In Which The Westie Takes a Rest…Kind of

Today has been a day. In theory I got some sleep last night, but I swear I woke up more exhausted than I went to sleep. And then I dragged my carcass into work where I was met by a mammoth to do list and all the frustrations of the world. We will not discuss the extent of frustration inherent in working with government agencies, but suffice to say that they now plague me both in my personal and professional life. Much like the sleep situation, I left work with a longer to do list and more acute sense of frustrated exhaustion than I arrived with. Sometimes Mondays just skunk ya.

I guess I ought to be glad that I had a weekend off for once, so I faced this particular Monday with a bit more grace than the previous few. After three weeks of dance weekends, illness, and general exhausted malaise, I tried to take it easy. The degree to which I managed to succeed remains up for debate. Perhaps it will be sufficient to say that I’ve a fairly full blog for you in spite of myself.

Last Tuesday, day one of my attempt to rest, I limited myself to one extracurricular activity. I mean it was a very full and enlightening west coast swing lesson and I did go to Brooklyn for it, but I ate food at home and was home and in bed (not sleeping, but seriously who sleeps) by 11pm. So I called it a success. Wednesday, not so much.

I started my morning at an event hosted by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce. The Borough President was speaking to us on the importance of diet driven health and wellness. He was diagnosed with diabetes and managed to reverse it with some serious business lifestyle changes. Thus, health and plant based nutrition formed the core of his talk. I, however, was there on a mission from work so I carefully curated the crowd, made a few key connections, and then slipped out, quite unintentionally inspired to attempt some lifestyle changes of my own. I also discovered that two of my intrepid Vancouver friends are responsible for the nutrition videos that the Borough President recommended I find for my asthma. It’s a small world out there.

After wrapping up a busy afternoon at work, I then counterbalanced by networking success with a gorgeous demonstration of my own ineptitude. You see, some time ago an admin from the engineering school sent me an invitation to a Semester Kick-off Party and New Faculty Reception. Obviously, I presumed that meant I was invited so I RSVP’d and added it to my calendar. Hindsight 20/20 that email may have been sent to me on my boss’s behalf. Yes, I arrived at the designated place to find I had marched right into a faculty party. Yes, me and my lack of PhD were turning down fancy finger foods in terror and trying to find a graceful way to escape. Thank god for faked phone calls, especially after a delightfully awkward encounter with the dean who, bless his heart, spent the entire interaction trying to figure out how on earth he’d hired this young blonde faculty member without having ever seen her before. If there was an Ignoble Award for social escapades, I’d have a whole shelf full.

After slipping out in humiliation, I hurried into the city to catch Hardwired NYC. The talks are always interesting, but I will freely admit that I mostly go for the complimentary pizza and the interesting chats with obligation free random strangers. This time we also got to try some rather peculiar plant goods. One of the speakers was a vertical farmer so he shared three fancy schmancy Michelin Star restaurant kind of garnishes with us. The first was a spicy wasabi arugula, the second some very sweet yellow flowers, and the third a bastard cousin of Sichuan pepper. It looked a bit like a cute little clover flower but when you bit into it? Well it was tingly numbness in every direction just like those sneaky little Sichuan pepper corns, I felt mildly betrayed. Following the talks, I did my normal rounds of chatting to strangers while filling my face with pizza. I’m not very good at mingling but I always have a handful of interesting (and probably too lengthy) conversations. This was no exception. I left as they were piling up the chairs and headed off to dance the rest of the night away.

Following a night of far less sleep than I ought to have had, Thursday saw me working my way through another day at the office before piling myself into the chiropractor for my weekly dose. I had intended to go to one or two talks after the chiro, but laziness and sleepiness won and I stayed home watching documentaries and being exactly as lazy as I wish I wasn’t.

And then suddenly it was Friday and I had no idea where the week had gone. I was meeting Mandy for pay-as-you-wish night at the Whitney so I headed towards Greenwich Village via the second most dangerous place in the city: The Library. Obviously the most dangerous is The Strand, but NYU’s Bobst Library is a very close second. I was there on the pretence of needing to return books, but of course things were running a bit late, and I was running a bit early, so I found myself with a dangerous duration inside the library doors. I left with six. Because I can’t be trusted. I also apparently cannot use my common sense. Need I state the obvious? Carrying a purse packed to the gills with six hardcovers as we toured an entire museum was not the smartest thing I’d ever done.

When I finally winkled myself out of the library, I headed off to Chelsea Market for dinner. I’ve never actually been to Chelsea Market before, but I had heard of the inimitable Los Tacos No. 1. They make famously tasty tacos and a particularly brilliant monstrosity wherein the taco shell is made entirely out of cheese. Do you even need to ask what I got? Of course I got the ridiculous insane one and sat with fingers coated in grease filling my face with cheese, pork, and all the fixings interspersed with sips of horchata. Mandy got noodles from the oh so creatively named Very Fresh Noodles. Despite their shortage of marketing ingenuity, they make incredibly fresh noodles in delicious soup, paired with the most heavenly melt (literally melt) in your mouth beef. It was beautiful, and exactly as advertised.

Fed and slightly decompressed from work, we headed to the Whitney to take in the modern art. I have such mixed feelings about modern art. Half of it thrills me to bits and half of it leaves me completely cold. The Whitney was no exception. I can always be relied upon to love large abstract pieces with striking colour palettes and very little obvious narrative or meaning. Several hours later, we left the museum satisfied in our cultural consumption and headed back to the Lower East Side. We parted at the subway station and I headed to one of my favourite late night snack spots. No, not pizza, not empanadas, not even my favourite bodega, no, the ice-cream shop. They make this wonderful ube ice-cream and you can get it swirled with either almond or coconut. It’s heavenly, and pretty—all purple and white swirled. It made a most excellent late night accompaniment to all my fresh new novels.

—A brief interlude in which I attend a yoga class and become slightly less of a monster—

Saturday I bounced out of bed bright and early to find breakfast and head to Brooklyn. Yes, Brooklyn on a weekend! I’ve decided to join a literacy tutoring program and last Saturday was the introductory training session. It was a nice update to my existing hodgepodge of pedagogy and my fellow volunteers were varied souls from all manner of professions and histories. I’m not sure how much social interaction we will have during the program, but they all seemed so very interesting, I certainly hope we do.

I continued my day of adulting with a trip to the market to pick up as much roughage as I could carry. You see I was determined that I should at least try to be a little more vegetable centred and health focussed and realistically, the only way that’s going to happen in my busy life is if I do really carefully thought out, veggie focussed meal prep. So I carried home my loot and set to making soup, or maybe stew. It was unclear. Being on a health kick my primary aim was to maximize the nutritional content and create something savoury enough to keep me engaged all week without overloading myself with salt. So everything went in the pot and a yummy vat of something very vegetably and full of spice emerged out the other side.

As the soup boiled, I cleaned the apartment and chewed my way through an entire novel before it was time to slip out for my evening’s adventures. I would spend the first part of my evening in a scummy but lovable little dive bar in the East Village catching up with a friend I met while backpacking in Scandinavia and rubbing shoulders with artists, law professors, and all manner of diverse New Yorkers. After a few (okay three) pints, I scooted off into Midtown for some westie. Two of my favourite New York DJs were on the decks and they did not disappoint. They played my request (a song rather out of character for the New York scene) and then quickly followed it up with the wonderful, growly, sexy, delicious strains of Heartattack and Vine. It’s dirty and sultry and contains one of the best lines in the history of music: There ain’t no devil, only God when he’s drunk. It was downright heavenly. And if the music wasn’t enough, nearly all of my favourite NYC leaders were there and the dancing was most excellent.

Because I’m very clever, I then went home and stayed up lying in bed reading until entirely too late reading the literary candy that is Murakami. I never claimed to be responsible.

Sunday started slow with coffee and oatmeal before laundry and reading. Around 3pm I wandered into Chelsea to catch some sounds from the talented Exenia. She’s a westie and a wonderful singer, a combination which lends itself quite naturally to enjoyable afternoons of dancing to live music somewhere in the snugglier parts of coffee shops. It was also a wonderful reminder of how lucky I am to live here amongst all of these driven, talented people. People from across the globe come to New York to make it, or die trying, and I’m so incredibly blessed to know a few of them.

A few songs later, I headed back out into the world and off to Queens with Mandy for another dose of the deliciousness that is Flushing Chinese food. We loaded up on 麻辣香锅 and 生煎包 and settled in to fill our bellies with savoury heaven. We tried to balance it with some ice Gong Cha tea, but even then we still found ourselves slumped in our seats trying desperately to digest before we tried to walk back to the train. Some time later, having conversed and digested sufficiently, we then climbed back on the 7 train with styrofoam containers of spicy heaven and settled in for the long ride home.

When I finally got back to my apartment, I made a pot of herbal tea, popped in a pair of toe spacers and settled in to read the rest of the night away. I was even relatively sensible. I put my computer away around 10pm, put my book away around 11pm, and woke up this morning exhausted. I cannot even begin to understand, let alone explain.

Now I’m lounging in bed after a fabulous class with my favourite local yoga teacher. He’s glamorous, he’s gay, he’s a dancer, and he does accents. He’s basically perfect, oh and also a very skilled yogi with fantastic flow. So for now I’m marching ever onwards and hopefully heading soon to bed.

Strangely sleepy,
The Salsa Girl


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