Category Archives: adhd

Do Two Things

I’ve probably come to this conclusion before, so my apologies if this is tiresome.

I make the same mistake over and over again (what was that definition of madness, again?)—deciding either:

  1. …that I will somehow throw the neurochemical round-house punch to end all neurochemical round-house punches and knock my depression right TF out.
  2. …that I’m feeling much better and that, as a result, my depression is just about over and I’ll be fine any old minute now.
  3. …both.

Then I find myself flummoxed when I don’t magically turn into … well, not a normal person (as D always says, “Average was never the goal!”), but a not-depressed person … overnight, or when I overextend myself and just can’t even for the next five days.

As such, I’ve decided to adopt a motto that some might call “strategetic” and others might call “cowardly.” In short:

When all else fails, run away
And live to fight another day.

(Coincidentally, this exact phrasing is the motto of Daniel D’Aeve, a semi-cowardly knight [he doesn’t like loud noises, for one thing] and accidental pirate [he doesn’t like boats, either] and the semi-hero of a musical I’ll probably never finish, but who knows. Miracles do happen.)

I’m not going to wrestle my depression into submission. That’s not how this works.

 

 

not-how-this-works

Via teh Pinterest-Googs Nexus

If I keep engaging it head-on, this gorilla will always, always wrestle me into the ground. Depression is like … I don’t know, wrestling some kind of mutant alligator that has gained the ability to steal your strength and make it its own as long as you keep fighting. (I feel like there’s almost certainly a Japanese monster movie about this already, but if there isn’t, there should be.)

As such, I’ve decided to adopt a more conservative tack. I know that I’m too impulsive to entirely avoid wrestling the alligator—sometimes I don’t realize I’m doing so until the alligator is already doing death-rolls at the bottom of the pond—but I’m going to try not to, like, walk up and pick fights with the alligator … even if that means letting it live in my house for a while.

come-at-me

Even if it taunts me from my own ottoman, I will try to not to fight the alligator.

In other words, for a little while, I’m going to try not to do as much.

I’m not going to stop doing everything, of course, but I’m not going to push quite as hard for a bit.

Instead, I’m going to revert to the best strategy I’ve ever found for keeping myself afloat in the midst of one of my moderate-but-grinding depressions: Do Two Things.

Oddly, I thought I’d written a post about this strategy before, but I can’t* find it, so I’m writing it now.

*Which is to say, I ran a search, devoted exactly 30 seconds to looking
for it, and then I gave up because I realized that if I kept it up I’d
start reading old posts and never finish this one.

So, in case you’re wondering, here’s how it works.

First, you get depressed. This makes living seem like a tedious uphill grind, and causes you to write poems empathizing with Sisyphus, and generally makes every single little thing that you have to do in order to continue to remain semi-afloat seem like a hideous impossibility.

Second, you own up to the fact that you don’t want to do anything. You don’t feel up to doing anything. You drag yourself to class because some part of you dimly recognizes that things will only be worse in the long run if, on top of recovering from a depression, you also have to get yourself back in performing shape or auditioning shape or what have you in the span of 3.4 days somewhere down the line. But other than that you feel like you just can’t even.

Eventually, you begin to feel slightly better, and then you look around your house and you realize, Holy Hell, it looks like a tornado crashed through a paper mill, a diner, and a thrift store before chugging right through your door. And also the cat has somehow contrived to get maple syrup on his head (which he doesn’t mind in the least, but you do). And you are out of Kleenex.

Some part of you thinks, “I should do something about all this,” while the rest of you just gazes around at the chaos with the proverbial thousand-yard stare and no idea where to begin.

That’s where Do Two Things comes in. You tell yourself, “Okay. There is no way I can do all of this right now, so I’m just going to do two things today.”

Then you turn to the thing nearest thing—or the nearest thing that feels like you have some hope of accomplishing it—and you do that thing.

The whole strategy hinges on this one truth: that sometimes “Do The Dishes” counts as one thing, and sometimes, “I’m going to wash this one dish” does. Sometimes, getting out of bed counts as one thing, and sometimes completely unmaking the bed, rotating the mattress, and remaking the bed counts as one thing.

It doesn’t matter. You judge yourself by the standard of where you are now. You give yourself permission to wash this one dish and that one fork.

The funny thing is that usually once you get started—once you wash the One Dish—you’ll usually find yourself thinking, “Ah, well. I might as well wash this entire stack; it’s not going to take any longer, really, and I already have my gloves on.”

So often Doing Two Things turns into Cleaning the Kitchen—but you have to remember not to look at that fact too directly, or your motivation might catch your scent on the wind and bolt. Wild motivations are flighty like that.

In my worst depressions, sometimes my Two Things are as simple as getting out of bed to get a drink, then eating a bagel while I’m already up.

When I’m well into recovery, they may be as complex as making the dining room ready for company and re-organizing the closets.

Either way, I give myself permission to feel like if I’ve done my Two Things, then I have done enough for the day.

It is, of course, totally okay to do more than the Two Things. It is pretty much impossible to do less: even in the pit of the kind of depression that keeps you confined to your bed or the sofa, it’s fairly likely that you’ll have to use the bathroom at least twice on any given day. If you’ve been in that place, you’ll understand why that counts. You just start with whatever Two Things are in reach.

Do Two Things acts both as an accessible goal and as a limiter.

If I’m having the kind of day that starts with “I am going to wash this One Dish,” then I know that, no matter how significant an uptick I might feel, I probably shouldn’t tackle rearranging the closets (which always sounds like a good idea, but turns into a nightmare because D has lived in this house for 20 years and almost never gets rid of anything).

Even if Washing the One Dish turns into Washing the Dishes, the knowledge that the first of my two things began as “Wash the One Dish” keeps me mindful of the fact that I’m not yet fully recovered, and that I shouldn’t start burning tomorrow’s matches today.

So there we have it. For the time being, I’m going to Do Two Things. This will help me get through the current slog without overwhelming myself (at least, without overwhelming myself as often).

Anyway, I don’t know if this strategy will work as well for anyone else as it does for me, but feel free to try it if you want to. It’s also good for getting started when you just plain feel overwhelmed, whether you’re depressed or not (this is a key feature of Adulting with ADHD).

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Checklist Taimz

Today, I have accomplished the following:

  • Get out of bed (eventually)
  • Sew buttons for straps into new tights for CirqueLouis gigs
  • …Yeah, that’s about it, really.

^.^’

Cooking with ADHD: Low-Carb Waffles and Doughballs, Part II

The other day, I wrote about trying a couple of low-carb recipes.

I’m doing the low-carb thing until I can get back to my usual training and performance schedule because it’s an easy way to balance input and output without feeling like I’m starving all the time.

My diet is usually pretty well stocked with veggies and so forth, so this mostly means that I’m stuffing my face with a metric shedload of cabbage (Savoy or Napa, at the moment) where I’d usually put pasta, burritos, or taco shells, but of course there’s more to life than cabbage. (Pumpkin smoothies, by the way, are totally in the “more to life” department. Recipe forthcoming.)

In that vein, I’ve decided to try a couple of specifically low-carb recipes that would work for both D and me, since it’s not like I asked D if he wants to give up bread and rolls for the next month.

The two standouts thus far in terms of ease of preparation and really nice results both hail from TryKetoWith.Me, the blog of “KetoGirl,” a computer-science student and ketogenic-diet advocate in Chicago. These are two of her simpler recipes, and I chose them because when I looked at them, I didn’t instantly go, “ACK! TOO MANY STEPS!” and click on back to a safer place[1].

  1. No, I’m not making fun of the Safe Spaces concept. I think they play an important role, and they have definitely been helpful to me at times in my life. I mostly just wanted to link to the Safety Dance because it’s hilarious.

Because it’s fall and I’m obsessed with putting cinnamon in everything right now, I decided to make sweet-spiced versions of both these recipes—so (because I am apparently out of plain cinnamon … wonder how that happened) I made the waffles with pumpkin pie spice standing in for the optional cinnamon, and I turned the doughballs into mini pumpkin pie spice rolls by rolling the dough out flat, coating it with a blend of Splenda[2] and pumpkin pie spice, then curling it into a long log and cutting it into individual rolls.

  1. Not everyone is into sucralose and what have you. It works fine for me, so I use it, but stevia or xylitol would work just as well.
low-carb pumpkin pie spice mini-rolls

The delightful golden promise of pumpkin pie spice and fluffy dough ❤

Both recipes proved pretty easy to follow—if I was working directly off my tablet or had printed them a little differently, I could have avoided the one mistake I did make, which was the result of my own formatting, not KetoGirl's.

Neither required an exhaustive list of ingredients I can't find locally. In fact, I found them all, plus one random extra (arrowroot powder, which I've been meaning to buy forever but always forget about), at a not-particularly-fancy Kroger a couple miles up the road.

For both these reasons, and because the end results are delicious, I am happy to issue the Cooking with ADHD Squirrel! of Approval© to both recipes.

The only drawback? The whole point of doing a low-carb diet while I'm on the bench is to make maintaining energy balance a no-brainer. The pumpkin pie spice rolls are so freaking good that they might completely torpedo that plan.

 

 

 

Cooking With ADHD: Low-Carb Waffles and Doughballs

Just sticking this here in case it might be useful to anyone else. I’m going to try this recipe:

http://www.tryketowith.me/2015/08/01/the-only-keto-pancakewaffle-recipe-i-need/

…use some of the waffles for dinner or dessert tonight (haven’t decided yet if I’m making savory waffles or sweet ones), then freeze the rest. I’ll keep you posted.

Update: These are great! I made a sweet version seasoned with Pumpkin Pie Spice (I wanted just cinnamon, but apparently I’m out of just cinnamon?), and they’re lovely. Also, I would definitely count them as ADHD-friendly, though the way I printed the recipe made life challenging for me. I forgot the baking powder initially, then added it after I made the first waffle and realized my error. I’ve done this before, with other waffles, soooo…

I think, though, that I’d really like to try making them in a regular waffle iron rather than the Belgian waffle iron that I have—which is what I usually think about waffle recipes, actually, so they resemble regular waffles in that way, as in effectively all ways.

Also going to try making these whilst I’m mucking about in the kitchen:

http://www.tryketowith.me/2017/06/01/low-carb-garlic-dough-balls/

Both look pretty ADHD-friendly (at least, once you remember to buy the ingredients that maybe you don’t have if you’re not normally a low-carb person), so I’m eager to see how they go.

I won’t know until I’ve made them, but I’m hoping I can potentially adjust the waffle batter so I can use the Foreman grill to make a sort of foccaccia-style thing with it (between the Foreman grill and the waffle iron, you can make SO MANY THINGS, guys). Likewise, I want to try making cinnamon doughballs based on the garlic recipe. I’ll report back about those, too.

In other news, for some reason or another, our water has been shut off. We’re current on the water bill (I checked, and then paid the next bill since I was logged in anyway), and usually the water company sticks a note on the door when they have to shut us off for maintenance. I’m stumped.

I suppose I could call them, but I’m going to give it a couple of hours first.

…You Stop When The Gorilla Gets Tired

(File under: Every Aphorism I Know I Learned In Bike Racing)

I’ve been having a tough time with re-entry following this summer’s intensives.

Not that I’m, like, pining for the fjords. Just…

Hmm. How do I explain it?

Going to a dance intensive is, in a way, very much like going to summer camp. You’re essentially excused from most of the responsibilities of adulting. Your daily activities are heavily programmed for you. You don’t have to juggle variables, interruptions, or random transportation disasters.

If you forget your ADHD meds, you make it through the day pretty well because all you’re doing, really, is dancing, and your brain works best when you’re in motion. You don’t have to remember a bunch of discrete, unrelated tasks and somehow accomplish them.

If you stay up really late bonding with your new dance family, it’s no big deal. You get up the next day, pour some strong coffee into your face, hit the studio, dance your butt off, and sleep like the dead when you get back to the dorms or your AirBnB.

And then you come home, and your body is adapted to an 8-hours-per-day-plus physical workload that you’re unlikely to match except during the most intense periods of rehearsal or performance, and you have to get back to Adulting (with or without ADHD).

For me, this illuminates one of the central challenges in living with ADHD: it never goes away.

To borrow a quote from Kiwi bike racer Greg Henderson [1]:

Greg Henderson quote:

Swap “ADHD” for “training” and you’re good. (Shamelessly stolen from Pinterest, of course.)

  1. or a quote about success from Robert Strauss, who presumably doesn’t race bikes but could feasibly be a Kiwi; can’t be arsed to look him up right now.

You don’t stop when you’re tired. You stop when the gorilla is tired.

ADHD is, in some ways, a gorilla that never gets tired. Instead, you have to learn to manage your gorilla—and managing is largely a question of automation.

When I’m doing it right, I manage my ADHD by making it as hard as possible for myself to screw up the basics.

I lay out each day’s clothes the night before, so I never have to fumble around looking for clothes before my brain is working.

My morning and afternoon doses of Adderall are right there in my 7-day pillbox, so I don’t find myself thinking, “Feck, did I take my meds?”

My keys, wallet, sunglasses, and other important small things live on a shelf by the door, so I will always put them there when I walk in and never have to wonder where they are.

My phone lives next to the bed, where it acts as an alarm clock. Once I get out of bed, I either leave it tethered to one of its chargers or keep it nearby. That way, I never have to look for it.

My class and rehearsal schedules get written out on the whiteboard on the refrigerator door. Writing them down helps me remember what’s coming up; it also gives me a hard-copy reference when I’m not sure and lets D know where I am, when.

While I cook, I clean as I go and streamline general dishwashing into those moments when there’s nothing that requires attention.

I run errands before, after, or between classes so I won’t have to take extra trips out of the house. I maintain shopping lists on Google Keep so I don’t have to remember anything, including the shopping list.

I burn a ton of energy, knowing that it’s the only way I’m going to be able to sleep on anything resembling a normal, diurnal schedule. I run Twilight on my phone and f.lux on my PCs to cut out blue rays (this really does make a huge difference, for me). I don’t play video games or peruse social media in bed, because those get my brain ticking over too fast.

I pay really close attention to things like caffeine intake: and if I’m having a rough time sleeping, I avoid any caffeine at all after about 2 PM.

These are all fairly small things, but they add right the heck up.

The problem is, they’re all routine-driven, and once I get out of a routine, it can be really hard getting back in.

This week, I’m struggling really hard with insomnia. After being sick for most of last week (during which all I actually did was sleep), I’m left with a surplus of energy, but not enough on the schedule to burn it off.

Since it only takes one sleepless night to torpedo weeks of careful sleep programming, I’m currently in the midst of a really unpleasant cycle of sleeping two hours one night, then nine the next.

Last night was one of those two hour nights. I missed class today because of it: I finally got to sleep around 8 AM. Turned off the alarm at 9 AM, when I realized it would be foolish to try to do modern on one hour of sleep. Woke up at 10, when I should’ve been starting class, anyway.

I’ve realized I need to get back to negotiating with my gorilla. I’m home for one more week, then off to That Thing In The Desert[2] after all, then back for a week, then off for a medical thing[3], then possibly starting rehearsals for a thing, depending[4].

  1. In addition to the usual Open Barre sessions with mimosas, I’ll be leading some contact improv playshops at our camp this year.
  2. I’m going to apply my “to know, to will, to dare, to keep silent” clause here. This is a minor medical procedure but a huge freaking deal for me, so I’m trying not to  feck it up.
  3. Here, too. I’m actually okay with waiting and auditioning for the next thing this company does, but it’s sort of up in the air right now whether we can work around my temporary restrictions after The Secret Medical Thing.

None of this makes it easier to figure out where to start rebuilding my Life Management Protocols, so I’m just going to do what I normally do: fumble forward and hope for the best.

In other words, just pick something and start where you are.

In that vein, I’m hoping to get a class in tomorrow to make up for missing today’s (though tomorrow’s class will be ballet, not modern).

I’ve got a doctor’s appointment at 8-o-freaking-clock in the morning for which I have to check in at 7-goshdarn-30, which means getting up at 6-what-even-is-sixthirty-30 because I kind of need D with me for this one and he needs more than 20 minutes to get out the door 😛

As such, I need to actually get my tuchas in bed at a reasonable hour tonight and, if necessary, hit myself with a whacking great dose of doxylamine succinate to make sure I don’t stay awake all night.

Those are some easy start-where-I-am steps that I can actually do (along with getting audition video links to the AD for the Secret Dance Thing and signing some documents for The Secret Medical Thing and emailing them back to the practice in question).

So, there you have it. I think I really wanted this post to be more of a thought-piece about managing ADHD than me scrabbling on about how I’ve managed to hose everything up for myself (though I did plan to mention that), so I suppose I’ll add that to my queueueueueueue of posts to actually write sooner or later as well.

Until then, I’ll be here, negotiating with my gorilla.

~

Oh: in other news, I successfully gave a bit of advice to a new guy in class last night, which felt really good.

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.

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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.

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