In Which the Withdrawal Wears On

It’s been nine days since my last cup of coffee, 5 since my last cup of caffeinated tea, and I am still suffering mightily. I mean it’s possible that I’m just going through a bad bout of migraines, but the co-occurrence is too tight and I think I must admit that this withdrawal is hitting me long and hard. I can only pray it ends soon as I sip my herbal tea and ride out the migraines. Predictably enough, this week has not been the most exciting as I have fended off various delightful and exciting symptoms of my journey to liberty from my insidious caffeine addiction. Remind me of this next time you see my on my fifth cup coffee.

On Wednesday, as I pressed through only one of many headaches, I set myself the project of roasting chickpeas. The recipe called for high heat and plenty of paprika and the result was ever so slightly crispy, smoky, reddish skins wrapped around the warm, tender chickpea insides. I added them to some whole wheat pasta with tomatoes, garlic, and all the rich wonderful olive oil. It was quite heavenly indeed. After my meal of pasta and chickpeas, I headed in to Westie Cafe to get my dance on. And the rest of the evening is perfectly predictable from there.

The following day I left work and headed North. With a stop at Grand Central Terminal to grab a curry and connect with friends, I hopped the Metro North to White Plains for practice. After quick cup of tea, we spent several productive hours working on dance before packing it in and heading upstairs for another cuppa before the train. On the way back, I utilized my clever new method of not freezing to death when returning home via Metro North late at night. Yes, rather than my classic method of taking Metro North to Grand Central Terminal to catch a 6 train to Spring St and then walk 12 minutes home, I now get off at Harlem – 125th, walk about 2 minutes to catch any green line train down to Lex – 59th where another less than 5 minute walk gets me to my beloved F train and a straight shot home. Of course the connections don’t always line up exactly right and sometimes it keeps me waiting longer, but it’s far warmer and I feel quite clever about having figured it out so I’ll probably continue until the weather finally decides to straighten up and turn to summer.

Friday was my first day with absolutely no caffeine and by god was it ever difficult. I drank cup after cup of herbal tea, hoping that hydration alone would save me from wilting, but it was not to be. Around mid afternoon, the headache started to creep in, and by the time I got home from work, I was a hot horrible headachy mess. I had all the best intentions of catching a dance technique class, but in the state I then found myself in, the only answer was a quiet night and an early sleep. I know, I’m so exciting.

But despite my boring Friday, I was to have a very busy Saturday. I rolled out of bed early enough to clean the apartment before bounding up to NYU to catch a TEDx event. The MC and the organization left rather a lot to be desired, but the speakers were spectacular. From the hands on mindfulness exercises, to stories of fighting waste and building community in our consumerist society, all the way through to a discussion of how to find fulfillment in your career, it was jam packed with goodness and aspirational stories. It was also accompanied by a delicious falafel sandwich and some knafe from Mamoun’s which was as delicious as ever.

After the talks wrapped up, I wandered up to Union Square where I drifted through the market before finding a sunny patch of bench to sit and read upon. It was a bit too cold to be entirely comfortable, but the warmth of the sun brought it near enough that I spent about an hour there devouring pages before I got too cold and decided to head out. I dropped by my apartment quickly to change and pick up my dance gear before heading up to Midtown for Gotham Swing. The evening started with three classes taught by the visiting Floridian instructors: Hugo and Stacy. They were fabulous, and I picked up a tidbit in the first of the three classes which may yet save my dance from one of its biggest deficits. After the classes, a few of us dropped down to Chipotle for a quick dinner before we headed back up to social dance.

Despite my typical shyness about asking pros to dance, with Patrick’s needling help, I managed to get a dance with Hugo and it was wonderful! He is so creative and seems to take genuine pleasure from figuring out what to do with what the follower gives him. It was a very worthwhile way to spend an evening.

Attempting to be responsible, I headed home as soon as the dance ended and flopped straight into bed. I should have had a long lovely sleep that night, but the world decided to intervene. Of course there was all the usual cacophony from the street, but what I hadn’t counted on was waking up at 5am to see someone letting themselves into my room and closing the door behind them. It’s a special kind of vulnerable, that feeling you get when you are woken up by a stranger closing themselves into your room with you. As an added bonus, this stranger was wearing only underpants, and between the darkness, my visual challenges, and the fact that I was still half asleep, I couldn’t even be sure whether it was a man or a woman.

Apparently, frightened Brittney defaults to an assertive andindignant voice. So I would first ask in a sharp, incisive tone: “Excuse me, What ARE you doing in my room?” The figure didn’t reply, merely turned to face me with its hair all covering its face and looked as it if might advance. That was when my scaring away wild animals and feral dogs voice made its appearance and I coldly and aggressively commanded: “You need to get out of here NOW.” It seemed to work as the silent figure would then turn about, open the door, and leave. As soon as my room was clear, I lunged out of bed on an adrenaline rush like none other to lock my door. There was a bit more door slamming to be heard as I lay behind my securely locked door and slowly pieced my early morning adventure back together. Until given reason to believe otherwise, I’m going to go ahead and assume that my roommate’s new girlfriend sleepwalks. I shall be locking my bedroom door a lot more in future.

As a result of my rather dramatically broken sleep, Sunday saw me waking up rather a lot later than expected: too late to do laundry, but fortunately not too late to do ballet. So I peeled myself out of bed and headed up to Ailey. I spent my first 90 minutes in absolute beginner ballet with the monstrously intimidating Finis Jhung. The class is very good and I absolutely need it, but the teacher is terrifically good at making you feel inadequate and the exercises leave my upper back and shoulders stiff as boards. I suspect this means that it’s good for my hopelessly inward rolling shoulders. After ballet, Jenny and I grabbed a lunch of sushi followed by hot drinks and halva donuts before heading back to Ailey for contemporary. Contemporary was excellent as always and left us tired and satisfied, which of course was the perfect state to brave Whole Foods in. If you haven’t been to the Whole Foods a Columbus Circle, don’t go. It’s just awful. The layout makes no sense whatsoever and the entire place is seething with carts and bodies. As soon as the grocery shoppers amongst us had made their purchases, we escaped the zoo and headed to Turnstyle for a snack.

They’ve a new vendor in Turnstyle, it’s called Daa! Dumplings and it is heaven! The dumplings were tender and tasty and they came with this marvellous tomato sauce that savoured strongly of my beloved Balkan Ajvar. I was in culinary paradise! Once we’d eaten, Patrick and I wandered about for a bit before he headed off for another dance lesson and I headed home to sleep and prepare for the week ahead.

Monday was another wonderful work day full of delightful frustrations including the opening salvos of another battle with Home Depot. Around about 3pm, I would also be gifted by my most beloved of companions, yes, another charming migraine and it was a doozy. All I wanted was to go home and sleep, but instead I had another event to attend after work and I really couldn’t miss it. It would have been a pretty cool event, but I have to admit that between the headache and the presence of a coworker who I prefer to avoid after certain liberties were taken by said individual earlier in my time at NYU, meant that I mostly just wanted to leave. So I got the information I needed, made the connections I wanted to make and then waited for my chance to flee home.

When I finally got home, I would pass out almost immediately, which is why this edition is coming to you today rather than yesterday as it should have done. Today, I spent entirely too much of my day on hold with Home Depot before out of frustration, I finally decided to just get on a train and make the 30 minutes journey down to sort them out in person. Though my coworkers all thought that I should just be harder on the phone and make them sort it out, it seemed to be an intractable computer error in the payment processing which was resolved almost immediately upon my being there in person with the card and the pin in question. And to be honest, I cannot imagine how my getting up on my angry high horse with any of them would have made any difference. I expect it would only have made everyone feel bad and lead to even poorer results as the people who had been trying to help me would likely have turned to hating me. In short, the train ride was worth it.

And now as I sit here writing to you, I’ve just heard that a friend from Canada is in town tonight only so I may yet go out and celebratory conquering of the Home Depot challenges. We can only wait and see.

The Salsa Girl


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