Monday, January 28, 2013

The Year of Magical Doings

[I feel slightly bad about hijacking my blog post title from Didion's Year of Magical Thinking book, considering that I didn't read it (and in fact ranked it fairly low in our book club's book-of-the-month vote) and don't actually know much about it...but it seemed like an appropriate title for what I want this 2013 to be. I know, I know, it's almost February and I'm just now talking about my plans for the year.]

See, Mr. Cation and I keep talking about the possibility of thinking about maybe trying to produce a small human being (note the many levels of uncertainty) once he starts his new job and we get health insurance. While we're still decidedly ambivalent about the idea, what we are sure of is that this is the year to do all the things we've always wanted to do, before any SHBs come along and tie us down with their nap schedules. For me, this means going to the TORN Oscar party in February, as well as finally doing all the things I've wanted to do. Since I'm a huge nerd with an aversion to the outdoors, that doesn't mean classically exciting activities like bungee jumping or skydiving, it means making the Regency dresses I've always wanted and attending a high tea and a ball. It's only appropriate, since this year marks the bicentennial of the publishing of Pride and Prejudice, one of my favorite books ever! I'll do more detailed posts about my costumes once I take better pictures, but in the meantime, here are some teaser photos:

These are really horrible iPhone photos in a dimly lit place, but I was just so excited to show off my ball gown!  Oh an hey, there's a Carson lookalike coming up the stairs behind me!

The back of my gown. Bonus points if you know what
extant gown mine is based on/inspired by!
Saturday was a major milestone for me, and not just because it was my first experience making and wearing historical costumes. As I've said before, I'm not good with new people and big social events, and the Jane Austen Evening was a heaping helping of both. Since Mr. Cation showed no interest in getting all Beau Brummell-ified, I went on my own. I'll be honest, I was pretty anxious on Saturday morning, and when our garbage disposal decided to go kaput, I was tempted to take that as an excuse to not go. Thankfully, the 50+ hours I'd already spent making the costumes (and the ticket money) were burning a hole into my mental pocket, so I decided to suck it up and drive out to Pasadena. It was pretty awkward at first, since I didn't know anyone and the tea portion of the evening was open seating. I ended up plonking myself down by the door and eating my cottage pie by myself and watching everyone else socialize. It was very reminiscent of middle school lunches spent with only a book for company; I couldn't help but think of Mr. Darcy saying "I am ill qualified to recommend myself to strangers...I certainly have not the talent which some people possess, of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done."

If you're a P&P fan, you'll know that Lizzy then calls out Darcy on not practicing his socializing skills. I suppose I could have gone up to random people and introduced myself, but I decided to just take it as a victory that I had even gone on my own in the first place. I've already spent a good number of years looking at historically themed, costumed events and wishing that I knew somebody who would go with me. This year is the year that I just go ahead and go to them, even if nobody else will go with me. And if I haven't yet worked up to going by myself and talking to strangers, well, at least I'm not bothered by being the odd duck wandering around the event on my own. I've had lots of practice being a loner, after all, and I don't feel the need to perform to strangers.

There's nothing like dancing to a live band!

And lest you think gosh, what's wrong with you, you just spent all evening in the corner by yourself?! Well, after the awkwardness of the tea portion, things got much better. I ran into people I remembered from the practice class, and then danced with and met more people, and all in all got a lot more social as the evening went on. In the end, I was really glad that I stopped waiting for people in my life to suddenly develop a love for historical costuming; going on my own was scary, but well worth it for an opportunity to dress up!

I was channeling Miss Caroline Bingley's fabulous turbans...


Speaking of dressing up, I got a bonus costume opportunity last night when Mr. Cation and I got invited to The Magic Castle! I hadn't actually heard of it before, but all I had to hear was "NPH is the president" and "you can dress up and people wear all sorts of kooky things" and I was all for it. Mr. Cation loved the magic aspect, and while I enjoyed that part, the highlight for me was really that I got to wear all my thrifted costume-y pieces and wander around a castle.

Getting ready to go: I had my cape and muff and fascinator, and Mr. Cation looked sharp in his new gray suit.
One day,  I'll talk him into wearing ruffled poet shirt. 
The mesh top was from one of Shayna's clothing exchanges, the cheap black corset and and fishtail lace skirt were thrifted.  I always secretly wanted to dress like this in high school, but never had the guts (or budget, or parental permission) to. It only took a decade for me to finally step out in a vaguely gothy outfit! 

All in all, this weekend was quite magical and I'm excited to carpe the annum. I know the typical blogger thing to do is to come up with a 30 before 30 list, but I think I'll just settle for saying that this is the year I do things that I always wanted to do, even if it involves being a little uncomfortable or having people look at me funny. Here's to more costumed events!

73 comments:

  1. The true sign of bravery, to fear something and do it anyway, I take my hat off to you (or I would if I was wearing one but as I'm in my pjs that would look a bit odd, right?). Your dress looks wonderful, I could immediately see the Miss C B influence in your headwear. So glad you had a good time :)

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    1. I curtsey in response to your figurative hat-doffing! So glad that the Miss Bingley inspiration came through!

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  2. Fabulous outfits! That looks like fun..I mean hrm.. I've felt very similar in social situations, being introverted and bashful, especially when I'm on my own. Congratulations on the bravery and doing it despite it being a bit awkward. I suppose being beautifully dressed helps ;)

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    1. People may say that investing in pretty clothes is an unnecessary waste of time and energy, but I know that when I have a fantastic outfit, it's like wearing social armor! I definitely felt better knowing that I had a nice dress on. And I'll be honest, I didn't really start having "fun" until the dancing started! Sometimes being introverted means knowing when to power through the awkward until the fun begins.

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  3. My friend and I have a points scoring system, where we earn points by attending scary events with scary new people, bonus points are awarded on suitable occasions. I hereby award you 100 points for attending scary event in costume and talking to people, and a further 100 bonus points for making that gorgeous dress :-)

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    1. Oooh, that point system sounds really encouraging! Thank you for the points :)

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  4. Good for you that you went anyway! Your dress is so pretty, you're looking great. And for the magic castle costume... first thing that came to my mind was I wish that could worn that every day. Maybe I should do something similar, as part of a year of magical doings (very inspiring resolution, thanks for posting it!).

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    1. I hope you make your year magical too! It was really so fun getting dressed up like that...I got complimented by two authentic goth-looking girls in the ladies' room, and it seriously made my night.

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  5. That is huge, going to the Austen Evening by yourself! Honestly, I doubt I would have had the guts to do it! And you looked just gorgeous!

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    1. Heh, I was doubting my guts right up until I stepped inside! I hope you do get to do something you love by yourself one day! It's an empowering experience, if nothing else.

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  6. Fantastic dresses.... I really need to try some more adventurous dressmaking! - Or even just try dressmaking perhaps! ;)

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    1. Hehe, dressmaking itself is an adventure! Give it a try -- it's addicting!

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  7. i´m sooo impressed!
    beautiful regency dress + big bravery!
    keep going :-)

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  8. You deserve an award for bravery! You are oh so right...you don't have a need to perform for strangers...none of us should. When you do start your family, you are going to be a wonderful mother!

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    1. Awww, that is so kind of you to say! I certainly hope that if I have a SHB, I can teach it the lessons I'm learning about being true to oneself.

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  9. I can so relate! Wish I could have attended with you so the awkward aloneness at the beginning wouldn't have been so bad! You can be proud of yourself for pushing through the awkwardness and having a wonderful time - all while looking beautiful in your costume! =) (The Magic Castle thing sounds so fun too!)

    Don't put time-frame pressure on yourself with big life-changing goals just because of a "number". Everyone I've known that decides to start a family just because of something to do with a birthday, is usually miserable for the next 5-10 years because of some self-inflicted expectation (that isn't based in reality) of how life should be. (I think it's sad how many "trophy kids" there are.) My husband and I are still on the fence with the kid thing and I'll be 35 this year (most married women my age in my part of the country have 3 or more kids by now). Enjoy your life/marriage as it comes - plan ahead but don't force yourself to change your feelings/goals just to "keep up with peers".

    ~ Brooke

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    1. Oh Brooke, I just know we would have so much fun at a costume event together! Thanks for your encouraging words about having SHBs, too...I can imagine things must be quite different in Texas! I think Mr. C and I are not so much thinking of having kids, as we are looking for an excuse to stop putting off the cool things we always wanted to do.

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  10. Good for you for going by yourself! Your dress was lovely as was your turban. I'm so glad you had a good time even if it was scary at first. I had to laugh when you quoted Mr. Darcy... I think most of us can relate!

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    1. It's funny how many people can relate to Mr. Darcy, and not Lizzy! Thank you for your sweet comment!

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  11. AH YOU GOT TO GO TO THE MAGIC CASTLE!!!!

    i'm fainting a little.

    loverly outfits--you rock that long desired look. romantic goth?

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    1. I bet you would've turned the Magic Castle upside down with your all-around fantastic Oonaliciousness! It seems like the kind of thing you would enjoy. And yes, romantic goth was my secret favorite fashion style in high school. Okay, maybe even now ;)

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  12. You look so great, I love your dress!

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  13. well done for going anyway - that's so brave. but you couldn't have left that gorgeous dress hanging up in the wardrobe!

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    1. Hahaha that's pretty much what I kept telling myself: "If you don't go, that's two weeks of sewing gone to waste!"

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  14. Good on you for having the guts to be your (real) self. The regency dress is impressive but I love your thrifted romantic goth number the best.

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    1. I am slowly working towards being more and more me :) And I would have to agree, the Regency ball gown was pretty, but the gothier outfit was the one that made me feel awesome!

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  15. looove your outfits! must find me an opportunity to dress up..
    i'm 9 days old to do 30 before 30, but i'm with you with doing all the things i always wanted to do (we also started the shb talk, i'm not convinced yet, but who knows, that might change).. in my case, that might actually be skydiving, and getting myself a hippie wan..
    also, i know that feeling of having hard time to talk to the strangers.. i found alcohol helpful (maybe that's why i'm almost an severe alcoholic hehe)

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    1. I talked my best friend into doing a "30 around 30" since she's turning 30 next month...

      I think skydiving sounds amazing; it's just not on my list :) And yes, alcohol helps, but this was a dry event. Ah well!

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  16. your austen dress is lovely, perfection and you look great in the turban (not easy to wear.) fantastic.

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    1. Thanks, Beth! I'll be honest, I was pretty dubious about the turban when I was tacking it together. Up until it got onto my head, it looked like a hot mess!

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  17. Ah, I love your posts that tie sewing together with larger life issues. I totally get you.

    It took me a long time to get over being scared of things; I had a rough time in junior high because I had a lot of geeky interests and prefered my own company. But I wanted things to get easier, so I put aside my interestes and figured out how to "blend in"; things got easier, but then as I matured, I looked back at myself and felt a bit of disdain for having become such a joiner and not had the courage to do my own thing. Now that I'm a "grup", I realize that you do what you have to do to survive adolescence, but once you've regained your confidence with age, you can get back into the things you love without fear.

    Re: SHB. I took a sabatical from work and travelled around S.E.A. for 4 months when I was 33, because I realized that I would soon be hitting the biological wall for making that decision, and I thought it would be my last chance for an adventure. Well, 10 years and two kids later, I've had lots more adventures, but they are much harder to organize. Do as many off-the-cuff things as you can before you make that decision, but realize that you don't have to lose all the fun from your life if you end up reproducing; it just gets much, much harder to execute.

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    1. I've really loved how the sewing community makes it a safe space for sharing these sorts of things...it's okay to talk about more than sewing! And the examples of other, fearless Sew Weekly-ers has also been a fantastic guide. I can identify with a lot of what you said in your first paragraph -- I think it's only in the last couple of years that I've really started getting back into doing what I love, and everyone else's opinions be damned! Oddly enough, sewing was the what opened the door into that self-discovery.

      As for SHBs, thanks for sharing your experience. I love hearing from "cool" mothers like you and Taran who manage to still have a life and not just devolve into chauffeurs/cooks/launderers. Mr. C and I will definitely try to live it up now while we can, although we probably won't be able to travel for 4 months in a row!

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  18. Olá, tudo bem?
    Eu amei sua postagem, primeiro porque estou lendo Orgulho e Preconceito.
    Já vi o filme várias vezes também.
    Amo a história de Lizzy e de Darcy.
    Eu uso roupas de época, pois danço num grupo que cultua a tradição dos colonizadores do sul do meu país.
    Amo me vestir assim.
    No meu blog tem uma foto do meu mais recente vestido.
    Espero sua visita lá.
    xoxo do Brasil
    Ah! A de renda é maravilhosa

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    1. Thanks for leaving your comment! I love P&P and am glad to hear from others who also love Darcy and Lizzy's story, as well as historical costuming!

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  19. Your Regency dress is gorgeous, and congratulations on the bravery of going by yourself. I would have talked myself out of buying the ticket. And I absolutely LOVE your Magic Castle outfit! :)

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    1. Thank you! I knew that buying the ticket (and making the dress) was the surest way of forcing myself to commit, although at the time I don't think I realized how unlike me it would be to show up at such an event by myself!

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  20. You looked wonderful! I love that you went to a costume party that was so well executed (everyone looked smashing!).

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    1. It was seriously such a magical evening -- I totally felt transported back to Austen's era, since everyone dressed the part! I had no idea there were so many fans in this area.

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  21. i think it was brave and awesome and am so happy that you are pleased with your decision to participate, which was totally the right one! rock on! i think i liked the magic castle outfit best :-)

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    1. Shhh, it's a secret, I liked that outfit better too! I felt bad that I hadn't made any of it though...I guess that's a hint as to the direction I should go in my future sewing!

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  22. Oh my god, I love love love love love your outfit, it's just too beautiful. And you are so much more brave than me - I don't think I could have gone on my own. You've done marvellously in socialising with everyone else - at least there was a common theme to talk about which must have made things easier! I'll be asking for tips if I ever get round to making my own Eliza dress...

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    1. You are so sweet! If you ever do make a Regency dress, I'd be happy to help in any way I can! And yes, socializing was easier once I realized I could just compliment people on their outfits!

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  23. Wowza! That is a gorgeous dress! I adore all things Jane Austen and that evening sounds amazing! But to be honest, I'd be scared to go alone myself so I'm incredibly impressed that you went to the evening by yourself!!!

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    1. Thanks! The evening was pretty amazing, to see so many Austen fans all gathered in one place...apparently they have similar events all over the place, so you should totally see if there's something like it in your area!

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    1. I think I'm devolving into non-everyday-wear :)

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  25. AHHHH! Look at your amazing outfits! Love 'em!

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  26. Auuugh I'm so jealous! That dress! That dance! I would have totally gone with you if I lived anywhere in the western states, but alas - stuck here in Chicago. I need to find one of these events and start going! Looks amazing!

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    1. Chicago's a big enough city -- they must have something similar, right?? I hope you get to go to one someday!

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  27. You are such an inspiration! I've had to just "get over it" and do scary social things before too. But attend a regency ball alone!? That would've been too much for me, and I'm glad you did it so I could read it and get inspired again :) your costume is amazing, and I love your gothy outfit too. In addition, you and your husband make such a handsome couple!

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    1. I think everyone's idea of scary things is different! I've spent a lot of time eating meals by myself, so once I got into the car and forced myself to drive there, the actual tea part wasn't as bad as I had been dreading. I'm glad you found it inspiring, though!

      And my husband thanks you for the compliment :)

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  28. Somehow I missed this post in my reader and I am most aghast! Your Austenlicious frock looks totes amazing and Miss Bingley would definitely be trying to nick your turban if she saw it. What an absolutely amazing piece of Regency sewing- I so can't wait to see all the details (I'm such a sticky beak!) So glad you are living it up at these kind of events- it's so brave! (I want to do a steampunk one but I am too scared)

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    1. Oh Amanda, if you can roller derby, I bet you would rock a steampunk event! I wish I were in Australia to go to one with you!

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  29. I can't believe you made that dress!!! It's amazing! Pride and Prejudice is one of my very favorite books as well. I would love to go to a P and P party. You ever watch the mini series with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy? I haven't seen it in years - before I read the book, even - but I remember really enjoying it.

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    1. Oh my goodness, that BBC miniseries is the best! I used to watch it all the time in college whenever I was feeling sick or mopey. Colin Firth diving into that lake = endless giggling.

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  30. Well done you for going by yourself! That was really brave and I'm glad it paid off and you had fun in the end.

    Your dress is beautiful!

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  31. Your regency dress is really beautiful, you did such a good job, and cheers to you for braving it on your own! That sounds like something I would enjoy doing, maybe next year...

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  32. Oh my gosh I love your regency dress! Good luck with all your goals for the new years.

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  33. That was gutsy - I would have been very anxious going along to something like that by myself too, but sometimes there's no one around with the same interests! I hope you made some new Austen friends. Did all those other people also make their costumes? Your dress is really elegant and the turban is quite exotic looking!

    Sounds like this year is going to be an exciting one... I look forward to hearing all these other events through the year!

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    1. Heh, I was definitely a ball of nerves the night before! I did make some new friends; Austen fans are remarkably friendly and kind. A lot of the people I met rented their costumes, although a good number were also seamstresses. At any rate, the overall effect was quite lovely with a whole ballroom filled with dressed up dancers.

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  34. Your ball gown is amazing. Good on you for going by yourself, stretching your comfort zone is a hard thing!

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    1. Yeah, that comfort zone -- it's so...comfortable :) Thanks for your kind words!

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  35. !!!!!!

    LOVE the Caroline Bingley turban. LOVE. The whole dress is magnificent - you are perfection with your fine eyes and dress! I'm so glad to hear you ended up dancing and socializing - I would have been intimidated as well, and I am so proud of you for going and having a great time :)

    Also, your outfit for the Magic Castle made my heart go pitter-patter. Capes and muffs are DIVINE.

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  36. You look gorgeous in your gown! And I can't believe how brave you are going on your own like that to the event! Go you! I'm glad the dancing loosened people up---that's what it's for, I guess ;)

    As for the small human beings, well, your own are always way cooler than other people's. I was always kinda intimidated by other people's kids. And kids older than my own, though I've covered most of the age-range at this point. I won't lie, the first few years involve a lot of putting off the things you want to do, including sleep, and I can only imagine it being even harder in a country without proper parental leave like the States. But that does pass, and eventually you can dress them up in hobbit costumes and other fun things, and there's a good chance they'll love the same geeky things as you... At least until they're teenagers. I'll report back when I've gotten through that part. ;)

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  37. That being said, having kids is embarking on a long and terrifying adventure as grueling any hike to Mordor, and the ending is just as uncertain. I wouldn't want anyone to take that on unless they want to.

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  38. I love your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings as part of your sewing adventures. I am deeply in awe of your courage in attending the Austen event. I too would have sat in a corner and watched, although I've been taking all sorts of steps towards improving my social courage. This was one heck of a leap along that scale and you deserve to feel all sorts of proud. Plus, you look AMAZING.

    But I love your gothy look. I often refer to my "repressed inner goth" and have pages of images in my inspiration file featuring gothic imagery. I also have a tendency to buy and wear brightly coloured things. It's an identity crisis :) (Although Google rainbow goths if you want to see goths do colour.) I say embrace your inner goth as you embrace your inner geek! make some fabulous romantic frothy gothy things this year and rock them! You look so good in that outfit and it shows in your face.

    Overall, I think this totally counts as beating a boss and leveling up!

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  39. Brave soul you are! It was lovely to read this post and experience the moment with you. Good for you for just going for it! You looked fabulous and the event looked like a lot of fun.

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