In Which The Salsa Girl Reacquaints Herself with Adrenaline

Another week, another blog. But this is not just any blog, this is the 25th New York blog. Yes. I have been resident in the US of Awe for a whole 25 weeks. Say it with me: Holy Sh*t. The six month mark was actually last week on the 10th, but for whatever reason I didn’t feel like marking that one, so I am marking this. My 25th blog in the city—and it should actually be an exciting one! But before I let the cat out of the bag, let’s mosey on back to where I left you last Monday.

The blessed yoga from heaven that I was so pleased with when I last wrote you, did that thing that yoga is so fond of doing and promptly crippled me. There will come a day when I don’t overdo it in every yoga class I ever take, but the days when we work on binds? Never. The triumph of turning myself into a pretzel entirely outweighs the stiffness and soreness that results from it.

So I peg-legged my way through Tuesday wondering why I am so stubborn right up until I got to my free meditation session whereupon I realized that I’m not nearly stubborn enough. For the first about 5 minutes I felt like a rockstar. I was so calm, just me and my breath, and then slowly my evil little monkey mind decided that discipline was for the dogs and started to stray. The remaining 20 minutes were a battle royale as I began to breathe, began to drift, caught myself somewhere wandering out in left field, dragged my silly skull back to respiration, and then repeated. I think it was a maximum 2 min long cycle. It was a delight. I clearly need to practice more.

Very VERY slightly enlightened, I would spend the following evening first at start up school, then at a talk that was meant to be about cancer research in the developing world but which ended up being about how America’s likely to have a rather different foreign aid structure, but how they really really ought not to. It had been scheduled for much earlier this year but was foiled by a snow day and so found itself rather further into the Trump-dom than planned. Yes, the shadow of the Trump clouded in over us once again—you know it’s bad when an academic lauds Bush by comparison.

After getting all politically “woke” I made my way to dance where my brain is allowed freedom from both mental discipline and the thickening political miasma.

Thursday was meant to be another exciting night of yoga, but a meeting out in the depths of the Bronx ran late and by the time I made it back to the city, I only had time to do laundry and pretend to clean my room before both yoga and the laundromat closed up shop for the night. At least we were riding the 4 train against the rush hour tide.

And then it was Friday and I was hustling home from work for a quick trip to the optometrist’s before throwing clothes in my bag and heading to Jersey. I grabbed an F into Midtown, climbed the stairs to the street and headed down 32nd towards Penn. As I walked, I noticed a rather larger than normal number of people moving away from Penn and some of them seemed unusually distressed even for Friday rush hour in New York. I wondered, but kept schlepping until the crowd parted and a woman emerged looking half deranged waving her hands half screaming, half whispering “Don’t go to Penn, turn back, don’t go to Penn, terror attack, don’t go to Penn”.

I stopped dead in my tracks. I mean, there were still lots of people walking towards Penn but I would hate be in the way if there really were an emergency, so I stepped to the edge of the sidewalk and hit Twitter. Twitter had no news but soon I heard sirens so I kept scrolling until I heard pounding feet and screams coming the other direction, heading towards Penn. They were screaming “active shooter!”

It’s probably the third time in my life that I have stopped completely and thought “well I really wasn’t planning for it to end like this…” I did the math and realized that if there was a shooter at Macy’s and a terror attack at Penn, I on 32nd between 7th and 8th, was completely f**ked. And then the adrenaline came.

I ran with the crowd and, seeing a concrete warehouse-like structure, ducked in with a few others. We soon realized that there was no clear way out and started trying the elevator which is when the guard came out and asked what the hell was going on. We explained what little we knew and he calmed us by with the fact that he had closed and locked the doors while we waited for news. It was probably about 15 minutes of refreshing Twitter to the sounds of strangers crying into their cell phones before we discovered that it was a false alarm. Someone had been tased at Penn and the sound of the taser popping out had spooked the crowd. Someone had yelled “active shooter” and then the stampede began. I can only guess that what I was caught in was the effect of one of the delirious Penn station stampede shouting their fear too loudly in a crowded shopping centre.

While waiting for news about potential violence, I also discovered that a NJ transit train was stuck in the tunnel under the Hudson and the trains were absolutely hopeless, which was about the same time that Chuck connected me to his roommmate’s girlfriend who had actually been caught in the stampede and we were convinced to just take an Uber out to Secaucus to meet the guys. A stunningly beautiful sunset backdropped our journey all crimson and gold and we were both unexpectedly glad to be out of the city.

When we finally got to New Brunswick, we all went out for gourmet hot dogs and I was delighted to find that the restaurant also made Scotch Eggs! One drink, half a scotch egg, and a hot dog later however, and the exhaustion of what had already been a stressful day at work paired with entirely too much after-work excitement hit me like a freight train.

The following day we slept much of the day away before getting pretty serious about packing. By the time we called it quits, we had a car-ful of boxes and a much cleaner flat before us. We then headed out to a Cantonese restaurant of the most authentically China variety. The food was SO good and SO cheap and they served hot tea rather than America’s beloved ice water. If there is one thing I miss about China more than any other single thing, it is 茶水. If that means nothing to you, but piques your curiosity, ask me later. It is late and I fear too many digression may preclude the completion of this blog.

After dinner, we headed down to South Jersey for a dance with the friendliest batch of Philadephians, and Jersey folk. After the dance, we followed a friend down to his place just outside of Philly to drop off a bunch of boxes for storage and then drove back up to New Brunswick to, once again, collapse into bed.

Sunday was full of little bits before we finally packed a few things in the car and drove into the city. I was adopting an air conditioner and small bit of furniture so that had to be driven in and hauled up my beloved five flights before being installed in my fantastically Manhattan sized accommodation. I am however very grateful both for the cool air and the table and chairs from which I am writing this blog rather than mangling my back by doing it seated on the edge of my bed with my laptop on my knees.

Once we’d installed the furniture and tended to a few other work/social obligations, we headed up to the Upper West Side for a roof top barbecue. There was a bit of rain, a lot of food, and even more good people. Suffice to say it was a good time, so good, in fact, that we stayed out rather later than planned which made this morning more of a challenge than hoped. You see, despite the fact that I had done some work on the weekend and could have justified a little bit more sleep as a result, we had struck parking gold the day before and with such luck comes responsibility. Yes, we had found street parking right across from my flat and since it was Sunday it was free—but only until 7am on Monday.

Apparently the commute to Jersey is really quick at 7am.

And now I am home after work followed by start-up school and topped with a fantastic evening of China. I attended a tech meetup that featured two old China hands giving their impressions of China’s 2025 innovation plan after which we watched Ten Years. It is a phenomenal Hong Kong art film which, predictably enough, is banned in the beloved PRC. I don’t know if I can explain it without spoiling it but I will warn you that it is slow and beautiful and strange and if you’re not into that you should just pass it by, but if you like art films and China and have a tenderness for the oppressed, you should probably take a look. I loved it.

So it’s been one heck of a 25th week in this big brave city and I’m not nearly done yet.

Undaunted and undeterred,
The Salsa Girl


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