Posted by: Ealasaid on Oct 26, 2010
I understand many of our blogs are also to be about our experiences within the SCA, and for me this has been a mixed, jumbled bag. I am hoping to help others by and through this blog realize they are not the only ones that feel the way they do, and that not all experiences within the SCA are the wonderment enjoyment that many project. There are a few out there that just can't seem to find their niche among their local SCA group.
By and through the telling of my story, I wish to impart the knowledge, the strength, the desire, the drive, etc not to give up on such a wonderful "hobby" as the SCA….
My first experience with the SCA was in the mid 1990's in a little place known as Apache Junction Arizona. I grew up in Paradise Valley Village on the north side of Phoenix, and every year all my friends would talk about how great the Renaissance Fair in Apache Junction was. So finally I decided to take my children to this event. WOW did we have the greatest of times. It was fantastic. My kids fell in love with every aspect of it.
Sadly we were not able to attend the Fair the following year as we became homeless in September that very year. It was very hard on all of us to lose everything. And we pretty much did, if it didn't fit in my car at the time we lost it…. After a few weeks of living out of the car and on the streets, I finally broke down and called my parents. They allowed us to stay with them for a few short weeks. During this time fell Halloween; all my daughter wanted was a pretty Renaissance dress like the ones she saw at the fair. It honestly broke my heart because I even though I could sew I didn't have the money for the fabrics. That was until I was helping my mother clean out a bunch of stuff and in the "donation" bag was 2 sheets. One was this awesome renaissance style print and the other was a off white flat. I asked if I could have the sheets. When I explained why, my mother went to her scrap bin, pulled out a piece of beautiful dark purple cotton, then she proceeded to provide some lace and other trim for the dress. She set up a table for my machine and I went to work… In 2 days. Unbeknowning to my daughter, she got a beautiful renaissance style costume for Halloween. Her face just lit up when she saw it. She of course wore it to her school Halloween party / costume contest. Sadly she did not take first because of who her mother was, Yeah I heard the judges on this one. She did place 3rd though…. She was excited, and no one knew it was just a pair of ragged sheets.
Now this was our first real taste of the Renaissance Period stuff. Due to life, hardships, and many mundane issues, we fell away from the SCA and all that it was / is… That was until I moved to Central Oregon in 2004, and my daughter moved back in with me in 2005.
I met a wonderful ladye who was a very active part in the SCA there. Her and I became fast friends and before long she was dragging me to "Saturday pot luck". This was a friendly get together every Saturday at altering houses…. You were basically expected to dress in garb and bring a dish… It was a true family get together. I had loaner garb, because I just didn't have the funding for my own. I had a wonderful time with this group of people.. They welcomed me in, They made me feel like my differences were just a part of the group. It was a wonderful feeling.. One I will always hold near and dear….
Now due to a relationship break up, I had to relocate. This relocation brought me to where I am today… Mind you I left and came back 3 times within 2 years. Finally in 2009, I settled here bringing the most wonderful easterner troll down from Colorado with me. We attended the most wonderful Renaissance fair to the north of us in a tiny tiny town of Mancos. This relit my fire for the Renaissance period. Ironically although my troll had attended the Larkspur Renaissance Fair a number of times; disliking having to go every year, he found himself drawn to the people in and around the Mancos fair. He had a wonderful time.
In August of 2009, we attended our local county fair, to which we came across the SCA booth. Now honestly, neither of us were very impressed with the information we had acquired there… The gentleman we spoke with seemed very honest, although maybe not as knowledgeable as would have been helpful. He told us of fighter practice on Saturdays at a local park.
We attended a couple of these… Sadly we were not impressed. Our first impressions were of a high school clique. We were told how "newbies" were treated as "less than"… How they were expected to pick up the "slack", etc. This truly turned us against this group. We never met the ruling crown during any of our visits. We seemed to run into the "flakes" (now this is not meant to be derogatory) of the group.
A few months went by, we attended the local Renaissance fair. I have never liked this fair. It seems as if it is hap-hazardly put together. Almost like there is no planning among the various groups. This again diminished our desire to join the SCA…
In early 2010, I replied to a wanted ad on popular web site. The person was looking for a twin sized bed for a family who lost everything. Having been there, and having a twin bed in storage, I wanted to help. While delivering the bed the party and we got to talking. Come to find out, the party was the former crown, the ones we never met, of our local group.
We discovered, during our attempts to become part of the group, these wonderful people were stepping down. Thus we fell through the cracks because of the transfer in power. My troll and I probably spent a good 3 hours talking with this wonderful couple. They basically convinced us to give it another try. And we did…
In May 2010, we attended our first populace meeting. We got a wonderful welcoming. Everyone seemed friendly and hopeful and… The only part I honestly didn't like and still don't is, If they discover you have knowledge of something they instantly attempt to rope you into doing that. I hold 4 college degrees, one of which is in Computer programming and one is in accounting… Thus I found myself being talked into becoming web master and or Exchequer; neither of which I was ready to take on without getting to know the group first…
In June 2010, we attended populace again… One thing started to become very clear and apparent to us. This group was / is completely dis-organized. The populace meetings seemed scattered, rambling, etc. This concerned us. I had started the local snow mobile group years ago, I had also held officer positions in college with V.I.C.A., among other groups. My Troll had also been a very active member in his local union in Colorado and New Jersey. He also held positions within the VFW. So to see the disorganization of this group really worried us. For if they could not get their monthly "business" meeting in order, how could anything else come off any other way.
We were surprised to be invited to their after meeting "get together" at a local pizzeria. This was an amazing insight to this group. Although we had one very large long table, it was interesting to watch where people sat. You remember high school at lunch time… Yeah…. Anyways we sat with the A & S officer. Wow what a wonderful lady… I can never say enough positive things about this person. We got to talking about their major affair coming up, Warders. When 2 ladies sitting near us overheard our conversation, They did their utmost best to change the subject. The subject was me entering their major A & S competition known as Vert. The A & S officer thought I had what it would take. These 2 ladies did not want me to have any part of this competition. Later I would come to find out one of the ladies was the 2008 Champion and the other is now the 2010 champion. I wonder why they did not want me to enter this competition.
As a birthday gift to my daughter, and determined to become an actual member in the SCA, I paid for a family subscription (for just her and I). My troll wished to wait to see how things went. What truly surprised me, was I never received a "welcome packet". Now I will be honest, I am not sure IF the local level is notified when someone pays for their membership or not. Although if not that really needs to be changed. For in my mind everyone who is new, deserves a friendly personal letter welcoming them and introducing ALL the key players of the group. This did not happen.
Now August is when things really started to fall apart for us within the group. I had volunteered to do our local County Fair Demo. Now remember this was where we got our first taste of the SCA the year before. Upon arriving for "set-up", we were first on scene even though we were running late. Set up was chaos to say the least.. No one knew where they wanted anything set… As for demo items, none were really present at "set-up" although as the fair went through its days more things "showed up"… For 7 days of the fair running 10:00 am to 10:00pm we had maybe 7 to 10 volunteers. My Troll and I personally worked 2 days of the 7 day event. Working well over our scheduled times. Now please, I am not complaining, I am merely relaying our experiences. This further highlighted how disorganized this group really was / is at least to us…. Many say A & S are very much a part of what this group does.. Yet out of the 2 major demos, all they projected was the fighting… Other than "table" items, no real A & S activities were demo'ed. Being a new member, I offered my 2 dress forms to showcase "garb" as none had been present the year before. This offer was accepted, although upon set up I was asked to provide a gown for the demo; as I prefer the fancier court type gowns. Luckily I had just finished a gown I could allow them to use.
For us, August was a very rough month mundanely. We were notified my father's very rare form of Leukemia was not in remission as hoped. He had another flare up in May, did 24 hours a day for 7 days in hospital chemo also in May. So this was not good news for us… We were making plans to attend Warders. I had made 2 entries for the competitions. One was for the Vert competition as discussed earlier and another was for a competition called Blue and Black, highlighting our groups colors..
To further compound issues in August, I had been posting to the local yahoo group when I guess I made a horrible mistake, and it seemed to be the subject of discussion of weeks after ward. I had been doing some writing for another group in which I am a part of. It is a religious group, to which I had worked hard within its ranks to become a "teacher". Because I do not like the "title" bestowed upon this rank, I had asked to be referred to as Ladye. The mistake I made was I signed my SCA group posts as Ladye Ealadsaid. Once this mistake was, to me, rudely although privately pointed out to me; I promptly posted an apology, explaining it had been a format mistake and that it would not happen again. To me this should have been the end of this issue… Sadly to my demise, this was not to be the case. It seemed to have rolled over into the Renaissance Faire being held once again in Mancos. This soured me even further with the local group.
After this Fair, I guess I flubbed again. I had gone on to the group again and thanked all the parties that made my troll and I feel very welcomed at the Fair. Sadly the majority of them were from the shire a mere 45 minutes to the north of us. I was told later that this ruffled quite a few feathers within the local group. So now I have 3 + strikes against me and the group.
The finally straw would come when I posted yet again to the group page asking questions with regards to the upcoming event, Warders.. I honestly felt the person who replied to the post had talked down to me. This honestly infuriated me and I responded, probably not the best action to take. Afterwards I promptly removed myself from the group and had decided I was NOT "playing" any more. Sadly what the person replying did not know is I am Borderline Dissociative, and IF I perceive someone is talking "down to me" it is a major trigger. I must also admit at the time of this conversation, I had just found out my father's cancer was not in remission, my daughter was having housing issues, my troll was having health and job issues. I had enough stress in my life. What many do not know, was the out pouring of friendship given to me by members far and wide within our kingdom; many commenting in amazement of how "rude" the reply had come across even to them.
To my surprise, when the A & S officer found out what had happened she promptly called me. We spent a good 2 hours going over things. I honestly owe this woman for a lot.. She is an awesome wonderful person. After our talk, my troll and I had decided instead of going for the entire event, we would go for one maybe 2 days; especially since I worked hard on my gowns for the competitions. Sadly this was not to be the case; we had yet another family emergency the very week of the event.
We have since attempted to attend 2 practices; neither have gone over very well…. My troll and I most assuredly felt like outsiders. Only one maybe 2 people choose to walk over and say hello… I again contacted our A & S officer, she again was most helpful and understanding. She is also the one who turned my on to this awesome web site. By and through this web site I have come to realize what the SCA is truly all about. As such, I have contacted one of the autocrats and offered to help with our Toy Box Event. The group our Toy Box is benefitting is very near and dear to my heart, Toys for Tots. I will also be contacting the autocrat for Twelfth Night…
Since attending the practices the "conflicts" between myself and the local group continue. It was been implied my "garb" is not authentic, that my troll and I are unfriendly. Two of the group's members have felt the need to "defend" the group and its actions among the very forums within this web site, after being invited be me to join the site. We feel most of this is because as newcomers, coming from other groups and organizations, we noticed the flaws within the system and Sadly vocalized the flaws along with suggestions on how to fix them. We honestly wish to be a part of this group. We are both paid members. My troll purchased his membership in July. Thus we became 2 sustaining members, instead of one family membership, costing us double. Recently, as in days ago, I finally received what I would call a newcomers email. It listed the major "players" though NO contact information was provided. Please note, my troll still have not received any form of welcoming information. Our local group's web page is a dysfunctional site of chaos, and really lacks in viable information. A & S is held once monthly although fighter practices are held weekly, yet they say they are A & S friendly…
In closing I wish to state --- We are here within the SCA and WE plan to stay.
The SCA is a great family, it is an awesome and wonderful organization with a true desire and drive to teach, share, and experience the Renaissance History… You may not always agree or even like a portion of your group. Just remember for everyone you may meet in person there are 2 that sit quietly on the side lines which you may never meet. Meet them, for I bet within them you will find a couple you like and wish to get to know better… For me it is our A & S officer, her totally awesome daughter, an older lady that I love chatting with, and I have heard a couple of people I "sold" on the SCA during the County Fair Demo have become members as well…
So don't give up… It will be worth it in the end.. I shared my story so others would not feel alone in their struggles in figuring out where the fit within their group. And maybe for those who may not realize just how their actions can and do affect others…