And In Other News . . .

January 29, 2009 at 2:58 PM (Happenings) ()

Dear Blog,

Still sick.  This bites.

Love,
Yours, Truly

Today’s Tunes
“Slow New York,” Richard Julian

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Always One for Impeccable Timing

January 28, 2009 at 9:44 PM (Happenings)

The bad news is that I’m sick.  Hello, mild fever, violent coughing fits, and a terribly sluggish feeling.  Not only that, but my muscles are just now crying out in protest against my recently more physically active lifestyle.

The good news is that today, I did not have work, class or dance, and was hence able to avoid going out in this delightfully snowy/ rainy weather.  I took advantage of being able to lie in, and have spent most of today trying to stay comfortable (and enjoying Lindt chocolate and hot cocoa with the little wanderer).  Tomorrow’s my 15-hour day, so I’m hoping that I’m feeling a bit better tomorrow morning.

Today’s Tunes
“Zing! Went the Strings Of My Heart,” Frank Sinatra
“Promesa de Amor,” Jeremias

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The Power of the Morning Swim

January 26, 2009 at 6:19 PM (Musings) (, , )

Last night, I was seething, to put it lightly.  I’m talking “woe to the soul who dares to stand ‘twixt me and, well, just about anything” enraged.  I won’t delve into details, because they’re irrelevant, but, have you ever thought to yourself that you’ve gotten over an incident with someone, only to realise that upon seeing that person, it takes every ounce of self-restraint in your being to keep from retching, throttling the person, or both?  It makes me think of a Julie de Lespinasse quote: “You know that when I hate you, it is because I love you to a point of passion that unhinges my soul.”  Granted, the quote’s a bit radical for my situation (I’d like to think, at least), but I found it in someone’s Facebook profile once and it’s stuck with me ever since.

Anyway, the person in question hadn’t done anything wrong yesterday, I suppose – or maybe so, but it’s all subjective – but being in a particular environment under just the right circumstances still cultured a knot in my stomach the size of a small grapefruit.  As I battled my fight-or-flight reflex, I remembered something someone had told me several months ago: “You never really get over someone, I’ve found.  As you push them out of your life, the effect they have on you stays with you, but gets buried with time, and you tell yourself that you’re over them.  As soon as they turn up on the radar again, though, you’re just as much of a mess as you were the last time you encountered them.  I know that I personally had some people in my life, who I wish never to see, or even hear their name, again.”  I guess I had managed to reopen my first wound.  I wasn’t so much angry with the person, but with myself for being so easily affected by someone.

I came home last night emotionally drained, and sorely tempted to have at least one more drink before going to bed.  I refrained, instead vowing to swim in the morning.  Before retiring, I asked the little wanderer if she had any interest in joining me for an 8.30 A. M. swim, and she tentatively agreed.  Although I was exhausted, I tossed and turned for what felt like an hour before finally falling asleep.

My alarm chirped at me as menacingly as usual this morning, but for once, I was determined not to opt for a snooze.  In contrast, I lept out of bed to brew a pot of coffee.  I knocked on the little wanderer’s door first, and heard nothing.  Knowing that she’d been up late working on grad school applications, I decided not to disturb her.  However, once I started the coffee, I heard an equally annoying phone alarm: this time it was the little wanderer’s.  I held my breath.  Although I was planning on swimming regardless of company, I still hoped I wouldn’t be going alone.  Calorie-burning misery loves company.

I was in luck: my suitemate emerged and welcomed the the cup of coffee that awaited her in exchange for swimming companionship.  My mood was still less than savoury, but knowing that I wouldn’t be swimming alone lifted my spirits somewhat.

I hoisted myself out of the pool an hour later feeling like a new person.  The endorphins had outdone themselves: I may as well have just scored my dream job, I was so content.  Although I still harbour some bitter feelings, those are tucked away for now, and I don’t plan on letting them get to me for as long as I can help it.  When they do take over again, though, it’s good to know that they’re somewhat water-soluble.

Today’s Tunes
“Four Minutes,” Madonna feat. Justin Timberlake
“Keeps Gettin’ Better,” Christina Aguilera
“Miss Independent,” Ne-Yo
“Dangerous,” Kardinal Offishall feat. Akon
“If I Never See Your Face Again,” Maroon 5 feat. Rihanna
“So What,” P!nk
“Gyrate,” Da Muzicianz feat. Mr. Collipark
“American Boy,” Estelle feat. Kanye West
“See You In My Nightmares,” Kanye West feat. Lil Wayne
“Viva la Vida,” Coldplay
“Womanizer,” Britney Spears
“I’m Yours,” Jason Mraz
“Love Song,” Sara Bareilles

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Blogging from Balera

January 25, 2009 at 8:35 PM (Dance) (, , )

After staging a coup, I have officially taken control of Balera!  Okay, not really, but I am in charge for a little while.  While the rest of the gang is off to a MassABDA (local dance organization) event, I get to run the competitors’ practise.  As cool as it may sound, it’s actually fairly low-maintenance.  Low-maintenance enough, in fact, that I have time to blog about it.

Every Sunday, the studio is open for competitors’ practise.  Although dancers may practise any time Balera is open, sometimes the floor can get a little congested with group classes, private lessons, and competitive couples working on their routines (and don’t get me started on music diplomacy!).  During competitors’ practise, the floor belongs solely to the competitive couples, who have the opportunity to use the music and space to their best advantage in an environment that matches their goals.

From 12.30 P.M. to 2.30 P. M., the space belongs to International Latin and American Rhythm competitors.  For two hours, the speakers play nothing but Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Swing, Paso Doble, Bolero, Jive and Mambo while competitors can use the space to their full advantage.  Beginning at 2.30 and lasting until 4.30, International Standard and American Smooth competitors have the run of the floor.  Music is comprised of Waltzes, Tangos, Viennese Waltzes, Foxtrots and Quicksteps.

Competitors’ practise is open to anyone in the dance community, regardless of experience level or studio affiliation.  Singles may practise for $10.00 per session; couples may practise for $15.00 per session.  No pre-registration required; walk-ins welcome.  For further information, feel free to call Balera at (617) 969-2280, E-mail at infoATbaleraballroom.com, or just  drop a comment here.

Balera School of Ballroom Dance
105 Rumford Avenue
Newton, MA 02466

Today’s Distractions
Mostly the Russian couple doing a really snappy Quickstep

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Today I Learned . . .

January 24, 2009 at 9:49 PM (Personal Reference) ()

Today I learned that shot glasses are a waste of time.  Free-pouring is much more efficient.

Today’s Tunes
“Oh, Pretty Woman,” Roy Orbison

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Momma’s Sloppy Joes

January 23, 2009 at 7:07 PM (Happenings, Personal Reference) (, )

I did something crazy today: I tried a new recipe.  I don’t often attempt this, but I had more ground turkey than I knew what to do with, so I thought I’d give something fresh a shot.  I Googled ground turkey recipes, and found a sloppy Joe recipe that looked tasty, and more importantly, fairly simple.

I gave it a shot, and warned my three resident guinea pigs that I’d never made any sort of chili dish, but luckily they all seemed pretty unconcerned.  Even more luckily, lunch turned out to be delicious.  I’m not incompetent in a kitchen; I’m just fairly inexperienced.  Most things I put together make for a pretty decent meal.  The original recipe is available on allrecipes.com here, but I tweaked it a touch (and although the original recipes advertises six servings, the four of us consumed it in one sitting).  The differences are in italics below:

Ingredients
1lb. ground turkey
1 cup catsup
2 tbs yellow mustard
2 tbs white vinegar
1 tbs white sugar
arbitrary quantities of garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper

Directions
1. Brown turkey in a skillet over medium heat until evenly brown.  Drain.
2. Pour remaining ingredients into saucepan over medium heat.  Mix in turkey and cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently (I don’t think I left the stove top for more than 45 seconds at a time).
3. Enjoy!

Today’s Tunes
“Hung Up + Shut Up (Saint Ken Mash),” Madonna vs. Black Eyed Peas
“Union,” Black Eyed Peas
“My Style,” Black Eyed Peas with Justin Timberlake
“My Humps,” Black Eyed Peas

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Today I Learned . . .

January 23, 2009 at 5:15 AM (Personal Reference) ()

Today I learned that I probably won’t have time to blog on your average Thursdays:

8.00 – 9.30 A. M.
Wake up, get myself to class
9.30 A. M. – 3.30 P. M.
Class
3.30 – 5.00 P. M.
Eat.  Maybe.
5.00 – 6.30 P. M.
Class
6.30 P. M. – 12.00 A. M.
Balera

I practically fell asleep walking into my apartment.  You’re all going to have to settle for my random life’s lessons on Thursdays, unless a window opens up.

Night-night!

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Good Habits Are a Beast to Revive (But Well Worth It)

January 22, 2009 at 12:51 AM (Friends, Goals, Happenings) ()

FINALLY got my sorry posterior to the pool this morning with the little wanderer, and I don’t think we could be happier.  We’d talked about swimming together this semester, and both cringed when we realised that the only recreational swim slot we had in common was from 6.00 to 9.00 A. M., but we still promised each other we’d start going (after all, I had managed to swim at 7.00 A.M. last summer, and that was when I lived almost a mile from the pool; now it’s right next door).

Take #1 was a dismal failure, taking place last week.  Early in the week we discussed swimming that week, and that was as far as we got.  Let’s hear it for drive to succeed!

Take #2 was marginally more successful: we actually made firm plans on Sunday night to wake up at 7.30 and swim at 8.00.  My roommate went out for a culture event, and I stayed up late writing in my blog (guess which one of us is the cool one . . .).  On Monday morning, I dutifully got out of bed and knocked on the little wanderer’s door to see if she was up.  I think her response was in English, but I couldn’t be sure.  Meanwhile, my damn roommate was already up and about.  She too had woken up early to go to the gym, but found that it would be opening later due to MLK Day – she had tried to go at 7.00, only to find that the doors would not open until 8.00.  I suddenly became hopeful: perhaps the pool’s morning hours had been cut for the day.  I tried calling the gym’s front desk, but only heard an automated response.  I started to feel a little guilty: as much as I wanted to get back into a healthy habit, I was still incredibly lazy when it came to physically exerting myself before noon.  My damn roommate looked through a window: “It looks like the lights are on in the pool.”  I groaned as I looked for myself.  Sure enough, the lights were on in the pool area, and the water was rippling.  As I continued to stare, two swimmers in identical suits and caps came into view, flip turned, and disappeared as quickly as they’d appeared.  Then I decided that it must have been a team practise.  I knocked on the little wanderer’s door again to inform her of the situation, and before retreating to my own bed to get another hour of sleep, I suggested that we try again later that week, to which she mumbled in agreement.  She did not wake up until 11.00 that morning.

Take #3.  Yesterday we talked about trying to swim again, and agreed to target a 7.30 wake-up accompanied by intravenous caffeine doses (okay, not really, but we did have a BIG pot of coffee ready to go for this morning), and an 8.00 A.M. swim.  I went to bed before midnight, and I assume that the little wanderer followed suit shortly thereafter.  This morning, I bolted out of bed to make coffee as my phone alarm chirped at me with despicable cheer.  Like Monday, I shuffled over to my roommate’s door and knocked.   Her alarm was blaring louder than mine.  I knocked.

“Yeah?”

“Coffee’s on!”

“Oh thank God!  Yes!”

Within five minutes, we were pouring our life source into mugs and drinking up, and we puttered around the apartment waiting for the caffeine to kick.  By 8.35, we were on our way.   I felt fine in the locker room, which came as a mild surprise to me: usually I entered a pool area with a sense of dread, a mentality that screamed “Please don’t make me short of breath!”  I needn’t have worried myself, though.  That feeling hit as I stood two feet from the water’s edge as I prepared to dive.  I dipped my big toe into the water, knowing full-well that it wouldn’t help me prepare for the icy blast that awaited me once I submerged myself, but I was shocked to discover that either my toe had nothing but dead nerves, or that the water wasn’t as chilly as I’d expected.  There was only one way to find out.  I dove in.

Swimming felt just as fantastic as it had when I’d gotten back into it last summer (view that post here), only better because I actually had goggles.  The little wanderer and I laughed as we recalled what zombies we were not two hours earlier.  Fifteen minutes later, we were kicked out: recreational swim was over until noon.  I grinned at my roommate as I said, “Best workout of my life.”  She snickered as she agreed wholeheartedly.

It was a small success, but it was still a success, nonetheless.  Who knows?  Maybe on Friday we’ll manage to swim for a half an hour.

Today’s Tunes
“A Change Is Gonna Come,” Seal
“Puttin’ On the Ritz,” TACO
“Eleanor Rigby,” The Beatles
“Gunslinger (Runnin’ Out of Time),” Over It
“Boom!” System of a Down
“Say It Right,” Nelly Furtado
“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” Blue Öyster Cult
“Honey Pie,” The Beatles
“Black & Gold (Remix),” Sam Sparro
“Keep On Walking,” Jem
“This Cowboy Song,” Sting
“Smoke on the Water,” Machine Head
“Anon: Korobushka,” Bond
“Too Close for Comfort,” Michael Bublé

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Inauguration ’09

January 20, 2009 at 9:08 PM (Happenings) (, )

Yep, I’m jumping on the bandwagon (it’s a fun ride every now and then).  I actually had no intention of watching the inauguration today.  For whatever reason, politics has never been a strong interest of mine.  I’ve been roped into it this year, though, and under less conventional circumstances.

It started in my New Media & PR class, where we were discussing Twitter.  Being the social media tool based on instant updates that it is, it seemed only natural for our professor to use inauguration tweets as examples.  Following New Media & PR, I was presented with Inaugurationmania in a less likely form: in Pop Music: The Beatles.  Our British professor cut class early to let us catch the action online (or try to: CNN, Fox, and NBC’s sites were choking; Hulu hiccupped often).

By the time I got out of class, I was eager to get home and turn on the telly, and it has remained on since I walked through the door.  It’s truly encouraging to see and hear the enthusiasm of millions of citizens not only in D. C., but in Boston, and across the country (courtesy of Twitter).  God bless America.

Today’s Distraction
Inauguration 2009

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I Forgot That I Like to Read

January 20, 2009 at 5:39 AM (Musings) (, , , , , )

. . . And that’s partially why I didn’t write today (the other part was that I was at work).  I’m currently reading two books: George R.R. Martin’s A Feast for Crows, and Jonathan Gould’s Can’t Buy Me Love.  I recommend the former to any  with an interest in medieval-set fantasies flavoured with battle and war-games, some wit, and once in a while, romance (but more often passionate brief encounters).  I recommend the latter to any with an interest in the Beatles.

A Feast for Crows is the fourth in an anticipated seven-book series titled A Song of Ice and Fire.  I began reading the first book, A Game of Thrones, after my freshman year of high school when one of my recently graduated friends whom I’d particularly idolised gave it to me as a gift.  By the end of the summer, I had completed the first book, along with A Storm of Swords and A Clash of Kings, and had gotten one of my friends interested in it.  By the time Martin had finished his fourth book, I was drowning in a college courseload.  I finally got my hands on it this Christmas, but I haven’t been able to zip through it as quickly or as riveted as I would like.  Prior to college, I’d frequently devote an entire day (or week, at most) to reading a book in its entirety.  Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of time on my hands any more, so my literary excursions are restricted to my commutes.  In addition, it’s been over five years since I read the first three books.  These aren’t light reads, and the plots are incredibly complicated and interwoven, as each chapter is from one of several characters’ points of view.  In short, I’ve forgotten a lot of details, so as I slowly make my way through each chapter, I struggle to recall what happened in prior books in order to make sense of current situations.  I’ll have to re-read the first three books again.

I don’t usually read more than one book at a time, but Can’t Buy Me Love pushed Martin’s book aside because that book gets me one step closer to my diploma: it’s the required reading for my Beatles class.  Luckily it’s a speedy read, and I’m almost done with next week’s assigned reading – although I’m only on chapter 12 or so!  Jonathan Gould describes his book as being comprised of three threads: John, Paul, George and Ringo’s lives prior to their formation as the most influential entertainers in the history of rock ‘n roll, the music of the Beatles, and the culture surrounding the group in both Britain and America.  As mentioned, I’m not very far into the book, but I still find it fascinating.

In grade school, I was quite the book worm.  In fourth and fifth grade, I was actually disciplined not for passing notes in class or pulling pranks on the teacher, but for getting caught reading during the class.  Now, I barely have time to see a two-hour movie, let alone read a 976-page book (Thank you, Mr. Martin.).  Only this past month have I started getting back into leisurely reading, but I’ll be sure not to get out of the habit again.

Tonight’s Distractions
The dull roar of the Mass Pike at almost one o’clock in the morning

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