February 22nd, 2005

rock shadow

a full weekend

Last Friday I drove down to Irvine for a dance competition. The drive down was actually quite nice, especially the first couple hundred miles before everything smelled of cow: the coastal mountains looked like green crumpled bedsheets in the distance, and the tidy trimmed branches of all the fruit and nut orchards were obscured by sheaths of white blossoms. We passed an orchard, thick with heavy-branched orange trees, that had four signs by the roadway reading "hundreds of ... healthy ... vitamin C ... makers." I drove most of the way while my dance partner slept. We passed two major accidents featuring accordioned cars in the mountains by Pasadena, and shortly after that I let my partner take over and I slept through the crappy traffic until we arrived in Irvine.

The competition was pretty big: there were 17 couples dancing the championship standard level, including us. We made the semi-final round but not the final, which was somewhat disappointing, especially since I know we can dance better than several of the couples who were in the final. But we did get a positive comment on our timing and musicality from the young hot-shot pro Victor Fung, and more positive comments on posture and footwork from another guy who said we just needed to spiff up our "look" a bit to get the judges' attention over the others on the floor (sad that he'd say that, since my hairstyle actually turned out better than usual this time, and my makeup was more extreme). I was happy that Alex, my teacher from Seattle, placed second in the Rising Star competition (an event for new professionals), and Bay Area Latin pros Vaitodas and Jurga, who we were sitting with when the awards were being announced, thought she and her partner should have placed first.

After a midnight dinner at Denny's, my partner, a night owl, decided he wanted to drive back to Berkeley that night. He drove and I slept fitfully as rain inundated the car throughout L.A. and the mountains to the north, sometimes so thickly that all but the tail lights of surrounding cars were obscured and the road was six inches deep in water. The storm mingled with my dreams in surreal and sometimes terrifying ways, and more than once I jolted awake, certain we were sliding across the road out of control. But my dance partner dropped me off safe and sound at my place at about 7 a.m. and I crawled into bed to sleep an additional five (much more restful) hours.

The rest of the weekend was more uneventful. On Saturday dag29580863 and I saw the recent screen adaptation of The Merchant of Venice. It is one of the best Shakespeare renditions I've ever seen, and the directors and actors (especially Al Pacino, who stole the show as Shylock) managed to put a somewhat politically-correct twist on Shakespeare's anti-semitism. Sunday afternoon I spent sewing (or more accurately, I spent the afternoon liberally cursing my sewing machines and the fabric I was working with) in the company of a few others who joined me to sew and watch movies (Beauty and the Beast, which I still remembered amazingly well from my Disneyfied childhood, and my perennial favorite Amelie). Today I was hoping to conduct several interviews for my research project but when none materialized, I read for classes, had a private ballroom lesson, and attempted again to de-rustify my Rhapsody in Blue with zestyping.