Dear Sir/ Madam/ Whom It May Concern/ Self-Glorified Recruiter/ Tool/ Earthling:
I am writing in regards to a full-time position with your fine organisation. I learned about the recent hole in your staff though some source you probably wouldn't recognise if it slapped you across the face, but I'll drop its name like it means something to you, anyway. As a soon-to-be homeless graduate with an expensive degree from a prestigious university, I am desperate for some form of employment that my mother won't feel she'll have to lie about when she sends out the next family Christmas letter.
Over the past four years, I've done various things that will supposedly make me a viable candidate for your company. I've had internships, part-time jobs and club memberships, and I can probably procure generic, positive letters of recommendation from any of those pools. I've also done a lot of useless things, but something tells me that hearing about that stuff won't make you want to hire me. Instead of regurgitating any such items of disinterest, I'll instead provide you with some of my defining characteristics, which I feel are far more relevant to your decision-making process:
I've never killed a person. Bugs, plants and hamsters are another story.
I can polish off an entire pizza on a good day (or maybe it's a bad day).
I have access to free whole bean coffee and am usually willing to share.
I enjoy waltzing, puppies, espresso martinis, moonlit walks along the beach, and making shamelessly snarky remarks.
Occasionally I fake tan for ballroom competitions. This guarantees at least one week of entertainment for everyone else in the office every other month.
I'm cute and cuddly once I've had my twelfth cup of coffee.
I fully understand that I will be the newest company gopher, and that I will be subjected to a barely sustainable salary, undesirable tasks that are fit only for an intern, and merciless hours. In starting at ground zero, there is seemingly infinite room for advancement within the company. Who knows? Perhaps one day I'll get promoted to Real Human with Real Human Needs. Thank you for not tossing this letter onto the recycling pile upon seeing it on your desk, and I look forward to your rejection.
"A-Teens Megamix," A*Teens
"Rambin' Man," The Allman Brothers
"People Get Ready," Seal
"The Hardest Part," Coldplay
"I'm Like A Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)," Fallout Boy
"Chambermaid Swing," Parov Stelar
"Kiss the Girl," The Little Mermaid
"Blackbird," The Beatles
"I Just Called to Say I Love You," Stevie Wonder
I don't think I've ever turned someone down so quickly and directly. I was closing at work, a rare occurrence for me. Working during the regular nine-to-five hours usually spares me the nuisance of dealing with large quantities of less choice customers, but last night I was out of luck. Our 10.00 P.M. closing time was fast-approaching, and the only people who seemed to have any interest in buying coffee were a few lads who may still have been hungover (or stoned, or in some other residual, mind-altered state) from earlier in the day. After making their coffee purchases, they all milled around the bar, waiting for their drinks. Suddenly I, and the activity in which I was engaged (emptying out a closet), was fascinating to these gents. One character took particular interest in my chore, and took a stab at conversation with me. It was cute, really: he leaned on the bar for support, slurred his words a little, and couldn't seem to keep his eyes focused on much of anything. I politely responded to each of his statements (okay, so maybe I was a little snarky, but I doubt he'll ever remember me), but was thankful when my manager pulled me away from the interaction to put me to work.
Upon emerging from the depths of the storage closet, my newest fan was still hanging out at the bar.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to get you in trouble or anything."
"Don't worry about it. It happens." I focused on relocating the supplies in my arms to their appropriate shelves. He relocated from the bar to the shelves that were receiving the majority of my attention.
"You must be really cool to hang out with. I'd like to do that with you some time. Would that be at all possible?"
I paused, either to process if this guy was serious or to collect myself to avoid bursting out laughing, or perhaps both. Sir, you can't stand independently right now. I didn't think I'd have to include "sober" among my standards, but now I know. I simply shut my eyes, and shook my head: "No."
"'No'?" He emitted something between a grunt and a laugh before he lumbered off with the rest of his pack. I chuckled under my breath as I went back to supply-shifting.
My manager found me in the supply closet grabbing an armful of coffee cups. "I'm sorry if I was harsh with you before. I wanted to make sure that guy wasn't bothering you. Was he bothering you?"
I looked at her and grinned. "Not any more."
The temperature. Yes, inside. It's 62 degrees in here!!
As you may recall, I had a competition this weekend. For me, a competition typically entails a week of tanning, three (or more) weeks of stress, and months of practise. This time I just opted for the week of tanning.
Okay, so maybe that wasn't a premeditated decision.
Johnny and I decided to dance on Tuesday. Our events were on Friday. Frankly, I didn't have time to stress, and you can imagine that we didn't squeeze months of practise into three days. Given the circumstances, though, I can't complain too much about our results. I won't get into specifics, but I will say that I managed to bring a few blue ribbons home, and that my video from the event didn't totally nauseate me. The weekend was successful and fun, but that's not to say that I'm satisfied with my dancing. Nope, not by a long shot. I'll be competing with Johnny later this year (either Tri-State in March or Yankee in June), and percentages of blue ribbons I acquire aside, I have a lot to do before then.
Overall, Balera had a great weekend. In Pro-Am, Russell's students took first in Bronze Standard and Silver Rhythm, Vivian's students took first in Silver Rhythm, and of course Johnny and I had sported some blue ribbons in the Silver Standard category. In the amateur ranks, Balera occupied three fifths of the Open Rhythm final, earning second, third and fourth positions.
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World," Seal
"Shadows," Blue Man Group
"Brown Derby Jump," Cherry Poppin' Daddies
"Can I Tico Tico You," Lou Bega
I stand before my computer in the second most uncomfortable state I know, the first being physically injured or ill: waiting for my tanner to dry. Although not painful, it is incredibly awkward and, frankly, pretty vile. It's sticky, smelly, dries out the skin, and stains clothes. And, all too often does it turn out orange, as opposed to toasty brown.
So why, do you wonder, do I waste my time, money and pride on this rubbish? Because, in this case, it's better than the alternative: showcasing day-glo white legs (and other body parts) and blinding both spectators and officials, alike. I wish I was exaggerating, but unfortunately, I am that pale. As some of my coaches have put it, if I'm going to put the money into the lessons, the dresses, the shoes, and the competition, I had better complete the look with the "healthy tan," the perfect hair, flawless makeup, and manicured nails. See the pretty lady on the right? I'm supposed to get that colour.
Having a family history of skin cancer, I avoid the tanning beds. Although a good spray tan can get the job done, it's expensive, and when I need to decide between getting an easy comp tan or eating for a few days, I typically go with the latter. That leaves me with the goo in a bottle. Although drugstore products are fairly reasonably priced, they aren't manufactured with the performing arts in mind (and often result in an attractive orange tint), so I visit sketchy online vendors with outdated security certificates and buy special goo. So far, I've found success with a combination of three products.
I'll begin the near week-long process with Super Braun Classic Self Tanning Liquid, which, until recently, had been discontinued (I just checked danceshopper.com, and suddenly it's available for purchase again. Yay!). As close to daily as possible, I apply some of the tanner to a sponge (also available on danceshopper for $3.95 plus tax and shipping) - this stuff has a consistency only marginally thicker than water, so application by hand is out of the question - then apply it to my skin shortly after showering. Super Braun is a translucent liquid that takes forever to dry, murders my skin and smells like toxic waste - though I've grown accustomed to it - but offers a pretty dark colour in only a few coats. In addition, there is bronzer in the solution, which serves as a great guideline when tanning. I rarely miss a spot. Danceshopper sells 150mL for $29.95 plus tax and shipping.
The night before a competition, and occasionally the morning of, I'll also use Pro Tan Instant Competition Color. I've never actually bought it. Instead, I've managed to scavenged half-used bottles from friends who have no longer needed it. However, it's available on bodybuilding.com in two bottles: 4 fl. Oz. for $10.20 plus shipping, or 8.5 fl. Oz. for $17.40 plus shipping. Another watery tanner, Pro Tan comes with its own cute little brush for application. It's a cheap quality, though, so I'll stick to using my own sponge. Although Pro Tan provides instant dark colour, especially when applied over preexisting colour, most of it washes off in the shower. With that in mind, I only use it the night before and/ or morning of a comp after showering to keep as much of the colour as possible. Pro Tan also smells disgusting, and unfortunately, rubs off all too easily on costumes and clothes when I don't wash off the "excess" colour. Luckily, however, I don't think it stains clothes too much.
The most recent addition to my tanning repertoire is a product of Spray Tanning by Aero Tan, SexSymbol. This product is a recent fad among both amateur and professional ballroom dancers, and I have to admit, the colour is the most non-orange I've ancountered so far. The smell isn't atrocious, either. I buy my Aero Tan from Brian Bercury, a friend of mine, student at Balera, and owner of Take the Lead Dancewear. A 5.3-Oz. can sells for $22.00 plus tax and shipping. I spray this product directly onto my skin and rub it on the morning of a competition (in lieu of the morning coat of Pro Tan). It washes off, and gets all over clothes, but as far as I've found (I've only used it a couple times, so far), it washes out alright. Some dancers will only tan with this product, but I have tried applying it to my untanned skin and didn't get an impressive result, so I'll only use it if I already have some colour.
I do use a few other products, depending on what what I've finished off and what-not. Last summer, I stocked up on MAC's Skinsheen Leg Spray in "deep dark." It's advertised as a bronzing spray for legs, but I'll use it everywhere, save my face, for competitions. Like Sexsymbol, I can only use it on top of a preexisting layer of tanner and only on that day, since it washes out (although not as easily as SexSymbol, I've found). It almost has a mousse-y, creamy consistency, and I also apply it directly to my skin. Like Aero Tan, as far as tanning products go, it doesn't smell half bad. I hope MAC brings it back for summer 2009.
When I don't have Super Braun onhand, I'll substitute Flash Tan, which, like Super Braun, is available through danceshopper.com. A 125mL bottle costs $24.95, plus tax and shipping. I'm actually not a big fan of Flash Tan. It's not nearly as effective as Super Braun, and although it is a lotion and doesn't dry out my skin as much (or smell as awful, for that matter), it contains no bronzer, so it's tricky for me to apply even coats. Streaky legs are a common result of this product. I'm actually working down my inventory (only one bottle left!) and planning on finding another tanner.
In between tanning coats, I try to moisturise with my Victoria's Secret's Ultra-Softening Body Butter from the Secret Garden Collection. Vickie's sells 7-Oz. tubs for $10.00 plus tax and shipping (or 3 for $24.00 plus tax and shipping, or 5 for $30.00 plus tax and shipping). I wouldn't have bothered trying this product, but while I worked at Victoria's Secret (which I hated, by the way), I received a complimentary container in order to provide customers with personal testimony. I grabbed the pear glace, since the smell was the least offensive of the bunch (I can't stand lovespell, and can't understand why it's the most popular scent in the Secret Garden collection). As it turns out, I actually like using it, and it does reduce the dry skin syndrome. I guess Vickie's got the personal testimony it wanted.
And on that note, my tanner has just about dried. I'm off to more productive activities!
"Tomorrow Is Such a Long Time," Rod Stewart
"The Alcohol Diary," Keepsake
"The More I See You," Michael Bublé
"Hallelujah," Rufus Wainwright
"Burn Baby Burn," Ash
"Piggies," The Beatles
"He Hates Me," Sarah Johns
"A Distant Episode," Till Brönner
"When the Bells Don't Chime (Banjo Mix)," Brian Setzer
"Let It Rock," Kevin Rudolf & Lil Wayne
"Wonderful Tonight," Eric Clapton
"2 Man Show," Timbaland feat. Elton John
"They Just Want You to Be There," Carly Simon
"Otherside," Red Hot Chili Peppers
"You Are the Sunshine of My Life," Stevie Wonder
"Let's Live It Up," Brian Setzer
"Hey There Delilah," Plain White T's
"When You Wish Upon a Star," Erich Kunzel; Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
"Sway," Dean Martin
"Shout," Tears for Fears
"Sing, Sing, Sing (RSL Remix)," Anita O'Day & RSL
"Say It Like You Mean It," Matchbook Romance
"Goodnight Goodnight," Maroon 5
"The Way to Your Heart," Soulsister
"Stay," Small Sins
Oh well, I was never one for advance planning, anyway. This semester, I decided to take a break from competitive dancing in order to focus on my classes and job search, but I'll still take the occasional dance class, and I attend Balera's Friday night shindigs religiously. I'm not totally deprived of rug-cutting. Today, Johnny and I decided to practise for a little bit, which we haven't really done since November.
After maybe an hour of serious work on Waltz, Johnny was ecstatic. We were moving smoothly, traveling far, and I was shaping decently, if I do say so myself. Eager to show me off, Johnny caught Russell's attention: "Hey Russ, check this girl out." ::looks at me:: "Do what you just did," he instructed as he led me into promenade position. No pressure, now. I only have my two coaches who are also the studio owners scrutinising me. Somehow I still managed to repeat the long wall with Johnny, and it was clear that he was still thrilled with me. Admittedly, I was feeling a bit better about my dancing, but Johnny has been the most positive coach I have ever had, and I do my best not to let his praise get to my head. Russell, on the other hand, doesn't believe in sugar-coating. Getting a compliment from him is about as productive as prying the ring from Smeagle's hands (Lord of the Rings reference). Johnny looked at his business partner with glee. "Isn't she great?"
"Yeah, she looks good." I struggled not to collapse then and there. "So why aren't you competing this weekend!?"
Johnny looked at me. "Well, I dunno . . . did you want to?"
Now it was my turn to beam. This weekend is the Eastern United States Dancesport Championships, which, as far as dance competitions go, is down the street from my apartment. I originally hadn't expressed an interest because of my aforementioned priorities, but that didn't mean that I'd miss competing terribly. The Eastern is one of four major Boston area competitions throughout the year, and one of its organisers is Billy Morganti, who you may recall from an earlier post this year about my Superbowl adventures. This one's possibly the largest of the four, and is the only one that actually takes place in Boston (Dancing a la Carte takes place in Chicopee in May, Yankee Classic resides in Cambridge in May, and the Commonwealth Classic is a Lowell comp in November). If nothing else, it was frustrating to think that I'd be skipping on a local competition. Once my head had cleared itself of competition anticipation, I had my second thought of the minute:
Oh, (expletive), now I need to tan.
(For those of you who don't ballroom dance, tanning is a vile, yet necessary part of the preparation for competition and performance. I won't get into it now, but I know what I'll be blogging about tomorrow!)
Tanning aside, I'm pretty psyched for this weekend. I have to admit that part of the initial allure of ballroom dancing for me was to get all prettied up and to perform for an audience. As much as I love zipping around with Johnny on Friday nights, it's not the same as the high that accompanies a rehearsed performance.
For those of you who have any interest at spectating at the Eastern, tickets are available for purchase here (and for those of you who have any interest in watching ME dance, I'll be competing in Silver Pro-Am Standard in the A2 division on Friday afternoon at 2.30 and 4.00 P.M. in a sparkly, flourescent red-orange gown).
Eastern United States Dancesport Championships
The tradition comes to Boston!
February 19-22, 2009
The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers
50 Park Plaza at Arlington St.
Boston, MA 02116
"The Ballad of John and Yoko," The Beatles
"I Want to Hold Your Hand," The Beatles
"Here (In Your Arms)," Hellogoodbye
"All of Your Love," Hellogoodbye
"Scenes From an Italian Restaurant," Billy Joel
"She's Always a Woman To Me," Billy Joel
"Your Every Color," Train
"Following Rita," Train
"Last Beautiful Girl," Matchbox Twenty
"Kody," Matchbox Twenty
"Every Breath You Take," The Police
"Murder By Numbers," The Police
"Can't Stop," Red Hot Chili Peppers
"Californication," Red Hot Chili Peppers
Mom hates my layers, but she's acknowledged that the hair's on my head and that I have to deal with it. Her sister's reaction was something like this:
"Turn around: let me see. Oh my God, it's so much better! You know, I was JUST telling your mother how I wished you'd style your hair . . . this suits your face so nicely!" (Mom grumbles, and I beam.)
Only recently have I begun to come to terms with my alabaster glow. Every now and then, though, I hear a remark about the lack of pigment in my natural skin tone that ricochets through my head for ages. A few winners will probably stick with me for as long as I live:
"Has your back ever seen a photon of sunlight?"
(commenting on my legs)
"Are you wearing stocki - oh, wait, that's your natural skin tone. Nevermind . . . " ::hurries away::
(Prior to my first performance with the RLJ Formation & Showdance Team. Russell is discussing logistics with us.)
"And ladies, you'll probably want to start tanning. I don't want to see any pasty legs." ::turns to me:: "Especially YOU, Whitey!"
None. I am totally focused on my blog.
I got my layers about six hours ago. So far, I love them.
The party downstairs!
I typically put off haircuts for as long as possible when I'm in Boston. Being a poor college student, it's tricky for me to justify dropping $40.00+ on a trim, especially when my hair is so . . . generic.
God bless Valentine's Day and the pressure it puts on women to look stunning for their significant others (or lack thereof, in which case they can only hope to 1) foster feelings of regret in former or would-be other halves, or 2) attract a last second romance).
My roommate received an E-mail from Giacomo & Rondi in Kenmore Square for a Valentine's Day promotion: $15.00 off any service of $35.00 or more. If I'm not mistaken, trims by junior stylists are $35.00. Freshly trimmed locks for $20.00 plus tip by some fine stylists at Giacomo & Rondi (even junior stylists are nothing to sneeze at) are a bit more feasible within my measly budget. Count me in.
Usually my cuts are fairly uneventful. I've never been one to experiment much with my hair. No layers, no angling, no colouring, nada. In fifth grade I grew out my bangs, and that was the one major change I ever made to the growth on my scalp. Not being one to spend much time on it, it would be silly for me to get a hairstyle that requires any type of maintenance beyond daily washing and conditioning. On an ambitious day I may blowdry it. In addition, I will never forget my mother's last words to me before leaving Boston after moving me in before my freshman year: "If you cut your hair, I will cut your funds." Admittedly, I like having long hair, too, but heaven help me if my tastes ever changed.
Last November, I was home for Thanksgiving and convinced my mom while we were at the mall that I needed a trim. She gave me some cash and went to continue her errands while I got the locks cleaned up. For months, one of my good friends in Boston had been trying to convince me that I should angle my then 18-inch bangs to frame my face and to layer the rest of my hair. She was also pushing for me to get lowlights, but I refused to even consider that idea. The layers sounded tempting, though. I could still keep my long hair, and perhaps have a bit more volume. And the hair that hanged on the sides of my face reeeally weren't doing much for me . . .
I walked into the salon feeling just a little adventurous. The last time I made any major change to my hair treatment since fifth grade was switching from Suave products to John Frieda Sheer Blonde products (which I love, by the way). My stylist couldn't have been older than I, and as I explained that I was looking to give my hair a bit of lift, she beamed and made the same suggestion about my former bangs that my friend had. "Sounds great. Go for it."
Minutes later, the hair that framed my face barely touched my shoulders, and I was thrilled. As my stylist started to separate the rest of my hair, she made a suggestion about giving my hair some layers, and seeing how well her first snips had turned out, I eagerly agreed. "I like you," she laughed, "It's always fun when people are open to new looks." What could I say? I liked how my hair was looking so far, and my stylist had no grudge against me (after all, I'd only met her maybe 10 minutes earlier), so I trusted her judgment.
That was when Mom got back.
She took one look at my shorter forelocks, and if looks could kill, I'd certainly be suffering from at least a flesh wound. I didn't understand. My hair was still plenty long, and both my stylist and I thought that I was looking pretty good. I tried to talk to her, but she was suddenly busy glaring at a wall. My stylist looked as confused as I was, and lowered her voice to ensure that my mom couldn't hear.
"Is she mad?"
"Yeah," I whispered back, "I'm not exactly sure why, though."
"Should we skip the layers today?"
"Better hold off this time. If the bangs bugged her this much, I'm guessing that layers should probably wait for a while."
We didn't chat much as she trimmed the rest of my hair, but I still thanked her repeatedly once she finished up. Mom may not have liked my hair, but it was attached to my head and I liked it. "We'll have to shoot for layers next time," I promised.
I'm still not exactly sure why my mom was so upset about the hair. It was still long, extending beyond my shoulder blades. She had said something about the hair framing my face not sitting behind my shoulders and looking unprofessional, but I didn't think much of it. Purple hair is unprofessional. If a few strands are that much of a distraction, I can always pull them back.
It's been several months, and I've yet to try my layers. Every time I've been home since November, I haven't dared to so much as breathe the word "haircut." Mom's probably worried I'll completely lose it and get a crew-cut next time I set foot in a salon. The split ends have been getting worse and worse, but without Mom paying for haircuts at home and with my frequently empty wallet, going for a trim just hasn't been in the cards for me.
I have an appointment at 6.00 P.M. at Giacomo & Rondi, where I have occasionally splurged on standard trims and have never been disappointed (up-dos are a different story . . .). I'm in Boston. Mom's back home. Today, I'm getting my layers.