Holy Crap This Blog is Old

So I had an idle thought today and paged through WordPress to see when I created this blog. First post is on 17 April 2008. 

I created this space to have a place to put my ramblings that didn’t have a place on Too Many Annas, the now-defunct World of Warcraft and Roleplaying blog I used to write, and which I am still quite proud of.

Over the years I’ve posted on and off. Done a couple of “blog a post a day” months. I have about 300 posts in eleven years. That’s (on average) about 3 posts a month, but anyone who’s followed this blog knows it’s more like sixteen posts in six weeks and then no posts for six months. 

I’d like to try to change that. I know nobody reads blogs anymore, but frankly Twitter and Facebook aren’t the right place for me to put long form thoughts – Facebook is where I have to “do my job” in ADF, and Twitter is just odd and I mostly retweet things there. Or do long post threads because I’m thinking about something.

Anyway, I’m going to attempt to move the “random thinking about something” posts over here, so that I can better keep track of them. There will be some D&D, some SCA, some food, some mental health, maybe some dating or other things. I’ll still keep my ADF work separate, though I might cross post things if I feel like they’re suited to both blogs. 

We’ll see how it goes. I work through my thoughts better when I can think them “out loud”, and today I’m musing here instead of letting myself go down the anxiety spiral about the SCA (I knew it wouldn’t take long, so there we go). 

So here’s to eleven years and change of blogging. Really, I’ve had a blog in some form or another since Blogspot in 1998 (in high school), and it’s been a long strange trip through fandoms and hobbies. I’ve still got one friend from those old days (hi Chrissy!), and other friends I’ve picked up along the way.

Here’s to more thoughts, ramblings, and a place to gather myself about whatever happens to be on my mind. 

Oh and one more thing – on getting roped in…

Last night was Loch’s Populace meeting – the business meeting of the barony.

I left having promised to apply for the open Chronicler position (the person who writes the newsletter) and to help with the Serpent’s Symposium event in August.

‘Cause I can’t do anything without offering to freaking help. 

(My first job in the SCA was the Loch Chronicler position, back in 2006-2008, and I was the first person to produce a digital newsletter. Of course, there’s no such thing as a printed newsletter anymore, and I’ll have to learn MS Publisher for this, but it’ll be a good time. I’m thinking of giving Charlie his own editorial column.)

Ansteorran White Scarf Ruby Anniversary

The event this weekend was an absolute blast – I got to see old friends, amazing rapier fighting, meet new people and even spend part of my day in service to the community as a scribe. Plus I got to learn The Very Basics of listmistressing, which is the art of pairing fighters on a list field – something I’ve never done before, but which was fun. 

The event was in Livingston, which is almost exactly 100 miles north of where I live, so it took a little over 90 minutes to drive there, even early on a Saturday morning. I planned my morning well, so that I arrived at Sonic at 7:10 (right after they open), got my breakfast not-in-a-burrito (you can order breakfast burritos in a tray instead of a tortilla) and an iced tea the size of my head, and hit the road. There had clearly been storms the night before – site was wet and parking was muddy, but no deep or dangerous mud. I got great parking right near one of two huge permanent pavillions on site. 

Found my friends – lots of people to hug (especially Baron William, he gives the best hugs). Gated in, and set up shop with Elena and Brian to spend the day at a picnic table doing scribally things. I knew I was there to paint – Elena had done original scrolls for all the tourneys that day, and had done the calligraphy and drawn in the illumination, but they were not all painted yet, so I painted the three youth awards. 

Her Majesty also gave out two Queen’s Rapiers (basically a “wow you really impressed me” award), and though we only had one on site – and we really did try to get a second one – I painted that too. (The other will come from Sable Scroll this week and get given out on Saturday at Queen’s Champion, presuming the recipient is there – which I believe he said he would be.)

Then Elena got roped into helping with the afternoon lists, and I went and learned the very basics. Fun skill, got to meet a lot of fighters. There was truly some spectacular fighting on display – some of the best rapier fighters in the Known World were there, and HRM was clearly delighted to be part of this.

The backstory is that originally in the SCA if you wanted to fight, you fought heavy armor chivalric fighting. But a couple of upstarts in Ansteorra (led by one Tivar Moondragon) started researching period rapier fighting manuals, and began a tradition here in our own kingdom that led to HRH Tessa creating what was first called the Order of Cavaliers – the insignia of which is a white scarf tied on the left arm above the elbow (or at the shoulder). These became the White Scarves – and rapier fighting has always had a very special relationship with the Queen. As the King’s Champion is the King’s personal defender, so the Queen’s champion – a rapier fighter – is hers. Many a Don (the title taken by most White Scarf holders) remembers poignantly which Queen granted him access to the order, and the Queen’s Champions all hold very dear their relationships to their queens. 

It’s a special thing, and a thing that really doesn’t exist anywhere else in the Known World (there are some kingdoms where there was no Order of the White Scarf at all). Now that there’s a rapier peerage – the Masters of the Order of Defense – many kingdoms are closing their White Scarf orders, which is a grant level award, and I find that to be a loss. I grew up in the SCA in the rapier community, and there’s a panache and a style to it that you don’t see in other places. 

My thoughts on rapier fighting aside, it was a good day, not too hot, though muggy once the sun came out and started burning off the puddles. Feast was excellent, and by the end of it I was exceptionally tired, and chose to drive home rather than stay and see the bardic circle that followed. Many folks camped Saturday night, and the site has running water and showers, so hopefully it’ll be a site we use regularly, even if it’s a bit far away.

Next event I’ll be at will either be Steppes Warlord (Memorial Day weekend) or Ansteorran Heraldic and Scribal Symposium (late June). Possible detour to Known World Dance and Music in mid-June as well.

I’m doing my best to dance these events around when D&D is – some events (like the AHSS event) will be worth missing D&D for, but most won’t, so I’ll be scattering my event attendance in between weeks or on off weeks. 

I’ll have a post up later this week about garb. I need to make some decisions about what I’ll be wearing, since the garb I have needs alterations or additional layers to be really period. 

Dreaming the Dream

So after many long years away, I’ve decided it’s finally time to really rejoin the SCA for really real. I played seriously from 2004-2010, and then a little in 2014, but hadn’t even unpacked my garb from the move over two years ago. (I’m still missing pieces of it – I have no idea what boxes it might be in.)

But I need people. I need MY people – the nerdy ones, the ones who geek out about hem stitches and wool types and pigments, the ones who make parchment and who cook over open fires. I need people who won’t expect me to be an authority except where I actually am one (see: nowhere, right now), and who will meet me where I am and let me find my footing in a world that captures my imagination AND my desire to create things.

D&D is amazing – I still play every weekend give or take. But D&D is 4 hours  a week, and since I’m not DMing, I’m not having to prep for a game – it’s just time set aside to do things with friends, and those friends are virtual.

I need people in real life, friends to do things with and people to teach me new things. I’ve become very focused and specialized and I miss being able to talk about all of the things I was learning. 

So tomorrow I’m going to my first SCA event in almost six years. Some of the people have changed, but others are still around – probably much better at their arts and skills than they were when last I saw them. The event is Ansteorra’s White Scarf Ruby Anniversary – celebrating rapier fighting in the kingdom that started that entire line of study and fighting in the Known World. 

This is a really apt event for me to go back to. When I first joined the SCA, I was in college in Waco (Emerald Keep), which was being run by a gentleman named Don Edward Mercer. Don Edward was Queen’s Champion for HRM Sibri in the fall of 2005, and he basically offered me a free ride (I’d bring breakfast and gas money) to whatever events he was going to. We’d talk in the car about the history of rapier fighting, about the stories and legends of the art, about the relationship between a fighter and the Queen. It set up a magical thing for me to be part of and to sink my teeth into at the same time as I was first starting to play WoW. 

So from Emerald Keep I moved to Loch Soilleir, where I still live, and there I truly blossomed – learning scribal arts and fiber arts, learning cooking and weaving and dyeing. I made friends that I’m still friends with. 

It’s hard to explain what it’s like to be spending my free time this week getting ready to event – the early morning drive, the garb, the feast gear, the packing a cold bag with snacks and things to eat and drink. The realization that I have no feast gear, no period-looking mug to drink out of. I’ll make do, but I’ve got some kit-rebuilding to do. (And I really probably need to pick up some mundane camping gear.)

But most of what I’m excited for is the chance to meet people – to have friends again that I share common interests with, or that I can nerd out with about things that are interesting to both of us. There’s so much out there to learn, and so much that I want to start doing again, that I’m having to pace myself. I’ll get there though.

And until then, tomorrow I get to go and see if the dream is still alive, in the little things. I don’t have a full set of garb yet – I’m just wearing a plain burnt orange kirtle and a white headscarf/veil. But that will come with time as well. I love making clothes for the SCA, and I think an order of linen is in my future, for a new sideless surcoat and for a proper veil and wimple. 

Wish me luck then, as I start this new (old) chapter in my life. I’ve been Anna online since 2004… but I’ve been Anne in the SCA since 2006 or so, and it’s time to try that name back on again.

Lady Anne atte Rydeforde

2018 Year in Review

One year, way back in the heady days of 2007 or so, it was all the rage in the WoW blogiverse to do a yearly review. I forget whose blog I copied these from, but it’s been well over 10 years that I’ve been doing these post mortems. Still, it’s a good process, and while I usually just share them on Facebook, I thought I’d share this year’s here as well, since my blogging got sidelined by my untimely departure from the new D&D group (but that’s a story for another time).

2018 Post Mortem

1. What did you do in 2018 that you’d never done before?

Quite a lot of things:

I tried online dating (huge failure)}
I got a tattoo (two actually, and planning two more)
I completed CTP1 and was ordained in my religious tradition as a priest
I ran for and was elected to an office on the Mother Grove
I went to a national pagan conference (Mystic South)
I traveled to two ADF gatherings (Western Clergy Retreat, Mother Grove Retreat)
I dedicated into a polytheist religious group
I went to a yoga class and joined the studio (first time in 15 years)
I started covering my hair, tichel style, with scarves

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I did not make resolutions for 2018, but I made several oaths, and I kept all of them, including the one I made in February to be a priest by May. I was ordained on April 28.

I set a word-intention for 2018, and that intention was “initiation” – it would seem that alongside that intention truly being true for me this year, the word “isolation” also went with it.

I am hoping for a more connected 2019, and the word I am intending to set for my intention for the year is “embodiment” (either that or “acceptance”). Maybe both.

I also intend to complete CTP2 this year, in time for consecration in spring of 2020. I’ve already begun the journaling requirements for it, and have a project plan in place to keep track of the requirements. (I probably won’t follow the project plan, will work in huge binges, and will continue to have poor executive function, but hey, at least I attempted a plan, right?)

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Not this year

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?

None!

6. What would you like to have in 2019 that you lacked in 2018?

A sense of feeling assimilated as a person – I’ve done a lot of changing and growing, and I would like to feel more like those changes and growths have become part of who I am. I feel fragmented. I would also like to have more peace in 2019, as 2018 was a year where much of my life was run by my anxiety disorder.

7. What dates from 2018 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

April 28, when I was ordained as an ADF Priest
May 26, for private reasons

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Completing 5 courses in ADF’s 1st Circle Clergy Training Program in just under 4 weeks, to finish CTP1 on March 15 in order to make good on my word. It was a huge endeavor, and I’m so proud of myself for finishing and for being able to be so disciplined as to do so with high marks.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Ye gods and little fishes was dating a giant clusterfuck that I never want to repeat again. I’ll take suggestions from friends, but online dating is like shopping for used boyfriends on eBay and I will just HARD PASS.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Other than a few minor things, not really. Antibiotics are still not my friend. And always always always remember that the dose makes the poison. Actually now that I think about it, this wasn’t a great year for me health-wise, even if nothing was super critically bad.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Toss up between “the rest of the art to decorate my apartment” and “gear to start an active, 5-day-a-week yoga practice”.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Rent! Also Therapy, which I paid for out of pocket this year – so much so that even with a traditional PPO health plan, because I don’t have out of network benefits, I met the out of pocket maximum in September and have been going to therapy and getting my medications for “free” since then. (I still pay my premiums, obviously.)

Thankfully for 2019, I have a new therapist, and she DOES take my Insurance, but even then it’s $50 a visit.

13. What did you get really excited about?

I was really excited to go to the Western Clergy retreat and to Mystic South, both of which were wonderful, but I don’t think I’d do back to back trips like that with a holiday in between again. It was kind of disastrous for my mental health.

I was really excited to join a new in-person D&D group, but when the DM of that group threw me under the bus for disclosing my mental health struggles, I left (and was honestly really sad about it). I still miss going, even though I was only part of the group for about two months.

Also, I am excited about the possibility of DM’ing a campaign of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist in 2019, but since therapy is kicking into high gear, it may not start right away.

14. What song will always remind you of 2018?

Jacob Hornbeak singing “Raise the Horn High” at my ordination

Either that or the “Song to the Ancient Wise”, which I sang an awful lot this year. Even if I can’t sing it in the same key as Jan (I need to find more high voices to sing clergy songs with).

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? both
– thinner or fatter? Much fatter
– richer or poorer? Richer than last year, certainly, but last year I had…extenuating circumstances

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Starting on CTP2, reading for pleasure, cultivating friendships. I wish I’d gone to yoga sooner too.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Doing nothing, while wishing I wanted to be doing something (especially something I used to enjoy). You can probably fill in “being depressed” here too.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

With my family and my sister in law’s family at my brother’s home in Waco. It was a short trip, and everything about the holidays is weird still, but I think I’m glad I went. I would very much like to have skipped the entire holiday season this year, and maybe next year I’ll have the courage to go someplace for the holiday instead of trying to make FAMILY CHRISTMAS (with all of its expectations) something that I do. I have very mixed feelings about Christmas as a holiday in general, and I expect how I celebrate will change some in the next year.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

Critical Role.
(See also: Talks Machina, Between the Sheets, The Wednesday Club)

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

T. Kingfisher’s THE CLOCKWORK BOYS, THE WONDER ENGINE, and SWORDHEART

It was a year of amazing fluffy but full of heart fantasy for me, and those three books top the list. You should all read them.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?

I listened to a lot of “Dad Rock” this year, and a lot of video game soundtracks, thanks to a Spotify Premium subscription, but probably my favorite music this year was the All Hallows/October Mood playlist that Katie Mock started and I added to substantially and then listened to obsessively from Sept 21 to November 3.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?

I did not watch any new films in 2018. Come to think of it, I may have only watched one movie all year, and that was the 1951 Alastair Sim classic SCROOGE that I watched on Christmas Eve.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I turned 34 on March 2nd, and I did nothing to celebrate. It didn’t seem worth celebrating. Maybe I’ll be more motivated at 35.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to have more meaningful human connections with people I can see on a regular basis. My life is pretty lonely.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2018?

I got very fat this year. Or possibly am just still very fat from last year? (it is unclear when I put on the weight, but between March 2017 and October 2018 I put on 35 lbs.) I have two pair of jeans that fit, and a few dresses, but largely my personal fashion concept was “does this make me look like a sausage? If no, wear it. If yes, donate it.” There is a huge clothing purge in my future.

26. What kept you sane?

The Ladies of Slack. Amy, Kisa, Protozoa, and Roberta. The Henge. Yoga.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2018.

This is the same lesson I learn every year. But it is the lesson I keep learning, and the most important thing I keep telling myself when things get hard – and this year they got very hard.

The only way out is through.

Caravan of Misfits – Full Party Introductions (so far)

Anais Acantonat – a mostly elven cleric of the goddess Sehanine Moonbow, the elven psychopomp deity. Anais is a Silvaeren Temple Cleric and has served her goddess faithfully for the last 10 years. Now, at 40, she has been sent on an errand to deliver a letter and a package to the High Priestess of the Temple of the Raven Queen in Waterdeep. She has been on the road approximately three weeks when she met up with Velo and Zeek in the twin towns of Ironford and Womford.

Velo de la Mascara – a dark-furred Tabaxi bard, of unknown origin (“far away lands”) who made his way to Waterdeep, only to discover that he found himself regularly roughed up living on the streets and busking there. He took to the Caravan that runs north to Yartar, down the Dessarin River, and then back to Waterdeep via the Long Road mostly out of curiosity and to get out of the city. He is used to being distrusted, and is thus far torn between his desire to perform and his desire to blend in.

Zeek – a black Aarakocra with red markings on his face and chest, the last surviving member of his tribe from the mountains north of the Dessarin Hills. Zeek’s wings are charred and burned, and he cannot fly (though he glides very effectively – It’s not flying, it’s falling with style) – party members suspect, based on his reaction to kobolds and to the Drake egg they found that whatever happened to him, it had to do with dragons. He is on his way to Waterdeep, looking for a magic item to help avenge his family members.

Van Whisperfool – a young, brown-skinned gnomish archer fighter, of unknown origin other than “from the general hills of the area”. Van was found captured in the Kobold Cave, and so far the party knows little about him. He has agreed to come with them to the caravan, presumably for safety.

Cassius Skarpi – a very tall, rail-thin human wizard with curly brown hair, freckles, and spectacles. How such a bookish sort ended up in the Slumber Hills the party has yet to discover. Cass is Waterdavian though, growing up the son of a courtesan there and spending most of his time in libraries. Oddly, for being a wizard, the party has not yet seen him use any magic. He was found alongside Van in the Kobold Cave, though the party does not know how the two ended up traveling together. He too has agreed to come to the Waterdavian caravan, also presumably for safety.

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