|cheap Polish candy arranged to spell "boo".|
I haven’t taken a West African Dance class since I got back from Senegal; I was a little nervous for my first class last Tuesday. Idy was happy to see me, and it felt good to dance again, hear live drumming, and reconnect with the joy I felt the first time I danced in the room on Lincoln Avenue that brings a piece of West Africa to Chicago, contained within four walls but loud enough that passersby on the street stop to look in the windows. I was a passerby myself the first time I heard it.
It’s been a rough week: Angelica’s father passed; my knee has been bothering me more than I thought it would after my fall in Horner Park; yesterday was the mid-term elections; and it turns out nothing has changed in my body composition over the past 7 weeks. (Have I mentioned the body age challenge I signed up for at work? It involves heart rate monitors, a lot of exercise, and occasionally submitting to a scale that measures body fat percentage.) Also, my job has the increasingly annoying side effect of degrading my self-respect. Some days are okay, other days I have to remind myself that considering the circumstances we’re all living in, I’m doing alright. It’s not all terrible, if I had to make a list of pros and cons, it would look like this:
- Pro: Lois, a 67 year-old fitness instructor and former dancer who has become a quasi-maternal figure for me. If I’m lucky enough to grow as old, I hope I’m also lucky enough to be as fit as she is. We’re on the same team for the body age challenge, along with her husband, and another woman who works here. At the moment our little rag-tag team is kicking ass (we’re tied for first place), but that may well change once all the teams get their mid-season body composition results.
- Con: The Scottish facilities manager with an Italian name who treats me like I owe him something. He seems to believe that because I know how to use some computer programs, I know how to use all computer programs, even ones that aren’t installed on my computer. This makes about as much sense as believing that since I speak some languages, I speak all languages, even ones I’ve never heard of.
- Pro: Free yoga, free Pilates, and free access to fitness equipment.
- Con: As if getting paid 40% less than I earned at my previous job wasn’t humiliating enough, I have to battle daily with a time clock that only counts once every six minutes -- if I clock in at 9:01, I don’t start getting paid until 9:06.
- Pro: Having a flexible schedule that allows me to take Friday afternoons off.
- Con: Getting docked 30 minutes pay for “lunch,” which consists of going across the street to the hospital cafeteria and bringing food back to my desk, and having to “make it up” by staying at work an extra 30 minutes.
- Pro: Having a 10 minute bicycle commute.
- Con: The manager who has absolutely no boundaries and walks right into my ridiculously small work space to ask me if I received the email she sent me thirty seconds earlier. She also looks at the work that’s on my desk, and if it’s for a different manager, asks me what I’m working on and why .
- Pro: Wednesday afternoon snack time in the staff break room; I look forward to it all week.
- Con: When the facility director is in charge of Wednesday afternoon snack time; he always brings something really lame, like cheap Polish candy I could buy in any of the family-run grocery stores in my neighborhood, but don’t, because it’s not very good.
- Pro: The man who runs around the track singing at the top of his lungs to whatever 80’s song is playing on his old school headphones, which appear to have been bought around the same era.
- Con: The man with a Mohawk who exercises in jeans and work boots, and spends all his time lifting weights and grunting like he’s taking a dump.