It seems appropriate at the end of a year to lay out what I found and what I'm hoping to continue with. These are in no particular order (some are finds and some are goals).
- There are amazing people in the SCA. I'm a responsibility junkie and I know my kin when I see them. They are all over the place and at every level. Stuff gets done and it's fun.
- I can do artistic things besides music. I still am stymied on calligraphy progress (I just can't get anything to look right), but - surprise! - I seem to actually be fairly good at the illumination side (at least, at a beginner level). Goal here - to develop two solid hands so that I can start contributing to scrolls.
- Stabbing people is fun! I thought I would spend time doing all Arts and Sciences and Bardic and stuff, because heavy fighting just isn't my thing, but since Brenda had fencing experience in college and she wanted to try rapier out so have I. We both love it - it is physical enough to increase our desire to get back into shape, and it is providing a lot of goals for us to shoot for. We're aiming to get authorized by Pennsic so we can play in a crowd there. Getting our own kit will allow us to get to some of the smaller practices in the area where they don't have loaner gear. Having a wife willing to sew me decent rapier armor sure helps.
- I have people to drink my beer. I had really cut back on brewing because the calories from drinking at home needed to get off my ... stomach. Now, though, I'm having trouble keeping up with the summer events. I'm hoping to brew beer for more activities as well as try to get to the point of competition brewing.
- I need to really make sure my volunteering level doesn't drop as more activities crowd onto the list. Getting more familiar with typical timeframes - when are there breaks from certain activities, when are people needed to be there - will help. Finding ways to contribute at start and finish of events will help. One of my personal goals is to try to spend less time volunteering for things I don't like to do. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, but I have a personal problem with thinking I'm not working unless I hate what I'm doing. I've found a number of places I enjoy volunteering (gate in particular) and places I'd like to help with more if I could get the time from work (set-up, load in and out), and there are other areas (like field and consultation heraldry) that fall into that "doesn't feel like work - are they really volunteering?" area for me but that I want to do more of. I suspect this may be one of my biggest challenges in Year Two.
- We are having a blast with the bardic folks. We hosted the first (hopefully semiannual) Slumber Bardy filled with lyric writing workshop goodness and are loving participating in the monthly gatherings. I'm geeking out over Welsh poetic forms and have a Major Project I need to get in gear and finish once my reference material arrives.
- And Pennsic. Fulfilling Brenda's desire to camp with my desire not to spend more time setting up and tearing down than we do sleeping. I figure with 2 weeks, even given nocturnal revelry, we should be able to accomplish that. If the tent works as planned, of course...
In spite of the horror stories of bad experiences some have had, we so far have not run into a single garb snob or authenticity policeman - or, perhaps, the ones we HAVE met who keep such things at the top of their list seem to make comments in the spirit of contribution, not criticism. This may be because we have been around social awkwardness and one-ups-geek-ship for long enough that it fazes us less than it would were we in our teens or 20s.
This is a very general note, so I can't name everyone who has been an inspiration to me on these first steps. Within the next few months, you should know who you are (if you don't already...) because ANOTHER goal is to get a small pewter casting shop set up so I can make tokens of appreciation to hand out.
Following that statement immediately with an exception (of course), I did want to record one specific set of experiences that are locked into my memory and will be part of the foundations of my future approach to the SCA. In Dr. Who fandom, everyone has "their Doctor" - not necessarily the first Dr. Who they saw, but the first one who really resonated with them (mine is Peter Davison. No, I'm not going to argue about it.) In my case, I can apply the concept to the monarchy of the Middle Kingdom during my first year. Attending my first crown tournament was an incredible experience, with every element my "as they should have been" heart could have imagined: chivalry, respect, honor, and inspiration. To watch this man and his consort through their time as tanist/a, including having the opportunity to just sit and sing rowdy songs, then to watch the joy they have brought to so many by the way they have conducted their courts and themselves once crowned, to find myself truly honored to be in their presence - how much greater an example of that feeling when the modern world melts away can you get? My path will be very different (I have no desire to fight for a crown and neither does my wife), but in every step I take I hope to bring the same attitude and obvious love of the Society and people around them. Waes hael, William and Isolde.
In other words, I think I've found an activity that is both an incentive to retire as soon as possible so I have more TIME and an incentive to keep working so I have more MONEY (Hey, swords ain't cheap, ya know...)
Seriously, thanks for existing, SCA. Thanks to those who founded it not having any idea what it would become a half-century later. Thanks to those who keep the dream. I intend to be around for a long time.