Didn’t See THAT Coming . . .

September 30, 2008 at 6:34 PM (Dance, Friends, Musings) (, )

It was 7.00 A.M, and I was putting the final touches on a presentation I’d be delivering in a couple hours.  I was also waiting quite impatiently for my coffee to finish up, because once again, I was running on precious little sleep.  I chanced to look out my window at the loading dock of the stadium next to my building in time to see a pack of techies flooding out of a truck that had just pulled in for whatever performance is happening tonight.  I saw that many of them had Dunkin’ Donuts cups clasped in their hands, and I suddenly flashed back to when I was the captain of my college’s ballroom dance team.  I remembered cursing existence as I would drag myself out of bed as early as 3.30 A.M. to get myself ready and out the door by 5.00, to get to the team’s vans by 5.15, to meet everyone by 5.30, to call the latecomers by 5.45, and to be on the road moving by 6.00 to arrive at a comp by 7.30.  What would follow would typically be a 13- to 14-hour day of dancing and team parenting, and eventually another hour-and-a-half ride home.

I guess seeing the techies clinging to their coffee reminded me of how we usually had time to stop for caffeine on the way to a competition.  The strange thing was that I didn’t look back on that time with any distaste or regret.  As a matter of fact, I found myself missing it.  Yes, we all loathed being up at some ungodly hour of the morning, but we loathed it together, and we did it in anticipation of a great day ahead.  During the van ride, as we gradually woke up, the adrenaline slowly began to take over, and by the time we got to the competition, most of us were chomping at the bit and in high spirits.

Don’t get me wrong: I love my current team, even more so than my collegiate team.  We all support each other like family, but there’s something particularly adhesive about a group of people all forced to be up at the same early hour to pile into the same van to go to a comp and be stuck together for the greater part of a day.  Not only are members obligated to themselves and their partners to be at the van on time, but they are also abligated to the rest of the group: everyone got up at 5.00 so that everyone could get to the comp on time; it only made sense that they should cheer each other on, as well.  My current team has the luxury of personal automobiles: couples may not show up to a competition more than a few hours before their events, rather than getting there in time for the first team members’ events.  If they have their own means of getting to the comp, why lose sleep to be at an event by 10.00 A.M. if they don’t have to dance until 6.00 P.M.?

This has been a little bit of a sore spot for me on this team.  Because my partner and I compete at a lower experience level than most of the other team members, we typically get stuck with the Sunday 10.00 A.M. events.  That means that I’m usually up by 7.00 or 8.00 in the morning to deal with my hair and makeup, and that’s frequently after I stayed up past 11.00 P.M. the previous Saturday evening in order to support my higher level teammates compete.  Meanwhile, the friends I just spent $40 and three hours of sleep to watch the night before enjoy the luxury of sleeping through my heats.  Or, if we’re all competing the same day, even if my partner and I are competing in the afternoon, too frequently do I realise that our more advanced friends are busy warming up, or getting ready for their events, and can’t spare the time to watch us.

I understand that we’re all at the competition for the same reason: to dance, and to dance well.  It’s up to each of us to determine our priorities so that when it’s time for our events, we’re all in the best condition to perform.  That said, none of us are obligated to watch each other dance, especially if it may affect our own dancing later on, or in a slightly less relevant case, our wallets (ballroom entry fees can get pretty steep, depending on the competition).  It is my choice to go support my friends when they are dancing.  We have no written contracts bonding us to reciprocation of support.  I also understand that no matter how frustrating it is when my partner and I dance in front of an audience of strangers, that I will continue to support my friends when they dance, anyway.  It’s in my nature.

WARNING: Whining Alert!  The author is about to talk about the way things should be versus how they are.
That said, I do wish people on the team felt at least a little obligated to support all team members, not just the ones whose events fit conveniently into their schedules.  Out of curiosity, I just consulted the good ole’ Oxford English dictionary for a definition of “team.”  These two seemed relevant:

4. a. fig. Applied to persons drawing together.
b. transf. A number of persons associated in some joint action; now esp. a definite number of persons forming a side in a match, in any team sport; hence, a group collaborating in their professional work or in some enterprise or assignment. (http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50247958?query_type=word&queryword=team&first=1&max_to_show=10&sort_type=alpha&result_place=1&search_id=peAc-usXT7i-11125&hilite=50247958).

Okay, so there’s nothing about mutual support in order for a team to be truly cohesive, but there should be.  As I’ve mentioned many of these people are not just teammates: they’re friends, as well.  We hang out after practise.  Sometimes we even do non-dance stuff together.  We’re hardly strangers to one another.  If nothing else, as my friends, should I still have to ask them if they will watch me compete?

It is my choice to go support my friends when they are dancing.  We have no written contracts bonding us to reciprocation of support.  I also understand that no matter how frustrating it is when my partner and I dance in front of an audience of strangers, that I will continue to support my friends when they dance, anyway.  It’s in my nature.

Apologies – I definitely wasn’t counting on this turning into a rant.  That said, it’s my blog, and I’ll write whatever I gosh-darned well please!

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A Little Appreciation Is Greatly Appreciated

September 29, 2008 at 9:06 PM (Happenings, Musings) ()

I’ve been a regular at the chain coffee shop across the street from my apartment for four years.  I began working at one of its locations almost a year and a half ago, but of course I visit the shop across the street just as faithfully as I did four years ago – perhaps even more so, now that I frequently get the “insider discount” (read: “free”) deal on drinks.

A couple weeks ago, one of the supervisors stopped me and asked if I could work at all this past week.  After discussing some logistics, she later called me and asked if I could work for the majority of Monday and Thursday mornings.  My stomach turned a couple cartwheels as I agreed to work at 8.00 A.M. on Monday and 7.00 A.M. on Thursday.

On Tuesday night, I didn’t sleep.  At all.  I had a paper due at 9.00 A.M. the next day, and I refused to fall behind with my classwork.  I was busy all day Wednesday, and was practising at the studio until around 11.00 P.M.  For whatever reason, I didn’t get to bed until around 2.00 A.M.  Bearing all that in mind, it should be easy to figure out why I REALLY dreaded working at 7.00 Thursday morning.

It was all worth it, though.  I really am easy to please.  I was pulling shots left and right in an effort to whittle down the mile-long line of drinks during a mid-morning rush when the store manager walked over to the bar, stood behind me, and enveloped me in a bear hug.

“You are amazing.  Thank you so much for coming in; I really appreciate it.”  As he broke away and continued about his business, he added, “That was probably really awkward for you, but I’m sorry, I had to do it.”

Mind you, this guy has only been at the shop for maybe three months or so, I don’t know him as well as most of the other employees, and I’ve only actually worked at that store two or three times.  In short, if I was a little more Type A about personal space and all that sort, yes, the scenario could have been quite awkward, indeed.

Luckily, I’m quite a cuddly person, and am usually pro-hugging.  For whatever reason, after the unexpected display of gratitude, my mood went through the roof.  Suddenly it didn’t matter that I was running on not nearly enough sleep, or that the customers were getting really prissy about making sure that their super high-maintenance beverages were as carefully crafted as they were.  The fact that someone had gone out of his way to make it clear that he appreciated my taking time out of my schedule to help him and his store out meant a lot.  It doesn’t take much to let someone know that (s)he’s appreciated, yet too frequently, we take others for granted.  Too often I need to convince myself that going out of my way for people is worth the effort when they don’t even remember to say “Thank you.”  That said, I know I’m not without fault, and that I take people for granted more often than I should (which is never, by the way).

To my temporary store manager, thanks for reminding me that we can always do with more thank yous.

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Speaking of Roomates . . .

September 9, 2008 at 7:11 PM (Friends, Musings) (, )

“Bashing” my roomate last night reminded me of the wonderful company I’m keeping in this apartment.  For those of you who were wondering, the star of my last post was laughing hysterically whilst I read the post to her as I typed it.  Maybe it’s because this is the first time I’ve REALLY gelled with my roomates; maybe it’s because last year’s situation was less ideal; maybe it’s because we actually decided to live together, rather than having met via the coincidence of Craigslist or a similar medium.  Regardless, I wouldn’t hesitate to say that I thank my lucky stars at least twice an hour that we all get along so marvelously.  Some social stuff I appreciate:

Apartment dinners.  We cook for each other.  Not only does it make life easier when we’re putting together one meal for the four of us versus each of us preparing our own meals, but we’re all decent culinary artists, if I do say so myself.  In addition, it’s much more enjoyable to dine in company, rather than dining alone.  We’ll probably have dinner together at least twice a week.

Mutual love-hate relationships with the fitness centre.  Commonly heard phrase: “Yeah . . . definitely not waking up at 8.00 to go to the gym tomorrow.”

The above may possibly be a result of late nights watching TV and movies.  Everything from Scrubs to the VMAs to, yes, The Cosby Show.  We’re a somber group here.

Laughs, and a good many of them.  I’ve been reduced to tears a couple times over the last few weeks.

 

Ladies, cheers to these and many more delightful times to be had!

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My Damn Roomate . . .

September 9, 2008 at 4:22 AM (Friends) (, )

My damn roomate makes me dinner.  And it’s delicious.

My damn roomate keeps the kitchen clean.  And I avoid washing dishes like the plague.

My damn roomate has fine wine tastes.  And I like wine.

My damn roomate reaffirms my opinions of people I dislike.  I won’t mention names.

My damn roomate makes me giggle.  This is particularly appreciated when I’m sleep-deprived and loopy.

My damn roomate gives me Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.  There goes my diet.

My damn roomate named my plant “Herb.”  This makes sense, since Herb is, in fact, an herb.

My damn roomate is snoozing on the couch.  And I’m too lazy to put sheets on my bed.  Note the conflict of interests.

My damn roomate is watching The Cosby Show.  She isn’t black.

My damn roomate finished my coffee.  Along with my other roomate.

My damn roomate can only hope that I don’t identify her in this blog so that psychotics may have the  tools with which to track her down.

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