In Which There is Too Much Life to Drown In

So you may have noticed that this blog is VERY late. I wish it wasn’t but this is the first time I’ve stopped moving for more than a minute or two for anything other than sleep since Monday morning. I’m not confident that it’s going to magically turn around, but I do have to point out that the last grant in the most recent stream of NSF hell just went in so we might be able to breathe for at least a minute or two. The proof will be in the pudding.

Of course you know what consumes most of my days, let’s get to what has been consuming my nights and roll it back to last Tuesday.

Yes, last Tuesday saw me schlepping out of work and into Manhattan to catch another excellent event at NYU’s Center on Race, Inequality, and The Law. I never fail to be impressed by their events and this one was no exception. It was a panel discussion with three fantastically intelligent, passionate, and experienced women. They discussed the intersection of race, law, sociology, and neuroscience and it was just spectacular. I always feel so grateful to have the chance to listen to brilliant people who really care about our world say their piece and I am delighted to have another such talk on my calendar for tomorrow. It is possible that I have only myself to blame for my exhaustion, but for these conversations, it’s worth it.

On Wednesday, I caught an unCommon Salon at the Library where they discussed the history of Suffragents, those few men who stood beside the suffragettes in demanding the vote and who provided both monetary and social support that was doubtless a boon to the women leading the charge. If this speaker is to be believed, and I rather think she was, these fellows showed true allyship, providing as much help as they could but never demanding the limelight or taking over the cause, just offering assistance and support where ever they were able. It was a rather idyllic story.

After the salon, I changed, grabbed my dance kit, and headed into Midtown. I was bound for westie via Karel’s class. It did not disappoint. I mean, I’m sure I look like a wounded animal most of the time, but I kept up and it felt nice, regardless how it looked. I don’t know how I’ve managed to dance this many years and still look so darn awkward most of the time. I shall consider it a gift. By the time I got to westie, however, my body was shot. before the clock even struck midnight I was camped out on a bench massaging a pair of very grumpy ankles. It turns out that spending the better part of an hour and a half on relevé followed by several hours of rolling through every bit of your foot on every step, is not exactly a recipe for happy ankles. But I deal.

The following day, I decided to keep my flow going and attended a talk about the new drone initiatives in central New York. The talk itself was interesting but not particularly relevant to me, but the questions were great. I’ll concede that they still weren’t exactly relevant to what I do, but they were interesting and again, they were the words of very passionate people which just somehow makes it all much more compelling.

And then, finally, it was Friday. I bounded out of work, only a little bit late, and raced uptown to the Red Cross. I’ve donated blood more than half a dozen times in three countries over about 4 years and thus far, it’s been utterly unremarkable. Every time I go in, I answer the questions, they pop in the needle, and 6-8 minutes later I’ve bled a pint and it’s time for cookies and juice. This would not be such an unremarkable adventure.

No, instead this would leave me nearly beside myself and ready to scream or cry or god only knows what. You see, everything went exactly as per usual until they got the needle in. The phlebotomist who had done so was looking rather concerned so I asked and she said that it just wasn’t filling very fast which I thought was odd because I normally bleed like a stuck pig, but she stuck the tape on and walked away so I presumed it was all well and good. Mere moments later, a more senior phlebotomist came to my side, she made me move closer to the arm rest, uncross my feet, and endure some 5 tortured minutes of needle negotiation. Yes, she slid it all the way in, she took it almost all the way out, she put it in half way and pressed on the skin above it, wiggled it a bit, pushed it up and down at various angles, strapped my arm in constriction bands, and didn’t seem to be finding any improvements. Now that would have been distressing enough all on its own, but I normally bleed easily. So there I was, my ferociously independent self who hates to feel trapped, pinned down on a table terrified that my circulatory system was somehow in distress, while a woman poked and prodded a needle all up and down the main vein in my elbow. And just when I was ready to demand that they just take it out and let me go, the 2nd phlebotomist found the problem: the tubing was kinked. Six minutes later, I was eating cookies and drinking juice trying to find my composure. What a lot of unnecessary cortisol, though I do have a magnificently bruised arm as a souvenir.

My racing heart and I were not yet done for the night. I contemplated cancelling everything and going home to mope, but that seemed like a waste of a Friday night and I’m dabbling in the whole internet dating thing, so every evening unoccupied by work or dance is a precious commodity to be portioned out to interesting potentials. In this case it was a hedge fund manager with excellent taste in hot chocolate. We went to the most excellent Mariebelle where the server brought us no less than three samples of hot chocolate. One when we first arrived, one when he brought out the menus, and one while we waited for our order. All were delicious, but I have to say that the variety I ended up ordering really was my favourite. It was a cardamom infused option that made the most of a cocoa (rather than melted chocolate) base to offer intensity, richness, and just the right touch of warm, exotic spice. It was heavenly and the conversation wasn’t half bad either. I can never complain about dates that introduce me to new vices.

Saturday morning, I rolled my sorry butt out of bed and attempted life admin. It was a partial success. The broga that followed, on the other hand, was at once terribly successful, and successfully terrible. It was a very full on class with the first flow consisting of us spending about 70% of the fltime standing on the same one leg and ended with crow pose. It was intense and it was to be followed by a second flow which involved no less than three arm balances in rapid succession. It was exhilarating and satisfying and nearly broke me. Apparently my blood volume was insufficient for such a strenuous adventure, however, because when I stood up at the end of the class I found myself swimming through suspiciously thick bokeh on my way to my bag. I managed to stay upright but I suspect that had I not had a rolled up mat to lean heavily upon, I might not have been so lucky, and I don’t faint easily.

After yoga, it was time to counteract all that healthful exercise with a trip out to White Plains for games, chats, and all the homemade pie. Jessie made us a key lime and a sugar pie, which can be described only as decadent. That we somehow also had room for cookies and meringues will remain an enigma to me, perhaps forever. We lounged about in our food comas for a few hours before ending the evening with Wise and Otherwise which is a game so much to my taste that I cannot believe I am only just discovering it. You get to make up the ending to folk sayings! It’s great craic.

And then it was Sunday. I started my morning with laundry, piled on a coffee date, and then headed off to contemporary. Yes, I’m sampling widely, but this one lacked chemistry so I decided to be brave and just say it straight up. Alarmingly, we can all be adults once we make our late 20s and it was as amicable as can be which left me in a very decent headspace for conquering contemporary. We had a substitute teacher again and much as she was wonderful, the class was killer! Bonus points, I’d forgotten to wear contacts so I was stumbling blind and imbalanced through it all. I have had better dance days for certain. Post dance, we grabbed some vegan eats and headed to the cinema to catch Black Panther. I cannot say enough good things about it. It’s humane and beautiful and horrible all in one and the lead villain is so painfully, beautifully comprehensible, I loved it. I also cried through the entire second half. Apparently, I’m in touch with my emotions.

Of course a movie like that needs a debrief, so we took ourselves down to a rather unassuming little cafe called Bar Boulud where we found delicious quiche and fabulous French desserts. It was one of those delightful little lucky finds that you almost don’t give a chance but which end up being amazing.

And then it was Monday and I was diving into another wild week of work. I also got to start my week with a monstrous negotiating workshop which brought out the worst in folks but didn’t manage time well enough to break the behaviour down afterwards and show how being an asshole in negotiation really doesn’t work for you. I ended up with shaky emotion voice and rage while the facilitator made me explain why I had -100 points. Because I’m so classy, my only answer was “I refuse to screw people over”. So that went well.

Monday evening, I read with my tutee who is now unfortunately having a medication issue. We’re both struggling but it’s worse for him because it’s him who is missing out on the chance to learn and practice his literacy skills. I only wish I was gifted enough as a teacher to get us through it quickly and gracefully. Maybe someday. Finally after all the trials and tribulations of the day, it was time for yoga and good god did I ever need it. My poor hips and hamstrings remain a tangled mess, but my head is in a much better way.

Tuesday saw me in constant motion as I worked right up until the moment I had to leave for my optometrist appointment, which I followed up immediately with a panel session on urban digital humanities, and my third date in nearly as few days. This one was in a dark basement bar with imported beers. I’m meeting all manner of interesting people, but I certainly seem to attract the folks in finance. The jury is still out.

And that about brings us to today where I am frantically typing this out before running off to westie cafe. The last NSF grant of the current batch went in today, my tutee and I had a relatively rough session featuring tears and shouting (both from my usually very amenable little tutee), and I patched myself all up with pastries and a promise of dance. I can only hope next week will be better. But now I must away to the train before the F switches to the A and getting to dance becomes impossible.

Still dog paddling desperately,
The Salsa Girl


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