This post is the result of realizing that I had added something important, that I had accidentally left out of the original post (My First Tango Workshop), in my responses to readers' emails, but never put in the post itself. So I want to take this opportunity to clarify a point, and update longer term effect on my dancing.
After the workshop with Oliver and Silvina (and after the "caca embrace incident"), as I was packing up and talking to another dancer, I mentioned feeling a bit over my head as I'd only been dancing for 4 months. At that comment, Oliver turned around and asked, "4 months?" I nodded. He remarked in a kinder tone, that for 4 months I was doing very well. Silvina had turned at that point and nodded agreement. So there was some ... I'm not sure what the word is that I'm looking for... resolution? I felt better, anyway - not quite so inept. I wrote that several times in answering emails from people - but apparantly only imagined that I'd written that somewhere in my post. Leaving it out somewhat misrepresented the situation as a whole, and I've tried above everything else to open and complete about these experiences in my tango education.
There is one more point that I need to add. What I learned from them was very helpful, more helpful than I thought it would be at the time. I added Oliver's advice to my repertoire and used it where it felt natural and useful. Even though I don't staunchly keep my hand on the shoulder blade or bicep of my partner (because I don't find that to be workable or preferable for many of the leaders with whom I dance), I have been complimented a few times since then on my embrace in particular. I'm still surprised when I get any compliment on my dance - but I was especially surprised to be complimented on that.
Like everything else in tango it seems, the more awkward/embarrassing/painful lessons sometimes (frequently?) teach the most.