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Stretched

Holy cow - you know how when you're chewing gum, and you stretch it out and out and out and it gets thinner and stringier, and finally snaps?

Or maybe you have good manners and don't do that sort of thing.  Which reminds me of my first husband, who taught me how to make bubbles with my chewing gum and snap them in my mouth, then yelled at me for practising it.    

Anyway.

That's how I feel today - stretched thin (though you wouldn't know it to look at me - I'm retaining water like a party balloon ready for a summertime street fight) and ready to snap.  I'm battling a massive project at work that keeps throwing out new heads like an overachieving hydra and I'd better stop with the metaphors now before someone arrests me for metaphoricide.  But it is being a little (big) bitch, and I'm in paiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiin.  Nothing new, eh?

Well, the red hot knitting needles stabbing my upper arms are new, but par for the course.  

This following free-association, therefore, is brought to you by one too many painkillers.

Do you believe in the concept of a King and Queen?  Is this a large part of the game for you?  It is for me.

I'm old-fashioned, I suppose; I really believe in things like paying duty to the Crown, whomever they may be.  I've seen Kings and Queens come and go, and if there's one thing I've learned from the experience, it's that if people decide they don't need to pay respect to a Crown because they don't care for the person sitting on the throne, then it's the next King and Queen that suffer.  The choice to withdraw support is entirely up to the individual, but the long-lasting consequences of that choice come as newer people see the apathy towards the Crowns and assume that all Crowns must be treated that way.

They will then go on to teach yet newer people that the Crowns don't matter.  An extreme view?  I've seen it happen.  When we teach disrespect for the idea of the Crown, then we lose a vital and really magical part of our game.  We contribute to the early burnout of people who really want to make things special, and work themselves into the ground trying to do so.  Worse, we often give them a hard time because they're no-one special, and they shouldn't get big ideas about stuff just because they're on the throne, right?  And while you're at it,  gimme that award, or I'll tell everyone you kick kittens.

I often wonder why people who seem to feel no urge to participate in the trappings of the game we have set up play at all.  If they don't like the idea of making the Crowns (and their representatives) special, resent the bowing and respect, and tell everyone around them that it's all nothing important, what does the SCA offer?  A chance to ruin the experience for other people?  An opportunity to hurt people's feelings?  

... I also wonder what they're smoking that makes them think they should get all kinds of cookies from someone for whom they express utter disregard, like they're owed something special for merely playing.  I consider this sometimes when I hear someone completely trashing the Laurels as useless, selfish, self-aggrandizing bastards who keep honest artisans down for the sheer fun of seeing them suffer, then hear them whining that they don't have their Laurel yet.  Why would you want stuff so bad from someone/thing you so clearly despise?

I *want* things to be different from the real world when I'm playing - it's why I joined this nerdy little group of idiots (I include me in that statement, don't kill me) who profess to like something so terminally uncool as dressing up on weekends and playing at Lords and Ladies.  I am very frustrated by people who are so determined to bring the modern world with them that they cannot and will not play at being the subjects of a King and Queen, even though the SCA is centered around that concept.  We're not meant to be playing equals - that's part of the fun.

...isn't it?  If it's not fun, why the hell would we stay?

There's nothing demeaning about bowing to the Crowns - you are respecting the concept they represent.  When the day is over, the King goes back to being Joe Accountant, and the Queen goes back to being Suzy Real Estate Agent.  The magic only lasts while everyone is at the event, and surely that's a short enough time that we can drop our democratic (well, socialistic, in my case) roots and play at being something else?

I am further amused when these selfsame sneerers are elevated, and start demanding all sorts of special treatment because they are now special.  My head whirls sometimes at the astounding disconnect between the words and actions of some people, and how people create huge drama over molehills that wouldn't trip a fieldmouse.  I am enraged, though, when people use those dramas to hurt other people.  No matter how earth-shattering the crisis, trampling roughshod over all and sundry isn't cool.

I think some of the answers to this lie in the ideals we playact in our game - take the high road, act with grace, be more courteous, more honourable, more chivalric, and simply more than we are in our real life.  The SCA should be a safe place for trying out those virtues - after all, no-one will take away your job or your birthday, so the stakes aren't life-altering, no matter how hard people try to make it seem so.  

I've been pretty badly hurt by some of the stuff that's been done to me over the years in this game, but I am still standing strong - and you know, I'm pretty sure I can't throw a 20 pound cat (oof!) without getting hairballs all over ten people who have also been badly hurt.  It seems sometimes like we use this hobby as a platform for doing as much emotional damage as we can to the largest number of people, but we don't really - it's just that we keep forgetting what drew us here in the first place.

Okay, okay, the clothes and the hitting of the people with sticks was pretty attractive too, but it's the ideals that make a lot of us stay.  And putting those into practice when we've been hurt the worst is hard, but pays off in such a huge way in the long run.  Some of the greatest moments of grace I've witnessed have been from people who could have chosen to behave badly, but chose instead to live up to their ideals.  The people I repsect the most in the SCA are those who have put those ideals into action, and tried to teach them to others.

God, how did I get from respecting the Crowns to this?  Clearly, my brain is a bit stretched, too.  *snap!*

Anyway.  I believe in the concept of the Crowns, no matter who wears them - it's what's kept me heavily active in this silly game for twenty years.  I may never get to be a queen myself, but I can appreciate the ones we have, because their presence makes the game so much more fun to play.  It's no skin off my nose to bow to anyone - not because I don't have principles, but because my principles can see beyond any particular reign, and see the possibilities of what's coming next. I firmly believe that scorning any particular Crown only really hurts the people who come next, and devalues the game for everyone. 

Heck, it's only six months, anyway.  In that respect, we simple Lords and Ladies have a bit of an advantage over our historic counterparts.

Not to mention the smell

Comments

( 74 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
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isenglass
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:23 pm (UTC)
You said it better than I would have. Vivat!
attack_laurel
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
I've been following your excursion through the virtues and vices with great interest... :)
(no subject) - isenglass - Jan. 29th, 2008 05:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
mistressrhi
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:31 pm (UTC)
"who taught me how to make bubbles with my chewing gum and snap them in my mouth"

Ah, one of my favorite habits! And yes, it bugs the crap outta anybody around me... But I do it anyway! ;-)
ciorstan
Jan. 29th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)
One of the things I take fiendish delight in after I got my braces off is that my teeth have perfect little spaces exactly suited for blowing tiny little bubbles through... I sound like a miniature machine gun going off. I can do it fairly quickly.

Drives my husband insane. He never learned how to blow bubbles, the poor culturally deprived child.
maricelt
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:32 pm (UTC)
so, what you're saying
is that the Crowns are like Fairies.
I just realized that....
::Clapping::
I believe in the concept of the Crowns
::Clapping::

Sorry, also on the pain today, had to cave to the silly.
ciorstan
Jan. 29th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
Re: so, what you're saying
Word.
Re: so, what you're saying - ladypyrate - Jan. 29th, 2008 06:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
taisiia
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:33 pm (UTC)
Do you mind if I link to this in my journal?

attack_laurel
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
Feel free; all my posts are public. :) Comprehensible - not always. Public - yes.
valkyr8
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
Well said indeed!
quodscripsi
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:41 pm (UTC)
But what if the crowns are just pathetic looking pieces of brass and they are dressed like something that should only be used as scrap cloth for medieval people to whipe their asses with?
attack_laurel
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:52 pm (UTC)
Close your eyes and pretend. It doesn't matter what the people are underneath; they cahnge. The Crown is one of the integral parts of the game; an aorta, if you will, while the people are the blood moving through, always changing.

(no subject) - quodscripsi - Jan. 29th, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - murasakinoyoroi - Jan. 29th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - quodscripsi - Jan. 29th, 2008 09:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jljonsn - Jan. 29th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - quodscripsi - Jan. 29th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
reasdream
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:43 pm (UTC)
Interesting read. I read the first sentence, then had to deal with something else and was thinking to myself "I believe in the concept of the Crowns, but how much I buy into it varies from reign to reign." Which is still how I feel.

But reading your post made me realise that, regardless of how I feel, I still bow to the crowns and show "due deference". I just may make more jokes during one reign than another, or curtsey a little lower. But then, I'm a (medieval) Scot, and we've never been very good at respecting our monarchs absoultely and unquestioningly ;) (James III, for example...)
vom_schwarzwald
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:50 pm (UTC)
"Do you believe in the concept of a King and Queen? Is this a large part of the game for you? "

Damn Skippy I do! What I do or don't think on a personal level about the people wearing the crowns NEVER enters the equation for me. You respect the crowns, period. You show that respect, period. Don't like the concept, then guess what, you don't *get* what it is we are doing, so *get* thee to another hobby. Participation in the SCA is NOT mandatory, so if you don't like it, MOVE ALONG.

GAAAHHH! That topic always steams me up!

Good post!
reasdream
Jan. 29th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
Do you sometimes find you are respecting the Crown, but not the person wearing it?

I have very strong opinions on the Burden of the Crown (and the burden of "leadership/power" in general - elected officials serve the people who elected them, etc). The Duties of the Crown are part of what makes it worthy of respect to me. But there seem to be some people who wear the crowns and miss that aspect of their role completely.

How do you deal with that? (honest question, not trying to pick you apart or anything)
(no subject) - vom_schwarzwald - Jan. 29th, 2008 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lorebubeck - Jan. 29th, 2008 07:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vom_schwarzwald - Jan. 29th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elasait - Jan. 29th, 2008 11:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - vom_schwarzwald - Jan. 30th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - elasait - Jan. 30th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC) - Expand
isabelladangelo
Jan. 29th, 2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
But I iz a speshul snowflake! Really, I iz! Can't u see? Don't pay attenshun 2 the peeple dat haz been playin since be4 I waz born. Pay attenshun to meeeeeeeee!


Okay, serious hat time:

I did some other living history before I joined the SCA. I always bowed/curtesied a bit (okay, sloppily but hey, I do something that forces my head to bob up and down!) when even passing the royal thrones even if they were/are empty. It makes me feel odd because I rarely see anyone else doing it. I know what the "rules" are and I know, in some cases, it was ignorance...but i do know in other cases it was the "Oh no! Not him! I don't like him!"

I'm slowly trying my hardest not to fall into the "Well if A and B don't like him, I don't think I will either!" because I've met some people in the SCA that I was told were just "ugh" and found out I really like them. (Please ignore my run on sentance structure. I am going on enough triglicerides right now to kill an elephant twice over. Want to see me hyper? Give me bacon.) I'm not a super social person, at first. I'm an observer and then, after a half hour or so, I talk everyone to death with pointless almost non-sensical questions and really random observations (Why does the Queen of X have a nose ring?).

Should people try to get past the "I don't like him/her!"'s? Yes, but we see this even in modern politics. People disresepct the office someone holds because they don't like the person. It doesn't matter which side of the political dice you are on, it happens in all sides and levels of politics. Hopefully, all anyone can do is be more concensus of it.

Silly/normal hat back on:
But I'm speshul and everyone else jus got their awards cuz they r kiss ups and aren't really good at what they do. C? Look at my period reshurch on macarronni Viking necklaces!
(Deleted comment)
landverhuizer
Jan. 29th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)
thoughts on supporting them, haven't thought of it quite that way, interesting... it makes sense
(Deleted comment)
stitchwhich
Jan. 29th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
Well now. You know I'm going to say I don't play the same game you do. :)

I believe in the early Welsh/Irish/Norse concept of the Crown - First amoung Equals. It is the model that most appeals to me, perhaps because when we do have Monarchs who play that way everyone wins so much greater than when we have Royals who are playing it a different way.

In my game, such as it is, I find no joy in rewarding arrogance with deference. Having said that, my feeling in that case is that they have dishonored their station, not that their station is unimportant. (Does that make sense?) This is why being in the Great Dark Horde is a comfort to me - our Khan is always First Amoung Equals, as Ghengis or Kublai was, and I can still participate in the organisation. Without that, thanks to personal history, I doubt I'd still be in the SCA. And truly, I am more dedicated to the SCA than I am to any one indivdual Kingdom - although Atlantia is, of course, still the best one to live in. :)
reasdream
Jan. 29th, 2008 07:36 pm (UTC)
"I believe in the early Welsh/Irish/Norse concept of the Crown - First amoung Equals."

Oooh. So that's where the Highlanders and North/West Scots Lords got it from. I knew it was a tendency of theirs ("Yes, yes, that's a very nice hat and we know all the foreign types like to talk to you, but honestly we're not going to do what you say without some serious reasons!") but had not realized the lineage of the attitude.

*grin*
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Jan. 30th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC) - Expand
gottasing
Jan. 29th, 2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
I have to thank you (and perhaps your pain meds?) for some of your recent posts. I have been going through a case of burnout and your words have really resonated with me, reminding me of the many reasons I started playing in the first place. I too believe in the Crowns, if not always the people wearing them at a particular moment, and I am a person who, although often irreverent, does things like bow to the empty thrones when I pass. Because it adds to the game. Sometimes when the final blow at Crown Tourney is struck some of us will look at each other and say "I wonder what's happening in the West for the next 6 months?", but I never really mean it. You have finally articulated why-because it doesn't hurt the current Crown as much as the next. That's not fair, and it doesn't make the game any more fun for anyone.

I hope you feel better soon, and I wish I could be half so insightful even when not in pain.
victoriapringle
Jan. 29th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC)
Here is my request for a part 2 post - The difference between respecting the Crown and respecting who is wearing it.

I always try to show respect to the Crown, bowing etc., heck I'm one of those people who gets funny looks for paying respect to the empty thrones but to me respecting the person wearing the Crown is a whole different matter.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - firenzekat - Jan. 30th, 2008 02:04 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - victoriapringle - Jan. 30th, 2008 02:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - firenzekat - Jan. 30th, 2008 02:43 am (UTC) - Expand
chargirlgenius
Jan. 29th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
Timely post; I've been struggling with some of these ideas of late. Part of the problem for me is that I can't really play as much as I'd like to. Much as I hate doing it, the SCA has become more of an on-line game than a real game for me. That bites. I hate how I see my cynicism creeping in and screwing things up for the shiny parts that I'm supposed to see.

As for the Crowns themselves... When it comes to all titles, Lords and Ladies, Kings and Queens, within the context of the game, all of it is alive. But get outside of the game, on email, LJ, armour archive, etc., we're all a bunch of goobs typing on keyboards. I'm irked when people expect a game-level amount of deference when on-line. It's particularly stupid, IMHO, on the Armour Archive which is not just an SCA board.

And then when people start throwing their titles around in money decisions, I get even more irked.

I end up just always irked. Grrr. I can has some codeine too?

Back to crowns. I think there are ways to play where you can largely ignore them if you want to, but then you have to ignore the other trappings and not demand them for yourselves. Play with your friends, do what you like, don't go to court if you're going to just sit up front and fart as loud as you can. But as you say, you can't ignore them AND expect something from them at the same time.
landverhuizer
Jan. 29th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
Been starting to use my real name a lot more on lists... griet isn't talking, I'm talking and it is business or real life gabbing (with some relation to the game). I'll include the sca name, will still try to be nice but try to keep the trappings in the game.

(no subject) - lady_guenievre - Jan. 29th, 2008 07:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - attack_laurel - Jan. 30th, 2008 11:13 am (UTC) - Expand
landverhuizer
Jan. 29th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Keeping up appearances...
even in real world situations, or even historically speaking, but sometimes for different reasons.
Hard for us to see when in a moment of passion, which have seen far too often, but there are other ways to deal than making bad show.
attack_laurel
Jan. 30th, 2008 11:14 am (UTC)
Yes. Well put. :)
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