In Which the Cold Bites Back

Just when I thought it was finally getting warm again, we’ve taken a dive back into the negatives and I’ve managed to recover my Canadian toughness–sort of. I mean I’m still whining considerably but I’m not shaking like a leaf every time I step out the door, so progress. But since I’m only starting this at 9:30pm, I had best keep the niceties to a minimum and get straight into the meaty bits lest I end up passed out on my keyboard instead.

Last Tuesday, I was all sorts of adult and finally had an annual physical. I mean, I say annual but I basically mean decennial because the last time I had a physical was when I was headed off to China in 2010 and the PRC wouldn’t let me in unless a doctor had certified that I was not only healthy but also sane. It was a good time. It’s possible that I ought to take better preventative care of myself, a fact that is always agonizingly dragged across my view every time I talk to a doctor, but as someone who spends entirely too much money on medical care for her one and only winner of a chronic disease (yeah, that’s the asthma) and who prides herself on being fairly healthy, very tough, and relatively independent from the myriad of medications that we don’t really need most of the time, I just haven’t felt the need. I’ll be terribly embarrassed if it turns out that I have had a lingering health issue, but I’ll be ignoring that possibility right up until the moment my test results come in.

On Wednesday, I decided to undo all that adulting and deal with a tough day at work in the only way possible. If you guessed food, you’re right, and don’t worry, if you guessed alcohol you’re also right. Yes, Patrick and I went out on the town to eat savoury crepes and decadent chocolate, all before dance. We had intended to take in some chicken and waffles but alas my preferred venue for such things is having a kitchen gas issue and is limited to tacos, so we went to The Creperie instead. It was entirely acceptable but mostly just made me miss the crepes I used to eat entirely too often at UCD. They were heaven of the highest order.

Once we’d ostensibly eaten dinner, we shuffled over through the cold to Cocoa Bar, another one of my favourite haunts on the LES. It’s so decadent it almost hurts and they’ve got alcoholic hot chocolate so really, what more could you ask for? Patrick had one of their heavenly cassis cakes and a ginger hot chocolate that was even more delicious than it sounds while I ate an orange and dark chocolate bonbon alongside a French hot chocolate, which is to say a mug of melted chocolate, port wine, and god only knows what other delicious liquids but suffice to say that it was rich, complex, and completely enveloping which was exactly what my frazzled nerves were looking for. And thus, we came to find ourselves at Westie Cafe almost human in spite of our respectively insane work days. The small miracles of dark chocolate and good company never cease to amaze.

The following day it was time to drag my endlessly crippled mess of a thoracic/cervical spine to the chiropractor. I really wish that I wasn’t such a broken beast but apparently my shoulders just don’t like to oblige and spending all day everyday in front of a computer hardly helps. Despite the cold and the cranky shoulders, I did manage to spot the most excellent piece of guerrilla art in the 2nd Ave subway. I would try to describe but I’ll never do it justice so I refer you to the below and posit that you could show that image to almost any New Yorker be met with some form of rueful agreement.

The subways have gotten terribly shameful of late and I want to love them, but you can only spend so long sitting in tunnels and waiting on delayed trains before you start to quietly loathe the long suffering MTA, especially when they start bandying around the idea of shutting down the trains on weeknights for maintenance. I’ll concede that it would help the maintenance but as an irresponsible creature who loves her late night Wednesdays, not having a 1am train would be murder. I guess we shall just have to wait and see.

When I finally stumbled my sorry self into Friday, I was greeted by such a mountain of work that I could have cried. Instead I stayed an extra hour at work and then brought the work home with me. I mixed a smattering of work with some food and a few stand up shows and by 7:40pm was chomping at the bit to be free. So continuing my flounder towards adulthood, I decided to be responsible and schlep my ever expanding clothing donation pile to Goodwill with only a little, itty, bitty, tiny stop at The Strand, I mean it’s so close to the Goodwill shop that is only one stop further than the nearest Goodwill…

It was a positively frigid night and I did mope a bit while hauling my bulging bag of clothing down the streets around Union Square but once I deposited my burden and rocked up at The Strand, my Northern Canadian resilience reappeared in full force. We will not discuss how little body heat was left to me by the time I finished pawing through every single dollar cart, but perhaps it will be enough to say that it was over 30 minutes of bending and squatting and flipping through books outside in below zero temperatures? Either way, between that and my further 20 minutes or so inside, I managed to walk out 12 books richer and only $17 poorer. I’d call it a good trade, and to be honest, I don’t mind a bit that they are all used and mostly quite battered. I shall read them and love them until their bindings break and their covers fall off and I feel like a far better environmentalist when I adopt books that would otherwise have been binned rather than driving a whole new print run.

Around 9:30pm, buoyed by my bundle of new books, I wandered home to do a bit more work before dumping my tired head into bed. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this lately but it’s grant writing season which means that my entire work life is one big ball of stress, deadlines, and scribbling. It’s a delight.

As redemption for my indulgent book spree of the night before, I started my Saturday in surprisingly good form. I woke up, worked for a bit and then bounded off to broga. Yes, the Brogi was back and he was inspired. I’m never quite sure how I feel about a yoga class in which the teacher says things like “I’m seeing a lot of shaking out there, come on you babies!” but I do love his big bold aggressive vinyasas. The transitions feel so powerful and exciting (sometimes scary) and you always leave feeling properly worked out. I was also particularly smug on account of some very successful yogi squats and chaturangas, until my right shoulder poked its nose in and informed me that I could kindly go f**k myself if I intended to do any more. But I shall forgive my shoulder because it held out well enough to allow me the most flattering observation possible in a fitness class. Yes, the instructor kept looking at me, and then deciding he needed to make it harder. I won’t say I’m competitive, but gosh darn, do I ever like to set the pace.

After an hour and a half of sweat, the ball of jelly that left yoga made her way home to work, clean, and do laundry. I’ll have you know that I left the apartment spotless and even washed my sheets and towels. I know, right? So adult. Somewhere around evening, I decided that I’d done my bit on the grant writing for the day and set out into the frigid night to find food. I returned shortly thereafter with a bag of all the best North Dumpling treats and settled in to turn myself from grant-writing-housework-goblin into perky, vivacious dancer girl. I’m not sure of my degree of success but I was soon at Gotham Swing feeling very much at a loss as I realized how much I rely on my little posse, none of whom were present that evening. Instead I circulated and chatted with those of my dancer friends that were present and even did a little bit of dancing. Apparently the broga hadn’t completely destroyed me either as I managed to pull off several sets of multiple one foot spins of four or more revolutions (salsa people, keep your opinions to yourself, it’s harder in westie) and even managed one in attitude!

After the dance party had wound down, I had intended to head home and get some rest before another long day of trying to mix fun with work, but that was not to be. No, somehow we ended up roaming through Manhattan to the college-iest of college bars. There was a beer pong table, a karaoke room, giant game sets, and screens absolutely everywhere. It was a bit overwhelming but there was free popcorn and good people so I endured the overstimulation and chatted the night away. Jim and I managed to win a round of giant Connect 4 despite my negligence, but this shakey handed and sound sensitive soul did not participate in the round of giant jenga, which followed. Instead I stuck inexorably picking my way through bowl after bowl of free popcorn. When we finally made it to the trains around 3am, the operative word was definitely exhausted.

I had set my alarm for noon on Sunday but my delightfully nervous and light sensitive brain decided that 9:30am was a far better time to drift up from the depths of sleep and when it saw the mountain of work emails piling into my inbox while checking the time on my phone, no amount of coaxing and soothing could put it back to sleep. So by 9:45 I was fumbling towards the coffee pot and preparing to work. Because I have trust issues with the trains, I only worked at home for about an hour before heading into Midtown to the faithful Tisserie. They make good chai and good pastries and they’re only a five minute walk to Ailey which means that I’m unlikely to end up panic sprinting from an ill tempered train to my beloved Sunday contemporary class.

This week we had a substitute again but this time she was a latin dancer with all of the energy. We did sautes in our warm up and the mantra for the combo that followed was “Travel! Use your space! Travel!” It was also very jazz inflected which meant that this poor silly salsera-cum-contemporary-novice was a giant tangle of way too mobile hips and tangled limbs for far too much of the time. I am apparently, not very jazzy. I shall have to work on that.

After class we dropped by our trusty subway-side food court for arepas before Jessie and I headed back down towards 34th to do a bit of dress shopping. Now I’m a sucker for absurdly fancy dresses but I seldom have the disposable income or the occasion to justify a purchase, so I was only too delighted to accompany Jessie on her search for an outfit for old money New Orleans Mardi Gras parties. Despite the pouring rain, we managed to paw over all the shelves in Nordstrom, Social Apparel, and Macy’s before finally making or way back to Nordstrom to pick up the very prettiest of them all. It was black and sequinned and backless and absolutely stunning. I only wish that I had an excuse to buy something similar some 8-10 sizes larger.

When I finally made it home, soaked to the skin, but holding a box of delicious take away kottu, it was time to pour myself some dark n stormy, open up the take out, and settle in for another few hours of grant writing. I know, I live such an exciting life. I tell myself that this will end when we get out the other side of this month’s deadlines but that might be overly optimistic.

And finally we’ve made it: all the way back around to today and I’m still upright, though only barely. It’s been a very long day. Work was that particular breed of day-before-a-major-deadline hell that I should probably still be working on, but I begged out of the office on time on account of volunteering obligations and just haven’t made it back to my work laptop since. You see my reading student has been out sick for two weeks so we’ve sort of lost our groove and today was way more exhausting than usual as I worked to rebuild our routine and keep us on track. He’s a good kid, but he’s a kid and honestly a lot of the adults I know have similar difficulty focussing on things which are hard for them after a whole day of work or school. So it was a bit of a demanding session after which I dragged my sorry self into the city for yoga. I nearly skipped it with the excuse of being tired and busy and still sore from broga, but I’m glad I didn’t. It was a really lovely class with the inimitable Hunt Parr and I managed to pull off a reasonably decent rendition of a half chair ankle to knee pose with a twist and full arm extension. I think eventually it probably turns into a bind but my burning stabilizer muscles can attest that the extension was enough for one night. Which brings us back to me now, lounging in bed, typing away and eating entirely too much hummus. I might have an addiction but shhhh, it’s healthy!

Burning the candle from every angle,
The Salsa Girl

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