vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (bujold -- choose to be)

I've known Rotrude since she was, oh, 8 or 10 years old. She's definitely her mother's daughter, especially in body type. And she's being having some odd conversations where people remark on her slenderness (though she calls it "skinny" which sounds more pejorative). I've noticed this stuff before.

It's actually a formal pattern of female-to-female conversation. I call it Social Grease. Because I have no social radar to pick up these things organically, I had to learn this "mainstream communication pattern" by rote--and it's quite fascinating.

This doesn't work all that well with Geeky/Nerdy Women. But many of them get soaked in the same pattern solution as the Mainstream Women that the shadow of the dance is cast on them, too. I've found it's especially effective with female newcomers to the SCA, especially mundane visitors who aren't Geeks themselves.

Social meeting of Two or More Women
After the initial "hello"s are over, there's the Casual Conversation Mode. This is where most conversation is Rote or Canned, in prefabricated decision trees. People have a few Mainstream Options:

1) She's carrying a baby. If there's a baby, all other conversation starters are secondary. Ask about the baby. Let her talk as much as she wants about the baby. Then talk about baby weight, if she brings it up or wants to go on about it.

1b) Unless she's carrying a pet. If there's a pet, then ask about the pet. Let her talk as much as she wants about the baby.

1c) If she definitely wants to talk about something NotBaby (some women have talked about Baby enough today, thank you), revert to 2. Let her lead to a topic.

2) She's carrying a book or shopping bag. "What'd you get at __________(name of store, if seen)?" There will be some dismissive talk where she frequently undermines her own enthusiasm for her purchase. This is a request for Opinion Bolstering "Oh, I totally see why you picked that up. It's adorable/really brings out your eyes/totally matches your nails/etc."

Ask about the book (or Kindle). If it's one you've read, discussion follows. If not, it's question and answer time: What d'you like about it, etc.

3) Physical commentary--Comments about weight, hair, clothing, jewelry, etc. This is where women frequently coo over each other's shoes. It doesn't mean anything--they may or may not be enchanted by the shoes. It's just part of the pattern. There's also "love your hair," or "you look great" (implying weight loss, if they haven't see each other for a while).

This one can be tricky, but people think it's easy. I don't recommend that guys use it at all, even if he's gay. It's safest to comment on shoes, bags and other accessories. This also offers Shopping Discussion and Opinion Bolstering, in case you have to stay engaged in talk for a while.

4) Conversations can dwindle off here or--if there's a true exchange, they can flourish. You can end the conversation by commenting that you've gotta run (or she might do the same). Frequently, that's true. It can end with an exchange of emails/phone numbers if the convo is picking up but you genuinely don't have time for them.

It sounds so horrible, doesn't it? But it *works* for me, 98% of the time, while having a female-to-female convo in mainstream society. I've sat at enough tables alone, watching women greet their friends, and seen the dance over and over. I've tried these things out on my coworkers, especially the ones from other departments where I don't work with them all the time, and it's functional with people you're not spending a lot of time with.

The key to all of this, for me, was to believe what I was saying while I was saying it. Some people can be more facile, and sound sincere while they're not, but I've never been able to master that. :P

Lest the gentlemen snicker up their sleeves, let me say Mainstream Guys have similar conversations. Only, rather than cooing, there's chestpuffing. When guys haven't seen each other for a while, they engage in similar Social Grease. I'm not capable of having a male-to-male conversation (my gender and social sex is too obvious), but I've navigated the very Male World of SCA heavy fighting. This is what I've observed.

After the Strength Test handshake, Manly Backpounding or Chin Thrust of Acknowledgement...

1) There's the status jockeying via Prowess. This is usually physical, but physical can also include (among geeky types) video gaming like World of Warcraft. This measures where each one is on the totem pole between/among the group of guys. The highest status guy controls the conversation. He is free to interrupt everyone else and be heard.

Often the Highest Status Guy is acknowledged by the other guys at this point. So is the Lowest Status Guy. If Lowest Status Guy is the comedic type, he is also free to interrupt order to make jokes, often at his own expense.

2) If none are invested in Prowess, the conversation can turn to (or be turned by someone with Low Prowess) to Status. A guy can display his own Status (vice president of marketing), or if he's affiliated with a High Status (have you met Duke Guy, my Knight?), he'll raise his own by affiliation. This can change the totem pole positions among the second to second-last guys.

2a) If he's affiliated or follows a team, he will likely turn the conversation to sports in order to converse about the latest game and the success of his team. Especially if he's wearing a jersey or team cap. This can be fascinating if one guy follows football and the other baseball. Watching them talk past each other is like a slo-mo train wreck.

3) Wife-and-kids. (As a female, I've always tapped this topic first. It helped cut down on flirting, which I wasn't comfortable with, but was also a socially safe topic.) This lets guys showcase their families' accomplishments. This can reflect well on the guy, increasing his Respect rate.

4) Conversations can dwindle off here or--if there's a true exchange, they can flourish. The guys can end the conversation by blaming the Little Lady "Hey, my wife wants to get home" or by doing the "I gotta split, seeya later man" and there's a fist bump and a parting. These things can even be true. Guys will more often say "I'm on Facebook, look me up" rather than exchanging addresses.

I'm sure there's more nuance in the male-to-male communication that I'm just not privy to. This is what I've observed. This is the Primer I made for myself in order to ease through the mundane mainstream world. It doesn't always work. But it frequently works.

vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (goutte-y)

ETA: Fleeces and wool are clean and currently boxed up in her storage shed.
Cross-post and forward anywhere you think folks will be interested.

A co-worker of mine is interested in getting rid of her fleece. She's a spinner herself, but can't use it all, with the number of animals she has. She's open to sell, trade, etc. 

Email or message me, and I'll give you her contact information (which I won't put on an unlocked post)

My email is optia_vesta (at) yahoo (dot) com

We're here in Southern Oregon, but you know me, I go places. I will be at July Coronation, Sport of Kings and September Crown.

Her name is Sabra (SAY-brah), and she writes:

 What I have:

Shetland and Shetland cross wool – brown (varying shades), creamy white, silver/black (most of this is very soft wool) a couple of the sheep are crossed with Lincoln sheep and their fiber is a little coarser and great for rugs or heavy use.

 Fine texture mohair – white, taupe, faded red, black and black/silver 

I have kid and yearling fleeces in the mohair and lambs fleeces for spinners and fiber artists.  

This is kind of exciting with the fiber possibilities. Three years ago I was selling to doll makers and some spinners (besides my friends) from a Yahoo group and “met” some great people and felt like all that hay I am buying was going to good use. The kid mohair and lambs fleeces are limited in number but I will deal with that when I see what people may want.

Several white fleeces that are 6” long and great for doll makers. 

And, thanks, this is great and I am excited to see who can use this stuff besides me. 

She's taking care of her 85-year-old stepmom, working full time and feeding all these critters. So anything you can do to pay her for her stuff would be awesome.
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)
 I spent last Saturday with my friends Liz and Sandy, from work. In January, Sandy's husband was injured at work and had his lower spine crushed. He has patchy sensation and mobility from the top of his pelvis down, and is in a wheelchair. Ever since that day in January, Sandy hasn't slept a full night through. She's been stressed out, freaked out, depressed, estatic and everything else in between.

And I go on this ride with her.

She talks about her husband's downturns, his frustrations, his pain -- her helplessness, her frustrations, her exhaustion. She shares his moments of hope (He can move his toes!) and moments of despair (He fell out of his chair today and couldn't get back in). She agonizes about how he feels, how she deals with his feelings of guilt and embarrassment, and just the sheer weight of dealing with all these extra steps to anything. 

I read up on things, too. I can't help it. I read about the latest research in spinal healing and repair; I read about prospects and likelihoods and my feeling swing wildly, with everything I hear from her (or read on my own).
"Latest research indicates near-full to full mobility is possible when..." and so much is bright with possiblities.
"Most paraplegics never regain..." and doubt slides over me like an observatory dome shutting all the light out.

And I have to think how much more this is for her -- for him. I know how the body can be shaped by the absolute determination to be or do or accomplish or correct or heal or destroy... i know I've changed physical characteristics of my own body, healed wounds faster, prevented illness, and more, just by the deep-seated desire -- the bone-deep want -- for something to happen thus

And so I know -- I know -- that the thought can manifest and become. 

Yet my hope slips, sometimes. Belief misses a step. And the person it lands on -- really lands on -- isn't me. It's her. And him. 

How do I pick that up again? When whether I believe he will make it -- or not -- can change? Sometimes it can change two or three times in a day.

How do I act belief and hope, how do I speak certainty, when I don't feel it? Or should I do it at all?
Is it a lie, a white and gentle lie?
Is it one of those things where we "fake it til we make it" and that's okay? Or is that a false and destructive lie, that makes them feel smaller?

I...I...don't know what to do. Every doubt and slip in belief and loss of certainty feels like failure and betrayal. And I can't stop them, the doubts and fears. Yet, trying to deny the doubts and fears feels like I'm lying to myself, and I lose respect for myself for the lack of integrity.

I...I just... I...

Car wreck

Jun. 23rd, 2008 09:21 am
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (scream)
ETA: More information and picture of the accident scene. He was in the car on the left of the image
Accident scene

They're waiting for the family to gather from around the country. We'll know soon, I guess.

Thanks for your hugs. I've thought of what could have happened, why he could have swerved like that, and I just come up with so many possibilities: sun in the eyes, looking down at the radio, sneezing, heck, seizure from brain tumor, even.


Accident claims two lives

The driver of the Mitsu was my coworker's youngest son. He was finally getting his life together, after a very mis-spent youth. I hope hope hope, for her sake, that he was not under the influence of anything at the time.

The driver of the other car was a 61-year-old woman. She had a 12-year-old and 13-year-old in the car with her. Both of those kids are in the hospital -- one in Grants Pass, one was airvac-ed to RVMC -- but they're both alive.

Wednesday would have been his birthday. He would have been 25.

vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)

That's what we called it, anyway.

There were a dozen of us (10 from my workplace and our coordinator's sister and sister-in-law) who spent the weekend together at Whaleshead, just north of Brookings, Oregon.

Awesome weekend. We're talking about doing it again, in the autumn. Maybe the Mt Shasta area....
Somewhere where nature breathes back at you, anyway.


May. 6th, 2008 06:59 am
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)
Went on a hike on Sunday up the Upper Table Rock trail, with two friends of mine from work.


It was a lot of fun.

I'd forgotten my camera (dang it!) and we saw a lot of animals and plants and views that I wish I'd been able to take a picture of.
I'm a lot more aware of animal movement than other people are -- I see it out of the corner of my awareness, even while walking and talking. It was really interesting to see what each of us tended to see first -- Linda (with the purple butterfly t-shirt) sees colors; Teresa (the tall one) sees shape and form; I see movement.

None of us know a lot about the animal life in the area, so other than identifying the ravens, we did a lot of guessing *g*
There was some kind of yellow-bellied seed-eating bird (we think a finch), and what I thought might be a cliff swallow. They were riding the thermals all day -- it was glorious to see them floating in the air, moving their wing feathers like ballerina fingers. Most of the birds we saw were the ravens and I always think of the old Norse mythology with Odin's two ravens Thought and Memory when I see them.

We startled a number of lizards on the way up and on the top. I woke a snake up, as well -- thankfully not a rattler! (The tail was smooth on the end.) And a squirrel!

isn't he adorable?

And we saw lots of wild flowers: camas (like the town), lupins (including this dwarf lupin on the top -- am I just too much of a lit geek that I kept thinking of the big ones as Remus and the little ones as Teddy?), some called Elegant Grodiaea (all purple!), and the Indian Paintbrush was starting a month early! And I think we saw dwarf meadowfoam, which was one of those low scrubby groundcover flowers that you don't see the beauty of until you get down to them. And suddenly, they're exquisite.

So were the views! 

That's Teresa and her daughter Em.

I used to love to climb the inside of the Old Barn (it was 40 feet tall, made of old-growth oak 12x12 king beams, pegged together with wooden pegs) and sit in the rafters, feeling miles above the ground, and getting that flutter in the belly looking down-down-down... I got the same thing laying on the edge of the escarpment, looking down into the trees and valleys below. That thrill of "just maybe" that I get from heights. 

We wandered around on the top of the tablerock for a few hours, then Teresa and Em went home and Linda and I went out to lunch and chatted more. It was a great way to spend Sunday -- we're talking about doing it again, up some other trail. 

I'm so excited!


Dec. 11th, 2007 07:59 am
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (vesta goddess pic)

My friend and coworker M had to leave work today.
Her husband had a heart attack at Wal-mart.
He's... dead.

I feel like I've been dropped into a cave and I'm blinking stupidly in the darkness.

I want to ask my mom what she did when lost Daddy, so I can help M.
Because I'm afraid and I don't know what to do.
I don't want to make it harder for her.

I wish I knew what to do.

vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (POL)
You hear one of your co-workers saying, "Yeah, the Eastern King is bigger than my King. My King is longer but the Eastern King is longer and wider."

Another co-worker replies, "I don't care. I still like my King better."

And you think? Uhm.... uhm.... oh, geez! I don't wanna know who's King of the East right now!

Then you realize.... they're talking about beds.

*falls over, laughing*
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)
One of my coworkers told me, "You're only almost a girl."

This was in response to a conversation wherein I declared my dislike of fancy shoes, clothes shopping, makeup and the characters in Sex and the City. (I consider it a vile, insidious, nasty little psychosocial virus...)

This has prompted me to really examine how I've constructed my social gender (as different from my biological sex)... and to determine that, really, Gender Roles Suck. I expressed to Trudchen my dissatisfaction with the suckitude of gender roles and she reminded me that gender roles give people some idea of how to categorize someone and that, if those roles didn't exist, people "wouldn't know what to do with" me. My heartfelt retort was, "Well, I don't know what to do with me, so I don't mind spreading the pain."

And I think about Lord Lyon and Lord Ieuann, two SCA people I know who, although of the female sex have chosen a male SCA gender. 
And I think about Dr. Jane Robinson... I mean, Dr. James Robinson.
And I think about how someone told me that Vesta was "socially male."
And I think about how I really, really, really dislike babies.

And I realize that I am just... irritated? vexed? unhappy?.... no,... dis-satisfied. I am dis-satisfied with my gender.

I am ... irritated... with my sex, usually 4-5 days out of every 28 (yes, little ovaries run like clockwork). It's messy, it's smelly, and one ends up having to worry about the clothes, the supplies, the cravings, the blah blah blah. Menstruation is such a waste of time and energy, since I've chosen non-replicating status. 

So many of what people perceive as the social benefits of gendering female are tied to the biological sex role. When one discards the biological, extricating the social gendering becomes problematic. Even neo-paganism is no help -- all the art and liturgy about gravid Mothering.... *sigh*

There are so many things which I see as a benefit of being human, not either male or female. Bare skin. Opposable thumbs. Language. Society. Thought.  But right now, I'm not seeing any benefit to me, personally, of being female, neither socially nor biologically. 

The opportunity to be "pretty"?  I'd say those new young male undewear models are getting mighty "pretty".  Not exactly a female trait.
Wearing lace? Have you seen my wardrobe? Do you really thing lace -- or other fripperies -- is an issue?
Chance to get laid whenever I want? I'm a fighter in the SCA. That's pretty much a given, really. Sad, but true.
Bearing the next generation? Erm, not a benefit for me. More like a penalty.
Multiple orgasms (this seems to be a big one for people)? Well, it's nice and all, but that's not enough. Multiple orgasms as THE reason it's cool to be a chick?   ... I SO don't think so.

Being gendered female just ... just... it just pisses me off and makes me feel like I got the short straw. Like I missed out on something. Like someone played a joke on me that everyone's laughing about and that I just don't understand.

So, that's what I've been contemplating lately


vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)

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