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 (Default)
Three things that fed my inner child today:

1. Double rainbow on the way home from work! (And it was bright.)
2. Angel slides! (Those sunbeams that come through heavy cloudbanks.)
3. Dragon breath! (When you're walking outside on a cold morning, breathe out through your nose. You'll look like a Chinese dragon...)

What fed your Inner Child this week?
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)
I promised a few people a break down of my fights at Coronet this last weekend so, as promised :) here they are:

Details )
So, that was the fighting at Coronet. I'll probably still be processing stuff for the next week.

Cool poem

Aug. 29th, 2008 08:57 am
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)

Loving the Odd Child
Copyright 2006 Anne Allanketner 

The everyday child needs socks and sandwiches
Her hair combed, yes
And time to play, people to love.
The everyday child needs constant care
From you so keep her warm and kindly sheltered, nourished, held. 

But it’s caring for the odd one, which makes us
whole again, after long confusions, blundering
and wishing she were normal. 

Love that little odd child, and you will flower
in unexpected ways, veering off the path
that others gave you, to carved new and tender
territory in the mysterious, dark wood. 

Give that little odd child what she needs:
a softer lamp light, all day at the zoom
Art supplies for breakfast, an early
Exit from the loud party. 

Maybe she wants things you think are strange
But just believe in her, let her hold those
tiny tree frogs, let her climb down off your lap
to gather strange objects, her weird collections…

Her need for books, her fear of people
crushing plants, her awkward dislike of
your friends, her terribly low
pain threshold.

Gather each of these up in time, and kiss them.
Then put them down in front of her, loved.
This is the new path, taking your away
from normal and towards your SELF.

Towards the life you deeply long for
Towards the odd work, the odd lover, the odd house. 

You were afraid that if you gave into her,
There would be no end to it
And that is true
For the odd child is a wild and tempting
shamaness, who given an inch will rise up
dancing and gather you in arms and sing
her throaty off-key melodies as she
winds her way through the wood and steps 

Into her odd place in the bright and peopled world.
There she will shift the balance in some small
and significant way that only she can understand
having changed you so completely into yourself
she is unafraid
to reinvent
the world.

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...
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (whacka thwap)
A buddy of mine mentioned in an email that I was "Determined and driven," which I freely admit is true and accurate.

I'm not dealing well with other people's reactions to it, however.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are Shire Workout Nights. I'm only able to make the Monday night session, with the other obligations and with the event season in full gear.

The first Monday, I'm the only one who showed up. And I showed up promptly at 6pm, which is when it starts. I fully expected the same thing to happen again -- but I was wrong and the rest of the shire came. It wasn't too long until I realized that Shire Workout Night was Shire Social Night with Weights. (Kind of like how Fighter Practice is Shire Social Night with Armor.)

Now, Michael/Nichollas knows what he's doing, but the rest of the guys are:
a) very haphazard about doing full sets
b) not choosing weights that solve their strengths challenges, instead of their machismo
c) whipping through the exercises so fast that they're hurting their joints and not getting the full exercise (the release is as important as the clench, guys...)

And the gals are:
a) complaining about how they can't do this exercise or that exercise, how it's too hard, too heavy, too much
b) sitting on the sofa, chatting
c) doing a few haphazard exercises and then stopping

I was in my workout zone, which is very similar to the fighting zone, which is very...zen, I guess. When I'm in my workout zone, I'm filling my body, maintaining awareness of muscle and balance and I can even feel my toes flex as my weight shifts. My mind is so full of my body, that I don't have any room for anything else. I can hear and accept information/data/environmental input, without reaction or analysis (that all comes later), and keep doing what I'm doing. What I was doing at that time was my third set of split squats (easier on my knees than full squats).

Michael/Nichollas was getting to his second set (he's easily distracted, I've seen) and was attempting to inspire/challenge/cajole the ladies into doing some exercises. He said, "Go on! Go for it! Look at Vesta!"

Their reply was, "Oh, well, Vesta." And the tone.... the tone of voice was this odd mingling of dismissal and unattainability. Along the lines of...SHE can do it, but I can't.

I was so startled by that tone that I almost fell out of my workout zone. I'm sure I hesitated into my next squat, lurched and stuttered a bit.

I have powerful reactions to this. They are so many of them, and they conflict with each other.
One is frightened and frantic and it says:
I'm not doing anything extraordinary! I'm just doing my workout. Is what I'm doing so unusual? It's not unusual. I'm not unusual. So why did you say that? It must be unusual -- it must be freakish, wierd. I'm wierd again. I didn't mean to be wierd again. I came to be part of the group, not be an outsider again. These ladies want to be fighters and I can't even inspire them to do a workout. I'm some kind of freakish inhuman impossible thing to them. I'm a total failure at inspiring people.

One is defensive and angry and it says:
Oh, come on! If *I* can do this, YOU can do this. You don't really want to do this, do you? You just want to complain about how you can't do this. I said I was coming here to work out, and now I'm working out. I made myself a promise and I'm keeping it. I know what I want and I'm willing to work for it. I don't respect people who say they want something and then don't do anything to attain it. I went outside with you and did the yoga stances, which I suck at, yet I did them cheerfully. A few I found helpful and useful, so I'll do them again. Then went back in to finish my sets while you stayed outside to talk. If you stopped complaining about how you can't do things and just tried to do them, you would find that you actually can do them. Perserverance is not difficult, if you really truly want something.

And there's this other sensation, that I'm afraid of. I'm so frightened of it that I'm ready to cry.
It says:
I am extraordinary. I know what I want and I'm willing to work for it. This IS freakish and wierd IN THIS SOCIETY (both SCA and mundane). But that says something unfortunate about this society, not me. I am stronger and more fit than many women I encounter, even women who are taller and larger than me. My body is strong and I work to keep it strong. When I was injured and my body got weak, I worked to make it strong again. And it is again. When I seek something, and fall down, I tend to pick myself back up again. Over and over. Because I really want it. This is extraordinary. I like this about myself.

I feel like I ought to feel personally responsible for the women who want to be heavy fighters, no matter who they are. Even if they talk about how they want to be fighters but don't do the work. They're waiting for their Primary Trainer to inspire them, to guilt them, to cajole them and browbeat them and make them do the work it will take to get to where they want to go and to get to do the things they say they want to do. 

And I just don't have time to babysit them. They know what to do. They have exercises listed to do, they have weights to grab to do those exercises. And they'd much rather sit on the sofa and chat. They're nice enough gals. I just don't think they really want to be fighters -- at least if it's going to take this much work.

So. People. Reactions. Stuff.

vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)
My mother is a compulsive housekeeper. We used to wash the floors on our hands and knees, with toothbrushes to get the corners.
Me...? Well, I have a SCAdian room.

Found this on, and, frankly, I agree:

Dust (If You Must)

Dust (if you must)
     but wouldn't it be better
     to paint a picture or write a letter,
     bake cookies or a cake and lick the spoon or plant a seed,
     ponder the difference between want and need

Dust (if you must)
     but there's not much time
     with beer to drink, rivers to swim and mountains to climb, 
     music to hear and books to read, 
     friends to cherish and life to lead

Dust (if you must)
     but the world's out there
     with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, 
     a flutter of snow, a shower of rain, 
     this day will not come around, again.

Dust (if you must)
     but bear in mind
     old age will come and it's not kind, 
     and when you go (and go you must ), 
     you, yourself will make more dust! 

The now is so important. Housecleaning? Not so much. I don't need to be able to eat off the bathroom floor. 

All things in moderation -- even this. :)


Feb. 4th, 2008 01:29 pm
vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)
"I am a pitiful man, indeed, but I do not pity myself, nor should any other woman or man pity me, for that is one step into mental enervation and even perhaps depravity - and I shall do more than adumbrating my darkest secrets."
-- Garrick Beckett 

Made me think about this thing called Pity.

Made me think about the people in my life who are going through their various valleys:
my friend MM whose husband died in Walmart just before Christmas;
my Rickman friend SF whose dad had a stroke and passed away;
my coworker SB whose husband is paralyzed from the waist down after an accident two weeks ago at his workplace;
and my friend MS, with his brain tumor and his silences.

I hear people say, "That's a pity" about those situations. And I wonder whether that's true.

As always, with words, I go to see what other people are using them for -- the way I use them isn't always the same.

vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)

Someone asked me what I thought a good looking man looks like.
erm.... that would be


Yeah, he trips all my triggers:  good hands, great chest, good hair and loverly loverly eye-crinkles.


vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (edmund fitzgerald)

One of my prime values is 

(aka reliablility, dependability, "walking the talk," follow-through, etc.)

This may even been a value I have set higher than Kindness or Fairness, though not higher than Truth.
But looks like it's one of my Top Five.
No wonder I'm pissed off.

What are your Top Five Values?

vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (vesta HELMED)
A whole bunch of ideas are converging here, from MasterPeer Theatre to Life Issues. This seems to be a good point to tackle them. 

Who's Your Daddy? (see full article here)
Published: September 23, 2007

SIGMUND Freud died 68 years ago today, and it remains uncertain whether he is what W. H. Auden called him, “a whole climate of opinion / Under whom we conduct our differing lives,” or whether he is completely passé. It’s still not clear whether Freud was the genius of the 20th century, a comprehensive absurdity or something in between.

Our confusion about Freud is something he predicted — and also provoked — particularly in his later work, now largely unread, which is preoccupied with the question of authority. It sheds light on our confused attitudes toward Freud, [and] ...illuminate our collective difficulties with ...the two scourges of today’s world, fundamentalist religion and tyrannical politics. ...

Edmundson talks about how Freud's patients wanted him to supply them with not only the perfect unjudgemental unconditional love they'd sought from their parents, but also the certainty of truth -- of always having the right answer, right at hand. He adds that Freud spent a great deal of time getting his patients to tear down that idealized image of him, and to view him as Just Another Human -- so that patients could turn to other authority figures and view them with the same rational realism. This would prevent the patients from expecting the other vital people in their lives -- those important authority figures like parents, teachers, mentors and others -- to supply all of the patients' emotional, psychological and physical needs.

vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (goutte-y)
I had my hand kissed this weekend. Thrice.
Once by a fellow I think is a likely competitor to my designation of Morgan the True-Hearted as "the parfait, gentile cnicht" -- Sir Brand de deus Lyons (sp?). I was at the Viking luau thrown by the King and Queen of the West at An Tir/West War and I introduced myself to Sir Brand to thank him for the fun tournament he'd sponsored after the fighting on Saturday. (It was to raise funds for cancer research, which was totally cool. The SCA is full of generous-hearted people!) He kissed my hand by way of greeting. His hand-kissing was ... not "loaded" with anything. It was like a handshake. Not that it was cold or impersonal. It just seemed as natural and uncontrived as breathing -- as if it flowed out of him like water from a glass.
Not so the other two.


vesta_aurelia: Fangirl your Armor (Default)

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