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.

8-14-20 Feeling Better

I’m feeling better today. There’s still some residual angst. I let my wife know I had been feeling irritable all morning in the 5 minute overlap to see each other we actually had. It was intended as a heads up. I hadn’t woken her up that morning so she slept in till about 11:25, just in time for another meeting I had to be in. I just seem to be getting into more and more meetings, and that isn’t doing me any good mentally. Turned out she had been to about other stuff. Then towards the end of my meeting (which ran for an extra 45 minutes…) she texted me a photo of our friend (well, lately it seems just her’s) of her fever and how she’s concerned she may have been exposed to Covid. This made me worried about A, who I recently spent time with. Once I got more details, I had a slight relief that the exposure windows didn’t over lap. Test results won’t be available until Monday. So far my wife and I’s health seem just fine (exposure time for K was the day before she hanged out with my wife, so if my wife did catch something from that then we’re past the timeline when something may have happened).

Anyway, that led to a discussion about what happened with A, and how my wife actually wasn’t comfortable with it despite giving consent. That’s kind of shitty on her part, as now someone else’s feelings are engaged. Then we talked about the health of our relationship, and it isn’t great. I guess my anxiety is good for something. She doesn’t want me engaging in anything else really, though she feels conflicted about holding me back. So we made a commitment to spend direct interactive time on tuesday/thursday at minimum. This seems to help. Also having more regular talks is important too, as we just haven’t done that, being content to passively be in the same area but really that just makes us roommates at best.

I still find myself feeling some sort of anger/resentment on social media whenever I see anything from S or K. I had a bit of a realization this morning regarding that feeling and what my amygdala is actually trying to do. Both of these people made me feel joy, in different ways. Then they hurt me through rejection and abandonment. I think my brain is using those emotions to keep me away from them, to avoid me getting hurt again. Part of the same anxiety path way. I’m trying to think of people in my past who followed the same pattern, and how I got past it. A was an example…with her though I didn’t see much of anything on social media…in part because I had unfollowed her but also she was rarely active on social media (until fairly lately). Of course with her I felt a little guilt as well as I was the one that broke off the relationship. But still there was pain there. It got better. Then I thought about J. We went years without talking to each other, and what I felt for her as a teenager was very intense, even as a purely LDR. I think it was about 7 years before we even started talking again. And her’s was a case in which I was rejected. We didn’t have a frank discussion of what happened until after she invited me to ren fair. She apologized for what she put me through. I think, on retrospect, that helped repair the damage between us. All that distance gave me time to forget the pain. She’s still an important friend, even if we don’t talk that much now.

Now with K, I think even logically I don’t trust her that much right now. With her 1 blow up when I accidentally upset her, she went direct to fatalism and ending the friendship. That isn’t a mature way to handle things when people get hurt on accident. She is on the younger side, so I suppose that shouldn’t be that surprising. But it still brought up my trauma responses.

With S…I’m still not sure. I understand enough that her anxieties and traumas (what I understand of them) played a big role. This pandemic + her attempt to quit vaping (nicotine product) ramped up her anxiety responses in a big way. It led to a bad situation. My emotional centers seem to desperately want to find a way to label her as a bad person, to give me reason to keep away. But understanding this defense mechanism I have now, is that really true? Shit, over half this country might be falling into this same damn trap in respect to each other.

8-13-2020 Feeling angry today

I’m not yet entirely sure what triggered it. Maybe increase testosterone from all the squats and dead lifts today. Maybe feeling a boundary was crossed last night when my wife responded to a message not intended for her instead of checking with me (regardless of what I was doing at the time). Maybe that I barely spend any quality time with her despite the fact she has been out of work for about 4 months now. She isn’t particular invested either it feels sometimes. Maybe seeing S on social media triggered a depression episode…just the sight of her still bothers me. Taking an idea from the book I’ve been listening to, “Rewire your anxious brain”, it could very well be my amygdala trying to keep me from harm by pushing everything away from me. I’m having trouble seeing a way out of this. Writing might help though. To some degree writing I suppose forces my PFC to engage more. It’s still a near thing though. I’m sure I’m not making much sense now but I don’t write this for an audience anyway.

I’m just so used to loss. People leaving or they just stop caring. It’s the same story over and over. I can’t just ignore it and put on that fake happy like I do at work. I feel simultaneously overwhelmed and under valued. This abandonment sensation feels even worse when I have others’ responsibilities thrown on top of me. Which I realize it is a bit of a paradox to state. Maybe I am feeling used as well. I’m not sure. I’m just throwing words at the screen, hoping to find another meaning, another way out.

7-17-2020 felt a bit better and then not

I’m still experiencing loneliness and I guess a sense of inferiority? I think listening to some of Peace Talks and the scene with Murphy got me reminiscing about what I had enjoyed with previous partners, and how not present it is now. Which led to me looking at profiles I knew i shouldn’t have. Which then led me to doing more sluething to try to understand what I lacked. Which led me to still not feeling happy with my body. I’m tired of feeling unworthy. Even though I’m in far better shape than I was 15 years ago, I’m still not where I want to be. I want to be able to look at myself, and know that anyone else who looks at me will undeniably be able to say he takes care of his body. I don’t want to be super athelete or model level fit, but I’m fucking tired of my sides.

Then I felt my exiled trauma come up again just seeing Kat’s name while my wife was talking with her, and again I found myself reminded about how the things I need to feel loved by someone are not present here. As I think of that, that came on the tail end of anxiety just around that person now, follow by the depression drop that always seem to happen when I’m anxious for too long It feels like they never will be. My association with being physical is tied to feeling love. With her, apparently it is the opposite. This feels unfixable. Then the Lisa thing came up in the middle of that, and it was just too much. I was already planning to walk but I definitely need to escape right then.

7-16-20 Leg day

5 minute bike. Just writing down all the exercises I did. I can’t remember how many sets I did.

banded side walk with resist band above knees

  • banded side walk with resist band above knees
  • Farmer’s carry with 35lb DBs
  • Deadlift green KB
  • 10 tire flips
  • Farmer’s carry back
  • squat with 35 db, stop at box
  • box jumps on tire
  • single leg step up (keep foot on box) no weight (15 reps)
  • Single leg step up with 35lb weight (lowest box)
  • pistol squats with trx
  • reverse lunge with trx (make sure back knee just about gets to floor)
  • banded pullups 3 sets. I got up to 15 reps with green.

7-7-20 str train bicep/back

Circuit base but with reps instead of time blocks. Aimed for 10 reps, then 6 reps with heavier weights on last 2 rounds

  • Wide grip lat pull down 80,100,120,140,160
  • Cable pull 30lb? Can’t remember
  • Single arm rows 25, end with 35
  • Curved bar curl, wide supinated grip, wide pronated grip, close supinated grip, wide pronated grip…60,60,60,40
  • single arm alternate grip (start neutral), 20lb?
  • Next set
  • Inclined curls 20lb
  • heavier single arm rows
  • Preacher curls 15lb
  • wide grip pull up with assist band x10, for total of 50 reps

5-31-2020 where I’m at now

Regarding her, I don’t feel comfortable engaging in that shared community at all. Especially when it comes to the more wild events. I think the only way that I’ll be able to feel more ok (it’ll never be 100%) would be through getting closure on what happened, and a plan for how to move forward. Currently, I don’t feel comfortable enough with her to get into that discussion. I don’t see her having the patience and empathy for that kind of discussion now, or maybe ever. Which means I’m either going to have to continue to endure being uncomfortable in that group (while it is all online) or finally just completely remove myself from it and all the contacts I’ve made since. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve removed myself from a community. When I think about it, that was the result of how things went down with another person long ago. There was never an exit plan.

5-22-20 “May You Feel That You Belong”

Thanks to a friend I was able to make use of the “Calm” app to start practicing meditation more regularly. It has helped dull the edge of some of my anxiety flare ups, though they are by no means gone. And of course I still struggle with depression episodes that keep me from wanting to reach out to anyone. During the 30 day program, one of the episodes was about friendliness. One of the suggested mantras was to think the following to people you like, and dislike, and to yourself: “May you be strong. May you find peace. May you feel that you belong”. I think that last bit has started a bit of a ripple in my awareness. That sense of community may be the thing I really need to address. I don’t have that currently. I realize I did sort of have that in the past to varying degrees. The common characteristics when I did was a regularity of *sustained* interpersonal contact and it involved an activity that I was at least competent at and somewhat recognized for. I experienced this in MMA, Kenpo, Salsa, IT back in CBT, Dag for a little while, roleplay chats, Ren faires, and competitive online gaming (back in the late 90s to mid 2000s). D&D filled in some of that as well, more so when the games were regular and the group would have follow up meetings outside of that (which also led to meeting my wife; also this gives me more insight on why her working at renfaire was important to her, it was a community in itself). I don’t have the gift of gab, at all, so I’ve always had more success with people when an activity is the focus (but still required direct interactions, which is SF doesn’t give me that community sense).

One that requires skill, not luck, so no I’m not doing bingo or shit like that. Plus there is also my personality type to begin with…I do not do well with highly extroverted/loud/flashy type people. I don’t feel that I fit in with the local poly crowds here for that reason. That is not an adjustment that I can or want to make to “fit in”. The only reason I stay in that discussion group now is because the occasional good idea still floats up. I feel that as the numbers increase, the quality will continue to decline…so I suspect it will eventually happen. I still believe in the idea of multiple romantic relationships being valid and potentially helpful things, but they require a ton of work and patience for all involved parties (and *clear* boundary work and non-judgmental understanding of triggers). I can’t do casual, at least not in person when you start throwing around all those “love” chemicals that go off when being physical. It seems like the people that do all tend to be the flashy/loud types, and I just don’t fit in there anyway. I suppose the time I spent on Lit was casual, but my sharp internal world and ability to write evocative imagery was useful and appreciated in that place. Doing that requires an intense focus that my default personality fits well with…it does *not* work in a crowded bar.

Better to focus on my strengths. I’m just not sure where I’m going to find a community that I fit in with currently. All the physical in person things aren’t an option while COVID is still a problem. That only leaves online communities. Roleplay options (of any variety, but written) are a little hard for me to do right now, as I need to be isolated to really enter into that world of imagination. Being interrupted every 10 minutes by a cat/dog or even the presence of another human makes me feel uncomfortable. I thought about competitive gaming, but I haven’t really found an option that fits me. I can’t do the battle royale or “MOBA” type games. Too much drama, plus for the games I seem to enjoy more there isn’t a good way for me to break into that community. Though maybe it is also that I just hadn’t really committed to trying to break in. I also thought about looking into joining other D&D or even shadowrun games on Roll20. I’m not sure that’ll do it.

I need to do some more thinking.

5-21-20 Get out of my head

I really wish she’d stop popping up in my head. I keep getting these scenes of different arguments and the points I would make. I never really have the other side of that though. Then those feelings of shame and inadequacy start bubbling up, and it hurts. I’m struggling to not just cut off every connection I have to that community right now. I do not feel welcome. That is not my kind of tribe. I’m not sure what my tribe even is. I know I had it once long ago. I’m not sure where I can find it now. This plague doesn’t make things easy in that regard either. I’m not sure what to do right now.