It started as most feis days start for me. No desire to crawl from bed and an impending sense of doom. I had stayed up to late packing. I had orginally planned to do it as soon as I got home from work, but I got a last minute bug up my butt to go over to my best friend's house and rummage through her sewing shop and see if I couldn't due anything to make my Jumper-of-Frumper a little less. .. well, frumpy. It worked. She had a miraculously perfect bundle of purple lace trim to add to the hem of my dress and it really makes the whole thing look much more polished than it had been. I think if it hadn't been for that shot of confidenc, I might never have crawled out from under my blankies.
Did my usual 'dawdle to long around the house and leave the house fifteen minutes late' routine. Luckily, traffic was nil and my minorly lead lined foot has not left me. Got there right on time and fought for a camping spot. Besides the fact that the place was already pretty darned packed, it's not easy being a single camper at a feis. You'd think it would be. You take up so much less space than a large family/group. But seriously, the large groups will judge nudge and push you out of the way to make room. Word of advice to those that don't already do this; if you see a solo camper, ask if they would like to set up with you, rather then just build up around them making it complicated for them to climb over your stuff and awkward for them while they are trying to sit there, minding their own business and you are literally talking over them. Might just make their year!
Anyhoo. .. got geared up. Makeup. Hair. Wig actually cooperated with the new hair cut, but it took a bit more 'doing' than it used to. Dress on - incidentally, may I just say, my jumper and shirt combo may look frumpy teetering on the verge of derpy, but I love how easy and comfortable it is to put on/wear. Completely changed from warm ups to competition wear without a single sight to scar young children. Also, as a side note . . . new adult irish dance wins . . .
Also, this way, no one needs to see my thunder-thighs. . . .
Anyhoosen-whatsit. . . .
Changed, ready to go, have guzzled a 12oz can of Red Bull and I'm ready to go (read; jittery). Go down to my stage, and realize that while there is only a handful of dances before my first, there is a METRIC BUTT-TON OF DANCERS, so I decide to wander around. Look at the T-shirts. Same dreck as last year. Look at the shoes and wigs I have no intention of buying, and then hit the jewelry stand. I always look. I have been getting by with a borrowed brooch and a safety pin to attach my cape, and I am thinking to myself, maybe if I do well today, I will finally buy a set of actual cape pins and then, along with my newly lace-trimmed dress, I will feel SUPER spiffy. I had never bought any of the brooches, cause, well, none of them seemed to say "buy me". They were all nice, but I didn't love them enough to say "Shut up and take my money". But today . . . I found the brooches I was meant to have. . . .
Let me rewind here, and give you a brief narrative on events in my NON-Irish-Dance life (amazingly enough, yes, I have one). I recently had the great honour and joy of being baptized into the Eastern Orthodox church. I took Bridget as my Saint's name and as my patron Saint - I was thrilled to discover that she is venerated as a Saint by both Catholic and Orthodox churches, so I was actually able to have her as my patron. When my priest asked me who I wanted as my Saint, she seemed the obvious choice for me - I have always been fascinated by her both historically, culturally and spiritually.
So, when I got to the jewelry vendor today, I saw these pins and I knew I had to have them, and I had to have them before I danced. They were Saint Bridget's Crosses in a circle of knot-work. That visual reminder of my Saint, and the idea that she was with me suddenly cast a whole new light on the day. I bought them immedietly and scrambled to get my cape re-pinned before it was my group's turn to dance. (Also, again, if you don't already; you see a lone dancer struggling with zippers and trying to pin their own cape to the dress they are already in, offer to help. Just don't sit there and tease your daughter's pouf when it's already teased within an inch of it's life and you just established 2 seconds previously that she doesn't dance til after lunch. I swear, you will be thanked profusely and given all kinds of compliments and praise. )
So with the love of my friend stitched onto my dress with lace, and the emblem of my Saint pinned to my shoulder and side, I danced.
And between that, some stubborn determination, and enough caffine to make small animals go into cardiac arrest, I actually danced pretty well.
I only ended up making it to three of my competitions (stage conflicts that I just didn't feel like trying to sort out), but I placed in all of them.
I placed fourth of five in my Slip Jig. Respectable. Still get a nice ribbon 'placement'. Still a thrill to see my number on the board. But still doesn't get my slip jig out of Advance Beginner. (But there is always tomorrow)
In my Advanced Beginner Treble Jig, I got 3 out of 5. Certainly an achievement to be proud of, and that means that I am offically placed out of AB in my Treble Jig (but I have no intentions of moving up to novice in it until the new year)
But here is the ultimate highlight of my day. I was registered for Novice Reel, Light Jig and Hornpipe. Hornpipe was the only one I made it to the stage on time for. There were ten girls total dancing. Most of them looked like they belonged on the cover of IDM - new shiny wigs, expensive, blinged solo dresses and all kinds of fancy steps that I can't do. I was pleased with the way I danced but I accepted the fact that there was no possible way I was going to really place up against these girls. Maybe, MAAAAYBE get a fourth, or even a third - I did get a fourth and a third in 2 novice dances back in February, but the competition was much smaller, like 4 girls.
I got first.
I still . . . I don't really believe it. Me. I got first. This was my first "real" first so that was thrilling in and of itself, but . . . I got a first in NOVICE, while still doing AB steps, competing against 8 or 9 other girls. Me. Old, overweight, tights-wearing, home-made-jumper-wearing, second-hand-wig donning, old-fashione-pin-wearing ME. In a dance that I used to HATE cause it was so hard. I didn't believe it when I saw my number. I didn't believe it when they gave me my medals. I didn't believe it when I went out to dinner with friends to celebrate. As I sit here now, I still don't 100% believe it!
But there it is. My medal is sitting right next to me. They wouldn't have given it to me if it wasn't mine.
I just hope I can do half so well tomorrow. . . . .
And now . .. we nap!