Archive | April, 2014

Steve the Exterminator

11 Apr

    A vital component of living in Downtown Charleston is adequate and regular pest control. Otherwise, your living space will be overrun with “palmetto bugs” and other less-than-savory visitors.

            This morning was our scheduled quarterly fumigation, and Steve the Exterminator visited our apartment at 8 am. In Nike running shorts and, what I later realized, a backward t-shirt, I greeted Steve and chatted with him while he went about his work and I made the transition from zombie to human being with my morning caffeine hit.

            I’m pretty sure I had a brush with genius in talking to Steve.

            For starters, believe it or not, pest control guys make a pretty decent living. He said he can make anywhere from $500 to $2,000 in a days work, since he does a lot of commercial accounts, like office buildings and restaurants, and has a good reputation.

            But more interesting than the economics of pest control were Steve’s comments about how he occupies his brain.

            “I was watching that Enterprise show and they did that cloaking thing, and I was thinking about how you could do that with your clothes,” he said, as he stood against the mantlepiece. “You’d just need some clothes that had some fiber optics that could blend in with the background.”

            True Steve, that’s one way to do it. I’m pretty sure the US military already has something like that in operation.

            He said he likes to do math in his spare time, and will occasionally call up a brother-in-law if he gets caught up on a complicated physics equation.

            “That guy is like Sheldon from that Bang T.V. show my wife likes to walk,” he told me, “He’s still sour because I beat him in chess a few weeks ago. He said it was like a fifth-grader beating a college professor.”

            Probably my favorite part of our exchange was him talking about how he studies the bugs themselves.

            “I’ve got a pile of books about insects and microbes and all that stuff. My wife calls my pile of books the command center.”

            I just imagined Steve, a little taller than me with salt-and-pepper hair, in a wing-backed chair plotting his attack against household pests. It was like a real-life Ender’s Game. Him trying to get inside the Buggers’ heads so he could defeat them and defend humankind from certain xenocide. Getting inside the enemy’s head so he could completely annihilate it.

            Steve also spent a good deal of our conversation trying to convince me to get into pest control, because the money is good and having a college degree doesn’t really mean anything in this day and age. I have been considering a bit of a career transition, and I’m sure Steve would be willing to mentor me in commercial bug extermination…


Mambo Dinamico dancers have GREAT hair

4 Apr

One of my favorite Southeastern Latin dance groups is Mambo Dinamico, under the direction of Norberto “Betto” Herrera, based in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.


Where a lot of Latin dance performance groups are technically brilliant, they tend to do the same type of routines with the same type of music and more or less identical costumes. Mambo Dinamico combines fantastic dancers with creative and interesting choreography for something that is, well, dynamic.

When I told him how much I loved his choreography, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Oh well, you know, we get bored.”


I met Betto in 2010 at the Hotlanta Salsa Congress, my first Salsa congress EVER, and have subsequently run into him at other Southeastern congresses over the years. When I attended the Charlotte Salsa Invitational in February, I took a body movement workshop with him and his partner Adriana Dwyer, where they clearly and concisely broke down a series of body isolations. I found out that both of them were “actual” teachers outside of being dance teachers and was curious about how being a dance teacher and schoolteacher paralleled.

Betto has thirteen years of teaching dance under his belt, and is in his second year as a schoolteacher.

In the studio and in the classroom, it’s all about engagement.


“Stick to the curriculum and keep [it] fun and entertaining. Give more attention to those who need it, and challenges to those that are more advanced,” says Betto.

He doesn’t crack dirty jokes with his first graders the way he does with his dance students, but otherwise, his teaching style is the same across both avenues.

“I try to explain things like they are first graders during my dance lessons. It helps people understand and feel the movement better, one piece at a time,” he says.


Adriana, a lifelong dancer, is in her third year of teaching elementary Spanish and soon to be in her fifth year of teaching dance.

For her, the similarities between teaching dance and teaching school are how the lessons are structured.


“Lessons [are structured] in a way that doesn’t make your student jump from one level of knowledge to another. For example, you couldn’t teach a back handspring without first teaching them how to do a “bridge,” she points out.

Whether she’s teaching a cha-cha or a conjugation, it’s all about teaching something that is relevant and targeted to the student’s age group in an effort to reach everyone.

Adriana and Betto both bring dance into their classrooms at every chance, whether it’s making them actually get up and move or exposing them to different styles of dance and cultures. Where were these two when I was in elementary school?!

ImageAll photos of Adrian and Betto courtesy of Betto Herrera.



Salsa Family Vacation!

4 Apr

Every few months, I have the good fortune to attend a Salsa congress (nope, I’m not an elected representative). Last weekend, a caravan from Charleston (Salseros of Charleston and friends) embarked to enjoy the Greenville Salsa Congresito in Greenville, S.C.


Salsa family at the hotel! Photo courtesy of Yaenette Dixon, Salseros of Charleston.

In an effort to save money, I went for the Saturday social only, but I had the same amount of fun that I had going whole hog at Orlando Salsa Congress, Hotlanta Salsa Congress, and the Charlotte Salsa Invitational.


Me and BFFL Rebekah. Salsa brought us together!

Me and BFFL Rebekah. Salsa brought us together!

“But Georgia,” you ask, “How is that possible? Usually you dance a minimum of fifteen hours throughout the course of a congress weekend, and yet you only danced three or four during this congress.”


Lolo and Mario, two close members of my Salsa family. Photo courtesy of Yaenette Dixon, Salseros of Charleston.

Well friends, my answer to that is that this go round, instead of boogying full-time, I spent most of the weekend just hanging out and catching up with my Salsa friends.

The funny thing about Salsa is that even though you’re interacting with people non-stop during a social or when you’re out dancing, you’re not always talking. You aren’t catching up even though you’re socializing.

Photo courtesy of Yaenette Dixon, Salseros of Charleston.

Photo courtesy of Yaenette Dixon, Salseros of Charleston.

Salsa brings together a mix of people who often would otherwise have no reason to speak to each other. Our group included a preschool teacher, Navy officers, a research assistant, and a pilot. It was therapeutic to have an opportunity to just hang out and talk with these friends, some whom I’ve known for years, others for just a few short months, but all who I count to be dear friends.

The morning after…Best part about this Congress hotel? Free breakfast, free drinks. Photo courtesy of Yaenette Dixon, Salseros of Charleston.

The morning after…Best part about this Congress hotel? Free breakfast, free drinks. Photo courtesy of Yaenette Dixon, Salseros of Charleston.

It was a Salsa Family Vacation! The only thing we didn’t do was get a good Christmas card picture…