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Posts Tagged ‘bravery’

I’ve been thinking about bravery recently.

Earlier this year, Pixar announced its upcoming film Brave. It’s about a frizzy-haired Scottish princess who fights a bear, according to the two-minute trailer. This may be the coolest thing in the world. I’m incredibly thrilled that little girls these days can have a female role model who is both a princess and a badass — like Princess Cimorene of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, except with more archery (and probably less Cherries Jubilee).

I’ve never considered myself to be very brave. In fact, I’m pretty terrified of almost everything. I’m scared of heights. I’m scared of getting old. I’m scared of twisting my knees, chipping my teeth, stitching through my finger with an industrial sewing machine, losing people and animals I love, putting my foot in a shoe where a cockroach is hiding, and going into the ocean where everything wants to kill me. I get a little scared every time I merge onto the freeway. My blood pressure skyrockets when I’m watching a movie where someone is trapped underwater.

A few months ago, during my third-ever horseback lesson, I got on a horse I hadn’t ridden before and got him up to a trot right away. (Bear with me; this was actually a big accomplishment for your clumsy narrator.) I like riding horses, so I guess I looked like I was having a good time, because my husband said, “You’re fearless!” I replied, “No! You have no idea how terrified I am right now!” He said, “Oh, good. Then you’re brave.”

I’d always thought of courage as the opposite of fear. It’s not. It’s the counterpart to fear. You can’t be brave unless you have fear. You’re probably not afraid of tying your shoes, and no one would congratulate you for your bravery upon doing so. I like how David Mitchell puts it in his book Black Swan Green: “Courage is being scared shitless but doing it anyway.” Bravery is an active challenge against your fear, whereas fearlessness usually means you just haven’t noticed something.

I’ve had some incredible examples of courage this year, too. I have friends and family members who have beaten cancer, moved across the country, gotten engaged, started new careers, and ended unhealthy relationships. My stepgrandmother, who is one of my most beloved heroes, has helped my grandfather through multiple strokes, watching him lose his ability to walk and speak. She constantly fears that his condition will worsen or she will lose him, yet she visits him at dinnertime every evening in his nursing home and tells him she loves him. That’s the kind of bravery I want to have. Not a flippant fearlessness, dismissing the seriousness of the situation. A willingness to face whatever may come, no matter how painful or difficult it may be. A true courage — taking someone by the hand and saying, “I’m scared too. Let’s do this together.”

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Shop talk

Last week I got a job at the faire’s costume shop! A job in my field! Getting paid to do stuff I learned in college!

The very day I quit my job at the booth, Katie, the faire’s costume designer/wardrobe manager/shop supervisor asked Travis if he would put me in touch with her because she was impressed with his costuming. On festival days, the pub on site stays open after hours and you can get really cheap, delicious food and beer. I bumped into Katie there and introduced myself and we talked about costuming, which was great fun. Believe it or not, I haven’t met too many people who are fascinated by the technical intricacies of finishing the edges of leaf-shaped dags on a horse costume. After talking for a while, she offered me a job at the costume shop. I love job interviews that involve brisket sandwiches and amber ale.

Now that I’ve been working there for two weeks, here are some things I like and don’t like about my job:

LIKE!  –  my coworkers

They are friendly. They like getting things done the quick and easy way. They don’t make you cry if you do something wrong. I haven’t hung around very many costume shops before, but this seems highly unusual and I am very lucky.

DO NOT LIKE!  –  the stairs in the Globe Theatre

do not fall down these you will die

They are terrifying. I am afraid of heights, and I have to climb these with baskets full of wet laundry. Note that the top stair is missing its back. If you can’t tell from the picture, you could totally step through that gap. If you fall down the stairs, you might die, or at least break all of your bones in several places. I have now climbed them a couple of dozen times. IT’S STILL SCARY EVERY TIME. This requires a lot more bravery than I expected from a costume shop job.

LIKE!  –  lots of pretty fabric and industrial machines


It’s nice to be surrounded by bright, pretty colors. The picture shows only a fraction of the fabric stock in the shop. There’s also a lot of gorgeous trim, including an entire box of “gypsy trim”, all in bold oranges and reds and purples with dangling shiny things and arabesque embroidery patterns. The machines are super speedy and a couple of them do all kinds of neat things like buttonholes and  invisible hems. And they have little wire guards in front of the needle so you don’t stitch through your finger. How civilized!

DO NOT LIKE!  –  re-threading the overlock

It would really be best if someone invented a self-threading overlock machine. I know there is a diagram printed on the inside of the machine to help me. I know that it’s even color coded. It’s still hard and frustrating. You can do everything right and it still won’t work and you have no idea why.

LIKE!  –  the gigantic industrial washer and dryer

ignore my crazy hairThey are as big as three of their regular, home-variety counterparts. The washer is hooked up to these big vats of cleaning chemicals so you don’t even have to measure detergent or anything. They have their high-tech settings all pre-programmed so all you have to do is put the clothes in there and push a button. Futuristic!

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