13 March 2009

Bad Day

So, this was my schedule yesterday:  

Get up, eat breakfast, faff around
Go to tango lesson (with the Other Fabulous Tango Teacher, this time.  Although he is indeed fabulous, I'm going to call him the Very Tall Tango Teacher from now on, because that's  how I think of him)
Go to lunch
Go out for coffee (well, tea) with nice man from seminar
Do shopping
Go to dinner
Do ballet barre
Go to milonga

...and as I was sitting at dinner, I suddenly realised that I had nothing of interest to say - in fact, I had nothing to say.  At first I thought it was because I'd had a busy day (and that is a pretty busy day, especially given that there were no pauses between any of those things). Then I realised that I'd had nothing of interest to say all week.  So I had a bit of think while I was doing ballet, and it suddenly occurred to me that for the past two weeks I have basically done no work.  I'm now supposed to be revising the chapter I dislike, which is about a poem I don't really know what to make of and therefore am not comfortable with, and in the best tradition of my dealings with this chapter and poem I am engaging with the problem by throwing myself into social occurrences and activities and totally ignoring the work at hand.  Well, that's not new to me, but what is new is the discovery that I need to work if I'm to be an interesting person.

When I was writing my Ph.D., and for the three years since then, I've been consumed with an obsessive conviction that any moment away from my desk is a moment wasted. Simultaneously, I've been very worried about that obsession, and wished that I could have more social life - obviously, it seems mentally and physically healthier to spend time doing stuff other than work.  Also, it enriches the work.  My worry has always been that there's too much work, and not enough stimulation from stuff outside work.  

Imagine, then, my surprise at discovering that work, too, offers necessary stimulation - or, more surprisingly, that the working being stimulates the social being just as much as the social being stimulates the working being.  Who knew?  Upshot:  it's back to working tomorrow (although I'm going to aim for a balance).

One thing that did suffer from yesterday's schedule, though, was my dancing.  At the lesson I asked the VTTT if we could work on some turning steps, because at the moment the only way I can really turn is if the man steeeeeers me around in a circle, with the result that I do a kind of dizzy pivot.  At the milongas (milongae?) I've been to, though, I've seen women doing all sorts of elegant fancy-dancey turning moves, and I'd like to be able to do them, too.  So we worked on a step called "giro" (although I'm so thoroughly anglocentric that I kept looking it up as "hero" on youtube, and it wasn't until I found it under the general tango lesson videos that I remembered that of course it's a Spanish pronunciation.  Nice.  For years I've regretted not sticking with my Russian classes, and vaguely thought I ought to learn Spanish.  Now the lack of Spanish is more than a vague irritant).  The version you see in the clip is more complex than what we were doing, but even though our version was much simpler I absolutely could not get it.  The nice thing about a private lesson, of course, is that you can repeat one move for half an hour, and by the end of that time I was managing it with a certain fluidity, but still the teacher was going, "It's too big; it's too big."  And it was.

When I got to the milonga, though, I couldn't do it at all.  It was all gone.  I first danced with The Man from Budapest (that's not a nickname -  he really is from Budapest), who is excellent, and he helpfully led me through many many giros.  But The Man from Budapest is so good that no matter what he leads me through I look fabulous (although they were still TOO BIG.  The VTTT was there, and I kept imagining him watching me and wanting call out, "They're too big!").  I couldn't do them with anyone else.  

Not only that, though, but aside from the MfB, I couldn't seem to manage to dance at all.  I stepped on feet; I couldn't feel the lead.  I enjoyed it, but I knew I wasn't doing well.  To give you some idea of how not well I was doing:  in tango, the way you indicate that you no longer wish to dance with someone is to smile kindly and say, "Thank you."  I'm not sure, but I think the earliest etiquette decrees you can do this is after one set of three songs (for which there is a Spanish word that of course...I have forgotten).  And last night, twice, a FRIEND said, "Thank you" to me after three songs.  I was ditched by my friends.  That, as we say in the States, is cold. But it's also an indication of how I was dancing.  God bless them, one of them said, "I'm having all sorts of trouble dancing with everyone tonight," and the other (the FTT) said, "You're really improving; you're learning a lot."  Still, I knew. One of them said to me, while we were dancing, "I'm not feeling you"; you need to lean into the person, so they can feel they're guiding you, and
I wasn't doing that sufficiently (incidentally, he also said, "Are you standing on your toes?"  Grr...This is a chronic problem for me when I dance with the tall.  I mistakenly think I should try to match their height, but in fact standing on your toes makes you less heavy in the arms, and thus harder to feel. Plus, for the stander it's easier on your balance and calves if you don't go up on your toes.  Alas, I repeatedly forget that).  What's more, the FTT had to remind me of the second thing he ever taught me:  that standing still is okay.  Oh, the humanity!

This is bad.  Don't do it.

And a creepy guy who danced with me creepily gave me a cd of tango music, in a vaguely creepy way.

So, a lousy tango night.  Upshot: I'm going to pack less into the day.  

On the other hand, I did get a free tango cd, which seems to suggest there's no cloud without a silver lining (albeit a creepy silver lining),

And now, a joke. No, not the octopus joke (otherwise what would you have to look forward to?):  There were two peanuts walking down the street. One was plain, and one was a salted.

That is the very worst joke I know (it's from Monty Python), so all the jokes will be better from here on out.

Incidentally, my counter widget shows me that the post "Flotsam and Jetsam" gets a lot of hits from Cambridge.  ????  Is it the shirt?  It is a very nice shirt, and it always makes me think of the beautiful eyes that went with it.  So perhaps Cambridge is filled with people who like to imagine lovely eyes.  Or people who like highly lyricised writing.  Or people who are looking for a specific shirt.  As my friend H. used to say, we may never know.

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