Trey claims that I kissed him when we were dancing Wednesday night. This is not my recollection of the incident. This is what I say happened: we were dancing to a pretty fast song. Trey led me in a series of very fast spins – I think a triple going one way, and then a double in the opposite direction. While it is a tribute to how far I’ve come that he was able to lead me in this at all, it also shows me how much I have to work on. Cuz somewhere right about the second reverse spin my feet were no longer underneath my body and I started to go over. I reached for Trey to save myself, and realized quickly as my momentum shifted in his direction that my head was on a collision course with his. I could almost feel the sickening smack of skull impacting skull. Somehow I wrenched my head back marginally, regained my balance, and the next second had been spun out again.

Trey looked at me down the length of our arms and asked, “Did you just kiss my face?”

I, still feeling the adrenaline rush of danger narrowly averted, looked at him in bewilderment. How could he have not realized what had just happened, how close we had both come to having concussions? I could only make incoherent noises before he was leading me in a side-pass, laughing at me as I went by. I tried to find a way to smack him somewhere in the next few eight-counts, but, well, he’s a good lead, and he didn’t give me the opportunity.

I’m never going to hear the end of this.

Dang it, if I were going to kiss a boy, he wouldn’t be asking whether or not he just got kissed!

Former Wine RackOnce upon a time, I had a cabinet with a wine rack and holders for wine glasses, etc. in my kitchen. It was mounted on the chimney next to the refrigerator, right behind the chair at the kitchen table where I sit to do my homework. I would bump it every once in a while and hear the glasses in the holders tinkle against each other, which reminded me to scoot my chair forward. This is a picture I took of it in happier days when I was trying out my mom’s blurry digital camera.

Tuesday morning I wandered into the kitchen bleary eyed, getting ready to buckle down to my usual cram session prepping for my MA level Aquinas class that afternoon. I woke up my laptop, then randomly got up and went over to the other side of the kitchen for a drink of water. Just then, behind me I heard a huge crash followed by the sound of much glass breaking. I turned to see the entire cabinet off the wall, still more or less upright, crushing some boxes that had been stored underneath. Almost all of the wineglasses had slid out of the holder and smashed on the floor, along with the bottles of alcohol that used to be on the top of the cabinet. Shards of glass were completely covering the area where I had been sitting only moments before, and had shot out to cover most of the kitchen. The place where I was standing was almost completely untouched, although my socks were quickly soaked by either Port or Apricot Brandy flooding across the floor. If I hadn’t gotten up to get that class of water, there is a good chance that the cabinet and the smashing glass would have been right on top of me.

I was able to pick my way to the kitchen door, where Liv brought me a pair of shoes to wear. She couldn’t help with the cleanup, the glass would have punctured her wheelchair tires. It took me three hours to pick up all the glass and clean up the alcohol. It was especially interesting because as the alcohol dried it started to glue the smaller pieces down to the floor.

Unfortunately, this consumed all of the time I’d set aside for school work. Consequently, I found myself at 1pm, just starting my prep for Aquinas at 3pm. There was no way I could get everything done. This meant that I had to send an e-mail off to my professor, asking for an extension because the wine rack fell off the wall.

If I were a teacher, I wouldn’t believe it either.

Last night Lyle was at dancing for the first time in a while. He was all excited because, he told me, he had been “recognized.” He was dancing with his girlfriend, a lovely young woman with very curly dark hair and glasses, at one of the ballroom classes he’s been taking lately. Someone came up to them and asked if they were one of the couples who had been dancing at an outdoor event in Tipp City this summer. The funny thing was, Lyle had been dancing at that event, but the girl he had been dancing with was me. Beyond the curly hair and the glasses, his girlfriend and I really don’t look very much alike. So apparently Lyle is a more memorable dancer than his partners!

I have a new phone, a Sony Juke. It also plays music. I keep wanting to call it an mp3 player, but it doesn’t play mp3s, it plays windows media files. I love it, partly because it’s loud. I haven’t had music in my car since the radio caught on fire (yeah, you read that right – I’ll have to tell that story sometime) a while ago. Although there’s something to be said for having one place in the world where I’m not continually being bombarded with media, I really missed my music. The car had been one of the main places where I listened to it. Until I could get the money to have the wiring redone (and my car is so ghetto I’m not sure that it’s worth the investment), my car remained a music-free zone. However, this lovely little music player is loud enough that I can turn the sound up all the way, stick it on the seat next to me, and hear my tunes just fine. It’s a wonderful thing.

I would write more, but I’m trying to get out the door to go to PittStop 7, the Lindy Exchange in Pittsburgh. I haven’t gone to many all weekend dancing events like this, so I’m very excited. Plus, I’ll get to see Luke, one of my favorite guys in the world. I’ll tell you all about it when I get back!

So I have these friends who are kick-butt swing dancers. A while back, they decided that they were going to put together a routine for this competition called Battle of the Swing Cities up in Detroit. At the time I had no intention of going to Detroit, so I didn’t think about it much. But I was with them when they were planning, listening to music that might work, making costume suggestions. One of the costume ideas made me laugh hysterically for ten minutes (they didn’t use that one). I watched them practice, offered feedback when asked, held video cameras. When it came time for the actual competition, they asked if anyone would like to go to cheer them along, and I said that I would. So we all went to Detroit, they kicked butt (did I mention that they’re, um, kick-butt swing dancers?), and just barely missed winning. It was very exciting. At breakfast at Bob Evans the next morning, they decided that they wanted to take the routine to ALHC. Some of the dancers from the team that took first (who happen to be from another Medium Large City just north of ours) wanted in on the action, so they changed up the routine some and set in to practicing. My main involvement this time was as the occasional place-holder as they worked out the new choreography, and sometimes camera operator. I was pretty busy with other things in my life, so I wished them well, and looked forward to the days when half the good leads wouldn’t spend half the dance over in the corner practicing.

Then came the competition weekend. I checked the forums approximately fifty thousand times, anxiously looking for news of my people off in the wilds of Connecticut, competing their little hearts out. The first I saw was one of the guys posting on his facebook profile that he had placed 3rd in the Jack & Jill. My heart sank. There wasn’t a word about the team competition. If he didn’t say anything about it, then they must have tanked. I checked the forums. Initial news was that the routine had gone really well, people cheered, but they hadn’t won anything. It seemed like a huge letdown after the way they killed themselves with hard work. And the routine had been seriously awesome. For a few hours, things looked pretty sad. Then more news started coming. They actually finished 4th out of 8 competitors. The three teams that beat them included a team made up entirely of the Superstars Of Swing Dancing, and the Air Force swing team, which I’m told has a tendency to dominate wherever they go. All that everyone in the Wider Swing Dancing Community was talking about was our team’s routine. People couldn’t get over how awesome it was, and that there were people who could swing dance in Ohio. Someone posted some quotes from yehoodi (the big, national swing forum). This was not a disappointment! This was local kids Making Good. It was like the stories about the plucky small town kids who come out of nowhere and blow away the disbelieving big city people.

It was amazing and awesome, but still, a little, you know, not real. Then I checked this dance blog and started laughing. He, too, was raving, and had even posted the video of the Detroit competition. Suddenly what we’d all been marveling about was real. People actually know who we are. And, no, this is not my accomplishment, but I couldn’t be more excited about how freaking awesome my friends are. You can be excited too:

Yesterday morning I had to scrape frost off my windshield before I could drive to work. Last night I brought the rosemary and bay plants in off the back porch to what will be their winter homes on the kitchen table. I still have the front porch plants to bring in and find homes for. I’m not such a fan of this cold thing. There are parts of Fall I love: pumpkins, weather cool enough to break out my extensive collection of colorful scarves, wearing fuzzy socks, the trees suddenly turning glorious, and bright blue days with skies so high and clear you can see the moon at noontime. What I don’t like is having to wear a coat, and fingers so stiff with cold I wish I’d worn gloves (scarves I love, but not gloves, and I’m deeply ambivalent about hats. Or at least I would be if I could ever find one that looked good on my odd-shaped head). I really dislike scraping windshields. One time a friend told me about two sweethearts who worked at the same place far up north. Every evening right before the girl was about to be done for the day, the guy would head out to the parking lot, scrape the windshield of her car, and warm in up for her so that she could get straight into a warm car when she went home. I envied that girl so much, not so much for the boyfriend (although I knew the guy in question, and he was a truly excellent young man), but simply because she had someone who would scrape her windshield for her. I was told about this over three years ago, and I’m still sighing about it. A scraped windshield is worth more than roses any day, and you all know how much I love roses.

This afternoon I’m going to an actual college football game. I’ve never been to one of these. I never really wanted to. (“What is this school spirit thing you speak of?”) But my baby brother, Mikey, is crazy for football – a strange and wonderful thing in our artistic, academic family. So we try to encourage him. This afternoon a bunch of us are piling into the family van and heading off to the game. I used to say that I only watched football games for the marching bands. An awful lot of my university’s swing club kids are in the band. I guess now I can see what has been keeping them from going dancing on Wednesday nights. The only question left is what to wear: the traditional jeans and sweatshirt? Or should I go with jean skirt, my new ultra-snuggly knit footless tights, and a sweatshirt? Decisions, decisions…

In other news, I’ve discovered what is turning out to be one of my favorite things ever: Pandora Online Radio. You type in the name of a song or artist you really love, and they create a whole radio station of music like that. You tell them whether or not you like the songs they’ve picked, and it influences the programming. It’s so much fun. I’ve found an incredible amount of good music I would have never known about this way. For example, “Baby Workout” by Jackie Wilson leads to “I Could Never Be President” by Johnnie Taylor, and “Your Replacement Is Here” by Edd Henry, then “Twistin’ With Linda” by The Isley Brothers, etc. Right now I’m listening to what I think of as my lullaby station – soothing classical-ish piano music. I made it by typing in “Brahm’s Lullaby” and finding a version by a classical artist I’d never heard of. Good stuff!

Here’s something else to file under Weird Things That Only Happen To Bernadette: The other day when I was waiting for a doctor’s appointment, the fragment of a soap opera I caught while waiting concerned a young woman who was very distraught that while she was fooling around on the couch with a guy the night before, somehow her cell phone on the desk across the room had come on and started taking pictures of this fooling around. Moreover, it seemed that Person or Persons Unknown had gotten hold of these pictures, and was posting them all over the internet. This whole plot device seemed so absurd that I remembered it, and marveled at the invention of soap opera writers.

Then, this morning when I walked into the kitchen first thing, all bleary eyed and sleepy in my PJs, my cell phone was on the table where I left it – turned on, and in picture taking mode.

Now, certain evidence to the contrary, I do not really think that my life is a soap opera. And the idea that someone would be remotely controlling my cell phone to take pictures is, um, a stretch. Plus, since at the moment I have no one in my life that I’d be fooling around with, on the couch or otherwise, any pictures wouldn’t be all that interesting. And I gotta say, the sight of me in my sleep pants and t-shirt is not that exciting! Honest!

Still… it was a little spooky.

Good thing Halloween is coming up.

One of my friends recently blogged about what she was doing this time a year ago, and it got me thinking. A year ago this October Joe was still in Afghanistan. I was writing letters to him in class while trying hard not to flirt with Carlos, and just barely starting to notice Trey’s attention. (I didn’t even begin to take him seriously until one night he blew me a kiss to say good-bye, and I thought, “Oh, maybe there’s something going on there…”) I was still living with my former roommate, and though I wasn’t all that happy, the thought of moving out hadn’t entered my head. Liv and I had just started to hang out on a regular basis, and though we got along like a house on fire, we still had no inkling of the best friends symbiosis that would soon assert itself. Anna had put the word out that she was looking for more teachers just the month before, and I had started to learn how to lead (to teach you need to be able to do/explain both lead and follow).

Last October I took my first ever West Coast lesson.

This October Joe is in novitiate in Louisiana, Carlos has established himself as Not My Type, and Trey is the kind of friend you call “dear” and wouldn’t date on a dare. My former roommate is dieing of liver cancer (she’s been in Hospice Care for about a month now), Liv and I would be joined at the hip if her wheelchair wouldn’t get in the way (did I mention we live together now?), this month I’m teaching Swing I, and last weekend I drove two hours each way to attend a four hour West Coast dance.

I’d like to say I’ve learned Deep Life Lessons in the intervening year, that I’ve Grown and Changed as a person. Mostly, though, it’s felt much more like riding a roller coaster with no safety restraint system, holding on for dear life trying not to get thrown off into the bottomless void beneath. Ironically, I learned how to let go of my need for drama just as life was handing me some major Drama to deal with. Every month has had its challenges, none of them little: the liver cancer diagnosis right before Christmas Eve, guy drama, family issues, chemotherapy, moving, planning a wedding (regrettably, not my own), major money problems after my financial aid got screwed up, trying to settle into a new home, more guy drama, sprained ankles, school challenges, road trips… oh, and dancing. A lot of dancing.

I’d like to say it’s been a good year, but I’m not sure if it’s been good or bad. I suppose it’s been good for me. At least I’ve survived so far. That’s something in itself. I’ll count my blessings.

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