It is 10 days and counting and the reason I know this is that I wake up every night at 3 a.m. and my life flashes before me. I am talking a case of the major Black Twirlies, every night, like clockwork: two failed marriages, the disappearing shoreline, global terrorist alert, Boca Ballroom Battle. I lie there in the dark, counting cha cha steps, hoping I dreamed it all, that I will not really be making a spectacle of myself in front of the entire city in less than two weeks.

And in the daytime hours, the paranoia is creeping into my head moment by moment. I hear what people say to me and then I hear what they are REALLY saying:

Professional acquaintance: “People think you are really brave.”

Translation “No one can believe a woman of your age who hasn’t seen a size two since she was 10 is actually doing this.”

Dance instructor: “You are too hard on yourself.”

Translation” “Thank God you are because someone has to say it.”

Friend: “It will all be over soon and you can get your life back.”

Translation: “You will never be able to leave your house again so you might as well break down and buy HBO.”

Fellow contestant: “This will be fun.”

Translation: “I am smoking you, bitch, so prepare to go down.”

Meanwhile, I keep pretending this isn’t going to really happen, and that going to Fred Astaire is just what I do now. And Fred Astaire itself is another part of the dream. We trudge up the stairs and enter a world of mirrors and music and big sunny windows and pictures of Fred and Ginger. Everyone is nice and great looking and kisses you on the cheek and helps you with your dance shoes. Men and women break into a random tango at a moment’s notice. Someone twirls by you like Tinker Bell and another man in tight black dance pants is doing some kind of salsa. This is not part of real life, as I have known it. These days I am running into all the other dancers there as well who are perfecting their routines—and who, to a person, look really good. Oh, they tend to over do it, as Dardano (above) does when he gets revved up and mistakes his perfect dance partner Mariya-Khristina for a free weight, but most are hard at it and I can see what a show this is going to be.

So I guess in some ways this is all coming together, even as I am coming apart. But we are all in the home stretch at least. Send good vibes. And maybe a flask of Jack Daniels.