May 31, 2013

Ways to Blog More Elegantly

Robert Louis Reid "The Mirror"

I realize, compared to many blogs, 50 posts is no great landmark. However, it was one of my new year's goals to have posted 50 times by this October. I'm pleased that I have made that goal with time to spare!

Without further ado some naval gazing! Here are my tips and thoughts on blogging.

~ Employ Barbell Blogging: Take a look at my archives. Most of my blog posts are clustered together with occasionally long months, or even a year, between posts. I could never manage to post consistently once a week (I tried) and so have accepted without guilt that I'll blog when I have inspiration and stop when I don't. This approach is actually more natural because it gives you uninterrupted months to develop new ideas and aesthetics.

~ Write what interests you. Surely, this doesn't need explanation.

~ Write what you know. Many times I have started a blog post, written the introduction, and then stopped because while the inspiration was strong, the background knowledge was not. A blog post shouldn't require a research project to complete it.

~ On the other hand, you should be researching constantly. Or living your aesthetic. Or having your adventures. In short, living your life in accordance to what your blog is about.

~ Ignore page views. What other people might find the most interesting may not be what is most important to you. Write for yourself, not you audience. Write to put your ideas in words, not to attract fame and glory.

~ Respond to each comment with more than a single line, if possible. Better still, try to start a conversation with you commenters.

~ Finally, make sure you know why you are writing a blog. Remind yourself occasionally. Make sure your posts aren't deviating too far from the original idea. Make sure the original idea is still interesting. Otherwise, change it.

May 30, 2013

Une Petite Pensee: A Cool Green Tunnel

From Based on Pedar Mork Monsted's work
I bike along a river every day to reach my school. Over the seasons, I have watched the leaves turn yellow and scatter across the path. I have seen the bare trunks coated in bitter snow. I have witnessed the leaves and vegetation burst forth with a vengeance.

Now, with summer, having arrived, I bike down a cool green tunnel every morning. Above me the leaves are fresh and full and the bushes prove the green walls around me as I hurtle along the path. On my left, I can catch glimpses of the river sparkling between the leaves. And when there is the taste of rain in the air?

There is no greater pleasure.

May 29, 2013

On Conversation: Small Talk

Small talk: Bane or Blessing of conversation
For a long time, I used to rail against any conversation about the weather. The weather? I would protest. Who cares if it is raining, snowing, lovely outside or anything else. It could be a blizzard of gold flakes, raining tulip petals and I would still prefer to discuss philosophy. In short, for a long time, I was bad at small talk and sough, much to many disagreements, to cut it out of all conversations.

Small talk is necessary. As an introvert, I don't find it particularly stimulating or engaging. A conversation that last for more than three minutes and never moves past general questions about the upcoming weekend or, yes, the dreaded weather, are marked off as a waste of time. However, small talk is necessary in any but the most important conversation.

First, it is familiar. Everyone has talked about their plans for the long weekend, usually at least once already that day. Everyone knows what is going on outside the window, hopefully. It is non threatening, non disruptive and mostly automatic. A good entry into a conversation.

Plus, it establishes both people as part of the conversation and makes them feel heard. I'm not an extrovert, but my more extroverted friends tell me that this is important in any exchange. They want to have easy, light conversation to establish trust and camaraderie before diving into the deeper subjects.

For that reason, small talk is a good way to gauge how the other person feels about a conversation. The basic interactions have so many possible variations to signal everything from "Leave me alone" to "Lets start a three hour conversations." Granted, it would be nice if some people were a little more observant of my social cues that I am busy.

Finally, small talk is endlessly adaptable. If you are tired of the same old response, all it takes is a touch of creativity to liven up the usual remarks about the weather, your weekend, and your life. When you gain control over a conversation like that, it is easy to segue into more interesting topics, by a pointed remark, or to end the conversation more effectively. Actually, it can be quite fun to think of such comments.

I'm still not a fan of small talk, but it is easier to put up with when you think about why people insist on it so.

May 26, 2013

On an Aristocrats Bookshelf: The Intellectual Devotional

Found on 

I both despise books like these and acknowledge their use. Perhaps, holding two opposite opinions about the same thing is a sign of maturity. Either way, it is frustrating to neither be able to outright recommend or condemn this book.

The tag line reads: "The Intellectual Devotional: Revive Your Mind, Complete Your Education  and Roam Confidently with the Cultured Class." Now this appealed to my eleven year old mind who often found herself at a loss at cocktail parties when the conversation moved to the works of Francisco Goya, the Metals, Nonmetals ad Metalloids of the Periodic Table, or Shakespeare's 18th Sonnet. Intending to avail myself of this new font of information, I was reassured that soon I too would be able to revive my then decrepit mind, complete my education (and thus skipping the supposed horrors of middle and high school and the delights of then impossibly far off college), and amaze the Cultured Class of Podunk Northwest with my great command of all of human knowledge.  (Yes, I was a strange child. I clearly remember this being a goal.)

Naturally, I began in great earnest, grew bored quite promptly, and forgot the book ever existed with in a month of skipping through and reading only the Science sections. Now, upon returning home one vacation, I stumbled across the book again and read through it more avidly and critically.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept, a devotional is a book, usually spiritual, which is intended to be read daily- either upon waking or falling asleep. It is a tool for personal growth by presenting one simple idea to be digested and thought upon a day. This particular version has divided the humanities into seven different topics, one for each day of the week. Monday is history, Tuesday is literature  Wednesday is the  Visual Arts, Thursday is Science, Friday is Music, Saturday is Philosophy, and Sunday is Religion. For instance in a single week a reader will read a single page on The Spread of Islam, Joseph Heller's "Catch 22," The Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris, The Placebo Effect, Form (music), Matter/Form Theory (Philosophy), and finally Moses. An impressive array, no?

As an overview of the humanities, as a tool to show the spread of information in the world, as an introduction to topics to study in depth later on, as a starting point to the overwhelming mass of human culture that exists in the Western World- this book is great. Wonderful. I just recently read the page on Sonatas and am eager to learn more about musical theory. They didn't do a terrible job laying down the basics of epistemology.

However during a conversation about Cervantes's 'Don Quixote  I caught a member of my family quoting from the devotional. Pressing them further revealed that they had not read the book and, after reading the plot summery and a few thematic details in the devotional, considered themselves well versed enough to never need to.

And this, my dear readers, is why the idea of an Intellectual Devotional of any kind fills me with a burning rage. Because a single page summery is not a substitute for reading the book, looking at the art, studying  the subject, or listening to the music. In no way are you an expert after reading these entries.

And yet, so many people think that reading an overview, a plot summery, a brief history and being able to contribute a single interesting fact is enough for conversation and life.

It is not.

It is not even close.

Knowledge takes work and effort. Good art should change your soul, not fill your mind with trivia. Ideas should have significance rather than talking points. In the course of history, people have sweated, ached, fought and died for these ideas and they should deserve more care than a page in some pointless little book for the clifts-note culture to try and gain sophistication.

With the greatest irony, in summery: if you can use this book as a general overview, i recommend it. If, however, you would use it as an excuse not to do real work to develop your mind with great art, then don't go near it. Better to be ignorant than have pretensions of knowledge.

May 14, 2013

On Conversation: Storytelling

Two vintage women drink tea over conversation
What better pairing than tea and conversation?

As I said yesterday, silence kills a conversation. 

However, there are two ways to begin a conversation again: by prompting the other person to speak or by speaking yourself. The first way is the one we are probably most familiar with: asking questions to prompt stories or explanations for the other person.

However, a good conversation is about give and take. No one person can dominate the entire conversation, but nor should they be forced to by receiving only questions. That would be an interview and an in balance of power. It is incredibly dissatisfying to either only absorb the other's stories and to never give out any of yours. How else will you develop your ideas, learn to compare concepts, or pass on your own understanding? Questions are good, but stories are necessary.

For the longest time, I was unwilling to take the lead in a conversation, because I had developed my question asking ability to the detriment of my story telling. The few times I tried to give a story, it fell flat- fumbling, awkward and rambling. So I retreated to the safety of my dominant skill, questioning, and let the other person fill most of the conversation.

But besides being rude for the other person, not telling stories was detrimental to me as well. It is said that something is not truly learned until it is taught. In the same way, something is not truly thought until it is spoken (or written- which is why I have been blogging so much). How much use are the thoughts in your head if you can't express them? And how better to express them than to your friends in conversation?

Like most skills, story telling is an art that can be learned with practice. It's taken me a conscious effort though and a great deal of thought. My main training is that when someone asks me a question, even one as simple as "how are you?", I don't answer as succinctly as possible and return the question to them.  I try to actively elaborate on the answer- try to turn it into a story.

Does this sometimes result in sharing too many details? Yes. Does this sometimes mean people learn more about my day than they were intending? Yes. Does this bother me? No. I'm learning the skill and know that I will make mistakes for a long time.

Another problem I have is that I share too many details in my story- trying to fit it as exactly to the reality I experienced as possible. I'm working on cutting out some of those details- finding the theme of the story rather than details and playing with that- even if that means leaving bits out.

My advice for going forward is three fold: identify what is keeping you from being a storyteller, identify what in your stories needs the most work, practice constantly.

May 13, 2013

On Conversation: Silence

An Intimate Conversation, Dana Ettmeer
Conversation is a give and take. Ideally, no one person should dominate most of the conversation. But the flip side is also true: no one person should be forced to dominate most of the conversation because the other is reticent to speak. 

Unless you are very good friends with someone, silence is uncomfortable. When the conversation has petered out and you are both left frantically scrambling for something- anything to say- it is one of the most awkwardly uncomfortable experiences I have felt.

Naturally, I know that silence can happen for many reasons: both conversationalists are introverts and tend to be quiet, the conversations gone for more than an hour and everyone is numbed, one of the participants is bored of the conversation and biding their time till they can leave, etc.  And while I know the first two reasons are more likely given my friends and the lengths of conversations, my mind always assumes the last one. The conversation ends and I leave feeling worried about leaving the other person bored and bothered at my own lack of conversational skills. 

Tomorrow I'll give my first technique for cutting down silences and becoming a better conversationalist. 

May 12, 2013

On Conversation: Introduction

Study for Conversation, Leon Kroll

All my life, I've learned that the key to a good conversationalist is to listen more than you talk.  The general perception of conversation is that everyone wishes to be the center and subject. Obviously, it will be a dull conversation indeed if the conversation is a fight to say the most. Also, listening is a difficult skill to master because it does not simply mean being quiet. Your mind can not be wandering while someone else speaks. You need to stay quiet but attentive, actively seeking to understand and frame questions. Finally, many books stress that the best way to make friends is to get them talking about themselves. Be attentive to that and they will be yours forever.

But what happens when two master listeners sit down for a conversation?

This past winter, a friend came to visit. While we had stayed in touch through letters and emails, we hadn't ever sustained a real conversation for any length of time. It turns out that she has studied at the same school of conversation as I have- asking questions, giving intelligent responses, but tending to be on the quieter side.

For the first time in a long time, I found myself needing to not only fill at least half of the conversational time, but keep up a conversation nearly three straight days.  There is a reason the Victorians valued conversation so highly; it is difficult. Very difficult. Hence my interest in a mini-series on how to have a conversation. As always, please share any tips or tricks you have learned.

May 9, 2013

On Recasting the Self for Freedom

Watch this.

I sincerely ask you to take ten minutes out of your day and watch this clip from  David Foster Wallaces's 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College.

I sincerely ask because this is a rare case of stumbling across someone else expressing your thoughts far better than you thought possible. It is synchronous that this was sent today, since it ties in perfectly to another quote from Janna Smith's "An Absorbing Errand:" "This slight recasting of self is an essential aspect of our liberty. We control little, but through our choices of where we put our effort, we can inflect our idea of ourselves in small but crucial ways."

Every day as we march through our lives, we are constantly reciting stories to ourselves: who we are, why we are doing what we are doing, why others are doing what they are doing, why the world is as it is. These stories are mostly unconscious  mostly invisible, but incredibly powerful.

Orsen Scott Card gave a good example in one of his books that I have forgotten: let us say that you have been doing X for a long time. One day you visit the doctor and they diagnose you with some sort of illness of the body or mind. Suddenly, you are not just yourself who has done X for ever and ever, you are you who is battling this illness, valiantly continuing to do X despite the increased odds. The task is no longer routine, but concrete proof of your strength and resilience.

This recasting of self- telling yourself a different story- can change your perception of life dramatically  Two more examples: cooking is not one of my most favorite tasks on a given day. However, now that I am me qua lady with a blog, I go into the kitchen with this mindset: what can I learn from this experience? How can I express what I am learning on my blog? It certainly makes cooking more enjoyable.

Or, when I entered into a period of melancholia, I felt a victim to my emotions. They were larger, necessary, brought on by unseen terrors and evil. I had no control.  Now, I know I am no martyr and this bout of melancholia is not some supernatural curse much less the necessity of life. Instead, I tell myself that this time will pass, was probably caused by not enough food or sleep, and that I have a handful of things to control it. Rather than having my mood be an uncontrollable force to which I am a victim, it is something I can manage. 

The freedom of choice, the recasting of self, happens two ways. First, you can recast the world outside of you. This includes the events which happen to you, the people you mean, and the settings you are in. Second, you can recast the narrative you are telling yourself about who you are and why you do what you do.

It shouldn't come as a surprise when I say that this skill is essential for a Neo-Aristocrat. It may even be the principle quality of an Aristocrat, though I need to think on that a bit more.

But it's not enough to just recast the world to make it more manageable  Make the choice to see the world more beautifully, fantastically, and truly. With no evidence to the contrary, think of people as noble and any deviation from their inherent nobility comes as the result of overwhelming odds which you can not begin to imagine. Why should events have mundane causes? A traffic jam might not be the result of aliens descending to attack the highway, but it could be because someone stopped to allow a family of ducks and ducklings to cross the road. Or a woman is giving birth and people have gathered to offer aid and support.

This skill is difficult. It requires attention, imagination, and will. It requires that we step out of our comfortable roles as center of the world. It will not always be achievable, but I can't imagine living life without it.

May 7, 2013

Seven Lessons in Elegance: May

Elegance is the hallmark of an Aristocrat. It pervades every movement, every word, every gesture. But in the hustle of our day to day lives, it is easy to forget that we must have elegance in the little things as well as the large.

May is traditionally the true threshold of spring. March may house the Vernal Equinox, but only May can be said to be truly free of winter's grasp. May these little lessons help remind you of the beauty of spring.

1. Take a walk around your neighborhood or city and notice the flowering trees and gardens that are blooming now.

2. If you see someone gardening, especially in a public place, thank them for helping the beautify the world.

3. Take your lunch outside and find a pretty place to eat in the sun. Even better if you can turn it into a picnic with friends.

4. Open your windows for fresh air during the day.

5. Find Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and listen to 'Spring.' The opening measures sound perfect for spring's exhilaration.

6. Rearrange a part, or all, of your room to get rid of clutter and produce a more open feel. I like to rearrange my room for each season.

7. Stretch each morning after getting out of bed for better energy. Your body wants to be moving more now.

What traditions or rituals do you have to welcome in spring?

May 5, 2013

Aesthetic Analysis: Asian Bolero

A steampunk fairy with a teal, Asiatic bolero and teal wings.

This picture produces mixed feelings for me. On one hand, I dislike the wings, find the model's eye makeup and expression unflattering, and am unimpressed with the overall creation of the outfit. On the other hand, I like the bolero a lot.

Most all alternative fashion is based in a Western aesthetic. The Gothic tradition invokes the Gothic cathedrals and motifs found in Europe. Steampunk is a "history that might have been" centered around Victorian England. Finally, while Lolita fashion did originate in Japan and there are subsets of Wa- and Qi- Lolita, the aesthetic is based very much on the image of a Victorian Doll.

However, given the course of my studies, seeing how the aesthetics of other cultures plays into alternative fashion is of great interest, especially in the fantastically rich imaginings of steampunk. I believe this photo was found with a search of "Asian Steampunk."

Granted, there isn't much that is definitively "Asian" about this bolero besides the high collar and the frog fastening. However, they are nice touches. The height of the bolero is also reminiscent of the traditional Korean Handbok.

Traditional Woman's Handbok

Which I really like because it isn't a design normally seen in the west. Though on me, the combination of the high bolero with the dark waist corset might bring a too much attention to the chest for my comfort. 

Another nice feature of the outfit is the two bracelets on either wrist. They offer a nice repeat of the accent color and give a much more fantastic quality because identical bracelets on either wrist aren't a common look either. 

My take away? Next time I'm looking for a clasp for a more western outfit, I'll try adding a frog instead. Next time I'm looking for a bolero, it might be interesting to raise the hemline to a more interesting length.

Challenge Update 1: Summer Reading and Good Goth Keeping

Frederick Judd Waugh "Chess Players"

I dislike it when blogs degenerate into nothing more than a series of updates on various goals. What once was a series of interesting and useful articles and posts, then become how many crossfit challenges you did a week or how many books were read that month.

On the other hand, it is pleasant to see the progression of a project or hear general results of a challenge. Especially, it is a challenge others proposed. Here is a promise: any challenge updates will be grouped together, not occur more than once a fortnight, and try to be a bit more insightful than just a list of numbers.

A Victorian woman reads in a blue room.
Edward John Poynter "Evening at Home"

Summer Reading Challenge:

~ A week and a half into the challenge and I'm not reading 30 hours a week. Not close. Maybe closer to 15-20. However, now that school has began again and I am counting school reading, that number will sky rocket.

~ I've taken to reading for an hour in the morning. It is lovely. To just lay in bed, with the sun rising over the horizon and learn about Cicero's advice on how to win an election, French parenting skills, or travels in Afghanistan is a great way to begin the day.

~ My reading, as seen above, has become more eclectic. Last week I checked out 20 books from the library ranging from science fiction to political theory to a history of garlic and its uses. It was incredibly freeing knowing I neither had to finish the book if it bored me but knowing I had to fill up four hours a day- even if I don't quite manage.

~ Overall, a good success and I can't wait to see what else I'll come across this summer.

A warmly lit, cluttered room with soft sofas.
Does this room seem comforting to anyone else?

Good Goth Keeping Challenge 1

What started off as a simple tidying of the room turned into a major re-arrangement of all the furniture for spring. The result? A much more open and cleaner looking room.

I was able to also tackle two of the items on my list:

~ All my various craft ideas have been separated  wrapped into neat bundles with tissue paper, and stored much more neatly in their bin. Every time I get the urge to be crafty, I'll reach into the bin, pull out a craft and work on it. Hopefully, the bin will be empty by the end of the summer.

~ The papers have been organized. Clearing out a shelf on my bookshelf revealed a good storage container for all of my to-do papers and letters. They are much more neatly stored on my desk now.

I'm still looking for the psychic decluttering, but I am happier with how the room is set up now.

How are your challenges going?

May 4, 2013

Une Petite Pensee: Parasols

Richard Emil Miller "The Pool"

Parasols, the proper brass and cloth kind, speak in muffled creaks as you walk. Much, I think, like the sails of a ship.

May 3, 2013

On Disconnecting

Steampunk phone from Ivan Mavrovic

Many people have documented their own experiences in disconnecting- removing themselves from the internet, phones, texting, computers- anything that we have come to depend on in the modern world.  It is time to add my own experience.

For the past week, my phone was dead. For anyone who knows me, my phone is a near constant companion. Clock, mobile email, pseudo-connection to family and friends- vanished for eight days. Granted, I still had my computer and internet, but it was a significant change.

Here are a few of the pros and cons I've experienced:

~ It was very freeing. I felt as though I had a private, independent existence for that week. Not being connected to people or feel the need to use texting as a local twitter feed was liberating.

~ It was disorienting. My phone is my clock. With it gone, time vanished. In some ways it was nice- hours could vanish reading without me gauging the time every few minutes. However, waking up for nine o'clock classes without an alarm? Thank gods, my windows faced east. 

~ It improved my attention span. Not being distracted with texts, emails, or other notifications every time I reached into my pocket, concentrated my focus. 

~ It was much harder on friends and family than I realized. I'm an introvert and don't need much conversation to feel connected. It's not the case for some of the people I regularly call. There were several worried voice mails and texts. 

~ It was less dangerous than I was worried about. A phone is a safety net. A way to call for help when in trouble. For the first few days, I was worried about going outside in case I ran into trouble. By the end, I didn't care. Granted, lack of danger is no guarantee of safety. But it's good to have a confirmation that this is not a malevolent universe. 

Now, I'm going to use my phone less. Turn it off for a greater part of the day- especially when I'm reading or studying. Not feel the need to stay so glued to texting. Hopefully, this will conserve the positive aspects of the event, while actually having my phone diminishes the negatives.

Have you ever experienced a time of disconnect? Willingly or unwillingly?

May 2, 2013

Aristocrat in the Kitchen: Layering Food

A Victorian girl sits for breakfast in a lush room.
Annie Rose Laing (nee Low) "At the Breakfast Table"

On Saturday I mashed sweet potatoes.
That night for dinner, I had an artichoke and a bowl of mashed sweet potatoes.
On Sunday, I chopped up a tomato, avocado and sweet onion salsa
That night for dinner, I had a small bowl of sweet potatoes and toast with salsa.
On Monday, I made strawberry jam from discounted strawberries at the store.
That night for dinner, I had a small bowl of sweet potatoes, a slice of bread with salsa, and a slice of toast with jame for desert.
Yesterday. I chiffonade and roasted Brussels sprouts
That night for dinner, I had a small bowl of sweet potatoes, a slice of bread with salsa, and a small side of Brussels sprouts.
Today, I made leek and bacon white sauce.
This night for dinner, I had a small bowl of sweet potatoes, a slice of bread with salsa, a small side dish of brussel sprouts and a few bites of the leek and bacon white sauce.

A girl sits in a court yard filled with hay and broken baskets, plucking a chidken
William Henry Hunt "Plucking the Fowl"

This is not my attempt to try and rewrite "The 12 Days of Christmas" with much less entertaining or rhythmic verses, but rather me trying to put a theory into practice.

Often, as is the course of most grad students I've met, I will work right up to the point past hunger, run down to my refrigerator and throw it open only to realize I have nothing to eat. Oh, there is food there, but it all takes at least thirty minutes of preparation. In sadness, I stuff myself on popcorn.

Or, I only have enough time to make one item of food which leaves me hungry and lacking many nutrients.

All in all, it shouldn't have taken me very long to come up with my new idea of layering food. The concept is very simple:

Every night make one largish batch of something new. For dinner, eat a little of that and a little bit of all your other food for a more balanced meal.

In short: continual leftovers.

A medieval cook glances disdainfully over her shoulder as she prepares chickens for the spit
Pieter Aertsen "A Cook with Poultry"

This is working for me for several reasons:

~ Cooking is mostly scalable. Cooking five sweet potatoes to mash doesn't take a considerable amount of more effort or time than cooking one.

~ Cooking only one dish a night is incredibly freeing. Rather than needing to plan a new menu every night and cook up a protein  vegetable, and starch. I can just cook one thing and add it to the repertoire.

~ There is a greater variety of food in my fridge. When you only eat a little of a dish, it lasts for longer than when you consume half of it as your whole meal. (Though, I do admit I am learning the downside of this with the sweet potato)

~ I know I am getting a better variety of nutrients, flavors and vitamins with each meal. I've heard that the body isn't full until you've had one of every flavor. This ensures you don't have to break your back doing that.

~ If I run out of time and skip making a meal one day, I'm not going to resort to junk food. There is enough food in the fridge to tide me over for a day or two until I can cook some more.

It is this final point that appeals the most. For the sake of my pride, I'm not going to mention how many dinners were little more than popcorn or chips, just because I was too hungry to cook by the time I went down to the kitchen. Now, even on the days I'm stressed or distracted, I won't be skipping a nutritious meal.

It's not exactly an anti-fragile. However, it is far less fragile a system than before.

May 1, 2013

A Confession...

Wearing alternative fashion is scary.

The Goths, Steampunkers, and Lolitas, who go out dressed to the nines in their chosen aesthetic, are incredibly courageous. I've always acknowledged this case, but it never really struck me how brave these people are until last Thursday.

Last Thursday, I finished my Victorian Walking Skirt. Despite the small details to adjust, I was excited to go out for a long promenade  After all, what use is having a walking skirt if you do not go for walks? I would take my newly acquired parasol, a pair of gloves, and Ivan Turgenev's "On the Eve" on a quest to find a quiet place by the river to read. Then, afterwards, I would head off to the mall to search for a new phone chord as mine had broke.  Idyllic, no?

However, I couldn't do it.

My normal outfits are hardly typical, yet never exceed the bounds of eccentricy. My parasol, my gloves, a frilly lolita blouse, gothic lace up boots- yes, each of these had been featured in a daily outfit on their own. But to wear them together and take that step into the truly daring- with a floor length skirt no less? No. I couldn't bring myself to step outside my room.

Instead, my head was filled with images of the amused, contemptuous expressions everyone would have as they saw me striding down the street. Or worse, pretending to walk by having seen nothing at all.  I've read the blog posts of suggestions for dealing with unwanted attention or comments. I know that the best way is to keep your head high, remain polite and courteous and ignore them in turn.

And yet, I couldn't do it.

It is strange running into one of your limitations headfirst. It's taken me nearly a week to fully realize the fear. I want to say now to everyone who dresses up in fanciful clothing with elaborate makeup and extraordinary accessories:

You are brave. Braver than you realize. Take pride in your courage.