It’s a Second Alternate Life

Another week, another late blog. It turns out that when work gets busy, it gets very difficult to talk myself into sitting down for another hour or two of writing after a full day of emails and articles and exhaustion. So here we are on a Tuesday again, late in the evening, trying to cobble together some semblance of a narrative. I wish I could say I was at least well rested, but who are we kidding, I’ve just come back from a dance weekend.

Yes, this past weekend was spent up in the Boston Metropolitan Area dancing my giant paws off. I’ve still never actually been to Boston, but I’m an old Framingham hand at this point. I suppose the more suburban hotels are cheaper, but I really wish they’d put the events a little more proximal to transit links. I was able to snag a lift home with some of the NYC crew, but unfortunately our schedules didn’t line up on the way up so I found myself on the bus again. I don’t mind the bus, but I’m not all that enthusiastic a fan of being dumped out at a shopping centre nearly 10 miles from the venue with no hope of public transit. Thanks heavens for benevolent friends with vehicular devices.

But allow me to a bit of a tease and say, we’ll get back to that bit shortly. For now, I’ve got to catch up on a whole week of other shenanigans.

On Wednesday I delivered my shamefully crippled right shoulder into the care of my chiropractor who snapped and popped all manner of joints in an effort to render me mobile. It seemed to work at the time but given how I spent my weekend, I suspect that the underlying issue remains. Nonetheless, it was enough to get me off the table and straight out into the madness of Midtown. Google did a sneaky naughty thing where they bribed me with free perks. I did not need another reusable bag, or a mousepad, but it was free! And decorated with adorable little Korean cartoon animals and best of all, it was a reward for my contributions to Google Local Guides. I do love rewards. And so I found myself standing in a queue in a ridiculously kitschy store right in the middle of Times Square for a mousepad and a cloth bag. It’s worth noting that 90% of the line was composed of Google Local Guides scrounging about for their free perks. Proof that gamification gets people in the door, but sadly for the shop, no evidence that gamification had any impact on anyone’s inclination to actually make a purchase.

Lugging along two bags of dance gear, work, and now free swag, I then settled into a Dunkin Donuts where the hot chocolate is dirt cheap and the outlets work as well as anywhere else. When you’re about to spend your interstitial time between errands and dinner editing papers for work and both your phone and your laptop are dying, the primary concern is not quality of food, but proximity to upcoming obligations and availability of outlets and tables.

One journal paper later, I packed up my baggage and headed next door to meet my visiting Aunt and Uncle in the unexpectedly spacious Pio Pio 8. At first glance it looks like any other narrow New York restaurant packed to the gills with tables and servers, but then you reach the back of the restaurant, and wait, there’s more! Two flights of stairs down you find yourself in a veritable warehouse with absurdly high ceilings and a field of tables covered in delicious Peruvian food. Over a bottle of wine and a mountain of food, we caught up on all the latest from my adventures and theirs. They were in the city for the hockey play-offs and so were schlepping all over seeing the sights and finding the arenas. It was lovely to catch up and the food wasn’t half bad either.

Several hours of consumption and conversation later, I strolled a few blocks south east to my usual Wednesday haunt to dance the night away.

Following my usual Thursday tutoring, I made a quick trip to Trader Joe’s to stop up on granola bars for the weekend before heading back to the office. Yup. Back to work. I softened the blow of another few hours of work with beer, cookies, and a burrito. It almost made me feel better about being in the office at 9pm. Almost. Having gotten a bit of a toehold in my work, I headed home to pack a dance bag and try to get some sleep before the whole crazy weekend kicked off.

Less than 24 hours later I was on the bus to Framingham, trying to cram in a few more moments of sleep before diving into the madness of a dance weekend. I arrived at the hotel by 11:30pm, just in time to catch some shows and fall head first into a night of social dancing. Last event, I was sort of dying a little bit, and the time before that I was very VERY focussed on getting out of Novice so I haven’t done a dance all night thing in a good long time. I remedied that this time. Friday night I was in the ballroom until almost 6am while on Saturday we stayed out all the way until breakfast. Needless to say, we did not catch an overabundance of workshops, but I did compete and I wasn’t last! It was my first go at Intermediate and I managed to snag second alternate which means that, out of 37 followers, I was 13th. I’ll take it. But only on the understanding that next time I must do better—or have lots of good excuses.

I might not have learned as much as I might have wanted to for the cost of the pass, but the social dancing was spectacular and the company was even better. I had one of the best darn crews of roomies ever. We ate takeout sitting on the hotel floor, stayed out until hotel breakfast, gossiped our hearts out, and screamed like fools for all the competitions and shows. That my voice was cracking and dying today is only testament to how much much of a love fest this weekend was.

Come Sunday, it was time to see if two followers had managed to break their ankles. You see, this is the second alternate life: you are forced to pray for scratches in order to enable your own participation. I’ve seen it happen once or twice, but so seldom that it also comes with a uniform: pretty and tidy, but a touch more casual and definitely more comfortable. The goal is to look like you had no illusions and definitely didn’t take out any of the folks who actually made finals.

Not surprisingly, I did not get to dance so I headed back to the room, packed my gear, and snagged a lift with another wonderful crew of dance people. We chatted and drove and eventually stopped for dinner at a rest stop. I got a healthy sandwich and then lost all self control. There was a McDonalds and I wanted a milkshake. A small strawberry milkshake to be precise. One of my road trip compatriots was similarly inclined so we joined the queue, waited our turn, and discovered that there was no ice-cream to be found! Devastation does not even begin to describe. We were forced to settle for convenience store ice-cream sandwiches and coffee. It was not an adequate replacement.

After making it back to the city, I grabbed a couple slices of Williamsburg pizza and crashed straight into bed.

Monday was another busy day at work followed by an equally busy evening, which is why you all didn’t get a blog. I attended a talk about US-China relations, twisted myself into an hour and a half of yoga, grabbed a warm, hearty bowl of beef don, and headed to Mandy’s for food, beer, and all the post-dance-weekend processing. It was a lovely way to spend an evening, but I probably shouldn’t have stayed out quite so late. This morning was a challenge.

In my defence I did wake up at 7am but after 15 minutes standing in the bathroom with the hot tap on, the shower was still icy and I was out of time to wait. So I did a cursory ice wash and headed to the train. The MTA service alerts said that the F line had good service but 20 minutes later there was still no train. The website still said all was well, when the PA finally came on to tell us that the nearest Brooklyn bound F was at West 4th. There’s nothing like starting your day with an ice-cold shower and a half hour train delay, especially not when you’re about to spend your day in the delightful high stress environment of T-1 day to grant submission.

I stepped out briefly around 4:30 to do battle with my literacy student. He was having one of those days where reading just seemed like too big an ask and staring off into space was a much more enjoyable activity. By 6pm however, we’d conquered our day’s lessons and I was back to the office. When I left at 8:30pm, I was fairly convinced that the grant was good to go, but we’ll see how right I was(n’t) come tomorrow morning.

I still have a mountain of laundry to do but at least I managed to put together some meal prep so I might make it through the week after all…just in time to do it all over again next weekend in DC where I have every ambition of leaving behind the second alternate life.

Still dancing,
The Salsa Girl


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