Monday, April 9, 2012

My everything hurts

If you read the title of today's post and thought to yourself "I have no idea what she means by her everything", then you have obviously never worked a Ren Faire*. I know you are probably thinking now that working a Ren Faire can't possibly be that physically demanding, and I totally get that thought. I am not really one of the more physically active among the cast. I don't do any stage combat, or dancing, or wrestling, or climbing trees and walls. That doesn't mean I don't do my fair share of pain inducing activities.

Lets do a small break down of what I wear for starters. I am in a corseted bodice all day long, which means that my ribs are squished in a most unnatural way for about ten hours a day. This also means that I have perfect posture while corseted which is something I do not have in my daily life. My shoulders are pulled back, my chest is out, and my back is straight. This posture also demands that my arms rest and move much differently than they normally would.

Then I have my skirts. Now I only wear one skirt being a gypsy where as most of the other women wear two skirts. My skirt is however a full circle skirt which means it has almost three times the fabric of most peasant skirts. I also used a number of heavier materials to make my skirt. When dry my skirt is heavy. When it rains, like it did Sunday, my skirt can absorb and hold enough water to weigh close to 60 pounds.

I have on a lot of other things, but the skirt and the bodice are the major contributors to physical pains come the end of the day. Carrying heavy clothing + unusual postures = sore.

I know you are probably still thinking that I am whining and it really couldn't have been all that bad. Allow me to continue to expound on my daily adventures at faire so you might understand my pain a little more.

I am in costume by 9:00 every morning, and I don't get out of costume until just after 7:00 in the evening. I stand for the majority of the day, because sitting is neither easy nor comfortable most of the time. Also sitting is not conducive to actually doing my job as a performer. Certainly there are opportunities to sit and have conversations with patrons, but the majority of my work happens walking around the lanes.

Now while I said I am not one of the more physical people on cast, I still am physical. Our grounds are 35 acres, and I cross the faire site at least a dozen times a day. One of these days I will wear a pedometer and see exactly how many steps I take in a day, but I promise you it is a very  high number. I also do a good deal of spinning, running, and jumping. When it rained on Sunday I spent the 45 minutes that the rain was coming down running from puddle to puddle jumping in every one of them. That is a lot of fun, but it is a lot of exertion.

I have bad knees and a bad back. I am pretty sure if I asked my doctor what activities he would not recommend, running in the rain and jumping in mud puddles would be on that list. I automatically over compensate for my injuries, which in the end causes me to over use muscles I wouldn't normally use.

Also I spend a lot of time getting down on the ground and then standing up again. Trust me, when you are wearing a corset and a very full floor length skirt, getting onto the ground and back up again is quite a process. Normally I can manage this on my own, but I have had more than one occasion where I needed to be hauled to my feet by another person. At least I am no longer a court lady, because it is easy to turn into a turtle when you try and lay down.

Finally I want you to consider the number of times a day I have to curtsy. I play a gypsy, who is the lowest of the low. I pretty much have to curtsy to every other character on cast. If you have never curtsied before you might not understand, but again you have to trust me on this. You have to bend both knees and keep your back straight and it puts a good deal of strain on your hips. If you have done ballet you will more understand the motion involved. A couple of curtsies is not a big deal, but after a few hundred your joits will scream in pain too.

So as I sit here I notice that both of my knees and hips hurt when I move them, my left shin and the fronts of my thighs throb when I walk. My ribs ache when I breath and my shoulders and neck are sore when I move my head in the slightest. The muscles in my upper left arm send sharp jolts of pain when I move it as my arms in general protest in pain as I go about the business of moving. My feet of course are making me particularly aware that I spent the last two days standing and moving fairly constantly.

In short right now Tylenol is my friend.

The pain will fade and come next weekend I will be ready to go back out into the lanes. Come next Monday, and every Monday for the next 7 weeks, I will have these same pains. While it is unpleasant, I can't help but enjoy them.

Each ache and pain is a sign that I went out and gave it my all. I did what I was supposed to be doing and a little pain come Monday is a small price to pay for the joy I brought to so many people over the last two days. It means I shared the magic.

My everything hurts and that is alright by me; it means I did it right.

*Or you know played full contact sports, or done lots of physically demanding work, or anything of that nature.


  1. I am pitying you, envying you and being in awe of you all at once :-)

  2. OH my gosh... I'm hurting FOR you after reading all this! Sounds epic! So glad that you're sharing the magic though ;) 

  3. Epic is an excellent word for it.  

  4. Well thank you. It is hard work but so rewarding. 

  5. You are not the lowest of lows, you are not just a Gypsy, you are Queen of the Gypsys, which makes you the highest of the lows.  I'm so proud, my girl is a Queen :)