Tag Archive | crew date

I Stepped in Snow!

It has been quite the week and weekend, so this post may be on the longer side, aka it is definitely going to be long and I applaud anyone with the patience to read through the whole thing. At least I will guarantee that it will be more interesting than Madonna’s halftime “show” at yesterday’s Super Bowl, which inspired my speedy exit from the Keble MCR.

But more on that later.

Reaching all the way back in the recesses of my memory to Wednesday, we had our second crew date of the term with the boat club from Christ Church. Such an improvement over the debacle of St. Peters. I think it’s almost a signal of the classier standard that I didn’t end up with yet another tie or bow tie in my room at the end of the night. And I just realized how potentially inappropriate that statement could sound. We went to the college’s Hall dinner, which honestly gets the award for the worst of the three formal dinner’s I’ve eaten at a college here.

Christ Church Boat Club and Beginners Dancesport

Apparently dinner is better when at the High Table or actually cooked by the chef, but at Teddy we get the same dinner as High Table and our chef is awesome so…we win 😉 The guys were all really nice and polite, not rowdy or drunk, and were great about putting up with umpteen conversations about ballroom dancing, though they did have a weird obsession with our shoes. Afterwards we went to the Christ Chutch bat for drinks. You’d think that once in the bar, things would get a little more like a typical crew date, but no, they stayed classy and gentlemanly, one even let me borrow a sweatshirt he had with him because I was shivering.

Catherine and me

Unfortunately the guys all had rowing practice at 6 am the next morning meaning the night ended with all but one of the guys taking their leave without going clubbing. With one guy left with seven girls, it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarves in reverse. He did then proposition us for a six some and didn’t seem to understand why we weren’t into that, but even so he was really nice and funny about it and we all left eager to crew date them again.

I think the difference is because the guys are MCR, they are older and more mature with less of the lad attitude. A couple of the girls requested that we only crew date MCR from now on, but I’m not really sure how I would ensure that. I caught a cab home because it was absolutely freezing and my heel was really badly injured and with the competition this weekend I didn’t want to take any chances.

Saturday was our first competition of the term in Sheffield. It was one of those days that just goes from bad to worse. It started with us leaving Oxford late and ending up at the competition fifteen minutes before it started, so the floor was packed and we had to change, giving us absolutely no time to get warmed up. We ended up competing Ballroom cold. And it showed. The floor was also a small octagon and the runners of the comp decided that it was perfectly okay to have 17 beginners dancing on the floor in one heat. It wasn’t. I’m not even going to mention any of the results because in all honesty, we figured out at the end of the day that the judges were completely biased because even among the main team, no one placed higher than 4th except one couple in Open Salsa. Which makes absolutely no sense because we have some incredible dancers on our main team that I feel were completely robbed and once the other results were announced it became pretty obvious that the judges were playing favorites. So no results, just going to talk about how we danced.

Beginners Girls

Considering how much Quickstep freaked me out in our first competition, I think we danced it amazingly this time. We remembered our choreography and were on time and smooth, and it made it a real pleasure to dance. Waltz was more of a struggle. Our routine is really difficult and we had a hard time with the octagonal floor and other couples running into us, so we struggled through it and didn’t do that well. But we both acknowledged that we didn’t really deserve a final in waltz so we were okay with it. We also immediately booked a private lesson with Bruce.

Jive

Latin was where I really felt we were cheated out of what we deserved. We have been working on technique nonstop with our Latin coach and felt like our Cha had improved light years beyond what it was at Warwick. We even toned down our performance enough for Neil to acknowledge that we weren’t mad as hatters! And as usual our Jive was just a complete blast to dance. I really love Jive, as does Dan, so when we end up dancing it we have a lot of fun and don’t care so much about the results. Again though Jive ended up being our best dance of the competition from the judging standpoint, but as it was biased I don’t really trust any of the results where Oxford couples ended up. We also competed Rock n Roll without any practice or idea of what England considers Rock n Roll so Dan and I just went out there and basically goofed off the whole time.

When in doubt, dip! Rock n Roll

And placed 5th! Okay it was out of 7 but we got a medal anyway so who cares.

After the individual competitions it was time for the team match and Dan and I were (shockingly, okay that’s sarcasm) placed in the top Beginners team Jive. Meaning I got to wear another main team dress. I really think that each time I am put in one of those dresses they become skimpier and skimpier, but I am really trying to work on my self confidence. The amount of skin showing wasn’t really helpful with that, but everyone tried to make me feel more comfortable in it, proving why my team is an amazing group of people 🙂

That's a lot of skin!

We actually did pretty well too; we were the only Beginner team in the entire competition to make the first division! We beat a lot of the other schools’ main teams! but by this point, snow was falling and we needed to rush out of Sheffield so that we wouldn’t get stuck there overnight.

Neil (Latin coach), Polina, me, Dan

Yes, I had my first snowfall of England, and everyone had a ton of fun inaugurating me by throwing snowballs at me! I must have “throw snow at me” written on me or a big white target on my back because everyone always finds it entertaining to pelt me with powder. An obvious solution right? Luckily the snow was pretty dry (is that accurate? calling snow dry?) so I wasn’t soaked through to the bone like I was that one time at AOC.

Unfortunately as pretty as the undisturbed snow was, it caused a lot of problems on the road. It took us nearly 6 hours to get home from Sheffield and I didn’t sleep for any of it, and then had to walk home in the snow in my converse which are not snow appropriate shoes. After a snack and shower, I was passed out at 4 am, ended up oversleeping my alarm Sunday morning also known as

SUPER BOWL SUNDAY!

Oxford in the snow Sunday morning

Now I really couldn’t care less about football unless it was basketball, but the Keble MCR was hosting a Super Bowl Party partially because I pressured Dan into cooking for it (aren’t I a great partner?) so I happily volunteered to help with all the cooking and baking. And it was a lot of cooking and baking. Mac n Cheese, hot wings, bruschetta, chili dip, guacamole, muddy puppy chow buddies, iced sugar cookies, and my peanut butter chocolate cupcakes with little footballs piped on. Then the requisite chips, salsa, pretzels, and sodas. Five and a half hours!!!!! Not including the shopping and prep work. Every once in a while someone would pop in to help but the majority was done between the two of us and while it was exhausting, it was also a blast.

The spread! Note my cupcakes have footballs on them

We enlisted people’s help in bringing the food from the Acland kitchens to the Keble MCR and within ten minutes plates were filled, the guacamole and dip were gone, and everyone was smiling and laughing.  People were raving about my cupcakes, making me smile in pure housewife pride.

Keble MCR of which I am now an honorary member

And Dan was the consummate host, introducing me to everyone, flitting around socializing with everyone once I had fallen asleep on the MCR couch, and attempting to convert everyone to Patriots’ fans and failing. I stayed neutral. I have some of my favorite family members in both New York and New England, my dance partner is from New England, and there was this guy there celebrating his birthday and rooting for the Giants, so I was at a loss. Hence, Switzerland it was.

Dan and random Kebelite

I left after the halftime show once I realized that I was really not going to make it home if I didn’t leave then and would end up spending the night on an uncomfortable couch in a different college’s MCR and that would end up as sconsable material at tonight’s ballroom team social, so I caught a cab back home. In this weather, taxi drivers are becoming my new best friends.

Overall, frustrating but wonderful weekend with my amazing friends and dance partner ❤

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Ballets and Boys

Monday and Wednesday the Russian State Ballet with the Siberian Orchestra were performing at the New Theatre in Oxford. I’m a sucker for ballet, pretty much for all types of dance, and as soon as I saw that a Russian ballet company was going to be in Oxford, I immediately booked tickets last term, one for each night. Sounds a little crazy, but the first night was Giselle and the second night was Sleeping Beauty and the tickets were so cheap it was hard to turn them down.

Kelsi came with me on Monday night so beforehand she, Janosz, and I went to Jamie’s Italian where we were heartbroken when they told us they were out of this amazing sounding butternut squash soup. Positively heartbroken. So heartbroken, in fact, that we ended up all ordering something with truffles in it (okay, the two are completely mutually exclusive). Kelsi and I had these drinks called Rossinis which are champagne and strawberry puree.

Me and Kelsi at Jamie's

The drinks at the Grand Cafe are better and cheaper. But it was kind of a splurge night so we figured why not?

Giselle was beautiful; Kelsi described it as sweet and could predict that I would like that ballet. Apparently I look sweet and would therefore like sweet ballets. Our tickets were the student priced, cheaper seats with a bar in the middle of our viewing field, making them “restricted view” and hence so cheap. But it wasn’t sold out and Kelsi found some seats in the front row of the balcony that no one had purchased, so we got great seats for the price of not so great ones. Score 😉 I won’t bore anyone with details about the experience of watching the ballet, but I will say that the ballerina who played Giselle had the most incredibly beautiful feet and clean footwork.

Giselle

Sleeping Beauty was an entirely different experience. First of all, I went alone. That didn’t bother me at all; by this time I was freaking out and exhausted already and don’t know how great of a socializer I would have been anyway so it may have been a good thing to get some alone time. At least, until women starting sitting around me whom I could only describe as “middle aged biddies.” You know that song in The Music Man, “Cheep a Little, Talk a Little”? Imagine that constantly unless the ballet was in process. And because it was actually sold out that night, I couldn’t move seats to a better and nonrestricted view. The dancers themselves were not as good as the ones from the other night, though I did recognize a few and the girl who danced Aurora was lovely. It was definitely not the ballet I was expecting; it had a lot of walking around and people dancing these little duets that made no sense. Like one pas de deux was a pair of poodles. On pointe. Weird. I think I prefer Giselle.

Friday night, aka last night, was a night on the completely opposite end of the social spectrum. Yep, it was Crew Date #2! This time with the St. Peter’s Rowing Team who for some reason has a massive one-sided grudge/rivalry with Teddy Hall. I thought we were supposed to meet at the college at 7:30 so I walk there from Iffley…and no one is there. I wait about five minutes. Still no one. I get out my phone to call the girls, and realize that I don’t have anyone’s phone number. Not the brightest move on any of our parts. One of the guys ended up meeting me outside and he and I talked for about 20 minutes just the two of us while we waited for the girls to finally show up. We ended up being outnumbered 5 girls to 8 guys, leading them to be borderline insulting by asking a few random girls to come on the crew date with us. That continued through to at the actual restaurant, dropping them so many points so quickly.

Ania and I on the crew date

I didn’t have the best time, to be entirely honest. Out of the 8 guys, maybe three or four of them were actually nice and/or funny, one of whom kept me laughing most of the night as he was practically a one-man comedy show and then he later GAVE me his tie (I did NOT steal it) but by the end of the night forgot to take it back and now I am in possession of another piece of men’s neck ware. I’m pretty sure that was his intention though because he has already texted me about getting it back. But other than that, the guys were kind of insulting. They kept trying to get me to drink, even after I made it clear that I wasn’t drinking and hinted that it may have been for medical reasons, and it came to them literally almost forcing it down my throat. They didn’t seem to realize that the more people pressure me to do something, the more stubborn I get and the less likely I am to do it. So thank to them, I ended the night completely sober, though I highly doubt that those particular guys would ever be able to put two and two together.

Bizzy and the boys

And that is kind of how those guys acted all night, pretty much ruining what could have been a fun crew date. They made fun of my accent, which I had my friends clarify today that I do not have an accent especially not the horribly imitated Valley Girl from “Cali” accent they tried mimicking, refused to believe me that I had an important academic call to make at midnight, one threatened to take away my phone so that I couldn’t make the phone call, they surrounded me and really pushed into my personal space to the point where I pushed them away, and then continued to make fun of me and make completely sexual comments that I am so not repeating here. I mean I know that they were drunk and that this was their poorly executed attempts to hit on me, but it was so unattractive and just…douchy. Other than those few cool guys I mentioned earlier, the highlight of my night was hanging out and chatting outside with this other guy who wasn’t even on the crew date. No hitting on me, no insults, no crudeness, just general conversation and apologizing for his jerks of friends. I wish he had been on the crew date. Him, tie-guy, and maybe one other and it would’ve been a fun night.

Maybe I was just spoiled after how amazing I thought the Keble crew date was last term, but I am really glad that I have more crew dates coming up to redeem the concept.

And yes, I made my call at midnight while wearing a tie.

First Week Freakouts and Fatigue

I was sitting on a low wall outside the porters lodge at Teddy Hall this afternoon, waiting with Janosz for Chocolate Enthusiasts Club to start. One of our fellow chocolate tasters innocently asked me, “How was your first week?” I stared at him in confusion, not because I didn’t understand the question or because it was an odd thing to ask, but I realized that I could barely remember the past six days. Chalk it up to a massive stress reaction but this whole week has blended together into one panicked whirl winded blur.

Stress was the last thing that I anticipated this week. I finished my first of two essays on Sunday and the second one on Tuesday; I only have two lectures a week. The only worry I expected to have was scrounging meals together from the hodgepodge of leftover groceries that I had left (grocery shopping every week from now on, no putting it off for just one more week). I was getting decent responses from everyone paying for their stash, and I even figured heck, why not hang out with Dan on Tuesday after practice? After all, I had time. Tutorial wasn’t until Thursday.

And then all hell broke lose.

Before I explain, I need to state a caveat. While the remaining part of the week left me miserable, exhausted, panicky, anxious, and near tears more than once, the stress sources were all good things. I know what you’re thinking–or what I would be thinking having just read the end of the story before I read the beginning–how could good stress leave me such a mess? Let me start with a prologue.

Prologue

The average college student in the US graduates in about four years. Having done AOC Middle College for my last two years of high school and just being the general crazy person I am, I was set to graduate UCLA in four years with a double major in Psych and Political Science. Once I realized this summer that I in fact cannot stand the US political system and don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing it, I switched to just Psychology before leaving for Oxford. My 4 years became 3 1/2. Then I came back for Winter Break and spoke with my Honors counselor about the possibility of graduating early, only to be told that I had a residency requirement to fulfill and that there was no way to petition that away. Three and a half became four again. Two days later I get a phone call saying that there is a study-abroad loophole in the residency requirement and thus I already fulfilled it. Four years was now THREE.

Present Day

My plan was then to graduate UCLA at the end of summer and start my D.Phil back at Oxford hopefully in January 2013. But one fateful conversation with Dan had me researching the full extent of my options for applying to grad school at Oxford. So I found out on Friday of last week that the final deadline is March 9th, plenty of time to fill out an application and get in my references. I won’t be eligible for funding during my first year because of the later application date (hereby accepting donations) but I can still apply! Meaning if I get in, I will be heading back to Oxford next October for my Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology.

Doesn’t sound too stressful yet right? Just wait.

On Tuesday after lecture, my tutor and I discussed my options and she was thrilled to hear my ambitions, thought I had a strong resume, and agreed to be my supervisor for the next three years. Oh, and she will write my recommendation, as will one of the leading attributional psychologist in the field, and the graduate student I did research for last year. A solid three strong references 🙂 But then on Tuesday night, the first night of my irritatingly back insomnia, I was searching for possible sources of funding (seriously, send donations) and discovered that if I applied back to Teddy Hall for my D.Phil, I could still make the deadline to apply for college funding, possibly reducing my fees a teeny bit (so send cash or check). Deadline: FRIDAY JANUARY 20.

Within 72 hours, I would need two recommendation letters, an unofficial transcript, a new resume, and a graduate research proposal.  Remember, the week before I had only just found out that I was potentially graduating, two days before I had found out that I could apply back to Oxford for Fall, and twelve hours before I had found a research supervisor. Now I needed to decide what I was actually going to study for the next three years and write a proposal with a well-formed and well-researched hypothesis and a description of the myriad experiments I was going to do over the next few years. In less than 3 days.

I’m glad everyone else had so much faith in me, because I totally didn’t. Maybe I would have if I wasn’t so caught off guard and I had nothing else to do for the rest of the week, but when is that truly ever the case? I had to organize the stash order and collect all the money, arrange for pickup, etc. I had two days of running research subjects and both days I had problems with the computers. I had the most killer ballroom and Latin rehearsals of my career (Latin Rehearsal was renamed Latin Bootcamp) and two tutorials. Deer+Headlights=JennaRoadkill.

Somehow I managed to do it all. I’m not going to go into details about all the little things that got in my way or the obstacles that lead my to calling my parents at 3 am LA time because I was about to have a panic attack because all that matters is that the funding application got it, the research subjects were run, my first tutor loved my essay (my second tutor spent our tutorial revising my proposal), stash has been paid for/picked up/disseminated, grocery shopping has been done, and I am taking today off. I haven’t slept in days and am so worn down from the constant panic and anxiety attacks that I am allowing myself one day without even picking up a textbook. Because somehow, I DID IT.

Did I mention that there was a crew date last night as well? No? Well, I’ll tell you all about that later (sneak preview, it was actually with a crew team) because I want a well-earned nap.

On a not so stressed note, I did see the Russian State Ballet perform both Giselle and Sleeping Beauty with Kelsi. Giselle was stunning! Though it did make me miss ballet.

Send me money.

I Sconse Anyone and Everyone

Last night was my very first Oxford crew date! Since no one is going to know what a crew date is, for those of you in college it’s like a frat date party. For those of you not in college, it’s basically when a men’s sports team invites out a women’s sports team for dinner and a night of drunken shenanigans, usually at a club. It’s a pretty common thing, and the guys we went with as a Ballroom Dance Team literally only formed a rowing boat in order to get away with holding crew dates. Lucky for us at least because it was a blast.

We started the night at the Keble College MCR (Middle Common Room, aka the graduate students’ common room) for cocktails and munchies. It was that awkward part of the night when you keep forgetting everyone’s name because you meet so many people at one time. I still don’t remember a lot of their names, only a few guys that I was hanging out with and all but one or two of the girls. Next we went to this Indian restaurant called Jamal’s that is basically meant only for renting out for crew dates so they serve terrible food (which wasn’t as bad as everyone prepared me for) at inflated prices, but allow everyone to get smashed and rowdy and bring their own alcohol.

During dinner, people mostly get drunk from this game called “Sconsing” which is basically a drinking version of “Never Have I Ever”. I now know more about some of the people on the ballroom team than I ever wanted to! Some of the sconses were pretty tame, most increased in raunchiness as the night moved on, but at least with most of the tame ones all I was doing was staying hydrated! No alcohol for me last night at Jamal’s. It would take more than one blog post to tell all the funny stories from last night, and I won’t break the Crew Date Code (which I don’t know if it actually exists, but I’m initiating one in my case): most of what happens on the crew date, stays on the crew date. For the safety of my fellow dancers of course.

After Jamal’s we went to Wahoo, a club on the other side of the river in Oxford. I haven’t really been out since Freshers Week, but I had so much fun! I almost got kicked out when Ania and I danced on a table, but we apologized profusely, were not belligerent, and the security guy let us off with a warning. ADVANTAGE OF BEING A GIRL, part Two. See? I knew another one would come up eventually. As the night went on, we slowly lost people until I have no idea where any of them ended up, but I got home safely, escorted by one of the guys for any family members reading this worried about my walking home at 1:30 am from a club on the opposite side of town. I was in bed, asleep at 3:30, just four hours away from my wakeup call this morning for rehearsal.

But it was all worth it 🙂 Bring on the next crew date!