Ups and downs (Luckily more of the former)

Since I wrote last, nothing very big has happened. It’s been a few more weeks of mostly the same routine and life, which are coming to be pretty familiar.

But life isn’t so simple. Even when there aren’t grand events, there are constant daily happenings, some good and some bad. Here are some small things that have happened in the last two and a half weeks:

  • More friends have come through Bogotá. On Thursday I saw a friend, John, whom I got to know four years ago, when I was a freshman and he was a senior in college. Since he graduated, we’ve only seen each other a few times. But I’ve always taken advantage of opportunities to get together. When he emailed a group of friends last week to say he was going to Medellín, I emailed him immediately to tell him to come through Bogotá and see me. Luckily, he did so, and we had a great time catching up for a couple hours. Before that, two friends from Yale who are still in school, Courtney and Julia, spent their spring break in Colombia, going to Baranquilla for Carnival, Cartagena, Medellín, and making stops in Bogotá. It was great to see them, to show them a bit of the city, and to have them over one night for a Colombian dinner of homemade patacones.
  • We had other dinner “parties.” Nothing too fancy, just fun evenings with friends over at our apartment. The place isn’t big, but it has a working kitchen and a living room with just enough furniture for a dozen young people to all find places to sit (well, by including on the floor). Add food and beer, and a splendid time is guaranteed for all.
  • I started a new class, which was promptly suspended until April because the students had to travel a bunch this month. Though we only had three sessions so far, I like it and am excited for more. The two students are the manager and events coordinator for the Hard Rock Cafe Bogotá. They’re fun, nice, and super committed to learning more English–so much so that classes will be five days a week. After telling me that he needs to be fluent by August (his English is already quite good), the manager continued: “I need to be funny in English.” I don’t have a Hard Rock Bogotá t-shirt yet.
  • In the last week, I got requests to start three new classes. Only one of them has since started, and the other two might not happen, since my schedule is getting near full, and it’s increasingly hard to find overlapping free time with students. But that’s a good problem.
  • In less exciting professional news, last week other students canceled their class. They claimed they’re just suspending it, and that they’ll start up again in May, but I’m skeptical. I raised my prices somewhat significantly recently, and I decided to ask them for more money going forward (instead of keeping them grandfathered in at the old rate). They didn’t respond to my email in which I told them that; then we had a few more classes; then they paid me the new, higher rate for those sessions; then they said they were taking a break. We’ll see if they do ask for classes again in May. And we’ll see if I have free time in my schedule then.
  • After some back and forth to see whether she could make a trip work, my mom decided she could and would come to Colombia next month. She’ll spend a week here, flying in right before semana santa, and traveling with Isa and me to Medellín and the coffee region. We’ve bought the tickets. Vacation (plus my first significant travel outside Bogotá) is now only three weeks away.

Somewhat more importantly, the following things also happened.

Isa and I got out of Bogotá last weekend, taking advantage of the first long weekend since January. We went to Villavicencio, in the llano (plains) region of the country. Importantly, that’s tierra caliente. But we only spent 20 or 30 minutes in Villavicencio, since we went straight to what I would call our hotel if we hadn’t slept in a tent. We stayed at Hacienda Marsella, where, for 35,000 pesos (about $19) per person per night, we camped on their grounds, using one of their big tents with ample padding (almost a real mattress) below us, got to eat breakfast and dinner at their restaurant, and got full access to the hacienda‘s facilities, including its bathrooms, hammockspool with an infinity view of the plainszipline, Tibetan bridge, nighttime horseback rides, and friendly parakeets. It was relaxing, fun, and warm–everything that a weekend out of town should be.

And such a weekend was very welcome after the previous two weeks.

As I’ve mentioned, Isa and I started taking salsa classes a month ago. The classes were great–I enjoyed them, and I actually became a little better than terrible at salsa.

But on a few occasions they killed my evening. During last Tuesday’s class, as had happened a few times before, I really struggled with a move. After the teacher demonstrated it, I tried but just couldn’t get it. I worked at it on my own (going so far as to face away from the group to practice, ignoring the others around me), and managed to do it decently after a few minutes. But then we had to do the same move in pairs. The added difficulty of pulling it off with a partner threw me back to square one. Isa and I tried and tried, but we couldn’t get it. Really, I couldn’t get it. And so I shut down.

Those of you who know me well might know what I mean by that. I just couldn’t do anything after I got frustrated. Not only could I not do the move; I couldn’t even make myself work on it with Isa, I couldn’t make myself just relax, enjoy the class or chat with anyone or anything. I had to wait out the end of class, basically suffering through the last twenty minutes, and get home, get to where I could think about something else, before my frustration began to fade.

This isn’t a new issue for me. I have a number of flaws, and being unable to loosen up when I’m unhappy, frustrated, or angry is a big one. There’s are reason humans have moods, but there are lots of good reasons why I should work to get over some of mine.

This salsa incident (the last and worst of a few times I became frustrated in class) was most unfortunate because it created an unnecessary hour of tension between Isa and me. Neither of us had done anything wrong, and I tried to explain to Isa that I wasn’t angry or upset–and I certainly didn’t feel anything negative toward her–I was just really fucking frustrated, and I can’t work with people, or even really be with people, when I get like that. When I have a problem, I need to fix it. I need to work on my own and get it right–or move on to something entirely different–before I can begin to feel better. The mind that works that way doesn’t work at all when it’s trying to dance with a partner. We were basically fucked in that situation, because of me.

That was one of a few not-great moments we’ve had together the last few weeks. The few weeks before last weekend were our first rocky patch together. It’s not worth going into too many details publicly, so I’ll just say that we had a handful of days affected by events like the salsa class: neither one of us did anything wrong to the other, but events acting upon us got one or both of us down, and, in turn, we were unhappy with–or rather, and more simply, in the presence of–the other.

Being perfectly happy and getting along with other humans isn’t always easy, especially when you live with them. Friction and stresses happen, and it’s not always possible to ignore them or make them go away instantly. So it goes. So some days recently have gone. Not all of them.

Luckily I can end this post positively, since this week was a great one: happy, productive, calm. And, in a low-boiling sort of way, exciting. I’ve got lots of ideas for things I want to do in the short-, medium-, and long-term. And that’s always a key to being happy, for me at least. Big ideas, big dreams. Hopefully some will be realized. For now, the potential is the happiness driver. Also, the fact that Isa and I had fun this week and just enjoyed each other’s company. We’ve quit salsa classes, at least for now, mostly to free up time in our schedules. We both hope to get back to them eventually, but for now we think it’s best to take a break.

I was going to go play poker at a buddy’s place tonight, but he just texted me to say poker’s off. So we’ll have to manage to have a good time just drinking beer and eating pizza. Ugh.

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