In Which Winter Visits New York

Visit being the operative word. Yes, we had one beautiful day of big fluffy, soft flakes floating lazily to the earth but by the following afternoon, there was nary a trace of snow to be seen. If the white Christmas map is to be believed, that’s probably the last we’ll have until January. And yes, some of you should be surprised. I’ve finally properly come around on snow. Now don’t go expecting me to love it if I’m ever responsible for removing it, but, provided that I live in a 5th floor apartment with a building manager who handles the shovelling, I’m prepared to fall quite madly in love with the romance of it. I have not however come to terms with carrying umbrellas in the snow. In 17 years of 6-8 months of snow a year, I never once saw someone face it with an umbrella, and I don’t intend to start doing so now. I do however intend to start doing a bit more sleeping because life’s been seriously exhausting of late.

Tuesday was the standard rigamarole of work and reading followed up by a nifty little bit of laziness but alas not sleep. Insomnia is such a charming thing. I especially like the part where my brain starts fighting my body and refusing to let go sufficiently to allow unconsciousness. It’s the most fun.

The following day I treated my frustrating noggin to a trip to The Strand. You’ll be very proud to note that I managed to resist pawing through every single discount book cart. I even managed to leave with only the two things I’d gone in to get. Trust me, even accounting for the 40 minutes that I entirely lost track of once inside, this counts as a win.

As a sort of concession to myself for my restraint in The Strand, I then stopped by the NYU library for a little treat. I returned one book and then bounced up immediately into the stacks to get another one. I traded the absolutely stunning Black Flower by Kim Young-Ha for Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. The former was a beautifully woven tapestry of love, politics, adventure, and mysticism, all bound up in straps of history and coloured richly with shadings of the human condition drawn from the most sensitive brush. Kim Young-Ha is like this. He writes with such clean, honest understanding of what it means to be human. To live, to die, to suffer, to love, and most of all to believe and to lose faith whether in love, religion, or politics. The previous two of his that I’d read were contemporary–nuanced and beautiful but now. This was something else entirely, resting on the edge of mythology and family saga but with such intimate, honest portraits of the human experience.

Man’s Search for Meaning, curiously enough has a similar tone. Though it steers clear of the saga, it deals tenderly and firmly with the hope and the pain inherent in living. It does not pretend that life will be great or that it will be pleasant, merely insists that it will be and it is our duty to live it as fully and truly as we can, whatever hand we’ve been dealt. I had heard that it was a powerful book but I had no notion how very powerful it was. I expect that I will be starting again from the beginning just as soon as I finish the end.

After trading one beautiful piece of literature for another, I headed home to stuff my face before making my way into dance. It was the first Wednesday sans Mandy and we all felt her absence. Have I mentioned that I miss her? It’s a funny little cosmopolitan life we all lead with friends in every corner of the earth that we see only occasionally but are forever bound to by education, work, travel, or dance.

A short sleep later, it was Thursday and time to go to work. I made my way through the day and on to the final session of the literacy program for this year. For my student it was his last session altogether. His mom has elected to prioritize math for now. While I know that has nothing to do with me, the combined evidence of his leaving and his only advancing one reading level where the program director had hoped he might make two, makes it very hard for me not to blame myself at least a little. For someone who has dared to pride herself on her ability to teach, it’s a bit of a blow to my confidence. Here’s hoping next semester is better?

After the emotional workout that was self-blame and mild disappointment, I then went home and exhausted my mental energy with 4 more hours of work. I love grant deadlines so. very. much. I cannot even begin to explain.

Friday was work from home day. Our office was being moved so after several weeks of gradually packing everything up, the movers were schlepping it all over to the new office and we were all banished for the day. I will freely admit that I took full advantage of the situation. I spent the entire day in pajamas working from beneath the comfort of my quilt and only leaving the house to fetch lunch and coquito supplies from Essex Street Market. After work, I turned coquito supplies into coquito and then settled down with my book and read the night away. There are worse ways to spend a Friday night.

Having had a lazy night in, I was actually able to wake up early and tend to my long neglected sourdough. It’s been months since I made bread so the sourdough is cantankerous at best and my patience was limited. The result is mediocre bread. The crumb is nicely hydrated but too tight and the crust is crisp but a touch too thick and sadly lacking in that beautiful flakey peel that artisan breads from bakeries always have. I’ve apparently a good bit more work to do. Nonetheless, I had fresh bread, hot coffee, rich coquito, and a beautiful snowy scene out my window. The flakes were so big they seemed to hang in the air before falling, heavy but weightless.

I popped out briefly for pizza but was soon driven back to my flat by the threat of heavily inebriated Santas. Yes, it was Santa Con, that spectacular bit of idiocy that involves hoards of humans dressed up as Santas and drunk since 11am. The sheer quantity of drunk screaming and incoherent babbling was alarming at best. After a brief recovery from the Santa chaos, I braved the outside world once again to meet up with Martina and Eloy. It would not have been so bad, but the F train had a door issue, and the passengers had a common sense issue, which resulted in a loss of nearly 30 minutes of my life on a platform and/or crammed into a tin can with entitled idiots who clearly don’t take the train on the regular. To say I got a bit New York would be a massive understatement.

When I finally escaped the dreaded F train and caught a D into Midtown, I found myself crossing 50th, with 6 avenues between me and where I wanted to be. Good god the crowds, and being tourists they had no sense of how to navigate a sidewalk, stay close to their companions, or properly keep track of children. I cut a line through the hoard and was the first across every intersection only pausing long enough to acknowledge the NYPD who stood on every corner protecting the tourists from the folly of following New Yorkers into a crossing.

By the time I got to Martina and Eloy, I was spitting fire and frustration, but fortunately my most excellent Italian immediately understood. Martina and I have very similar frustrations with people in large and unwieldy groups. After a short chat at a coffee shop, we made our way down to Grand Central where I showed them the ceiling and the whispering gallery and was pleased to see them appropriately awed by its beauty and grandeur. We topped off our evening together with a drink at District Social amongst the dregs of the Santas before they headed off to rest before their flight, and I headed off to dance.

Though I still missed my usual F train companion, I found myself a lovely new train buddy in the form of a French lecturer (also at NYU) who just happens to dance WCS and tap. The night train is always nicer with a friend.

On Sunday, I indulged in a slow easy morning with fresh bread, avocado, and eggs. Round about early afternoon, I set off to face the MTA again and was soon very glad for my relaxing morning. The train was already 10 minutes late when it reached me and then over the course of a typically 16 minute journey we picked up another 10 minutes of delay. When I finally hit solid ground, I found myself with less than 5 minutes to get to dance class. Taking that train ought to have gotten me to the door of the studio with 15 minutes to spare, but instead I was bolting down sidewalks to skid into class a mere two minutes late. At least I was well warmed up.

By the time we finished our warm up and stretch, I had forgotten the chaos of the trains and was well and truly into the class. It’s just such a phenomenal class. The instructor is lovable, sassy, and warm and his choreography just feels. so. damn. good. Every breath, every step has a place in the music, each extension or contraction feels like it could never have been anything else. This week’s class was a piece to Ending by Isak Danielson and it was so beautiful. Gentle, beautiful things are not usually my strength in dance—I tend to do better with sass and aggression—but this felt so good, I forgave my body its edges and angles and tried my hardest to just breathe into the music. It was heaven and I am so very lucky to live in a city where dancers like this are available to teach beginners like me.

After dance, Patrick and I dropped by a Bolivian cafe to replenish our lost calories with salteñas and mac n cheese. Delicious doesn’t even begin to describe. I have no idea what they make the salteña dough from, but it’s perfect, and the filling was even better, all rich and savoury with just a kiss of spice. Thank goodness, the cafe is nowhere near where I live or I’d have a whole new budgetary problem on my hands.

Today was back to the office, or rather into the new office for the first time. It was a busy day and the coffee machine has yet to be set up, so it was trying at best. But coffee or not, I now have an office and a comfy chair so I’ll be alright.

Watching the sky for snow,
The Salsa Girl

 

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In Which London Giveth and London Taketh Away

Though I’ve never lived in London, it has been creeping around the periphery of my existence for years and then all in one week, it both snatched a dear friend away, and delivered another. Yes, on Saturday I bid farewell my partner in Lower East Side shenanigans as she set off for London via Chengdu, a victim of protectionist policies rescued by a multinational with offices elsewhere. In the interest of not devolving into a miserable little sad sack for the rest of this blog, I shall leave it at: Imma miss her like crazy but have no doubts that she will take London by fantastic swing dancing storm! And then that very same night, a plane arrived from London delivering another beloved friend, this time one of my fantastic library ladies: Martina. This is not the same Canadian Martina who visited me earlier this year, no this is the passionate Italian Martina who I met while doing my masters in Ireland. So it has been a week of emotion, both happy and sad, and somehow London sits at the centre of it all.

But before we get into the whole great revolving door that is JFK, allow me to quickly catch you up.

On Tuesday I powered through another busy day at the office before popping off to try to keep my student awake enough to read. I feel like it’s probably nearly impossible to learn when the only way to stay awake is to stay standing. Yes, we read while standing up so that this poor kid wouldn’t pass out on the table. I can’t imagine being a classroom teacher knowing that your kids were falling behind, not because they weren’t capable but because they just weren’t rested. Breaks my heart a bit.

The following day at work saw me bouncing between Manhattan and Brooklyn like a veritable ping pong ball. I spent the morning in the office, popped up to Washington Square for a lunch talk, back to the office for the afternoon and another talk right after, and then back into Manhattan to buzz my apartment before heading up to Harlem. Yup, Harlem. 150 blocks later, I was curled up in a friend’s studio watching dance videos. It’s productive but painful to watch your own dance videos, but it’s got nothing on attending a critique session with friends. Yup, we watched ourselves dancing and traded feedback and as the worst westie in the room, I definitely got my ego resized. I’d like to say it motivated me to practice, and it did, but I just don’t have time!

So having pared down our self-images, of course, we went to dance. It’s always hard to dance well when you’re busy focussing on the million things that you hate that you do, but we did our best and in no time at all it was the last song and we were all headed to the trains.

Suffering from the usual Thursday malaise that follows a late night at dance, I wombled my way through the workday, tripped through tutoring, and almost by accident found myself in a small, dark Brooklyn bar sipping spectacular cocktails with the rest of the tutors. I met a girl who’d grown up between Hawaii, China, and who knows where else, and another working as a Russian translator and dancing argentine tango by night. It was a very pleasing evening altogether, and that was just the beginning. After cocktails, I returned to Manhattan to join the westies at a free social night in Greenwich Village. It’s not my favourite floor in the world but I had a lovely hot toddy, and was surrounded by fantastic friends so I mostly just socialized and left the dancing to the more enthusiastic types.

Finally, it was Friday. I was running around rather with my hair on fire, but we’re switching offices this week and I don’t trust movers with my beloved plants so I made time to join one of the tours of the space to deliver my over enthusiastic and much adored Epipremnum aureum into my new office. I will be dropping in at least a few times this week to check on it and make sure it’s still alright without my somewhat negligent but very well meaning care.

After work, I made my way to Mandy’s for a goodbye party/distribution of miscellaneous items that would otherwise be meeting the bin. It’s starting to get slightly depressing how often I’ve attended this very same sort of gathering wherein a fond friend is attempting to lighten their load before winging off across an ocean or so. It was a cozy evening with fun games and at least a few tears. My collection of nail polish has also grown precipitously.

Saturday morning, I woke up, tidied the flat and headed off to broga. Broga? you ask, What’s broga? Well, allow me to enlighten you. Broga is that magnificent thing which occurs when a big buff fella walks into your yoga class and takes the teacher’s position. Relaxation? Dancing through poses? Absolutely no! Instead it’s 90 minutes of burning muscles, endless reps, pouring sweat, and always an arm balance. It’s very good for me. It’s also very VERY hard. I left exhausted and fully aware of how much work my arms and especially my wrists yet require. Soon after I got home, Mandy dropped by with a few final items. We sipped some final cans of beer and chatted the afternoon away until I had to run away to a work thing and Mandy to final leaving preparations and JFK.

The work thing in question was a hackathon that I had agreed to help judge so I stopped by the empty Five Guys (it’s a business district—everything is empty of a Saturday) to treat myself to a burger before heading upstairs to put on my judging cap and attempt to ask intelligent questions of student with technical skills far and away above mine. Fortunately all three judges agreed and soon I was bounding back to Manhattan to change, rest, and head into Midtown for more dance. I had all the best intentions but ended up sitting more than dancing as I could feel the broga digging deeply into my left SI and decided that perhaps I ought not to chance it.

Sunday morning, I got up early-ish, did laundry and headed into Midtown to sip coffee and read just south of the park. By 2:30pm I was nervously warming up in a Contemporary Jazz class and by 4:00pm I was wandering out delighted. I have SO much to work on, but Chris Jackson at Ailey teaches a class to welcoming and empowering and full of sass that I cannot help but leave feeling stronger and brighter and more worthy than I ever imagine I will. It helped that as I was leaving the class, he told me how much he enjoyed how I really lived one of the sassiest moves in the piece. Ego, recovered.

Post dance, I headed North up the side of the park and in about 20 minutes, was finally reuniting with Martina. We haven’t seen each other in over two years so it was absolutely wonderful to see her again. We strolled all through and around the park, drifted down Park and Madison to 5th where we found beautiful Christmas windows and the bizarre American phenomenon that is the American Girl Doll store before eventually making our way to K-Town for supper. It was mandoo and bibimbop at Mandoo Bar and it was delicious—exactly the warm spicy food that one needs after a brisk winter walk around Midtown.

Of course once we were in K-Town, a trip to Cloud Bar was unavoidable. We rode the elevator up 17 floors and stepped out onto one of my favourite rooftop bars directly under the Empire State. In the winter it’s serene and beautiful with ample heat lamps and only slightly over-priced drinks. Being me, I fell victim to the seasonal drinks and settled in with a spiked hot chocolate. While we sat there, an Irish family drifted in and we helped them take pictures and had a brief chat before they necked their drinks and headed out into the night. The stereotype was strong with those three.

And that about brings us up to now. I floundered my way through the workday drowning in deadlines before meeting Martina and her traveling companion for dinner in Little Italy. We worked off our dinner with a walk about Lower Manhattan before I dropped them at Chambers Street station and headed home to clatter across my keyboard until the above emerged. I’ve really got to stop writing these thing hurriedly late at night, but until I do, bear with me, please?

Slipping towards sleep,
The Salsa Girl

In Which Pierogi are Pinched and Thanks Given

You know the hazard of a four day weekend can be summed up in the fact that I’ve been having Sunday night anxiety since Friday afternoon. Yes, three delightful days of thinking “Oh gosh, I have to get up for work tomorrow. And be functional! The horror!” Apparently my body is well versed in the 7 day week routine and doesn’t know how to enjoy a rest…unless that rest is three solid days of dance. I’d like to pretend that this will surprise you all, but something tells me that everyone’s only nodding and chuckling quietly to themselves. C’est la vie.

So what did this mad ball of energy and anxiety get up to this week? Well there was a Thanksgiving, and a US Open, and all the good people starting right from Tuesday. Yes, on Tuesday after a long and unexpectedly stressful (thanks emails piped to my phone after hours) workday I bailed on ballet to stay inside with grilled cheese and my LES partner in crime. I’m so grateful for the folks that are willing to patiently listen (or not listen but pretend to do so, I wouldn’t blame them) to my little panics. It was a necessary night in to decompress and attempt to chill. I’d like to think I went into Wednesday all buddha-like and cool, but actually I went into Wednesday with my sights locked on Thursday and all the promised relaxation and recuperation of a four day weekend.

I tumbled headlong through the work day across my chiropractor’s adjusting table and straight into dance. I have post-convention syndrome at present, which is to say that everything feels off and I just don’t know what to do with myself. I’ve a million things I ought to be working on in my dance but mostly I’m working on staying upright and connected. It’s a journey.

Thursday morning, with all the best intentions of having a proper lie in, I found myself unexpectedly awake just after 8am. I guess it’s an hour more than usual. After a few more hours of lying about pretending that I might fall asleep again, I crawled out of bed and headed for Friendsgiving. Yes, after a Canadian Friendsgiving in October, it was now time for an American Friendsgiving, this time with more pierogi! A friend had brought a few pierogi to Canadian Friendsgiving and we all enjoyed them so much that we decided we needed more. Thus, a month and a half later I was in a studio in Chelsea boiling and mashing potatoes while Jennie mixed up the dough and we both drank copious mimosas. Somewhat later, we were joined by a handful of helpers who made quick work of the pierogi pinching (and the rest of the mimosas).

As the afternoon wore on we ate pierogi and pie, drank mulled wine, and watched hours of dance videos. Come the end of the evening as we switched from old recorded videos to live US Open competitions, I found myself snuggled up under the duvet with three of my lovely lady friends watching our friends battle it out on the dance floor in the US Open Jack n Jills. In a break between competition rounds, I finally dragged myself home, crawled under my quilt and resumed watching. It’s a dance event and it’s in California so we will not go into how late I stayed up.

Friday found me rolling out of bed entirely too early once again. I had such great ambitions of compensating for my all night dance watching with a lovely long lie in, but it was not to be. So I made my way into the day and set to work. If I can’t be well rested, I can at least be productive. I cleaned the entire apartment, did laundry, and then got dangerously bored. My boredom dribbled over into tattoo-lust which I decided to redirect into hair dye. A $10 box dye is a much more economical way to satisfy my craving for novelty, so I set off in search of a light cinnamony auburn. Three drug stores later, I conceded that perhaps semi-permanent hair dye has gone entirely out of fashion, and light reddish brown hair is even less in vogue. Undeterred I settled for a demi-permanent dye in “Medium Auburn”.

Triumphantly rinsing the dye out of my hair I found that I had, not auburn, but patchy raspberry coloured locks! Pure panic ensued. Six rounds of shampoo and one hot oil treatment later, I’d toned down the ferociously loud colour a touch and reduced the blatant dapple effect sufficiently to brave the outdoors. I met Mandy at Delancey St. and we headed into Midtown for another night of dance. Perhaps the Ariel hair was magic, but somehow my post-convention awkwardness seemed to have faded and I had a wonderful night of shenanigan filled dances.

After our own dancing adventures, Mandy and I then headed back to mine to catch another night of US Open competitions. We missed the Showcase division but managed to watch the Champions Strictly which ended somewhere around 2:30am. Collapse into unconsciousness came quickly thereafter.

On Saturday I actually almost managed a sleep in! Which is to say that I woke up at my usual hour but then actually managed to fall back asleep until almost 10:30! I was very proud. I had also convinced my brain that it needed some sleep; it was about to have to speak Mandarin. You see, Mandy’s mom is visiting. She doesn’t speak much English, most westies don’t speak much Mandarin, but in theory this crazy dancer does. So I went over to Mandy’s for a wonderful lunch of authentic, homestyle Sichuan food. It was divine! My Mandarin, less so. I keep saying that I need to practice, and I really do need to practice, but it’s so hard when it’s not mandatory and when it makes me feel so foolish and awkward. I need to put myself into a position where I’ve no choice but to stumble through the blows to my ego and I know it will come back, but until then I will continue to fumble awkwardly through my occasional encounters and sigh volubly as I reminisce about the good old days in Shanghai where I was significantly more verbal than I seem to have become now.

I had considered topping off my Saturday with a journey back to salsa land but the Saturday party was significantly more expensive than usual for very little compelling reason, so I set off to the Met instead. It’s been a while and I’ve been meaning to do so at 5pm on a Saturday I arrived to climb through the tourists and make my way to the bamboo art exhibition up on the 3rd floor in Asian Art. It was stunning! From beautifully intricate basketry to bold swirling geometric sculptures and wildly textured wall hangings, the aesthetic was at once intricate and simple, elegant and natural, and profoundly Japanese. I had no idea that such a beautiful art form even existed, let alone that it would affect me so deeply.

Having spent about an hour and a half in the bamboo display, I then wandered to 18th and 19th century pictures hoping to spend my usual quiet moment or two with Seurat and Degas. I was not to be. The galleries were full of noise and chaos and so I cruised by quickly, just long enough to get a glance, and headed back out into the night. When I got home, predictably enough, I turned on the livestream and spent the rest of my night watching the most impressive US Open Classic division I have ever seen. It was breathtaking!

The following morning, I dragged my sleep deprived self out of bed and decided to tackle the rescue of my blotchy locks. It’s better now but still not perfectly even. Amusingly, my coworkers were impressed by its apparent shine and evenness when I hit the office this morning, but that’s another thing entirely.

With my shiny new bright red hair, I took a walk through the East Village in search of sunshine, fresh air, and box soup. Yup, it’s winter, I’m busy, and the answer is always box soup. If I had time and motivation I would make my own soup, but rather lacking both, I’m funnelling my money into Trader Joes and the dividends are box soup.

Equipped with sustenance and eggnog, I headed back home to settle in for the last day of the US Open. I watched Rising Star before smearing on some make up and heading to salsa. Yes, salsa. I haven’t forgotten it, only gotten busy and distracted. I was a little nervous that I might be rusty, but with contacts in and salsa shoes on, it all came back instantly, so much so that I ended up winded in no time. The trouble with salsa is that if you show that you can spin, you’re unlikely to do much else and if you happen to keep up with one skilled leader, there’s a good chance that at least a few others will turn up to test your mettle and/or just show off. Westie and yoga make me strong, but they have not kept up my cardio. Good heavens! After one particularly powered up dance I felt nearly faint! I think I need to make a point of getting back out to salsa at least once a week, if only for the sake of my heart.

Once thoroughly soaked in sweat, I left the salsa party and made my way down one street and two avenues over to the final watch party of the weekend. Many of the attendees had not been watching all weekend and so were seeing all the routines for the first time at the watch party as we waited for awards, but as for those of us who’d been glued to our screens all weekend, we finally had a sounding board for all of our opinions and sass. It was quite the kitchen party and blended perfectly into the running commentary that accompanied the eventual announcement of the awards. Suffice to say, I am full of opinions and they do not necessarily always align with the judges.

This morning, after four days of not worrying about work, I finally had to face my inbox, but not before I tackled the unexpected challenge of getting into the office. I arrived at the building at my normal time, wandered over to the security gates, sunk a wandering paw into my purse, and came up empty. My id card was nowhere to be found! Fortunately the security guard recognized me and allowed me in. When I reached my floor, I then had to ask the only other person in the office before 8am to come let me in, at which point I finally found my id cards. On my desk. Helpful, right? I guess Wednesday me did not want Thursday, Friday, or even Saturday and Sunday me to have any ability to cave and go to the office. My crammed inbox had other opinions which it expressed loudly as soon as I turned on my computer.

After work I tucked into some North Dumplings and sesame pancakes before making my way to my beloved yoga class to stretch out the effects of a day at the office. It was an excellent class but somehow it seemed shorter than usual. Could it be that I am becoming ever so slightly more competent, that the asanas are actually getting so manageable that time flies? Realistically I was probably just giving in to my monkey mind and missing the mindfulness. Fortunately my shoulders and core don’t care what happens inside my head so long as they get the workout.

The world rewarded me making it through Monday with wine and conversation. I’m not sure I’m ready for a five day work week but if the good company and wine continues, I think I might just make it through.

Diving back into the work week,
The Salsa Girl

In Which There is a Westie Weekend in Washington

Can it be? A Monday blog? Have I managed to drag myself back onto schedule? Yes, despite being swung over beyond belief, I am apparently going to write you all a blog. On a Monday. For the first time this month. Take a moment. I’ll still be here when you recover from the shock.

So what sort of silliness do I have to convey to you this week? I suppose I’ll probably start with work on Wednesday and go from there. I hit hump day hard with a busy day at work topped off by a late meeting that saw me dragging my carcass out of the office about an hour later than usual. Scintillating stuff, I know. After work, I had hoped to attend a ballet class, but the sleepies won and I decided to take a nap in the hope of recovering my civility and a touch of sanity before heading out to Westie Wednesdays. I’m not sure how successful I was. It was a R’n’B and Blues night which tends to make me more of a socializer than a dancer. I’m not saying I don’t like blues, blues can be really fun, but a whole night of it? With almost no contemporary? It’s just not my thing. Perhaps I’m a bit too picky about music.

I wish I could say I was responsible about my sleep needs, but who are we kidding. I need way more sleep than I’m willing to give myself. Here’s hoping I’ll someday adapt. But until then…Thursday saw me slogging through the work day with the combined sleep debt of Swinging New England topped off with a late night at Wednesday Westie. I made a detour to the doctor around midday to stock up on the corticosteroids, β2 agonists, and now also leukotriene receptor antagonists that keep my wallet empty and my lungs full—most of the time. I so love chronic illness, it’s the tops.

When I finished up at the office, it was time to head off to tutoring where the only one tireder than me was my poor student who has taken to nearly falling asleep in his book. But we marched ever onward, with regular breaks to stand up and shake ourselves back awake. I then headed into Midtown to fit in a last practice with my woefully sick strictly swing partner before the weekend swept us off to Washington for more westie. We managed an hour before I had to run to catch the pharmacy before closing and hustle home to pack a bag and try to catch some z’s before my weekend adventures kicked off for real.

Come Friday, I found myself in Secaucus mere minutes after 8am. How I got there, I do not entirely know because once I arrived, I found myself shockingly challenged by even the simplest things. I had forgotten that Secaucus requires you to scan your ticket to enter AND exit the station. When I remembered this fact, about a minute and a half into my awkward shuffle about in the turnstile wondering why it wasn’t letting me through, I reversed back out of the way to find my ticket. Once I found the magic barcode, I headed back to the turnstile all geared up to display and be free, which is how I ended up standing awkwardly before the reader hopelessly wiggling and angling my phone trying to make it register. God bless nosy, helpful, entirely too busy to waste time New Yorkers/New Jerseyians. One sailed past me leaving doppler affected assistance in her wake: “it’s red, you need a green one.: Who know how long I’d’ve remained trapped in Secaucus without the passing assistance of a flying businesswoman. It was one of those days.

Once we’d gathered the full carpool crew, we headed for the highway south to DC. Five hours or so later, we pulled into the hotel, checked into our rooms, and headed down to Kyle and Sarah’s connection intensive. It would be the first two hours of an excellent dance weekend. From the workshops to the comps to the parties, Dave and Kay put on one heck of an event. I love a lot of westie events, but Dave’s events just have a production value that is far above and beyond anything else. They livestream the ballroom to your hotel room and post results on the same; the backdrop and lighting are always just a cut above; and the staff are fantastic. I have no complaints. I did however manage some spectacularly unlikely results in my comps.

After ranking top three in the Jack ’n’ Jill prelims while having what felt like the worst dances of my life, I then failed to make it through semis with four dances which felt absolutely divine. As an additional bonus, it was the same five judges for both rounds. I cannot explain, but I’ve clearly got some work to do. Strictlies on the other hand went unexpectedly well. It was Patrick’s and my first intermediate strictly and our expectations were suitably low. But somehow despite illness, exhaustion, and inexperience, we managed to make finals and we weren’t last! I mean, we were close, but not dead last! So again, there’s plenty of work to do but we certainly landed on the pleasantly surprised side of that competition.

In addition to the classes and competitions, there were also shows—I cannot express how impressed I was with Jenna and Za and of course the inimitable Patty Vo—new friends, good food, great dancing, awesome DJs—including one of my all time favourites, Koichi—and very little sleep. On Saturday, we rounded up a crew of New Yorkers for take out from a ridiculously famous little Chinese hole in the wall. Apparently it’s Bush Sr’s favourite restaurant in the DC area, and by god was it ever good. We couldn’t get a reservation but we did get two Beijing ducks and a whole host of other delicious things from the most unassuming little strip mall Chinese restaurant. It was entirely worth the nearly hour long drive to pick it all up.

And then, as a final cherry on top of the weekend, my ridiculously talented friend, Mandy, managed to pick up her third first place in a row which has now lifted her safely up out of my division into advanced. I think the entire intermediate follower division is excited for that they might have a chance at first again but the leaders must be devastated to lose their chance to draw her. She’s a beast in the best possible way!

But just as soon as it had begun, it was over and we were back in the car heading North. My 6am and 7am bedtimes came back to haunt me with a terrible vengeance and I spent most of the drive to PA fighting back the sleepies. Once we got the bus in Wescosville, I was out. I drifted in and out of consciousness all the way back to the windy, frigid streets of New York. Though I had my heart set on a slice from Williamsburg Pizza, by 10:30pm on a Sunday, the pickings were slim so I settled for a mediocre bagel and a nosedive into my mattress.

Today saw me clawing my way through the workday in that beautifully dysfunctional state that can only be described as swung over. I managed to squeeze some modicum of productivity out of my wooly head and then fled the office to gather strength for my weekly yoga class. I could skip it, but it’s so darn good, I just can’t bear to ! So I pulled on my yoga pants and set off for the class. It was even better than expected. We were doing hips and hamstrings, which after a dance weekend were in sore need of attention. I’m not sure I’ll be able to move tomorrow, but I feel deliciously like jelly just now, especially with a bellyful of my favourite $8 bowl of pho and the last dregs of clearance Halloween candy that I’ve been hauling around to events for the last two weeks. And now, with full belly and exhausted body, this swung over salsa girl needs to get her butt to bed.

The Best Kind of Tired,
The Salsa Girl

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

In Which the Blog is Late Again

I was doing so well! Blogs like clockwork every Monday! But I slipped. I always slip. And here we are on a Tuesday at 10:20pm just starting to scribble. I’d apologize, but honestly, I’m just too darn tired.

Last Tuesday, after an afternoon that reminded us all just how awful human beings can be, I found my way up to the Red Cross in Midtown West. It was a rather fitting day to have an appointment, not only because of the afternoon’s tragic events but also because it was Halloween. Who needs a mythical vampire when you’ve got an all too human one draining a pint out of your elbow. I had waited this long to donate in the US because, honestly, I was a little freaked out by the privatization. Where both Ireland and Canada each have only one national blood donation organization, here there are tons of different organizations all collecting blood. I feel like they cannot possibly be as well regulated. But as the proud owner of O+ filled veins, I decided that I’d take the chance and go anyway, which is how I found myself in a large, dark, cavernous building, winding down hallways until I found the very ghetto little cluster of rooms that housed the blood drive. It was a very vampiric opening scene but was soon replaced by some equally sketchy but far more brightly lit scenes. In a booth formed of those lovely carpeted cubicle dividers that we all love so well, I was questioned, had my iron tested, and had my blood pressure taken with a stethoscope and arm band. A novel experience to be sure.

Once I’d passed the preliminary questioning, I was laid out on a gurney and speared. I wasn’t allowed to sit up, there was no fancy pants blood rocker to keep everything running smoothly, and they cleaned my skin with iodine. I was a bit baffled but nonetheless bled quickly enough and was soon on my way.

I then drifted back down to the Lower East Side where I met Mandy at a Pho shop for hot, hearty soup. As we sat there slurping noodles, and watching the costumes fly by. Yes, in this big bad city, the little children trick or treat the neighbourhood restaurants. Streams of the little beggars came rushing in some running excitedly, others walking shyly, all of them leaving with candy and smiles. Heading home from dinner, I treated myself to some dairy free ice-cream before climbing the five flights up to my freezing… But no, the heat was finally on! We’ve finally made the transition from frigid nights to the exciting game of dancing around the exposed steam pipe in the bathroom every time you have to use the toilet and praying that your depth perception and coordination carry you safely past the possibility of seared skin and subsequent scars unharmed. It’s an exciting little life I live.

The following day, I left work and walked through a veritable windstorm to get my hair cut. The haircut was good and the stylist was lovely but I was devastated to find that the salon only accepted tips in cash and I literally had a dollar. Yup. One lonely little dollar. The shame of leaving without tipping was palpable and worst of all, the stylist was already busy on another customer’s hair so I couldn’t even try to apologize or explain. I felt like the very worst. I will get over it.

With a fancy pants new haircut, I then set off for Carnegie Hall to catch a concert by Marc-Andre Hamelin. While waiting for the show to start, I had the delightful experience of eavesdropping on two very animated young ladies. One was a serial monogamist. The other wryly proclaimed that her longest relationship was with her IUD. I’d never thought of expressing my romantic failure thus, but perhaps next time someone asks.

The show itself was spectacular with a delicious bit of Debussy. There is something so singularly divine about Debussy. Next to Tchaikovsky, he’s probably my favourite and so completely different. And as if the program itself was not sufficiently impressive, we got TWO encores—the second of which was a Hamelin original composition. As I stood in the exit listening to the second encore, I found myself next to an usher who was also a percussionist and who was absolutely enamoured of the original composition. I wish I could have stayed briefly to chat with him about it but as soon as the piece ended the theatre began to empty and I was swept out towards dance.

Sometime entirely too late, I made my way home from dance and dumped myself into bed. Thursday found me packing my evening with extracurricular education. I started my evening with a research-in-progress series featuring some very interesting sociological work followed by a Model UN event with the Afghan Ambassador to the UN. It was an interesting experience. Firstly, there was a VERY loud party next door which made it quite a struggle to heard the soft spoken ambassador. Secondly, that which we could hear sounded rather orthogonal to the usual rhetoric. I understand that diplomats always seek to present their countries in the best possible light, but I wondered about the bias inherent there, especially when it came to the question of Pakistan. I do have to give the man credit however as he taught us a new word which wryly admitted to the ambiguity of all these good guy bad guy discussions. “Proxymoron: your terrorist is bad, my terrorist is good and vice versa.” I wish he’d woven a little more of that kind of realism and honesty into the rest of his presentation.

Friday, I took it easy, attending a talk on Asian urbanisms before heading home to rest. I thought about going out to salsa event but then the inertia of the apartment won and I just went to bed.

The rest proved to be a good choice however as it allowed me to peel myself out of bed in time for another free NYU yoga class and this one was hardcore. The teacher was a buff yoga bro of the personal trainer type. He worked us halfway to death but it was SO good. Someday I will conquer dolphin poses and arm balances. Saturday was not that day.

After yoga I moseyed over to Mandy’s for a little goodbye party featuring heavenly truffles, amazing shrimp salsa and a healthy helping of beer. It was a good time and come supper time, we were off to my beloved Souvlaki GR for food. We got a selection of delicious dips to share and I decided to try the Souvlaki Pita. It had fries on the inside! And it was surprisingly delicious, especially soaked in lamb juice. Once fed, we headed off to Gotham Soul for another night of swing.

Despite staying out quite late and not getting all that much sleep, my charming body decided that 8am was THE time to wake up. I’ve given up on fighting it so I just got up and started on my laundry. My afternoon featured a good bit of laziness and a productive practice with Patrick. We’re set to compete again in a few weeks so we’re very much committed to the idea of not making asses of ourselves. Wish us luck.

Post-practice, I had about an hour to kill so I dropped into a cafe and fell victim to my horrible awful curiosity. I knew matcha cider was a bad idea, I even asked the barista for details and got some solid New York sass, but even with that deterrent, I just had to try it. It wasn’t undrinkable, but I certainly won’t be ordering it again.

With a belly full of the fruits of my insatiable curiosity, I set off to meet some dance friends+ for dinner and a movie. Five of us met in a local Irish pub for burgers and beer before having to race out the door in an impressive hurry to meet our sixth and find our seats before the film got started. It was Thor: Ragnarok, and I have to admit that for the first about half, I was not impressed. It was trying far too hard to be funny. I do have to give them credit for parodying #followme but the characters were out of character and everything was just a bit to punchy and glossy and camp. Right about the time the villain showed up, however, things got an awful lot better and I began to get onboard. By the end I was sold so my advice is: bear with it at the beginning, it gets better.

Monday, of course, is that day in which you did not get a blog so I feel I must explain myself. It was an absolutely mad day at work, and as soon as I left I set off to help out a fellow volunteer tutor by meeting to hear her presentation required for an online class. She’d asked us all to help her out and said that it would be on 4:30 on Monday. I got there at 4:32 and no one was there. The cafe knew nothing about any presentation. I began to fear I’d gotten the wrong day or the wrong place. Cue frantic emails. Cue me still not understanding what on earth was going on as I received an email saying “yes, we’ll be at cafe X” 5 minutes after I would have expected them to already be there. Five minutes of waiting in confusion for clarification on a bench later, the volunteer in question rolled up as if I was the one somehow having been in the wrong. I tried to be patient.

Nonetheless, as I sat in a cafe on a very busy day having had the presenter be 10 minutes late for a 15-20 minute long presentation that ended up being 30-40 minutes, I have to say that my patience grew thin. I had budgeted 4:30-5:00 for this whole goodwill endeavour, so when I finally escaped at 5:30—there were only three of us there, I couldn’t leave in the middle—I was thoroughly enraged by the disrespect of my time. That the other listener was a laid back retiree who did everything painfully slowly did not help my mental state.

I raced home, edited a document, changed, and bounded back out towards yoga. Charmingly, the trains decided to join the party and I barely slipped into class just in time to stretch myself back into some semblance of shape. I left yoga starved out of my mind—something something not enough time for supper—and was delighted to find a text from Mandy offering leftovers from the Saturday party. I never say no to cake. I also do not dismiss chips and salsa so it was a lovely little interlude of much needed food and conversation and you all didn’t get a blog. I’m sure you’ll survive.

Today, I worked at home, in cafes, and at seminars before heading back to Brooklyn to tutor. Immediately after wrapping that up, I hurried through the pouring rain to Alvin Ailey for a beginner class. It was humbling to say the least and I’ve now been informed that we committed a fantastic faux pas, not only those that we made quite literally in class, but by daring to take a beginner class without having attended months of absolute beginner class. In our defence, there was no requirement to that effect listed, and 2/3 of us had at least 9 months of ballet under our belts. It’s days like this that I wish for cultural capital.

And now I am here, feeling very well stretched, very well humbled, and utterly exhausted.

Catch you on the flipped,
The Salsa Girl

In Which Halloweening Begins

Oh my goodness guys, I am SO tired. I mean, it would be incredibly out of character if I wasn’t, but I’m telling you, there’s at least a 50-50 chance I won’t get to the end of this blog before I pass out. Why? Well most recently one hell of a yoga class—yeah, we’re talking crunches in prone garuda, it was intense—but also a couple Halloween parties and less than an abundance of sleep. So today has been difficult. I wish I could say I’d handled it gracefully.

If I recall correctly, I was similarly sleep deprived when I left you last. Hence my attempt at recovery in the form of a slow Tuesday. After tutoring, I hauled myself right home to rest, idly study language, and have a relatively early night. It was a nice notion, but one day of rest is inadequate compensation for what Wednesday would bring.

Yes, I did a silly. A seven trips on the train kind of silly, a Manhattan, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Manhattan kind of silly. In my defence the first flip got me to work, the second to a meeting avec six Quebécois de Fonds de Recherche du Québec, and the corresponding third flop dumped me back into the office, but the rest was just downright ridiculous planning failures. Right after work, I had a chiropractic appointment in the East Village, but then after that, a multi-sensory education training session in Brooklyn followed, inevitably, by dance in Manhattan. I feel almost let down that I didn’t then head back to Brooklyn for dance part 2, but I suppose I really shouldn’t try so hard to swipe the magnetic stripe right off my metro card.

To say that it was a busy day begins to approximate the situation, but by this point, we all know that days like that are where I thrive. I’m never more fulfilled than when life demands such a degree of focus just to make it through the day that I cannot possibly torture myself with any complicated musings or unproductive introspection. So, wiped out as I was by the end of the night, I was also beaming with the satisfaction of having pushed myself to my mental and organizational limits. There’s probably a word for me, but let’s not go there.

Thursday was almost a return to sanity, but somewhere around my lunch break, I started to wonder what had ever happened to a package I’d ordered over a week prior. I’d received notifications when it crossed the border, but nothing further, so I dug out the tracking number and found that it had been sitting in the depot waiting for three whole days! Cue instant panic that they might send it back.

So as soon as I’d filed my report for the week’s literacy progress, I was on a train Port-Authority-Bus-Terminal-bound. It’s not the friendliest of neighbourhoods, which means that the DHL depot fits in beautifully. I bounded through the customer service entrance 10 minutes before closing and found myself in the company of:

  • 1 smiling but lethargic janitor in not-a-DHL-uniform
  • 1 industrious young man working away on packing materials to the immediate right of a giant pile of rolled up t-shirts and who knows what else
  • 1 young woman talking frantically and sometimes tearfully with (presumably) her boyfriend on the phone and
  • 1 content young woman sitting in the waiting area seeming unperturbed by the complete absence of DHL staff.

I did not join the two women sitting complacently in the waiting area but instead marched up to the counter to assert my presence while listening to telephone girl babble on to her fella about how she had no idea what was going on and there was no one there and…

I tried not to eavesdrop, but it’s very difficult, especially when the person doing the talking decides to follow your assertive lead and also move to stand at the counter. Despite her having been there longer, I will admit to a certain degree of irritation when she positioned herself in such a way that it became clear SHE was going first. If you don’t take initiative, you can wait. But hey, there were tears and I wasn’t about to have a cat fight, so when the employee finally appeared bearing a package for content woman who then had to spell out a very challenging and lengthy name for official records, I deferred to Sobs McGee and waited my turn. The worker was alarmingly relaxed about having three people left to serve at 5 to closing and wisely elected to take information from both of us before heading back into the back to hunt for packages.

At exactly 7pm I strolled out of DHL delighted to be back on poorly lit but comparatively quiet streets, and headed for a talk that I’d decided to try to catch the last half of. I was already on the train when I realized I’d misread the times and would be lucky to catch the last five minutes. So I took a detour and headed back south for a quick stop at M&J Trimmings. For the second time in one evening, I was walking into a place of business less than 20 minutes before closing. I hate to be “that person” so I put on my blinders, ignored all the beautiful, colourful, sparkly goodness that lives in M&J Trimmings and made my way directly for the glue. Less than 10 minutes later, I was headed back to the train with a goodie bag full of sequin glueing tools. You see, it was nearly the Halloweekend!

Friday afternoon, a rare day in which I had plans immediately after work, I found myself cornered by an anxious student while my MUST DO list leered at me and the clock giddily ticked by. At my normal leaving time, my boss came by and tried to shoo me out of the office, unaware that 30 precious minutes of my time had just been eaten up by impromptu counselling, while I shamefully explained that I really, honestly was not done the things that had to get done. I don’t mind staying late, but it’s hard not to stress when your boss is telling you to go, and your phone is telling you to go, but your to do list and your integrity are laughing hysterically in your face.

Sometime later, I was seated on my floor with a syringe full of glue and a small mountain of gold sequins glueing golden nuclear warning symbols onto a tight black dress—two sizes too small. Somewhat later, Mandy arrived and set to adorning her own dress. By 9pm we were done crafting and covered in glue. Less than an hour later, we were Nuclear Bombshells on our way (on foot) to a Halloween party. We dropped by only long enough to say hi and have a drink before hurrying off to dance to rescue the leaders who were blowing up Mandy’s phone with frustration at the absence of followers. I was quickly reminded that tight, short dresses are not exactly conducive to dancing west coast swing but danced in my costume nonetheless.

When I finally made it back to the LES, I was desperate for a slice so I headed to Williamsburg Pizza dreaming of sophia loren. It is the perfect pizza! Garlic, mozzarella, basil, and fresh beautiful slices of tomato all resting luxuriantly on a lovely thin New York crust. I walked into a very busy pizza joint and joined the queue, noting nervously that there was only one slice of sophia left. One person ordered, two people ordered, three people ordered, and then it was time for the girl right before me. “I want one of those, and… one of those” she drawled pointing imprecisely at the tartufo, and my precious sophia. The cashier did not speak pointing fingers and so replied “sorry, which ones did you want?” The girl: “that one…… and THAT one” “which?” “ummm, the tartutifuo and ummmm, the other one, the one right there…” “okay, tartufo, and?” “ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…”

Insert one large, tired, slightly grumpy Canadian in rather serious need of a blood sugar boost, and no little bit annoyed to be watching HER favourite slice go to some drunk woman who didn’t even know what it was called. “She wants the sophia,” said an irritable New York iteration of the tired Canadian in a tone that was anything but patient and friendly. In fairness to the inebriated obstacle to my enjoyment of carby, cheesy, tomato-laden goodness, she did turn around and utter a startled and slightly frightened thanks. Perhaps also affected by my cool (cold?) efficiency, the poor cashier then proceeded to confirm that I wanted my pizza “to go”, only to try to give me the wrong combination of slices “to stay”. I corrected the situation as politely as I could and got my ill tempered arse out of public before I startled any other good natured but incompetent partiers with my lack of patience for delay.

Because my body is SO delightful, Saturday morning saw me awake at 8am. I laid in bed until 10am before giving up and getting to my errands. We’d been promised an enthusiastic Nor’ Easter on Sunday so I knew that I needed to take care of my groceries and laundry on Saturday to avoid having an excuse to indulge my laziness and end hungry and naked until next weekend. I stocked up on cheap mystery veg from Essex Market to be converted into my own particular variety of stone soup. They have these wonderful bags of chopped tropical vegetables for stupidly low prices which I then haul home, dump in a pot, cover in water, herbs, and tomatoes and turn into lazy soup. It’s a delicious and occasionally surprising adventure.

After soup making, I lounged about until I finally managed to bully myself into tackling laundry. While my linens whirled, I made an indulgent detour to Soft Swerve. I wanted Ube and Coconut swirl, but instead of coconut, I found pumpkin spice! Say what you will about pumpkin spice, but it’s the perfect instantiation of autumn desserts, and swirled together with gorgeous purple ube? The word you’re looking for is heaven. Yes, I sat on a bench buffeted by autumn winds and dusted by rogue fallen leaves while I set my spoon to warm pumpkin pie spices and sweet violet delicious.

Having conquered my chores, I then wandered my way over to Mandy’s so that she could borrow my increasingly ghetto installation of MS Excel while I lounged on the couch reading Nabokov. I’m reading Despair just now and I have to say that it’s a whole new level of Nabokovian darkness. I am enjoying it, but not without a small bit of horror directed at my own ambivalent emotions towards it. After the computing adventures concluded, we chatted for a while before attempting another trip to Williamsburg pizza. This time we got fresh gorgeous slices of sophia and soon it was after midnight and time to head home to sleep.

Sunday was, as promised, a wet and windy day which gave me a fantastic excuse to lay about the house all day. I read, I watched documentaries, I drank tea, I watched the storm. It was quite delightful. I strongly considered spending the entire day thus, but decided that I really ought not to bail on a good friend’s Halloween party in Bedstuy. It was a smaller party than initially planned but it was very enjoyable. We ate miscellaneous Mexican food, drank sangria, took ridiculous pictures in our costumes, and played a slightly too drunk to function game of Cards Against Humanity. It was entirely worth how wet I got on the commute.

Today however, I have been suffering. I tried to cure my tired and ill-tempered with some delicious $3 dumplings and my favourite yoga class but I think the real cure might just be sleep, so I shall leave this here and talk to you all again in a week!

Sleepy and spooky,
The Salsa Girl