Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Category: Dance

Over Here – Day 433

Happy Halloween, everyone. Guess what I’m going as this year? A soldier! Yeah, pretty original, don’t you think? This time last year, I was on the first day of my four-day pass to Phoenix. One year. Three hundred and sixty-five and a quarter days. The time it takes for our little blue, wet world to travel around the Sun. In a few days, I will be on my way home. Physicists and philosophers have long tried to understand the perception of time. But neither arcane equations nor metaphors have actually been able to fully explain the human perception of time. I have come to understand that over the past year. It is strange when a year can seem both interminable and fleeting at the same time. I remember the day I got here, like it was yesterday. It was a cool December afternoon and we were waiting at Baghdad International Airport for the old unit to pick us up. I guess the date of our departure was so far off in the future, obscured by the clichéed “mists of time” so to speak, that I didn’t even think about it. Or, maybe it was because it was so far off, that I didn’t want to think about it. Whatever the reason, I did acknowledge our departure was a very long way off. I set myself little “markers” during the year. Chronological mile-markers, if you will. Some of them were totally random, meaningless to others, but of great import to me. For example, on my second day in Iraq, we made our way to the International Zone, to go to FOB Union III where we thought we would be staying. As I grabbed my stuff and made my way to our living quarters, I caught a glimpse of some writing on a dry-erase board. It said, “10 weeks”. 10 weeks – a nice, round number. Although it seemed like a long way off then, I remember thinking how it would feel when we were down to 10 weeks. My next “mile-marker” was my leave date, which was in the first week of May. My leave was situated nicely in the middle of my deployment and so it was a sort of halfway point too. The marker after that was for when we were down to a hundred days, because after that, we would be down to double-digits – woohoo. Then I had “83 days”, because that’s how many days our SSA had left (they had come to Iraq a month before we had) when we were at a hundred-and-something days. My second-to-last marker was for 10 days, because after that, we’d be down to single digits. Now that’s a REAL reason to celebrate! And last, but by no certain means, least is our actual day of departure. Suffices to say that it’s only a few days away! Now when I look back, the whole year looks like it just sped by. I think a year seems like a year because of the different things we do. Different things that happen. We set up “mile markers” in our head so we can think back to “the totally crazy party back in February where I got totally wasted”, or “oh man, Spring Break”, or “Oh yeah, that’s when I went up to meet my family” and so on and so forth. But over here, there really isn’t much to distinguish one day from the other. I did the same thing over and over again, and so there was absolutely nothing to mark the passage of time. I do remember the individual moments when I would wistfully stare at the “Time Tracker” spreadsheet that we had, wishing that time would move faster, but at the same time it does seem like it sped by. The old adage “time flies when you’re having fun” doesn’t really seem to fit here. I can’t really say I “had fun”. It wasn’t all that bad, but it really wasn’t “fun”. Oh well. At any rate, I’m just glad that it’s almost over.

The past few weeks haven’t been all that bad, really. The new unit came in a few weeks ago and we slowly started handing over ownership and responsibility for our various missions, to them. I also started doing something that I should have started a long time ago. They have Latin Dancing on base at many locations. They have one (and by having one, I mean in the most liberal sense of the phrase) at the Division MWR (Morale, Welfare, and Recreation) Center. It’s on Thursday nights, and there never has been a huge turnout. I went to this one because it was close to our pad. But the really good one, was the one on Camp Slayer (Saturdays at 2000. 8 pm for you civilian types). It’s a bit of drive from where I live, so I never really tried to go over there. But I decided to try it out last month and I didn’t regret it at all. The only thing I regretted was not going there earlier. There is a huge turnout – the dance floor is positively crowded. It reminded me of the old “Bash on Ash” (A club that used to be on Mill and Ash in Tempe) days! It also gave me a chance to unwind and do something different. Usually, when I tell my fellow soldiers that I enjoy Latin Dancing, I am met with humorous intrigue, quickly followed by a few lighthearted jabs. As a result, I am not really in the company of a lot of people who really enjoy the activity. So it was pretty neat when I met new people who enjoy dancing as much as I do. Never did I realize that there would be this much interest in this activity in Iraq. In fact, I was expecting a year of no dancing at all. I guess I was wrong. I was mistaken for a Puerto Rican more than once. It usually happens when someone approaches me and rattles off something in Spanish. When I tell them I don’t speak Spanish, they are often confused. I guess they don’t meet too many Indians who can Salsa or Bachata! I had my last “Latin Nite” last Saturday, and I felt a little sad but then I realized that I’d be doing more than enough dancing when I get back. In fact, Johanna told me that I’d have to dance so much that I wouldn’t be able to feel my feet. Making up for lost time, I guess.

Right now, almost all of us are in the Tents. We moved in two weeks ago. I sold all my stuff, and shipped a bunch of stuff home too. It’s not too bad in the tents. Since we don’t have too much to do now, we basically sleep in, read, or watch movies. I think it’s rest that all of us deserve!

That’s about it for now. The next time I write, I will most probably be in CONUS (Continental United States). Oh, and here are the pictures I promised:

Amber and I
Amber (SGT Brinton, USMC) and I at Camp Slayer on Latin Nite. She’s an excellent dancer; a great follow. Definitely one of the better ladies I’ve danced with.

HQ Ammo
A bunch of ammo!

Comforting Embrace
A really touching picture I saw in Stars and Stripes. Insurgents (so-called “freedom fighters”) killed the baby girl’s father and mother, before shooting her in the head. She’s slowly recovering in the hospital keeps crying and moaning all the time. The Air Force Chief Master Sergeant in the picture is the only one who can comfort her.

Customs
Waiting for our boxes to get inspected by Customs personnel.

Dora and I
Dora. One of the people I met while dancing at Camp Slayer.

Halloween Skeleton
Our Halloween decoration at the Motor Pool.

Camouflage Humvee Cover
Camouflage Cover for our Humvee

Card Page One
We get a lot of cards from kids. SGT Laning gets some strange ones…

Card Page Two
Like I said, strange…

Motorpool Mouse
We had a rodent problem in the Motorpool. They were getting fat off our food and off creamer. We finally caught one of them.

Palmer and Dahlseid
SGT Dahlseid and SPC Palmer installing the camouflage cover on the humvee.

Latin Nite at Slayer
Latin Nite at Slayer

More Latin Nite at Slayer
More Latin Nite at Slayer

Slayer Salsa Crew
Slayer Salsa Crew

Mmmm Steak
We look forward to Seak Night (Tuesdays) with great anticipation.

More Steak
Mmmm… More Steak!

Titty Twister
Ouch.

Sunset
Another Iraqi Sunset.

Another Sunset
As you can tell, I really like taking pictures of sunsets.

Tent, Post Storm
We have thunderstorms here, just like the ones in Arizona. This tent didn’t fare too well after a particularly strong one.

The Plane
SPC Ortiz: “The Plane! The Plane!”

Garba

Went to Garba tonight. I was there till 2:00 am. It was pretty awesome. I saw a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in a while. I saw Saylee (at least that’s how I think it’s spelt – I could be wrong) and I haven’t seen her in a year, I think. We were supposed to go and get sushi before she left for San Francisco, but it never happened. Oh well, maybe in December!

The Garba was pretty good. I am so out of shape. I really need to start running and working out again. I’m going to start as soon as I’m done with this house thing and as soon as I have moved to my new place. Jeeves and I did the garba for a long time, and in the center circle too! So it was pretty fast and it was really awesome!

After Garba, we had Dandia. That was pretty awesome except for retards who kept messing it up. Seriously… some people just DO NOT understand the concept of joining a Dandia with a partner. They just waltz in and try to join in. I mean… seriously… how FREAKING hard is it to realize that? It’s not rocket science for crying out loud! And even if you are coming in with a partner, how FREAKING hard is it to realize that you join at the END of the line, and not in the MIDDLE? I was the “manager” for our Dandia group. When things got out of hand, I’d pair everyone up and we’d start again. I had to do it a bunch of times, but because of that, we actually did some Dandia. There was this little girl who was trying my patience. She would just randomly walk in every now and then, WITHOUT a partner. Jeez… anyway, it was still fun. We did about ten minutes of Bhangra towards the end, so that was cool too. I wish they had more! And the Bhangra they played was really slow too… Oh well, something is better than nothing.

My feet are sore and are start to blister, I think. My calves hurt. I am going to regret all this tomorrow. For sure.

Sevillana

Today even, I went to this Sevillana dance workshop with Rachna. Sevillana is a form of dance in Spain and is known as the “mother dance” of all Spanish dances. It was complicated initially because I was not used to moving my body in such a different manner. But it was really cool, and it looks really awesome. Rachna and I are going again next Thursday. I want to keep at this thing…!

Things I would like to do

Sometimes I wish I had time to do the many things I would like to do.

First, I would like to code a lot – no surprise there. Then, I want to do some linguistic stuff. Read up on all sorts of languages; try to make inferences as to their relationships and their derivations. I want to be able to decipher languages that have not been deciphered – like the Linear A script and the Harappan Script. Oh yeah, talking about scripts – I would even like to go on an archaeological dig to these sites (Crete, Harappa). That would be awesome. Oh hell, I wouldn’t mind just any old archaeological dig.

I want to learn Indian classical music completely. I wish I hadn’t been such a brat when I was little. My mom tried to teach it to me. I learnt a little bit, but I was never happy about learning it it. I was such a brat. I really regret it. I’ve been trying to read up on it as much as I can, and I find it very intriguing. There seems to be intricate mathematical relationships between the different scales. Compositions seem to follow certain rules. That is something I would really like to understand.

I want to come up with a way to describe dancing – and I mean stuff like the Salsa, Cha-Cha or Rhumba. Yeah, that sounds strange – but I have noticed that these dances have a strict set of rules and transitions from one step to another are clearly defined. There has to be a mathematical relationship involved!

There is so much to learn in this world and not enouch time. I know that is one thing I will always have – the urge to learn more and more…

Pictures from Boston and Vegas

I’ve uploaded two sets of pictures.

The first one is from my Spring Break trip to Boston, where I visited Michael and Laura. The second one is from my trip to Vegas, this last weekend. The first one is titled “Chez Michael et Laura”, and the second one is titled “UNLV Dance Competition 2000”.

Vegas Dance Competition

Just got back from Vegas! I was there over the weekend for the USABDA (United States Amateur Ballroom Dancer’s Association) competition. My friend Jenny (who is also my dance partner) and I went there with our friend April. April ROCKS! She gave us a ride all the way there! We stayed there with Marc and his friend Arthur. We also met up with a bunch of other people, namely Michiko (Marc’s partner, and I think I have the spelling wrong), Michelle (Arthur’s partner), Sherry (she’s three-quarters Persian and a quarter Italian), and Ed and Maria.

First of all, the competition was absolute fun. We mainly went there to have fun. Jenny and I did put in more than a few practice sessions, but I think we could have done better had we started earlier. But for the amount of practice that we put in, we did really well. We made it to the semi-finals in the Bronze level smooth dances – Waltz and Tango. We also made it to the semi-finals in Open Salsa, and Merengue and the semi-finals for Bronze Hustle. We placed in the Finals for Bronze level Rumba, Cha-Cha and East Coast Swing.

Now I really am NOT a sore loser. I have participated in more competitions than I can count, ever since I was little and if I never made it to the top three, I have always felt (except in circumstances like these) that those who did, deserved it. However, I felt some of the judging was really unfair in this particular situation. Furthermore, I’m not the only one who feels this way. We were pretty confident we were going to place either first, second or third in Rumba or Cha-Cha, and even compete in the finals for Merengue and Salsa. We weren’t upset with the smooth dances, Hustle or EC Swing because those are dances neither of us have done much of. But the others ones… Good Lord! I really feel that a few of the people who did end up placing; didn’t deserve it in the least! I made a point of video-taping the event (mostly for memories, and also so I can see what my mistakes are, and also to learn from others) and I went over it when I came back home. The couple that placed first had horrible arm-styling, poor posture, and most of all, were off-time. I really don’t know how they even made past the qualifying round. Even if Jenny and I weren’t “Number One” material, I could pick out at least two or three other couples that deserved it more than the couple who did get it.

Then there was the Salsa – the couple that won first place didn’t have a CLUE what they were doing… and I have no idea how they even made it to the finals. My friends Sakeena and Atin placed second – I thought they should have placed first!

Oh well… that’s life I guess. Eitherway, I had a fun time. I’ll post pictures here as soon as I get them developed. After the competition we went back to the hotel room to take a nap since we had all been up since six in the morning (competition starts at 8:30 am). After that we went to the Bellagio Buffet. We had a LOT of food. After the meal, Marc said that we had eaten enough to deprive a small starving country. He had a point.

We tried to make it to the Light club in the Bellagio. Sherry’s uncle owns half of it, and she was trying to get in touch with her cousin to talk to his connections at the club, to get us in. Unfortunately it was on short notice and she wasn’t able to pull it off. We tried to go to a bunch of other clubs and all of them had lines (no surprise). We eventually ended up going to Studio 54. It was ok enough – not too much of my kind of music though. But still, we all had fun dancing. We didn’t get back to our hotel room until 6 am! Yeah… it was great!

The next morning we had brunch at Rio. That was great too. We had a ton of food and a ton of dessert! Man… it was GREAT! After all that, we began the long drive home. I got home at about 11:00 pm.

It was a fun trip and I think I’ll do the competition again. Jenny is leaving Phoenix for Houston, in May. But we’re going to try and partner up again for Vegas!

Sore

My feet are sore and killing me. My calves hurt.

I LOVE DANCING!

Leaving for Boston

Tomorrow I leave for Boston to see Michael and Laura! Woohoo! I have never been to the east coast. It will be positively Schweet. I can’t wait!

Yesterday, I met a girl who told me she had danced with me three years ago. I must have left an impression.

Drama

I am dropping my Competition Exhibition dance class. Unfortunate turn of events. Sad, because I really wanted to do Comp. Ex. I am not sure if I should write it all here… bleah… I will – so what? A man is entitled to his opinion.

I changed my mind. A man his entitled to his opinion, but this time I’ll keep that opinion to myself.

Suffices to say, it was NECESSARY to drop that class. If I had stayed in it, I would have gone positively insane. I wouldn’t have been able to deal with all that stress.

Maybe Vegas. I could dance there. There’s a dance competition there every year. Latin dancing… mmm… I love latin dancing.

More Pictures

I’ve added pictures of the Tardeada Performance. They are in an album titled the same.

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