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
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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.


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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Reine Chérie - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 4.5

While I have served on many baronial retinues and guards several kingdom guards, I've only been on retinue once:

I happened to find myself on retinue for a queen that I had never met and didn't even know of. This queen was new to the kingdom and didn't know many people in the north but wanted to have retinue on both sides of the kingdom so they didn't have to travel as much. I had never been on retinue before so I was very concerned about doing it right. I wanted to make a good impression.

(Un)Fortunately, 2 of the 3 northern events after I was officially inducted were in Caer Galen (Boulder) and at each of these events, I had already volunteered to coordinate something. I told the head lady-in-waiting this and said that I would be happy to fit in shifts when I wasn't doing the things I'd already committed to. On the second (third?) event, I was given my Stag's Heart award for service. It was a huge shock because I really hadn't thought that I had done much for the queen yet. When she gave me the award she said "You volunteered on my retinue, but every event you can't serve much because you're running around all over doing another million things."

I didn't really know this queen from Eve. I think I had met her once but even while  I was on retinue, I was sitting outside a room or standing behind the thrones in court. We hadn't even really had a conversation. But...HOLY HELL!...she had noticed even so. I was inspired and instantly loyal.  When it came time for Pennsic to roll around, I just happened to be able to go. I would only be there for 5 days (2 half days and 3 whole ones) but I volunteered anyway. The head LIW asked if I was OK being on an 11 hour shift (the afternoon through the royal dinner) but that would be my only shift. I said, "Sure. Thanks for asking."

However, what happened in reality is that I was scheduled for another shift last minute and not told until AFTER I had come back from a fencing tourney, exhausted and sweaty, even though I had checked with the queen before the tourney (the head LIW wasn't there) and been told I wasn't needed. This shift was to take her to the Queen's Tea, wait until she was done, and take her back to camp. I asked her if she would prefer me to walk her over in my sweaty tunic, go back to camp to change, and then meet her there after, or if she could have a guard walk her over and switch out with him after I showered and changed. She told me the latter. So I ran my butt the full mile (or so it felt) to my camp, in the Pennsylvanian summer and got ready (because I had NO idea how long a "tea" went). Then I ran back to the tea, without eating, without drinking water, in 90 some-odd degrees and like a million percent humidity. And sat there....FOR A FREAKING HOUR!

When she was finally done, I walked her back to camp. She thanked me for my hard work and gave me a peacock feather. Then I learn that actually, having a lady at chili night that night would actually help the queen so I was asked to go. I said, "ok" but I needed a nap first. I crashed in a friend's tent that was closer than mine. When "chili time" came around, I couldn't get up. I'm pretty sure I had heat exhaustion. I begged out.

The next day, I tried to have fun during my free time, but I still felt horrible. About midday, I visit camp, and ask the royals if they needed help and what time they wanted the dinner that I had volunteered to cook. They said, "Well we have this late-afternoon food thing, so I doubt we'll be hungry." uh....ok....The guard that was sposed to help me with this dinner and I chatted and I asked if he could take care of it (he was supposed to have bought the food but he didn't) if they even needed it. He said he'd cover me because I probably look like death after a night of heavy drinking. I went back to my camp and took another nap.

Someone came to my camp around dinner time and asked if I was still gonna make the crown dinner. I said that I had already arranged someone else to do it if they needed it. I couldn't get there fast enough, but I would still be on retinue for the evening party. I showed up for that and it all seemed good. The following morning, the king brought it up and I apologized saying that I had a fever (which I did) and I hoped that the guard took care of everything. He didn't. "But it's fine," the king said, "We didn't really want dinner anyway." uh....ok. 

Turns out after the event, the queen bitched at me to my baroness saying that I wasn't apologetic, that I didn't really take my duties seriously, and that I was unreliable. Uhhh...helllo....?! I went to an event cross the country where you didn't expect many retinue to attend where I killed myself, got dehydration and heat exhaustion and spent at least 2/3 of one of my 3 full days sleeping and another day and 1/2 on retinue all freaking day. Needless to say, there are no very few consorts whose retinue I'd actually volunteer to be on if they were made queen.

Oh and BTW: "Reine Chérie" doesn't mean "Dear Queen", it's means "Bitch Queen."

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fencers are Assholes - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 3

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I didn't go to fencing practice tonight.

Practice on Tuesday was cancelled, and so Iago wanted to go to Denver's practice tonight. Since I have not fenced in a few weeks now, I was going to go with him. Then I got home and was very tired. The day had drained me. I stress-ate ALL the things at work (and I mean ALL - leftover pasta, 2 slices of pizza, some potato chips, a drumstick ice cream, small pack of skittles, 3 mini Snickers, a Swiss cake roll, a Ho-Ho, and a bagel), I was tired of yelling at project managers and yelling at my teammates about said project managers, I was tired of bullshit work, and I was tired of Facebook. (My job is so overwhelming sometimes, that I LITERALLY peruse the same Facebook posts over and over again hoping something new will happen). I was feeling defeated, despondent, and anti-social. The event last night had put me off people again.

Then there was the underlying painful dread feeling in the pit of my stomach. The one that I have not been able to shake for a while now. The one that was finally starting to ebb, but was reawakened last weekend. It was opened up so deep that you could probably see all the way to 2007. This time, it was fueled by the fencing community and the one thought I absolutely hate having:

"I'm never going to be as good as I want to be. And I'm never going to get recognized for how good I am."

Brief History: I've been fencing for 17, going on 18, years with a few breaks. Seventeen years, and it was only last year that I got my kingdom-level fencing award. And only a few years before that I got my baronial-level fighting award. It took me 17 years to be recognized at a level that most people receive within their first 1-5 years of fencing.

Now, I'm not going to lie, fencing is HARD for me. I'm not the strongest, most graceful, fastest, most coordinated person on the planet. In fact, I'd say I'm pretty far down. NONE of this comes naturally to me. I have had to practice and drill and fight and lift weights and run to even make what I thought was a little headway.  And that was when I was young(er) and healthy. Now...I'm old(er) and fat(er) and broken(er). If I don't go to the gym regularly, fencing is more difficult. If I don't fence for a month, it might as well be back to square one. Maintaining a workout and fencing schedule like this is almost impossible with my workload, emotional roadblocks and physical health. At this point I am honestly not sure if I am physically capable of working as hard as I need to, in order to get what I want out of fencing.

And then there's Iago. He shows up to an event after not fighting for months and places in a tournament. He starts fighting regularly once or maybe twice/week and he dominates. People notice him. Then, he wakes up fine the next morning at 6AM. Whereas I feel like I've gotten hit by a bus, he just prances out of bed. He is naturally good at fencing. I am not. He loves fencing because he doesn't struggle with just getting out on the field and fighting. He doesn't care about little things. If his shoulder hurts, he ignores it. If it's too cold, or (to an extent) too hot, or if his gear is uncomfortable and smelly, he just......goes.  He doesn't care what he looks (or smells) like. He loves to fight to fight. It is (almost) that simple. (I say "almost" because that's what he says, but it's obvious that he likes the competition aspect also).

I love fencing, too, but for reasons other than the athletic part. I like feeling powerful, and in control. I like feeling graceful and dangerous. I like feeling good after fighting and I love the adrenaline rush. But I hate competing, I hate tournaments, I hate feeling like I have to continually prove how good I am not just to myself, but to others. I hate the dick-swinging contests of "which dons/masters/good fighters you fought and how well you did against them". I hate talking incessantly about your achievements at dinner after a night of fighting because I feel like my achievements are do not compare.

Guy: "I fought Master Rob and Don John and Bad-ass Fencer Danaerys and Newbie Frodo. And I, like, went 1-1 with Rob and pretty much beat John every time and Danaerys and me, man, we're so evenly matched. I got this crazy behind-the-back shot on her and damn she's good but if I can just perfect my six parry I will get her every time. And Frodo, I felt bad because he's so tenacious but I just totally wiped the floor with him"
Me: "Uh..that's cool. I managed to not get hit in the left boob so much tonight. And the right boob..well, I got hit there a bit more."

Now, obviously, this is an over dramatization (and if any of my friends said that stuff about Newbie Frodo, I would probably go tell them to go fuck themselves) but honestly it's not TOO far off from reality. Do you know how many of the SAME stories I've heard from dudes about their accomplishments on the field over and over? How many women do I know that boast like that? I can probably count those on one hand. And it's FOR sure not because there aren't women out there kicking ass and taking names...

And you know what else I hate...when a fencer fucking POKES one of my bruises. These are real-time conversations I've had with fencers:

Fencer: "How'd you get that?"
Me: "oh I got hit a couple times in the same spot...OW hey! Don't do that!"
Fencer: "Clearly you need to protect that spot better."

Me: "Yeah, I really hate getting jacked in the upper thigh. It's so squishy there!"
Fencer: "You know how to fix that?"
Me: "How?"
Fencer: "Don't get hit."

Me: "I need to figure out how to not get hit so hard in the hand. It hurts like a MOFO".
Fencer: "Well I take care of that by not getting hit."

DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH LIKE AN ASSHOLE YOU SOUND RIGHT NOW? I mean, what the hell do you think I'm trying to do? Do you think I'm fencing because I just leeerve it when you gack me in the mask so hard it makes me black out for a second? Do you think I have notches on my bed posts for how many times I get hit in a practice? (That bed post would probably look like some kind of perverted Picasso sculpture by now anyway).

Secondly, do you think that's encouraging to me? Do you think that's really encouraging to anyone? Now, I'm not going to get into all the gender differences of blah, blah, blah men being more competitive than women and more suited to whatever.  Yes, they likely exist, but who cares? One-upping and boasting is irritating and toxic superiority helps no one.  What ever happened to the concept of just being decent, respectful and polite? Anyway...

I've diverged into a rant, but it feels good to say these things. These are things that I don't really talk about because I fear it will make me sound "Too girly" and not strong enough. Because if I "Just didn't care what people thought" this fear and anxiety and questioning of self-worth would all just magically go away. I have worked so hard trying to put on a face of tough bravado when I fence so that I can feel like I fit in more...Again....there's that sense of community.

A community that you can't just be a part of because you love the same things as the other community members. There's this whole other side of playing politics. That is where the recognition comes in. To get recognized, it seems that the best way is to have to have the right combination of placing in visible tourneys, serving the community in visible ways, and having powerful friends and lineages.  Or be friends with the king/queen. Or have your don/MoD be friends with the king/queen.  Or sleep with someone in power (sadly, I've heard of this). Or be part of a household conspiracy.

This is the last thing I hate about fencing. I HATE the politics. I have gone back and forth from trying to play the politics game, to intentionally NOT playing the politics game, to trying not to care, to leaving the SCA Fencing is the second biggest reason why I have left the SCA. I am not going to go into details about how I have/have not played politics (maybe in a future post) but let me just tell you that it is incredibly demoralizing.

Now, I've seen awesome fencers with so much passion for the game that haven't ever stood on a queen's guard or traveled to an out of kingdom event. I've also seen stick-jock fencers who win the right tournaments but don't really do the service of those positions. I've seen the passionate fencer go years unnoticed (or forever) and the stick-jock get awarded after one awesome act.  And I've seen those who don't care about awards get them too quickly and those who care not get them quickly enough. I've also seen the passionate, stick-jock, SCA-lover, charismatic teacher get recognized for their accomplishments in an appropriate amount of time. Sometimes it feels like a crapshoot.

Sometimes it feels like it's something I've done. Or haven't done. Or that someone did to me. Or hasn't done to me. And I can't figure that out. I can't crack the code, because there isn't one. But the bottom line is that I have to decide for myself...why am I fencing? What do I care about? DO I CARE?

The answers to these questions are largely TBD, but I will say that the recognition & feeling like I'm part of the community is a big part. Let me tell you a story of one of my first events I fenced at:

After dragging all of my stuff to the fencing field, I toss it in the shade of a tent next to bunch of other fencers. I had my schleppy, square, potato sack of a jacket on and they all looked so nice with doublets and matching slops, cool painted masks,  ruffled shirts. We're all sitting down waiting for the tourney and the fencers start introducing to me. A woman fencer sees me eating a crappy granola bar and offers me cheese and salami. And a soda. I then thought to myself, "Holy hell! This is a community of fencers welcoming me as one of them. Me! A newbie! This is where I fit." I was 17.

I'm 32 now, and that's different. It's all awards and reputation - old school vs. new school vs. new old school....It's divided. I believe that I may have been inadvertently on the wrong side of the divide when the divide was created. Or...and this is the sadder thought, the one that has plagued me all these years...I don't fit into the community at all.

And I never did......

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Community - The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 2

In order to maintain consistency, I will briefly sum up the points from my last post before I get into the meat of this post.
1. My paycheck stuff is getting worked out (hopefully) though I won't know until next week.
2. My car is fixed....good thing I have a credit card!
3. All other household accounts are finally falling into place so I don't have to call assholes so often
4. Health - I am getting my minor(ish) health worries taken care of and now I just need to work on my shoulder. But, talking about how I'm feeling physically just sounds like whining and typing it all out at this point is not really going to make me feel better. Fixing the issues will feel better.

But tonight...I want to talk about community.

Back in high school, I had a Lionel...and Lionel had a house. Lionel's house was where all the kids of the city in my group would hang out and play video games, watch movies, drink and other things. I always wanted to be part of Lionel's house crew, but living in the mountains and not having a car made it difficult for me to go hang out there. Also, I didn't fully realize this at the time, but I remember always feeling kind of like I didn't belong. That I didn't deserve a community like that.

I didn't realize then that what I really wanted, needed even, was a community. Desperately. Now let me explain, I am a social person by nature, and very extroverted. However, I've realized in recent years that I'm not extroverted in the sense that I love to be surrounded by a shit-ton of people. On the contrary, crowds make me feel stressed out and anxious. But 10 of my closest friends, crammed in a room, drinking and bullshitting? That's exactly what I love.

During high school & college, I sought that community through house parties and roommates and the SCA. And over the years, I had varying success. For a time, I had Lionel and Luke and all the other SAC-ers (people who hung out in the Senior Activity Center/the lounge in high school) that hung around Boulder after college. We had adventures like my Super Hero, Black-out Drunken 22nd Birthday Party and hot-seating Heroes of Might and Magic till 4AM. There was the party where Lionel climbed on top of the fridge, and the time we all stayed in bed for two days (it seemed) over spring break watching crappy movies and laughing maniacally. At one point, however, they started drifting away, moving, breaking ties, dissolving.

After that there was my Linguistics crew: Andrew, Londyn and a crew of people who Andrew went to high school with. We also had crazy drunken adventures, field trips to Fort Collins, picnics, movie filmings, art walks and Beatles Rock Band. Then again, after graduation, there was the moving. The getting of jobs. The grad school. The getting of more jobs... And Now I'm lucky if I see Andrew and Hawk a few times/year. And Londyn once in a blue moon. (I miss you guys!).

Then there was the SCA, I worked hard trying to build and grow the community of my barony. Holding the position of Newcomer's Officer, I tried to grow our community with creative and interactive events. With a welcoming attitude and open arms to everyone.  But there was in-fighting, negativity, disagreements.  Everyone thought they knew what was best, but no one listened to each other. No one listened to me. No one really understood the good ideas I had, and no one took me seriously. The support was only half-assed. Just enough to make it look like they were trying, but inside, I knew. They didn't care, and the more I tried to do, the less actually got accomplished.

So I decided to leave for a few years, hoping that the people who saw me as a child or teenager would forget and that new people would come in and we could grow once again. During that 3-year absence of the SCA, I met a boy and got engaged. We formed a type of community ourselves around game nights and potlucks, and it was good. Until it wasn't. Then it ended. Everything. So spectacularly.

I began getting into the SCA again, hoping this time to form the community that I had always desperately sought. In my first period of the SCA, I had that community - My don and his circle. We would go to events together, camp together, cook together,party together. We would also get together outside of the SCA - sometimes for SCA-related activities like soap or book making, and sometimes for other things like movies, costume parties, birthday dinners, clubbing (not baby seals). And while we were not an official household* (we were part of Tygershark and part...other?), we were driven together by shared interests and mutual amiability. We were centered around Max and Yaz, the charismatic couple that people flocked to. I was still pretty young then, still in awe of the community and the ability to build one around yourselves. And the ability to lead people in a positive direction.

Then these  things tend to do. I'm not sure exactly what happened with this one. I know a few reasons: SCA  burnout, job changes, travel, but ultimately we just stopped doing the things we did. Or, rather, I stopped being included. Did I do something to piss people off? Did I change too much? Or had I become so entrenched in my own adult life, that it didn't puzzle-piece in with others'? I may never fully know the answer to these questions. 

In my second SCA period, I tried building a community again. First, with my barony as a whole, but again, that didn't work so well. (Maybe a barony is too big to do the thing I need for a community). So I started looking into households. 

Instead of trying to become part of an existing household, I talked to a couple who already had a community of people around them. (I actually talked to two couples, but the first couple was like "HELLS NO!"). To this second couple, I suggested that they formalize their social groupe into a household with a name, badge, meetings and a plan. I offered to do the admin stuff like organize meetings, take notes, and help plan meals for events. I have invested a lot into this household - time, money and heart. 

Now, I am struggling to keep this community that is full of very independent, opinionated, busy people that I love, together. And I feel like I am failing...because part of me wants to jump ship. Well, if we had a ship...

Part 3 will explain why.

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*For those that may not know what this is exactly, i'll explain: A household is a group of people in the SCA who hang together, camp together, go to events together, and build their involvement with the society as a whole on the foundation of this community. The have varying levels of formality: rules, membership requirements, costs to participate, even attendance....etc. 

There are some fairly established households in this area, with set rules and membership requirements of one form or another. A lot of the time, to become part of one of these households, you need to become a student (in any form) to a master. Other times, you're brought in from the outside by your close friends who are already part of it, or you just apply/ask. (This would actually be an interesting post on it's own, though I wonder if i could interview some ppl). 

The Saga of Lyndsie - Part 1

Recently I made a fairly drastic life change - I bought a house and moved to a different city. I am still in Colorado, and I still have the same job and boyfriend, though he now lives with me, along with his children. This move has been incredibly annoying - it seems that Murphey's Law is in full effect.

Whatever can go wrong, HAS gone wrong:
1. James and I opened a new joint checking account so we could pay the mortgage, and the first direct deposit I set up, somehow I used a wrong account and/or routing number. This led to a month going by and one paycheck getting deposited into someone else's account, at a bank that wasn't even mine. Because it was a valid account, my company's payroll department didn't find anything amiss (they don't check your name, just if the account is valid). Because the process took so long to research, the other bank kept rejecting it since it was past 5 days. Someone out there had a grand of my money, and it was looking like I wasn't getting it back.

2. I have had to hassle with EVERY service that you regularly pay for: the energy company, the internet company, and the HOA as well as banks, AAA and others.

3. Right when I moved in, my credit card got a fraudulent charge of $700 on it, right at the time they were switching me from Mastercard to Visa. So while the credit was promptly returned to my Mastercard, only the initial charge was tranferred to my Visa. Which meant that it looked like I had $700 more on my credit card than I did.

4. My car's brakes died suddenly. And by suddenly, I don't mean that my car sent me careening out of control on the highway (thank god), but one day they were fine and the next day they were grinding and metal-on-metal. This meant that I had to take care of them right away. Add an already-planned serpentine belt replacement to the mix, and you're looking at an $800 car bill.  Woo and yay.

5. Two days later, my driver side window regulator broke, leaving my window stuck in the "down" position during a time when weather is unpredictable and not warm enough. Also, I just can't go to work with messy hair, period.  Another $300 down the drain. (Keep in mind that I was also trying to do something nice for myself and the day before I had bought tickets to ComicCon and a new chain shirt for fencing).  Good thing I have a credit card!

6. And on top of all this, my job has been incredibly stressful. One of my teammates left unexpectedly and now instead of 1 open position, we have two. There has been soo much work that I can't keep up and am only able to be reactive rather than proactive. I routinely work over 40 hours, and it has left me just hella drained. I haven't had much drive to be creative, but when I'm not creative or writing, I start getting depressed and reclusive.

7. All of this has led me to a life crisis where I feel that I am not good enough, not a good adult, and am totally spinning out of control. What is my purpose in life? How do I find it? And, while I'm looking, what can I do to find little bits of happiness to keep me going?

Find out in PART TWO....(coming soon).