In Which There is a Long Weekend

You’d think that after three days off from work I might be relatively well rested and together, but unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Instead, I’m nearly no longer sick, not entirely exhausted, and somewhat sort of together? I mean I did one country’s worth of taxes? So it’s not been entirely a bust. That said, it has been a long week with a lot of time spent trying desperately to recover so please bear with the boring bits.

Tuesday was the usual rigamarole of work topped with a neuroeconomic colloquium on morality and a stumble home to bed. I acquired a rather pathetic habit this week which you’ll probably hear entirely too much about this blog, yes, I got home from the talk and fell straight into bed and out of consciousness for over an hour. And that was about the size of my night.

The following day I finished up work, spent an hour and fifteen working with a rather more uncooperative than usual student and then stumbled home for a quick nap before dumplings and dance. It has been ages since I last took part in one of the pre-dance dumpling adventures so I decided to wrangle up some people and pull another one out of the hat. We ended up mowing through mountains of dumplings before grabbing bubble tea and heading up to dance. Perhaps unwisely for the slowly dying creature that you see before you, I stayed out until the very end of the night before dragging my sorry butt home for entirely too few hours of sleep before the morning came.

Thursday saw me returning to the ultimate in blasé as I followed my chiropractic appointment up with a very unceremonious collapse back into bed to rest, read, and faff about on the internet. I know, so exciting.

Come Friday, I powered through another work day and headed for the train only to experience one of those wonderful idiosyncratic New York moments. Yes, the entire transit system was crippled by a dog on the tracks. Yes, a dog had escaped from it’s owner at York St and had stopped three subway lines dead in their tracks while the MTA switched off the power and the NYPD went down into the tunnels to try to find and rescue the little rogue. You’ve never seen so many New Yorkers turn from dog lovers to dog loathers in the course of mere minutes. Fortunately the mischievous mutt was eventually corralled and the trains trucked onwards with only about an hour’s delay.

I skipped hip hop to take another nap before schlepping my butt up to 46th St for another westie night. It was a competition night so the all stars were all out to judge which made for some very excellent dances and conversations. We will not speak about how late I stayed out but only say that when it came time to head to my boss’s daughter’s bat mitzvah the next morning around 9am, I was not exactly the brightest eyed or bushiest tailed. But I made it up to the synagogue in stockings and a dress so I considered it a win. It was my first experience of an actual Jewish service so I was up for anything. It ended up being a lot more musical than I’d expected. In fact almost the entire service was in Hebrew and almost all of the Hebrew was sung.

After the approximately 3 hour service we then headed down to the reception room for a kaddish lunch and holy Jewish food was it ever delicious. Between the diversity of preserved fishes, potato salads, and sweets and the absolutely perfect blintzes? I could have eaten forever. I also found myself at a table with some very interesting folks that drove shop talk all the way until 1:30 pm when I finally excused myself and headed home to, wait for it, yes, to sleep. I probably didn’t keep my eyes open for more than 30 minutes at a time for the whole rest of the day and I didn’t even ruin my night’s sleep. No, I dozed from 2pm through about 9pm before passing out completely until 8am the next morning. I might have been really sick or something? It’s unclear.

Sunday morning I started slow, tackled my American taxes, and eventually decided that 24 hours in my room alone was probably not the healthiest way to spend a weekend. I was still feeling too weak and sickish to handle contemporary so I badgered my friends until they caved and agreed to join me for tea which turned into an entire afternoon/evening of adventure. Yes, Jessie and I started at Radiance tea on the Upper East Side where we ate some beautiful dim sum and drank heavenly oolong tea. We had shrimp and spring green dumplings that could have made me cry. They were so delicate and tender and fresh. The greens tasted like they’d just been picked and the dumpling wrappers were unspeakably tender. And then there were the duck spring rolls. They were crispy morsels of perfection with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. We rounded out our dim sum with some scallion pancakes and then turned to tea. I described my oolong dreams of light green mainland China heaven to the waitress and she immediately recommended the High Mountain Oolong. I trusted her assurances and had no regrets. It was exactly the light, fresh, green oolong that I remembered from my time in China and the refills were bottomless.

Somewhere around pot number 4, we wrapped up our meal with a trio of gorgeous mochi. I’ve never been all that fond of mocha before and I usually hate red bean paste but Jessie is a mocha lover so I tried to give it another try. These mocha were so much better than anything I’d ever tried before. The glutinous rice exterior was so very soft, tender, and fresh, it melted in your mouth and the fillings were divine. The peanut and sesame were stunning, and the red bean paste was so utterly inoffensive that even I, hater of all things red bean, enjoyed it. Suffice to say that Radiance Teas is a purveyor of only the highest quality East Asian delicacies. I’m a convert.

After tea, we wandered out into the world to do a little shopping, or rather to do a little trying on–we didn’t end up buying anything before finding our way into a very charming little speakeasy. New York is simply obsessed with speakeasies but I’ve not actually been to that many of them, I tend to avoid the trends. That said, this one came highly reviewed and it was only 140yds away so we wandered over and thank goodness for Google maps because we’d’ve never found it otherwise. The only signage was a name on the mailbox and the entry way was empty. We found no one at all until we traipsed upstairs and finally found the bartender and server who set us up with the most decadent of drink menus. I dove into the gin menu while Jessie headed for bourbon. Can I just say that I’ve spoiled for cocktails in this city? The creativity and the craftsmanship of New York cocktails is far above and beyond anything I’ve experienced anywhere else in my travels. This time I began with a gin, rose, and grapefruit foundation and ended with a swizzle that savoured strongly of caraway and genepy. It was the best kind of tipsy gossip sesh and, as if we hadn’t already been decadent enough, we ended out evening at the beloved Sticky’s Finger Joint for fried chicken and the most unlikely fries.

Sticky’s is a classic with all the best (and craziest) dipping sauces. We got some chicken poppers, two kinds of aioli, and a honey mustard sauce and then we got silly. We tried the smores fries. They are exactly as insane as you are imagining. Picture the most gorgeous, crispy french fries topped with chocolate sauce, marshmallow fluff, mini marshmallows, and graham cracker crumbs. It was a heavenly marriage of salty and so sweet. 10/10 would eat again. I think we both rolled home.

This morning, my well fed tummy and I woke up and set out in search of coffee. I was all out of coffee grounds and it was a holiday so my usual port of call for coffee beans was closed. Fortunately, there’s a fairly solid roastery kitty corner from my apartment so it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to a bag of beans and a beautiful mocha.

Once fed and caffeinated, I caught up on some letter writing and life admin before heading up to the Met for a little time amongst the modern artists. On the way home the trains decided to play up again which lead to a very full 4 train where I nearly had the chance to experience one of New York’s unnervingly frequent subway slashings. One man backed into another which lead to the latter accusing the former of touching him and very swiftly escalated into the former threatening to pop the latter in the kneecap just as soon as they got off the train while the latter screamed obscenities into the face of the former. Fun fact: I was the nearest adjacent human being and there was absolutely no where for me to move to. Fortunately they parted ways one stop later and I didn’t have to witness any bloodshed but it certainly added some frisson to my afternoon.

When I finally made it home, I treated myself to North Dumplings and Doughnut Plant and decided to reserve dietary virtue for the weekdays. And thus you find me here, tapping away on my keyboard and trying not to pass out again. I like to believe that I’m on the road to recovery but my current exhaustion might suggest otherwise.

Sleepily yours,
The Salsa Girl

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In Which There is Nearly No Blog

It’s only Monday and already I find myself clawing my way up the stairs only to fall face first into bed and pass out for over an hour. You’re lucky I woke up at all because the only alarm I had set was for 6:30am tomorrow morning, and I wouldn’t have had a single qualm if I had slept right through. So it’s really only thanks to my impudent stomach and my noisy neighbourhood that there’s a blog at all today. Please forgive me if it ends up being brief.

Now I may pretend that my current state of illness and ruination came completely out of nowhere, but if I’m quite honest, I know exactly how it happened. I had a cold some time ago which I had managed to nearly vanquish but for a bit of a drippy, icky feeling round about the rear of my pharynx and an unpleasantly metallic taste in the back of my mouth. And then I introduced my slightly sickly self to this past week and the rest is history.

You see, Tuesday was purest hell. It was the sort of deadline day that makes me despair of the possibility of ever feeling calm and in control again. It was a nail biting rat race to the finish and the finish was hardly worth celebrating when all was said and done. In a way it was an intensely concentrated run-in with the general content of my 2018 all summarized and re-enacted in the hours that span 8am through 6pm from the first coffee to the delirious collapse. That alone might have been enough to do me in, and certainly would have if not for the comfort of phone calls with friends and delicious North Dumplings.

But that would not be enough to satisfy my hyperactive soul, so come Wednesday I was out again. My reading tutee was out again so I had a moment directly after work to race home through the pouring rain and scoop up an umbrella before heading back to Brooklyn for a discussion group. It was a group of tutors from the place where I volunteer and we were discussing some very interesting issues over pizza and wine. The prevailing discussion surrounded the issue of race, racism, and colourblindness in educational settings. It’s such a broad, deep, and complex series of issues, and they’re all so terribly slippery. I want to be able to engage with the topic but it’s not easy and the risk of a misstep is so great, I feel like a newborn foal on speed skates tumbling around an ice rink hoping only to avoid crashing my sharp, flailing limbs into anyone else. I guess the only way through is open hearted, open minded listening, and respectful, considered, compassionate action. I shall hope that I at least manage to continue stumbling forwards.

After the discussion group, I wandered into Washington Square to grab a drink with a westie before dance. The Belgian beers were divine, I’m told the fries were tasty, and the conversation was very enjoyable indeed. And thus I came to find myself rolling into dance sometime around 10 after nearly four full hours of generally stimulating conversation. It was an excellent evening altogether.

Thursday, I took my grant prep on the road and headed up to The Cooper Hewitt Design Lab for a symposium on accessible design. The day began with the most beautiful heartrending short film: The Commute. It broke my heart so utterly in two with its tragic, beautiful realism and struggle. If you have three unclaimed minutes in your day, give them to this film. It is worth every moment.

After that dramatic beginning, the day continued through a group of 4 inspiring lightning talks, the most awe inspiring of which was the talk given by Patricia Moore, one of the originators of Universal Design. Her consideration, not so much for design and aesthetics, but for people and their stories spoke to me on a far deeper level than expected. I am miles from being a designer, but when I heard her speak, it resonated with the very core of my being and, as I madly proofed proposal documents and scribbled out grant pages, I wondered what I ought to be doing to really make use of the deep seated humanism that sits neglected at my core. I’ve probably been wondering this for years, but I’ve gotten good at ignoring it, right up until someone brave and brilliant and compassionate is standing before me sharing how they’ve brought their fascination with and love of humans to bear on building a better world. I can only hope I’ll figure out where I fit eventually.

Having spent my day coming alive again, I then headed back downtown to grab a quick supper at a diner, finish my current novel–Mo Yan’s Wine Country–and head to a talk at NYU on the topic of slavery in Canada. We self-satisfied Canadian types like to pretend that our only role in slavery was as the promised land at the end of the Underground Railway, but to do as much, I learned that night, is to deny many years of our country’s early history and to deny the experiences of all those enslaved persons who found, not freedom but slavery in our Paradise North of 49. This history was woven with spoken word and stories carved out of escaped slave notices and advertisements of sale and it was powerful and poignant. As a western Canadian who had very little exposure to people of African origin in my childhood, it’s a history that seems so remote but is so important–and neglect. As described above, I continue to stumble along trying to learn and improve and be a little more woke everyday. I only hope that trying is enough.

After a day of listening and being inspired, Friday would be more active, if only for an hour and a half. Yes, after another long day at work, I joined another westie friend of tap dancing origins at an Absolute Beginner Hip Hop class. Yes, Absolute Beginner. This awkward monster needed it. On my last attempt at Beginner Hip Hop some years ago, the teacher eventually came to stand before me in dismay to shout, “No, DOWN! You need to get DOWN! Are you incapable of being down?” The answer was unabashedly yes. So this time it was absolute beginner.

The teacher was the best kind of crazy, she sang and danced and sassed all in equal measure while she brought us gently into the room and then ran us roughshod through a fun fast combo of basic moves. I was less incompetent than previously, but managed to get called out for: a) not breathing enough–apparently I looked like I might pass out, and b) pointing my toes. It’s always an adventure.

Saturday morning I bounded out of bed and charged head first into a very busy day. I began my day by cleaning the apartment and heading to my beloved broga class. It was slightly less hardcore than last week but still left me sweating and exhausted. Someday I will manage an arm balance other than crow. Saturday was not that day. After yoga, it was back home to shower and change before heading uptown to Alice’s Teacup. Patrick’s sister was in town so it was time for scones and after a few train adventures on both their parts and mine, we eventually found ourselves settled into a nook with three pots of tea and six spectacular scones. There are many worse ways to spend an afternoon.

I expected the rain to still be racing down when we left the cafe and had resigned myself to heading home directly after, but instead I was greeted by the most wonderful crisp, cool, misty evening air. So of course, I headed out across the foggy hillocks of Central Park to The Met. Half the city seemed to be there trying to get into the soon to close Michelangelo exhibit, which meant that the rest of the galleries were deliciously unpeopled. I finally spent some time pouring over the arms and armour section, before drifting through my beloved impressionists en route to The American Wing. I’ve never really spent much time in the American wing–much of it does little for me–but this time, I dug deeper and wandered onwards and found the John Singer Sargent section. His portraits of women are remarkable. They gaze upon or away from the viewer so confidently and with such spirit. They are seldom ephemeral, retiring beauties but instead proud, energetic, powerful agents who hold the viewer like an insect in amber. The Portrait of Madame X is, of course, spectacular, but I loved most of all Mr. and Mrs. I. N. Phelps Stokes in which Mrs. Stokes utterly overshadows the darker figure of her husband who nearly dissolves into the background while she pops energetically and proudly out of the frame. It really is all in the eyes.

After three hours or more of wandering through the galleries, I made my way home to eat, lighten my load, and refresh myself before another night of dance. It was a relatively quite night, but I was in good company and so we stayed out until the end anyway.

The next morning, despite the hour that I finally fell asleep, my body decided that 8:30am was in fact, the very best time to wake up. I myself, would disagree, but I apparently did not get to have an opinion on this and so was out of bed by 9am in an absolute strop. Exhausted is not a good look on me, especially when my day is intended to include a photoshoot. Nonetheless, I redyed my hair, put in my contacts, packed my mountains of outfits and gear, and headed into midtown to help out with a photoshoot. In a more rested state, I might have been more amenable to the sweat, but in my exhausted state that day, all I could think about as we dance cardio’d for photo after photo was how much I wanted to get to the yoga part of the shoot. I would not call myself a fan of dance fitness. But the yoga and the wcs shoots were fun and the mimosa that followed was much appreciated, so I marched onwards all the way until Contemporary at Ailey. We had a substitute teacher, but he was spectacular and I actually felt like I was really getting the combo. Yes, my awkward long limbs and I were almost graceful for half a second, in a studio class! I know. It’s barely believable.

Post-dance we headed down to Turnstyle for food. I finally tried Chick N Cone which might just be heaven in a waffle cone, before bidding the uptown folks farewell, piling myself into a train, and dragging my grumpy butt home to sleep. When even a beautiful contemporary combo couldn’t lift my mood for longer than a minute, I knew that it was a matter of sleep deprivation so I tucked my tired, ill-tempered self into bed, snuggled up to my quilt, and fell asleep at what I thought was an entirely reasonable hour.

Nine hours of uneven sleep later, I was rolling out of bed on a Monday morning feeling rested but still rough. I made it into the office and dove straight in, which I suppose makes it unsurprising that after 8 hours straight between meetings and my desk, I was stumbling towards my volunteering obligations feeling flushed and exhausted. I made my way through an hour and fifteen of literacy, dragged myself to the train, hauled myself up five flights of stairs, and with no word of a lie, fell face first into my bed and passed unceremoniously out of consciousness. Apparently, I’m not entirely 100% well just now? I only wish I had time to do something other than to keep on powering through, but what doesn’t kill you…

And on that note, I should probably put my keyboard away and crawl back under my covers in hopes that an hour or two of extra sleep might make mañana a wee bit more manageable.

Still kicking, if only barely,
The Salsa Girl

In Which the Cold Bites Back

Just when I thought it was finally getting warm again, we’ve taken a dive back into the negatives and I’ve managed to recover my Canadian toughness–sort of. I mean I’m still whining considerably but I’m not shaking like a leaf every time I step out the door, so progress. But since I’m only starting this at 9:30pm, I had best keep the niceties to a minimum and get straight into the meaty bits lest I end up passed out on my keyboard instead.

Last Tuesday, I was all sorts of adult and finally had an annual physical. I mean, I say annual but I basically mean decennial because the last time I had a physical was when I was headed off to China in 2010 and the PRC wouldn’t let me in unless a doctor had certified that I was not only healthy but also sane. It was a good time. It’s possible that I ought to take better preventative care of myself, a fact that is always agonizingly dragged across my view every time I talk to a doctor, but as someone who spends entirely too much money on medical care for her one and only winner of a chronic disease (yeah, that’s the asthma) and who prides herself on being fairly healthy, very tough, and relatively independent from the myriad of medications that we don’t really need most of the time, I just haven’t felt the need. I’ll be terribly embarrassed if it turns out that I have had a lingering health issue, but I’ll be ignoring that possibility right up until the moment my test results come in.

On Wednesday, I decided to undo all that adulting and deal with a tough day at work in the only way possible. If you guessed food, you’re right, and don’t worry, if you guessed alcohol you’re also right. Yes, Patrick and I went out on the town to eat savoury crepes and decadent chocolate, all before dance. We had intended to take in some chicken and waffles but alas my preferred venue for such things is having a kitchen gas issue and is limited to tacos, so we went to The Creperie instead. It was entirely acceptable but mostly just made me miss the crepes I used to eat entirely too often at UCD. They were heaven of the highest order.

Once we’d ostensibly eaten dinner, we shuffled over through the cold to Cocoa Bar, another one of my favourite haunts on the LES. It’s so decadent it almost hurts and they’ve got alcoholic hot chocolate so really, what more could you ask for? Patrick had one of their heavenly cassis cakes and a ginger hot chocolate that was even more delicious than it sounds while I ate an orange and dark chocolate bonbon alongside a French hot chocolate, which is to say a mug of melted chocolate, port wine, and god only knows what other delicious liquids but suffice to say that it was rich, complex, and completely enveloping which was exactly what my frazzled nerves were looking for. And thus, we came to find ourselves at Westie Cafe almost human in spite of our respectively insane work days. The small miracles of dark chocolate and good company never cease to amaze.

The following day it was time to drag my endlessly crippled mess of a thoracic/cervical spine to the chiropractor. I really wish that I wasn’t such a broken beast but apparently my shoulders just don’t like to oblige and spending all day everyday in front of a computer hardly helps. Despite the cold and the cranky shoulders, I did manage to spot the most excellent piece of guerrilla art in the 2nd Ave subway. I would try to describe but I’ll never do it justice so I refer you to the below and posit that you could show that image to almost any New Yorker be met with some form of rueful agreement.

The subways have gotten terribly shameful of late and I want to love them, but you can only spend so long sitting in tunnels and waiting on delayed trains before you start to quietly loathe the long suffering MTA, especially when they start bandying around the idea of shutting down the trains on weeknights for maintenance. I’ll concede that it would help the maintenance but as an irresponsible creature who loves her late night Wednesdays, not having a 1am train would be murder. I guess we shall just have to wait and see.

When I finally stumbled my sorry self into Friday, I was greeted by such a mountain of work that I could have cried. Instead I stayed an extra hour at work and then brought the work home with me. I mixed a smattering of work with some food and a few stand up shows and by 7:40pm was chomping at the bit to be free. So continuing my flounder towards adulthood, I decided to be responsible and schlep my ever expanding clothing donation pile to Goodwill with only a little, itty, bitty, tiny stop at The Strand, I mean it’s so close to the Goodwill shop that is only one stop further than the nearest Goodwill…

It was a positively frigid night and I did mope a bit while hauling my bulging bag of clothing down the streets around Union Square but once I deposited my burden and rocked up at The Strand, my Northern Canadian resilience reappeared in full force. We will not discuss how little body heat was left to me by the time I finished pawing through every single dollar cart, but perhaps it will be enough to say that it was over 30 minutes of bending and squatting and flipping through books outside in below zero temperatures? Either way, between that and my further 20 minutes or so inside, I managed to walk out 12 books richer and only $17 poorer. I’d call it a good trade, and to be honest, I don’t mind a bit that they are all used and mostly quite battered. I shall read them and love them until their bindings break and their covers fall off and I feel like a far better environmentalist when I adopt books that would otherwise have been binned rather than driving a whole new print run.

Around 9:30pm, buoyed by my bundle of new books, I wandered home to do a bit more work before dumping my tired head into bed. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this lately but it’s grant writing season which means that my entire work life is one big ball of stress, deadlines, and scribbling. It’s a delight.

As redemption for my indulgent book spree of the night before, I started my Saturday in surprisingly good form. I woke up, worked for a bit and then bounded off to broga. Yes, the Brogi was back and he was inspired. I’m never quite sure how I feel about a yoga class in which the teacher says things like “I’m seeing a lot of shaking out there, come on you babies!” but I do love his big bold aggressive vinyasas. The transitions feel so powerful and exciting (sometimes scary) and you always leave feeling properly worked out. I was also particularly smug on account of some very successful yogi squats and chaturangas, until my right shoulder poked its nose in and informed me that I could kindly go f**k myself if I intended to do any more. But I shall forgive my shoulder because it held out well enough to allow me the most flattering observation possible in a fitness class. Yes, the instructor kept looking at me, and then deciding he needed to make it harder. I won’t say I’m competitive, but gosh darn, do I ever like to set the pace.

After an hour and a half of sweat, the ball of jelly that left yoga made her way home to work, clean, and do laundry. I’ll have you know that I left the apartment spotless and even washed my sheets and towels. I know, right? So adult. Somewhere around evening, I decided that I’d done my bit on the grant writing for the day and set out into the frigid night to find food. I returned shortly thereafter with a bag of all the best North Dumpling treats and settled in to turn myself from grant-writing-housework-goblin into perky, vivacious dancer girl. I’m not sure of my degree of success but I was soon at Gotham Swing feeling very much at a loss as I realized how much I rely on my little posse, none of whom were present that evening. Instead I circulated and chatted with those of my dancer friends that were present and even did a little bit of dancing. Apparently the broga hadn’t completely destroyed me either as I managed to pull off several sets of multiple one foot spins of four or more revolutions (salsa people, keep your opinions to yourself, it’s harder in westie) and even managed one in attitude!

After the dance party had wound down, I had intended to head home and get some rest before another long day of trying to mix fun with work, but that was not to be. No, somehow we ended up roaming through Manhattan to the college-iest of college bars. There was a beer pong table, a karaoke room, giant game sets, and screens absolutely everywhere. It was a bit overwhelming but there was free popcorn and good people so I endured the overstimulation and chatted the night away. Jim and I managed to win a round of giant Connect 4 despite my negligence, but this shakey handed and sound sensitive soul did not participate in the round of giant jenga, which followed. Instead I stuck inexorably picking my way through bowl after bowl of free popcorn. When we finally made it to the trains around 3am, the operative word was definitely exhausted.

I had set my alarm for noon on Sunday but my delightfully nervous and light sensitive brain decided that 9:30am was a far better time to drift up from the depths of sleep and when it saw the mountain of work emails piling into my inbox while checking the time on my phone, no amount of coaxing and soothing could put it back to sleep. So by 9:45 I was fumbling towards the coffee pot and preparing to work. Because I have trust issues with the trains, I only worked at home for about an hour before heading into Midtown to the faithful Tisserie. They make good chai and good pastries and they’re only a five minute walk to Ailey which means that I’m unlikely to end up panic sprinting from an ill tempered train to my beloved Sunday contemporary class.

This week we had a substitute again but this time she was a latin dancer with all of the energy. We did sautes in our warm up and the mantra for the combo that followed was “Travel! Use your space! Travel!” It was also very jazz inflected which meant that this poor silly salsera-cum-contemporary-novice was a giant tangle of way too mobile hips and tangled limbs for far too much of the time. I am apparently, not very jazzy. I shall have to work on that.

After class we dropped by our trusty subway-side food court for arepas before Jessie and I headed back down towards 34th to do a bit of dress shopping. Now I’m a sucker for absurdly fancy dresses but I seldom have the disposable income or the occasion to justify a purchase, so I was only too delighted to accompany Jessie on her search for an outfit for old money New Orleans Mardi Gras parties. Despite the pouring rain, we managed to paw over all the shelves in Nordstrom, Social Apparel, and Macy’s before finally making or way back to Nordstrom to pick up the very prettiest of them all. It was black and sequinned and backless and absolutely stunning. I only wish that I had an excuse to buy something similar some 8-10 sizes larger.

When I finally made it home, soaked to the skin, but holding a box of delicious take away kottu, it was time to pour myself some dark n stormy, open up the take out, and settle in for another few hours of grant writing. I know, I live such an exciting life. I tell myself that this will end when we get out the other side of this month’s deadlines but that might be overly optimistic.

And finally we’ve made it: all the way back around to today and I’m still upright, though only barely. It’s been a very long day. Work was that particular breed of day-before-a-major-deadline hell that I should probably still be working on, but I begged out of the office on time on account of volunteering obligations and just haven’t made it back to my work laptop since. You see my reading student has been out sick for two weeks so we’ve sort of lost our groove and today was way more exhausting than usual as I worked to rebuild our routine and keep us on track. He’s a good kid, but he’s a kid and honestly a lot of the adults I know have similar difficulty focussing on things which are hard for them after a whole day of work or school. So it was a bit of a demanding session after which I dragged my sorry self into the city for yoga. I nearly skipped it with the excuse of being tired and busy and still sore from broga, but I’m glad I didn’t. It was a really lovely class with the inimitable Hunt Parr and I managed to pull off a reasonably decent rendition of a half chair ankle to knee pose with a twist and full arm extension. I think eventually it probably turns into a bind but my burning stabilizer muscles can attest that the extension was enough for one night. Which brings us back to me now, lounging in bed, typing away and eating entirely too much hummus. I might have an addiction but shhhh, it’s healthy!

Burning the candle from every angle,
The Salsa Girl

In Which the Sickness Drags on…and on…and on…

I don’t know if you all heard me last week, but I’ve had an impressively nasty cold. It’s now burrowed it’s way down into my lungs where it’s manifesting as a chesty cough and a generalized shortness of breath. It’s delightful. It has not however been allowed to stop me living my life. So despite the fact that I probably should have been sleeping, I managed to get up to all manner of shenanigans this week so let’s get to it.

On Tuesday, I bounded out of work and on up to Ethical Tech. It’s one of my favourite Meetups here in the city, hosted at the wonderful socially conscious, counter-culture software firm Thoughtworks. The hosts are Thoughtworks employees and the topics are always fascinating from discussions of online activism to counter culture communities, and social implications of innovations like AI. This session featured a talk on Drop City, an artistic counter culture community established near Colorado in the 70s, a pitch for a “platform co-op”, and a brief introduction to NYC Mesh, the decentralized wifi based network that is gradually spreading its tendrils along DIY lines across the city. The talks were interesting but alas the questions swiftly dove off the rails and into investment potential and nit picky points about networking security. And I’m not saying that these topics aren’t interesting, but they are not the kind of interesting that I want to get into at Ethical Tech. I go there for philosophy and an escape from the money hungry New York rat race, but I suppose you can never quite escape that. Regardless, the balance still came out on the side of interesting and philosophical and so we smile, thank the organizers, and move on.

Delightfully, when I eventually made my way home, I found a beautiful envelope all swirled with beautiful orange and blue with my name in the middle, and a certain delightful Finn’s in the upper left. I will never get past the delight of receiving post.

After work on Wednesday, I unfortunately did not end up at tutoring as my poor student had fallen ill and wasn’t able to make it. So instead I made my way home and collapsed for a bit before donning my war paint and heading to dance. My first port of call was Ripley Grier for another fantastic class with Karel Flores. This one was a brain buster where we did the whole combo facing front and then, without a moment even to breathe, spun it around and did all over again facing back. It seems so simple, but turning a combo around so that you have only your own internal points of reference to orient your movement is incredibly difficult. In spite of ourselves, we survived.

Sometime later, soaked in sweat, I made my way down the street to westie cafe where I quickly towelled myself off, changed clothes and shoes, and stepped out on the floor to test out my brand new jazz boots. To put it simply, I’m in love. They are soft and bendy and perfect for spinning and sliding all over. Best $20 I’ve spent in a long while! Predictably, I stayed out until the better end before climbing aboard a late night train to whisk me away home to bed.

Thursday saw a very sleep and still slightly sickly Salsa Girls tumbling into the office with her eyes on the prize, entirely too many hours away: her bed. Between me and my precious sleep lay: at least 8 hours in the office, a quick stop home to change gears, and then at least a few hours out at Civic Hall learning about all the open data available from the Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. It was an interesting event but I was a touch too tired and sore to properly appreciate it.

On Friday, I was feeling slightly more alive so I set out to K-Town for a pre-dance dinner with the dance folks. We ended up in Seoul Garden eating steaming bowls of tofu soup and chatting away merrily in a digital dead zone. Yes, there was no cell service in our corner of the restaurant so we all left our phones alone and actually had conversations. It was delightful. Following up our tofu with some sweets, we dropped by a tightly packed food court to snag a few fishies. Yup, it was taiyaki time! I’d never had a taiyaki before but they are so adorable that I just couldn’t say no. It’s basically a fish shaped waffle stuffed with cream cheese, red bean paste, or even nutella. I ordered a cream cheese and a nutella, was given a red bean paste one, identified the problem, and then ended up with two cream cheese fishies. I might have gone back and demanded my chocolate fix, but there was a charming middle classhole throwing a fit over the direction of the queue so I decided to cut my losses, save myself from a public argument, and walk on outta there.

With our fishies in hand, we then headed to dance. It was a quiet night, but the music was good and I had my crew so no complaints.

Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed and straight into yoga. It was a substitute teacher so, rather than the expected broga it was qi gong, spirituality, and a little bit of yoga thrown in around the edges. It felt nice but it definitely wasn’t what I’d been planning to spend my noon hour doing. When my meridians and I got back to the apartment, I turned to bread making. Once the bread was in the fridge retarding, I headed up to Harlem for a critique session with the westies. We skyped in Mandy all the way from Chengdu and somehow spent over two hours sprawled across Patrick’s apartment watching and discussing our dance videos. When I made it back to the train, I found myself staring down a 20 minute wait for the next D train so I decided to take the transfer option and start on an A or C train. Mere minutes later I would find myself on the slowest express C train that has ever been seen. It was only stopping at the express stops, but between them it crawled along slower than a drunken tortoise climbing Everest. When I eventually made it home, I was sufficiently frustrated that I just had to watch a movie before bed. And then suddenly it was 2am and I was missing out on all the sleep I actually really needed.

The next day, I woke up, threw my bread in the oven, and decided to completely rearrange my room. Halfway through the repositioning of every piece of furniture I own, it was time to get my ass to class. Yes, it was contemporary time! Being terribly clever ducks, Patrick and I managed to miss the first ten minutes of class waiting outside of the usual studio when in fact the class had been moved to a different studio three floors up. It was a beautiful combo with just the right mix of ethereal beauty and aggressive awkwardness all wrapped around an entirely manageable bit of floor work. Yes, you heard me, manageable floor work. Normally I hate floor work and my knees do too, but this was actually entirely approachable and I’m not even bruised!

In the afterglow of class, Patrick and I made our ritualized stop at Turnstyle for snacks and gossip. Unbelievably, we didn’t end up eating Bolivian. We diversified and ate vegan and macarons. Both were delicious, but I think the macarons take the cake. We tasted a honey and lavender and a red velvet. The former was punchy and aggressive but somehow more delicious than the soft florals that most macarons are made of. The latter was possessed of the most velvety flavours known to macarons. It was softly chocolatey with a silky cream cheese frosting between the disks of meringue. I probably didn’t need sweets, but they were delicious.

Shortly thereafter, I was back in my room attempting to roll a bit of the chaos out of the way so that somehow, at some point, I might be able to make it through to my bed again. It was a hasty operation because I had fun waiting for me somewhere down the J train. Which is how I found myself drinking entirely too much dark and stormy over party games in Bedstuy. We ate, we drank, we played ridiculous games–it was delightful, and I even won a few rounds. I also managed to stay out until 1am which made today much harder than it ought to have been. I mean it wasn’t destined to be an easy day, but the addition of exhaustion did not assist. After work, I headed down to tutoring. My student is still out sick, but another one of the tutors was also out sick so I adopted his student instead. I have to say that it’s nice to have an easier student every now and then. This one was a charming little fourth grader in a minions sweatshirt who’s just made grade level. I’m sure I’d get bored if I only ever worked with the students with fewer challenges, but today’s exhausted Salsa Girl was very glad for it.

I had intended to end my night with yoga, but then the laziness and the exhaustion won and I stumbled my way home to eat a sandwich, throw together some lunch for the week and get my blogging out of the way so that I miiiight get a bit of sleep tonight. On the topic of which, I think Imma wrap this up and do just that.

Almost healthy again,
The Salsa Girl

In Which The Salsa Girl Gets Sick

Alas the vitamin C was unsuccessful and I am now stumbling out of a haze of sinus horribleness into a barking asthmatic cough. It’s beautiful. I’m exhausted. Sadly, grant deadlines wait for no one. If you’re not quite catching my drift, I feel quite monstrous and hence this blog might be concise. But you never know, it might ramble too.

Tuesday heralded the slow creep of the current cold via nasal congestion and a stiff neck that leapt quite suddenly to screaming nerve pinching discomfort when I chose a less than ergonomic seat at Data Driven. Yes, it was that time of month again when I race out of work and leap on a 4 train up to Bloomberg to listen to data scientists talk, eat free pizza, drink free wine, and chatter with all manner of people. Unfortunately I chose a seat rather far right of the podium and halfway through the evening my neck decided to throw a shoe. Being the best type of hypochondriac, I missed half of the next talk frantically googling symptoms before, in the last five percent of battery, I eventually caved and messaged the doctor sister. Turns out I wasn’t having a stroke, which is always a pleasant discovery.

After the talks ended and I was filling my face with pizza, I decided that my nearly ill self and I should probably find a place to sit, which was how I ended up spending the evening chatting with two amazing women investors who were so busy and vibrant I could hardly believe it. It really puts things in perspective when a 70 year old has more energy than you do.

By Wednesday morning, my slight sniffle and stiffness had grown into a rather imposing head cold. I moped my way through the work day, mustered just enough energy to do some tutoring and then promptly collapsed head first into bed to attempt to assuage my sinus situation with sleep. Results were mixed.

Now you know it’s serious if I miss dance, and I missed dance on Wednesday so I really should have taken a sick day on Thursday, but deadlines were looming so I settled for working from home on the promise that I could sleep until 8am, nap on my lunch break, and then crash back into bed immediately after my work day ended. Because I’m so good at work life balance, I ended up working straight through from 8am to 5:15pm without taking a break at all, let alone a nap. But at least it was all done in pyjamas under my quilt.

After my snap crackle pop appointment at 6pm, I grabbed a juicy beef on challah sandwich from Cheeky’s and then replayed Wednesday and flopped directly into bed.

Friday morning, it was back to the office coughing and snuffling my way through more grant prep. I had grand ambitions of salsa at Yamulee, but as the head cold marched on, I decided that perhaps sleep should be the order of the day and passed out directly. You see, I needed energy for Saturday!

Yes, come Saturday it was time to peel my headachy sinus self out of bed and schlep up to White Plains to make cheesecake. I’d bragged a bit too much about past cheesecake adventures and so my skills were being put to the test in Jessie’s slightly larger that Manhattan, Westchester kitchen. I started with a decadent chocolate crust filled sky-high with spiced orange cheesecake filling. Once that was in the oven, I started poaching pears to be paired with ginger snap crush and a basic cheesecake filling. While the cheesecakes were cooling, I decided that I really needed to use up the two leftover egg whites from the first (incredibly rich) cake, which is how I ended up making blackberry meringues. Somewhere around the pear poaching, the rest of the party arrived and food was ordered, and somehow I found myself full of sushi with a dark n stormy in my left hand, stirring a red wine reduction with my right.

When everything was finally assembled, we had a mulled wine inspired cheesecake composed of the most decadent chocolate crust ever imagined, 2.5 spectacular inches of spiced orange cheesecake, and a gorgeous red wine and star anise reduction which dyed the entire top a brilliant burgundy. Resting next to this beautiful monstrosity, there lay a rather more modest but no less delicious concoction of ginger snap crust layered with spiced poached pears, and a light frothy cheese cake topping. Next time I think I’d give the mulled wine cake about 15 minutes longer in the oven but for now I’ll call it good enough and leave it at that.

 

With bellies absolutely crammed with decadence we then sat around playing video games and socializing until the last Metro North train of the night. I was a horrible snuffly mess by the end, but I’m terrible proud of myself for having managed to not pet and snuggle and love the ball of allergens that is Jessie’s ragdoll cat. He is such a lovely kitty, but he’s absolutely anathema to my allergies. That said, I usually cave and just snuggle the ball of loving fur up regardless. Self control wouldn’t be a strong suit, but somehow, last Saturday I managed to restrain myself and only pet him once just before I was leaving. I shall consider this great success.

Having gotten back to the Lower East Side rather impressively late, I found myself lying in bed feeling very sorry for myself right up until 11:30am on Sunday. The cold was back in full force and I nearly missed another day of dance, but I love contemporary so much that I decided to drag myself out regardless. It was the right choice. We had a substitute teacher again and the choreography was well and truly beyond my ken, but it was terribly fun, and ended with our little posse wandering down to the East Village to eat gelato and wasabi ciabatta sandwiches at the inimitable Fresco gelateria. The chats were most excellent and I even managed to get myself home in time to finally get my laundry done. And then, surprise, surprise, I dumped myself into bed and passed out.

Today saw me sulking through another day of work and hacking phlegmatic cough before making my way to yoga where I discovered that no amount of dance and stairs can keep my quads in yoga shape. Humble warrior nearly ended me. But in spite of whimpering quads, I made it all the way through an hour and ten minutes of yoga with only a few indelicate snuffles, and then, then it was time for savasana. Yes, the peaceful relaxing, silent and still savasana, during which my horrid lungs decided a coughing fit was very much in order. The other yogis loved me so much… And now you find me here, scribbling away and staring lustily at my pillow. Give me ten and I’ll be passed out upon it.

Still coughing,
The Salsa Girl

In Which The Climate Proves Impressively Changeable

As we thrash and dive between frigid cold and unseasonable warmth, I find myself swaddled in more layers than I would have ever thought possible, either sweating or shivering regardless the arrangement of clothing. Hence, I have spent entirely too much time whining about climate change and cursing my feeble and overstressed immune system. I’m hovering on the edge of a cold pretending that vitamin C packets will counteract the vacillations of the weather. Wish me luck.

This impending cold is also my excuse for the relatively unremarkable week that I’m about to relay to you all here. You’ll also be delighted to know that if you wade through the mundanity of the first three days, you’ll find yourself reading about an absolutely lovely dance weekend. So bear with me, or skip to the end if you’d prefer. I won’t mind.

Tuesday saw me attempting to catch up on the laundry situation that was rapidly devolving into chaos in the corner of my room. I should have dealt with it over the weekend, but it was just so darn cold I couldn’t bring myself to schelp a whole bag of laundry back and forth through the weather. Fortunately, by the time Tuesday came ‘round we were moving back into more temperate climes and I was able to reduce my layer situation to a single sweater and jacket pairing. Regardless the weather, after hauling laundry up and down the stairs all evening, I elected to spend the rest of my night lounging about watching stand up comedy and reading. There are worse ways to spend a night especially when the following morning requires you to be functional enough to schmooze with business types by 8:30am. Spoiler alert: despite my restful evening, my schmoozing could definitely still use some work.

Yes, come Wednesday morning, I was at work from 8am until it came time to step out to Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce event. The event ran late and I was beginning to feel the first tickles of a sore throat so I may have bailed a bit on the networking. But hey, there was good information in the talk and free breakfast on the table so it was still net positive. After wrapping up the rest of my day at work, I headed down to my literacy gig for an hour and fifteen before it was time to head into the city to change for a very busy night of dance. Karel Flores is back in town so it was time to get my salsera on for an intense hour and a half before hopping off to westie. As always, the class was an excellent blend of full on body movement, fantastically fast footwork, and enough direction changes to make your head spin. I loved it. As per usual, this also meant that my silly butt arrived to westie in no condition to behave. I was a ball of spazzy, endorphin fuelled energy which is seldom conducive to good west coast swing dancing. I did however to try a friend’s jazz boots which might just be the best thing to ever happen to my feet. They are so tired of being poured into scrappy dance sandals and so I have been wearing ballet flats, but ballet flats with their complete absence of heel have been stressing my hamstrings more than is entirely comfortable. The happy little half inch on the heel of the jazz boots however? It’s perfection. I liked them so well that I ordered a pair of my own the very next day. (They arrived today and I’m terribly excited to wear them at westie this week).

Delightfully, after dance I got to take an exciting adventure through the bowels of the MTA and by the time I finally made it home through all the diversions, there was very little time left for sleep. I suspect that this may have played some role in the fact that, come Thursday evening, I was feeling a little snuffly and sore-throated which is my main excuse for spending the entire evening at home packing for the weekend and wandering across the trackless savannah that is Amazon.com. It was not the most productive evening.

And then finally it was Friday. It was bagel day at work so my efforts to be healthy were already foiled which of course meant that, once I got out of work, I grabbed some pizza, fetched my bags and headed into Soho to collect the first of my dance weekend buddies from work. From Patrick’s office, we dropped into Target, then fought the crowds through Penn, dumped ourselves on a crowed NJT train and shortly thereafter found ourselves at Secaucus Junction waiting for the rest of our party. Rather later we were on the road to Philly with an awesome posse of westie people (Jessie, Kevin, Patrick, et moi), ready for Freedom Swing. We grabbed some dinner on the drive and arrived into the event hotel around 10:40pm. Being responsible types, we spent sometime chilling in the room resting and recovering before heading down to dance the entire night away. Yes, the entire night. We ate breakfast when the hotel restaurant opened at 7am and then dumped our danced out carcasses into bed.

A few hours later, I woke up to have my shoulders kneaded into submission by the inimitable Bonnie Cannon-Subey. She’s a magician of body work and if I was somewhat less broken I might have even been cured entirely. As it stands she got me sorted out enough to survive the weekend but I definitely still need work if I ever hope to be fully free of roving tension headaches and scapular agony. However, I do now have exercises and hopefully the motivation to do them, so we might yet make progress.

Once I was loosened up, it was time to compete and I must admit that it was a very mixed bag. Regardless, I managed to make finals and now have my first intermediate point. Let’s not talk about the draw or the placement that got me there. Fortunately, at Freedom the finals and awards are on the same day as the prelims so the entire anxiety inducing agony is over by Saturday evening and you are free to behave as irresponsibly as you’d like. I used that freedom to drink copiously with Edem, scream loudly for the shows, and then crash for about an hour and a half before peeling my sobered up self out of bed and onto the dance floor for the rest of the night. Yup. We were up until breakfast again and it was excellent. I had all the fun, crazy dances with all the best company and we even fit in a bit of stretching so I’m only mostly broken today.

Sunday morning we crawled out of bed in time to make check out and got back in the car to drive back home. It was a lively drive full of all the chats despite our various levels of exhaustion and the incredible frigidity of the outdoors. Sometime around late afternoon, after schlepping through the cold and confusion of the MTA, I found myself back in my humble apartment eating a grilled cheese sandwich and plotting a nap. I attempted to keep my napping to a reasonable minimum to avoid ruining my sleep schedule but honestly could probably have just slept all the way through. I woke up this morning feeling somewhat refreshed but even closer to a cold so, after a bit of grocery shopping and meal prep, I have dedicated the day to napping, reading, and attempting to recover. I have grand ambitions of being entirely recovered by 8am tomorrow but somehow it seems unlikely. Wish me luck.

And on that note, I’m going to slither back into bed and pretend that another pack of vitamin C will tip me over into health.

Con Amore,
The Salsa Girl

In Which Things Get Blizzardy

So here’s the thing guys, I had a long, frigid day followed by some standard issue MTA delays in the icebox that is Bergen St, so I might just be curled up in bed watching dance videos that maybe might be a tiny bit distracting. Consider it a sign of how much I like you all that I’m even attempting the weekly scribble tonight.

In spite of how cold my day was, I am now deliciously toasty in my cozy apartment after an inordinate amount of squats and leg lifts. Yup, it’s that time of the year again. I’m breaking up with high fat, stomach churning dairy products and getting it on with two of the myriad new year new you exercise initiatives that have sprung up all over the internet. I don’t waste my money or frustrate myself with gym memberships, but when it comes to virtuous masochism for free.99, I’m so on board. So I’m doing a daily core challenge and a daily butt challenge. In theory I’m also stretching towards splits but they are so very far away that it’s proven nearly impossible to talk myself into the agony that lies between now and them. And yes, I did start this all two days late, don’t judge me. I was swungover. On the topic of which, we probably ought to wander back to Wednesday and talk about all the shenanigans that have kept me busy since.

Wednesday was that soul crushing day known as “the first day back at work after Christmas.” It’s never a great day but I think I was extra bitter on account of having papered during my precious break and so I worked and sulked and worked and sulked. It would all be so much better if there was coffee in the office but since there’s not, my options are limited to intravenous tea, caffeine headaches, or sacrificing half my paycheque to the Starbucks gods. I’ve never felt like quite so much of an addict but on the plus side, I begin to understand the criticality of smoke breaks for those of a nicotine persuasion.

Once out of the office, it was time to drop some documents at my boss’s house, say hi to her adorable dogs, and get my crippled spine to the chiropractor. I do so love the feeling of release that follows the corporeal percussion of an adjustment. Alas, no amount of snap crackle pop could save me from the after effects of not only watching my dance videos but also taking a fairly full on private lesson. The girl that made her way to Westie Cafe last Wednesday was a broken westie of the overthinking kind. It’s got to be the hardest part of dance because no matter how on board your brain is, your muscle memory just will not oblige and, at least initially, the correction always feels icky to the nth degree. And should you happen to be a sensitive little flower like a certain someone we know, that icky is likely to translate into the worst sort of ill humour tinged with mild to moderate aversion. So we’re doing lots of home practice and hoping for the best. Keep your fingers crossed for me at Freedom this coming weekend.

And then it was Thursday, and as if the world knew I wasn’t quite ready to adult just yet, it was a that most blessed of days, a snow day! I used to use snow days as intended (for snuggling up indulgently under my quilt with hot beverages all day) but work won’t do itself so I spent this snow day under my quilt with a steady stream of hot cocoa and my work laptop. Let’s not talk about it, k? Instead, let’s talk about the wind! It was wild! We got about six inches of snow which my Canadian brain is not the slightest bit impressed by, but then we got the wind and six inches of snow swiftly turned into white out conditions accompanied by that oh so characteristic blizzard howl. Not having to go out into it at all, I enjoyed the drama of the weather immensely, but I would have vastly different opinions if I’d had to shovel, or even just go outside.

Tragically, our pretty little blizzard was apparently just a harbinger of real winter because by Friday morning we were well and truly into a deep freeze that has declined to let up since. In theory, 17 years of Fort St John winters should have made me immune to this, but after a nearly a decade in profoundly temperate places, I’ve turned into a terrible wuss without any real winter clothing. Am I even a real Canadian anymore? Either way, my hibernating instincts are still in good trim as, almost immediately after I got home from work, I collapsed into an accidental nap that carried me right up until salsa time. Yes, the salsa girl finally got herself back out to salsa.

It’s hard to balance dance loyalties but I was missing my salsa self so I slicked on the makeup and headed out to Candela. I guess salsa hasn’t appreciated my abandonment because, like a cantankerous cat, it bit back. Yes, walking to the floor for my first dance of the night, I was blessed by an encounter with that most spectacular bit of salsa stabby: the stiletto heel. A nice red scrape opened up so cutely on the tender side bit of my foot and then I guess we were good again because salsa let me alone and served up a fairly standard night with a very nice bachata tucked in the middle. And then I braved the madness of weekend MTA and collapsed into bed around the 2am mark.

Saturday morning saw me up suspiciously early, up to my elbows in flour. I so love my sourdough, even when it wakes me up at way-too-early-am. Between rounds of folding, I cleaned the apartment and came to terms with being awake so that once 10:30 rolled around I was ready to face the cold and head uptown for coffee with a nomadic friend of the swing dancing and bee keeping extraction. We grabbed a coffee at the mundanely named “Little Collins.” It had a very good rating on Google Maps so I decided to give it a try and we were not to be disappointed! From the accented baristas to the perfectly divine coffee, I’d say Australia represented itself most admirably in that little coffee shop.

Rather later, after baking bread and lazing about, it was time to get myself to Gotham. Gotham is New York’s monthly west coast swing dance and I am very loyal to it, but alas this month I was still very much a broken westie. I was in full on internal sulk as everything felt weird and wrong and then Patrick saved me from myself with a most excellent dance featuring a downright silly number of successful one-foot turns in a row. The poor man has to be on his very tip toes to get above me but he does it so well I would never know and remains one of the best darn turn leads around. And thus I survived until the last song sent me roaming out into the night to do battle with the MTA again. They’ve rerouted both of my main trains for weekends in January which means that I’m now getting to hate all sorts of exciting trains that I never used to ride!

The next morning I rolled out of bed and headed out to find some groceries to keep my fridge from looking quite so empty and sad. I usually buy my groceries at a hispanic stall in Essex Market and regularly play the game where they tell me the price in Spanish and I say “on Mastercard” in English and everyone understands but no one has to speak their second language, but this was to be much more full on. It was not one of the usual female cashiers, no it was a friendly fella of the “charming” variety and he was not content to scan my groceries in silence. Apparently my halting Spanish explanation of how bad my Spanish is, was far preferable. These things are good for me right? And besides, apparently I’m evidence that pretty girls are smart too. Let’s not go there today.

After filling my vegetable crisper, I headed into Midtown an hour earlier than entirely necessary because I have trust issues with trains and I love Tisserie. It’s a lovely little cafe I’ve found only one a few blocks from Ailey which makes good chai lattes and divine guava pastry. I justify the indulgence by the hour and a half of studio time that always follows it. Plus it’s a great spot to just sit and read for awhile.

Once I got to contemporary, I more than worked it off with another fantastic combo from Chris Jackson. I love his class so much it’s enough to just be there, but this time was extra special. Firstly, our crew of two westies grew to six and then Chris gave me a nod in the foot technique section! Me! With my ugly feet that do not point worth a damn! And I got a nod! And as if that wasn’t enough, I even stuck some double pirouettes! Seriously, the studio gods were smiling on me that day.

After dance we headed to our usual Bolivian haunt for a snack before three of our posse headed home and the remaining three braved Times Square for the shopping. The trouble with dance events is that you need clothing for them and I mean, I do need to do laundry, but I also need to not wear the same shirt for competition for a fourth event in a row. Fortunately, I’m not alone in this so we all wandered together to buy basically disposable clothing for as few dollars as possible. Yeah, you can judge us.

And then it was time to schlep to Harlem for a critique session. We settled in before the big screen, steeled our egos for the task, and skyped in Mandy. It’s at once very VERY good and very VERY scary to have your friends critique your dancing, and it’s even more frightening to critique theirs. But somehow we’ve now managed to pull it off twice with very positive results. We don’t hate each other, and we’ve all learned things so it seems to be working. Besides which, it’s so nice to reunite our dancer crew even if only for a few hours over Skype. I will blame the train journey +15minute walk home for the fact that I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight which is my excuse for how tired I was today, though I could probably equally blame my hibernation instinct.

The office was frigid! And without a steady stream of easily accessible coffee, I ended up bundled up in a sweater, scarf, and blanket, and I still wasn’t warm. I have to give my body credit though, it’s a practical creature and its answer to eight hours of freezing was: sleep? Sleep would be nice and it would help us conserve energy! I only wish I could have listened.

When I left the office, it was time to head down to READ718 for the new term of literacy tutoring. I’m working with a new student and he’s such a sweetheart but the list of challenges is long and my goodness, all I can say is that I must have done alright last term. New years resolution: lean into the challenges and channel Georgia.

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” -Georgia O’Keeffe

The Salsa Girl