I really wanted to call this post Glitter and Blood, but, really, I it was only a few drops. You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you? Right, starting at the beginning, then.
So, as most of you know, for my 34th birthday, I bought a costume that would allow me to ride on a float in the Carnival Parade in Rio de Janeiro. On Saturday I went to pick up my costume, but it hadn’t been delivered to the company I had ordered it from. In the five hours I waited before they told me that, I met some awesome women who were dancing with the same school I was, one New Yorker from Oklahoma (Jen) and two Swedes (Ulrica and Anna) who share my middle name (Theresa).
Twenty six hours later, they arrived with our costumes, sort of. You see, we had ordered finely crafted Carnival bikinis with feather headdresses and collars, ornate gloves and boots. They brought us serged squares of nylon with scraps of fabric as straps and ties, gold lame hooker boots and a bird’s nest cap with a mohawk of feathers, all adorned with craft store leaves, attached with hot glue. Right.
Choosing to Have Fun
While the quality was craptacular, the ultimate issue was do we choose to be pissed off or go and try to have fun. We chose to go, since we had all traveled to Brazil specifically for the parade. After Ulrica told them precisely how ashamed they should be for calling that a Carnival costume, she made them take us to the Sambadrome by taxi and then walk us to our floats, as Jen was on a different one than the rest of us.
After changing our clothes on the side of the freeway in that way that only women know how to do, we waited. People came up and asked to have their pictures taken with us, since we were with Mangueira, one of the most respected schools in the parade. Not that you would know it from the way they handled the costumes or even the floats this year.
Up, Up, and a Wait
We climbed on our float, (note: I do not recommend combining five inch platform boots and scaling a ladder made of scraps of left over wood) and were told to find the spots we wanted. We found three together and the guy helped Ulrica on to her platform and left. So, we waited. Again.
During the intervening four hours we tried to get someone to help us up or at least bring us the ladder, but no. Then, as we pull up to the entrance to the Sambadrome, they suddenly realize that no one is at the top of the float and a dozen men swarm the float and try to get us to climb the float itself to get to the platforms. In our boots.
So, up the ladder, I went, while a man held it in place. Only, when I got to the top of the ladder, there was nothing to hold on to and I didn’t have any leverage to hoist myself up onto the platform. One man grabbed one hand and another grabbed the other, dragging me up, but since my knees weren’t clear of the platform I got a bit bruised and scratched up in the process.
It was Just a Bit of Blood
With one knee bleeding I made my way over to the other side and found an empty platform. Soon, we were off, lurching along with the platforms swaying as we went. And with my elevated adrenaline level following close behind.
As the platform swayed and my legs wobbled, at first all I could do was manage to stay upright. You see, I’m almost all leg, and when you add the five inches of boot to my original 5’8” you (I) get a rather high center of gravity. I also got a bit of a pole to grab onto for balance, only it was so short I had to grab it with the tips of my fingers. Not highly effective for managing balance.
We danced and sang and I kept an eye on where the ground dancers in front of us stopped so that I could brace myself for our next lurching halt. While I smiled and looked out into the audience, I would occasionally see people trying to get me to be more enthusiastic, but since my choice was showing enthusiasm or remaining vertical, I chose vertical.
I knew I wanted to be in Carnival to see if I could do it. And I gave myself permission to stop at any point. I could in fact walk away, whenever I chose. And for me, having that freedom made continuing that much easier. Also, buy the time the parade started, I was so irritated with Manguiera, I did not care at all what anyone thought. So freeing.
While, obviously this was a big one, we have opportunities to see what we are able to do, all the time. Can you correct the waiter when he brings out the wrong order, can you stand up to ask your question at the next conference you attend, can you write a letter to the editor and send it in? What is something you would love to know if you can do? I really want to know, please tell me in the comments.
Looking to stretch your comfort zone in tiny ways and pick up some resource recommendations? Sign up for Inching Along, and every other week I’ll send you one small (possibly even fun) challenge that you can easily accomplish plus other nuggets that I find.
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In the comments:
We’re being open here, sharing and saying things we don’t always say out loud. What helps: Sharing your stories and Ideas. Cheering and telling what works/worked for you. What hurts: shoulds, harshness, and such. (I used to teach first grade, I can’t help it.)