6-7-2020 Old Salsa Dance With a Tree Story

Since this story comes up a lot whenever I get into a conversation about dance, I’m just going to write it here so I can copy/paste it in the future.

Way back in 2010 when our biggest problem was the recession caused by the housing market crash, I had gone on a trip to Colombia for the first, and so far only, family reunion. I went with my sister and her boyfriend at the time, as my spanish is horrible despite being of Colombian and Cuban blood. We ended up staying at this large walled resort, whose name I cannot remember. We stayed in these little cabins, and we would take daily trips via bus to different locations in Colombia. One evening we decided to go to this I remember being called “Andres Restraunt”. Although when I google the place, it gives me “Andres Carne de Res” from an eater.com article, which describes the place as “a Cheesecake Factory crossed with a night club on steroids…”. This is accurate. I did not have this information going in.

A few months prior to this trip, I had just started taking a few months worth of Salsa dance classes (LA style). I had reasoned to myself that learning an actual social skill like dancing would help me better cope with social gathering situations where my combination introversion and social anxiety issues made it difficult for me to just strike up conversation with strangers. Especially with all dance parties that always seem to spawn around me on account of having lived in Miami back then. It did help a bit back then now that I think on it, but these days the opportunities are much less (especially since COVID). The point here is I wanted to learn how to dance and would use every opportunity I could to practice. When the world returns to normal, I intend to get back into it.

Now this restaurant was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and to this day I still haven’t experienced anything that can compare. I remember entering with my entire extended family through a roped off area, as if it were some sort of carnival ride we were stepping into. In a way, it was I suppose. I recall it was a hybrid indoor/outdoor setup. In the middle there was the kitchen/bar infrastructure. The whole area was shaped as a massive rectangle. Spreading out from the center was rows of long wooden tables arranged in parallel. The dining and dancing areas were covered with a combination of canopy coverings or other misc roofing material. Because this was still in the mountainous area of Colombia, it was always cool in the evening so there wasn’t a need for AC. Cover from the rain was all that mattered. At random times, there would be musical processions or other events walking through the entirety of the place. There was even a wedding going on, though to my understanding it wasn’t an actual wedding but instead was just a performance of one. There were also trees in this place. This will become relevant later.

Performances were a regular thing here.

When we sat down at our tables, we were presented with these massive menus that were inside of a metal box. They had a hand crank. You would turn the crank, and the menu would rotate through. I’m not sure I ever found the end of it.

I don’t think we ever found the end of the menu.

The other important thing, besides the amazing food, were the drinks. This would be my first introduction to Aguardiente. I translated it as Fire Water (though if you want to be technical, wiki describes it was “water” and “burning/fiery”). Either way, that is what it felt like to drink it. It was done in shot format. I had never drank like that with my family before. I can’t remember now what were the prompts for each shot, but they were…frequent. I recall my cousins would randomly hand me a shot, and down it would go. At one point my sister started getting angry at my cousins and told them to stop giving me drinks. She could be an absolute bear against me some days, but she was always defensive for me if anyone other than her gave me a hard time…such was the nature of our sibling relationship. As she was scolding one cousin, another would hand me a drink while she was busy and I’d just drink it anyway. I mean we took a bus to get here so driving wasn’t going to be an issue.

IIRC the back of the bottle had a text saying something to the effect that this drink was blessed by the Holy Mother Marie. So we had a religious duty to finish our drink…so we told ourselves.

12 shots later, I noticed some Salsa music was playing. When you learn how to do these more specific dances, the instruments used in the music you dance to become key. There is a specific sound pattern I listen for and work with. And so it was in that moment. While there were a series of solo techniques I knew, the real fun was when I was dancing with a partner. Even as drunk as I was though, I still too shy to just come up to random people and ask to dance. So I came up with a novel solution to this problem.

I danced with a tree. It was the right height. It had a limb sticking out just where I needed it. So I danced with it, working on my various spins. This went on for about 5 minutes maybe? Maybe 10? I was drunk I can’t remember these fine details! As luck would have it, a group of people took notice of what I was doing. They came up to me and asked why I was dancing with a tree. I don’t remember the answer I gave. They invited me to dance with them instead. It was either a couple + 1 other lady, or a brother/sister/sister combination of people. I can’t remember those details either. I do remember dancing with everyone. I also remember the name (still) of one of them I danced with, Carolina. After we had our fill of dancing, the group of people invited me to their table to eat and hang with them for a while.

6 shots later (for a total of 18 for you math geniuses out there), it was time to start leaving. Getting back to our cabins was another story in itself. Despite all that drinking, I had no hang over in the morning. My sister credits it to my Colombian heritage.

Positive traits 2019

These are in no particular order.

  • I have an iron will
  • I’m intelligent
  • I am a Slytherin in that I’m focused, do not let obstacles stop me, and I’m deeply loyal to my close friends.
  • I’m “really good at fucking”
  • 5/5 pornstar rating
  • I have a ton of physical endurance
  • I’m learn from my mistakes
  • I’m a good listener
  • I make people feel safe
  • The “glue” of my family
  • Patient
  • Resourceful
  • I’ve been equated to a swiss army knife
  • I can surprise people with how passionate I can be in face to my usual quiet reserved demeanor
  • Insightful
  • respectful of others’ feelings
  • Soulful eyes
  • Attractive shoulders
  • Looks good in black
  • I am detail oriented
  • I am clever
  • I am good at goal setting
  • I am good at creating evocative imagery through my writing.
  • I’m known as the person who can find answers to almost anything
  • I’m still pretty good at video games
  • I’m a decent shield fighter when larping
  • I have “good battlefield awareness”
  • I have been a professional mentor
  • Open minded
  • Analytical
  • Good planner
  • Self-Driven
  • Independent
  • Has grit
  • Great problem solver
  • Fast reaction speed
  • Persistent*
  • Supportive of those close to me
  • Humble to a fault (I write as I try play up my strengths)
  • I smell nice.
  • I appreciate constructive critism
  • I generally have a positive outlook on life.
  • I workout regularly.
  • I eat healthy by cooking my own meals and prepping food for the week.
  • I enjoy stories that explore the moral grey
  • I love playing D&D
  • I enjoy Ren Faires
  • I don’t care for most sports (but I do enjoy watching UFC fights when the situation presents itself)
  • My chest hair resembles the Batman signal

Hopes and Dreams

What are mine?  I will add to this over time and sticky.

  • A larger home where I can protect the family that still lives and those that do not exist yet. My mother wanted the house that I grew up in to be there for her kids. It was for a little while I suppose. Until Noe fucked it up. I want to fix that for our next generation.
  • In prep for the above, I want to work closer to home.
  • I want my wife to find fulfillment in her life.
  • I want to hit black belt in one martial art discipline.
  • I want to be strong enough to climb a tree.
  • I want to be able to cosplay Letho halfway decently.
  • I want to learn how to craft unique wings of my own.
  • I want to travel more of the world while I’m young enough to let the experience change my perspective.
  • I want to be alive long enough to see my sister reach her dreams of being a doctor.

12.5.21 giving a voice to that self-hating demon

I wonder if giving voice to the self loathing I’m feeling now might help. I know that depression is, for the most part, lies I feed to myself. But isn’t there some sort of core truth to it as well? A need that hasn’t been met. Boundaries that routinely get smashed. I’m not sure I’m lovable.

It started kicking in this morning. This is one of those thought based spirals I think. Though last night’s wife smooching on her partner (at least I think that is what I heard) may have kicked it off. I felt unwanted; unneeded. I guess I acquired a new abandonment trauma after my last partner left me due to me not being the right gender anymore. Maybe that was a lie too, who knows. I’ve had so many people lie to me, it gets hard to trust.

god forbid I have any emotions. That’s the impression I got from my wife and her partner’s bitching. It seems like my worth to her is entirely transactionale. That is to say, it is relevant to how I support her emotionally (and monetarily). Who I am, my quirks and faults, are undesirable. I wasn’t ok with being completely ignored and steam rolled several times in that group conversation? Well, then that only mattered because my talking about my experience made her feel bad about her actions. How I felt about it was completely unimportant, and probably irrational. In contrast, I had a friend there that was able to remind me that she likes me just the way I am. The implication I came away with, after a couple days, was that perhaps my wife and partner don’t like the fact that I’m not loudly gregarious. I’m better to her when I’m not present. Maybe this is why I’m struggling with those “I’m better off dead” thoughts right now. Just add in everything else that has happened and maybe it makes sense my mind would take that track. I don’t have anyone I feel I can talk to openly about my experience without it being about them. Yes a therapist would be nice but it is so fucking hard to find an affordable one that covers the topics I deal with. And I guess I’m also a bit worried, based on the last therapist I was with, that they might provide me even more reasoning to get out of the situation I’m in now.

I know social media is a toxic thing to look at. But I see several couples out there, even LTR couples that should be outside of the NRE phase, and I notice how they are still able to publically celebrate each other. They have a couple identity. I know the meme/joke about “couple goals” but there really is something reassuring when someone can be public about what “you” mean to them. I think that is part of the reason I’ve appreciated the thing I’ve had with that other “kat” online for over a decade now. She’s alkways reminded me of my unique value and that special name reservation. It’s not about the power dynamic. I’ve never really cared for that or being superior/over anyone. I just want to matter.

This is enough for now.

10-29-21 melancholy

I’m feeling that creeping sadness today and the past couple days. not sure why exactly. maybe those demons of abandonment. that feeling of being unwanted, and so I retreat inside. I’ve also not worked out this week for a number of reasons…my mind always goes to shit if I’m not moving. gonna go workout now. I guess it’s part of my internal comforting since I can’t find it with people. gogo dismissive/avoidant attachment styles…

10-13-21 Feeling More Introspective Today

I’m not going to get too deep into this right now since I should probably be doing more work stuff, but I do find my brain making some sort of connection when it comes to predicting a type of human behavior. The term “Righteous Superiority” has been bouncing around the inside of my skull lately, a term Hank Green used on a video discussing FB after it went down for a day and the issues with it and social media. Here’s the link if you, random internet person, want to look at it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJtNmd1kV44&ab_channel=vlogbrothers.

Basically, it seems that people from all the different “Tribes” have a tendency to want to shame other tribe individuals into compliance with their views. This seems to be in disregard of facts, and sometimes in direct defiance to it. This occurs on all forms of social media, as far as I can tell. But when I think back, it has really always been the human condition. It’s no wonder I get such intense anxiety around groups of people. Whether deserved or not, I’ve been subject to group hate and/or exclusion many a time growing up. And it is known that (I can find some articles to back this claim up later, remind me) being exiled from a social group hits the same path as physical pain in our brains. There’s another thread to pull on depression as a result of that, but I won’t go into that now.

Fast forward a bit and I notice my previous trainer (cool black dude originally from the ghetto, something I only bring up because of what is coming up ahead in this blog post) linked a meme regarding Chappelle’s Netflix special “The Closer”. I don’t normally keep up with these things, and it was a meme joke so I promptly forgot it. Then as I was doing some work today and opened up firefox to do admin work, I noticed an article by GQ basically trashing it. What is it they say about negative attention being just as valuable?

Moving on, I found myself compelled to give it a watch. This article by time gives a view on it that comes close to matching mine: https://time.com/6105951/dave-chappelle-netflix-controversy/. It feels less like a comedy and more like a mental challenge…and if you read this blog any, you know I’m all about that shit.

What this brought me back to, strangely enough, was the game “The Last of Us 2”. It too had the issue of not having an obvious villain, and it receives a ton of flak for it from online communities. I viewed it as an exercise in empathy while dealing with opposing viewpoints. I understand how uncomfortable that can be.

I’m seeing all of these things as connected. Shaming people into compliance doesn’t work. It never has. The only thing that seems to have a chance, but it too backfires as most people in social contexts look to posture themselves for their given tribes, is experiencing other peoples’ lives. This is why I think stories from different view points are so important.

Changing someone else’s mind rarely seems possible. They gotta change it themselves.

For the record, I’m a 2nd generation hispanic cis het guy.

Ear Worm / Burden feeling lifted 7-30-21

Every so often stuff happens in my life, either by choice or not, and a song somehow gets linked to the event. Songs, like any other artistic expression, tend to take on different meanings for people regardless of the intent of the creator. And so this song, “Addict”, has become linked to my choice on blocking all contact with an ex. I think it finally clicked on how toxic that connection could be, even as friends. I made my mistakes in communication and said too much, sure (I’m also wondering if I’m not at least a little Autistic with my trouble of being socially aware/adept), but she always used my mistakes as ways to try to break me down and find ways to make me feel even more like crap. It’s excessive, not constructive, and absolutely not healthy for me to be around. Social media only made it worse by constantly trying to push contact with her too. It’s part of why I’ve drastically reduced my time there. Removing that app from my phone has been incredibly helpful. I’ll occasionally look at it through my PC, but only in very short increments. And I realize, there isn’t much I’m missing.

I think it’s the opening lines that are sticking with me the most in this song.:

“This is a brand new start. And I think I deserve some praise for the way that I am”.

The end of the music video with the blowing up of the club feels fitting. Sometimes burning a bridge really is the way to go. Anyhow. here’s the video link. Serious trigger warning on stuff in there, so put on your thickest skin if you watch.

4-7-21 Thoughts on emotional neglect

My brain has been cycling through this for a couple days now and I think I may have gleaned a few insights on some of my patterns. The point about turning anger on myself actually being the voice of my care takers when I was younger stuck with me.


I’m starting to see the pattern on when I experience depression (I haven’t had any episodes for a good amount of time now) and how it relates to conflicts I may be having in life at the time. They tend to occur when there are inter-personal conflicts going on in my life. Even when I’m not actively dealing with the issue, the negative energy (I use that term loosely) seeps into my psyche. I never lash out at people, nor is my first instinct to fight back when someone lays into me, even when they’re being unreasonable. This effect becomes more pronounced the more I care about someone. The result of this pattern is that I’ll experience heavy shame about myself for even simple mistakes. This easily transfers into self-loathing and depression. I can also see why sometimes that state will hit me out of the blue given. Long story short, I had a lot of experiences growing up where my authentic emotional self was unacceptable and led to trouble…therefore the natural response was for me to hide and shutdown what I felt. The problem is shutting down isn’t an effective long term strategy. It always came back to haunt me.


I coped with this problem by focusing on my achievements. Doing well in a video game or school worked for a while, until they didn’t anymore. That was a really rough patch in my life. Then I went back to school and ended up with a solid career. Then I started taking care of my body. Those became my new coping mechanisms. These were the objective measures I held onto like a buoy during the turbulent storm that could be my mind. I could have just as easily slipped into hard drugs and/or toxic crowds as a coping mechanism instead…and many people do. I was fortunate that I was such a shut-in nerd that I just didn’t get those opportunities and I had WAY too much social anxiety to want to hang around any crowds, let alone toxic ones. There’s also a lot to be said when it comes to toxic masculinity and CEN.

I know this is easier said than done, but I have work to do on separating the conflicts I have with people from my internal state. I do have a hard trigger that results in me feeling intense shame when people I love come down on me. Especially when I feel that it is coming from a place of anger. Here’s what I need to ask myself the next time I find myself in that place.
1. Did I reasonably know doing/saying (or not doing/saying) this thing would cause this reaction? For example, did I know this person had a cultural expectation that I trespassed on? Did they communicate this expectation to me previously?

2. Is their reaction reasonable?

3. Do I trust my intentions?

4. If a mistake was made, then learn from it and move on. If a mistake is continually and/or aggressively held against me, that is their issue, not mine.

4-2-21 Life update

it’s been a while since I have updated this blog. I’ve noticed more likes and follows despite this…which is better odd, but cool. I hope my meanderings have been useful in some way.

Today is the first day I’ve been on the metro in over a year. it’s a weird experience. I’m going to spend the weekend with a partner of mine. I think this is the first time I’ve been able to spend this much time with a poly partner that wasn’t basically a hotel outting. There’s a poly milestone for you. They’ve risen the bar for good partners. I feel at ease around them.

On the fitness stuff… I’m platued at 170 and 22% bodyfat. Sometimes I’ll drop to 167, but that seems to be mostly at the expense of water. I haven’t been doing the same amount of evening workouts and walka due to injuries. I’m in the mend now. My trainer is changing gyms so my schedule is currently in flux. I’ll know more next week on how I’ll move forward. Either we can make something work at planet fitness or I’ll have to work with a different trainer at my main gym.

My goal is still 15% bodyfat by August 15.

Fine ways to lift each other up, not disqualify.

Another thought train on the move. I was thinking on why things with my partner feel so right. I’m not getting that crazy limerice or nre sensation. I’m not feeling distracted by them (other stuff distracts me instead).

This person has made it part of their core to have people feel safe around them. I think I’m feeling the effects of that now. I’m able to speak of my passions and my vulnerabilities and not feel judged. If anything, my eccentries are celebrated. If there is something I don’t know, they are happy to teach me. They include me with their activities. They don’t hide me from their friends. They constantly try to remind me that I’m special, that I’m good. It might even seem a little repetitive at times and I don’t know what to say…but it sinks in.

inevitably I can’t help but compare to the experience with my ex during that last month. I still feel pain over all the thinga she tried to disqualify me for. I wasn’t this. I felt bad about things. My having feelings were invalidated. While I try to avoid casting blame as I’m sure there were a myriad of factors on her end, at the end of the day I did not feel wanted. It was one more person that I had to constantly justify my existence to. I adored her, but I just could not stay in that environment.

I need people who can celebrate my passions and interests and I will do the same for them. To help make each other the best versions of themselves. I don’t want to be in a relationship based on fighting to qualify.

Find our middle ground and just love each other.

3-2-21 Supported

This will be short. Being in good spirits probably doesn’t make for the most engrossing read but it is where I’m at. I recently met someone who has not only been incredibly sweet, but also amazingly supportive of my artistic interests. That means a lot to me. Having an avoidant/dismissive background makes it hard for me to share my passions with anyone for fear of the rejection. So I would just shut down pre-emptively shutdown to avoid the pain. To have it openly embraced feels really good. This one is special.