Days 48-53: turns out ceilidh dancing is exactly like contra dancing but faster and with more alcohol-induced tomfoolery

Monday February 27th-Saturday March 4th

I almost didn’t make it to class on Monday because I was pretty sick–I’m not sure I do have a cold because my symptoms aren’t quite right.  Class was kind of hellish because I had a nasty headache and I think I was running a fever, but I did start a debate about Superman (the comics character, not the philosophical thing) with the teacher.  Well, it was sort of about Superman.  While I was on campus, I made an appointment with Health Services for Tuesday.

Unfortunately, even though I felt awful, I had to do a lot of stuff after class.  I needed to put away my laundry, buy groceries, work on homework, and start making some serious headway on my dress alterations.  But all I wanted to do was curl up with an endless supply of soup and tea.  I managed to wash the dress (I’d tested it with one of the scraps I removed from the bodice to make sure the water wouldn’t damage it) and go buy groceries, but that was it.

I was really sick on Tuesday, so I decided not to go to class.  I felt a little awkward showing up on campus for my appointment after missing both my classes, but the awkwardness turned into vindication once the doctor confirmed that nope, I don’t have a cold, I most likely have bacterial tonsillitis.  (I’d actually suspected I had strep throat, which is what bacterial tonsillitis usually is, so I was right on the money with that one.)  So now I have a seemingly endless supply of antibiotics, as well as orders to take it easy.  I’m not sure which of those I like least–antibiotics make me sick to my stomach and I’m too busy to relax.  At least all the medical stuff I’ve done here so far has been really efficient and streamlined, although nothing too complicated has come up yet.  It might be different if that happens.  But my appointment took probably less than ten minutes, the doctor handed me a prescription for antibiotics, I went downstairs and gave that to the pharmacist, I waited for a few minutes, and then I got the antibiotics and was on my way home.  (I still haven’t gotten over the fact that I don’t have to pay for medications.  I feel like I’m getting away with something that I shouldn’t be.)  I will admit part of the reason I got antibiotics immediately is because I’d already done everything the doctors would normally tell you to do before they’d give you medications.  I’d waited to make sure my sore throat wasn’t going to go away on its own, I’d taken NSAIDs, and I’d been ingesting a ton of tea and soup.

I also found out how to get blood tests–I don’t think I mentioned this in my previous post, but for part of last week I was pretty sure my potassium levels were dangerously low.  I took a bunch of oral supplements and felt better after a day or two, but it made me realize I had no idea what I was supposed to do if I needed a blood test to check on something like that.  So I asked my doctor while I was leaving and, for the record, they can do blood tests at Health Services.

I got a little homework done in the evening, and sent out some important emails.  Probably the most important was the one asking my Current Issues professor for an extension on the assignment due Thursday at noon, which I hadn’t made much headway on before I started to get sick.  Since I thought I had a cold at first, I decided not to bother with my homework and wait until I got better.  Then I just got sicker and now I knew I couldn’t get the (fairly long and involved) assignment done in time.

I didn’t make any dress progress.  I guess I could wear it unaltered, but I’d prefer not to.  At least it looks a lot better now that washing it took the wrinkles out.

The antibiotics worked fast and I was feeling a lot better on Wednesday, but I didn’t go to my classes because a lot better than “I wouldn’t be surprised if I turned out to be dying” is still pretty bad.  I also got a reply from my professor–it turns out that he couldn’t give me a deadline extension because that’s not part of his authority.  I don’t know if this is just a PPLS thing or a university-wide thing or what, but apparently that’s a Course Secretary’s job.  (I’d been wondering what their job was, since I’ve seen their names up on Blackboard for my classes.)  He put me in contact with the one for this class, and she told me I had to fill out a form and write a personal statement explaining why I needed the extension.  (I think you need a doctor’s note if it’s illness-related and you want a week or more, but I wasn’t asking for that much.)  This is deeply bizarre to me since at Hampshire you just, yanno, talk to the teacher.  It also felt kind of invasive, to be honest, because I had to write a statement being like, “Yeah I have bacterial tonsillitis right now and the doctor said that the antibiotics won’t kick in all the way until after the deadline for this assignment and I have all these other health problems this is messing with and here’s why I didn’t just the work ahead of time” and so on and so forth.  Maybe I didn’t need to be as thorough and detailed as I was, but I tend towards excessive verbosity anyway, and I was feeling a little desperate.  Especially since you’re apparently supposed to ask for an extension three days ahead of time.  And I was asking for an extension on something due the next day.

I guess I ended up being persuasive enough, because the Course Secretary emailed me back pretty quickly to say I got the extension.  It was one day less than I asked for, but I can manage.  I keep thinking I’ve adjusted to being here and then something like this will trip me up; I assume that the basic ways that universities do things are all the same and that I don’t need to bother checking if I’m doing things right.

So once I got that figured out, I puttered around taking care of various little things.  I took the side seams of my dress’s bodice in and then started to make a new pot of soup–this time some stuff I don’t know the name of.  It involves lemon juice, egg, and rice.  I know that sounds weird but it’s really good.  Halfway through, I pulled out my computer and checked my Facebook notifications.  Oh crap.  I’d forgotten something very important: my wristband.  A few days ago, the PPLS Ball page said that you had to come get your wristband, aka your ticket in the door, on Wednesday.  You also had to tell them who you wanted to sit with.  This was going to be from 11-2, and when I saw the notification, it was just before 1:30.  So I turned the stove off and speedwalked over to the uni in my pajamas.  (Clean and kinda cute, but still.  Pajamas.)  I made it with plenty of time and got my wristband, but I’d spent the whole walk there trying to think of who I’d want to sit with and I hadn’t come up with a solution.  I just don’t know anyone very well yet.  Luckily, the person who gave me the wristband said that some other LangSoc people were in a similar boat, and we could probably all sit together.

Thursday and Friday were total duds.  I spent most of the time asleep–I didn’t even realize I was missing class on Thursday until well after it started.  I’m not surprised I didn’t get better quite as fast as the doctor said, because that’s how it always goes when I get sick.

I perked up on Saturday, but more because I had to than because I was actually feeling better.  Since I’d been so sick all week, I hadn’t done anything to my dress except take it in.  And the ball was that night.  I spent the whole day frantically sewing, except for when I was frantically running to the fabric store or frantically buying hair gel.

I started off with a very 1970s dress, gathered the sheer overskirt, cut off the stained lining… and then things moved too fast and I stopped taking photos.  But I gathered a big rectangle of light blue fabric up, sewed it into the waist along with the black ribbon belt, and then hemmed and trimmed it at the same time.  Very sloppy, and you may be able to tell I snagged the overskirt at one point.  (I took the first photo after removing the modesty panel, washing the dress, and taking the sides in.)  Sadly, I didn’t have time to get photos of myself in the finished product.

Did I mention I did this all by hand, since I don’t have a sewing machine?

[Image description: six photos of a blue-green dress with fluttery sleeves, a V-neck, and a scale-print section at the waist.  In the first, the dress is hanging up and the skirt is long.  In the second, it’s lying rumpled on a bed and the sheer overskirt is pinned up into gathers, showing the kinda-white-person-skin-colored lining.  In the third, fourth, and fifth, I am wearing the dress and taking photos in the mirror.  In the third and fourth, the gathers are now sewn into the sheer overskirt so that it’s now around knee length, with the underskirt still ankle-length.  In the fifth, the underskirt has been chopped short.  In the sixth photo, the dress is hanging on the door.  There is now a new, light blue underskirt that’s a few inches longer than the longest part of the overskirt.  It has a black velvet ribbon trim.  There is a wider black velvet ribbon at the waist.]

The venue for the ball was really close to where I live, so I walked there wearing sneakers and then changed into heels once I arrived.  I brought a huge handbag to stash my sneakers (and umbrella, and medical equipment, and sewing kit in case my dress fell off…) in and then shoved it under the table.

The ball itself was cool.  I barely knew anyone, so there was definitely an awkward prom vibe for me.  (You know, hanging by the wall and making disparaging comments while not actually fully enjoying the event.  But I did get up and dance a fair bit.)  It turned out that I knew some of the people I got randomly seated with–I have class with one and have been at events with two others–so that was alright.  All the vegetarian food was basically just a variation on risotto, and the dairy-free dessert was a little boring compared to the fancy cheesecakes everyone else had, but it was good.  And like I said in the title, it turns out that ceilidh dancing is almost exactly the same as contra dancing, so I knew what I was doing.  (Hell, I did a better job than a lot of the other attendees, although that might have been the alcohol’s fault.)  We did the Virgina Reel twice.  All the dances I participated in were the simpler line- and circle-based ones; I’ve always liked the complicated square-based ones we do at Hampshire, but I was sitting out due to exhaustion during the dance that came closest to that.  Since I’m a grouchy perfectionist who really enjoys Getting The Pattern Right, I did get pretty irritable as the night went on and people goofed off more and more–it was worse than when I dance in Connecticut and half the dancers are little kids that don’t even want to be there.  I also led for one dance, which I normally avoid, and did a good job.  (I think.)

My dress lasted through the whole event, which was nothing short of a miracle.  Everything was tacked together with huge stitches, the back seam was hilariously and obviously crooked, etc.  But it held together the whole time and looked really good!  (Well, from the front.)  I might take it apart and then sew it properly if I ever have the free time for that sort of thing.

I had enough of a workout after that small dinner that I was hungry once the ball ended, so I hiked over to my favorite restaurant.  I got a lot of double-takes and stares, which makes sense since I was walking around at midnight in a ballgown and running shoes and carrying a huge handbag and a really cute umbrella.  (It was sprinkling.)  Most of the actual interactions I had were creepy–some boys propositioning me (at least I think that’s what they meant) and a guy trying to convince me to let him take a picture of me because I’m “lovely” (I know I am, dude) and he has a “friend” who does “hair and makeup” who would love to see a photo of me.  Yeah, right.

But, on the other hand, someone saw me walk past and said, “Whoa, Mary Poppins!”

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