Friday, October 30, 2015

Leap before you look, because the ground is a long way down and you'll just psyche yourself out.

I just signed up for NANOWRIMO.

I have now terrified myself.

I am crying. I am that terrified.

Okay, I've stopped now. But I'll start again in a few minutes. Hey, I have today and tomorrow to get over this.

I may need to throw up at some point. I'll let you know if that happens.

Well, my fortune cookie did tell me to stop worrying and take a chance. I just wrote about it yesterday. Even the title for that post, which I just sort of threw up there from my subconscious, is a sort of the essence of what NANOWRIMO is supposed to be about. "Don't mind the dull bits. They can be buffed out."

Calculated, if I can write just 1667 words a day, I can get to 50,000 by the end of the month. That's the goal, a rough draft of 50,000 words.

1667 words a day. Practically nothing.

Yeah, let's think positive. Sixteen hundred sixty-seven words a day is practically nothing. I have over 8,000 in notes already. That's approximately sixteen percent finished! Yay!

You probably won't see me again for a month. Everything else has to be put on hold, including SCA research.  Morning writing practice won't be posted anymore, because shit just got REAL.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Don't mind the dull bits. They can be buffed out.

You're not helping, fortune cookie.

My running science experiment is on hold.

I had my knee hyper-extended for me in second class last night. Just a bit, but it's enough to making running a bad idea.

I was sloppy last night, really bad form. Lot's of flailing. My instructor was nice about it, he nicely pointed out I was getting angry. I didn't feel angry. I mean, it didn't seem to me I was angry, not at him, just frustrated. I feel like I'm not making any progress. My poor blocking and dodging skills are really holding me back. There's no real way to fix that except blocking and dodging and I have zero place and time to practice that. There just isn't any.

It feels like there's a disconnect in my brain. Something that doesn't allow me to react with the appropriate block or dodge. I see the move coming at me: kick, jab, cross, roundhouse, whatever...but I just move some random part of my body.

And so this morning, I am more frustrated. Part of me actually has the drive to go out and run. I want to do something I know I can execute and improve on. Actually wanting to go out is so rare, it's killing me not to do it, but my common sense knows that's stupid with a capital S. In fact it's stupid in all caps. STUPID.

I know I have to stay in. I know this. Injury is bad. We're starting grappling cycle, I missed the last two grappling cycles, one due to injury, one due to family stuff that took all my energy. Now I am FINALLY getting to take the actual cycle class, as opposed to learning things here and there in second class.
Dick's is the place where the cool hang out.
My favorite home furnishings store.

I need a bag. I need some space. I need a bag and some space and to not have my knee hyper-extended today. I need to not go in to work in Algonquin anymore.

For a long, long time I was never sure what I wanted. Most of my life. Know I know what I want, almost exactly what I want, and I can't get to it. It's within sight, but out of my reach.

I just have to keep going. There's a way around these hurdles. There has to be.

Because really? This is nothing. I have a copy of "I Am Malala" sitting on my nightstand. I haven't even read it yet. I can't handle the emotional roller coaster right now. But having Malala looking at me every day when I wake up reminds me how good I have it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

RUNNING: My love/hate relationship.

So. I run. I started running for a very specific reason. The main protagonist in one of my best story ideas runs and loves it. The opening scene is kick-ass,  it opens with her running barefoot through the corridors of a space station.

If I'm going to write about running I want to know what it's really like. I hadn't run for a long, long, LONG time and I'd never enjoyed it in the past. Fortunately for me, there's a program called Couch to 5K that can baby-step a person along to running a 5K. It worked well, I ran the Gobbler Gallop last year. I left off running last winter because I have a hate/hate relationship with frigid cold and couldn't afford decent compression pants and one of those super neat face hood things that make you look like a ninja.
Gobbler Gallop 5K, November 2014

And I found it very difficult to get back to it after the winter was over. Since it warmed up enough this year I've been very sporadic about getting out there.

But I can't seem to love running. Part of the reason is I have a genetic condition called beta thalassemia minor. Short explanation, it lessens the amount of oxygen my blood carries. That sounds a bit scary, but with the minor form it's mostly an inconvenience. But I'll probably never achieve the pace I want, because my blood just doesn't carry enough oxygen when I demand more. Right now I'm sort of stalled at 13:30 on a good day.

Insert inspirational platitudes here.
This is my white belt level shirt I got when I started mixed martial arts last year. We attain belt levels and you can buy the belt if you want, but the instructors prefer the level shirts for the mat. It's hard to see the mission statement below the words martial arts. It says, "Moving Beyond Limits".

 I know I can still train up and get somewhat faster than 13:30 , but it's very slow progress, so running doesn't give me the instant gratification of martial arts or heavy weapons practice. Doing an submission hold into a take-down, punching someone in the face or landing a good roundhouse, hearing that armour ring when you land a good blow with your stick...that's all an instant gratification. Even RECEIVING all those blows is a high.

I have only once achieved a runner's high, the endorphin rush. No, wait...twice.

Chasing the dragon: dolled up like a clown to do
pell work in the back yard. Even in this get-up,
that tree never saw me coming.'s what I do like about running. It's the way I feel afterward. I feel wrung out. I feel whole-body sore and clean inside, like I've burned toxins out of my brain. I don't usually feel that way after MA class or weapons practice. Even if I'm exhausted after those sessions, I feel jittery and high, always wanting more, more, more. Sometimes I don't sleep well afterwards, because even though my body is exhausted my mind is high as balls on adrenaline.

So, this wrung out feeling I get after running, which I love, has to be achieved through thirty minutes of shoving my body over the ground and through the air for no immediate gratification and the bitch at the back of my brain HATES it. do I conquer her? I can't rid myself of her, she's part of me, she gives me courage to do other things.  How do I cage and muzzle her long enough to get what I want? How do I make myself want that wrung out feeling as much, or more, as I want my adrenaline high?

Today I tried to concentrate on improving my form. As you can see in that top picture, my form was mostly shuffling. Really that's just jogging. I need to push myself harder to maintain a more upright posture, relax my upper body, pick my damn feet up, and make my strides longer.

Science the shit out of this.

Maybe that will work. One can but try. Because the running will improve my endurance on the mat. I've achieved purple belt level and now it gets tough. No more group testing. We'll still be doing end-of-cycle checks, but they won't be for belt levels. When I go for green belt it'll be me against the class in a specific series of skill tests. I participated in someone else's test last month, as an opponent. It was really tough on him and he's fourteen year old with a black belt in another discipline.

Also I want more endurance for heavy weapons combat. That armour is fucking heavy. I sweated through a gambeson (it's like a quilted coat, it goes under everything else) last week, that's a lot of sweat. And until I really know what I'm doing I can't risk wearing anything lighter.

That's my deep dive for the today. I'm hoping the lead instructor will be teaching tonight. He just got onto the police force so sometimes he's not there, but when he is we usually have second class and that's where shit gets real and it's awesome.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

NECK ARMOUR - Because breathing and not being paralyzed is awesome.

Today's morning writing practice will be a discussion of the neck protection required for SCA heavy weapons combat. I'm not feeling nearly as wordy today; I have a lot to do. Meeting my son for lunch and we're going to see The Martian.

D. Neck Armor
The neck, including the larynx, cervical vertebrae, and first thoracic vertebra must be covered by one or a combination of the following and must stay covered during typical combat situations, including turning the head, lifting the chin, etc.:
1. The helm
2. A gorget of rigid material
3. A mail or heavy leather camail or aventail that hangs or drapes to absorb the force of a blow. If the camail or aventail lays in contact with the larynx, cervical vertebrae, or first thoracic vertebra, that section must be padded with a minimum of .25 inch (6mm) of closed cell foam or equivalent
4. A collar of heavy leather lined with a minimum of .2 5in (6mm) of close cell foam or equivalent.
--The Society for Creative Anachronism, Marshal's Handbook

Let's define a few of the unfamiliar words.

Gorget -

 (pronounced GOR-jet or gor-ZHAY) — Armored collar made from hinged plates or laminations. - Medieval Lifestyle 

They can also be made of leather, as long as they meet standards. 

Brigandine Gorget
Windrose Armoury
I like this one. I  like it very much. I don't know why. There are plates on the underside of that leather, that's what the rivets are for. But I'm unsure about the fact that it ties instead of buckles. You can also get a kit to assemble yourself, which I would love. I really like the idea of making my own pieces as much as possible. When you make something yourself and put your effort and sweat (sometimes even a little blood, you know I'm arcane like that) and energy into it, it's fully yours. If I could cut all the pieces myself it would be even better.

Hm. I think I've seen buckles on other websites. Maybe I could replace that tie with a buckle.

Brigandine Gorget
Windtree Crafts
Has a buckle on either side AND comes in red.
No kit option though.
Stainless steel gorget
Wintertree Crafts
Eh. I just don't like it as much,
though it's definitely the least expensive option for ready made..

Aventail - A flexible curtain of mail that attaches to the inside of a helm and covers the neck and shoulders. Can also be worn simply buckled around the neck.

Camail and aventail appear to be used interchangeably in many places, but when I searched for the images the camail is definitely more of a hood, although a mail hood is a coif in many of the definitions pages I've found. Confusing. The pictures I chose show basic neck protection but they can drape all the way down over the shoulders, past the shoulder joint.

Camail - also called a mail coif.
I think it's supposed to close up more around the neck.
Can't find photo credit.
Steel Mastery
The leading medieval crafts manufacturer in Ukraine.
So...not buying anything from them, shipping would be too dear.

Would my persona have worn any of these? Probably not. Gorgets are a much later period item. But the bosses (and common sense) say neck protection, so we have neck protection. 

I'd prefer the brigandine leather option. Can feel the leather under your fingertips, can you smell it? That's a beautiful scent.

Monday, October 26, 2015

HELMS: Because blunt head trauma is inconvenient.

Today we will combine morning writing practice, heavy weapons research, and persona research. We're having a threesome.

Yeah. I went there. Get over it.

I need to learn about all the pieces of armor required for practice. I need to know what those pieces are and what they need to be composed of for practice and also I want to know what the historical look and use. Thirdly, I want to know if it is relevant to my persona. For a properly researched persona, you keep to the materials and styles found for your people and region. One has slightly more leeway with a Norse persona, given their propensity for travel, trade, and good ole 'taking stuff off that dead guy who doesn't need it anymore now that they've killed him'.  But there is still a line of authenticity I don't care to cross. I would still have to stay within my time period and within the geographical boundaries of Viking raids and settlements for that time period.

Semi Custom Armor Norse Ocular
from Aesir Metalworks
I don't know if this meets all the standards.
Enough of that. Let's talk about HELMS! What is a helm? Armor for the head. Why don't they call it a helmet? Well, I suppose some people do. But in order to distinguish from the modern day usage of helmet, as when referring to motorcycle, bicycle, or sport related safety equipment, I'm going to stick with helm.

We'll begin with the SCA requirements for a helm (see page 11 on that link). Your brain is important. It helps you read blogs, drive cars to fight practice, and do some type of work for which you get money with which you can buy things made of leather and steel. The SCA would like to keep all it's members happy and healthy because sharing a love of historical minutiae and the desire to bash your friends with large sticks is just fun, dammit. Therefore, the SCA requires people wishing to participate in heavy weapons fighting to wear a helm meeting minimum safety standards, to keep everyone's higher brain functions functioning, so everyone can keep having fun. You will wear brain protection and fucking like it.

This handsome specimen is a
Basic Viking with Ocular Helm from
West Coast Armoury.
I don't know if this meets all the standards either.
As there is loaner gear available, I'm not purchasing a helm anytime soon because they are expensive and I want to make sure what I'm buying is going to meet standards. Don't buy stuff just because it's pretty, people. This adage applies to just about anything. Also, just because some individual on eBay says their stuff is legal don't make it so. In both the safety meaning and in the "totally not stolen out of someone's gear box at the last event" meaning. So I will save my pennies and consult with more learned people before I shell out for that helm.

Now. What did the Vikings of the 8th and 9th century wear into battle to protect their head? Not much, according to the researchers at Regular fellows probably didn't wear anything more than their regular hats to keep them warm. Only the extremely wealthy could afford to own armor looking anything like the helms on this page. And commonly they didn't look like these. They were more of a metal bowl, to my eyes: "...during the Viking era, helmets typically were made from several pieces of iron riveted together (right), called a spangenhelm style of helm. It's easier to make a helmet this way, requiring less labor, which may be why it was used." 


"Because iron was difficult to make during the Viking era, it was expensive. As a result, helmets were expensive and thus not common. Anyone who could afford one would certainly want one, but not too many people could afford one. Helmets were prized and carefully preserved, repaired as needed, and passed from generation to generation. Some may well have been used for centuries before the iron became too thin and weak to provide any real protection." - article, Viking Arms and Armor: Viking Helmets

"How rich a Viking was determined his defensive weapons. A rich man might also own chainmail and an iron helmet. Chainmail was difficult to make and no doubt quite expensive. Helmets were basically an iron bowl that protected the head, and many had a nose piece to protect the face. Poorer Vikings without access to chainmail wore thick, padded leather garments which gave some protection from edged weapons." - article, Viking Weapons and Armor; Defensive Weapons.

What's the last word for today on helms for persona? Overlooking the fact that my persona is a woman and Viking women just didn't do that...if you were rich you could have a helmet. It wasn't inaccurate to the period. If you were very rich, it might even resemble what I would need to wear on the field. Cool. I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Friday 5 for Oct. 23, 2015 - Consumables

Friday 5 on Sunday because I only have twenty minutes before my next client and I need to get in morning writing practice. Can I do this? If I leave out the pictures, maybe.

What dehydrated foods (meant to be consumed that way) do you enjoy?

What level of enjoyment are we talking? I can eat meat jerky of most kinds. It tastes good. But it gets stuck in my teeth and I don't like the aftertaste of the spices. Can jerky be made without the spices? I'll have to look that up.

Dried fruit. I really like dried fruit. All kinds, but dried cherries and peaches are the best. You have to watch that though, even with no added sugar the naturally occurring sugar content is high.

What’s your favorite dish made by stuffing one food with another?

Hm. Cheese and mushroom ravioli. I don't know if that's my favorite, but it's pretty good. Blue cheese stuffed hamburgers are very, very good.

What’s your favorite dish made by rolling something up?

Hm...favorite. Cinnamon rolls, maybe. Enchiladas! Cheese and green chile enchiladas. But not enchiladas and cinnamon rolls in the same meal. That does not sound appetizing at all.

What’s a meal you frequently consume primarily because the cleanup is quick?

Toast. I eat way too much toast. And a quick sort of quesadilla, where I take a small whole wheat tortilla and sprinkle it with shredded cheese and melt it in the microwave.

Raw vegetables fruit are very fast prep and cleanup too.

What’s a food that’s made much better because of what you sprinkle on it?

Hm. Popcorn is terribly bland without salt, but not inedible. I'd say it's much better with salt. But not too much. I love old-school popcorn. I make it on the stove top. I'm really good at it. I taught my step-daughter how to do it, she makes it all the time. I have a special way of making it. I'm not giving it away. My step-father taught me how to do it. Actually, I just watched him and copied, I don't think there was any formal lesson involved.

Ha! Two minutes to spare!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hey. Do you ever wonder why we're here? A unified concept which is other than the sum of it's parts.

Did you ever experience a fundamental shift in your perception of yourself?

I'm all deep and stuff today. I'm trying not to go too deep and scare myself. I do still have stuff to get done today. Run, laundry, dishes, tai chi and karate class, grocery shopping. Start thinking too much first thing in the morning and I'm useless for the rest of the day, walking into things and not listening to people because I'd rather be writing. I haven't been to tai chi and karate in two weeks due to illness, I have to be there and pay attention today. I'm supposed to be focusing on developing six self defense moves for various directional attacks, incorporating the moves practiced in the si yu lung kata.

No. I never wonder why we're here. Semper Fi, bitch.

So let's get on with it, because if I'm going to make myself go run I need to do it soon and not use the fact that it's too close to the time we have to leave for class as an excuse.

I've always found the concept of gestalt interesting.

Gestalt - a configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that it cannot be described merely as a sum of its parts. {source}
Just a tilt of the head can change your perception.

A collection of physical, biological, psychological or symbolic elements that creates a whole, unified concept or pattern which is other than the sum of its parts, due to the relationships between the parts (of a character, personality, entity, or being). {source}

Borrowed from the middle high German word gestalt meaning shape, form, figure, image (of a person), a person, or character. {source}

When I am doing things I know I am meant to be doing, I feel different. My body feels different. I feel like...the actual DNA of my body is changing. 

Yeah, I kind of feel ridiculous saying that out loud. But can I help it if it's true? I can not. Denying a personal truth isn't good for your soul. 

So I'm doing more things I know I am meant to be doing and feel myself changing (slowly, very slowly) and trying to disregard the fear that comes with the idea that I'm being selfish somehow by doing things I like.

When I was searching for images for "gestalt" I found this quote from Ida P. Rolf. 

I find this next bit fascinating.

Dr. Ida P. Rolf developed a form of structural integration bodywork, now called Rolfing. "Rolfing Structural Integration works on this web-like complex of connective tissues to release, realign and balance the whole body, thus potentially resolving discomfort, reducing compensations and alleviating pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body.

Essentially, the Rolfing process enables the body to regain the natural integrity of its form, thus enhancing postural efficiency and your freedom of movement."

I'm a massage therapist, so I'd heard of Rolfing, though I've never experienced it. When I was in school some of my instructors had received it, it can be quite painful I'm told (freeing up things that have been stuck for a long, long time can be excruciating) , but ultimately exhilarating.

So I randomly landed on an image for a quote by a person, who created a system of transformation, which is related the work I do now, speaking about an idea I've been thinking about for awhile. Because the work I do now is...not as fulfilling as it should be...I'm attempting a transformation to a thing that feels more right, despite the fact that I have very little idea what I'm doing.

I find all these connections transformative. This action coming together with that realization, painful, scary changes that you do to yourself that ultimately leave you free.

Okay, enough estorics for this morning. Time to go exert myself.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Who's your Viking daddy? or What's in a name?: Part 2.

As with Part One of this fascinating quest, any thing in bold italics is a direct quote from The Viking Answer Lady's site. 

Today we look at the second part of my Viking persona name, the patronymic which tells people who your daddy was. Sometimes they used the matronymic, telling people who your momma was, but that was rare. 

The simplest explanation is, if your father is Thor and you are his daughter Ragnhildr, your name is Ragnhildr Thorsdottir.

The more complicated explanation is that it's more slightly complicated than that. There might be slight changes to the genetive case of the patronymic (I think I'm using those words correctly...don't quote me). 

For example, the name I like best for my father is Skjoldr, "Identical with Old Icelandic skjold, genitive skjaldar, "shield." Skjoldr is the name of the mythical founder of the Danish kings, a son of the god Óðinn. [Go big or go home, baby. My first name of Valdis is totally vindicated.] It appears in use as a human name in Njáls saga." [Okay, fine. Whatever. Ruin my fun.]

Since Skjoldr ends with -dr, the ending -r will change to -ar for the genetive case and...for some reason not explained the 'o' would change to an 'a'. So my partonymic would be Skjaldardottir.

So there's the explanation of that before we start wading through men's names. There are many more recorded men's names than women's, so the lists are quite long. I'm going to start with the 'j' names first. Because 'j'.

Wow. That's it? I was hoping for an
actual crest of boar hair. Lame.
Reconstruction of Valsgarde Helmet
Jorkell - Jorkelsdottir: The first element Jór- is from the OW.Norse noun *jórr(derived from Primitive Scandinavian *eburaR), "wild boar," originally with a sense of "wild boar" but coming to mean "prince" because of the boar-crested helmets such men were said to have worn. The second element -ketill, originally "kettle" but meaning also "helmet" or "chieftain with helmet." Names with the -ketill second element often have a side form using -kell. [So...Prince with a helmet. Or...something.]

Kali - Kaladottir: Occurs in OW.Norse as both a personal name and a by-name, Kali. Derived from the OW.Norse verb kala "to freeze, to be cold." [Hm. Nope.]

Einarr - Einarsdottir: The first element Ei- or Ein- comes from *aina, "one, alone, single." The second element -arr has several possible origins. It may be from *-harjaR, "army leader, general, warrior", or from *-warjaR "one who wards, defender", or from *-gaiRaR"spear." The name comes from *Aina-harjaRand is directly related to einherjar, the word for the warriors in Valholl. [Well. A single warrior. A lone fighter. That works.] One of the most common names in Iceland and Norway from the earliest times. Also found in Denmark as the runic inscriptions æinarennar and in Danish Latin sources as Enarus. Anglo-Scandinavian forms include Ainar, Eineri. The name Einarr occurs in many sagas. [I sort of like this one. Despite the fact it's terribly common.]

Leikr - Leiksdottir From OW.Norse leikr "play, weapon-play, battle" or may represent a short form of masculine names inLeik-, -leikr, -lakR. [Heh. There ya go. I sort of like this one.]

Naemr - Naemsdottir From the OW.Norse adjective næmr "quick at learning", "one who is very composed and confident". [I like this one, it's a sort of positive affirmation deal. The 'ae' in this name is supposed to sort of crammed together when written properly and I'm not sure of the pronunciation because I don't understand -heh- the notations on this page.]

Okay. I think that's enough. 

Oh, hey. Have I told you how amazing this song is? I can't stop listening to it. I need her album. That's Elle King's Ex's and Oh's

I think I'm torn between Skjaldardottir and Einarsdottir. I like the 'skj' together. I just like the way it looks written out, but it's hard to pronounce. Have you every lived with a last name that's hard to pronounce? I've had two, my maiden name and my first married name.

Is 'Einar' any easier to pronounce? I think it is. And really, my opinion is the only one that counts.

So the options are Valdis Skjaldardottir or Valdis Einarsdottir. I just the Googled the second name. There is a real person named Valdis Einarsdottir on Facebook. I don't want a real modern person's name.

Okay, Valdis Skjaldardottir. to pronounce it? Hm. More research. Yay!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Epiphany! I hadz one!

Last Tuesday I went to my very first heavy weapons practice session, which was awesome. Awesome. Awesome. AWESOME!!! There, that conveys the appropriate amount of awesome. I went again last night but last Tuesday was my first time ever, so that's what I'm writing about. Also, I started this post last week and want to use.

So, back to last Tuesday. I got strapped into loaner armor. Let me tell you, having people pull stuff out a box and someone says "That won't fit her, she's too little," is fun right off the bat.

My new friends helped me strap and buckle things into place. It's a little disconcerting having people dress me, sometimes more than one person at a time. But it has to be worn correctly for safety and comfort and some of those straps and buckles and pins are hard to reach by yourself. The necessary coverage is head and face, neck front and back, kidneys, groin, hand, wrist, forearm and elbow protection, and knee and thigh protection.

The picture below does NOT show what I was actually wearing, it's just a very clear picture of most of the essential pieces. The picture below also does not show the helm. The helm has to be "...constructed from steel which has a thickness of no less than .0625 (that is, 1/16) inch (1.6 mm), or of equivalent material." There's eight more requirements the helm has to meet on construction and protection, I won't list them all. That's from the Society for Creative Anachronism's Marshal's Handbook.
Brain bucket and groin protection not shown.
Photo: Her SCA Blog
The photo shows plastic armor (don't let the word plastic fool you, I wore some borrowed plastic armor last night that was very thick, hard as a rock, and very nicely shaped to the female form as well), but you can wear leather and steel too, as long as they meet the safety requirements.

Pictured: A pell.
Well, that's exciting, eh?
Thank you, Cunnan.
I was given a rattan sword, at least I think it was rattan, there's options there too and it was covered with duct tape and a round shield it was red with...some kind of yellow wreath? I can't remember, anyway it was pretty but super heavy and then I got to start learning some moves! They taught me the correct way to hold the shield and the sword, the correct way to swing, a simple pell exercise called a 1-6 drill I can do to practice movement and create muscle memory. The drill is about half way down the page on that link if you care to see it. I don't have a rattan sword yet, but I can use the heavy foam I got from martial arts class I can use. Don't let the word foam fool you either, it's a sword for practicing movement but if you get smacked with it it hurts.

I don't have a pell but as you can see it's basically a pole. Since I'll be using a foam sword and focusing on movement and form, I can use the pole for my laundry line or the large tree I have in the back yard. Though I don't know how the tree will feel about that, but it's not like I'll be removing bark or anything. I can strap on as much of my martial arts gear as possible, use the kick pad we have that is shield shaped (complete with straps) and practice moving around in a somewhat constricted fashion while I do my pell work. I'm going to look like a complete idiot, dancing around my backyard decked out in MA safety gear, wearing boots and gi pants, and using a red foam sword to hit a tree.

I can hardly find a fuck to use on the possible apparent idiocy of my appearance to my neighbors. In fact I can't find a one. I'm just fresh out of fucks. 'Cause I spent them out on the grass the past two Tuesdays, sweating through a borrowed gambeson and getting smacked in the helmeted head with a rattan sword, which was ridiculously awesome.

Zevran Arainai's catchphrase (one of them anyway): "We are ridiculously awesome!"
Thank you, Bioware.
Don't look for images of Zevran unless you are prepared to see things you can't unsee.

Anyway, wasn't I supposed to be talking about an epiphany? Yes. I was. So one of the instructors there, a gentleman whose persona name is Duncan, was attempting to explain to me the difference between fighting range and reach and how the fight's in your head. So I understood the words he was saying, and the initial concept - yes, fighting with your hands is different than fighting with sword-type stick. Or a stick-type sword. I understood that. But later, while I was driving home from work the next day actually, it came to me sort outta the blue. While I was thinking how much goddamn fun I'd had and how I wanted to this forever. 

I have to stop thinking with my hands. Because that's not where the action is.

Hm. I'm not explaining it right. You move the sword with your arm and hand and body, but the impact is way out there, near the end. I'm used to knowing how to land the blow from my hand and it's a good deal different when the end of the sword is where you end the blow. 

Still not right.

It was not quite this extreme.
Okay, STILL not explaining it right. You'll just have to take my word for it. I had an epiphany and totally understood something that I didn't before. So there. Now. Implementing this new understanding is still going to require quite a bit of work.

Friday, October 16, 2015

What's in a name? Apparently in my case it's brutal reality.

I'm searching for a last name for my SCA persona. She...I am a Norse woman, ninth or tenth century. That’s 800s or 900s CE. First name is Valdis. It means something like goddess of the battlefield dead. Val means “the dead on the battlefield”, as opposed to just dying of old age or disease, I’m thinking.  A distinction I surmise they made because dying in battle was the most honorable. Dis means goddess, more as a minor goddess if I’m reading correctly.

So…goddess of the honorably dead bodies. Goddess of the potential zombies.


Really, that’s extremely morbid to my modern ears and mind. Would you want to put that on a baby, "May there be lots of dead people in your future, darling girl child! Have fun with that! Remember, they're honorably dead and that's a good thing."

Anything in bold italics is a quote from the Viking Answer Lady's page on Old Norse female names. I don't want to clutter up the page with links for every time I reference her.

According to the Viking Answer Lady’s research (in actual reference books accepted by the SCA ), there are recorded instances of the name Valdis. It’s been accepted for registration in the SCA in the past. You can look that up somewhere on the SCA site; I just don’t care to hunt down the link right now.

But…goddess of the dead on the battlefield. Do I want to be that morbid? It’s not like I have to tell people what it means, unless they ask. But I’ve looked at other names and I just keeping coming back to this one. I like the way it flows. I can hear it being screamed out in battle, yelled across a bustling camp, whispered in the dark.

Not that I think any of that stuff is going to happen. Those events are just things that might have happened to her, were she to truly live…in some alternate universe that allowed women in battle in ninth century northern Europe. As much as I’d like to believe battle maidens were historically accurate there’s no solid evidence for them. That’s not going to prevent me from strapping on armor and shield; I don’t care to be THAT historically accurate. But I’m not going to be a revisionist. There were very pragmatic reasons women didn’t become warriors and pragmatism is why I like the Norse.

I’m seriously getting into fully inhabiting this persona and all aspects of her theoretical life and also I’m a writer, damnit. Melodrama is my game. Now…if I remember correctly there were a few instances of very rich noblewomen taking up arms to defend their families, properties, and rights. But they didn’t go out pillaging and plundering.

There’s Vigdis, which means “battle goddess”. Still starts with a ‘v’ and it’s still short and easy to pronounce. But for some reason I just can’t explain…I don’t want a ‘g’ in my name. I can’t hear this name calling me aloud.

Halldis- Hall means "flat stone, slab, big stone, boulder". Goddess of the stones. Nope. Not feeling it.

Herdis- The first element Her- or Hær- comes from Germanic*harjaz and is related to Old Icelandic herr, "army, military force". Nice, but I’m still not feeling it for myself. I’ll keep it for a character somewhere in my books, possibly a main character.

Hjordis - The first element Hjor- is identical to Old Icelandic hjorr, "a sword". Nice meaning, don’t like the way it sounds spoken.

Jódís      The first element Jó- or Ió- comes from OW.Norse jór (derived from Germanic *ehwaz) "horse". I like the ‘j’, my own given name starts with that letter. But I can’t hear it being called to me.

It’s the same for all the possibles, I just don’t hear them as me, as being called out and I turn my head. I guess you’re seeing the theme of names with goddess in them. There are some I like without it. I don’t have THAT much of a swelled head.

Mardoll - means mermaid, which I really like, but the modern connotation of ‘doll’? No.

Finna - a feminine nickname of any name with the suffix –finna, the feminine of Old Icelandic finnr, which means "Saami, Laplander." The word is often mistranslated as "a person from Finland, a Finn", and often is used to mean "sorcerer, magician, practicioner of seiðr, since the Saami were believed to be mighty magicians. I don’t want an ‘f’ name.

Spana - Possibly related to Old Icelandic spana, "to provoke, to allure".

I’m not hearing them. I’m not feeling them.

Envision a warrior, clad in leather armor and wool padding. The armor is made to fit her because she’s short and if it’s not made to fit it restricts movement and speed. A woman just doesn’t have the muscle and natural speed in comparison to a man, that’s just biology.  She must give herself every advantage. She must strive for as much speed and grace as possible.

So this woman we are envisioning (you better be envisioning, I’m making art here) wears very little armor, only what she’s decided she absolutely needs. In real-life SCA heavy combat, I'll be wearing some steel. You can find SCA approved leather armor but having some steel plating, especially on the limbs is just sensible. It's safety issue. I’ve only been to three events and but I’ve seen injuries at all three, plus heard about more.  If a bone gets broken or a joint gets smashed you don’t get to hear your opponent’s armor ringing from the blows of your sword for a while. And I really like that sound. I'm not sacrificing safety just because I want to look smoking hot in my armor. But if I can find a way to do it...I will. I don't want it to be hella fancy stuff; I don't need to look like a damn elf. Plain is fine, just well-crafted.

And historical accuracy is the Norse simply didn't wear much armor of any kind unless they were fairly rich. That stuff cost serious money, a lot of time and effort goes into making it. 

I'm getting off track.

A woman clad in leather armor strides through the dead on the battlefield. She is alive; she has survived. So many fine, strong warriors are dead, both enemies and allies, but though she is smaller and not as strong, she is alive and they’re in Valhalla, which she has been told is a fun place but she doesn’t want to visit just yet. Can you see the setting sun, hazy in the mist? Can you smell the stench of blood and entrails? These are freshly dead bodies and it’s cold in this vision, the bodies aren’t rotting just yet but blood and guts still stink. Can you hear the cries of the wounded and the ravens already scavenging the fresh bodies? Things that were once living men are now just meat, bodies cleaved almost in half, missing heads, arms, legs, brains spilling out of heads, bones and lungs and hearts exposed. How cold is it in this vision, will there be a frost when the sun goes down? Will it begin to snow?

The battle has just ended, maybe minutes before, so there are other warriors alive and moving about on the field. The adrenaline is still coursing through her veins, her heart still pounds, she is still drawing breath raggedly, but she can feel it slowing, releasing, draining out of her and the exhaustion is coming. She is walking to the edge of the field, walking towards camp. She can see the campfires through the mist. Water, there will be water at camp to wash off the gore. And someone to help her strip off her armor and take her sword and clean everything. There will be mead to drink. There will be a man to find somewhere that hasn't collapsed yet and is looking for a woman himself. I'll leave that last bit right there, you'll just have to use your imagination, or wait for the book. I do have some limits as to what I'll post here in this blog.

But how about that woman, eh? I am a genius. Seriously, times like this, I just know I am a definitely a queen of melodrama and could make a fine living at this. I've been writing for a few hours now; I could do this all day, BUT WHY CAN’T I FIND THE FUCKING PLOT! Bits of scenes don't make books. You have to have plot. Well, I have to, I refuse to half-ass my way through my art.

Part one of the name quest has been explored and successfully completed and that's enough whining about plot for today. It’s decided. I am Valdis. Now…who was my father? I am somebody's "dottir", what was his name? 

Coming in part two, I know you're on tenterhooks to find out. I'm hungry and I do still need to attended to household stuff. There's some laundry needs doing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Seven Thought Provoking it too late to ask them?

Always so hard to get started.
Questions taken from 101 Thought Provoking Questions to Ask Yourself Before It's Too Late, although they're not much different from the questions on any of the other page results that showed up when I googled "deep thought questions."
1. Do you like who you are?
Um...I guess. Mostly. Wait, okay, so should this be a total honesty thing? Or a positive affirmation self-esteem building thing? Am I supposed to tell how I feel now or how I feel I ought to feel, and in so saying how I feel I ought to feel, affirm it until I actually believe it.
Wow, we jumped deep right off, eh?
I like some things about myself. Like...what does that mean, really? Let's go for a specific definition here. Liketo enjoy (something), to get pleasure from (something), to regard (something) in a favorable way, to feel affection for (someone), to enjoy being with (someone). 
I have a hard time liking myself, because I know there's room for improvement. There are things I don't mind about myself, but I can't say I actually like or dislike them. For example: I'm a woman. It can be annoying on many levels but also there's good stuff. But I can't say I either like or dislike being a woman. It's a genetic roll of the dice.

I like my hair, it's curly and pretty, even though it takes a lot of effort when it grows out. But that's a genetic roll of the dice too, it's not like I picked it.

I like being creative, but I fear it too. Because so far I haven't done a lot with it. Nothing of substance anyway. Does it count as a like if I'm also afraid of it?
There's a number of things I really don't like about myself. REALLY don't like. But for some reason, I'm not inclined to change many of them. Seriously really not inclined, like (ha) I just don't care that I'm severely impatient and judgmental in my head. I try not to be out loud. Mostly I succeed.

This answer isn't really going anywhere, is it. I'm just coming off confused and vague. Moving on.
2. What would people say about you at your funeral?
I don't know. I'll be dead, does it matter? Probably how I liked to cook but also it always looked like a tornado blew through the kitchen when I did a big cooking project. Also that I like video games. And reading. And writing.
Also I don't know that I want a funeral, not in a funeral home at least. Can you just have a party? Good lord, don't waste money on a coffin, I want to be cremated. Or planted in a tree pod, or something else green, no embalming. Or donated to the forensic anthropological research facility at the University of Tennessee. In my head I call it the Death Farm.
How the hell am I supposed to know what they'd really say? I'm not in their heads. I certainly wouldn't want anyone to be in my super impatient and judgmental head, so why would they want me in theirs? They wouldn't.

You're pissing me off, Question 2! Moving on.
3. What would you regret not doing in your life?
Not doing?

If I understand the question correctly, it's asking is there something I've done that if I hadn't done it I'd regret not doing it?

How do I...or would I...know if I should regret it if I didn't do it? Or...I mean...I did it, but if I didn't do it I wouldn't know what the experience was, so how do I know if I should regret....
This question is stupid.
4. What’s the wisest thing you have ever heard someone say?
I can't really remember the wisest thing. Maybe it narrows it down if I confine it to things I've actually heard a real person say, in real life and not on television or in a movie.
But I still can't remember anything. I have a tendency to blank under pressure.
5. What lessons in life did you learn to hard way?
All of them? If it wasn't hard I wouldn't have learned it. Hard is relative.

Hm. seems I have to cut these fascinating questions short. Time to go home. So you only get five questions. Do you feel ripped off, since I promised seven? What is that about, the need for lists of things nowadays? Are there people who decide what they'll read based on the number of things claimed in the title?

Monday, October 5, 2015

Whereupon words did flow...for a bit anyway.

Here it is, Monday. Okay, let's write!!

Block. Block. Block.


Movie Monday. Let's make today a movie Monday. 

This is not a review of a movie. I'm doing a lot of typing and deleting right now. Trying to write without spewing nonsense. Last week I managed to get down the preliminary notes for the nine main books I want to write and one of those book ideas will have to be broken up into at least three to four volumes. Now that everything is down on to speak, I did actually print out the notes, so they are down on paper...Now that the notes are not just whooshing around in my head but set down, I'm sort of scared. It's sort of, "oh, hey look. I really do have a lot of ideas and a lot of ideas about those ideas and some scenes and even some actual plot. Oh shit, now I have to start putting all that together."

Upon googling "Monday block" this is one of the images that came up.
It's pretty and gives me ideas. I'm keeping it.
Sweet Briar Women's College, Amherst Co.,Virginia
The more I write, the more I want to do nothing but write. But I don't live alone and write for a living. I have a house and family to take care of and an outside job. Yes, I know there are writers who did all of those things, who were able to partition their brains and get writing done at a set time and focus on family and work at other times. Well, writing consumes me, when I'm writing at a good pace, with the ideas and words flowing well, everything else just sort of fades away. The rest of it is all a pale dream, people move around in the background and events happen but none of it seems to have anything to do with me and my story.

I've been thinking about getting out of the house to write. See, today is my Quiet Monday. Sunday is my long day at the clinic and it ends a long week (every week is a long week) and Mondays are supposed to be recuperation days. I stay in my pajamas and piddle around the house and catch up on whatever needs to be caught up on. Also it's the new beginning of the week. But Mondays are also the one day a week I have a large chunk of time to write. I'm wondering if I should go to a coffee house and just ensconce myself at a table and write for hours.

Word of the day!
Problem with that is...that won't help my brain reset. Going out of the house I mean. I need to stay as far away from other people as possible for most of the day.

Also, it really won't help my brain reset if I don't get anything done on Monday that needs to be done (like laundry and bread baking and dish washing and letter writing) because then I'll just have to deal with it later in the week.

I'm supposed to be talking about a movie. I've sort of lost interest in that now. Sigh.

Okay, I'm just pushing too hard. I'm looking at the hugeness of the forest and wondering how the hell I'm going to get through instead of looking at the path that's right in front of me. Now that the notes are down I don't need to rush. Just work on the notes some more! The notes are currently all together in one document. I'll start breaking them up into separate files now.

But first I'm going to put a load of laundry in and start the breadmaker. Tasty homemade rolls, mmmm.