In Which The Weather Vacillates Wildly

It’s been quite the spring. After endless snowstorms, windstorms, and generally frigid weather, we finally swung up into the 70s, just in time to dive straight back into a whole new storm complete with flash flood warnings. At the rate we’re going, we may never get to spring, but while we wait, let’s go back over the week shall we?

All the way back on Wednesday, I wrapped up a busy day at work before heading home via the discount Easter aisle. Yes, it was that wonderful time of year when Easter chocolate hits rock bottom prices and even the most nutritionally virtuous of us can’t help but cave. I mean, 70% off is pretty irresistible. Revived by the candy, I then put the kettle on for a spot of tea with Patrick. And yes, for those of you that are wondering, it was herbal tea. Yes, I’m still caffeine-free, and it’s getting easier everyday–or so I tell myself…

A few cups of tea later, we hopped a train and headed into Midtown for the most marvellous cheap and cheerful pre-dance dinner at Harmony Istanbul Grill. It’s my new favourite place to eat and it’s only about a block from dance, which is to say that it’s spectacularly dangerous. I could live off their pita and baba ganoush, not to mention all the other delicious things on offer. Post-pita, we popped up to westie to dance a while before we all caught our separate separate trains home to bed.

Thursday was another busy day at work from which I stepped out a touch early for a free skin cancer screening. NYU provides all manner of bits and bobs for its employees, and as the proud owner of entirely too many moles, I figured that his was a bit and bob that I ought to avail of. Apparently I’m in the clear for now, though after my weekend shenanigans, I might have to retract my proud proclamation of appropriate suncream usage. After the derm, it was off to the chiro, and then home to rest my sorry sleep self. I don’t know if I’m trying to do too much, or if I’m just getting old, but I seem to always be exhausted these days and I’d really rather not be.

And then after a relatively low key week, I had an even more boring Friday. Yes, after a very late night at work, I went home and did absolutely nothing exciting for a few hours before plopping unceremoniously into bed. But in my defence, the sleep was necessary because the next day was fieldwork and fieldwork began at 5:15am. Blessedly it was a beautiful day, getting up to 75 degrees, and I wore my face sun cream and long sleeved shirt even when it was terribly hot and the sun cream was dripping in my eyes, but clever beast that I am, I forgot about my hands and despite my diligence, even my face ended up several shades darker, though nothing compared to my oh so adorably sunburned hands.

It was quite the day. We laid out over 750 square meters of experiments ranging from masonry and tiles, to road markings, mannequins, roofing materials, and just about anything you could imagine finding on a building site or somewhere in a city. We got it all laid out in time for the second pass of the helicopter carrying the various data collection sensors and for a precious hour or so, we took a moment to rest, only occasionally leaping up to rescue boxes, fences, and mannequins being blown away by the gusts of wind. We were even visited by a little dust devil at one point, but the flyover was a success and the helicopter was headed back to the airport by about 4pm, which only left the final documentation and the clean up. 5 hours and a lot of heavy lifting later, we’d filled a dumpster with our debris, emptied most of the debris out of that dumpster and then filled the correct, not NYPD owned dumpster, and a 9′ cargo van with the things we were keeping for further research. From there, I bid the van, my boss, my coworker, and a carload of students adieu as they drove off to other parts of Brooklyn and I headed to the train. When I finally fell through my front door after 10pm, I realized that in that more than 16 hour long day I had consumed a sum total of one bowl of oatmeal and a donut. You’d be surprised how filling adrenaline, urgency, and determination can be.

On Sunday, I woke up a lot less sore than I thought I would, but far more exhausted than I would have imagined. I had grand ambitions of going to dance, but after doing my laundry and cleaning my room the only answer was sleep. I really did think about just pushing through, but my evening was to be composed of the final step of the field work which was to say emptying the cargo van and stowing all of our goodies away in the office storage room. Between my boss, my coworker, and I, we got everything out of the van and into the storage room in less than two hours and I went home tired, and a bit sore, but it was a good sore. Unlike the soreness that comes with desk work, this was the soreness that promises more strength and better alignment rather than being a symptom of misalignment and a sedentary lifestyle.

My poor sore, sunburned, newly callused, and splintered hands felt less good–but then you can’t win them all.

Today was my day to attempt to catch up on all the work that went undone while we were prepping for field work–yes, I was in the office today–but of course there is always more work than time and I left the office late again having still not completed nearly all the things I’d intended. It’s my very own sisyphysian torture I suppose. Either way, despite all my best intentions, yoga just wasn’t going to happen so I grabbed some dumplings from North Dumpling and stumbled my sleepy butt home to write. Oh and did I mention that it was fantastically stormy today? I got into the office before things got too exciting, but between the news and my friends I have a wide variety of exciting stories of flooding subways and showers of water pouring from the tunnel ceiling to drench commuters as they tried to step outside the train doors. So we’re still waiting for that magical season we’ve be promised. I think they call it spring?

Well and truly tired of winter,
The Salsa Girl


In Which the Withdrawal Wears On

It’s been nine days since my last cup of coffee, 5 since my last cup of caffeinated tea, and I am still suffering mightily. I mean it’s possible that I’m just going through a bad bout of migraines, but the co-occurrence is too tight and I think I must admit that this withdrawal is hitting me long and hard. I can only pray it ends soon as I sip my herbal tea and ride out the migraines. Predictably enough, this week has not been the most exciting as I have fended off various delightful and exciting symptoms of my journey to liberty from my insidious caffeine addiction. Remind me of this next time you see my on my fifth cup coffee.

On Wednesday, as I pressed through only one of many headaches, I set myself the project of roasting chickpeas. The recipe called for high heat and plenty of paprika and the result was ever so slightly crispy, smoky, reddish skins wrapped around the warm, tender chickpea insides. I added them to some whole wheat pasta with tomatoes, garlic, and all the rich wonderful olive oil. It was quite heavenly indeed. After my meal of pasta and chickpeas, I headed in to Westie Cafe to get my dance on. And the rest of the evening is perfectly predictable from there.

The following day I left work and headed North. With a stop at Grand Central Terminal to grab a curry and connect with friends, I hopped the Metro North to White Plains for practice. After quick cup of tea, we spent several productive hours working on dance before packing it in and heading upstairs for another cuppa before the train. On the way back, I utilized my clever new method of not freezing to death when returning home via Metro North late at night. Yes, rather than my classic method of taking Metro North to Grand Central Terminal to catch a 6 train to Spring St and then walk 12 minutes home, I now get off at Harlem – 125th, walk about 2 minutes to catch any green line train down to Lex – 59th where another less than 5 minute walk gets me to my beloved F train and a straight shot home. Of course the connections don’t always line up exactly right and sometimes it keeps me waiting longer, but it’s far warmer and I feel quite clever about having figured it out so I’ll probably continue until the weather finally decides to straighten up and turn to summer.

Friday was my first day with absolutely no caffeine and by god was it ever difficult. I drank cup after cup of herbal tea, hoping that hydration alone would save me from wilting, but it was not to be. Around mid afternoon, the headache started to creep in, and by the time I got home from work, I was a hot horrible headachy mess. I had all the best intentions of catching a dance technique class, but in the state I then found myself in, the only answer was a quiet night and an early sleep. I know, I’m so exciting.

But despite my boring Friday, I was to have a very busy Saturday. I rolled out of bed early enough to clean the apartment before bounding up to NYU to catch a TEDx event. The MC and the organization left rather a lot to be desired, but the speakers were spectacular. From the hands on mindfulness exercises, to stories of fighting waste and building community in our consumerist society, all the way through to a discussion of how to find fulfillment in your career, it was jam packed with goodness and aspirational stories. It was also accompanied by a delicious falafel sandwich and some knafe from Mamoun’s which was as delicious as ever.

After the talks wrapped up, I wandered up to Union Square where I drifted through the market before finding a sunny patch of bench to sit and read upon. It was a bit too cold to be entirely comfortable, but the warmth of the sun brought it near enough that I spent about an hour there devouring pages before I got too cold and decided to head out. I dropped by my apartment quickly to change and pick up my dance gear before heading up to Midtown for Gotham Swing. The evening started with three classes taught by the visiting Floridian instructors: Hugo and Stacy. They were fabulous, and I picked up a tidbit in the first of the three classes which may yet save my dance from one of its biggest deficits. After the classes, a few of us dropped down to Chipotle for a quick dinner before we headed back up to social dance.

Despite my typical shyness about asking pros to dance, with Patrick’s needling help, I managed to get a dance with Hugo and it was wonderful! He is so creative and seems to take genuine pleasure from figuring out what to do with what the follower gives him. It was a very worthwhile way to spend an evening.

Attempting to be responsible, I headed home as soon as the dance ended and flopped straight into bed. I should have had a long lovely sleep that night, but the world decided to intervene. Of course there was all the usual cacophony from the street, but what I hadn’t counted on was waking up at 5am to see someone letting themselves into my room and closing the door behind them. It’s a special kind of vulnerable, that feeling you get when you are woken up by a stranger closing themselves into your room with you. As an added bonus, this stranger was wearing only underpants, and between the darkness, my visual challenges, and the fact that I was still half asleep, I couldn’t even be sure whether it was a man or a woman.

Apparently, frightened Brittney defaults to an assertive andindignant voice. So I would first ask in a sharp, incisive tone: “Excuse me, What ARE you doing in my room?” The figure didn’t reply, merely turned to face me with its hair all covering its face and looked as it if might advance. That was when my scaring away wild animals and feral dogs voice made its appearance and I coldly and aggressively commanded: “You need to get out of here NOW.” It seemed to work as the silent figure would then turn about, open the door, and leave. As soon as my room was clear, I lunged out of bed on an adrenaline rush like none other to lock my door. There was a bit more door slamming to be heard as I lay behind my securely locked door and slowly pieced my early morning adventure back together. Until given reason to believe otherwise, I’m going to go ahead and assume that my roommate’s new girlfriend sleepwalks. I shall be locking my bedroom door a lot more in future.

As a result of my rather dramatically broken sleep, Sunday saw me waking up rather a lot later than expected: too late to do laundry, but fortunately not too late to do ballet. So I peeled myself out of bed and headed up to Ailey. I spent my first 90 minutes in absolute beginner ballet with the monstrously intimidating Finis Jhung. The class is very good and I absolutely need it, but the teacher is terrifically good at making you feel inadequate and the exercises leave my upper back and shoulders stiff as boards. I suspect this means that it’s good for my hopelessly inward rolling shoulders. After ballet, Jenny and I grabbed a lunch of sushi followed by hot drinks and halva donuts before heading back to Ailey for contemporary. Contemporary was excellent as always and left us tired and satisfied, which of course was the perfect state to brave Whole Foods in. If you haven’t been to the Whole Foods a Columbus Circle, don’t go. It’s just awful. The layout makes no sense whatsoever and the entire place is seething with carts and bodies. As soon as the grocery shoppers amongst us had made their purchases, we escaped the zoo and headed to Turnstyle for a snack.

They’ve a new vendor in Turnstyle, it’s called Daa! Dumplings and it is heaven! The dumplings were tender and tasty and they came with this marvellous tomato sauce that savoured strongly of my beloved Balkan Ajvar. I was in culinary paradise! Once we’d eaten, Patrick and I wandered about for a bit before he headed off for another dance lesson and I headed home to sleep and prepare for the week ahead.

Monday was another wonderful work day full of delightful frustrations including the opening salvos of another battle with Home Depot. Around about 3pm, I would also be gifted by my most beloved of companions, yes, another charming migraine and it was a doozy. All I wanted was to go home and sleep, but instead I had another event to attend after work and I really couldn’t miss it. It would have been a pretty cool event, but I have to admit that between the headache and the presence of a coworker who I prefer to avoid after certain liberties were taken by said individual earlier in my time at NYU, meant that I mostly just wanted to leave. So I got the information I needed, made the connections I wanted to make and then waited for my chance to flee home.

When I finally got home, I would pass out almost immediately, which is why this edition is coming to you today rather than yesterday as it should have done. Today, I spent entirely too much of my day on hold with Home Depot before out of frustration, I finally decided to just get on a train and make the 30 minutes journey down to sort them out in person. Though my coworkers all thought that I should just be harder on the phone and make them sort it out, it seemed to be an intractable computer error in the payment processing which was resolved almost immediately upon my being there in person with the card and the pin in question. And to be honest, I cannot imagine how my getting up on my angry high horse with any of them would have made any difference. I expect it would only have made everyone feel bad and lead to even poorer results as the people who had been trying to help me would likely have turned to hating me. In short, the train ride was worth it.

And now as I sit here writing to you, I’ve just heard that a friend from Canada is in town tonight only so I may yet go out and celebratory conquering of the Home Depot challenges. We can only wait and see.

The Salsa Girl

In Which Life Marches Onwards

So this blog is going to be late. I’m starting it tonight (Monday), but I’m also realistic and I’m going to pass out in about 20 minutes. Why? you ask, why is this night owl collapsing into bed at 10pm? It might have something to do with the coffee.

Yes, fool that I am, I’ve decided to do battle with my caffeine addiction again. I do this to myself maybe once every 6 months or so, and by god does it ever hurt. As per usual, this was not a strictly intentional and certainly not a premeditated decision, but I was late on my coffee on Sunday and suddenly I was in that particular form of agony that comes only from physical withdrawal. There’s no curing it with belated caffeine, so I buckled myself in and decided to do this. Because I still have to function at work, I’m not going cold turkey. Instead I’m weaning myself off with tea and then I’ll wean myself off the tea and hopefully live healthily ever after. I’ll wait while you all take a moment to laugh.

So other than dealing with withdrawal migraines, what did I do this past week? So much, and also so little! Which is to say, I’m exhausted but I also have FOMO. It’s apparently the standard issue New York life.

On Tuesday, I bounded out of work and up to Bloomberg for the monthly Data Driven meet up. It was full of the usual fascinating collection of talks followed by interesting chats with all manner of people. I suppose I ought to be Networking(tm) and only talking to people that are of use to me, but I’m still to much a student of the human condition and I always end up just having the chats with a bunch of random folks. There’s free pizza and beer, and I’m not on the clock when I’m up there, so I’ll probably keep letting myself off the hook for a few more months yet.

Suffering from the effects of too much cheesy pizza, I spent Wednesday morning working from home before popping in to a lecture on Ayurveda. It was interesting, but as is so often the case, the audience decided that each of their personal problems was more important than us actually hearing the content that the speaker intended to deliver. I get so terribly ill tempered when people feel the need to interrupt a speaker with questions or clarifications that are completely unnecessary or unrelated. In the afternoon, I worked from the office and very soon ended up with my teeth sunk truly, madly, and deeply into a research challenge. No, not maths or statistics, no this was librarian stuff. My boss was convinced that some major data collections had been done in major cities in 2003 in the aftermath of 9/11 but there was no evidence of them anywhere. And of course, since these data collections were to be referred to in a paper, this was a problem. I tried to keep myself in check and didn’t spend too much of my precious 8 hour work day on the hunt, but then the end of the official work day came and somehow an hour and a half later I was still in my chair, squinting at my screen, and stretching my librarian acumen to its very limits. And yet, I still couldn’t find it. I was blindingly exhausted so I decided to go home for a nap before dance.

But of course you know how this story goes. I tossed and turned sleeplessly for entirely too long before finally giving in and heading back to the internet. About 30 minutes later, I’d added annual financial reports for FEMA, various relevant municipalities, and USGS, to the vast list of angles I’d taken on my search, including but not limited to: Google Scholar, library databases, relevant local newspaper archives, government and academic data stores, USGS’s entire website, trade magazines, and so much more. And then, at last, as I turned my annual financial report searching to the unlikely National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency who were definitely not going to have any financial reports online, I managed to mash together and tweak my search queries into such a convoluted mangle that I found it. An html text file of tab separated tables that mentioned the data. From there I found a critical search term and found my proof in Appendix B of FEMA’s 2008 Coordination Report. Even knowing what the data collection effort was called, the only place that this data is even mentioned online is an appendix of another agencies coordination report. I suppose you’ve already cottoned on to the fact that I was spectacularly smug about my find. I will continue to be smug for the foreseeable. As a librarian in exile from the stacks, I have to get my finder’s high wherever I can.

Having finally defeated my research question, I shoved some food in my face and headed off to dance. Karel was in town again so it was up to Ripley to sweat and suffer and have all sorts of fun. Sadly the studio had mucked up our booking, so we started late, but that gave me time for some more proofreading from my giant pile so I couldn’t complain too much. When we got to the class, it was a wild ride indeed! I loved the combo was was somehow stiffer and more sore than I’ve been lately and it showed. I saw flickers of myself in the live instagram video later and the awkward was very strong. Fortunately, so too was the work and the cardio and I left an hour and forty-five minutes later, basically a puddle composed entirely of exhausted muscles and sweat. By that point it was nearly 11pm and I still needed to stop by the bank and also try to turn myself into something other than a monster before westie so I made the decision to bail. I figured that if the westies could see all the soaking wet and steaming Brittney they were missing out on, they would be very glad to be missing out.

~Returning to write after another day on the grind.~

Come Thursday, it was time to snap, crackle, and pop myself back into some semblance of comfort and function. Leaving my chiropractor in slightly less pain than before, I trotted down to Chinatown to check out a few potential venues for an upcoming VIP dinner. The decision was easy, but my route out of Chinatown lead me dangerously close to the tantalizing Keki Modern Cakes. They make those adorably wobbly Japanese cheesecakes and I’ve been hankering to try one for ages… so it should be not surprise that I left China town bearing a quaint little box of cheesecake and a huge appetite. The cheesecake was exactly as lovely as you might imagine. It struck me as a lightly sweet, delicately sour cheese souffle and it was delicious!

Post-cheesecake, I popped off to an amusing talk about the Irish-Jewish couple in film which began with the lecturer singing a themed, comedic overture. It was an experience to be sure, and it was followed by a beautiful stroll out through the cool misty night to catch my train home.

On Friday, I had all the best intentions of double dipping on dance with a trip to Ailey followed by an adventure to Westie, but it was not to be. I was utterly exhausted. So, being a mature adult type, I bought some nice things to eat, dropped off my Warby Parkers for a lens replacement, and spent the rest of the evening lounging in bed learning things online. Have I mentioned that I’m obsessed with documentaries? It may be getting a bit out of hand.

The following morning I was up bright and early to clean the apartment before heading off to broga. I should preface this by saying that some friends and I had just started a glute challenge and I’d begun my Saturday morning with Day 4 of that challenge, which may give you some insight as to just how far my face fell when I walked into broga to hear “we’re doin’ legs today, your glutes are gonna get a real work out.” It was not a lie. I stumbled out of the studio 90 minutes later in such a great degree of muscular exhaustion that I actually walked at a sensible speed. People even overtook me. But of course because I’m such a responsible soul, when a friend in need to some talking and walking called, I was only too quick to hop a train to Central Park. We walked the length of the park with no shortage of lateral diversions before stepping out into Harlem to grab some comfort food from Seasoned Vegan.

If you haven’t already heard of Seasoned Vegan, you really should. It’s a totally vegan, partially raw, soul food restaurant just north of the park and I’ve never been so convinced. I had a po’boy that well and truly rivalled any po’boy I’d ever tried and definitely won on sauce. I could have just eaten the sauce with a spoon, it was so good. And then, somehow I ended up spending the rest of the night eating pie and icecream, watching bake off, and nattering away. It had already been a pretty decent Saturday, but I was to get a cherry on top. Yes, as I was heading to the train, I found the April Fools Where’s Waldo game on Google Maps. Because I’m a completionist of the worst variety, I spent the entire train ride home finding every single Waldo and all of his friends. I’ll have you know I got great satisfaction from my tiny, pointless achievement.

Sunday saw me take on my massive mound of laundry, buy food for the week, and even do some meal prep. I felt very adult, right up until the point I realized I’d forgotten my critical cup of coffee. I tried to fill the gap with a beautiful fruit tart and a mocha from Ceci Cela. It pulled me through an hour or so of reading, but then it was all a downhill spiral into the withdrawal migraine. So I crashed into bed in agony and decided that I really did need to break my caffeine dependency again before I set off on my trip to the UK where there is no guarantee to regular coffee or indeed coffee at all while I wander.

I survived day one of no-coffee with only two cups of tea and 75 minutes of wonderful, if still exhausting yoga before attempting to write and ultimately ending face down in my pillow. Day 2 is about to be wrapped up and I’m very pleased to announce that I survived this one with only one cup of tea, but then again I’ve still a few hours left for a raging migraine to take me. Wish me luck!

Uncaffeinated and almost okay,
The Salsa Girl

In Which There is Prolific Partying and Copious Tea

It’s 8:30pm and I’m only just starting this blog. If I was clever, I would have started earlier so that I could have slept earlier, but instead I faffed about all evening pretending I was resting off the effects of the weekend without sleeping at all. Fortunately, I’m too tired to entertain regrets. Of course if any of you have any doubt about how I managed to get so tired, I refer you to the myriad of Tea Party posts that are currently mushrooming up everywhere on Facebook. Yes, it was the almighty, inimitable Boston Tea Party Swing, and it was fantastic. But before we get to the Tea Party itself, we’ve got a whole week of suffering in anticipation to cover.

Yes, it began on Tuesday when all I could think of was how badly I wanted to be dancing, but instead I had to work, visit the doctor for part two of my annual (or perhaps decennial would be more accurate) check up. I really should go to the doctor more often but I seem to be proving healthy enough for the minute. After the doctor’s I headed up to the Silver School of Art (one of the many fiefdoms within NYU) for a talk on neuroscience, art, and vision. Perhaps I’m just a terrible nerd, but I thought it was fantastic! There were optical illusions, pieces of art, and endless demonstrations of how vision is not transmission of an image, but the processing of information, heavily driven by the idiosyncrasies, talents, and limitations of the few pounds of grey matter that live in our skulls. 10/10 would recommend catching a talk by Margaret Livingstone.

Wednesday was classic spring day in New York, which is to say we had a Nor’easter and NYU was closed for the day. Yup. Mid-march snow day. It’s almost like being back in Northern Canada, except that in Northern Canada we never actually got snow days no matter the bluster of the blizzard. Despite my prolific whining about the cold and my impressive lack of Canadian cold-resilience, apparently a March blizzard has brought it back. ‘Round about mid afternoon, I was schlumping out into the wind and snow to pick up a few groceries. I didn’t desperately need groceries, I could have picked them up on Thursday, I’d even planned to pick them up on Thursday, but I was struck by a fit of whimsy, and out I went. Despite all indications to the contrary, my revived inner-Canadian found it “really not that bad after all” and I even took a few frivolous detours–only one of which involved pie.

Somewhat later that evening, I headed into Midtown to grab some Shake Shack with Patrick. It was exactly as tasty as it ought to have been despite being in the basement of the abyssal zone known as the Penn Station LIRR level. Once we’d downed our burgers, we grabbed some matcha and marched back out into the snow to dance. It was a quiet night, as snow days often are, but it was enjoyable nonetheless, and sometime around 12:30 I caught the almost entirely empty subway home.

Thursday saw the beginning of the mad dash through packing and chores before the weekend’s adventures. I raced home from work, pitched a load of laundry into a laundromat machine, turned the brandy and rum I’d bought at lunch into a lovely tea based punch, ran some errands, bought some groceries, and then set down to pack. Exhausted by the week and hoping to put a bit of sleep in the bank before the weekend, I climbed into bed at 11pm and promptly enjoyed an anxiety attack which carried me through until what I estimate was about 12:30am before I’d worn my nerves out so thoroughly that I was able to pass out. Complete and utter exhaustion really is a plausible solution to both anxiety and insomnia.

After a very busy day in the office on Friday, I ran home, grabbed my bags, and headed to the 6 train. I met Patrick on the platform at Bleecker and schlepped up to Grand Central Terminal. We were waiting at the track gate for the third of our party and had about given up on catching the intended train, when our third, Jenny, texted us to say she’d just made it aboard. Fortunately, there was another train a mere two minutes later, so Patrick and I hopped on that one and met Jenny and our fourth, Jessie, at Katonah. From Katonah, we drove north to Boston, or rather Newton which is near enough by as to be about the same, but far enough away that I’ve still never actually been to Boston.

We grabbed some Panera on the way north and hit the hotel just in time to catch the invitational Jack n Jills. Yes, that’s a plural. This particular dance weekend is a crossover event so there’s not just west coast swing, but also lindy hop and balboa and the centrepiece of the weekend is a crossover competition wherein each couple is composed of a randomly drawn west coast swing dancer and a randomly drawn lindy hop dancer. They then dance to one random lindy hop song and one random west coast song. This competition is danced on the Saturday night, but on Friday night, we had arrived just in time to catch the prelims for it. In the prelims, the westies dance with westies, and the lindy hoppers dance with lindy hoppers. I can never really make any informed judgements about the lindy dancers, but the westie was fabulous! Markus and Tren drew each other and just blew us all away. It was so musical and creative and clever! I may have a bit of a dance crush on both of them.

Following the competitions, we took a quick nap and then headed out to social dance the night away. I so love dancing in Boston. The people are so friendly and lovely and they’re excellent dancers as well. I took a brief break in the middle of the night to catch up with some friends and enjoy some margaritas before returning to the ballroom until 5:30am. It was a wonderful night.

Saturday morning I managed to drag myself out of bed and into the 10am workshop. Yes, I sacrificed sleep for learning, a thing which has not happened at an event in a good long while. I’ll sacrifice sleep for social dancing anytime, but for morning workshops? Far less likely. Regardless, I managed two amazing workshops courtesy of Markus and Tren and John Festa and Blake Hobby before the sleepies took me and I headed back to the room for a quick nap before it was time for me to hit the competitive floor myself. Despite some interesting draws and what felt, to me, like a rather pathetic preliminary round, I somehow managed to make finals. Yes, I actually managed to crawl into an intermediate final. When I got there, I found myself with a spectacular partner and a lot of fun. Our placement was ultimately very middling, but I was amused to note that I’ve apparently turned into a very divisive dancer. When I saw the score sheets, I found that we had been given first place by two of the judges but then, in contrast, had been given two ninth placements and a tenth which left us seventh out of twelve. I’ve never been given two first placements, not even when I actually ended up getting first place in novice, so I’m fairly chuffed, even if the majority thought that we were decidedly not first place material. I’ll convince them all eventually, or at least inspire them to respect my stubbornness in the face of a total lack of natural grace.

Between comps, we ordered in some thai and ate sitting on the floor of our hotel room–it was tasty and exactly as relaxed as we needed–before Patrick set off to kick ass in advanced. We watched our friends compete in advanced and all star and absorbed their awesomeness by cheering and osmosis. Vicarious coolness is definitely a thing in danceland, especially when you’ve got friends in higher places. And then it was time for the invitational crossover. It was pretty darn impressive–the westies had done their homework and they threw down some pretty solid lindy, especially Markus who walked out in a windowpane check suit and laid it all out on the floor. We were proud, screaming westies as we watched our pros hopping along with what appeared to us to be a good deal of skill.

By the time the comps wrapped, we were ready for another quick encounter with our pillows before heading back to the ballroom to dance the night away. My social dance night started out a bit roughly and I was well and truly into grumpiness and self-loathing, but decided that such behaviour was not going to be allowed this time, so I threw myself upon the generosity of one of my favourite all stars. Firstly, Stan is wonderful to watch: his movement is so clean it almost hurts and he’s got a fabulous sense of humour, but more than that, he is incredibly thoughtful and kind. I always walk away from a dance with Stan bouncing on happy little clouds of genuine enjoyment and refreshed self-esteem; there’s something about a leader that tells you you’re awesome with genuine feeling that just makes it all so much better. I can only hope that one day I have the skill in dance and the grace in character to be equally generous and encouraging to the folks that dance with me. #dancergoals And from then on out my night was a whirl of wonderful times and excellent people all tangled up in music and connection, right up until 5:30am when we flopped back into our beds for a few hours of sleep.

I had all the best intentions of waking up early again to catch another workshop, but this time the lazies and the sleepies won and I grabbed another hour of sleep before it was time to get up, pack up the room, check out, and head to the ballroom for the last few competitions. The remaining comps were the amateur crossover event and a relatively novel competition which I am very much a fan of: the switch it up. In the amateur cross over, Edem absolutely rocked it. He brought all of the energy and personality and fortunately drew a follower who was ready to join him on his adventure. It was a surprise to no one that he walked away with first place.

Tucked in between the rounds of the crossover, was the switch it up which featured three of my favourite tri-state dancers: Kristen, Glen, and of course, the always awesome Patrick. Spoiler alert: none of them drew each other and they all placed.

It was a great big ball of awesome, with clever switches, insane musicality, and so much good dancing. I screamed every remaining ounce of vocal strength out in that competition, and I could not imagine it any other way. It was probably the best comp of the weekend from my perspective. [For the non-dancers in the crowd: a switch up dance means that both partners take turns leading and following and they take turns not by any particular structure but by finding places where momentum, position, or music allows them to either give or take the lead and switch into the other role. It takes a lot of skill and ingenuity. I’m pretty terrible at it but it’s fun!]

Once the winners had picked up their awards, we piled our broken, exhausted bodies into the car and headed south. there was a brief stop for food and a beautiful sunset in shades of violet, crimson, and gold, and then we were at the train in White Plains, bidding Jessie farewell and heading back to the city. I got back to the LES in time to irresponsibly scarf down a few slices of Williamsburg pizza before kerplopping into bed to try to recover enough to face the office on Monday.

Which brings us to today. I made it through busy day at work, but then I crashed. I had all the best intentions of putting away my luggage and catching a yoga class, but instead I ate a kottu, watched a BBC show about historical costuming, and lazed around for a few hours before getting going on writing to you.

And now? you ask. What will I do now? I mean I can’t be entirely certain but my pillow is looking terribly inviting, and it’s nearly 11pm so I’d guess sleep might be in the cards somewhere… either that or staring at my dance videos all night long trying to figure out how to turn seventh place into first, y’know, dancer things.

Exhausted but happy,
The Salsa Girl

In Which Candle Burning Gets Dicey

So you might have noticed a theme over the last two blogs: I’ve been very VERY busy. This may come as a surprise, but my recent exercises in burning the candle at both ends have finally come back to bite me. I stumbled through the week and fell face first into the laziest Saturday imaginable. So let’s get to the stumble.

Wednesday saw me bounding out of work, through tutoring, and off into Midtown for the almighty Book of Mormon. It’s got great reviews and they are 100% not undeserved. It was SOOOO good. It’s joyous and crass and chaotic and beautiful and I loved it. If you get a chance to see it, please please do. Especially if you have a history with Mormons. After the show we bounded out into the night to grab some falafel on our way to dance. It was a busy but utterly spectacular evening!

The following day, I slogged through another day of work followed by a visit to the old crackle and pop shop. Once I was approximately aligned, I attempted to go for a date. It was a second date. I was sort of looking forward to some drinks and conversation. What I got instead was a basement funhouse of pool and ping pong and shuffleboard and loud insane amateur New York jazz. I was overstimulated, deafened, and not possessed of nearly enough energy to deal with that degree of “fun”. Yes, I’m a boring old creature, but I’d rather be comfy and in good company than losing my hearing and playing Exciting Games(tm). So I went hella New York on this poor bastard and called the date. 40 minutes in. Somehow it feels more honest that way? Pretty terrible but at least honest.

Friday greeted me with an impressive dose of chaos. I spent all morning prepping for our upcoming flyover only to spend all afternoon cancelling everything after our contractor informed us of a technical glitch. It was stimulating to say the least.

After all of that stimulation, I went home and fell face first into bed. After an hour long nap it was back into Midtown for another evening of food and friends. This time at BareBurger. I have an unhealthy fondness for BareBurger, especially since I discovered their delicious veggie burgers. This time I also made an acquaintance of their vegan shakes. Yes, I am trying to be good and save my stomach from my tastebuds by reducing my milk fat intake. Lactose is totally fine, but milk fats, not on your life! So I tried their coconut milk and avocado shake. It was even more delicious that I’d anticipated and priced accordingly. So it won’t be frequent but it will be an option for healthy, delicious fats that do not upset my tummy.

After our delicious dinner, we schlepped over a few blocks to dance. I was perhaps too tired to be there. I nonetheless stayed and had at least a few lovely dances, though when I finally got home, I collapsed unceremoniously into bed and passed out.

I slept until noon the next day. I definitely could have been productive, but I elected not to. Instead, I lounged about for most of the afternoon before venturing out in search of chocolate. I headed to my beloved Vosges with every intention of acquiring a fistful of delicious chocolate bars–Manhattan marching my way across Soho, down the sidewalks, right up the door to brown papered windows. Yes, my beloved Vosges is closed. Tears were shed. Apparently they still have outlets in Chicago, but the shipping is obscene and I am sulky because I wanted all the free samples and purple decor. Manhattan rent takes another victim.

As consolation, I drifted morosely across the city to the Essex St Market where I bought half a salmon quiche, half a pint of potato salad, and a slice of smoked, peppered mackerel. I paired my Nordic treats with a chocolate porter from my bodega and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in style. I holed up in my apartment with salmon, potatoes, stout, and Father Ted while the drunkards roamed loudly through the streets below. I consider it practice for any zombie apocalypse that should happen to come my way.

The chorus of carousing that rolled down the street outside my window kept me awake far later than I would have liked, but fortunately the next day was Sunday! When I really ought to have been doing laundry, but instead I continued to vegetate. I did buy some toilet paper and mascara though so I marked it off as a moderately productive morning and headed up to Ailey to dance. We had a sub again but this one spoke my language. The warm up was lovely, but the choreo? The choreo was heaven! I was feeling it so hard. I probably looked a total mess but damn did it ever feel good. It also helped that this sub was Fabulous(tm) and kept encouraging us to power through the conditioning because “summer is coming!” He was an utter delight.

After class, I picked up a small pile of macarons and munched away before heading up to Harlem for risotto and critique. It was westie critique Skype with Mandy, and Patrick had volunteered to make us dinner. He whipped up the most beautiful mushroom and pea risotto which we ate while skyping with the marvellous Mandy and giving and getting feedback on our dancing. It was a very pleasant evening indeed, but it also meant that I stayed entirely too late and got entirely too little sleep. As a bonus I’m going to repeat the process tonight.

Yes, I’m staying up late again but this time it’s to Skype with my sister and write you all this blog after a most excellent yoga class. My hips have given up on life with a chorus of wails, but my calves have shut up about all of their post-contemporary problems. And now on that note, I should probably turn in and hope that my back decides to let me sleep tonight.

Bon Nuit,
The Salsa Girl

In Which Life Continues in a Torrent

Man guys, I’m so sorry, the blog schedule’s just been all over the place of late. There’s a million possible excuses, but they all come down to one common thread: goddamn I’m tired and DST did not help a bit. Yes, just this past weekend, the monstrosity that is daylight savings time snuck up behind me and stole away a whole hour of precious beautiful sleep. So I’m extra tired, extra busy, and ever so slightly closer to the my vacation in May. It’s closing in on countdown time, but first, the blog.

De rigueur, last Tuesday was a long busy day at the office which I followed up with the oh so stimulating task of grocery shopping. Does it make me too terribly boring if I own that I really did enjoy my little flounce through Hong Kong Supermarket? I left with all the fixings for fried noodles and soup, as well as a dozen bao and a packet of dessert tofu. You’d be excited too.

Come Wednesday we were staring down the barrel of another Nor’easter but there would be no snow day. Instead we would drag our sorry butts into work to watch the snow rise and the wind swirl and wait patiently through the “open as normal” notifications rolling one after another across our inboxes. At 2:30 they finally pulled the plug, but by then I was only an hour and a half from the end of my day and it didn’t seem worth it, so I rode out the rest of the afternoon and then headed to the tunnels. The joy an underground commute is that generally it’s impervious to weather. Flooding is another thing entirely but in general storms leave it unaffected, so my commute was uneventful with only a bit of a slip’n’slide from Delancey to my door where I hiked up the stairs hauled off all my gear, shoved some food in my face, and changed into dance clothes so I could head on out into the storm again.

Halfway through the second round of sidewalk slip’n’slide, I made the rather unfortunate discovery that my beloved black boots were not as water tight as expected. Once upon a time they were nigh impervious, but now it seems I’ve walked a weakness into the sole and it was sock soup for days. Because I’m resourceful and also not a classy girl, I spent my first ten minutes after arriving at dance drying my socks under a hand dryer. Like I said, I’m not a classy girl. With dry socks I enjoyed a quiet but fun night at dance and by the time we headed back out into the night the Nor’easter was gone and only the cold remained.

Thursday I skidded out of the office at the last possible moment to catch a train that carried me into the square only 10 minutes late for the talk I was trying to attend. It was part of the Text as Data series, a series of talks which I try to attend to convince my sorry butt to learn to code before I try to crawl back into the cozy, welcoming arms of linguistics research. This time the talk was considering conversational dynamics and how information flows map to rhetorical effect. The linguist in me was rapt.

Almost as soon as the Text as Data talk wrapped up, I was back out into the night heading down to the Financial District to catch a panel night hosted by a local GIS group. All of the panelists were women and their personal stories were amazing. They talked about how they seemingly slipped and fell into their careers and into a deep love of their work. One of the women was a Chinese language major who managed to be one of the first on the ground at Bloomberg (yes, that Bloomberg, the one with the terminals) before eventually landing in GIS and city agencies. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet?

On Friday I wobbled out of work and crashed into my bed to lounge about for a bit before my evening really kick off. I had all the best intentions of taking my glasses in to get the lenses replaced with my new prescription. It turns out that a Warby Parker lens replacement takes over a week and the thought of wearing contacts for a full week just seems horrific. So instead of taking my frames in for rehab, I spent the best part of my evening trawling through cheap frames online, deciding upon a pair to replace my current beloved hipster frames while they go in for a redux. After a truly silly amount of time trying frames on my photograph, I picked a pair of plain black wayfarers which, frames and add ons included, was less than $40. I have it on good authority that this particular purveyor of affordable frames is in fact half decent, but we shall see.

Having finally settled on some glasses, I popped in a pair of contacts and climbed onto the trusty old D train, Bronx-ward bound. It had been a shamefully long time since I last made it up to Yamulee but this week I had no excuse to skip it, one of the dancers from my Dublin days was in town and he was headed to Yamulee. Yes, Rui, of Wednesday practice and DJ-ing fame was in the city, so obviously I had to go.

It was a bit of a strange night at Yamulee, they had Italian guests and seemed a bit more interested in hanging out and partying than dancing, but it was so good to see Rui and to get a little re-up of that painfully rare Dublin On2. I hadn’t realize how much I’d missed it! That’s probably one of the most exciting things about social dance. Like languages and dialects, each dance is different, and each is danced differently in every place you find it. I may never be a true polyglot in linguistic terms, but I can communicate with dancers from all over the world.

After a few hours of dance, I climbed back onto a D train down to the Lower East Side. It was a long sleepy ride home but I made it and fell face first into bed to try to get a few hours of sleep before morning.

Though I wanted nothing more than to sleep the day away, the morning saw me schlepping to Brooklyn Heights for a day of learning from the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYCEM). It was four hours of class split by an hour of lunch in which we learned about the basics of emergency management, the operations of NYCEM, the work of NYCEM’s Logistics team, and the role of logistics in emergency management. Much as I would probably have a heart attack within my first few years of working there, I feel like I would be very well utilized in an emergency management logistics team–nothing like intense panic to make me cool as a cucumber and ferociously efficient and effective. I can’t imagine that it would be good for me or that I would ever actually do it, but I feel like it would suit my viciously analytical and efficiency focused work persona. It will sit on a back burner beside all of my other passing career inspirations.

After my day of education, I headed into Midtown to meet Jessie for pre-dance dinner. Jessie managed to track down a slightly divey and totally delicious little Turkish place just around the corner from dance. It was pure heaven. We ate baba ghanoush and kibbeh and drank ayran and beautiful turkish tea and just as it was time to order dessert, the third musketeer, Patrick rolled up to share some cinnamon coated milk custard and pistachio baklava. Can we talk about ambrosia? Because that was totally it and so dangerously close to dance. If I get fat on Turkish food, at least it will be supporting the lovely Instanbullu who served us.

Dance was a standard Saturday out at westie but with the added bonus that halfway through my commute, DST kicked in and I lost an hour of my life and my sleep. Is the word devastated too dramatic?

The next morning, I peeled myself out of bed, cleaned the apartment, did my laundry, and dragged my exhausted carcass to contemporary via bagel and schmear. It was a sub, but god was it beautiful! I was, as always, a bit of an uncoordinated awkward panda, but I learned and I worked and for now, for me, that’s what’s most important. One of my friends was absolutely killing it though. It just seemed to suit his movement so well and he just attacked it! I know such talented people here!

After contemporary, we crossed town to Grand Central Terminal to catch Metro North out to White Plains to put some practice on our west coast swing. It was very productive and only a little bit nerve wracking. Most of the folks I was practicing were well above me in terms of competitive rank and sheer skill, but who better to learn with, I guess! Two hours of practice later, we headed back to the city. Once in the city, the trains were a hot mess and the weather was baltic. So, with a dying phone, I decided to work some MTA Magic. Normally the return from the GCT would include a 12 minute walk through the cold, but normally wasn’t an option (because the MTA loves us so much), so I hopped off Metro North in Harlem, jumped a 5 train south with a slightly ragged looking cockatoo, changed to an F train at Lex 59/63 with only three short blocks of walking out in the cold, and in an entirely reasonable amount of time was safely home under my quilt. The transit obsession in this city is real, valuable, and totally valid. I rewarded myself with pizza and the resulting tummy ache.

Monday was another busy in the office as we ramp up for our big data collection this weekend. After work I wandered up to the Square to take in another panel conversation. This one was focussed on the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and justice but ultimately was a discussion of how science can make the world a better place not so much through technology but through knowledge and improved understanding. It was right up my alley.

Today after another long grind at work, I popped off to the neighbourhood brewery with a colleague who is headed off to greener (or at least less fenced) pastures. We had pizza and beers and you’ll be so proud of me, I chose the pizza without cheese. It was lucky that the cheese-less pizza was the one with all the fanciest, most exciting veggies. After several hours of chatting about life, the universe, and everything, I wished her luck and headed home to write to all of you. And that’s where you find me now, obsessively watching Chopped and tap tap tapping away. It’s not such a bad life all in all.

The Salsa Girl

In Which A Nor’ Easter Blows In

Though it’s not yet been a week since I finally got around to writing the last blog, it feels like it’s been ages! I’ve dodged a frightful Nor’ Easter, danced well beyond dawn, and even dragged my butt back to the office after lovely long weekend away. We’re now gearing up for yet another Nor’ Easter but before we get there, let catch you all up on the last few days of shenanigans.

Thursday evening, I was predictably overbooked and so sped out of work, full tilt on my way to not only catch a talk but also prepare for a weekend of dance. My first stop was Essex Market to pick up a bag of chestnuts a la Mandy. Yes, it’s a thing now. Every since Mandy brought a bag of chestnuts to an event, our little posse has determined chestnuts to be a necessary addition to every dance weekend and since I am the only one now living on the Lowe East Side, chestnuts collection falls to me. I also needed to grab some porridge and instant noodles so it was no great inconvenience, but the fact that Essex Market closes at 7pm meant slipping my visit into the very narrow margin between work and chiropractic care. I made it work, in only barely, and skidded into my chiropractor’s office just in time. He managed to get most of my kinks worked out but alas my dastardly right shoulder proved intractable and I left without the satisfying release that comes along with the pop of my shoulder bouncing back into place. I dream of a day when my shoulders will be functional and pain free. I may always dream of that.

Once I’d been bent back into some approximation of shape, I headed over to NYU’s Law School for another excellent talk at the Center on Race, Inequality, and Justice. I am endlessly impressed by the excellence of their speakers and remain ever a novice in the understanding of both race relations and justice in the USA. The best/worst bit of living in NYC is how fully and richly I have become aware of my own intellectual blindspots and knowledge deficits. There is so much I don’t know and so many people so much wiser and more knowledgable than I am. Fortunately they are also inspiring and leave me with quotes like:

Hope is a good thing but it’s not a strategy. ~Tony Thompson

Our lives are not our own, they belong to those who need us desperately. ~Stephen Bright quoting Elie Wiesel

Post-enlightenment, I headed home to fill a backpack and tumble into bed in anticipation of the coming weekend of dance. I will someday learn to pack only what I need for a dance weekend and at that point will be able to carry a much more reasonably sized weekender, but until that time should come, my hiking backpack and I will remain the very best of friends.

Friday morning, I rolled myself out of bed, tidied the apartment and headed out into the questionable weather to Penn. Yes, a Nor Easter was rolling in bringing sleet, snow, rain, and high winds. The LES was mostly subject to snow, but by the time I got to Midtown, the high winds had begun to assert themselves, making for a well and truly frigid journey from Herald Square to Penn Station. Being the most neurotic, I was there plenty early. Early enough to pick up a few doughnuts from Under West, including the delicious Carwash doughnut which is glazed with squiggles of pastel and flavoured with lavender. My two partners in crime, were unfortunately struck by some delightful subway luck and found themselves skidding into Penn just in time to hop onto our planned NJT train. Had they been even a minute later, we likely would have had to wait another 15 minutes for the next train, which, as you will soon discover, could have proved disastrous.

Ten minutes later, we were at Secaucus, crawling into Jessie’s car for the drive to Baltimore. The winds were rising and the rain and sleet were swirling but it was still manageable and the roads were good, until suddenly Google Maps told us to reroute. It’s suggested rerouting seemed like absolute madness, leading us out into the wilderness over only 4 little accidents on the 95. So we ignored it an pressed on, switching to Waze to track the status of the crashes. Two were quickly cleared but the other two stubbornly remained, and then we passed a truck parked across an exit with a very improvised looking sign indicating that the 95 North was closed. It was at that point that we decided that maybe Google and Waze had a valid point and took their most recent advice for a diversion. It was a smaller diversion than originally suggested but a diversion nonetheless. We could not have chosen a better moment to change tack. Mere minutes after we left the 95 Google reported the road closed in both directions across the Susquehanna. We made our way across the bridge on the 40 which would soon close behind us, and pottered down to Baltimore through slightly heavier than expected, but nonetheless manageable traffic. Expecting a 3 hour trip and ending up with a 4.5 hour trip was not ideal and nearly made one of our party miss one of her comps, but we would soon find out that we were the luckiest of New York ducks.

As the evening evolved, we first heard from a friend who was intending to take Amtrak: all Amtrak service had been cancelled for the Northeast Corridor. He would not be making it down until the morning. Then we heard from the first of the bussers. They had intended to arrive at 4pm but were now stuck in an increasingly convoluted mass of detours. They were, however, fortunately possessed of a very dedicated driver who valiantly rerouted over every necessary backroad to get them across the only remaining open bridge cross the Susquehanna. Around the same time, we heard from another friend who was driving and was stuck in traffic watching the livestream of the event as a proxy. Though his party had made the correct rerouting decision and was headed for the bridge on Route 1, they were accompanied by everyone else who had had to reroute and so were crawling through bumper to bumper along with the aforementioned bus.

Next to call in their embattled situation was another friend on a bus with a less magnificent driver. This particular soul was dedicated to his route and would not consider any alternative so they were packed into the gridlock that lay before the now very much closed bridge on the 95. For hours their bus sat and the poor stranded friend sent screenshot after screenshot of her Google Maps which showed no movement at all.

As we continued to follow the drama on the bus on the 95, another friend checked in to say that his carpool was taking the long way around via backroad after backroad and was meeting ever more detours as each attempted reroute was foiled by downed trees and powerlines. At the point of contact, he was sitting in a traffic jam with the wind blowing the cars as if to move them even as they sat in total gridlock. As the evening went on I spoke to another group of friends who had left the city at 8:30am but ended up only reaching Baltimore at 4:30pm. Another reported that it had taken him 8 hours on the road, while we heard of folks from as close as Philly stuck on the highway for 7+ hours. When the aforementioned friend in traffic on the 95 finally made it to us at 5am after getting on the bus at 1pm, we truly understood our luck. I have no idea what magic we pulled, but I shall thank timing, Waze, and the fact that we managed to catch our 9:46 NJT despite the best efforts of the MTA to hold my travel buddies hostage.

In and amongst all the travel drama, we also got be a very proud batch of New Yorkers. One of our crew who normally follows, after plenty of partnering chaos thanks to the travel fiascos that surrounded us from every direction, ended up leading in Advanced Strictly and won! He was spectacular!

After watching comps, we danced until about 5am (yes, we met our poor 16 hour bus rider racing into the hotel to DJ just as we were leaving the ballroom), crashed for a few hours, and then rolled out of bed for another day of competition. MADJam is such an insane event. There were over 1500 contest entries and I’ve never had such consistently good social dances. So it really was a miracle that I managed to make semi finals. Out of a field of 94 intermediate followers, I made 22nd in prelims, but apparently was less effective in semis where I fell to 37th out of 46. In the first, all but one of the judges called me back, in the latter only the California judge, so my theory holds. I must dance like a Californian. But let that not make any of you think that I’m about to go compete in Cali and expect anything other than disaster. I may dance like a Californian, but not a good Californian. I have plenty of work still before me and I cannot blame my draws in the slightest–they were on aggregate the highest calibre leaders I’ve ever drawn in a competition.

After comps, we ate sushi at a painfully trendy restaurant next to the hotel and settled in to watch showcase. We managed to keep our eyes open for both the amazing Showcase and Classic routine divisions but then passed out for the 45 intervening minutes before the Champions Jack n Jill division. Forty five minutes of sleep was massively insufficient and I barely kept my drooping eyelids open, despite the degree of awesome that was taking place before me. Literally moments after the final song, I flopped back into unconsciousness for a few hours before waking up at almost 4am to head to the ballroom. It was still as full as an average event at 1am. It was madness. We stayed out dancing until they kicked us all out of the ballroom for floor trials at 8am. There were at least 50 people still in the ballroom when they finally booted us out.

Fools that we are, Jessie, Patrick, and I decided that we would wander out into the outside world in search of breakfast. Though we did end up with cheaper and tastier food than we would likely have found in the hotel, we were also met by a bone chilling wind that handily cut through all the layers I had at my disposal. It was bracing to say the least and thank heavens it ended with warm breakfast sandwiches in a cozy cafe. Once fed, we braved the cold once more and once back at the hotel, collapsed unceremoniously back into bed for another few hours of sleep before check out at noon.

Sunday saw us taking in the last of the finals and dancing in the intermissions. The All Star Jack n Jill was fabulous with two of my favourite followers absolutely killing it and grabbing 1st and 2nd for their efforts! Finally it was time for the JT Swing team exhibition immediately after which Patrick and I Manhattaned our way to the luggage holding area to collect all our carpool’s things before meeting our awesome JT Swing performers for the drive home. We made a quick stop for gas in the ghetto–yes, there were random dudes sitting on the curb shouting at anyone who got out to gas up and throwing things at an occasional car–before hitting the highway and heading homewards.

We made a quick stop for burgers and milkshakes before watching a beautiful big old golden moon rise through the trees to guide us home. Jessie dropped the three of us at Secaucus where we got to watch the dysfunction of NJT before our very eyes while our planned 11:17 train stopped dead 16 minutes from the station and sat there. We eventually caught the 11:25 train while the 11:17 still read “16 minutes away” and I couldn’t help but wonder what was up on the Northeast Corridor line that I used to ride so often.

This morning I rolled out of my coma at an indulgent 9am. I’d taken the morning off to attempt to evade illness and I’m optimistic that it might have worked. I met my boss in Lower Manhattan at 11:45 to get my marching orders for the week, then dropped down into Brooklyn, and powered through as much as I could in the entirely too few hours left in the day. There’s just never enough time for my to-do list!

After work, I headed to Read718 where my tutee and I went for a soft start with lots of games before easing into the work for the day. It was much smoother than the past few sessions so here’s hoping that it continues. Leaving that, I headed for the Square to attend a fascinating talk on neuroscience and art…which occurred on February 5th. I’m good at calendaring, I swear.

So now I’m back in my cozy little 5th floor room eating consolation pizza and macarons and writing to you all. The long is above and the short is: goddamn MADJam is a great event, worth every ounce of resulting exhaustion! Kay and Dave put on a very crisp, well produced convention and even a brutal Nor Easter that closes half the North East can’t get them down!

Post-congress bluesing just a lil bit,
The Salsa Girl