I really had wanted to write you all yesterday. I had everything outlined and ready to go and then I got sick. So sick that my day went something like this: work, errand for work, bed. And then I slept for about 13 hours. You’ll be pleased to note that I feel much better today, my stomach has ceased its screaming distended pain and has even decided to accept food again. It’s really the small things in life that make a person happy.
Now you may ask why I spent my Monday suffering so richly, but that is a story for Sunday and now it is time to take you back to Tuesday.
Tuesday really would have been an unremarkable day of work and reading but it also contained my lunch hour. A lunch hour which was spent at the Department of Education getting all the paperwork put together for a background check. Yes, I’ve decided to get more involved in my community and that necessitated a background check, a background check that took over an hour to initiate. I arrived, queued, received initial direction, queued, was checked into the system, queued, and then finally got to the business bit. They took three picture of me. Far away, close up, and without glasses before subjecting me to an unexpectedly dehumanizing round of fingerprinting.
I’ve been fingerprinted before but nothing like this. This was a grumpy old Slavic man who spoke in minimalist monosyllables and felt it was easier to man-handle my hands than explain to me what was needed. First fingers together, pinched tightly and smushed onto the digital fingerprinting pad. Then thumbs. Then each finger individually followed by another round of each finger rolled side to side and front to back. Each finger was restrained forcibly and smushed slowly over the pad. I have never liked the feeling of having my fingers handled, but this was absolutely the worst! I think my fingerprinting technician must have trained with the FBI. Either that or he enjoyed making people feel powerless and mildly violated. Of course, there is also the possibility that I’m just overly sensitive to having my hands handled.
The following day my lunch was spent much more pleasantly at a data science talk exploring the economics and other dynamics of crowdsourced labour platforms like Mechanical Turk. It was far more interesting than fingerprinting and ostensibly work related which always helps alleviate the guilt associated with taking an actual hour long lunch. Let’s not talk about what that says about me as a person.
Directly after work, I scooted off to my chiropractor before returning home for a tidy read and feed pre-dance. Yup, it was Wednesday, and Wednesday means dance! First Karel, then westie. Karel’s class is like crack for me. It wears me out completely and I love it! Every. Time. This time, however, was extra special as the proceeds from the class (and from donations via the class live stream) were being sent to Mexico to help with earthquake recovery efforts. So we danced our hearts and our lungs out and the feisty little Mexican who lead us inspired us all the more with her generous decision to donate what would normally have been her profit to help her home country face the devastation.
Between hurricane ravaged Puerto Rico and earthquake shattered Mexico, it’s been a rough time for the salsa community. Everyone has a friend or a family member or a childhood home in at least one of the two and, especially with poor devastated Puerto Rico, one feels so helpless. So we dance and we donate and we hope that the places and people we love will make it out the other side, not unscathed but having recovered stronger and wiser.
Soaked in sweat from the salsa, I then walked a few blocks down to the westie social. As per usual, I slipped quickly into the washroom to dry off, change clothes, and apply a bit of makeup, but unlike usual, I apparently did not succeed in hiding my prior entertainment. Several people mentioned that I looked a bit exhausted. Perhaps I hadn’t eaten enough? Either way it was a bit of a divergence from the post-Salsa westie feedback I normally receive, so perhaps I need a better dry shampoo and some bronzer for my increasingly pallid skin. Or perhaps I’ll just get used to looking tired.
Thursday saw me slipping out of work and off to another talk at the Center for Data Science. They have a wonderful NLP series called “Text as Data” which I try to catch whenever I can. This one was an exploration of skeptical tone in audio recordings of Justices of the Supreme Courts and how that does or does not correlate with their votes. It’s always a sign of an interesting topic when the local academic royalty get all frothed up in the Q&A period. That their froth had so much to do with skepticism about methods did not reduce the fascinating nature of the conversation.
Leaving the talk as humbled and thoughtful as such talks always leave me, I decided that I would make the most of a sunny September day and walk home. It was a wonderful half hour long stroll across Washington Square and on down through Soho to my humble home on the Lower East Side. I sometimes forget how immediate and substantial the mental health benefits of a walk in the sun are. I really shouldn’t.
As the week rolled through Friday and into the weekend, it was time to get started on errands. I headed to Duane Reed to pick up some hand soap and conditioner and ended up being sucked into that dangerous vortex that is the hair and cosmetics section of a pharmacy. There were even sales! And shampoos that promised to ameliorate my horrible hair fall-out situation! And so I left sometime later with $30 worth of goop and promises. This is why I can’t let myself anywhere near the makeup aisle.
With freshly painted toe nails and keratin treated hair, I then headed into Chelsea for dance. I stopped for a dollar slice on the way in and soon found myself at salsa, about an hour too early. While reading my novel and waiting for the music, I ran into a westie friend who was at the studio for a blues event. I always feel a certain wry amusement when people who know me from places other than salsa see me at salsa. They almost never recognize me without at least a second take or two. When the beginner lesson finally wrapped up, the music started and I began with about four really excellent salsas. And then that was about it.
The salsa room was quiet all night with less than a dozen people in the room at any given time but I’d paid my $10 so I wasn’t about to just bail out and go home. I did the unthinkable. I went to the bachata room and I actually stayed there for almost an hour. Even stranger, I enjoyed it! It’s been a long time since I have danced more than an incidental bachata and often such incidental bachatas have ended only in the awkwardness of disentangling from too amorous an embrace. This was quite something else! It was bachata as a dance and only a dance with no expectations of extramural activities as a result of even the snuggliest of dances. As a bonus, one of my partners even ended a dance by telling me how much he enjoyed my height. A rarity indeed.
Sometime later I left, sticky and exhausted to find a train home. I may have taken a small detour to pick up a slice (or two) of Williamsburg Pizza. It’s just so darn good!
The following morning saw me slowly seeping into the day. I started with coffee at home followed by a smoothie on my way to a friend’s flat for a day of dance. There was a video west coast swing intensive available for one weekend only so we decided to try to make the most of it. 5.5 exhausting hours later, I was peeling myself off the floor before I became a part of it and heading back home to change and attempt to find some energy before the rest of my evening kicked off. With a new suit of clothes and a fresh coat of paint, I headed down to Little Italy to meet a few more westies at the crowded San Gennaro festival. We threaded our way through the crowds and eventually found a restaurant where the rotund host assured us he would have space for us in just five minutes. We then watched as he shamelessly signalled on of his servers to kick a chatting couple out of their seats to make room for us. One does not sit around chatting after the cheque during San Gennaro.
The food was passable but the company was wonderful. We had fantastic chats over mediocre sangria before trotting off into Midtown to dance.
When we arrived, the dance was quiet, but since we arrived at the same time as another dinner group, we took the room almost immediately from empty to party. As an added bonus, one of my favourite ballroom dancers who dabbles in westie was back after a bit of a lengthy absence. We may have snuck over into the latin room for a bit of salsa and bachata. And he’d brought along a Californian friend! It ended up being an excellent night and I even got up the courage to ask Arjay Centeno for a dance. I’m not sure how it felt from his end, but I think I survived alright. You see I’m going through another bit of a dance challenge. Having finally crawled out of Novice with my diligently vanilla dancing, I’m now in a new division and I’ve got to attempt to reinsert a little bit of my musicality and personality (read: craziness) without completely mutilating my technique. It’s going to be a bit of an adventure.
After the last song played, I headed to the F train with a friend who needed a D. Neither train elected to show itself for what felt like at least half an hour (I didn’t check the time, I do not know for sure) but I didn’t mind all that much as I was deep in conversation with aforementioned friend. I don’t often have actual conversations with my dancer friends, or at least not conversations about things outside of dance, and it’s always pleasant to actually get to know the lives and thoughts of people that I know by rhythm and feel alone.
When I did finally make it home, I read until I passed out into dreamless sleep sometime around 2:30am, which rather explains why I was so startled to find myself awake and feeling surprising alive at 9am on Sunday. Internal clocks are such fickle things but mine seems very committed to 9am wake up calls—a torture on both weekends and weekdays. I will someday train it to behave better, but if anyone has any tips I’ll be very happy to take them.
As is typical of my Sundays, I did laundry and cleaned. This time, my cleaning project was a very thorough go at my room. It’s so easy to just let the dust bunnies flourish under the bed, but I doubt it helps my asthma so I evacuated them all into the dustbin before moving on to tidying all the surfaces which inevitably become repositories for anything in my hands which I’d rather not be there. And then I sat down to read and had a sleep instead. I do enjoy these accidental naps of adulthood. They are scary if you’re on a schedule, but on an average Sunday, an accidental nap is pure delight.
Post-nap, I headed out into the world to find some food. It was tamale time! I grabbed three to-go and bounced off to my favourite little local park to eat, read, and soak in the sun. For a girl who’d never had a tamale until just under a year ago, I’ve developed an impressive craving for them, especially now that I’ve found the amazing tamale shop in my neighbourhood. A chapter and a meal later, I wandered out of the park and found myself at another gustatory guilty pleasure: Doughnut Plant. They really do make spectacular doughnuts and besides, I was starting to get a caffeine headache. So I stocked up on doughnuts and coffee before returning to my apartment to continue my lazy day trajectory of reading and sleeping.
Sometime later, I made my way to a J and headed out to Bedstuy for some much needed yoga, at sunset no less. The one and only Jes Ann was teaching a sunset yoga flow on the roof of her building to be followed my champagne. Even if I didn’t love yoga, she’d’ve had me at sunset and champagne. It was spectacular. The sunset was gorgeous, the flow was powerful and serene, I got my wheel pose back into shape, and the company was excellent.
After the champagne and a slight dissipation of the group, three of us ladies remained enjoying a bit of a natter and a whole lot of Indian take-out. At the time, both were fantastic, though later that night I would find that the Indian food was a bit of a snake in the grass. I am endlessly impressed by the people in my life right now. The courage and the realness of them, all hustling their asses off in this big bad old city. I am inspired by them and yet still comfortable with them, I fit. When I was first moving here, a friend who’d lived in the city for years told me that it would suit me to the ground, and it really, really does. I could not be more grateful.
But let us return to the exciting Indian saga. Yes, after a restorative evening of yoga and conversation, I would wake up at 2am in absolutely searing agony with a distended and painful stomach. I wanted to be sick but could not. I wanted to be asleep but could not. When I dragged my drum tight body out of bed in the morning, I finally found that I could evacuate some of the evil, but I would spend the rest of the day possessed of a painful and gurgling stomach and the very least cooperative of digestive passages. When all you can stomach is toast and apples, you might have a problem.
When I finally got home from work and its associated errands, I opened my laptop only to pass out beside it. And thus, I am blogging today. I spent my day in work feeling a bit delicate but ever so much better than the day before, and the evening at my first session of literacy tutoring. It has been a long time since I was last involved in a reading program and I had nearly forgotten how completely engrossing it can be. An hour and fifteen evaporated in no time at all and then I was off home to put some food in my stomach and start tapping away on this little missive for you all. And now I’m here at the end of the blog, eyeing my pillow enviously, and trying to sort out a way to wrap this all up. Perhaps with a tantalizing hint that I have new dance shoes and they are delicious!
Headed for bed,
The Salsa Girl