For Every High, There is a Low

What an odd week.

Monday was just a Monday. Tuesday, I had a lesson with Teacher (make-up for missing Friday while he was at a comp). I also had my first session with a new practice partner (more on him later)! Wednesday, I had my usual standing lesson with Teacher (two lessons in two days, woohoo!). Thursday, I decided to start something new and exciting (for me at least) in an effort to expand the reach of the Dance Diaries series (more on that later too). Friday, I learned I would yet again have to give up my competition goals and would also likely be unable to pay for lessons for at least a month in the fall. And then I spent the rest of my work day lounging at the beach.

Like I said, odd.

So the good news or the bad news first?  Shall I just go chronologically?

Teacher and I focused on smooth this week and he wanted to follow up more on what I learned in my coaching with Toni Redpath. So on Tuesday evening, we worked on waltz, specifically shadow position. I was feeling pretty good about it, albeit I was a little distracted. My new practice partner, to be known here as Ballroom Viking (his choice), was supposed to come that night! He was going to try to get there while my lesson was still going on so he could watch. Of course, that didn’t make me self-conscious at all every time I heard the studio door open and was in the middle of some dance move. But my lesson ended before he arrived.

Before he does arrive in the story, would you like to know how I met Ballroom Viking? I wrote before about how I was going to get serious about my search for an amateur partner, simply because I wanted more practice time than I could get from my pro partner (Teacher). Well, one thing I did was create a profile on dancepartner.com, which led me to discover a whopping zero potential partners in my local area who fit what I’m looking for. I would probably find more if I expanded the radius, but I honestly can’t afford the money or time to drive a great distance to practice with someone. But who knows, my profile is out there at least.

The other thing I did was look up this guy I remembered seeing in my silver smooth scholarship round at the 2016 California Open. It seemed like a good contact to make since I knew he danced at my level and was in my age group. One of the easiest ways to find someone these days is on Facebook. So I searched for his name and when one profile popped up that had 20-some mutual friends and they were all ballroom people, I figured I found the right person. While we were both at the same comp and I remembered seeing him, we had never officially met. I was pretty sure he’d know who I was from my tattoo, but I felt weird making that assumption. I sent him a message saying hi and told him where I knew him from and that I was looking for an amateur partner. He responded that “of course” he remembered me from the comp, and although he already had an amateur partner he competed with, he was down for practicing together.

Side note: I’m aware that my tattoo is eye-catching, but I think I forget how much. So it is a little weird and surprising when people recognize or remember me because of it, even from six months ago. I guess I’ll need to get used to it since I’m doing all this work to put myself out there as The Girl with the Tree Tattoo!

Ballroom Viking and I chatted via Facebook and text for a couple weeks before we actually met up for a practice. Scheduling can be difficult even when your partner isn’t your teacher! I had tried to meet him at a social dance last week. I’ve never had a practice partner before so I had no idea what to expect. When I meet Teacher for a lesson, he already has a plan for what we’ll work on. I just show up. Who decides what to work on in a practice partnership? I figured a party would be an easy way to get acquainted, and the plan could be to dance to whatever song was playing! Unfortunately, he had to cancel at the last minute. So we rescheduled to meet after my lesson on Tuesday evening.

One thing I’ve been worried about with working with an amateur partner is that he would look to me to take charge, make the decisions, etc. I’ve carried more than my fair share of the weight in a partnership before (outside of dance) and am not willing to do it again. It’s important to me that my partner be willing to put in as much effort as me, so the partnership stays 50/50. Plus we’ll dance much better together if he is as committed to his ballroom dancing as I am to mine!

Ballroom Viking knew standard, latin and smooth and was also learning rhythm. He competed in pro-am at the same time he was working with his amateur partner. Commitment obviously wouldn’t be an issue. After he arrived at the studio on Tuesday night, we decided to work on American waltz since that was what I had just been doing with Teacher. I suggested we go through his routine; I wanted to see how well I could follow.

We ended up spending about 45-50 minutes on waltz before I had to call it quits because it was getting late. The first few run-throughs were a little shaky, of course, but each time it felt better. He had some shadow in his routine too, so we spent a lot of time going through that part per my request. I actually felt like I was making some progress with my shadow technique! It wasn’t just me dictating what we did next though; we also went through pieces that he wanted to work on.

So the first experience with a practice partner was a positive one! I really didn’t know what to expect, and of course, my M.O. is to assume the worst, so it was nice to experience the opposite! We don’t have our next practice session scheduled, but agreed we wanted to meet up again. I hope we do start meeting regularly because of what happened on Friday.

But first, the rollercoaster continued on Wednesday at my second lesson with Teacher. I had texted him the night before that I had a really great session with Ballroom Viking and felt like I had improved my shadow. So of course, Teacher wanted to see what I could do on Wednesday. I definitely felt more grounded and balanced, but of course, Teacher found other things that I was doing wrong. *sigh*

But that’s how it goes, right? There is always something else to fix or improve. Since I had spent so much time on waltz on Tuesday, I wanted to work on tango during Wednesday’s lesson. We moved to that after making more tweaks to my waltz shadow.

Tango actually left me feeling a little despondent. Teacher had started changing the routine after CalOpen because there was too much stationary time. We needed to keep moving! But then we switched to rhythm since I had no money to put toward comps and therefore couldn’t set a goal to work toward in smooth. At this point, I had pretty much forgotten all of the changes he had made, so it was rough going. Ballroom Viking was actually in the studio again for lessons with his teacher, and he stayed to watch us for a little bit. Thinking back, I did pretty well. Like I wrote before in Rollercoasters, I have good lessons and then bad lessons and it’s difficult to gauge my progress. Wednesday was one of those lessons where I was being unreasonable with myself and expecting to get everything right the first time. So I left that lesson feeling low. I’m still working on giving myself a break!

Outside of the studio, but within The Girl with the Tree Tattoo realm, I have been searching for new ways to reach a broader audience with the Dance Diaries books. You know how you start a search on the internet for one thing and end up clicking through a bunch of pages that lead you to something that you hadn’t thought of but is better? That’s what happened to me this past week. I was looking for ways to connect with people who might be interested in reviewing my books and ended up finding a company that arranges virtual book tours! It’s something I could probably organize myself but don’t really want to spend the time or deal with the huge amount of logistics. So to keep an already long story slightly shorter, on Thursday, I booked a virtual tour for my books this fall! Stay tuned for more details as it gets closer.

I’m sorry to say I’m ending with the bad news. We’ve finally reached Friday. My new company was having an annual meeting and a beach party. Yes, I got paid to hang out on the beach on Friday. The day job can be really tough sometimes. But first, the meeting. The top dogs talked about some of the things the company was getting involved in, introduced newbies like myself, and recognized people who had earned various certifications. We also learned that the payroll schedule was changing, and due to this change, we would only receive one paycheck in October. You know, the same month as OC Dancesport? Yeah…

Now, we weren’t losing money; the missing paycheck would be made up in December. But like almost everyone else, I immediately ran some numbers through my head to make sure I’d be able to pay rent before then! The answer was yes, which was fortunate because I realized I probably wouldn’t be able to leave my apartment besides for work for the next three months. I could see my comp goals quickly fading out of reality, but I managed to stay in some denial while my coworkers and I picnicked at the beach for the rest of the morning and into the afternoon.

Once I got home, I opened up my projected budget spreadsheet (you can get your own through Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting!) and estimated my expenses and income through October. I’d be ok, but only if I didn’t go to OC Dancesport and I didn’t buy any more lessons after the ones I just paid for. The check I just gave Teacher should cover lessons for the rest of August, maybe one or two into September. I could stretch them longer if I cut back to one a week, but I remember how one lesson a week doesn’t really satisfy; it just leaves me wanting more. Once they are used up though, I’ll have to wait until close to November before I can buy more.

I realize this also puts my plans for Holiday in jeopardy. If I can’t even buy lessons until close to November, I won’t have any extra money to save for an out-of-town comp at the beginning of December.

The timing is funny. I just bought a new pair of rhythm/latin shoes in anticipation of competing in rhythm at OC Dancesport. And literally the day before I learned of the payroll change, I made the first payment toward my fall book tour. So once again, I take a few steps forward and am pushed a few steps back.

I guess I will continue cha-cha’ing my way down this road and try to keep my hopes up.

1, 2, 3, 4-and-1, 2, 3, 4-and-1…

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4 thoughts on “For Every High, There is a Low

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