In Which the Forever Novice Finally Makes Intermediate

So after eight years of inconsistent participation and scattered competition, I finally got my act together and got out of Novice. Yes, this wandering westie has finally wandered into a scene that is large enough to at least have weekly dances and a few all stars around. It makes a huge difference when you can see what you could be working towards rather than being the one that other people are working towards. It also helps when you’re in the US and all the events are a little less far a field.

And that, folks, is yours truly’s way of indicating that she finally exceeded fifteen Novice points and got 1st place. So I’m out. Whether I want it or not (I want it), I’m an intermediate with all that entails. Prepare for more angst incoming as I get myself rightfully humbled in the next few events. But for the time being, just be glad you’ll never again hear me woefully describe myself as the “forever novice”. And with that, let’s get back to the daily happenings.

I’m still suffering a little bit from an ailment of the lungs, but when I think back to the pathetic lump I was on Wednesday, I feel like a whole new woman. Yes, Wednesday was bad. I skipped Karel’s class to sleep but thought I ought to drag myself out to westie to recalibrate between salsa and swing weekends. Initially I was only averaging about a coughing fit and a half after every dance, but then I took a bit of a break and had a really good and very necessary chat that was punctuated by rather a lot more coughing fits. Quite unintentionally, I found myself barnacled onto the stairs with diaphragm, intercostals, and even my lower abdominals absolutely screaming with each spasm.

Eventually I did drag myself back to the dance floor for one more dance, but somehow in the course of that (otherwise lovely) dance I managed to transition from agony when I coughed to just agony in general. The song ended and I started to hack which somehow  transitioned into me sitting on the floor gasping for breath, with each inhale accompanied by pure pain from hips to collarbones. I only managed to decline a few dances before people started to notice that maybe I wasn’t entirely okay down in my little hidey-hole between the benches. Right about the point where trying to explain my plight was tipping me dangerously close to helpless tears, I peeled myself off the floor, sucked another puff of albuterol into my lungs and excused myself to find a train.

When I got back to the Lower East Side, I headed to my faithful bodega for anything that might soothe my miserable self. I settled on some EmergenC (cold neocitran) and a tiny tub of ice cream and headed for the till. I plopped my purchases on my counter and stuffed my credit card into the machine. Declined. I tried again. Same result. I did have my debit card so my purchases were made but only moments later my phone went off like a mad thing. There were about 20 suspicious transactions on my card. All but two or three had been declined, but it was clear that someone had my details.

If you know me well enough to be reading this, you already know how well I deal with scary, adverse events in which I am comparatively powerless. I wracked my brains: could anyone have skimmed my card? It seemed unlikely. Far more likely, thought I, was spyware. And I’d just finished typing all of my personal details ever into a series of documents I’d had to submit to the Canadian Revenue Agency. So, I mean, panic is real.

I cancelled the card, reported the fraudulent charges, virus scanned the living daylights out of every piece of technology I own, and finally collapsed miserably into bed around 2am.

The following day, there was no evidence on my app that I had reported the fraud so I began to wonder if I’d somehow failed to report it successfully. The psychosis kicked back in and I had visions of mountains of charges being racked up by this nefarious criminal all without my knowing. I had already planned to call the credit bureaus at lunch, so I decided I would start by calling my bank and ensuring that they had gotten my report.

After a hop, skip, and a flop down the phone tree, I found myself talking to an employee who was nearly as confused as me. She had fraudulent charges marked on a wholly different credit card number. Apparently no fraudulent charges had been made on my current (now cancelled) card. I was baffled. She was baffled. And then I remembered back in March when my faithful financial institution had sent me a new card and an explanation that some “undisclosed merchant” had had a breach so they were replacing my card and cancelling the old one just to be safe. Yes, this is going where you think it is. The old one that they had supposedly cancelled for me, had not been cancelled. It had in fact been stolen, probably sold online, and now someone was using to try to sign up to and Netflix. Top notch security right there. At least I didn’t have to worry about identity theft…

…until the next day when Equifax revealed that they’d maybe gotten a little bit hacked and maybe half of the US population had had their identity compromised. Apparently I was not affected but if you ever want to lose faith in the system, trying reading about how Equifax has been dealing with this breach. It’s a little devastating.

When finally I crawled my tired but slightly less neurotic self home from work, I quickly packed for the weekend, tidied the apartment a bit, and then headed back out to a friend’s house for dinner. It may sound like a continuation of my bad habit of just pushing through the pain, but I assure you that it was quite the opposite. My most excellent swing friend, Mandy, had listened to my litany of miseries around 1am on Wednesday and had decided that maybe what I needed was some good, wholesome, homey, Chinese food. She could not have been more right. As we sat at her kitchen table eating egg and tomato, beef and potato, and dumpling soup, my stressed little brain relaxed into the carbs and my lungs relinquished their death grip on my bronchioles in exchange for warm soothing soup. It was just exactly what the doctor ordered and I went home a whole lot happier and healthier than I’d been all week.

Come Friday night, we all bailed out of work, finished last minute packing and food preparation, and headed to Albany. Mandy and I met at Delancey and set out to meet two more dance friends, Yuhua and Akane, in Newark. From there we climbed into a rental car (parked in a bus yard—oops!) and set off up the highway to Upstate Dance Challenge. Some two and a half hours later, we arrived at the hotel ready for a weekend of dance.

I have to say that it’s not often we find ourselves tripping over lumpy carpet in an event hotel, but there’s always a first for everything and, in addition to the mountainous carpet, this particular hotel had a hot tub so I was willing to negotiate. I was also delighted to see a bed. Yes, despite napping most of the drive up, I was still totally beat so I passed out for about an hour before heading to the ballroom to dance. I was apparently still destined to cough between every song so I only danced for a few hours before returning to my nest amongst the pillows and blankets to sleep the sickness away.

Saturday morning I woke up relatively early (for a dance event) and caught two workshops before heading back to the room to rest, eat, and get ready to compete. I moseyed my way back to the ballroom just in time to line up for my comp and lodge a small prayer with my lungs begging them to behave for just those three little songs of competition before I’d be released to cough my little heart out. They mostly obliged.

Once I’d coughed a bit, filmed some friends, and discovered a gnawing hunger in my belly (okay fine, a granola bar is not actually lunch) I set out with a couple other dancers to the nearest source of food: Moe’s. It’s basically bargain bin chipotle but it did the trick as I sat satisfied at the edge of the dance floor filling my face with a confused combination of taco, burrito, and quesadilla. It was tasty. I will not try to comprehend.

When the last of the comps wrapped up, there was a magical half hour before the next workshop so I took another divine little cat nap before fitting in one more workshop before the dinner break. Since I was still absolutely stuffed full of tex mex, I took the dinner break as a hot tub break and crawled into the warm froth of the jacuzzi. I know that 104 probably isn’t a safe temperature for a public jacuzzi, but whatever they had it at was entirely too bathtubby for this lover of scalding showers. It was still, however, relaxing and pleasant enough to hold my attention for about 20 minutes before I bounded back to the room to shower and get ready for another workshop.

I had intended to take two more, but after the first it was clear that the most urgent item in my agenda was a return to my pillow where I passed out for another few hours before dragging myself out to social dance for few hours. On my way to the ballroom I found the results from prelims posted and was pleased to find I’d made finals. I then stopped briefly in the vicinity of the results for chats with several groups of other dance acquaintances and friends before finally getting back on the path to the dance floor. Just as I headed on into the ballroom however, I was paused by a text beckoning me to a room party. Predictably, I did an about face, traversed the carpet cascades once more and soon found myself lounging about drinking wine, eating chips, and chatting with excellent people. It was lovely.

I did eventually make it down to dance but my lungs were still in a foul mood so I kept it short and made my way to bed relatively early in hopes of having even a little energy for finals the next day.

The final day of the event I got up, packed all of my things, and headed down to the ballroom. I watched a few workshops, saving my strength for competing, and then in no time at all, it was my turn to hit the floor. Honestly, I would have been happy to draw a lot of the leads in my division, but I was especially delighted to draw a friendly, tall fellow whose first response upon seeing we’d been paired was to say “oh goody! I get to be tall this time.” It’s nice to feel one’s abnormalities appreciated, especially when one is a dancer and one’s abnormality is height.

We had three excellent dances with only a few little hiccups and then it was over and it was time to watch the rest. I always enjoy watching the higher divisions, especially the All Stars. They have fantastic senses of humour and such wonderful musicality. It might take me a while, but I’d like to dance with them someday and be just as clever and coordinated as they are. We shall consider it a stretch goal.

After the comps wrapped up, it was awards time and boy oh boy did New York City ever clean up! We took:

  • Novice: 1st & 3rd
  • Intermediate: 1st & 2nd
  • Advanced: 2nd & 3rd
  • And at least a few other top three placements that I don’t want to perjure myself by misremembering.

Moments after the final award was handed out we bid our out of town friends goodbye and piled two firsts and a third into the car to drive back to the city. It wasn’t even that late when we got home, but after traversing the mess of the MTA on a Sunday, Mandy and I were exhausted and ready for food. We stopped at Williamsburg Pizza (it is the best, there is no point arguing this) for a couple slices of heaven before we each climbed the stairs back to our respective tenement flats and called it a night. I can’t speak for Mandy but I was in bed almost as soon as I walked in the door and I could have slept even longer. Apparently being sick makes you tired or something.

Which brings us up to the present. I worked all day, brought multiple forms of Vitamin C to the poor soul who took pity on me last week and now has fallen victim to the plague herself, and now am back at home typing this up and plotting another absurdly early night. I am so looking forward to recovering my natural nocturnal tendencies and maybe even having a bit of energy. Revolutionary, I know, but I can hope, can’t I?

Sleepily yours,
The Salsa Girl


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