Coming up: What the Tango (festival in Whidbey Island)! Our hero and heroine part ways in the midst of a raging tempest. While Andrew runs forward into the breach of mud with bike in hand (or on shoulder), Adella runs kia-first into the looming gales and torrents guarding Coupeville's secret tango temptations. Will Andrew survive his first cross race intact? Will he bring home enough soil to start that shower-garden? Will Adella defeat the jitters and quivers of her tiny car and tense heart to find tango bliss? Thrown into the wormhole of the past, will she find her answers to questions long beyond her? Will she break any of her students once and for all? On the run, again, the couple separates once more. Will they ever meet again at the pathfinder or will Adella be caught in an endless loop of five minute turn-arounds. And trial beckons! Does this mean the end of the world is nigh?? Will anyone survive??
What the Tango?? -
I'm off (in oh so many ways) into the wet and wilds of Whidbey Island. I haven't been to Whidbey since my Grandmother's funeral, and what a day to go. All signs are pointing to a torrid tempest or two on the drive over. But tango calls. More specifically, I was drafted to teach and dj at the newly minted Whidbey Island Tango Fest, which is quite beautifully referred to as the WiTF. The official organizers are Whidbey folk with whom I've only had peripheral contact so I don't know their fluency in the argot of lolcats and textspeak, but I like to believe they are as entertained by this as I am. I'm guessing it is not entirely tin-earred, but I hate to speculate. That's a lie. I love to speculate. I hate getting caught in egregious speculation down the road. I'm also uncertain if my co-teacher (the one who drafted me and the man generally behind the Tango Popolare - TP ha ha - curtain) finds this funny either. Life is full of mysteries. At least I am amused. Because that's such a challenge, amusing me. I never drift off into my own little world and start smirking at the swerving of atoms.
I am doing - as always - a technique workshop. Ladies love my pretty feets and think it's skill instead of socks. I won't disenchant them of that notion since I do bring a background and insight from other disciplines which appears to be helpful to tango dancers. Because I'm me, I have dubbed my class Heels, Shoulders, Knees and Toes: Technique-al Support for Tangueras . This never made it onto the website, which makes me a sad panda. But that's what it is in my head still. Being insane, I've actually printed out a written outline for students to take with them.
I'm also dj-ing a practica later in the afternoon. For some reason - despite the fact that I may have cultivated an early reputation and fixation with non-traditional tango music - I am manning the traditional practica while others handle the "nuevo" and "alternative" ones. I'm happy with that, as I also love traditional tango music. But if I can't play several bizarre tango covers of pop songs, I will at least have my day in the cortinas (little pieces of music between sets), which definitely includes a swing version of Smells Like Teen Spirit, a charleston version of Crazy in Love, and a spicy salsa version of Fever.
And yes, this is the first outing for THE BAG! Laptop is all packed up and ready to go with a few snacks to boot. I stopped the effort at the socks today, wearing workout capris and a small t-shirt (hey this technique shnizzle is serious ). I am so not the part today. But will I remember to bring my shoes? Now that's a question only time can answer.
Oh yeah, it's Saturday. I weighed in - apparently I'm in the mid-weight change slump where I'm keeping on keeping on but feeling less ebullient or nervous about the process. But I will continue my trusty reporting for at least another week. This morning. I'm at 134.somethingorother. More than 134 but less than 135. So that's good I think. I'm planning a shopping excursion once I break 135. So far, again, no need for new clothes yet, but why not celebrate? Besides since I default to dressing like a very sporty bag lady when I'm not going to costume events, it's probably time again to reinvigorate my wardrobe choices.
And, I don't have enough toe socks to pull this off for a month, but to celebrate the passing of a month, HAPPY #Toevember !!!
What the Tango-Pic?
When people ask how long I've been dancing I get kind of confused. I do this for several reasons. First off, any one who's seen me wandering around a local grocery store (or heaven forbid, sat next to me during a musical performance) knows I've been "dancing" in one way or another probably before I ever took a step or a breath of open air. And of course, I studied some form of dance since I was about four. And naturally I always loved me a good dance party from teen years to college and back again. In highschool, people jokingly referred to my compulsion to spend high school dances actually dancing (usually the only one while every one else milled awkwardly in other rooms waiting for the chaperones to leave so the awkward flirting could commence) by calling me the dancing queen. I was never one to pass up '80's night. And the noise musicians HNTIW (I think that's how you spell it) knew me as the Dance Master and got excited whenever I came to one of their events, baby. But, somehow, I don't think that totally counts. Except it can. Except that's probably not what's being asked.
Of course there is always the urge to temper any impressive sounding durational measure with plenty of peppered "sporadically" "on and off" "not as much as I'd like these days" so that I do not raise the bar of expectations far beyond my abilities.
Duration of dance experience is not patently indicative of ability. I'd say that the majority of dancers peak out after about two to three years. The true-believers who are willing to go the extra step can become significantly better with hard work, but the marginal returns are lower after that point; most people merely sediment their own habits and acclimate to their familiar partners. There may even be a fairly common drop off of ability at around the two and a half to three year mark, as habits set in and novelty is replaced by rote.
The other reason I hem and haw is that - as indicated in the stuttered quotes above - I don't necessarily dance with that much frequency all the time. In fact, over the course of my dance timeline, I've got months at a time hardly dancing at all.
I've expressed my surprise before at how little difference time can make either way - I have lost far less of my flourish during those times off than I'd have expected. Once there's a certain base of technique, if you are still building strength and flexibility somewhere, then you can get away with long vacations free of significant desuetude or attrition. Not perfectly by any means, but it reminds me of pacing in running. Most people have a huge problem learning pace when they first start running, but once they've got it they've got it for life.
Not to say my dancing is nearly as good as it has been at my most serious (there was a time when I danced several hours a day and much of that was drilling and other unpleasant deliberately practiced sorts of dancing), and certainly not as good as it could be. I'm patently aware of all my shortcomings in a way only somebody who has once been serious enough to learn oneself can really be. It's not always comforting to foster that awareness in lapse of the associated dedication to make use of such awareness. But, I digress.
The other reason I have a hard time answering the "how long" query is because, well, wow, I have a hard time answering that. It's been a long time now. Years blend together over time. When you first start, there's an infatuated rush that lasts into about the three year mark. You struggle the first year, but things start to click. Things start to click rapidly in the second. Somewhere in between two and four is the peak time of obsession. I know because I see these little cycles of core community members ebb and flow according to reliable timelines. At two years, I started travelling to Seattle frequently. At two and a bit more, I pulled my first Buenos Aires trip. At three, I pulled another one. I taught, I performed, I did the full festival passes and squeezed every conceivable drop of dance time from any milonga, all travels came with tango shoes in-bag, and I had an absolutely epic tango wardrobe.
Four through seven was law school. I still practiced drills intermittently. I had two practice partners that filled out my calendar to about once a week. I tried to get out for a class or workshop every quarter. I'd show up to a practica or milonga if it were near my house, I wasn't too slammed, and the boyfriend was doing something else. And I still taught a bit in Seattle and a bit in Bellingham.
Eight through ten is about where I am now, I think. I teach at times. I go to milongas sometimes and rarely stay the full time. I still have my brief encounters of sheer obsessive finger-on-the-pulse-of-life-bliss here and with my tango fanatic friend in San Francisco (who is insanely devoted enough after ten years to be improving with duration), and I supplement of course with all my other dances, as always.
So yes, I think it's ten now? Or maybe eleven. Perhaps going on eleven since I started tango in earnest.
Anyways, what I was going to say is that this photo was taken by a woman I knew from my first tango class however many years ago that was. It's not the most shining example of technical style on my part, but I like to think the socks make up for it a bit!
November Showers Bring December... Showers?
I mixed my weekend days up with a blender and some ice, but it appears that my head is still prepared to understand that this is Monday. That it is also the first Monday of November, and thus a day for board meetings and other unspeakable commitments, is something that may take a few more days to hit home... but Monday, at least I've got sorted out ok.
was quite the excursion through wind, rain and various island trappings. The tango festival that I was helping out with was in Coupe(d-up-on-a-small-touristy-island)ville, a nice little town on some corner of Whidbey Island. I feel that festival may have been a bit of an exaggeration, having experienced my small corner of it. It was more like a series of workshops featuring Tony and Ilana from Seattle, with a few extra trappings to fluff the weekend up a bit.
The workshops and practicas that I manned were mostly sort of a "see we've got variety for every taste!" figurehead statement than anything hugely official. I don't mind. I had a small smattering of brave follows for my technique-al support workshop. And I ran them appropriately to the ground. Or just short of neurophysio-explosion with a series of drills and practice points that have been handily summarized on a three page outline I also brought to the class. Despite many unsmiling facial contortions during the workshop, each of the follows subsequently approached me and thanked me deeply for the lesson, noting some revelation that had been had during that grueling hour. One even wants to set up an encore in Bellingham. We are masochists, we are dancers! While I hurt them, I also hurt myself: boy am I sore.
The practica that I was supposed to be (whooooooa)manning was merged into the practica that David was supposed to be (ooooooh)manning in some kind of sparsely attended traditional-alternative souffle The one the Tony was dj-ing happened to be where the free wine "tasting" was simultaneously on tap (or on oak barrel or whatever the oenophile's equivalent is) so by all reports, most people were there and not dancing. Ours was a nice intimate affair atop a nice intimate Italian bakery, though. I have half an unused playlist to whip out the next time insta-dj is called upon. I cut some mad cortinas, gosh darnit, and I am not afraid to use them!
Andrew was tentatively going to go as far as driving down with me, possibly to mountain bike in the area (my creative suggestion), but such plans were stymied by the Tempest in a Whidbey Commemorative Teapot we had for ourselves on Saturday. I was a bit nervous when I realized I'd be going all by myself (my car probably weighs about as much as a medium sized Great Dane and doesn't handle wind well), but somewhere along the drive I remembered - as I usually do - that I have several years of crazy adventuring under my (thoroughly knotched out) belt.
As a cautious person, I've often found myself taking advantage of a social/emotional crutch to avoid several manifestations of risk. Sure, driving in a safer car makes sense, but I also have used social surrogates or dance partners as a way of shielding myself from too much novelty or uncertainty. Perhaps I bring my handsome husband along and then spend the entire evening dancing with him instead of asking new people to dance. Perhaps, I notice he looks "a bit tired" and allow myself the excuse that he'd like to go home soon. Perhaps.
This isn't a bad thing, but it's worth investigating my more daring tendencies as well. I'm the girl who would randomly drive down to an alien event in Seattle at a second's whim and dance myself into a reverie of sheer bliss without batting an eye. I'd get nervous before heading into the dancehall. I'd remember the inconvenience of parking and driving and getting home late, and the horror of potential rejection or an unfamiliar unsafe partner pushing me straight onto my tango-tush, but I didn't let it stop me. Hell, I'm the girl who'd plan trips to Argentina by herself on the same "well, what hell" heel and a prayer. I have that in me and I usually end up enjoying letting that side of me out. I know it's natural to hedge my odds (because I don't always end up finding those perfect new experiences), but going off on my own is something I'm more than talented at, and it was good to remember this.
Released from driving and dancing obligations, Andrew went off and thoroughly muddied himself at his premier (and finale, perhaps) cyclocross event of the season. He brought several pounds of dirt and mud back with him as a trophy. Thank goodness, we have a cleaning service! Not that I haven't always wanted to plant kale and cabbage in our shower stall... Sounds like he had fun, but reaffirmed that 'cross is not his discipline. And we were both appropriate sore and tired by day's end.
For those of you who observe Daylight Savings Time, you may be aware that it ended (for now) sometime between Saturday night and this morning. With some very calculated planning ahead, I managed not to let this throw me into waking up at 4 a.m. on an ever expanding trajectory towards earlier and earlier birding (I really have enough worms, thank you very much) and spent the remainder of my still-early Sunday morning time battling various clocks around the house. By far, the oven was the least amenable and - after several skirmishes, we compromised. It spent most of Sunday running 10 minutes slow . This morning I managed to brave the buttons and unspoken voodoo rituals required in setting the clock, and all is well with the world. While it lasted, it added a nice surreal quality to my day to lose ten minutes every time I switched my gaze from the oven to the microwave.
Sunday was a more localized and familiar DINKscursion, and quite a typical Saturday aside from it actually being Sunday. Andrew and I whittled our morning into a nice pointy stick of connubial amity and relaxation before donning our spandex and hitting the carefully groomed "trails." I have a new jacket that will be perfect in about two or three weeks.
There were plenty of people out and I was energetic enough to bound off fairly early in the run mid-conversation with my handsome hubby. He sanely decided to continue running at his own pace, so we didn't quite finish that conversation yet.
Our route is a little equivocal at this point, since
Figuring half-and-half for the run made as much sense as anything (and really, I tend to run faster on the way back than the way out since part of that is warm up), I decided to just wing it and choose a bit of a circuitous route past the theoretical halfway mark.
Since the route I took was a loop up through Fairhaven instead of just turning around, I didn't run into (har har - pun) Andrew on the way back like I might usually. Which was kind of entertainingly mysterious because I didn't know when he might have turned around and whether he was in front of me or behind me. As such, I ran all the way almost to the car, back onto the trail for about five minutes, back all the way to the car, and then finally back to the trail to run into him. Whatever else, it kept me bounding and bobbing. And the people I barreled past several times were only moderately traumatized by the experience. No baby carts were overturned in the making of this run.
I also did another spat of running on the YMCA treadmill. I think it's increasingly impossible for me to run on the treadmill and not do some kind of intervals. The tedium corrodes my morale, otherwise. But I find that that little extra time on the treadmill evens out Andrew's strength routine to mine rather well and minimizes me idle-milling-about phase of the work out. Or discourages me from stretching as thoroughly as I ought to, something I usually will only do if bored and trying to kill time or far after it's too late to avoid some serious stiffness (so, last night, after sitting in a movie theater for two and a half hours).
By all promises, Andrew is set to get THE REALLY BIG PART that will change everything on his project and likely consume all of his heart, mind, and schedule. We shall see, but I'm glad we got part of the weekend together. is off his pace-training (nagging beepy watch) and running a bit faster as a result. This means the original turn around point is somewhat less conveniently in the middle. The new plan has been to run out and turn around at "the 30 minute mark," but Andrew's watch starts somewhere between the warm up and the actual run, while I start mine on the run, so our clocks don't always sync up. Apparently this time he kept running until he'd hit three miles out and then turned around.
Anomie in the Courtroom - Waiting for The Bald Birthday Party Soprano to Take us to a Zoo Where We Can Have Happy Days: The Musical Returns -
Oh yes, we are going to trial today! No bumpety bump! As astounding as this sounds, a family law case of ours may somehow and rather implausibly make it in front of an actual judge. I remain skeptical. There's a lot that can happen between now and nine a.m. The courthouse will likely implode. I'm guessing that in a few minutes, we'll be hit be a raging blizzard and perhaps a swarm of mutated ice-wolf-sharks - damn you Washington voters, don't you see what you've done with this GMO bill??
However, barring apocalypse: trial! The exclamation point is a half-hearted one. See, we have been set up so many times that at this point we can't even work ourselves into a good froth. If it goes, meh. If it doesn't go, meh. Which is why I suspect it is going at all. I think the trick is definitely playing hard to get.Trials like to be the initiator. They want to think you've got plenty of other trials sniffing around you waiting to initiate.
While the trial is the exciting part, my day will actually be far afield and watched mostly via the odd panicked chat message asking where the hell some random legal document from 2008 is, and can I retrieve it immediately! I'm looking forward to those. In the meantime, I'll be ballasting the fort with my sanguine smile and total avoidance of all client-related interactions. Of course, now that there's blood in the water, several other little trials are swarming, so I'll still have plenty to do (hiding in a closet, rocking back and forth singing soothing children's songs, most likely).
For now, I shall focus all my energy on keeping the courthouse open and the streets clear of wolf-sharks. Wish me luck!! To get into the spirit, I am listening to a songza station called Code Your Face Off. I'm not sure why, as I'd like to keep my face and am not coding, but I somehow couldn't resist the name.