Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mansplaining 'Splained - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 12

Mansplaining - lately this term has been quickly growing as a trendy buzzword in the feminist and gender-equality movements. Initially, people (especially men)  may get defensive or think that this is just an incidence of man-hating lesbians being overly dramatic. And then there will be the "not all men" excuse that surely most men aren't like this.

Since I have heard this term circulating with ever more frequency, I have been reaching into my past and spreading my senses out in the present to see, if this stuff really does happen in real life. I mean, surely my friends are more enlightened than that and don't participate in this type of gender division. However, they actually do and I will illustrate 3 examples below.

Now, it is worth noting, that some of these things are likely so ingrained in society, in ourselves, that we don't realize what a negative impact we are having on our friends; on the people around us for whom we care the most.

The "official" definition of mansplaining is below:


(of a man) explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing.aa

Also interesting are the Urban Dictionary definitions, none of which I can take seriously, but they do in a way show the defensiveness that I have just noted: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Mansplain

1. Showing superiority/knowledge 

Recently, inspired by the Wonder Woman movie, one of my friends on Facebook asked people to list out other women actions heroes in Blockbuster movies. Some of the examples were Katniss from The Hunger Games, Leeloo from The Fifth Elemet, Alice from Resident Evil, the Bride in Kill Bill (and the female villains as well), Red Sonja, Lara Croft, Kate Beckinsale's character from Underworld (sorry it's early and I'm tired) etc. (Side note: I also looked up to many of these characters. They have definitely inspired me to be stronger, more badass and more martial in my own life).

While most people of both genders were providing example, on man went on to note: "I don't really think many of these women are heroes because they are motivated by revenge, anger or selfishness whereas Wonder Woman is the true hero because she's motivated by righteousness." Um...excuse me? Should I begin to list out all the awesome male action heroes that aren't motivated by righteousness, yet are still admired? Oh wait....I don't have that much time this morning. 'Splained like a true man...

2. Taking credit for other's accomplishments in the form of words

I'm sure if I polled women, many of them would come back with experiences like this next one: You're telling a story of something crazy, scary, awesome that happened to you and a man keeps talking over you to explain the same story. This includes your opinions, feelings or even words of the story when you told it before. This is one of the most frustrating things that I experience. I am telling a story, trying to get to the big reveal, and someone keeps talking over me and ruins it or gives away the reveal before I get there.*

Now, on some levels, I get this - if you share an experience with someone you both want to talk about it. But I have had times where I  did something cool and as I was trying to explain that to someone, a guy would totally butt in and explain the cool thing that I did. Way to steal my thunder.

This is also relating to women in the professional field who have had their research, articles, proposals, or accomplishments explained back to them. There are some great articles online like this one that lists examples of these.

*Note: This is not just exclusive to men, however, I have found that guys do it more. Especially past boyfriends.

3. Explaining your feelings to you

This last one is probably the most personal AND the most insinuating. It happens primarily in relationships, but also possibly in mentor-student relationships or elder-younger ones (parenting), and again, is not exclusive to men. However, in my past relationship experiences, I have seen this happen A LOT and it took me a long time to realize what was happening.

This is when a partner tells you how you should/need to or shouldn't/needn't feel.  I say that this is very characteristic of men because when a heterosexal couple argues it frequently goes something like this:

Woman: "I feel X. I need X." or sometimes (not the best strategy but) "You make me feel like X".

Man:
"You don't need me to validate your opinion."
"You should not have to be told you're beautiful to believe it."
"You need to feel more OK with yourself."
"You shouldn't need to hear 'I love you' to know I love you."

The more I was told this stuff in my early relationship life, the more I internalized it. Then, the more internalized it got, the worse I began to feel about myself.  When I finally realized what was happening, it took me a looooooong time to crawl out of the hole I dug and admit to myself, "you know what? I have needs and these are what they are...."

Yep, I was lying to myself. For years. As it turns out that I do need validation. I need you to tell me that I am beautiful and to be excited for me when I have a good idea. Even if you don't care. A good partner will understand that and a bad partner will tell me that I am overreacting.  This is now my test. (And yes, in case you are wondering, James passed.) :-)

Funny thing, as I was writing this, I started to wonder if I was womansplaining this whole issue (is that really a thing?) but then I realized that I don't care.  This is something that needs to be said because, as I said in the beginning, I firmly believe that not a lot of people really realize they are doing it.

So, pay more attention - if you are a woman and see this happening, call it out! If you are a dude and see this happening, call it out! And if, as a guy, you catch yourself doing these things, just stop. Apologize. And move on...while not doing it again.

PSA over.

Image result for kate beckinsale underworld 2017





Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Do We Need Someone? - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 11

Once, I thought I did. Need someone, that is.

As a Gemini, I didn't really feel myself without people around. I always felt that I was only 1/2 of a set of twins where my other half was one person, two people, many people - as long as it was someone(s) outside of myself. I would surround myself with people to avoid living with just myself.

This led me to get married to someone who really didn't give a shit about me. He liked much more the idea of me and what I could offer him than actual me, myself. And for my part of it, I liked not being alone. Not having to do all the hard things myself. I, too, liked the idea of him - someone who would be my partner in life. Someone who would go through adventures with me and be my complementing half. We would be like salmon and cream cheese.

Except we weren't. Sure, we may have been different at many things and some of those things may have complemented well, it was clear that neither of us were with the other because we loved them. We were together because that was what ya do. That is what our parents and society wanted us to do. And therefore, that is what we wanted to do.  But we didn't really want each other.

Instead, in the end, we wanted nothing to do with each other.

This is because we were together for all the wrong reasons. When I moved in with him, it was because I was tired of schlepping myself, my stuff, and my cats over to his place. He wanted to move toward the marriage train. He didn't really want ME living there. He wanted a live-in uterus, surrounded by a girl partner who could do all the wifely things - cook, clean, attend kid's soccer games.

When we got divorced, I spend the first probably...three...years trying to be OK with just being with myself. So yeah, I dated people. I slept with ALL the people. And I spent a lot of time out of the house. I also spent a lot of time alone. I had to figure out how to do home repairs myself or bribe a friend to do it. I had to learn how to get myself out of bed in the morning, feed my cat, feed myself and get to work on time.

I spent a lot of time sucking at this...like...badly.  On top of all that, I did it my own way. I didn't go to therapy or pay a life coach to tell me how to get over this hump of feeling not OK spending time with myself. I read a lot of online articles and I thought...at lot. I have come to some conclusions from all that thinking, but I have to admit, that I still don't know.

I would like to say that in those 3 years, it got better.  I still didn't like going to a coffee shop/bar alone to drink and write when no one else could go out on a Friday night. I still felt resentful of the fact that many people couldn't make plans with me because they were staying at home watching Food Network and eating pizza with their SO.

But I did learn something that I didn't have before. I was able to see people for who they really were and what they really wanted. I dated a lot of guys and even when I deluded myself about what they really wanted, deep down, I new. A guys says, "I'm OK with you being poly and seeing other people," I was able to look at it critically and ask myself what "OK" really looked like. If it meant them asking increasingly paranoid questions as their vocal pitch rose, then I knew that wasn't really OK. If it meant them jumping to conclusions about my actions without actually listening to me, then I knew that it wasn't really OK. If it meant them saying ridiculous absolutes that usually either elevated me on  pedestel or pushed me down deep, then I knew it really wasn't OK.

I got very good recognizing when it *wasn't* a good fit and when people were lying. However, I also realized something else....

It's really good to have someone around for things. I realized recently that I really don't like cooking for myself. I like to cook to share food. When it's just me, I'm just way to lazy to spend my alone time cooking. And TBH, if I am going to spend alone time doing something, I am much more interested in crafting, writing, playing video games, or picking cheeto crumbs off my shirt while binge watching Netflix.

Also, it's really nice to have someone handy and manly around to kill spiders, spray wasps, lift heavy/awkward things, and get stuff off the top shelf for you. I mean, I don't know how many people really sit there and revel in gratitude for your SO doing something that you either deplore with every fiber of your being, or physically/mentally struggle with. It's amazeballs. Seriously.

I know that relying on someone isn't the best strategy but let me tell you a story One time, I was home alone and a giant spider crawled across the wall behind my desk and settled right next to my bed. No one was around and I was losing my shit. So I took some hairspray to try and kill the little fucker, but it just ran farther behind my bed. Yeah, I didn't sleep that night.

So anyway, I was learning to be alone, even while allowing myself to develop intimate relationships with people. I think this helped me in a different way as well. It allowed me to change my expectations of my SO from "I need you when X, Y, or Z" to "I don't really need you, but there are times where you would help me handle a situation better" to "Well, sometimes, I may think I need you (Spider) but I'm going to muddle through and deal with the consequences of my decision. But it doesn't mean that I will turn down your help in the future."

Then, I met James. **

**I"m not sure if many of you you know the story of how I met him. I may put it in the appendix. Or, you'll just have to come to me and I'll tell you.

Anyway, I met James. I could probably write an entire post about why I like James, but I will just say this for now: In the wake of all the sub-optimal men that I have dated (another post in itself), James offered something different ...He actually gave a shit about me...

He wasn't worry about his reputation being different b/c he was associated with me. He wasn't looking for me to provide him anything: sex, children, housework, food, reassurance, ego-boosting. I think he is with me just, literally, because he likes me. And he likes what we have.

Is that supes crazy to think about, or what? He rarely asks anything of me and when he does, it's so....stupidly...practical. And yet he does little things for me without asking for any credit - feeding the cat, making coffee.

Does this mean that I need him?

I don't know...I can say that since he's been in Breckenridge, my sleeping habits have gotten all out of whack. I can barely remember all the things I need for work, much less  making myself coffee or sadly, putting my fencing stuff in the car. The routine that I have established with him has gotten completely off kilter and I am not adapting well. I don't fell like I have much to look forward to when I get home, just an empty house and a bowl of ramen or some cheese (and Sherman!) so I just stay out late.

I dick around on my phone in my work parking lot because I am not rushing to something. And I pretty much eat crap food for the week. The worse part of this all is that i can't get out of bed in the morning. When he's here, we get up together and I can have someone to chat with (and flirt with) which totally brightens my morning.

And then going to bed...I have someone to snuggle with and who will whine at me if he doesn't get to sleep on time. Talk about encouragement for success!

So, do I need him? Well, despite forgetting all my stuff for fencing and not knowing how to cut a board of oak plywood, I'm still alive. I fed the cat.  I made it to work (and not even late!) And I even did something productive (KAOS project in progress) with my night rather than devolving into a puddle of lonely, self-pity.

Obviously I am still figuring out how to function with optimal productivity, but I am managing to keep my life moving fairly normally. And, most importantly, I am learning that it's OK to be lonely. It's OK because I know

1. that I will live through it
2. that it will change in the near
3. That loneliness brings its own kinds of rewards. Because, I can tell you, I wouldn't have gotten a blog written OR step 1 of the KAOS project done if James were here tonight.

So, do I need him? No.

But I sure miss him when he's gone.


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Shut Up and Let People Enjoy Things - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part - 10

Recently, the 10 bands meme swept through Facebook. If you missed it, it went something like this:
Ten bands I've seen and one of them is a lie:

1. Godsmack
2. Metric
3. Panic! At the Disco
4. Flogging Molly
5. Depeche Mode
6. Tina Turner
7. Joe Satriani
8. Muse
9. Tears for Fears
10. The Wind and the Wave
11. Foo Fighters

That is my list. I'm not going to give away the lie one so you'll either have to stalk my page to find out or try and guess again. I had fun with this because I got a chance to dig deep in my past and find musicians that sounded unlikely to give people a lot of guessing fodder.
I was actually surprised at how far-reaching this meme was. A lot of memes, I see going around in SCA circles is not terribly surprising if you think about it. Let's say I have 20, 30 or even 50 mutual friends with someone...They probably have a similar amount of mutual friends with other people though not the same, obvs as me. This really lends itself to the sharing of memes over. and Over. and OVer. and OVEr. AND OVER....ad nauseum. What was surprising to me is that other non-SCA friends shared this as well: my cousin in Indy, a friend from Toastmasters who only shares like 1-2 friends in common, and even people I've met only onc,e yet we friended each other because we were sharing a photo or something. This meme really made the rounds - so much so that it inspired counter-memes:



Apparently someone was so horked-off that they decided to make a meme that showed people just how annoyed they were rather than just siting silent and scrolling by.

Here's where my rant comes in...I read an article on this "Ten Bands" meme and *supposedly* the creator was tired of all the negativity on Facebook and made up this game to bring a bit of silliness and fun back to the social media site. Little did he know, it would actually spawn its own negativity.***

Why do people feel the need to ruin other people's fun just because they don't like the same things? Oh, I'm SO sorry that my post is causing you frustration. I'm sorry you cannot while (wile?) away the hours scrolling through inane crap, whines, memes and pictures of kittens without being forced to learn something about your Facebook friends. Friends is the operative word here, because clearly you don't actually care about what I have to say. You care more about asserting your opinion. Unfortunately for you, it's not called "[Yourfacehere]book". There are other faces out there besides yours.

Sadly, this is not just  a Facebook phenomenon, it happens in real life, too. When you say, "I like...X", there are certain people who, if within a 10 foot radius, will be quick to tell you how much they hate X. And it seems that the more inane and unimportant X is in the grand scheme of life-altering things, the more people feel OK in shit-talking it. Why?

Does spreading negativity toward someone or something make people feel better about themselves? Are they just jealous that the attention is not on them? Or do they really wish they liked the popular thing, but they just don't? Therefore, instead of just existing in their bubble of dislike, they want to make other people feel bad for liking it and maybe, hopefully, people will like it less? Is there also a difference between expressing your opinion and belittling someone about their opinion?

For instance, I really don't like Game of Thrones. I read all the books (out at the time) in college and each one progressively crushed my soul a little bit more. By the time the 4th one came out, I got about 1/3 of the way through it and things just kept getting darker and soul-crushing-er. I decided that I couldn't take any more torture and that no potential happy ending was worth this. So, I stopped reading. I did the same thing with The Sword of Truth, The Walking Dead, and The Wheel of Time series. They were all depressing, dark stories containing whiny characters who lived and awesome characters who died and all of them had no end in sight.

I also had found out that George R. R. Martin was kind of an arrogant asshole in person, so that sealed the fate of that storyline in my mind.

Then, Game of Thrones became a TV show, Walking Dead did as well, and they became HUGE. (The Sword of Truth was apparently also turned into a show or mini series in 2008 but it wasn't really popular and I can't talk about if it was actually any good but the rating on IMDB are middling).  Now, if you get me in a ranty mood, or if you try to convince me that these stories are quality literature or that the author is actually a genius, I will more than happily expound to you the reasons why you're wrong.

I really do not understand why people find these stories so great. How has GoT become SO popular that people all over the world are downloading episodes illegally and spoilers listed on websites receive completely trolly responses?  I do feel bad, I want to like GoT and Walking Dead. I tried...sooo hard...I watched the first season of GoT and WD. But, in the end, I just don't like it. That doesn't mean that I don't keep up with the storyline (yeah, I totally read the spoilers).

It also doesn't mean that I am going to go tell all you GoT fans that you suck or shit on GoT every time you talk about it. It does, however, mean that if you come up to me and want to talk about the latest exciting/traumatic/horrifying thing that you saw on the show, I won't be able to be as excited/traumatized/horrified as you. So if that's what you're looking for, it's probably best that you look elsewhere. I'm still happy to listen, however, and will nod politely because you're my friend and your emotional state is at least marginally important to me.

Also, I made this card for my boss's birthday that contained a bunch of GoT puns.

I also made this HI-Larious door stop:

Still don't like GoT. But, I've decided to play along. When I don't feel like talking about it, then I'm happy to ignore it and let my friends go about fangirling/fanboi-ing about it on FB.

I know sometimes your friend feed can get overwhelmed with the meme-du-jour (that "Xth photo on your phone" meme, just won't die) but it doesn't hurt you to keep scrolling. If a certain friend posts every meme out there and you don't want to see posts by that person anymore, you can also unfollow them...they won't even know it! But the last thing you should do (unless they are being openly offensive) is to troll their post with the above Batman meme or some other sarcastic, under-handed, passive aggressive post. Even if they are being offensive, posting a constructive counter comment on the post might open up a good debate/dialogue. (It may also lead to a flame war, but if that were the case, why are you friends with that person?!).

Also, please take things into context. Is it an inane bands-list meme that is annoying you or a friends love of sexist jokes? You can probably ignore the former, where you may want to stand up to the latter. If you are really that unsatisfied with life that little things like a polluted Facebook feed get you riled up, maybe you should go on more walks. Or get more hobbies. Or, you know, take a break from social media.

I generally try to encourage the positive posts on my wall by liking, loving, or commenting on them. It seems that by a natural course of doing that, the people that post negative things or things that I'm not interested in, seem to fade into the background. Also, I do find that people get encouraged by posts that have more comments and likes and try to replicate those posts in the future.

Which is good when they are writing about being happy, enjoying themselves, or loving life.

I am more than happy to continue encouraging that or, in times of annoyance in my own life, ignoring those irritating posts and trying to figure out how to make myself less annoyed. And, honestly, I feel that if people focused a bit more on figuring out why they feel the way they do rather than blaming their feelings on others, 1. the world would be happier in general 2. positivity would become viral.
This pic is from the Books of Adam. Unfortunately, I can't find the actual comic 'cept on FB, tho I do see his art appearing around the 'net.  He's pretty creative and entertaining. Check out his blog (tho not updated), Twitter, and Facebook!

***One other argument that told people NOT to do this was that this post may become part of a data-mining project but all info on face space is probably mined anyway and if a person is choosing security questions for their checking account, I would hope that they'd pick harder or more secret information anyway).

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Cost of Being a Woman (Hair Edition) - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 9

Tonight, I just got back from getting my hairs did**. See.....?
Image may contain: 1 person, selfie and closeup

It looks great...I know! I am in love with my hair stylist in every possible way. Even though I have done it myself, I prefer to go to a professional for my hairs for the following reasons: 

1. I suck at it.
I'm artsy but not coordinated.  I can't envision color very well and reaching each part of my head is equally different and frustrating in its own unique way. I'm also not Linda Blair: I can't see the back of my head. And I have no idea how to "lift" effectively and evenly. I also am very swayed by marketing so every brand becomes the best brand based on the convincing wording. 

2. It's messy as fuuuuu. 
It seems like no matter how careful you are, you ALWAYS end up with color everywhere - your face, your clothes, your nails, the sink, the counter, anything on the counter, the bathtub, the shower curtain, the floor, your cat, your dog (yes I've had color all these places). 

3. It's toxic as tits.
It seems to take days for the smell of some OTC hairdyes to get out of the air (and all the places you got dye from #2). 

4. I don't have the right tools.
Everytime I go into Sally's with the goal of buying hair dye accouterments, I end up coming out with makeup, face masks, and gemmy barrettes. 

5. It takes FUR-EVAR
I mean, it's pretty much an entire evening to setup, dye, clean up, shower, clean the shower and clean the cat. Not to mention the time it takes to actually go to a store and buy dye. I aqin't got that kind of time.

6. I'm afraid I will burn my hair off.
See #1. Plus chemicals. 

7. It's a major pain in the ass
Usually after a few attempts of unsatisfactory self-done color, I end up going to a salon anyway. Then it takes them twice as long to remove the crap I put into it when I didn't know what I was doing. 

On the way home, I got to thinking about my life-long great hair journey...

The name for this post was incredibly intentional. In using the term "cost" versus "price", I am attempting to emphasize that I am looking at more than just a monetary amount. I am referring to (one of) the financial detriment of being a woman ("pink-washing" apparently) and wanting to have great hair. 

First of all, before I talk about my own personal experience, let me present to you some "raw" data. I did a search for "hair salons" around my area in Thornton. Here are the results of 4 "top picks":

#1: The Station (Click for link)




Women's Cut.......$20

Men's Cut.......$15
Child's Cut.......$12
Color......$45
Color & Cut......$60

In looking through these pricing lists, you probably noticed that 3 of 4 have a common theme for haircuts - Women's haircuts are more expensive than men's. The last place doesn't list men's vs. women's (though, as it's a spa, you can tell that it is likely targeting mostly women), however it does list the difference between "stylist", "master", & "owner". 

Let me rant a bit about that. At Zandi, I can pay a lot ($30) for someone who is "fine", too much ($45) for someone who is better, or a ridiculous amount ($60) for someone who happened to have the foresight to buy a franchise. Ooh yay....! I can just imagine the conversation at the front desk;
Me: "Hi, I'd like your most mediocre stylist today." 
Salon: "OK, this is Blanca, she's been cutting hair for $20 years but never took the certification to become a master." 
Me: "I love Blanca!" (Tries to return next month) 
Salon: "Oh, Blanca took the certification test and has worked here 2 years, she's a master now."
Me: ".............................."
Or (I've had both of these experiences)

Salon: "This is Lacy, she just graduated from beauty school yesterday, but she's adorable, bubbly, and has nice tits. Hopefully she can make your hair look as good as she makes our shop look."
Stylist: "...Ooops, you wanted bangs, right?"
Me: "What?! No! I just wanted some layers!" 
Image result for squinty glare

Of the other 3, Tangles is the most reasonably-priced with only a $5 difference. What I don't understand here, is why are adult haircuts more expensive than children's? If anything, kids haircuts should be more because children are impossible to keep still! Maybe they're just operating under the assumption that  kid won't care if their hair is imperfect.... 

Platinum, which sounds the most expensive, is next in line with a $28 "Haircut" and a $25 "Men's Custom Cut". Talk about that wording! Why the hell do men get a special shoutout for a "Custom Cut" when women just get a "Haircut"? Is it inferring that if a man wanted a "generic" haircut he would have to pay $3 more.....? Doubtful. Many guys I know have 2-3 instructions and get the same haircut every time for their lives (see: my dad). Women are more often to try and change it up in sometimes very subtle ways.  Sometimes we don't even know what we want (imagine that! *sarcastic face*) until we chat with our stylist. (Note: these are just generalizations and when I say "women" I'm mostly referring to the "me, myself, and I" of this story).

The last salon that differentiates gender-priced haircuts is "The Station". To be honest, this is the place that sounds the most low-class. I feel like it should be a strip club, dispensary, or office-bathroom-products supply store....Maybe because I've seen the 1st two establishments named thusly and the last one...well that's just ridiculosity! Anyway....a $20 difference?! Are men's and women's haircuts so different that it warrants a $20? 

Let me be plain, I've seen many dudes with my type of haircut - hipsters, yippies, young professionals, gay guys, straight guys, metrosexual guys....even androgynous people. Yet, I would have to pay $20 more than a high-maintenance hipster dude who (also) uses a blow dryer and 5 products to style his hair? Out-freaking-rageous! Additionally weird is that if I had curly hair, as a girl I would actually not pay a higher price, yet a curly-haired guy would pay $5 more. Most curly guys I know generally keep their hair SUPER short for the stereotypically, guyly low-maintenance routine. Is this is a new form of discrimination (Maybe we should call it "hair-ist")? 

Maybe the rationale is that a woman's cut takes more time (because she has more hair), however, that's not true either. I have had my same haircut take 20 minutes or almost an hour. I feel that this largely depends on the stylist. Now, I suppose if you had 3 gallons of hair and wanted a million layers, then it may take longer, but in that case maybe just add a surcharge for time or sheer volume. 

Maybe they think that since men need a haircut every 3-6 weeks, they should get a price break b/c they come in so often. Versus women who get their hair cut every 2-4 months. Again, I usually go anywhere from 4-6 weeks between cuts (8 if I'm becoming slovenly).  That means that I just can't afford $50/mo. That's between $500-600/year or a plane ticket. Nope, nope, and nope...there is just no rationale to keep men's and women's haircuts separate.

Next, let's talk color. Here where I can see the difference in price based on how much hair you have (and thus how much product you'll use) and how complicated you want your color. Ombre on butt-length hair will definitely take more steps, more product, and more time than highlights on a pixie.  However, all of the above pricing structures don't take one important thing into account. The "starting at" price is not for short hair. Trust me, I have A LOT of experience calling places like the aboves and saying:

- "Hey, I just want 4 foils."
- "Well, our partial highlights start at $60".

What. The. Actual. Fuck. For 4 (count 'em) FOUR foils, you want to charge me for a partial highlight? Fuck off. At The Station, if you wanted to change your dirty blonde hair to red with bleach-blonde highlights, you will likely end up paying over $200 to start. How is it even ethically acceptable to charge that much? 

One other thing I noticed is that at Tangles, a cut is $15 with a color, but with a color & highlight, a cut is $20? What the shit?

Now that I have gotten you acceptably outraged, wanna know my secret? 

.....

.....

.....

Wow, I could almost feel the gender-specific reactions through the Interwebs. (Again, generalizations are for emphasis). 

Most guys are probably like: "Heck yeah! $15 haircuts and $2 off coupons!"
Women, on the other hand, probably just shuddered and thought quietly, "I hope she doesn't ask for something too complicated." or "I went there once and they did a bad job". 

It definitely seems like much of society holds the impression that chain salons like Cost Cutters or Great Clips hire sub-par stylists, beauty school dropouts, or those that don't have any ambition to improve their skills. Some might even think that the only people who go to these places are dudes who want clipper cuts, children, or little grannies to get their hair set. If any "normal" person did have to stoop this low, they probably only needed a supes-basic trim or cut.

Well, lemme tell ya, I've had several good experiences at these types of places and here is why (honestly, these tips would work at any salon). 

1. I take a look at the people doing the hair. If they have good hair, fun hair, or a friendly personality they will likely know what they're doing and be willing to listen to you. 

2. Be specific for your first time. Bring in pictures, explain what you want/don't want. Tell them if you have cowlicks, or how you like to part your hair. Tell them what you've tried in the past that's worked or not worked. And if you don't know what you want, look at books and ask their opinion. If they tell you things that you like hearing, you're probably good. 

3. Pay attention to their reactions*. If they actually let you get through your lengthy description, providing input only on how they would achieve your desired result that's good. If they say "we'll figure it out as we go along," or "no, you don't want that, but I know what you do want." In this case, make like Flock of Seagulls and RUN so far away.

*This is a very important one. 

4. Don't worry about a shampoo or style. Plan ahead and wash your hair. If you're going somewhere after, usually if you mention that, they'll throw some product in it or blow dry it a bit w/o charge. And if you really want these services, you can pay a reasonable amount extra.

5. Hair grows back. For anything short of a Brittney-moment, It's unlikely that you'll have such a catastrophic fail at a salon. You usually can either fix it or wait for it to grow out. It's not like you're getting an eyelid tattoo of a swastika. And even for Brittney-caliber fails, they make wigs and hats. 


Now, here's my story: 
In 2014, my hairdresser decided that she hated me so I had to look elsewhere. 

I chose a punky, upscale, Boulder salon, Voodoo Salon, that I'd gotten a great style from for A&H's wedding a year before. All their stylists looked straight out of a rockabilly band. They charged $60 for a hair cut but they gave you a free glass of wine or a beer. Sadly, the woman who had given me the hair cut had either left or was booked up for 2 months. The closest opening was 2 weeks away. 

The stylist I ended up with was a guy who rushed me through the description of what I wanted and didn't even bother looking at the pix I'd brought as he was setting up his station. I said "I want to go short, but I'm nervous to go too short. Can you cut conservatively at first and then continue to trim down as necessary?" And he actually said to me, "Well, I can adjust it some, but I'm not, like [sic], gonna give you a second hair cut." I should've walked out right then. But I didn't.

I thought he knew what he was doing so I trusted him with my hair life. He didn't. This hair cut took almost an hour, somehow turned into almost $80 w/ tax & tip, seemed barely shorter than it was initially, and had been styled in a way that didn't complement any of my features. I actually left the salon feeling worse about myself than I had when I went in. I cried on the walk back to my car. I swore off expensive hair. The price may have been $80 but the toll on my wellbeing for feeling belittled, ripped off, an unattractive was as a Citibank commercial: Priceless (and not in the good way). 

I swore off high-end stylists forever. I decided that if I was going to feel mediocre to bad about myself after a haircut, I should at least save a lot of that money for consolation booze afterward. That was when I went to Cost Cutters and found Ashley. She is a bit (~10ish years) older than me, and has been doing hair for years. She has funky, partially colored hair, sleeve tattoos, dark makeup, boots, and black clothes. She talks fast, faster than me, and she's one of the biggest proponents of "girl power" that I've ever seen. She listens to my style, isn't afraid to take risks, has fun suggestions and takes my suggestions and adjustments seriously. She also recognizes that my hair is short and takes very little product so that she doesn't gouge me.  

She also recommends me addictive clothing websites, interesting TED talks, fascinating books and is in a band. She also says great things like, "Yeah, I don't want to work at a high-end salon. 1. I don't want to deal with the people in those places and 2. I want everyone to have good hair. Not just rich people." And, it's not just her. At least 2 of the other have followings and their own style and specialties. They both have also been cutting hair for many, many years (though I'm loyal to Ashley). 

Even if the haircut sometimes goes a slightly different direction than I want, I know I can adapt it for the next time. And regardless, I always leave feeling powerful, gorgeous, and (most importantly) as me. Not some poser, not someone else, not what the stylist thought I should be but me. And it's a "me" with just a bit less money in my pocket, who can still make her car payment and buy food. 

And ultimately, that is the most important thing, isn't it? 

 **The hairstyle above has 3 colors, a cut and a style. I also bought 2 products (BOGO 50% off). My whole total, with tip, was $101.00.  Suck it The Station, Zandi, Tangles, and Platinum.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Tell Me I'm Pretty - the Saga of Lyndsie - Part 8

All right, I'll admit it, I want to feel pretty. I want to be pretty. I want people, strangers, friends, and lovers to tell me I'm pretty.  Whew...I feel  like I have just made a huge confession.

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Recently, a friend posted an article on women's negative experience in being "pretty". These involved having their boobs grabbed w/o permission, not being taken seriously, having people think you're dumb, etc...My friend's comment started off with "To me, pretty is a dirty word. I am more than just pretty..." and then went about explaining all the things she was instead/in addition. Unfortunately, I cannot find the post now, and she put it more eloquently than I can but she included stuff like, "I am drinking all the tea. I am a mess while crying on your shoulder."

On many levels, I agree with all her statements. As a woman, a human, I am a lot of things. Some of those things have to do with my gender (yes, I am frequently more emotional on my period) and other of those things just have to do with me being human (I love animals). As a feminist, I want to also assert that my looks have nothing to do with who I am and that I am not trying to look good for anyone but myself. At least, that is what some modern feminism seems to want me to think.

The reality of it is this, yes, I want to look pretty for people. I want to look sexy for my partners and classy for my friends. I want my grandmother and aunts to be proud of my professionalism and my coworkers to respect me because of the way I dress and look. However, I feel bad for wanting to be pretty. I feel bad for men, who are now being taught (whether directly or indirectly) that they can't compliment a woman on her looks. I think the point here, is being missed.

Yes, for sure, definitely, that should not be the ONLY worth of a woman. It should not be anything that you base a relationship solely on. But, I think we need to be honest with ourselves and each other - looks are the first thing you know about a person if you meet them face-to-face. You know this about them before they ever open their mouth or do anything. And unless you knew them/of them before you met them, this is the only thing you know. Does that give you a right to instantly judge them? No. But do you anyway? Probably.

One of my friends is a big, body-builder type with a buzz cut. I met him in Toastmasters. The first time he got in front of the group to do a short Table Topic speech, I did not expect what would come out of his mouth. I did not expect him to be so eloquent, so charismatic, so intelligent. This was me judging him based on his looks. Now, do I still think he is not those things I stated above? Absolutely not.

THAT is the point that I think we really need to get to. We shouldn't completely write off looks. We shouldn't shame people for wanting to look good for other people. Even implying shame, is not really a great step. What I think we should do instead is to recognize that  looking pretty is not JUST for other people, it is for yourself as well. When I know I look good, it makes me feel good, too. Then, we need teach people that those judgement we make about people based on their looks NEED to change and evolve as we get to know those people. AND we need to actually get to know people, even if our first impression of them (physically) is a certain way.

Don't assume that all pretty girls are conceited. Don't assume all big, beefy guys are stupid. Don't assume that ugly people have no personality. Put stock into looks, but only superficially because, as it stands - that what looks really are. Superficial.

They are a part of you, just as every part so we should embrace them.

We should embrace every other part as well, physical and spiritual.

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Domenick Bellia: One Who Really. Lived. - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 7



When did all my friends get so old? (And I'm not talking about the lovely couple above. I will get to them in a minute). First, though, here I am in my early 30's am wondering why I'm all of a sudden hanging out with so many old people. People who are cancelling on beer outings, late-night dancing, house parties. People can't have more than two drinks because they won't be staying at a place long enough to sober up. And spending all night getting drunk...?....for-get it!...Now, OK, sometimes these people include me, so I suppose that I am part of this....problem.

Or is it a problem? Change is inevitable and as you get older, you do gain a certain knowledge and understanding of yourself and the world around you. What is the problem then?

People have started complaining that they're old and can't do shit. "I'm old, so I can't stay up past 9." Or "I'm old, so I can only drink 1/2 a shot of vodka on a Saturday night." or "I'm old, my body won't let me dance all night." Excuse me, but...No, sir or madam, You. Are. Not. Old. You are, like, in your 30s and 30 is the new 20 or some such nonsense like that.  And if you're old, then I'm old. My family doesn't get old...they age like whiskey.

You know what, if you act like you're old, then fine....you'll be old.

Many times, I think people do this because they think they have to. They think that now that they're an adult, they have to stop having fun. And sure people do have life responsibilities: kids, jobs, houses, bills, taxes, yelling at the utility company, "obligations". But does that mean that you can't play video games on your off-time? Or share a bottle of wine (or 3) with good friends? Or do something small and spontaneous, staying up talking till 2am? No.....

It doesn't matter what your physical age is..so what, you're 35, 40...50 etc. Who says you have to act old? Get over your shit and just have fun! I suppose if fun for you is going home and parking your in front of QVC, with a cat on your lap...then fine...just don't tell me that you do it because you're old. Be honest that you love it and watch the shit out of QVC.  Pet the shit out of your cat.

People say that adulting sucks for all the reasons that I list above and lately, I've been hearing people wishing they could go back to being a toddler or a teenager. I mean, sure, bills, and jobs, and actually dealing with your problems are definitely some speed humps in the road of adult life, but let's just think about this a second.

Image result for boss baby
I originally used the search terms "adult baby", but the results were too horrifying to post here.

Baby: "I'M MAD AND I DON'T KNOW WHY!!! I CAN'T MOVE OR SIT UP OR SEE ANYTHING! AND WHAT'S THIS STUFF ON MY FACE! IT'S WITCHCRAFT, I TELL YA!"

Toddler: "I'M MAD AND I KNOW WHY BUT I CAN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT! THERE'S STUFF ON MY FACE AND I CAN'T FIGURE OUT HOW TO GET IT OFF, BUT IT SMELLS!"

Child: "I'M MAD AND I KNOW WHY AND I CAN KINDA SAY WHY BUT NO ONE IS LISTENING TO ME! I CAN SORTA FIX IT, BUT EVERYTHING I TRY TO DO JUST MAKES IT WORSE. AND I CAN'T COMMUNICATE MY FEELINGS WELL ENOUGH TO MAKE PROGRESS! DOES NO ONE ELSE HAVE THESE PROBLEMS?!"

Pre-teen: "I'm mad and I don't know why. Oh wait...I do know why. Oh wait...maybe I don't. I wonder if Jimmy likes me? Dammit I'm so hungry all of a sudden! I'M STILL MAD! (still no one is listening to me)."

Teenager: "I'm mad and I mostly know why but I'm too lazy or stubborn to try and figure out the root cause and solve it. And even if I try to solve my problems, I can only solve some  problems, and the other solutions are just slightly out of my reach. Damn adults are keeping me from solving those problems (and they still won't listen to me)."

College student: "I'm mad but mom and dad can solve every problem. Wait, what? I'm graduating soon? I have to get my own insurance? You mean, I have to actually sell myself to a company so I can make money? Wait..wait...you mean that money you used to pay for my college...I have to give it BACK now?! At least adults kinda listen to me, though they still think I'm a punk kid...."

Adult: "I'm mad and I can logically figure out why. I can then actively pursue a myriad of solutions in a wide range of fields and if one doesn't work, I can try another. This is because i have a job and make my own money. I have a credit card and a car. I also have a moderate to high degree of control over my schedule. And hey, if none of that shit works, I can always drink my problems away. Also, if I want to buy a collector's set of novelty precious metal spinning tops, I DAMN WELL CAN, BITCHES. AH WERK HAARD FER MAH MONIES!"

Ok, I admit that I am over-simplifying things it jussssst a little bit and there are some overlapping problems that one could face in any stage of their life, but for me, this is how I see it. The bottom line is that being an adult sure as hell beats being a baby. Why? Because, you can....REALLY. Live.

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Let me tell you about one person I knew who really. lived. My uncle, Domenick Bellia passed away last week (I am currently at a hotel getting ready to attend his funeral this week). He had battled cancers for 10 long years, the first 5 of those being in "remission" and the last 5 having it return full-force. Uncle Dom really loved life. When describing him, I always called him, in the most endearing way possible, "my drinking-est, smoking-est, swearing-est, uncle".

I remember on more than one occasion, during drunken after-wedding revelry, that he would somehow convince me (the out-of-towner) to buy the entire bar (which, at whatever late hour it was - 11pm or 2am - depending on the town, consisted mostly of my extended family + friends) a round of shots. Some of his shot choices were highly questionable....one particularly gnarly one was the peanut butter and jelly shot. Ugh...I still have flashback taste memories of that shot. Doesn't help that I just absolutely HATE amaretto. *shiver*.

I have to say, my head and my bank account didn't particularly like me for those decisions. but they did make great stories. My best memories of Uncle Dom involved partying, including sitting out front of our motel rooms with my parents and my uncle and Aunt Ellen in San Francisco, drinking flasks of whiskey in the sun. Or, hanging out in my grandma's living room, drinking G&T's that my uncle made - which were definitely much heavier on the G!

I remember my wedding, which I try not to talk about too much, because we all saw where that went, however, it was one of the best gatherings of my family that I could ever possibly ask for. Other cousin's weddings, too, where so many happy memories of the whole family come from - Memories where even the more "conservative" partyers, just went crazy. Most of them were egged on by Dom. Or my mom. Or me. Or his kids. But only because we were usually egged on by Dom first.

There were conga lines and bottomless Bloody Marys. seafood feasts and inappropriate jokes....

The caption on this one, from my aunt's Facebook, says "We never have ANY fun at weddings!"

He was always smiling. You could tell, even in the pictures of his final days, he was still enjoying life. He loved his family, and they loved him. I haven't been around during in the last few year, travel to the East has gotten harder with time off, personal life drama, lack of funds, and home ownership...However, I will never forget the last time I saw him 4 years ago. We were reunited, interestingly, for another sad time but for all the sads and tears, he was still there. We, all of us, bonded again as a family - this time at a bottomless Bloody Mary and Mimosa brunch (go figure). It was perfect.

The last time we talked on the phone was New Year's Eve. I happened to call my parents, not realizing they were at teh Bellia's. I got to talk to Dom, even then he warned me not to party too hard (I may or may not have already been a little drunk). I warned him of the same, and with his characteristic chuckle he said, "Don't worry. I never do. Not too hard, anyway." I kind of figured that when I said goodbye to him then, it may be the last time I got to talk to him...

Even then and from the pictures posted of him over Facebook, I could tell he was still laughing, joking, and smiling. My uncle Dom was younger than my parents when he passed away, but no one could tell you that any of those years had been wasted. Most of use, we always hope we can have more time, some of us do this because we are afraid of dying. Others, love living. And those people, they don't always want more time, they want the best they can have in the time they're given. My uncle was one of the latter.

I hope I can learn a lesson or two from my uncle. I hope I can continue to Really. Live. until my time comes. I hope I can egg people on to bring out their crazy, silly, boistrous (and maybe even drunken) selves, like he did. I mean, if I can even gain half the charisma that he had, I will be doing good enough. I know that through this whole ordeal, he would want, no expect, his family to be #belliastrong.

Uncle, I will miss you dearly, but I won't let you down.




**I wish I had more pictures available, but I don't store pix on my computer and my facebook (and apparently most of my relatives') are a disorganized mess. Also, it's 2am. So, thanks to my Aunt Ellen, who's Facebook page I stole these all from!**


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Down with PANTS (and diets) - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 6

I'm going to take a break from the SCA commentary because while I still have LOADS to say about that subject, I need to do more research to present an unbiased opinion.

There has been another issue that I've been thinking about lately and that has caused me a lot of stress. I feel, fucking, fat. Now, I know, most of you will come out and be all, "You're not fat! Don't say these things about yourself!" And for the most part, I am right there with you. But there are some problems. While huffing my ass off on the treadmill today, I had 2 thoughts: One was horrific and one was amazing. The amazing thought you'll find at the end of this blog.

The horrific one was this poem on dieting:

Now I can't say that I mind the size,
Of my butt, my hips, and my thighs
The problem, however, is that my pants don't fit
And become even tighter when I sit.

Pants...pants are the actual devil. Women's pants especially are like the lady devil. Twice the fun, but also twice as scary. Also, purty. But seriously, women's sizes must have been designed as the ultimate oppression by the patriarchy: they're designed to frustrate and make you feel fat. I swear, 0.999999999 pounds in either direction and you either feel like a land whale shoved into a compression sock or a middle-aged, overweight, loser who's given up on life and her appearance.  Screw burning bras. BURN ALL THE PANTS!


Vida Guerra's ass.....I need to do more squats

Anyway, if you don't stay in that sweet spot of weight, your pants will judge you. So I am constantly attempting to eat healthy enough, and exercise enough to keep myself right at the very tippy top of my pant fit range. You'll notice that the first place to wear through on my pants are the inner thighs. No joke. It's sad. It doesn't help that skinny jeans are all the rage now.

Everything is skinny these days it's seems
Skinny lattes, skinny cows, skinny jeans
America is saying that you have to be thin
Which has very little to do with actual skin

I actually really like skinny jeans. I like how they accentuate my womanly curves...Except my belly. It seems like there is no happy place for a waistband to fall: Too high and you look like Urkel; too low and you worry about showing off that tramp stamp you got when you were 15. Or your fat just spills over the top...lovely. Even if you don't have much of it, when it concentrates into one ring around your midsection you may as well be carrying around an inter tube from Water World. Yuck.

This is where weight loss comes in. I want it. But I don't want to give up ALL of something because i know that with my (lack of) self control, that would never fly. If I know I can't eat something I want to, and if I want to eat something and can't then I just get extremely agitated. Food is my kryptonite...especially salt. I'm an addict....

I just want to eat and drink, especially beer
And have a bag of chips there, a slice of pie here
I like to eat healthy too, especially quinoa and kale
But life without its sweet pleasures, soon becomes stale

But it's even more than that...I've tried calorie counting, but I just can't eat enough on those pre-determined calorie limits to actually feel full. I can eat literally as much salad as I can force down my gullet but still be hungry an hour later. And when I don't eat enough, I get super hangry, shaky and light-headed. Add into that mix the time factor and I fall off the wagon. A lot. I guess you could say that I'm more like dragging beside the wagon, with one hand halfheartedly looped around the rail, my face pressed into the snow. 

I wish that i could find a diet that allowed me to eat what I wanted, when I wanted and still allow me to lose weight. Yeah. Friggin'. Right. Plus, I'm not willing to give up alcohol. I know that will make me sound like a lush, but y'know what? Having a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a few beers after work is sometimes the only light at the end of the tunnel on a shitty day. I don't need to get blitzed, or even tipsy, but it's the relaxation, social, indulgent feelings you get from alcohol (or chocolate or ice cream) that psychologically helps me ready myself for the next day of the same boring grind. 

The diet also needs to not rely on healthy foods I hate, namely: Bananas and Bars. People think I'm insan for not liking bars "There's so much nutrition packed into a bar!" "And some are not that healthy for you but are CHOCOLATE DRIZZLED." Look, people, I don't care if this bar is coated in gold and pooped out of a unicorn's ass...I can almost guarantee that it tastes like sugary cardboard, clay, or old people's belly button lint. The only bars that I can stomach are candy bars, those awful Quaker Oats Chewy bars that you got when you were like 5, and the occasional Nutrigrain Bars.

Believe you me, I have tried more than a representative sample of the country's bars. My office has a wonderful, terrible array of bars that they put out in the "healthy snacks" bowl along with Ritz Bitz, Mini Oreos, waxy red-delish apples,and fruit snacks. Most of these bars are only really for throwing at your teammates and kickimg when you're angry. So, please don't try to sell me on the viability of bars...unless you have a miracle brand where one bar will instantly vaporize 10lbs, I'm not interested.

They make bars of all kindz these days
Gluten-free, soy-free, vegan, dates and maize
Different they may seem, but one thing holds true
They all taste like cold, hard decaying donkey poo
Image result for diet images cartoon

On the plus side, I try to pack most of my meals full of veggies and greens - i LURV kale and kale smoothies are one of my favorite things....As well as not-horrible amounts of carbs. I don't drink a lot of sugary drinks, preferring tea and sparkling water. But i binge-eat chips at work. And my coworkers, like cats proud of a kill, bring each other the terrible snacks from the doom bowl. And yet I still oscillate between, "hey is my belt getting loser?" and "JESUS, MOTHER-FUCKER, WHY JEANS, WHY? WHY YOU SO TIGHT?!?!?!"

Maybe I should stop wearing pants altogether
Just wear leggings on the days of bad weather
Mumus and skirts are where the real power lies
Down with the oppression of dirty pant ties

Again, it comes back around to pants. I think I have found the first solution to a successful diet: lose the pants. If you no longer had pants to make you feel fat and horrible, you could go about your days eating what you wanted - healthy, salty, sugary, or veggie-y. Life would be tastier and freer. You would, as a woman, earn the right to vote and soon become ruler of the world. Getting rid of pants solves everything.

DOWN WITH THE PATRIARCHY! DOWN WITH PANTS! DOWN WITH THE PATRIARCHY! DOWN WITH PANTS! 

You're Welcome. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

What Am I Going To Do About It? - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 4

First random thought of the night...I really need one of those lap desks since most of my writing at home is done either on the couch or the bed because I don't like my office chair.

Second random thought: Anyone want to buy a brand new Findal office chair from IKEA? $60 (originally $70), pre-assembled and you don't have to go to Centennial to get it!

Anyway...what I really wanted to talk about is - What Am I Going to Do About it?

After my last post about how fencers are assholes, the big question was:

"Well, now that you've had your rant, what are you going to do about it?" 

I've been thinking a lot about this over the last few days and I think the first place I need to define is what exactly "it" means.

1- It = the assholery of the fencing community?
2- It = my annoyance at the community?
3- It = my feeling of not belonging?
4- It = my crappy fencing?
5- It = having fun?

Let's get the easy ones out of the way first:
1 - This blog. There's really not much else that I feel like I can do about the assholery except gently and semi-passively point it out hoping that I will reach at least a few others. Then in turn, I'm hoping that those others will spread the word in their own way. Will there always be those assholes out there who stubbornly hold on to their machismo and arrogance (read: insecurity)? Sure. Can I change them? Doubtful. The best thing I can do is just ignore them and hope they don't interfere too much with me. And, if they do interfere, I suppose I will just have to stomp on their toes and insult their mothers.

4 - Practice, obviously. Go to the gym, I suppose, instead of coming home to get my nails done and write this blog. XD Will I ever be good enough? Who knows. I guess it depends on what I want to be good enough for and how I'm measuring "enough".  This is still a very much TBD and I don't think I'll actually know the answer until I reach "enough."

2 - This can't be helped. I will continue to be annoyed at various aspects at various times. It's human nature. I cannot Frozen-it-up and just "Let it go." I will have to just be annoyed and move on, not letting it control how I interact and how I treat others.

3 and 5 I believe go hand-in-hand and I have one definite answer for both of these at the same time:

I. Don't. Know.

There are several paths that I see taking, and honestly, I feel like I have tried them already.

#1: Leave

There was one time where I left the SCA altogether for about 3 years, even going so far as to un-Facebook-friend a lot of SCAer just because I didn't want to see pictures of the SCA. There  were also several other times where I drastically scaled back my play to only 1 or 2 events/year. This definitely had its pros:

-  I was able to take part in other activities that I couldn't do while in the SCA due to time conflicts with practices and events, such as bellydance, cooking classes, Zumba, yoga, writers groups etc. 
- In general, I had more time for obsessive activities: video games, reading, TV shows, travels, movies.
- I (sort of) had more money. I say (Sort of) because I didn't have the compulsion to buy expensive things like swords, fabric, chain shirts, leather etc. However, I did travel more and non-SCA travel is quite a bit more spendy than SCA camping events. And I still crafted but...
- I was able to focus some time on other types of crafts that were non-medieval such as steampunk, scrapbooking (yes, I like doing this! Don't judge), drawing and writing. 

However, something was missing: The people. I had quite a few friends that I didn't really get to see unless I went to events and fighter practices. I understood this only on the periphery of my awareness. These people were always around, until they were not. Or rather, until I was not. I noticed that something was missing, but I couldn't quite figure out what. That is, until I went to an event and realized how many holes my life had in it. How many people who initially I thought couldn't care less that I was gone, that said, "It's good to see you!" and, "I'm glad you're here." And on a level, I really was glad too.

In my current stage, this path won't work. I just signed up for my first Kaos, I'm helping at Dance Collegium, I just spent a bunch of money on a sword and chain shirt for fencing, and whether I do or don't, Iago will still play. That means many weekends and evenings alone when he goes to SCA things. That would make me sad. Which leads me to #2:

#2: Do only things that are fun

This strategy has been proposed to me by a number of people and I have tried this as well. Admittedly, there are a certain type of activities in the SCA that many would agree are not always, mostly, or ever exactly "fun". This includes but is not limited to: craft project deadlines, standing guard, coordinating events, holding offices, schlepping/hauling/setting up/packing/unpacking/tearing down etc. (Now, before you get too up-in-arms and start arguing how these things are fun for you, please understand that I am making a conscious difference between "fun" and "necessity". I do recognize that a lot of these activities are needed for both ensuring that the game runs smoothly and that we preserve the feel of the world we've [re]created. And I am not opposed to being a part of these. Please reserve judgement until below).

So what is "fun" for me in the SCA? Well, fencing, shooting archery, power-lounging, drunkenly socializing over a campfire, making art for art's sake, learning new skills, developing camaraderie, making new friends. In regards to fencing particularly, I did this at one Battlemoor. I really don't like tournaments, so I fought in none of them. Instead I did pickups with ALL kinds of fencers: OOK ones, newbies, oldsters, people I haven't fought in forever, people I fight all the time but that I love to fight, etc. and melees. I had an awesome time at that Battlemoor. I felt...satisfied. At least, for the time being. More on that later.

What about the "not fun" stuff? Well, if you ask Iago, I volunteer for everything. Need to plan a party? Sure. Need emergency retinue? I've got it. Need someone to step up last minute and be Baronial land coordinator or run a meal plan? That's me. He always jokes that NAVY stands for "Never Again Volunteer Yourself." Apparently, I could never be in the navy...or maybe, I SHOULD be in the navy because I volunteer for everything? You know, I'm not exactly clear on who exactly that metaphor applies to..... This part is OK for me. I like helping people. Especially people I like, but also people I don't know. And even sometimes people that I'm not particularly fond of. 

What's not fun is being expected to read minds of the people you're helping. Or getting in trouble when you can't do something good enough or fast enough (there's the "enough" word again. What does it mean anyway? Can there be a better qualifier?). As this is a game and totally voluntary, a person's well being should come first. So, being guilted because you didn't go to this or that event or do this or that thing because you'd had a really awful week at work and were simply facking exhausted...that's not cool. Especially if you endeavor to make up for it in some other way or time. (Now, obvs, if you back out ALL THE TIME then you will be seen as unreliable and you maybe should reassess your ability to volunteer in the first place). Anyway, I'm sort of going into #3....Let's just suffice it to say that I had some very poor experiences in the volunteer field that soured me. One to the extent that I am still terrified of being on retinue. More on that later.

Let's go back to that Battlemoor where I did nothing but fight what I wanted to and do (or not do) what I wanted to when off the field (which consisted of napping, shopping, power-lounging, copious amounts of both drinking and smoking). It was good. I left that event feeling rejuvenated. Exhilarated. Ready to play again.

Then..the Facebook posts began again - awards people were getting, achievements unlocked, notoriety, inclusion, induction into the "cool kids" of X or Y order.  One particular silver tine was given to one particular fencer who had been playing a short time, who didn't travel much, who didn't do anything but fight at events, and who didn't go to local events that didn't have fighting but who happened to be in all the most visible tourneys and didn't suck. This was not an isolated incident and was something I had observed for years (and every year that passed w/ me NOT getting my silver tine, it felt worse). It kind of set me over the edge...I realized that my "funtimes" did not correspond with stuff that got noticed. And I realized that not getting noticed kind of sucked. Which leads to path #3.

#3: Work Your Butt Off and Strategize*
* This section may piss people off, but before you freak, please keep in mind that this is my impression and it could be completely false. However, even if it is completely false, please at least ask yourself why a veteran SCA-dian (17 years, y'all!) would feel this way. 

If you want to get recognized for something, what I've noticed is that there are certain events, certain positions that you need to participate in that will give you an advantage. These positions involve in some way getting closer to the king and queen (directly or indirectly). In all martial, service, and arts areas have I seen this happen.  

- Arts: If you're a scroll-maker and your name is read out in court for every scroll you do, you're more likely to be recognized by someone than if you are part of the bookbinders guild and semi-anonymously mass-produce Nag-Hammadis for a largesse donation. 
- Service: If you herald or hold an important officer position, you're more likely to get noticed than if you schlepped everyone on site's camping equipment. 
- Martial: Holding guard positions, especially captain, champion, lieutenant, chivalry, general for a war, etc. or running or fighting in the more respected tourneys like the non-don/unbelted, Lady of the Rose etc. Will likely get you closer to an award than fighting melees or in lesser-respected tourneys (like the women's tourney. Sorry....). 

Also, it seems that a lot has to do with if you student to a master and who your master (mistress/don/knight/MoD etc,) is. I could write an entire post on the cadet-don relationship, so I will be brief here. Let's just say if you pick a more formal and influential master, you're more likely to have the support of many other masters in the field and therefore be watched and noticed more. (Of course, you would have to conduct yourself with chivalry and decorum as well). If you choose a master that is either very informal or *gasp* unpopular, you will take on that same rep and it'll be more difficult to advance. 

In short, you play the politics game using yourself and those around you as chess players, trying to achieve a checkmate to the king or queen. Where they literally can't fail to see what you've accomplished. This method, I must say, is very exhausting. Especially when you just have the luck to know the crowns before they become crowns. Serving retinue or guard for a crown you don't know with a company of people you don't know can be draining because it seems like everyone else is on the same page/looking out for each other, and you're flailing on your own. I know. Because this happened to me (I know it can also be a gateway to new friends, which I've also done, but sometimes it's hard to predict what will happen). 

And yes, I have tried to play politics. Several times in fact. You can read one of my stories in this link about how I tried to position myself politically and what came out of it. If you don't have the time to read a second blog, here's the skinny:

On my first retinue for a queen, I got my Stag's Heart after being on retinue for 3 events where I couldn't even attend too much because I was volunteering at other parts of the event. I had met this queen and only spoken to her once - and not at length. She inspired loyalty so I busted my ass for her at Pennsic - to the point where I got dehydrated and heat exhaustion and spent a day and 1/2 of a 3 day stay sleeping. 

She thanked me to my face, but then proceeded to bitch about me to my baroness which caused my baroness to chew me out at a fighter practice. This queen had literally walked into my house (or emailed into it) and pooped on my carpet. And instead of fessing up and saying she'd done it, she made it look like it was my fault.  It made me feel horrible.   All that I had worked for, in the end, had actually made my reputation worse! And that resulted in literally zero amounts of fun. 

The exciting Pennsic opportunity that I had to reconnect with my old household, to party like an adult of (legal) drinking age, and to explore my newly found freedom and vivaciousness now mostly registered in my mind as "The time I got heat exhaustion and a queen ruined my baronial reputation". I don't know when I'll get the opportunity to go back to Pennsic, but if I do, unless I adore you, I will not volunteer to be on your retinue. 

It took all the conviction I had to not rage quit the whole SCA right there. My household and other friends kept me there, as did the other responsibility that I'd committed to. I gritted my teeth and got through them, with barely a "Thank you" and made sure to get rid of all responsibilities i had left very quickly. I will let you in on a little secret, unless I'm intentionally trying to look service-y or official (autocratting an event for example) I will not wear my Stag's Heart. 

I have many other thoughts on playing the politics game, but that's another post as well. For me, for this post, let's just say that recognition is something that I like. I am motivated by tangible rewards whether it's getting the chance to perform on stage for dance, getting awards or cool attaboys in the SCA, having a "kudos" at work, hearing "i love you", losing weight /increasing strength in working out, or knowing that people read my blog (please comment or message!).  It even said this in the Thomas PPA personality test that I was forced to take at work.  When my boss pointed out that rewards actually motivate me, something clicked in my brain. I can't do anything that I do in anonymity and be actually happy.

So, what am I going to do about "it"? The "it" of community, of recognition, of happiness, or belonging?

Well, it can't be wholly #1, #2, or #3. So..

I have no fucking clue.

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