In Which Insomnia Proves Intractable

Maybe it wasn’t actually jet lag last week. Perhaps it was only the delightful resurgence of my old nocturnal nemesis, insomnia. I postulate this as I find that now another week has passed and I am still struggling mightily to convince my cantankerous cranium to cede to sleep anytime even close to sensible. At this point, with a dance weekend rising quickly on the horizon, I think I might just leave it to it’s rebellion and deal with my sleep habits when I get back. I fully intend to blame this sleep deprivation for any typos, non-sequiturs or otherwise, inelegant utterances herein.

What is it that I did while sleep deprived? Well first I went to my chiropractor, then headed off to dance class, and then rinsed and repeated. Well not entirely. On Wednesday, I left work and decided to try once more to track down a decent 生煎包. There’s a place near my work that’s tantalizingly titled Yaso Tangbao so I decided to give it a go. The seasonal vegetable dish was absolutely perfect garlic sautéed gai lan but alas the buns still fell short of remembered deliciousness. They are fantastically difficult to make, but I have to believe that there is somewhere in New York where I can find the answer to my dreamy gustatory nostalgia. Keep your eyes open for an upcoming trip to Flushing.

Once fed, I headed to Read 718, a local non-profit which runs literacy tutoring for low-income children. It was the first step in the journey to become one of their tutors and now I can only wait to hear if they have a match for me. Following my diversions in Brooklyn, I whipped home, jumped into dance gear and bounded into Midtown for westie. It was an RnB and blues night which I must admit runs rather counter to my taste in music, but I stayed out nearly to the end then climbed sleepily onto a train, looking enthusiastically forward to my bed.

When I reached the top of my mountain of stairs I placed my hand on the knob, leaned in and started to twist. But the knob wouldn’t twist! My bedroom, which I never lock (I don’t have the key) was locked! Obviously, my first thought was that someone was in there so I knocked. No reply. I knocked again. Still no reply. At that point I did a 180 and tapped on my roommate’s door. He had no explanation for the locked door, and after hunting all through the apartment found that he didn’t have the key either.

We tried the card trick, and a knife trick, and all manner of lock opening hacks but all to no avail so I gritted my teeth, apologized to my bank account, and called a locksmith. On the phone, they quoted a call out fee and a minimum service fee that nearly made my eyes water, but it was within the realm of possibility so I asked them to send someone.

Nearly an hour of reading at the kitchen table later, the locksmith puffed his way up the stairs and knocked on my door. He set his toolbox on the floor, took a cursory look at the door and quoted me a number that I was certain I must have misheard. He repeated it. I blanched, gasped, and prepared to spend the night on the kitchen floor. When I told him that I simply could not afford it and that he would have to just take the call out fee and be gone, however, he seemed to think I was being utterly unreasonable. When I pointed out that his number was more than 4X what I’d been told was the starting price, for a wee ickle indoor lock, he told me I was free to call whoever quoted that to me and learn that I was wrong.

He would have been far better off if he’d not provoked my temper with his own indignance at my inability to pay four times the expected price. But he made his choice and I made mine. I called up his dispatcher and delivered a few choice words about transparency and good business practices. At that point, he asked me to pass the phone to the locksmith in my kitchen. They negotiated in a language I didn’t understand and came back with a 50% reduction. Seeing no other way forward, I agreed.

30 seconds and one air pocket based tool later, my door was popped open and I was not the least bit happy to be charged a fee premised on the “high likelihood” that he’d have to drill the lock. Perhaps my response makes me a bad person, but it was 2am, I was tired, and I felt that I had been completely taken advantage of and lied to at every step in the process. So I told the locksmith that, though I would pay our agreed fee, I was not happy. I was in fact quite unhappy to come so directly face to face with such deceptive an opaque business practices. He tried to tell me that “everyone does it this way” and I may have reminded him that that is no excuse for misrepresentation. We settled on a slightly lower price that was at once far more than I want to pay and far less than he wanted to make.

It turns out that when you express your frustrations, and use your emotional energy to convey your perspective, occasionally you can assert yourself in a position which feels rather powerless. I still felt like a horrid person after he left though. Just as I need to have enough money to get to the end of the month, so too does he, deceptive pricing or not. We do what we must when backed into a fiscal corner I suppose.

After a very short sleep on Wednesday, I got home from the chiropractor on Thursday with every intention of an early night to bed. Instead, neuroses struck. I’ve been trying to get a hold of the Canadian tax agency for over a month to try to sort out a little non-resident tangle and hadn’t been able to get through to them any of the times I called. So instead of making up for a sleepless Wednesday, I had a sleepless Thursday too. Bonus points for the fact that I “fixed” it Friday but now just 5 minutes ago realized that I didn’t need to and that by “fixing” it I’ve probably made more of a mess. Somedays I could just smack myself.

Early Friday morning I was released from my tortured, neurotic sleep but one of the loudest thunderstorms I’ve heard in years. It was as if the entire storm was in my room with me—everything but the rain. So I gave up on sleep, headed into work, and did my very best to stay awake.

Perhaps we can blame my tiredness and stress for my botched “remedy” of my tax situation. Anyway, once I’d “gotten that sorted” I fell into an exhausted pile and accidentally slept my entire evening away, waking up around 10pm, just in time to decide that going out wasn’t worth it and crawl back under the covers.

On Saturday, I engaged in my usual lazy rigamarole of laundry, house cleaning, and shopping mixed with a few documentaries, a bit of reading, and some very delicious food. I bought grouper from my local market, and let me tell you, panfried grouper with a balsamic glaze is pretty spectacular.

Since it was Member’s Appreciation day at the monthly westie party, I set out to dance rather earlier than usual to catch the workshops. The leads were in short supply so I jumped in as a leader and three hours later was wandering off the floor with a very full and seriously exhausted brain. When you’re used to following, leading really is a trial!

I spent the rest of the evening, following, chatting, and otherwise enjoying the night before finishing it all off around 1:30am with a deli smoothie and even more good conversation.

Come Sunday, I indulged in a bit of a lie in before eventually booting my butt out the door to a dance practice. It was a really solid practice session wherein I felt progress was made but all too soon it was over and I was wandering southwards again. I stopped at Home Depot to buy a new knob/lock for my miscreant door.

Sometime later, I had a new lock, a week’s worth of lunches, and no desire to do anything other than laze about in my room. And so that’s what I did. I started a new book, I listened to some music, and then I went to bed.

Today was a perfectly ordinary day right up until the point I realized that I’d mucked up my taxes again at which point I descended back into my current state of nerves blended with a ferocious desire to just sort it out. 13 hours left until the phones open at the Canadian Revenue Agency and hopefully I can get it all worked out.

Falling (mostly) forward,
The Salsa Girl


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