In Which Life Continues in a Torrent

Man guys, I’m so sorry, the blog schedule’s just been all over the place of late. There’s a million possible excuses, but they all come down to one common thread: goddamn I’m tired and DST did not help a bit. Yes, just this past weekend, the monstrosity that is daylight savings time snuck up behind me and stole away a whole hour of precious beautiful sleep. So I’m extra tired, extra busy, and ever so slightly closer to the my vacation in May. It’s closing in on countdown time, but first, the blog.

De rigueur, last Tuesday was a long busy day at the office which I followed up with the oh so stimulating task of grocery shopping. Does it make me too terribly boring if I own that I really did enjoy my little flounce through Hong Kong Supermarket? I left with all the fixings for fried noodles and soup, as well as a dozen bao and a packet of dessert tofu. You’d be excited too.

Come Wednesday we were staring down the barrel of another Nor’easter but there would be no snow day. Instead we would drag our sorry butts into work to watch the snow rise and the wind swirl and wait patiently through the “open as normal” notifications rolling one after another across our inboxes. At 2:30 they finally pulled the plug, but by then I was only an hour and a half from the end of my day and it didn’t seem worth it, so I rode out the rest of the afternoon and then headed to the tunnels. The joy an underground commute is that generally it’s impervious to weather. Flooding is another thing entirely but in general storms leave it unaffected, so my commute was uneventful with only a bit of a slip’n’slide from Delancey to my door where I hiked up the stairs hauled off all my gear, shoved some food in my face, and changed into dance clothes so I could head on out into the storm again.

Halfway through the second round of sidewalk slip’n’slide, I made the rather unfortunate discovery that my beloved black boots were not as water tight as expected. Once upon a time they were nigh impervious, but now it seems I’ve walked a weakness into the sole and it was sock soup for days. Because I’m resourceful and also not a classy girl, I spent my first ten minutes after arriving at dance drying my socks under a hand dryer. Like I said, I’m not a classy girl. With dry socks I enjoyed a quiet but fun night at dance and by the time we headed back out into the night the Nor’easter was gone and only the cold remained.

Thursday I skidded out of the office at the last possible moment to catch a train that carried me into the square only 10 minutes late for the talk I was trying to attend. It was part of the Text as Data series, a series of talks which I try to attend to convince my sorry butt to learn to code before I try to crawl back into the cozy, welcoming arms of linguistics research. This time the talk was considering conversational dynamics and how information flows map to rhetorical effect. The linguist in me was rapt.

Almost as soon as the Text as Data talk wrapped up, I was back out into the night heading down to the Financial District to catch a panel night hosted by a local GIS group. All of the panelists were women and their personal stories were amazing. They talked about how they seemingly slipped and fell into their careers and into a deep love of their work. One of the women was a Chinese language major who managed to be one of the first on the ground at Bloomberg (yes, that Bloomberg, the one with the terminals) before eventually landing in GIS and city agencies. Perhaps there’s hope for me yet?

On Friday I wobbled out of work and crashed into my bed to lounge about for a bit before my evening really kick off. I had all the best intentions of taking my glasses in to get the lenses replaced with my new prescription. It turns out that a Warby Parker lens replacement takes over a week and the thought of wearing contacts for a full week just seems horrific. So instead of taking my frames in for rehab, I spent the best part of my evening trawling through cheap frames online, deciding upon a pair to replace my current beloved hipster frames while they go in for a redux. After a truly silly amount of time trying frames on my photograph, I picked a pair of plain black wayfarers which, frames and add ons included, was less than $40. I have it on good authority that this particular purveyor of affordable frames is in fact half decent, but we shall see.

Having finally settled on some glasses, I popped in a pair of contacts and climbed onto the trusty old D train, Bronx-ward bound. It had been a shamefully long time since I last made it up to Yamulee but this week I had no excuse to skip it, one of the dancers from my Dublin days was in town and he was headed to Yamulee. Yes, Rui, of Wednesday practice and DJ-ing fame was in the city, so obviously I had to go.

It was a bit of a strange night at Yamulee, they had Italian guests and seemed a bit more interested in hanging out and partying than dancing, but it was so good to see Rui and to get a little re-up of that painfully rare Dublin On2. I hadn’t realize how much I’d missed it! That’s probably one of the most exciting things about social dance. Like languages and dialects, each dance is different, and each is danced differently in every place you find it. I may never be a true polyglot in linguistic terms, but I can communicate with dancers from all over the world.

After a few hours of dance, I climbed back onto a D train down to the Lower East Side. It was a long sleepy ride home but I made it and fell face first into bed to try to get a few hours of sleep before morning.

Though I wanted nothing more than to sleep the day away, the morning saw me schlepping to Brooklyn Heights for a day of learning from the New York City Office of Emergency Management (NYCEM). It was four hours of class split by an hour of lunch in which we learned about the basics of emergency management, the operations of NYCEM, the work of NYCEM’s Logistics team, and the role of logistics in emergency management. Much as I would probably have a heart attack within my first few years of working there, I feel like I would be very well utilized in an emergency management logistics team–nothing like intense panic to make me cool as a cucumber and ferociously efficient and effective. I can’t imagine that it would be good for me or that I would ever actually do it, but I feel like it would suit my viciously analytical and efficiency focused work persona. It will sit on a back burner beside all of my other passing career inspirations.

After my day of education, I headed into Midtown to meet Jessie for pre-dance dinner. Jessie managed to track down a slightly divey and totally delicious little Turkish place just around the corner from dance. It was pure heaven. We ate baba ghanoush and kibbeh and drank ayran and beautiful turkish tea and just as it was time to order dessert, the third musketeer, Patrick rolled up to share some cinnamon coated milk custard and pistachio baklava. Can we talk about ambrosia? Because that was totally it and so dangerously close to dance. If I get fat on Turkish food, at least it will be supporting the lovely Instanbullu who served us.

Dance was a standard Saturday out at westie but with the added bonus that halfway through my commute, DST kicked in and I lost an hour of my life and my sleep. Is the word devastated too dramatic?

The next morning, I peeled myself out of bed, cleaned the apartment, did my laundry, and dragged my exhausted carcass to contemporary via bagel and schmear. It was a sub, but god was it beautiful! I was, as always, a bit of an uncoordinated awkward panda, but I learned and I worked and for now, for me, that’s what’s most important. One of my friends was absolutely killing it though. It just seemed to suit his movement so well and he just attacked it! I know such talented people here!

After contemporary, we crossed town to Grand Central Terminal to catch Metro North out to White Plains to put some practice on our west coast swing. It was very productive and only a little bit nerve wracking. Most of the folks I was practicing were well above me in terms of competitive rank and sheer skill, but who better to learn with, I guess! Two hours of practice later, we headed back to the city. Once in the city, the trains were a hot mess and the weather was baltic. So, with a dying phone, I decided to work some MTA Magic. Normally the return from the GCT would include a 12 minute walk through the cold, but normally wasn’t an option (because the MTA loves us so much), so I hopped off Metro North in Harlem, jumped a 5 train south with a slightly ragged looking cockatoo, changed to an F train at Lex 59/63 with only three short blocks of walking out in the cold, and in an entirely reasonable amount of time was safely home under my quilt. The transit obsession in this city is real, valuable, and totally valid. I rewarded myself with pizza and the resulting tummy ache.

Monday was another busy in the office as we ramp up for our big data collection this weekend. After work I wandered up to the Square to take in another panel conversation. This one was focussed on the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and justice but ultimately was a discussion of how science can make the world a better place not so much through technology but through knowledge and improved understanding. It was right up my alley.

Today after another long grind at work, I popped off to the neighbourhood brewery with a colleague who is headed off to greener (or at least less fenced) pastures. We had pizza and beers and you’ll be so proud of me, I chose the pizza without cheese. It was lucky that the cheese-less pizza was the one with all the fanciest, most exciting veggies. After several hours of chatting about life, the universe, and everything, I wished her luck and headed home to write to all of you. And that’s where you find me now, obsessively watching Chopped and tap tap tapping away. It’s not such a bad life all in all.

The Salsa Girl


In Which A Nor’ Easter Blows In

Though it’s not yet been a week since I finally got around to writing the last blog, it feels like it’s been ages! I’ve dodged a frightful Nor’ Easter, danced well beyond dawn, and even dragged my butt back to the office after lovely long weekend away. We’re now gearing up for yet another Nor’ Easter but before we get there, let catch you all up on the last few days of shenanigans.

Thursday evening, I was predictably overbooked and so sped out of work, full tilt on my way to not only catch a talk but also prepare for a weekend of dance. My first stop was Essex Market to pick up a bag of chestnuts a la Mandy. Yes, it’s a thing now. Every since Mandy brought a bag of chestnuts to an event, our little posse has determined chestnuts to be a necessary addition to every dance weekend and since I am the only one now living on the Lowe East Side, chestnuts collection falls to me. I also needed to grab some porridge and instant noodles so it was no great inconvenience, but the fact that Essex Market closes at 7pm meant slipping my visit into the very narrow margin between work and chiropractic care. I made it work, in only barely, and skidded into my chiropractor’s office just in time. He managed to get most of my kinks worked out but alas my dastardly right shoulder proved intractable and I left without the satisfying release that comes along with the pop of my shoulder bouncing back into place. I dream of a day when my shoulders will be functional and pain free. I may always dream of that.

Once I’d been bent back into some approximation of shape, I headed over to NYU’s Law School for another excellent talk at the Center on Race, Inequality, and Justice. I am endlessly impressed by the excellence of their speakers and remain ever a novice in the understanding of both race relations and justice in the USA. The best/worst bit of living in NYC is how fully and richly I have become aware of my own intellectual blindspots and knowledge deficits. There is so much I don’t know and so many people so much wiser and more knowledgable than I am. Fortunately they are also inspiring and leave me with quotes like:

Hope is a good thing but it’s not a strategy. ~Tony Thompson

Our lives are not our own, they belong to those who need us desperately. ~Stephen Bright quoting Elie Wiesel

Post-enlightenment, I headed home to fill a backpack and tumble into bed in anticipation of the coming weekend of dance. I will someday learn to pack only what I need for a dance weekend and at that point will be able to carry a much more reasonably sized weekender, but until that time should come, my hiking backpack and I will remain the very best of friends.

Friday morning, I rolled myself out of bed, tidied the apartment and headed out into the questionable weather to Penn. Yes, a Nor Easter was rolling in bringing sleet, snow, rain, and high winds. The LES was mostly subject to snow, but by the time I got to Midtown, the high winds had begun to assert themselves, making for a well and truly frigid journey from Herald Square to Penn Station. Being the most neurotic, I was there plenty early. Early enough to pick up a few doughnuts from Under West, including the delicious Carwash doughnut which is glazed with squiggles of pastel and flavoured with lavender. My two partners in crime, were unfortunately struck by some delightful subway luck and found themselves skidding into Penn just in time to hop onto our planned NJT train. Had they been even a minute later, we likely would have had to wait another 15 minutes for the next train, which, as you will soon discover, could have proved disastrous.

Ten minutes later, we were at Secaucus, crawling into Jessie’s car for the drive to Baltimore. The winds were rising and the rain and sleet were swirling but it was still manageable and the roads were good, until suddenly Google Maps told us to reroute. It’s suggested rerouting seemed like absolute madness, leading us out into the wilderness over only 4 little accidents on the 95. So we ignored it an pressed on, switching to Waze to track the status of the crashes. Two were quickly cleared but the other two stubbornly remained, and then we passed a truck parked across an exit with a very improvised looking sign indicating that the 95 North was closed. It was at that point that we decided that maybe Google and Waze had a valid point and took their most recent advice for a diversion. It was a smaller diversion than originally suggested but a diversion nonetheless. We could not have chosen a better moment to change tack. Mere minutes after we left the 95 Google reported the road closed in both directions across the Susquehanna. We made our way across the bridge on the 40 which would soon close behind us, and pottered down to Baltimore through slightly heavier than expected, but nonetheless manageable traffic. Expecting a 3 hour trip and ending up with a 4.5 hour trip was not ideal and nearly made one of our party miss one of her comps, but we would soon find out that we were the luckiest of New York ducks.

As the evening evolved, we first heard from a friend who was intending to take Amtrak: all Amtrak service had been cancelled for the Northeast Corridor. He would not be making it down until the morning. Then we heard from the first of the bussers. They had intended to arrive at 4pm but were now stuck in an increasingly convoluted mass of detours. They were, however, fortunately possessed of a very dedicated driver who valiantly rerouted over every necessary backroad to get them across the only remaining open bridge cross the Susquehanna. Around the same time, we heard from another friend who was driving and was stuck in traffic watching the livestream of the event as a proxy. Though his party had made the correct rerouting decision and was headed for the bridge on Route 1, they were accompanied by everyone else who had had to reroute and so were crawling through bumper to bumper along with the aforementioned bus.

Next to call in their embattled situation was another friend on a bus with a less magnificent driver. This particular soul was dedicated to his route and would not consider any alternative so they were packed into the gridlock that lay before the now very much closed bridge on the 95. For hours their bus sat and the poor stranded friend sent screenshot after screenshot of her Google Maps which showed no movement at all.

As we continued to follow the drama on the bus on the 95, another friend checked in to say that his carpool was taking the long way around via backroad after backroad and was meeting ever more detours as each attempted reroute was foiled by downed trees and powerlines. At the point of contact, he was sitting in a traffic jam with the wind blowing the cars as if to move them even as they sat in total gridlock. As the evening went on I spoke to another group of friends who had left the city at 8:30am but ended up only reaching Baltimore at 4:30pm. Another reported that it had taken him 8 hours on the road, while we heard of folks from as close as Philly stuck on the highway for 7+ hours. When the aforementioned friend in traffic on the 95 finally made it to us at 5am after getting on the bus at 1pm, we truly understood our luck. I have no idea what magic we pulled, but I shall thank timing, Waze, and the fact that we managed to catch our 9:46 NJT despite the best efforts of the MTA to hold my travel buddies hostage.

In and amongst all the travel drama, we also got be a very proud batch of New Yorkers. One of our crew who normally follows, after plenty of partnering chaos thanks to the travel fiascos that surrounded us from every direction, ended up leading in Advanced Strictly and won! He was spectacular!

After watching comps, we danced until about 5am (yes, we met our poor 16 hour bus rider racing into the hotel to DJ just as we were leaving the ballroom), crashed for a few hours, and then rolled out of bed for another day of competition. MADJam is such an insane event. There were over 1500 contest entries and I’ve never had such consistently good social dances. So it really was a miracle that I managed to make semi finals. Out of a field of 94 intermediate followers, I made 22nd in prelims, but apparently was less effective in semis where I fell to 37th out of 46. In the first, all but one of the judges called me back, in the latter only the California judge, so my theory holds. I must dance like a Californian. But let that not make any of you think that I’m about to go compete in Cali and expect anything other than disaster. I may dance like a Californian, but not a good Californian. I have plenty of work still before me and I cannot blame my draws in the slightest–they were on aggregate the highest calibre leaders I’ve ever drawn in a competition.

After comps, we ate sushi at a painfully trendy restaurant next to the hotel and settled in to watch showcase. We managed to keep our eyes open for both the amazing Showcase and Classic routine divisions but then passed out for the 45 intervening minutes before the Champions Jack n Jill division. Forty five minutes of sleep was massively insufficient and I barely kept my drooping eyelids open, despite the degree of awesome that was taking place before me. Literally moments after the final song, I flopped back into unconsciousness for a few hours before waking up at almost 4am to head to the ballroom. It was still as full as an average event at 1am. It was madness. We stayed out dancing until they kicked us all out of the ballroom for floor trials at 8am. There were at least 50 people still in the ballroom when they finally booted us out.

Fools that we are, Jessie, Patrick, and I decided that we would wander out into the outside world in search of breakfast. Though we did end up with cheaper and tastier food than we would likely have found in the hotel, we were also met by a bone chilling wind that handily cut through all the layers I had at my disposal. It was bracing to say the least and thank heavens it ended with warm breakfast sandwiches in a cozy cafe. Once fed, we braved the cold once more and once back at the hotel, collapsed unceremoniously back into bed for another few hours of sleep before check out at noon.

Sunday saw us taking in the last of the finals and dancing in the intermissions. The All Star Jack n Jill was fabulous with two of my favourite followers absolutely killing it and grabbing 1st and 2nd for their efforts! Finally it was time for the JT Swing team exhibition immediately after which Patrick and I Manhattaned our way to the luggage holding area to collect all our carpool’s things before meeting our awesome JT Swing performers for the drive home. We made a quick stop for gas in the ghetto–yes, there were random dudes sitting on the curb shouting at anyone who got out to gas up and throwing things at an occasional car–before hitting the highway and heading homewards.

We made a quick stop for burgers and milkshakes before watching a beautiful big old golden moon rise through the trees to guide us home. Jessie dropped the three of us at Secaucus where we got to watch the dysfunction of NJT before our very eyes while our planned 11:17 train stopped dead 16 minutes from the station and sat there. We eventually caught the 11:25 train while the 11:17 still read “16 minutes away” and I couldn’t help but wonder what was up on the Northeast Corridor line that I used to ride so often.

This morning I rolled out of my coma at an indulgent 9am. I’d taken the morning off to attempt to evade illness and I’m optimistic that it might have worked. I met my boss in Lower Manhattan at 11:45 to get my marching orders for the week, then dropped down into Brooklyn, and powered through as much as I could in the entirely too few hours left in the day. There’s just never enough time for my to-do list!

After work, I headed to Read718 where my tutee and I went for a soft start with lots of games before easing into the work for the day. It was much smoother than the past few sessions so here’s hoping that it continues. Leaving that, I headed for the Square to attend a fascinating talk on neuroscience and art…which occurred on February 5th. I’m good at calendaring, I swear.

So now I’m back in my cozy little 5th floor room eating consolation pizza and macarons and writing to you all. The long is above and the short is: goddamn MADJam is a great event, worth every ounce of resulting exhaustion! Kay and Dave put on a very crisp, well produced convention and even a brutal Nor Easter that closes half the North East can’t get them down!

Post-congress bluesing just a lil bit,
The Salsa Girl

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

In Which There is a Long Weekend

You’d think that after three days off from work I might be relatively well rested and together, but unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Instead, I’m nearly no longer sick, not entirely exhausted, and somewhat sort of together? I mean I did one country’s worth of taxes? So it’s not been entirely a bust. That said, it has been a long week with a lot of time spent trying desperately to recover so please bear with the boring bits.

Tuesday was the usual rigamarole of work topped with a neuroeconomic colloquium on morality and a stumble home to bed. I acquired a rather pathetic habit this week which you’ll probably hear entirely too much about this blog, yes, I got home from the talk and fell straight into bed and out of consciousness for over an hour. And that was about the size of my night.

The following day I finished up work, spent an hour and fifteen working with a rather more uncooperative than usual student and then stumbled home for a quick nap before dumplings and dance. It has been ages since I last took part in one of the pre-dance dumpling adventures so I decided to wrangle up some people and pull another one out of the hat. We ended up mowing through mountains of dumplings before grabbing bubble tea and heading up to dance. Perhaps unwisely for the slowly dying creature that you see before you, I stayed out until the very end of the night before dragging my sorry butt home for entirely too few hours of sleep before the morning came.

Thursday saw me returning to the ultimate in blasé as I followed my chiropractic appointment up with a very unceremonious collapse back into bed to rest, read, and faff about on the internet. I know, so exciting.

Come Friday, I powered through another work day and headed for the train only to experience one of those wonderful idiosyncratic New York moments. Yes, the entire transit system was crippled by a dog on the tracks. Yes, a dog had escaped from it’s owner at York St and had stopped three subway lines dead in their tracks while the MTA switched off the power and the NYPD went down into the tunnels to try to find and rescue the little rogue. You’ve never seen so many New Yorkers turn from dog lovers to dog loathers in the course of mere minutes. Fortunately the mischievous mutt was eventually corralled and the trains trucked onwards with only about an hour’s delay.

I skipped hip hop to take another nap before schlepping my butt up to 46th St for another westie night. It was a competition night so the all stars were all out to judge which made for some very excellent dances and conversations. We will not speak about how late I stayed out but only say that when it came time to head to my boss’s daughter’s bat mitzvah the next morning around 9am, I was not exactly the brightest eyed or bushiest tailed. But I made it up to the synagogue in stockings and a dress so I considered it a win. It was my first experience of an actual Jewish service so I was up for anything. It ended up being a lot more musical than I’d expected. In fact almost the entire service was in Hebrew and almost all of the Hebrew was sung.

After the approximately 3 hour service we then headed down to the reception room for a kaddish lunch and holy Jewish food was it ever delicious. Between the diversity of preserved fishes, potato salads, and sweets and the absolutely perfect blintzes? I could have eaten forever. I also found myself at a table with some very interesting folks that drove shop talk all the way until 1:30 pm when I finally excused myself and headed home to, wait for it, yes, to sleep. I probably didn’t keep my eyes open for more than 30 minutes at a time for the whole rest of the day and I didn’t even ruin my night’s sleep. No, I dozed from 2pm through about 9pm before passing out completely until 8am the next morning. I might have been really sick or something? It’s unclear.

Sunday morning I started slow, tackled my American taxes, and eventually decided that 24 hours in my room alone was probably not the healthiest way to spend a weekend. I was still feeling too weak and sickish to handle contemporary so I badgered my friends until they caved and agreed to join me for tea which turned into an entire afternoon/evening of adventure. Yes, Jessie and I started at Radiance tea on the Upper East Side where we ate some beautiful dim sum and drank heavenly oolong tea. We had shrimp and spring green dumplings that could have made me cry. They were so delicate and tender and fresh. The greens tasted like they’d just been picked and the dumpling wrappers were unspeakably tender. And then there were the duck spring rolls. They were crispy morsels of perfection with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. We rounded out our dim sum with some scallion pancakes and then turned to tea. I described my oolong dreams of light green mainland China heaven to the waitress and she immediately recommended the High Mountain Oolong. I trusted her assurances and had no regrets. It was exactly the light, fresh, green oolong that I remembered from my time in China and the refills were bottomless.

Somewhere around pot number 4, we wrapped up our meal with a trio of gorgeous mochi. I’ve never been all that fond of mocha before and I usually hate red bean paste but Jessie is a mocha lover so I tried to give it another try. These mocha were so much better than anything I’d ever tried before. The glutinous rice exterior was so very soft, tender, and fresh, it melted in your mouth and the fillings were divine. The peanut and sesame were stunning, and the red bean paste was so utterly inoffensive that even I, hater of all things red bean, enjoyed it. Suffice to say that Radiance Teas is a purveyor of only the highest quality East Asian delicacies. I’m a convert.

After tea, we wandered out into the world to do a little shopping, or rather to do a little trying on–we didn’t end up buying anything before finding our way into a very charming little speakeasy. New York is simply obsessed with speakeasies but I’ve not actually been to that many of them, I tend to avoid the trends. That said, this one came highly reviewed and it was only 140yds away so we wandered over and thank goodness for Google maps because we’d’ve never found it otherwise. The only signage was a name on the mailbox and the entry way was empty. We found no one at all until we traipsed upstairs and finally found the bartender and server who set us up with the most decadent of drink menus. I dove into the gin menu while Jessie headed for bourbon. Can I just say that I’ve spoiled for cocktails in this city? The creativity and the craftsmanship of New York cocktails is far above and beyond anything I’ve experienced anywhere else in my travels. This time I began with a gin, rose, and grapefruit foundation and ended with a swizzle that savoured strongly of caraway and genepy. It was the best kind of tipsy gossip sesh and, as if we hadn’t already been decadent enough, we ended out evening at the beloved Sticky’s Finger Joint for fried chicken and the most unlikely fries.

Sticky’s is a classic with all the best (and craziest) dipping sauces. We got some chicken poppers, two kinds of aioli, and a honey mustard sauce and then we got silly. We tried the smores fries. They are exactly as insane as you are imagining. Picture the most gorgeous, crispy french fries topped with chocolate sauce, marshmallow fluff, mini marshmallows, and graham cracker crumbs. It was a heavenly marriage of salty and so sweet. 10/10 would eat again. I think we both rolled home.

This morning, my well fed tummy and I woke up and set out in search of coffee. I was all out of coffee grounds and it was a holiday so my usual port of call for coffee beans was closed. Fortunately, there’s a fairly solid roastery kitty corner from my apartment so it was just a hop, skip, and a jump to a bag of beans and a beautiful mocha.

Once fed and caffeinated, I caught up on some letter writing and life admin before heading up to the Met for a little time amongst the modern artists. On the way home the trains decided to play up again which lead to a very full 4 train where I nearly had the chance to experience one of New York’s unnervingly frequent subway slashings. One man backed into another which lead to the latter accusing the former of touching him and very swiftly escalated into the former threatening to pop the latter in the kneecap just as soon as they got off the train while the latter screamed obscenities into the face of the former. Fun fact: I was the nearest adjacent human being and there was absolutely no where for me to move to. Fortunately they parted ways one stop later and I didn’t have to witness any bloodshed but it certainly added some frisson to my afternoon.

When I finally made it home, I treated myself to North Dumplings and Doughnut Plant and decided to reserve dietary virtue for the weekdays. And thus you find me here, tapping away on my keyboard and trying not to pass out again. I like to believe that I’m on the road to recovery but my current exhaustion might suggest otherwise.

Sleepily yours,
The Salsa Girl

In Which There is Nearly No Blog

It’s only Monday and already I find myself clawing my way up the stairs only to fall face first into bed and pass out for over an hour. You’re lucky I woke up at all because the only alarm I had set was for 6:30am tomorrow morning, and I wouldn’t have had a single qualm if I had slept right through. So it’s really only thanks to my impudent stomach and my noisy neighbourhood that there’s a blog at all today. Please forgive me if it ends up being brief.

Now I may pretend that my current state of illness and ruination came completely out of nowhere, but if I’m quite honest, I know exactly how it happened. I had a cold some time ago which I had managed to nearly vanquish but for a bit of a drippy, icky feeling round about the rear of my pharynx and an unpleasantly metallic taste in the back of my mouth. And then I introduced my slightly sickly self to this past week and the rest is history.

You see, Tuesday was purest hell. It was the sort of deadline day that makes me despair of the possibility of ever feeling calm and in control again. It was a nail biting rat race to the finish and the finish was hardly worth celebrating when all was said and done. In a way it was an intensely concentrated run-in with the general content of my 2018 all summarized and re-enacted in the hours that span 8am through 6pm from the first coffee to the delirious collapse. That alone might have been enough to do me in, and certainly would have if not for the comfort of phone calls with friends and delicious North Dumplings.

But that would not be enough to satisfy my hyperactive soul, so come Wednesday I was out again. My reading tutee was out again so I had a moment directly after work to race home through the pouring rain and scoop up an umbrella before heading back to Brooklyn for a discussion group. It was a group of tutors from the place where I volunteer and we were discussing some very interesting issues over pizza and wine. The prevailing discussion surrounded the issue of race, racism, and colourblindness in educational settings. It’s such a broad, deep, and complex series of issues, and they’re all so terribly slippery. I want to be able to engage with the topic but it’s not easy and the risk of a misstep is so great, I feel like a newborn foal on speed skates tumbling around an ice rink hoping only to avoid crashing my sharp, flailing limbs into anyone else. I guess the only way through is open hearted, open minded listening, and respectful, considered, compassionate action. I shall hope that I at least manage to continue stumbling forwards.

After the discussion group, I wandered into Washington Square to grab a drink with a westie before dance. The Belgian beers were divine, I’m told the fries were tasty, and the conversation was very enjoyable indeed. And thus I came to find myself rolling into dance sometime around 10 after nearly four full hours of generally stimulating conversation. It was an excellent evening altogether.

Thursday, I took my grant prep on the road and headed up to The Cooper Hewitt Design Lab for a symposium on accessible design. The day began with the most beautiful heartrending short film: The Commute. It broke my heart so utterly in two with its tragic, beautiful realism and struggle. If you have three unclaimed minutes in your day, give them to this film. It is worth every moment.

After that dramatic beginning, the day continued through a group of 4 inspiring lightning talks, the most awe inspiring of which was the talk given by Patricia Moore, one of the originators of Universal Design. Her consideration, not so much for design and aesthetics, but for people and their stories spoke to me on a far deeper level than expected. I am miles from being a designer, but when I heard her speak, it resonated with the very core of my being and, as I madly proofed proposal documents and scribbled out grant pages, I wondered what I ought to be doing to really make use of the deep seated humanism that sits neglected at my core. I’ve probably been wondering this for years, but I’ve gotten good at ignoring it, right up until someone brave and brilliant and compassionate is standing before me sharing how they’ve brought their fascination with and love of humans to bear on building a better world. I can only hope I’ll figure out where I fit eventually.

Having spent my day coming alive again, I then headed back downtown to grab a quick supper at a diner, finish my current novel–Mo Yan’s Wine Country–and head to a talk at NYU on the topic of slavery in Canada. We self-satisfied Canadian types like to pretend that our only role in slavery was as the promised land at the end of the Underground Railway, but to do as much, I learned that night, is to deny many years of our country’s early history and to deny the experiences of all those enslaved persons who found, not freedom but slavery in our Paradise North of 49. This history was woven with spoken word and stories carved out of escaped slave notices and advertisements of sale and it was powerful and poignant. As a western Canadian who had very little exposure to people of African origin in my childhood, it’s a history that seems so remote but is so important–and neglect. As described above, I continue to stumble along trying to learn and improve and be a little more woke everyday. I only hope that trying is enough.

After a day of listening and being inspired, Friday would be more active, if only for an hour and a half. Yes, after another long day at work, I joined another westie friend of tap dancing origins at an Absolute Beginner Hip Hop class. Yes, Absolute Beginner. This awkward monster needed it. On my last attempt at Beginner Hip Hop some years ago, the teacher eventually came to stand before me in dismay to shout, “No, DOWN! You need to get DOWN! Are you incapable of being down?” The answer was unabashedly yes. So this time it was absolute beginner.

The teacher was the best kind of crazy, she sang and danced and sassed all in equal measure while she brought us gently into the room and then ran us roughshod through a fun fast combo of basic moves. I was less incompetent than previously, but managed to get called out for: a) not breathing enough–apparently I looked like I might pass out, and b) pointing my toes. It’s always an adventure.

Saturday morning I bounded out of bed and charged head first into a very busy day. I began my day by cleaning the apartment and heading to my beloved broga class. It was slightly less hardcore than last week but still left me sweating and exhausted. Someday I will manage an arm balance other than crow. Saturday was not that day. After yoga, it was back home to shower and change before heading uptown to Alice’s Teacup. Patrick’s sister was in town so it was time for scones and after a few train adventures on both their parts and mine, we eventually found ourselves settled into a nook with three pots of tea and six spectacular scones. There are many worse ways to spend an afternoon.

I expected the rain to still be racing down when we left the cafe and had resigned myself to heading home directly after, but instead I was greeted by the most wonderful crisp, cool, misty evening air. So of course, I headed out across the foggy hillocks of Central Park to The Met. Half the city seemed to be there trying to get into the soon to close Michelangelo exhibit, which meant that the rest of the galleries were deliciously unpeopled. I finally spent some time pouring over the arms and armour section, before drifting through my beloved impressionists en route to The American Wing. I’ve never really spent much time in the American wing–much of it does little for me–but this time, I dug deeper and wandered onwards and found the John Singer Sargent section. His portraits of women are remarkable. They gaze upon or away from the viewer so confidently and with such spirit. They are seldom ephemeral, retiring beauties but instead proud, energetic, powerful agents who hold the viewer like an insect in amber. The Portrait of Madame X is, of course, spectacular, but I loved most of all Mr. and Mrs. I. N. Phelps Stokes in which Mrs. Stokes utterly overshadows the darker figure of her husband who nearly dissolves into the background while she pops energetically and proudly out of the frame. It really is all in the eyes.

After three hours or more of wandering through the galleries, I made my way home to eat, lighten my load, and refresh myself before another night of dance. It was a relatively quite night, but I was in good company and so we stayed out until the end anyway.

The next morning, despite the hour that I finally fell asleep, my body decided that 8:30am was in fact, the very best time to wake up. I myself, would disagree, but I apparently did not get to have an opinion on this and so was out of bed by 9am in an absolute strop. Exhausted is not a good look on me, especially when my day is intended to include a photoshoot. Nonetheless, I redyed my hair, put in my contacts, packed my mountains of outfits and gear, and headed into midtown to help out with a photoshoot. In a more rested state, I might have been more amenable to the sweat, but in my exhausted state that day, all I could think about as we dance cardio’d for photo after photo was how much I wanted to get to the yoga part of the shoot. I would not call myself a fan of dance fitness. But the yoga and the wcs shoots were fun and the mimosa that followed was much appreciated, so I marched onwards all the way until Contemporary at Ailey. We had a substitute teacher, but he was spectacular and I actually felt like I was really getting the combo. Yes, my awkward long limbs and I were almost graceful for half a second, in a studio class! I know. It’s barely believable.

Post-dance we headed down to Turnstyle for food. I finally tried Chick N Cone which might just be heaven in a waffle cone, before bidding the uptown folks farewell, piling myself into a train, and dragging my grumpy butt home to sleep. When even a beautiful contemporary combo couldn’t lift my mood for longer than a minute, I knew that it was a matter of sleep deprivation so I tucked my tired, ill-tempered self into bed, snuggled up to my quilt, and fell asleep at what I thought was an entirely reasonable hour.

Nine hours of uneven sleep later, I was rolling out of bed on a Monday morning feeling rested but still rough. I made it into the office and dove straight in, which I suppose makes it unsurprising that after 8 hours straight between meetings and my desk, I was stumbling towards my volunteering obligations feeling flushed and exhausted. I made my way through an hour and fifteen of literacy, dragged myself to the train, hauled myself up five flights of stairs, and with no word of a lie, fell face first into my bed and passed unceremoniously out of consciousness. Apparently, I’m not entirely 100% well just now? I only wish I had time to do something other than to keep on powering through, but what doesn’t kill you…

And on that note, I should probably put my keyboard away and crawl back under my covers in hopes that an hour or two of extra sleep might make mañana a wee bit more manageable.

Still kicking, if only barely,
The Salsa Girl

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

In Which the Sickness Drags on…and on…and on…

I don’t know if you all heard me last week, but I’ve had an impressively nasty cold. It’s now burrowed it’s way down into my lungs where it’s manifesting as a chesty cough and a generalized shortness of breath. It’s delightful. It has not however been allowed to stop me living my life. So despite the fact that I probably should have been sleeping, I managed to get up to all manner of shenanigans this week so let’s get to it.

On Tuesday, I bounded out of work and on up to Ethical Tech. It’s one of my favourite Meetups here in the city, hosted at the wonderful socially conscious, counter-culture software firm Thoughtworks. The hosts are Thoughtworks employees and the topics are always fascinating from discussions of online activism to counter culture communities, and social implications of innovations like AI. This session featured a talk on Drop City, an artistic counter culture community established near Colorado in the 70s, a pitch for a “platform co-op”, and a brief introduction to NYC Mesh, the decentralized wifi based network that is gradually spreading its tendrils along DIY lines across the city. The talks were interesting but alas the questions swiftly dove off the rails and into investment potential and nit picky points about networking security. And I’m not saying that these topics aren’t interesting, but they are not the kind of interesting that I want to get into at Ethical Tech. I go there for philosophy and an escape from the money hungry New York rat race, but I suppose you can never quite escape that. Regardless, the balance still came out on the side of interesting and philosophical and so we smile, thank the organizers, and move on.

Delightfully, when I eventually made my way home, I found a beautiful envelope all swirled with beautiful orange and blue with my name in the middle, and a certain delightful Finn’s in the upper left. I will never get past the delight of receiving post.

After work on Wednesday, I unfortunately did not end up at tutoring as my poor student had fallen ill and wasn’t able to make it. So instead I made my way home and collapsed for a bit before donning my war paint and heading to dance. My first port of call was Ripley Grier for another fantastic class with Karel Flores. This one was a brain buster where we did the whole combo facing front and then, without a moment even to breathe, spun it around and did all over again facing back. It seems so simple, but turning a combo around so that you have only your own internal points of reference to orient your movement is incredibly difficult. In spite of ourselves, we survived.

Sometime later, soaked in sweat, I made my way down the street to westie cafe where I quickly towelled myself off, changed clothes and shoes, and stepped out on the floor to test out my brand new jazz boots. To put it simply, I’m in love. They are soft and bendy and perfect for spinning and sliding all over. Best $20 I’ve spent in a long while! Predictably, I stayed out until the better end before climbing aboard a late night train to whisk me away home to bed.

Thursday saw a very sleep and still slightly sickly Salsa Girls tumbling into the office with her eyes on the prize, entirely too many hours away: her bed. Between me and my precious sleep lay: at least 8 hours in the office, a quick stop home to change gears, and then at least a few hours out at Civic Hall learning about all the open data available from the Department of Buildings and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. It was an interesting event but I was a touch too tired and sore to properly appreciate it.

On Friday, I was feeling slightly more alive so I set out to K-Town for a pre-dance dinner with the dance folks. We ended up in Seoul Garden eating steaming bowls of tofu soup and chatting away merrily in a digital dead zone. Yes, there was no cell service in our corner of the restaurant so we all left our phones alone and actually had conversations. It was delightful. Following up our tofu with some sweets, we dropped by a tightly packed food court to snag a few fishies. Yup, it was taiyaki time! I’d never had a taiyaki before but they are so adorable that I just couldn’t say no. It’s basically a fish shaped waffle stuffed with cream cheese, red bean paste, or even nutella. I ordered a cream cheese and a nutella, was given a red bean paste one, identified the problem, and then ended up with two cream cheese fishies. I might have gone back and demanded my chocolate fix, but there was a charming middle classhole throwing a fit over the direction of the queue so I decided to cut my losses, save myself from a public argument, and walk on outta there.

With our fishies in hand, we then headed to dance. It was a quiet night, but the music was good and I had my crew so no complaints.

Saturday morning, I rolled out of bed and straight into yoga. It was a substitute teacher so, rather than the expected broga it was qi gong, spirituality, and a little bit of yoga thrown in around the edges. It felt nice but it definitely wasn’t what I’d been planning to spend my noon hour doing. When my meridians and I got back to the apartment, I turned to bread making. Once the bread was in the fridge retarding, I headed up to Harlem for a critique session with the westies. We skyped in Mandy all the way from Chengdu and somehow spent over two hours sprawled across Patrick’s apartment watching and discussing our dance videos. When I made it back to the train, I found myself staring down a 20 minute wait for the next D train so I decided to take the transfer option and start on an A or C train. Mere minutes later I would find myself on the slowest express C train that has ever been seen. It was only stopping at the express stops, but between them it crawled along slower than a drunken tortoise climbing Everest. When I eventually made it home, I was sufficiently frustrated that I just had to watch a movie before bed. And then suddenly it was 2am and I was missing out on all the sleep I actually really needed.

The next day, I woke up, threw my bread in the oven, and decided to completely rearrange my room. Halfway through the repositioning of every piece of furniture I own, it was time to get my ass to class. Yes, it was contemporary time! Being terribly clever ducks, Patrick and I managed to miss the first ten minutes of class waiting outside of the usual studio when in fact the class had been moved to a different studio three floors up. It was a beautiful combo with just the right mix of ethereal beauty and aggressive awkwardness all wrapped around an entirely manageable bit of floor work. Yes, you heard me, manageable floor work. Normally I hate floor work and my knees do too, but this was actually entirely approachable and I’m not even bruised!

In the afterglow of class, Patrick and I made our ritualized stop at Turnstyle for snacks and gossip. Unbelievably, we didn’t end up eating Bolivian. We diversified and ate vegan and macarons. Both were delicious, but I think the macarons take the cake. We tasted a honey and lavender and a red velvet. The former was punchy and aggressive but somehow more delicious than the soft florals that most macarons are made of. The latter was possessed of the most velvety flavours known to macarons. It was softly chocolatey with a silky cream cheese frosting between the disks of meringue. I probably didn’t need sweets, but they were delicious.

Shortly thereafter, I was back in my room attempting to roll a bit of the chaos out of the way so that somehow, at some point, I might be able to make it through to my bed again. It was a hasty operation because I had fun waiting for me somewhere down the J train. Which is how I found myself drinking entirely too much dark and stormy over party games in Bedstuy. We ate, we drank, we played ridiculous games–it was delightful, and I even won a few rounds. I also managed to stay out until 1am which made today much harder than it ought to have been. I mean it wasn’t destined to be an easy day, but the addition of exhaustion did not assist. After work, I headed down to tutoring. My student is still out sick, but another one of the tutors was also out sick so I adopted his student instead. I have to say that it’s nice to have an easier student every now and then. This one was a charming little fourth grader in a minions sweatshirt who’s just made grade level. I’m sure I’d get bored if I only ever worked with the students with fewer challenges, but today’s exhausted Salsa Girl was very glad for it.

I had intended to end my night with yoga, but then the laziness and the exhaustion won and I stumbled my way home to eat a sandwich, throw together some lunch for the week and get my blogging out of the way so that I miiiight get a bit of sleep tonight. On the topic of which, I think Imma wrap this up and do just that.

Almost healthy again,
The Salsa Girl