After reading emphatic recommendations in multiple books that people with ADHD exercise regularly, I started paying attention to the correlation between my physical activity and my mental focus. As it turns out, exercise does seem to help with regulating the steadiness of my energy and ability to concentrate - and I think that upping the intensity and regularity may help even more. So last week, I finally got up the guts to walk into a local Crossfit gym - after envying the intensity of their workouts for several years but wimping out because I didn't think I was in shape enough to start - and asking whether a floppy nerd like me could work towards becoming a badass grad student. Yes, was the answer. As long as I was willing to work hard, things could be modified. After checking out several places, I decided on Triangle CrossFit and started showing up to "Elements" classes, a 4-series that teaches basic principles and exercise form. Things I learned during the first class:

  • Intensity is awesome.
  • My back is not yet flexible enough to allow me to remain upright during a proper squat.
  • Neither are my hamstrings.
  • When done properly, squats work your entire legs - calves, quads, glutes - up to your back... because that's what's sore the next day. I was literally staggering out of bed the next morning - not because I was sleepy, but because whoa. Sitting down and standing up became much more... interesting for the two days following my introduction to (lots of) proper squats.
  • But my shoulder flexibility is actually not that bad now - it's somewhere around average, which is awesome for someone who's been down (and is still traversing) the long road to recovery from crippling RSI.

The second class had us learning different types of presses, which showcased my utter lack of upper body strength (okay, the pushups on the first night did that already). My biceps, triceps, and pectorals are consequently slightly awkward with things like "putting on a jacket" today. I'm sore, but it's the very good kind of sore. Mmmm. I like. The Mel approves. As with anything, the struggle is going to be keeping myself consistent - sticking to this - but the intensity and the varied exercises, not to mention the ridiculous amounts of technique I've picked up in the first 2 classes alone, are a big incentive for that.

Other things that have happened in my life recently - I went and volunteered as a safety advisor at the local FIRST regionals, a high school robotics competition I've watched peripherally for years thanks to the efforts of some of my Olin friends who were/are diehard FIRSTies. Thanks to Marie Hopper, the NC regional coordinator, who roped me into this when she visited Red Hat for a panel I was on - the depth of her passion for this was inspiring (she's been doing this for 10 years now), and you could tell that the kids loved her (there were some tears as the winning teams came up to the stage - most everyone got handshakes, Marie got full-out bear hugs). The event itself was fun, but I was exhausted and not in the best of shape (apologies to my team, who mostly got a listless newbie who wasn't good for much more than reminding people to wear their safety goggles), and oh my god LOUD MUSIC - but still, whatever gets folks interested in playing with technology gets a big +1 in my book.

I finally adopted a filing system more sophisticated than "pile papers
in a box and hope you can find them later on" (okay, to be fair, I had a
few folders before). I finally got to the point where I had
enough documentation that I wanted hanging folders (categories) and
file folders (subcategories) - I don't have many files and I hope to
keep things simple, but it's nice to know this system scales a little
better than THE PILE, and that I can actually find, say, my internet
subscription information within 5 seconds instead of
I'm-not-sure-how-long-this-stuff-took-me-before. I've also started
looking for apartments near Purdue; I'm going for a 2-bedroom this time
so that I can have a dedicated office, but haven't quite stopped
flinching at the prices yet. Now that I know how much I'll be making
between my salary and my fellowship, I need to sit down and rethink my
budget for when the transition to a bit less work and a lot more
studying happens in August.

Thanks to Sebastian, I also got to fulfill a lifelong dream of going to the cherry blossom festival in Washington DC last weekend; I drove up, he flew down, we met in the middle and walked around the flowering trees right after a thunderstorm with a bottle of San Pellegrino in my backpack. That evening, we watched The Music Never Stopped, which is ridiculously hard to find in theaters. I'm usually not a movie person because I struggle to understand the dialogue (mmm, deafness) when filmmakers decide to do things like reaction shots and voiceovers that prevent me from lipreading. However, when (1) it's about neuroscience (it's based on an essay by Oliver Sacks) and (2) features Beatles music and (3) you're watching it with someone who'll fill you in with dialogue after the movie, it is an experience. It just has to be done the right way. And yes, the trees were beautiful. I'm glad we missed the "multimedia experience" (read: PARTY) later that evening in favor of the movie, because fireworks and booming music with thousands of strangers would have overwhelmed me - but the trees and the blossoms were gorgeous. Mmmm.

I haven't done grocery shopping since March - not (just) because I'm trying to cut down on spending so I can go to the gym and such, but also because I've been coming to the realization that I want to empty my larders before I move out of Raleigh in June. So I've been eating through my freezer and pantry - although it's likely that I'll cave and get some fresh fruit and vegetables to supplement things soon (after I do something with the massive bag of onions and carrots - I may have Onion And Carrot Recipe Hunting Day when next I cook). And you know what? Chicken really does freeze well. Quiche... not so much. I'm learning.