Saturday, July 23, 2005

Diffr'nt Strokes

...For different folks. Now I know what that really means. Or I think I do, after having finished my two week swimming class for beginners. Because I realized that, although I hate the breaststroke with a passion, I do believe I am getting the hang of the freestyle stroke, and am in absolute love with the elemental backstroke. (Of course I would love this one, since it's the easiest, but it just felt so graceful and so natural to skim through the water like a little frog on her back.)

The breaststroke, however? Not natural. How am I expected to lunge out of the water like that, over and over? And then coordinate that with the kick? Our instructor, S., told us to remember: "together, breathe, kick, glide." This magical chant, well, it didn't work so well for me. After failing to bring my whole upper torso high enough to drag a breath into my protesting lungs, I stood up and dug my heels into the cement pool floor. My instructor told me that I was spreading my arms too wide, and showed me the maneuver, together with the kick.

Uh uh. I looked at her accusingly. "You're bringing your legs in at the same time as your arms." That made sense to me, because it would seem that the momentum of the legs helps to push your head out of the water. She gave me a wary look, and told me that she was breaking down the steps so that we could learn them separately and then put them all together. I understood that her approach was to teach us the correct form, but this just wasn't the best route for me. I overanalyze everything. What to eat for lunch. What color t-shirt to buy at Old Navy. So in focusing on all these separate, minute steps, I just couldn't let my instinct take over and put the steps all together. Eh. I turned over and floated on my back. Love that backstroke.

I started out the class by knowing how to swim a little, but not knowing how to blow bubbles. Therefore, I could only swim as far as my breath would hold. And my lungs are small. So I consider it a small success that I can now blow bubbles. I figure everything else will build on the bubbles.

Afterward, my friend F. and I went to Sandy's for chili dogs, fries, and custard. We sat out back and watched the huge stormclouds roll in. They have been making a regular evening appearance for two weeks now, even forcing two swim class cancellations. But this time, they shed a few drops and then moved on, making the sunset rather spectacular.

I headed over to Hollywood Video to rent a video, and ended up choosing Kinsey. On my way out, I asked the video boy if he'd seen the Machinist. I just saw Batman Begins and have to say that I've developed a little crush on Christian Bale. It's possible that the Machinist would cure me of that crush, but I'm still intrigued. But the box described it as "psychological horror," and since my roomie's away, I was too chicken to rent it. I asked the video boy, though, if he'd seen it. He said yes, and said he thought it was good. "Well, I don't want to see it by myself," I remarked, and then inwardly gasped. Was that an accidental flirtation? The video boy looked all of 17, and thank God he didn't offer to come over and slip the video into the slot, so to speak, although I did catch him sneaking a peek at the non-existent cleavage hiding underneath the sheer tunic I was wearing over my bikini.

Anyway, I know that remark doesn't seem extremely provocative, but I felt like that conversation could have gotten very awkward. And to top it off, I was renting....Kinsey. Does anything scream "single, desperate, and ready for action" more than this? Well, maybe porn does, but I didn't see a curtained off section in Hollywood Video. The other video boy saw what I was renting and gave me a thumbs up. "You're renting Kinsey? Awesome." Great! I've got so much game with the video boys.

Today I studiously avoided the papers I have to grade, and maniacally cleaned my house. I mean, psychopathically. The inner Virgo in me came out. I usually keep her stuffed down in there, kind of like Barbara Eden in "I Dream of Jeannie," and sometimes she jumps up and down and begs to be let out so that she can obsess over the dust on the blinds and the pile of atm receipts on my desk, and the way my tshirts are folded (or not folded) in my drawers. I can usually ignore all these things, quite happily, which makes me think that I have some other really messy sign for my moon sign, or something.

But today, Virgo/Jeannie in all her glory fought her way out, and clean I did. Dusted the baseboards. Mopped the kitchen. Re-folded my tshirts. 409'd the area rug in the living room. Why is it, the more you clean, the more dirt you notice? This, of course, would be the perfect reason NOT to clean, except that I live with a roommate and that somehow keeps it in check.

Anyway, I uploaded a couple of pictures of my new knitting projects. Yay! The Viennese shrug was for my sister, and the ribbon xback tank cost me so much pain, that I figured I deserved two new projects for myself.

Here is the Victoria Tank, from the summer 2004 IK:

I'm using lovely Vintage Cotton from Karabella, based on the recommendation of the very nice lady at my lys, who told me she was knitting the same tank.

I am also making the Drop-Stitch Shrug, from the Staff Shrug Project, Summer 2005 IK:

Although the designer used Alchemy Synchronicity for this, and made much of the fact that the drop stich pattern makes the most of the sheen and drape of this lovely merino/silk yarn, blah blah, I know that it probably costs a gajillion dollars per skein, and will thus cost a gabillion dollars to make the shrug. Therefore, I am using Cascade Sierra, in a humble cotton/wool blend. Living in Texas, where rivers of sweat start to pour down your back before you even make it to the bus stop, this is a practical, washable choice for me. Plus, I love the color, and I love that I get so much yardage out of one skein.

Another thing to love: the drop stitch pattern! I haven't ever done this one before, and yes, it feels like absolute anarchy to drop that stitch and see it unravel all the way down to the bottom. I love the way it's pushing the ribs in and out, too. I didn't get a good sense of what that looked like from the picture in the magazine, but now that I can see it taking shape before my very eyes (and fingers), I adore it. I think this will be my immediate gratification project.

Finally: Some friends and I went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was fantastic and weird, and I highly recommend it. There was something about Willy Wonka, though, that looked just so familar...

I know I'm not the first one to notice this, right? Nuff said.


At 11:25 PM, Blogger Heather said...

I used to teach swimming lessons and I am of the opinion that the breast stroke is the hardest and most useless style of swimming;-) You are not alone.

At 5:48 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

I love the drop stitch shrug! That color is wonderful. Now you've got me thinking about that yarn and what can I make with that?!

At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Sol said...

Ogie!! That drop stitch pattern is gorgeous. I've never seen it (not that I know too much about the Church of the Yarn... yet). Girl, you are making me want to keep at it, and knit-knit-knit!! But where do you buy all your yarn? In NYC, it's a bit expensive... Keep up the blogs, they're great! By the way, do you sew?


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