I thought I was turning over a new leaf by drafting this post on Friday. Not posting it until now is evidence to the contrary.
I haven’t blogged about blogging in a little while. I’ve found that setting goals is critical for me. That third week of April crashed and burned, so I skidded my way into May. Now is recovery time.
My blog goals for this month are:
- Publish my regular link-ups every week: What I Wore Sunday, the Not Alone Series, Booking Through Thursday, and 7 Quick Takes. BTT is always at the mercy of the weekly question being posted, but the others are open-ended or available in advance. (Thanks to Jen and Morgan for always planning topics for us!)
- Fix the alignment of the comment section. It’s been on my to-do list for too long. Blog comments are changing in the face of Facebook and Twitter interactions, but since Facebook basically won’t show anything on a Page to your Likers without payment (I don’t have a Facebook Page for this blog) and Twitter is only useful if you can space out your retweets, I think I’ll stick with comments for now.
- Finish my Pope Francis series. I might take super-long breaks, but I don’t quit things easily. A longer-term goal is to publish a series on the questions for this fall’s synod before it starts. Gotta finish the last series first.
- Finish my YNAB series. I will have been using YNAB consistently for one year at the end of this month. It’s changed my life so much that I’m especially eager to finish my (our?) love story.
I went to my first ever Derby Party on Saturday, hosted by one of the regular members of my always-fluctuating trivia team. I wore pink and a giant hat. I felt fabulous, although many of the other attendees seemed to have missed the message that Derby is about big hats and pastels. Oh, well. The company was delightful, and although my chosen horse did not win, I was tickled that The Tonight Show‘s Puppy Predictor was correct.
I’m from Maryland. The Preakness Stakes race (the second jewel of the Triple Crown) is run in Maryland. Yet we do not have Preakness Parties. Despite the insinuation from the Maryland Alumni Association’s recent email, I maintain that Preakness Parties are not a thing.
I knew Derby Parties were a thing, but I had never been invited to one before moving to Texas, actually. The one I went to was hosted by a Kentuckian for maximum out-of-state authenticity. I would be surprised to hear of a Derby Party outside of the South (or at least one not hosted by an obvious Southerner). Maybe it’s because my Maryland family are not Derby people. Are there Belmont Parties?
Then again, I had never even heard of homecoming mums before I moved to Texas. I guess some customs just don’t cross state lines.
I did not mention it in last week’s Quick Takes, but I successfully completed my first month of dance classes on Saturday. It is awesome. I graduated from Level 1 in West Coast Swing!
I’ve written here about my opinions on leading and following. I stand by those opinions now that I am putting them into more regular practice. Spoiler alert: no romance. Just dancing.
One of the first things we learned in the first week was not to lead ourselves. It was agonizing to stand still waiting for a lead who didn’t start on the instructor’s count, but I gritted my teeth (on the inside) and smiled (on the outside) and practiced patience. I learned to ignore my leads’ counting under their breath and to just wait for the physical signals and try to follow those in what seemed to be his tempo. Sometimes, the leads’ counting was not even in rhythm with their steps or mine, which was bewildering. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Eventually, I got around to practicing with the stronger leads and with my instructors. When my main instructor left me to change the music, I felt like I was getting it. And, as evidenced by my current presence in Level 2, I was! He even used me to demonstrate all the moves we’d learned at the end of the last beginner class. I still need practice, though. I could feel in it in my first intermediate class. I’ll be on this level for a while.
I also reaffirmed that it is very difficult to follow a lead who’s not on the beat. As I’ve danced with better leaders, I find that they manage to stay on the beat, so I can just follow them and feel that I’m still on the beat. I even felt comfortable enough to try some style variations.
Better leaders have helped me increase my comfort being around strange men and almost never interacting with the other women in the room. It helps a lot to be in a smallish, safe environment. Several of my friends do West Coast Swing, and one of the men in particular told me that learning to dance made him much less awkward around women. He’s married now. That’s solid evidence despite being a sample size of one. I am not usually awkward around strangers, male or female, but these are the kind of strangers I have to stand really close to. That’s new. I’m working on it.
It’s always been a little weird for me to dance with a partner. I almost never have one in social dance settings (these days, just weddings), so I’ve never improved very much. It’s a catch-22: I’m not very good at partner dancing because I don’t usually have a partner, but when I do have a partner, I get dragged around the floor because I’m not very good at partner dancing. It doesn’t matter how good your lead is if you don’t know how to follow.
So I’m learning how to follow, and I’m enjoying it and slowly improving. Now I have a handful of West Coast Swing, Two-Step, Salsa, and whatever you call the shuffle step I was learning last fall. The only dance I ever learned in school was the Macarena (true story), so I’ve just become a great solo freestyle dancer. Freestyle: the dance of the perpetually single.
For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum.