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Day Six: I am eaten by sharks.

Well, nibbled by sea urchins, anyway. 

Still can't sleep, and bad pain, so today's post is brought to you by the letters c-o-e-d-i-n and e, but:

pinkleaderwas a super darling and sent me roses yesterday because I was missing Bob. She is super-duper, and I am her porkchop.

Speaking of which, we're planning on going to the May session of embroidery up at Plimoth.

In other news, The super-cute project is finished, but Bob took the camera with him, so no super-cute project pictures until next week.

I'm updating my website and actually (*gasp!*) working on putting the shop together (Well, Brian's doing most of the work, but it is happening).

You all know I'm evil, right? That the Attack Laurel website is the absolute stone-cold truth, and that I despise and sneer at everyone's efforts? 

sarahbellemmade the mistake of iconing her ruff-itude, so I had to rain on her parade:



...because I am truly evil like that.

More seriously, the Attack Laurel Academy started because I truly hate the phrase "Authenticity Nazi". It's insulting, hurtful, and extremely hypocritical when it's used by people who would scream blue bloody murder if anyone dared to say anything that hurt their precious feelings. You can imagine that I just adore being called a "Nazi" just for liking to do things in as close a way as possible to the period I replicate.

But some people feel it's perfectly acceptable to call those of us who strive for period a name that was used by repressive right-wing murdering genocidal fuckheads, because it's somehow bad to want to do things correctly. Or write articles about how to do things in a period manner.

I'm not talking about the assholes who bounce around crapping on everyone's parade, so don't whine to me about them - many SCA'ers throw the phrase about indiscriminately, slapping everyone who does things in a remotely period manner with it.  People who haven't ever met me have called me a Nazi, and I've even been called a Nazi for asking (in a post, not directed specifically at anyone)  that people follow the absolute minimum standards of the SCA - little things like decanting their water from a plastic bottle into a cup, or covering a cooler with scrap cloth.    How dare I ask them to do anything that the SCA requires!, they say.  Nazi, indeed.

It angers me, and yes, it hurts. Sure, there is a subset of idiots out there who think that insulting everyone's efforts is a great thing to do, but they're not Nazis (and they're a very small subset). There Are No Nazis here.  You can tell, because everyone is still alive, no-one's been put in a concentration camp for wearing poly-cotton tunics, people who fail to conform to Society minimums are not asked to wear upside-down laurel-wreath patches, and no-one has had their fabric stash confiscated and given to other "Nazis".

So, the name "Attack Laurel" was my replacement for what is frankly an unacceptable insult that no-one who considers themselves a nice person should ever use against someone who is not, in fact, a member of the National Socialist Worker's Party .  

In 2004 (roughly), Atlantia's King came up with a law for Atlantia that required the covering of modern armour, and the concealment of non-period items around the tourney field (not all parts of the event, just the tourney field). There was quite a bit of whining at the time, but the appearance of the field has been significantly improved at events.

I made a comedy post about it in my previous diary that became the first official Attack Laurel article (the New Rules post). I posted it on April Fool's Day, which I thought would make it obvious that it was a joke, and most people managed to see it that way, but it rapidly got posted and re-posted to various lists across the Known World, and some people freaked out and thought it was real.

Apparently, some people still do. I have a word for those people, but it stays in my head.

The initial post was so well-received that when I started my website (thanks to pinkleader's gentle nagging and able assistance), the Academy became a part of it. I'm proud of it - I hope it amuses people in the same way that the Quarter and the excellent parody Not Neccessarily The Pikestaff (from 1991 - if you can find a copy, do - it had an event ad for the "Authenticity Policeman's Ball" that was hysterical) have done - and it in no way reflects my real feelings about Laurels and authenticity in the SCA. 

(And it's a shame that I even have to write that disclaimer.  The humourous nature of the site should be patently obvious.)

Hyperbole. It's a fun word, and taken properly, it's an excellent foil for comedy. I basically took everything that I and others like me (who just like doing our own thing, really) have been accused of over the years, and intensified it. My basic goal, however, remains the same - to push "Attack Laurel" as a substitute for the hated phrase, and get people to stop using "Nazi".  Along the way, I hope to provide an outlet for negative feelings about Laurels who do fuck up, and also to demystify the whole "Peer!OMG!" fear phenomenon.  It seems so far, that I have been successful in this second part.  I'd love to be successful in the first.  Calling someone a Nazi is unacceptable in every other venue - why is it okay in the SCA?

There's nothing wrong with aspiring to be better than the lowest common denominator, and there's nothing wrong with being content with that minimum - different people have different goals. If the "Authenticity isn't FUN!" people could be a little more tolerant (seriously, there is no equivalently rude and nasty insult for the "fun" people that I've ever heard), we'd all be better off. We're not looking down on anyone - we're too busy working on our own projects to give you a hard time about yours. All we ask is that you meet the minimum standards of the SCA.

And if that's just too hard, there's always the Renaissance Faire - they don't require you to dress up in anything.

Seriously.

Comments

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attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
"Maven" is good, too. :)
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thatpotteryguy
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:24 pm (UTC)
"repressive right-wing murdering genocidal fuckheads"

Someone compared you to a neo-con Republican? Them's fightin' words...
isabelladangelo
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:27 pm (UTC)
there's always the Renaissance Faire - they don't require you to dress up in anything

Well, they do require you to dress up in something but that something is about the same as your local 7-11's dress code. In fact, I think 7-11's is stricter. Down with 7-11! They are soo mean! They make me wear shoes! What are they thinking?!? Freedom!!!!!

I think the problem stems from "vultures". These are the people that see "ah! newbie! Must tell them everything they are doing wrong right now." Rather than even attempting to be nice about it with a "I like that color. You know, there is a portrait of Lady X with the same color dress..." they go into the evil step-sisters of cinderella mode and verbally rip the person apart.
kass_rants
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:35 pm (UTC)
You just hit it right on the head, I think! I find there is nothing so virulent as the zeal of the newly-coverted. When you have some new knowledge, you want everyone to know that you have this knowledge, so you tell everyone what you know. And if you are a bull in a china shop about "teaching" a newer newbie than yourself, you'll probably come off as a complete jerk.
soldiergrrrl
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
Good points. My beloved husband can be a dork about authenticity, but I'll have to make more of an effort to call him something else in exasperation. :-( I hadn't quite thought of it this way.

Thanks.
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:39 pm (UTC)
"You are such a dork" works. ;)
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kass_rants
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:31 pm (UTC)
I know it's going to come as a shock that I agree with you. What I have never understood is why anyone would join a group dedicated to replicating the Middle Ages and Renaissance and then make absolutely NO effort to replicate the Middle Ages and Renaissance. That just sounds dumb to me. Why not join your local Rotary Club instead of the SCA?

Personally, I have never given a damn about what anyone else does. I really don't see outside myself. I do this. I don't care what you do. I don't understand why you'd join a historical group and not even try to be historical, but whatever.

However, I am deeply offended by those people who come up to me and start whining (and sometimes screaming) about how I'm ruining their good time because I'm doing things as period corretly as I possibly can. I've tried being polite until they shut up. I've tried to walk away. I'm sick of it! I won't put up with it anymore! Next time someone comes into my area and starts their pathetic passive-agressive whining about why *I* do, I'm going to read them the riot act!

Now take your rayon broomstick skirt and your Birkerstocks and your complete lack of manners and get the fuck out of my encampment! Who raised you anyway? Wolves have better social skills that you!

Bloody hell...

Although I have to admit that I don't mind the moniker "nazi". If someone is so ignorant of the implications of that horrible slur, there is no better way for me to identify him as someone not worth my time than his calling me (or anyone else for whatever reason) a nazi.
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:43 pm (UTC)
Godwin's law says they lose at that point, anyway. :)

I, too, don't understand why someone would join even the simplest historical society if they don't like doing historical things. And I, too, find it so rude when people tell me I'm spoiling their fun by doing my thing. It's that kind of self-centered thinking that leads to a Harrison Bergeron version of the SCA, because being better than someone else is bad for their self-esteem.

A visionary, that man...
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(Anonymous)
Mar. 19th, 2008 02:40 pm (UTC)
auth. nazis
Dear Attack Laurel,

You write, "But some people feel it's perfectly acceptable to call those of us who strive for period a name that was used by [etc.] because it's somehow bad to want to do things correctly [...] I've even been called a Nazi for asking (in a post, not directed specifically at anyone) that people follow the absolute minimum standards of the SCA - little things like decanting their water from a plastic bottle into a cup, or covering a cooler with scrap cloth."

In my experience, the term "authenticity Nazi" doesn't so much refer to someone who wears or makes authentic things, but to someone who insists or implies that others should too. It breaks the Basic Law of the SCA (tm) -- Thou shalt not tell someone they can't do what they're doing. Everyone is their own guide to authenticity. You can suggest to them, or show them, a better way; but the ball must be in their court. (I'm not speaking as a preacher here, but as a social anthropologist. That's how it seems to work.)

"How dare I ask them to do anything that the SCA requires!"

And that's why they don't like it: the SCA does not in practice require anyone to do anything authentic. The king might, and folks would listen to him; but not anyone else. (Again, that's just how it seems to work.)

However -- again, in practice -- the situation is reversed when we use "chivalry" instead of "authenticity." Chivalrous behavior _is_ a (social) requirement, while authentic presentation is not; and suggesting to someone they aren't playing the game because they aren't authentic, is seen as unchivalrous. (Yet again, I am not preaching, that's just how it seems to work.)

I wonder why there aren't any "chivalry Nazis?" Or are there?

-- Johannes
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
Re: auth. nazis
It seems you missed my point completely.

I pointed out that there will always be assholes. I don't think I'm one of them for pointing out that SCA asks for a "reasonable effort", when it is generally understood that plastic water bottles and modern lawn chairs without any concealment are not up to the minimum effort in Atlantia. The "How dare I ask them to do anything that the SCA requires" is their reaction, not mine. I offered cheap and easy options - whether they choose to use them or not is not my baliwick. Sure, I'd be happier if they did, but I'm not walking up to anyone and demanding they do it.

The point of my post is that I object to people saying "She's such an authenticity nazi!", especially when I'm simply doing my thing - which is as period as possible, but in no way involves telling other people they have to do it too. A lot of people choose to see my work as a tacit indictment of their refusal to do any work, and they malign me and people like me to make themselves feel better.

Whether they choose to malign me or not is their problem - but calling me a Nazi is unacceptable. It's rude, and it's horrible,
...and you did it in your comment, by saying I'm a nazi for asking that people follow minimum standards. You can call me a hard ass, you can call me unrealistic, you can call me a bitch, but I am NOT A NAZI.

Nazi is a vile, vile, word. It would be considered appallingly rude to call someone that in conversation - why is it okay here?

It seems you missed my point completely.
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sarahbellem
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:00 pm (UTC)
I'll admit, when I first stumbled across your website it took me a while to figure out that you were poking fun at the "attack laurel" not advocating it. Of course it seems ridiculous now that I ever could have mistaken the irony, but sometimes I'm slow like that. ;)

I spent several years as an SCA fringie because my friends refused to dive into the larger game. I tried to bring them up to my standards, and of course there were lots of bitching and moaning and references to fascism and authenticity being No FunTM. But at least I got away from it and was able to come back to the SCA and do it the way *I* wanted on my own terms. Anyone who wants to join me is totally welcome, the more the merrier. But yeah, the base requirement is that magical "effort" we speak so lovingly of.
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
I don't care if people don't want to come up to my standards, but I care very much when they try to drag me down to theirs by insulting me. >:(
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attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
Why do people do that? Is it insecurity? I get people who don't even know me tell other people I'm a bitch because I dress up.

It seems to me that there's a bunch of hypocrites out there, demanding that we nurse their feelings, but who feel no urge to care about ours. Hell, we're well-dressed and making an effort - we deserve to be slammed, apparently.

I really don't understand the "you have stuff I don't, so I'm allowed to be rude to you, but you can't be rude back" mentality. Didn't we leave this behind in grade school?

Edited at 2008-03-19 03:11 pm (UTC)
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damedini
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)
Back when I was still on H_Costume we talked aboout making a grassroots effort to replace the use of the term "nazi" with "Snark", which is vastly more accurate in reference to the jerks who get off on attacking others unprovoked. As for those of us who try to do our best to be authentic, well, neither term is remotely appropriate.

I have been called it by someone who tried to make it sound joking. I called them on it and asked in what precise way I was at all like a Nazi. They stammered and tried to say it was joking and I called them on that and kept doing it, oh so nicely, til they were thorougly embarassed for having let the word cross their lips, as they should have been.
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:17 pm (UTC)
That's the only way, I think - anyone who can bandy that word around like it's a joke needs to be told how much it hurts.

It always hurts to be told you're nasty or evil - I may laugh it off (um, this doesn't apply to my friends, who have been part of the in-joke for years, but to people who say it seriously), but it does hurt, which presumably is the intention. I had a very nice person be terrified to speak to me for years because her laurel told her I was a complete bitch.

The irony? I had enthusiastically supported that laurel in meetings for their work. I have never done anything nasty to them; I've barely even spoken to them.

I keep going round and round on it in my head, and all I can come up with is that they're jealous. People I've pissed off inadvertently? Sure. I swear I've never set out deliberately to hurt someone, but I'm human, and I know I've put my foot in it frequently. Chemistry? Yup, that can have things to do with it - not everyone will like me, and I won't like everyone. But people who don't know me? What have I done to them that they hate me so much? Eurgh. Who knows.
findlaech
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
When I was a kid, our phone number was a digit off the national HQ of the American Nazi Party, which used to be in Arlington. For some time we got a flood of call from misdialing assholes who would hang up, mouth breathe and drool, or cuss us out for not being a recorded message from their idiot leader.

I hates Nazis, I do.
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Wow. Okay, you win. :)
hugh_mannity
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:14 pm (UTC)
Hmmm.... The Laurel to whom I'm apprenticed is a huge fan of authenticity. Fortunately for me, he sees it as a moving target. So I have been able to work my way gently upstream towards a more period appearance and style.

He was recently accused of being "too authentic" and "setting the bar too high" for "newcomers" (this appeared as the discussion went on to include people who'd been around for several years, went to few events and made very little effort to improve beyond the poly-cotton T-tunic stage). The accusation that his level of authenticity was "intimidating" hurt him immensely. Because he doesn't do it to impress, he does it because it makes him happy.

Personally I find being his apprentice exhilarating and challenging.

The game we're playing is creative re-enactment. It's a hobby, and like any other it can and will expand to consume as much of our lives and finances as we let it.

Just like any other hobby, there are the dabblers, the enthusiasts, and the obsessives. Where we differ is in how we relate to those at other levels of the hobby. I've dabbled and enthused in many things over the years, but the SCA has by far the largest number of critics. When I was building model airplanes, my clumsy early efforts met only with encouragement -- even from professional modelers, guys who built that sort of stuff for a living (check out the movie of the Battle of Britain some time, most of the aircraft in that are models). Not so in the SCA

What I've found in the SCA is that the harshest critics are not the experts (people like my Laurel, attack_laurel or kass_rants, to name but 3). It's the wannabe laurel, the person who's read a couple of books and thus knows it all, the self-proclaimed expert that one needs to watch out for.

I'm fortunately fairly thick-skinned when it comes to this stuff. I know that my garb and accoutrements are far from perfect, but right now they're as good as I'm willing and able to make them. Time and budgetary constraints mean that I've got some horrible compromises (but no polyester!) in my gear. However, I *know* that, and critising me will only get you invited to personally make good the lack at your expense!
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
If it's any consolation, the only thing the Attack Laurel Dean and I have in common is that we both hate wannabes. They do an awful lot of damage, which then gets blamed on us because we like to do our thing.
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mastersantiago
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
Around my neck of the woods (The West) we have an unofficial rule that runs "first person to use the word Nazi loses." Doesn't matter what the discussion is, doesn't matter whether or not they are even correct in their information, if they sink to that level that's it, they have lost they need to leave, discussion over.

As a person whose family history includes Germans nearly killed by the Nazi's for aiding Jews I do not take that term very politely and have no problems whatsoever ripping people a new one when they sink to that level.
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
Godwin's Law. I know - my family was bombed by the Nazis - in England, it's still a hated thing. I am really at a loss as to why it somehow acceptable and even funny to slander people like that.
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gianetta
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting on this. You have a wide readership, and I'm hoping that the word spreads. There are a couple of other people in Atlantia who have done a lot of good work on the same topic (Mistress Mathilde's A&S Yahoo Group policy comes to mind), and I appreciate it. Many people don't get *just* how offensive it is to call someone a Nazi until they meet someone who has family who survived or died in the concentration camps. It's important that people call them on it when they use the term to mean 'big meanie'.
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
And like I said above, call me a big meanie, or a hard-ass, or a bitch, or a cow, or the c-word (though if you do that to my face, you'll get punched!), or any number of other insults, but don't call me that. It's massively hurtful, and it's untrue.
pinkleader
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:31 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked the flowers. The whole purpose was to make you happy. A reminder that while you are in your apartment alone, you are surrounded by folks who love you.

And a big poo on people who won't let you raise your personal standards, which have no impact on their standards. We all come by it little by little. If "you" want to improve, try a baby-step. If "you" don't, that's fine, but we will continue to do so. :)
attack_laurel
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:53 pm (UTC)
They made me very, very happy. Like I said to Alan yesterday, I am currently overwrought and underpowered, and the flowers make me smile every time I look at them.

I am so ridiculously close to tears today - I really feel like an idiot. ^_^
dawnhutchings
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)
Being newish to the SCA when I go to events and see people who dress authentically it makes me ecstatic and inspires me. There is a feeling to an event when you can tell the people around you have taken the time to learn about something they love and try and show you through their skill. I look towards those who have gone above and beyond and I hope one day to get closer to their skill and knowledge.

I wish more people would take seeing people dressed appropriately as a challenge and not something to be torn down.
gianetta
Mar. 19th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
The funny thing for us is that my husband and I saw several very well dressed people at our first event (~ June 2000) whom we met several years later and are now friends with. They made a real impact on us because they looked so cool.

Take home message: get/make a cool hat. :)
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