foamy, pour it into the dry mix (if you’re using butter, the hot water will help it melt).
  4. If you’re using milk, pour it in, too.
  5. Stir with a stirring spoon to everything is fairly well blended (don’t worry — it doesn’t have to be anything like perfect!). 
  6. If you have time, give the ingredients about 5 or 10 minutes to rest. This lets the flour take up the liquids. It also lets you find some awesome podcasts to listen to while you knead (might I recommend the History Chicks?). 
  7. Squish everything together a little with your hands, dust your work surface with flour, and dump your dough right onto it.
  8. If you’re like me, set a timer so you don’t find yourself thinking, “OMG, I have been kneading this dough foreeeeeeeevaaaarrrrrr.” 6 to 8 minutes should do the trick.
  9. Ready … set … knead! Remember, no grouchy TV chefs are here, and even if they are, it’s your kitchen — so knead that dough in whatever way works for you!
  10. Ball up the dough, cover it with a damp cloth, and let it rise for 30 minutes (if you’re in a hurry) to 1 hour (if you’re not). Longer than 1 hour is fine, too. If it’s going to sit all day or overnight, though, maybe stick the dough in the fridge so it doesn’t go completely crazy.
  11. When you’re ready to bake, preheat dat oven — I like a darker, crisper crust, so I set it for 450 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  12.  Punch down your puffed-up, self-important doughball friend, then shape your baguettes or batards or loaf or rolls or boules or what have you. I often do one baguette and either four submarine rolls or eight dinner rolls. 
  13. If you have time, let your dough rise again (like the Mary-Ellen Carter!) for 15 – 30 minutes. this step is optional, but gets you a pooftier end product. 
  14. Bake for 15 (for dinner rolls) to 30 minutes on or in whatever kind of pizza stone, cookie sheet, loaf pan, and/or baguette pan you’ve got on hand. You can probably even use muffin tins (though I haven’t tried that).
  15. Cool (preferably on a rack) for as long as you can stand it.
  16. The most important part! Enjoy your bread while collecting accolades from your friends and loved ones who will be like, “OMG, this person is amazing!”  (Unless they can’t have gluten. I should learn a good gluten-free recipe, because Celiac is no joke.) 

That’s it! I’ll try to add pictures, and someday, I swear, I really will do a video post about this. 

Edit: Oh, yeah. You can also also combine steps 1 through 4 and just mix everything together right away, as long as you have good yeast. I like to proof mine because it makes me feel like a mad scientist, but it isn’t really entirely necessary. 

When I make pizza dough (exact same recipe!), I usually omit the second rise. 

Modern Monday: Thoughts on Picking Up Combinations; Also on Food

I’ve been working on a strategy for combination-acquisition that Modern T recommended to me, and I really think it’s probably the best way to go.

In short, instead of hand-miming or subtly marking the combo as it’s handed out, you just stand (or, in some cases, sit) there and watch — really watch and ingest; get a good, solid mental video.

Then, if there’s a repeat of the demo or a verbal explanation, you can mime or mark as needed. It also helps to program in the counts (and swing and swing and swing and around, or what have you) on the repeat if you think you’re going to get lost.

This approach prevents you from missing critical points — the direction of a turn; what exactly happens during a change of direction; whether there’s an extra step or a direct weight transfer; what’s happening with arms and necks and shoulders and backs.

I did this throughout most of class today. Sometimes it felt really weird to be standing there just watching while much of the rest of the class was doing the subtle-marking method and my brain cells were firing like crazy, trying to make parts of me move.

On the other hand, it worked.

Throughout much of the class, I had the choreography down about as well as anyone. I felt solid doing it, even though sometimes my body was busy going, “WTF, THIS IS NOT GOOD BALLET, I WANT TO DO GOOD BALLET.” Sometimes my body doesn’t get the memo that modern != ballet.

To be frank, this kind of watching is hard for me. I tend to space out (and then start jiggling) when I’m standing still (thanks, ADHD!) — so this kind of “just watching” involved a very conscious, intentional imbibing*.

*Belatedly, I’ve realized that it’s the same way I watch compelling dance performances (which also explains why I have really good mental “video” of quite a few of them).

I totally failed to apply this lesson going across the floor. I started out with good intentions, but then realized I was in somebody’s way, took a step — and suddenly I was soft-marking along and missing really critical elements (Wait, isn’t there a third triplet? And is that hop-tour lent thing on the upstage leg or the downstage leg? And why am I doing it as if it was an sauté-fouetté?!).

As such, my across-the-floor combination was a straight-up disaster.

I did it wrong, then did it another flavor of wrong, then did it a still another flavor of wrong… Literally every pass (and we did the combination at least four times each way) was a new, unique, and different kind of more-or-less entirely incorrect.

Yeah, I got a bit frustrated, there. Like, seriously, for once in my life, when Modern T said, “Do you want to do it again, or are you guys done?” I was the one who said, “I’m done.” (And then did it twice more anyway.)

But, at any rate, I learned a valuable lesson about how I absorb choreography (and, um, knowing is half the battle, I guess?).

Okay!

Moving right along.

Some thoughts I’ve been kicking around with G+ friends have led me to reflect on my eating patterns, and I’ve realized that I eat quite differently for a strongly dance-based lifestyle than I did when I was training for bike racing.

I’m not at all sure I’m Doin’ It Rite™, but — at any rate — I’ve noticed that dancing doesn’t seem to make me as hungry as cycling (I think I’ve touched on this before) and that my “fueling” strategy is quite a bit higher in carbs than it was for cycling.

Some of this, of course, is sheer disorganization. I have not adapted amazingly well to my current schedule, which often involves dance classes in the morning, a brief break in the afternoon, and aerials or more dance classes in the evening.

Basically, I am not good at changing gears, and thus am not the kind of person who can get much done in the gap — so I do less cooking than I should and more, well, scavenging for anything quick, basically.

I have at least finally managed to mostly get on top of breakfast, for the most part. Breakfast is usually ~113 grams of plain Greek yoghurt, ~70 grams of unsweetened frozen berries (I happen to particularly like the blends that include cherries), and 25 – 30 grams of whatever kind of not-super-sugary granola looks promising.

If this sounds astonishingly precise for me, I promise, it’s really a function of the fact that it’s easier to scoop yoghurt out with a spatula, weigh it, and hit “tare” a few more times as more things are added than it is to shove it into a measuring cup, then transfer it into a bowl or whatevs.

I also have fancy yoghurt bowls that keep the crunchy stuff separate until you’re ready to eat. Using frozen berries means I have to make the yoghurt parfaits ahead of time, which saves me from having to fumble around with the kitchen scale in the morning.

On days that I fail to crawl out of the crypt bed in time to actually eat like an adult (or at least a toddler), I still tend to desperately chug protein shakes on the way to class. For such emergencies, I use Orgain (Creamy Chocolate Fudge) because it’s low in sugar, decent in the fiber department, tastes okay, and isn’t horribly expensive. My base of choice is unsweetened almond milk, but it’s perfectly good with regular milk. I usually add coffee concentrate and a touch of vanilla extract, but it’s acceptable without.

*There is also a fine line between just enough breakfast and too freaking much breakfast, OMG, please stop the sloshing, but I really prefer not to think about the far side of that line. I’d rather err on the side of caution — ’tis better to feel puny in class than pukey.

Dinner is frequently some species of pasta — I’m particularly fond of ziti and penne rigate — because I can make that ahead in huge batches and reheat it later. My sauce of choice comprises an “Italian seasoned” tomato paste, a ton of diced tomatoes (usually canned, because laziness), basil, oregano, garlic, onions (sauteed in a little olive oil and red wine), sometimes mushrooms, and either meatballs (sometimes frozen, sometimes turkey) or sausages.

This makes it sound like I plan better than I do.

If I were really any good at planning, there would be far fewer nights on which we eat dinner at 9 PM when I’ve arrived home at 7:45 :/

Interestingly, I almost never ate pasta when I was racing bikes (except when I was intentionally carb-loading). Training rides tended to make me insanely hungry and I would just go crazy with the pasta; I generally substituted raw cabbage for the actual noodles (the sauce heats the cabbage just enough to be crisp-tender, which is awesome).

I’m much better, now, at figuring out when I’m full, so I actually do eat pasta. I still often add either raw cabbage or raw baby spinach, though (because veggies ftw).

In the past, my breakfasts were also generally lower in carbs than they are now.

Meanwhile, lunch is just a horrible, ongoing, unmitigated disaster of food-on-the-fly right now. How desperate my choices are depends upon how well I’ve walked that fine line between just enough breakfast and way the hell too little breakfast*.

I am not too proud to admit that I lunch has recently featured such stellar choices as a fried chicken sandwich, half a Whopper (apparently, I can’t eat an entire Whopper), or pizza from a gas station’s convenience store.

This doesn’t really seem to be making any impact on my baseline health statistics (if anything, it’s the only thing stopping my blood pressure moving from “low” to “undetectable”), but it probably does significantly impact my ability to not be a horrible, face-eating hypoglycemia monster by the time my evening classes roll around.

So basically, in summary:

When I raced bikes I was hungry all the time, limited my carbs, and was much better at lunch.

Now, my appetite is more manageable even though I burn roughly the same number of calories on any given day (if not more, because I have more upper-body muscle than I used to — so, seriously, wtf), I eat pasta like it’s going out of style, and I am terrible at lunch.

The next step, then, is to figure out how to eat lunch on the fly without spending a gajillion dollars. I mean, obviously, I know how to eat lunch (open mouth, insert foot food), but the question is how to plan ahead and make food to bring with me (because apparently it’s not super safe to just leave a giant bowl of pasta in your car and assume it’ll be nice and hot by the time you get out of class…).

So that’s today’s installment. Not incredibly informative to anyone who isn’t me, I’ll wager, but it has helped me identify a “next step” I wasn’t thinking about (that is, how to handle lunch).

Pilobolus Master Class All Up In My Drawers

 

…Wait, what?

Kids, this is why punctuation is important. That should read:

Pilobolus Master Class; All Up In My Drawers

First: Pilobolus Master Class!

You guys, it was so great.

I feel like I learned a great deal about the process of creating dances through improv, and it was cool to dance in an environment where technique wasn’t even a thing. The guys from Pilobolus basically said, “We love dancers and we love dance technique, but if you’re someone who spends hours every day in class, please check your technique at the door.” As someone who loves technique but can get a bit too invested in it, that idea was very freeing.

I am a horrible person, and have forgotten the names of our ambassadors of Pilobolus, but they were both very cool guys and very good teachers — though this process was as much one of bringing out what’s already there as one of teaching. The teaching part was more about figuring out how to use what’s already there.

I must admit that I went into it a bit worried that I’d be all stiff and horrible because…

OMG STRANGERZ!!!11!!!1one1oneomgwtfbbq

…But apparently I overlooked the part where, like, you know, dancing? …When I was worrying about that.

If dance is involved, I seem to do relatively okay in groups of new people.

At the end of class, we broke into three groups and created three short (about 4 minutes) dances in the span of about five minutes, performed them, critiqued them, refined them over another two (two!) minutes, then performed them again.

All three dances were completely different, and all three of them were cool, but one (not my group’s; ours was silly) was really stirring and moving. I hope some of the dancers will take it and run with it, because it was really, really good.

I feel like I want to let this whole experience percolate a bit more, then write about it at greater length. It was, in short, just an amazing two-ish hours (happily, we ran over the original 1.5-hour class time).

It turns out that Pilobolus holds a 3-week summer workshop series (in Connecticut, yay!). I’m going to have to seriously consider whether I can figure out how to afford at least one week this year. Curiously, the name of the third workshop, Vision & Revision, was also the name of my favorite writing class when I was in high school.

Serendipity, much?

 

And Now: All Up In My Drawers!

I did manage to make it to IKEA afterwards.

My one real goal was to acquire a second Big Blue Bag, which will greatly improve my laundry system. Heretofore, I’ve been using one Big Blue Bag and any of my various not-quite-as-ginormous shopping bags.

The second Big Blue Bag wasn’t essential, but it will make the system run more smoothly, since now I’ll have two dedicated laundry bags of the same size.

While cruising through the store (you guys, it is so nice to walk through an IKEA all alone), however, I found something even better: specifically, Drawerganizers(TM).

Since keeping tights and so forth corralled is a fairly regular topic of conversation among dancers and aerialists in my life, I thought I’d share the current iteration of my system, which mostly comprises hair elastics, a plastic crate, and IKEA’s set of 6 Skubb boxes. (Sadly, the Cincy IKEA didn’t have the aqua ones in stock.)

I’ve been meaning to implement a boxes-in-the-drawers system for a while, but hadn’t found Drawerganizers that worked for me (shoeboxes would have been fine, probably, but we didn’t have any). The Skubb series works really nicely, and I couldn’t argue with the price — something like $8 for the set — or the portability factor. The boxes fold up rather ingeniously; when you set them up, little zippers in the floor panels add tension that keeps them in shape.

So, here’s how things are organized now:

image

First Floor: Cycling Apparel, Men’s Shirts, and The Occasional Sarong

Bottom Drawer (technically the second drawer from the bottom; the real bottom drawer houses bed linens): this one’s full of bike kit, a few pairs of shorts, and a bunch of t-shirts that I should probably donate, since I don’t wear them enough.

Bike kit used to share the dance clothes drawer (which was the Bike Kit Drawer until I had too much bike kit to keep it all in one drawer), but then the dance kit kind of took over. Anyway, I’ve used the two medium-sized Skubb boxes to contain bike kit.

Overflow bike kit lives in a vertical organizer in the guest room closet, because I am apparently unusually sentimental about my Cabal jerseys, even the ones I don’t wear very often.

And, yes, there’s even a sarong in there, though I don’t think you can see it in this shot.

Next time I’m at IKEA, I’ll pick up a couple more Skubb boxes to corral the things that are still roaming free.

image

Second Floor: Dance Apparel, Fuzzy Socks, and Thermal Tights*

Top Drawer: Dance kit and almost nothing else.

Until recently, I’ve alternated between folding and rolling my tights, and found that neither really prevents everything from coming undone when I’m digging for that one pair with the pictures of mountains on it or whatevs.

The other day, I hit on the solution of buying a package of brightly-colored hair ties to keep them contained. It works brilliantly.

In combination with the hair ties, the Skubb boxes keep things corralled and controlled. No more tights rolling into the base-layer section; no more dance belts hiding under legwarmers (right now, for decency’s sake, they’re hiding under a pair of socks instead).

Things that didn’t really fit anywhere else take up the extra space in the drawer in front of the Skubbs.

image

Rooftop Terrace: Aerial Apparel, Clutter, and Mayhem

On Top Of Ol’ Dresser: Denis’ tights live here, along with our white-noise machine (which is really an air purifier), a photo from our wedding, and a terrifying doll that predates my tenure in this establishment. There are also some foam panels that insulate our air-con when it’s installed, but right now it’s still on vacation.

I found the plastic basket at a place called Five Below, but you can find similar ones just about anywhere.

The fact that Denis has his own tights-basket means he no longer asks me where his tights are (when they’re right freaking there!) or roots through my dance-kit drawer, leaving chaos in his wake. Seriously, the man is like a water buffalo sloshing around in a pond when he gets in there.

My married peeps (and anyone with kids or particularly egregious housemates; similar things can happen in kitchen drawers) will understand how this helps keep me out of prison.

image

La Pièce de Resistance

A cheap keychain-grade carabiner slipped through a convenient opening in the “weave” of the basket holds the hair elastics that aren’t currently in use. I’ve oriented it so the gate can be operated without removing the whole carabiner: you just slide a band up to the top, open the gate, and the band comes right out. The process for replacing one is similarly painless.

I had to think long and hard about how to implement this bit, because my husband is a lazy slob (and will happily tell you so himself). The idea is to make it so freaking easy to put the bands back that it’s basically easier than not bothering.

You guys, I seriously believe in the power of harnessing the path of least resistance. Remember, when (ahem) shaping (ahem) the behavior of spouses, appealing to the natural laziness of the human animal will save you many headaches.

So, there you have it. A tour of how things are staying organized all up in my drawers (dancers be like, “Wait, isn’t that what dance belts are for?” :V).

…And, now, on to the rest of the house.

*gulp*

 

 

 

*So organize. Very boxes. Wow.

A Little Too Much

Sometimes, I make bad decisions.

In fact, I would argue that I am better at making bad decisions than the average person — which is to say that, because I am a tad impulsive, I probably make them more often than most people do.

I’m not normally prone to catastrophically bad decisions (once in a while, sure — but for someone with bipolar and ADHD, I’m doing a reasonably decent job not burning my house down because SQUIRREL!).

Rather, it seems that I rather often find myself saying, “…It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Anyway, this is one of those stories, but it’s an instructive one. For me, at least (consider this another “note-to-self,” I guess?).

Yesterday, I decided that I should stop at the grocery on the way home from the studio and pick up a few things. Dancers gotta eat. (Isn’t that a song? “Birds gotta swim; fish gotta fly; Dancers gotta eat if they don’t wanna die…*”)

*…So it doesn’t exactly scan, but you can force-fit it.

There were five items on my list; five — I think I finished up closer to twenty, including five pounds of potatoes, a couple of pounds of quick oats, and some other things that are packaged by the pound.

In short, my purchases were rather on the heavy side for carrying home without, say, a proper backpack (my dance bag is tiny), shoulder bag, bike with panniers**, or what have you.

**This was Bad Decision #1: I left my bike at home because I’m not willing to risk a fall on ice right now. There was no ice yesterday, and in fact the temperature when I left was a balmy 45F.

Anyway, just purchasing heavy groceries wouldn’t have been a terrible idea if I’d then decided that, as I usually do, I should call Denis to come collect me at the store.

Instead, as I was still in a mildly paranoid frame of mind, I decided that it annoys him when I call to ask him to pick me up, and that I should try to get home without doing that.

So I schlepped my purchases down to the bus stop and got on the bus.

…Which, in and of itself, might have been an acceptable decision.

Except then, without bothering to consult Transit App (Which, you guys, has made my life SO MUCH EASIER. I love living in the future!), I decided that there was no way the current bus would actually make a timely connection with the bus that would get me closer to home, and that it would make more sense to get off and walk 1.7 miles with my heavy-ass bags (I did have the sense to stuff my potatoes into my dance bag, at least).

WTF, you guys.

Um.

It seemed like a good idea at the time?

So I started walking.

And walking.

And.

Walking.

Now, 1.7 miles really isn’t that far (for me). I will walk that far for fun without even thinking about it.

But a 1.7 miles with twenty-odd pounds of groceries in flimsy plastic carrier bags (because I forgot my reusable bags, because ADHD I guess?) and no free hands with which to scratch your perpetually-itchy nose; 1.7 miles of which the last .5 mile traverses three transverse moraines with short but steep climbs?

That was no fun.

Needless to say, by the time I got home, I was both drenched in sweat and more or less ready to lie down dead on the floor. And my shoulders hurt. And my arms. And my hands. And, in fact, even my legs.

And it had taken roughly forever and a half because every five or ten minutes I would have to stop put my gloves on (because the bags were eating through my hands, even though I double-bagged everything), take off my hat(because it was too hot), take off my neck tube (ditto), take off my sweater (erm … thritto?), or scratch my by-our-lady nose, which answered my attempts to use Applied Zen with an escalating arms-race of itchiness that quickly approached Thermonuclear Zombie Apocolypse levels.

After arriving home and quite literally sitting on the floor for a few minutes, being angry at the world for … let’s face it, who even knows? Sometimes, when you have bipolar disorder, your thoughts don’t really make a lot of sense.

…Um, where was I?

Oh, right. So after literally sitting on the floor for a few minutes, I got up, put the groceries away, washed dishes, and made chili for dinner and the best freaking chocolate muffins in the universe (reduced-sugar version; the basic recipe is vegan, though these ones have non-vegan chocolate chips in) because Denis loves them and I am a sucker.

And then we went out to the live-in-HD production of A Winter’s Tale, capping off a day that might have already been a little much by staying up past our bedtime (though, to be honest, that has nothing to do with why it took me ’til 4 AM to get to sleep).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, today I am not feeling so very peachy. I woke up with my wildly-underutilized upper body muscles feeling like they were full of ground glass*** and the rest of me feeling, well, really just kind of meh. Puny, icky, achy, under the weather, and … I don’t know, swollen or something. If that makes any sense.

***Note to self: maybe stop picking on people who skip leg day until you stop neglecting your upper body completely? (Further note: in ballet, EVERY FREAKING DAY IS LEG DAY.)

And I realized that, in a sense, this was what I felt like when I was getting back to class after the recent Pneumonia Campaign (except, then, the ground-glass sensation was in my legs).

Which has led me to a revelation that really seems like, you know, it shouldn’t seem revelatory.

Specifically, that small expenditures of energy can still add up to one big expenditure at the end of the day, even with dribs and drabs of recovery in their midst.

You’re still burning matches, even if you don’t just light the whole book on fire and watch them all go up in a blaze of glory (or, alternatively, you’re still using up spoons, even if you don’t just throw them all at the smug-faced hipsters at the next table all in one … hm. Maybe I’m still feeling a little grumpy today).

Over time, of course, conditioning can help you start the day with more matches (well, not always: health conditions can get in the way, of course). The trick is figuring out how many you’ve got, since they’re invisible, and you don’t know they’re gone ’til you’ve used the last one.

So it turns out I might have overdone it a little yesterday, whereby I’m taking a rest day today (as if I ever do anything on Tuesday in the first place).

Some part of me, of course, continues to complain vociferously about this idea: You don’t need a rest day, it insists, You didn’t even do that much yesterday.

Except, as it turns out, I did — not just the walk (over the moraines) to the bus, then Brian’s class (which felt fairly easy, but was still pretty athletic), then the walk to lunch, then the walk to the other bus, then the walk through the grocery store, then the walk home with all those freaking groceries, then the cleaning and the cooking, all of which involves being up on your feet and moving … yeah. That’s nothing to sneeze at.

Does this mean that, the next time I feel the need to do two days of hard classes and all the other stuff back-to-back, I won’t?

No — in part, to be honest, because that’s the life I’ve chosen for myself. Dancers gonna dance.

But it does mean I’ll consider the process of conditioning, and maybe I’ll learn to go easier on myself when it is time for a rest day.

…But does it mean I’ll learn to make better decisions?

In all honesty, in a general sense, probably not.

But it might mean that I’ll learn, eventually, to figure out roughly how many matches I’ve got without burning the whole book and half of tomorrow’s book.

In Which I Reflect On What I’ve Done

Today was a very mixed day.

I accomplished a ton of stuff around the house (you guys, I even ironed things!) and then completely lost the plot.

My frustration tolerance has been through the floor the past couple of days (Hormones! Declining sunlight! Sleep deprivation! Yay!), and I hope today was its nadir, because I’d be totally good with being over this.

To be entirely fair to myself, I did succeed in holding it together for longer than I might have: it took the combination of a huge spill (spills are a meltdown trigger I’m having trouble shifting), a loudly-ringing phone, and a cascade of other Things Going Wrong All At Once to finally drive me over the edge into a fridge kicking, door-slamming meltdown.

To be entirely honest with myself, though, I might have headed that whole episode off at the pass if I had listened to the signals in my head that were saying, “Hey, maybe it’s time to sit down and chillax before you lose it,” instead of being all like “NO I JUST NEED TO FINISH THIS ONE THING … AND THIS ONE … and this one …”

It probably also would’ve helped if I’d realized I was in Low Blood Sugar Land. Oy vey.

Denis happened to be just getting up from a nap at the same time that I hit Hormonal-Bipolar-Aspie-ADHD Defcon 5. After, when I was busy being all mad at myself because in those moments I feel like All The Work I Have Done Is For Naught, he came into the room, asked me what was up (I had the presence of mind to not be like, “NothingEverythingIsFine”), hugged me and said he gets it; that it’s okay to be screaming mad at the world sometimes — and that it might be a better strategy to actually scream at the world, even.

And I was all like, “Um. Oh.”

Because, to be honest, that never occurred to me. I mean, that actually, like, Using My Words (Loudly) might be a possible response to frustration of that calibre (which is, for me at least, a very physical, visceral experience).

In short: I recognize that other people use their words when frustrating crap happens; I also can do this up to a point — it just never occurred to me that maybe other people do experience explosive frustration* like I do, but have maybe actually figured out how to respond to it verbally, or at least vocally.

Which is interesting.

I had a long talk with El Roberto about this a while ago. We are both very high-functioning in many ways (and not so much in other ways) but I go thermonuclear way more easily than he does. In fact, I didn’t even realize it was a thing that ever happens to him until back in May — and I’ve known him for ages.

This may be because of the whole hyperactivity component, which he doesn’t have, and which means I’m just generally a lot more keyed-up than he is. It may also be a function of the fact that he grew up in a house in which verbal expression of emotions was valued, whereas I didn’t. Like, he is more able to talk about feelings and yell when he’s frustrated than I am.

Regardless, I have historically coped with most “loud” emotions fairly non-verbally — in part because of my upbringing (which brooked no yelling, least of all incoherent yelling), and in part because strong emotions make it much harder for me to access my language circuits, so to speak — it’s like they shunt system resources away from my language co-processor.

It never occurred to me, though, that these could be active parts of my embarrassing tendency to be a grown-ass person who occasionally gets in fights with the fridge without actually being drunk.

Yelling incoherently isn’t currently in my behavioral repertoire at all (not even when startled or frightened) — but it seems like a step up from kicking the fridge, to be honest (also less likely to injure my feet — foot injuries are like the Ballet Bogeyman).

It’s also a behavior that’s less likely to be perceived by normal people (not people like me, for whom yelling and sudden loud noises are really pretty terrifying) as scary and anti-social. Though my fridge-kicking frenzies are in reality more akin to a freaked-out horse kicking whatever’s in front of (or behind) it, I am definitely aware that they can seem a lot like the threatening behaviors of jerks.

The difference lies in intent — controlling jerks intend for their physical explosions to imply threat. In my case, there is no threat intended. There’s really nothing intended, at those points; I’m largely beyond higher-order stuff like that in those moments — but it’s not hard to see how a threat could be perceived.

Anyway, most people apparently find someone yelling, “AAAAGH!  I’M SO FRUSTRATED! BLARGH! GARGLESNARP!” or whatever much less frightening than someone slamming a door or kicking the fridge or throwing all the hangers on the floor (which did not happen today, but almost did, which probably should have been the clue that the laundry could wait). I don’t, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try to adjust my behavior.

I am wondering if I could learn to yell when I’m melting down instead of slamming doors, etc.

It could be difficult for a couple of reasons — one, I have done a ton of work on this and meltdowns of this calibre aren’t that common anymore for me (Yay!), which will make it harder to do the actual behavioral work in question; two, it never occurred to me that this was even possible because (believe it or not) language is hard for me. But I might be able to start by just learning to make vocal sounds, even if they’re non-verbal and incoherent.

It would be nice not to worry about causing Denis (or anyone else, I hope) to feel unsafe.

Anyway, it’s something I’ll be trying to figure out.

For now, though, I’m going to try to figure out how to get to sleep. Advanced Class tomorrow, then opera.

À bientôt!

Notes
*Seriously, this reaction is fight-or-flight, survival-mode stuff. Ugh.

Come to think of it, maybe I could also try the “flight” option? (Another thing my upbringing didn’t really allow for.)

Like, instead of kicking the fridge and slamming the door, maybe I could just run down the stairs and then run around in the basement until my limbic system stops blaring its klaxons? Hm. Not that I have too much volitional thought happening in those moments, but maybe I could somehow rewire myself so flight, rather than fight, is the default response.

Learning How I Learn Choreography

Some of us are great at picking up choreography; others have to work really hard at it; still others fall somewhere in between.

I suspect that I’m one of the last group — though my ability to remember combinations is improving, I’m not as snappy at it as some.   I usually seem to fall somewhere in the middle, and I’m better at remembering the big jumps and turns (though not always the correct turns!) than the little linking steps that come between.

In writing out the choreography for “Shadowlands,” I’ve gained a small insight: it helps me to group choreographic elements (and their associated music) into “phrases” and then link them into longer “sentences” and “paragraphs.”

I’m glad that I didn’t do this with the original choreography for the middle part of ” Shadowlands” — it was unclear and muddled, but I don’t remember it anyway and hadn’t danced it enough to get it into my bones (you know that thing where your instructor gives you the same combination you’ve done a billion times, but instead of ending it with glissade-jeté-temps levée-temps levée, he substitutes glissade-jeté-slow plie, and you look on in horror as your reflection on the mirror reveals that you’re doing it the other way?).  I won’t have to “overwrite” the old circuits, which is good, because old circuits can be very persistent.

In a way, this shouldn’t surprise me.   When I used to show horses, I used this method to memorize dressage tests and over-fences courses.

I think my primary difficulty with picking up choreography in class is that I tend to mono-channel: I process either language or visual information, because language requires a lot of cognitive load for me.  I’m not a verbal thinker, so there’s a translation process involved, and in particular there are some deficiencies in my brain’s uplinks between verbal and spatial/mathematical/musical processing.  This is why I can’t describe to Denis where the garlic powder is, but I can go get it for him; I can picture your face, but experience delays in linking it to your name and identity (which is why I’m hesitant to wave to people who appear to be waving to me: I can’t tell immediately whether or not I actually know them).

Thus, for example, unless someone says “turn en dedans,” I might not pick up the direction of a turn (because my visual processing suffers when I’m working to process words), so then I mark and perform the combination incorrectly and get it “wired up” wrong.  The same thing happens where “implied” steps are involved — like, when you do pique arabesque – glissade – assemblé, there’s an implied failli between the first two elements.   If I just think of the movements, I can see that, but if I hear the verbal instructions, I tend to be too literal, and I’ll try to leave out the failli, at which point hilarity ensues.

I’m really good at retaining movement sequences (possibly because operating in space, rather than in language, is essentially my “native mode”), which is great when I’ve got them right and terrible when I’ve got them wrong.  Also makes me hesitant to practice certain combinations at home.

I guess this means that, given enough training, I’ll either make a fantastic repetiteur or a terrible one, depending on whether I figure out a strategy to work out the kinks.

So there you have it.   It’s interesting to discover how working on a choreography project can help illuminate one’s own strengths and weaknesses in terms of picking up choreography.

Homemaking: Kacy Is Your Friend

…And she’s awesome.

Five years ago, author and blogger Kacy Faulconer wrote a great post called “Obvious Tips For Not-Very-Good Homemakers.”

Tonight, I read it … and then its sequel … and then the sequel to its sequel.

The tips themselves are great (if, yes, sometimes pretty obvious: but, honestly, even if they’re things you already know, it’s pretty validating to know you’re not the only adult who occasionally calls upon the power of Pigs in Blankets) in a way that will make perfect sense to anyone who thinks a cookbook called Cooking with ADHD is a good idea — but it’s Kacy’s tone of acceptance and cameraderie that really makes it work.

It’s like a friend or a sister or a cousin saying, “Okay, guys and gals, we’re in this together. We kind of suck at this, but we’re doing it anyway, and it’s okay.”

…And also:

He didn’t become Gandalf the Citrus Moderne Dot, did he?

Kacy Faulconer

Because, seriously, he didn’t. Because he knew he was going to have to get orc blood off dat shizzle, and you can, as Faulconer points out, bleach white.

My own education as a half-baked homemaker has been very much about giving up on visions of making my own laundry detergent and growing my own vegetables, then embracing my limitations (and strengths) and learning to work with them.

I may not grow my own vegetables, but I turn vegetables that we buy into a mean set of no-sugar-added breakfast muffins every single week, because I not only know how to do that, but like doing it (because I do it well, so it makes me feel good, so I do it more, which makes me even better at it, etc.).

I may not make complex gourmet meals every single day, but just about every evening I do cook a meal that my husband enjoys (fortunately, he is a man of simple tastes, and doesn’t object to a regular rotation of variations on Freezer-Marinated Chicken with occasional forays into Things Made From Ground Beef).

I may use a lot of workarounds, but little by little I’m learning to get stuff done.

That’s the spirit that Faulconer’s blog embraces, and I feel like it’s a spirit whose time has come. So go read her!

Oh, yeah — in other news: did Essentials yesterday morning; was able to crack out the flying chassees and a couple of sautes without my toe falling off or swelling up like a ball of bagel dough. This definitely feels like progress. It also didn’t give me any real trouble today, just the generic “Hey, I’m still healing a little” soreness that has become its temporary new normal (for a while, it was fiercely sore the day after class even if I didn’t do releve work or jumps).

We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

My mood is hanging in there, somewhere in the neighborhood of the Upper Doldrums. It’s not approaching “good” yet, but it’s at least more tolerable. I am more able to ignore Bad Thoughts (admittedly, by playing Bubble Wars or baking, but still…) when they arrive (but they’re still arriving).

The upside of my current mood? Holy cow, I have never been this productive in the kitchen. I mean, I have reached a point in life at which my kitchen is basically under control (I’ve even started weeding out unnecessary kitchen things and relocating or offloading them). I like being there, I like working there, and our dishwasher died, so now I just wash the dishes by hand and everything stays sorted.

The downside?

I don’t know. Is it bad to have 24 carrot-pineapple-coconut-raisin muffins hanging around?

Quickie: Plans

On Wednesday, B. and I were chatting during the quick break between barre about how we’d both lost so much ground to injury this year (she with a stress-fractured foot; I with my calf and then my toe). I was like, “Can you believe we were doing brisees last year?”

Anyway, that’s kind of a theme for me, right now. In some ways — mood-wise, ballet-wise — I’m sitting at the bottom of a long climb back to where I want to be.

Fortunately, as a cyclist, the ability and willingness to climb ridiculous hills was and remains one of my strengths, and I feel like maybe I can translate that over to the rest of my life.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to climb this particular set of hills quickly. Just that I know myself well enough to recognize that I’m probably going to make it (even though I’m in that weird place, right now, where you’re rational enough to know that the voice in your head that constantly yammers on like, “You’ve squandered your potential and will never amount to anything now!” is a crazy voice, but not yet in a place where you can make it STFU).

Anyway. So I’m gaining ground more slowly than I would like, but I’m gaining ground.

I guess I can pop in another bike-racing analogy, here: one time, Timothy and I raced Death March while both of us were recovering from various winter illnesses, including some kind of gut thing that was going around. In short, neither of us had been able to eat like a normal person for several days, and we were what a long-ago Arnold Schwartzenegger might have termed “weak little girly-men,” and we did nothing fast, least of all climbing … but climb we did, and (as evidenced by the fact that I am sitting here in my living room, writing this post), we lived to ride another day (in fact, the next year we came back and roundly spanked half the field, although we were in turn roundly spanked by the other half).

Sometimes it sucked, and sometimes we walked our bikes, but at the end of the day, we kept going and eventually made it back to the ranch without having to ride in the Broom Wagon.

So, anyway. I’m not all there yet, but I’m not ready to wait for the broom wagon, either.

As such, here are some plans for upcoming posts, with no particular timeline in mind (though next week would be nice):

  • Two Cooking With ADHD posts:
    • What To Do With 10 Pounds of Chicken Leg Quarters (Because They’re On Sale)
    • How To Make Bread And Influence Impress People
  • One hopes, a string of Ballet Class Notes, as my foot can definitely handle at least 3 classes per week at this point if I don’t jump too much.
  • Maybe a post about writing? I am doing that still.

In other news, I am rocking along in Homemaker Mode and actually rather better at it than I used to be.

This is comforting.

Some of it, of course, is the Miracle of Modern Medicine (go, Adderall!), but some of it is simply a function of the fact that, amazingly, I do appear to be able to learn.

I’m hoping my friend Robert (Hi, Robert!) will be able to come visit before we head out to the desert; maybe when he does I’ll ask him to collaborate on a Cooking With ADHD Video Post, since we have two different flavors of ADHD and we might find different things helpful.

Oh, and I just read Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint, and I highly recommend it (if Regency-era romping bisexual sword-wieldy people sound like your cup of tea).

That’s it for now.

Maybe if I ever manage to get Cooking with ADHD rolling, I’ll expand it into a guide for the ADDle-pated Homemaker. Goodness knows I could use one!

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