Real Life Issues

•October 10, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I have realized that it’s not that I want to give up fighting that I haven’t felt like attending practice in a while.  It’s just that it’s taking me longer to get acclimated to my new place and new jobs than usual.  I am still unpacking my things at my new apartment and I seem to always playing catch-up at work.  For those of you who don’t know, I am working at two catholic schools.  I am used to teaching in public schools. In public schools, I usually taught 6 classes per day with a 40 minute prep period daily.  A prep period allows me to input grades and prepare all of my lessons.  So, a typical week would usually include me teaching 30 classes with 5 prep periods.  During that time I was usually able to get all of my planning and grading done at work.  This year, my one job requires me to teach 19 classes over three days with 1 prep period.  The other job requires me to teach 12 classes with two 20 minute preps (the equivalent of 1 prep period).  So essentially, I now have 31 classes with 2 preps.  I am also used to teaching a smaller grade range.  Usually, I’ll only teach 3-5 grades, so I’ll only have 3-5 lessons to plan for.  Now I’m teaching Pre-K-8 (10 grades) and some lesson plans cannot be shared between schools (one school offers recorders for grades 4-6 and the other does not).  Most of my classes are (surprisingly) not much smaller than public school classes. Needless to say, I have found myself taking a lot of grading home, which is why I have been unable to get everything unpacked at my new apartment.

Then there’s acclimating to my new job culture.  Between the two schools, I have four concerts to prepare for, one musical, and I will eventually have to lead the singing at mass (up front, at a podium, with a microphone).  For those of you who don’t know, I am not Catholic, nor was I raised Catholic.  Some of the interim songs are not written down (such as the Halleluiah [sp?] or the Holy Holy) so I need to attend enough masses to get what they sound like. And there’s the culture in general.  One of my schools has kids that are VERY well-behaved and I love it there.  The other school has kids that are close to public school levels of misbehavior. I actually had to ask one of my coworkers how to “cross” myself (“Is it left to right or right to left?”). They pray before faculty meetings, professional development days, etc.  The kids pray in the morning and a few other times throughout the day. I’m still getting used to the fact that I feel like I *should* include God in my lessons whereas in public schools I had to make sure to keep God OUT of my lessons. It’s just different. Some parents are VERY interested in their child’s schooling.  Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s GREAT that parents are interested!  But there is a point when a parent will get TOO interested and it becomes a hinderance to their child’s schooling.

Anyway, I do plan to return to fighting.  But it may take longer than I would like if I have to keep taking grading home every day. I’m hoping that in a few more weeks, I’ll get into more of a rhythm at work and will be able to have more free time to get what I need to done at home so I can actually get out for fight practices.

Returning to Fighting?

•September 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I have managed to find full time employment that allows me weekends off and most evenings free. I have had to move again and I am now living in the shire of North Pass.

I have finished moving and am mostly settled in. I still have maybe 15 boxes that still need to be unpacked, but I am almost done. I have gas money for traveling. But I don’t feel like returning to fighting. It’s an odd feeling. For years I was driven to work at fighting by something I could not name. Now I just don’t feel like fighting because of something I can, again, not name.

Several suppositions have occurred to me: I’m getting too old, I’m sick of the pain, I’m getting too frustrated at not showing progress, some people have been treating me differently in the past year (which I readily admit may be imagined on my part), or my life priorities may have shifted. But none of those things feels like the right explanation.

I probably will be back in armor again. If nothing else, to try and determine why I find myself avoiding events and fight practices. But until I get the urge to return, my blog entries and SCA appearances may be sporadic at best.

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The SCA on Morning Edition

•August 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

For those of you who missed it, there was a piece on the SCA done by NPR’s Morning Edition.  Here’s the link to the website: Salesman By Day, Medieval Swordsman on the Weekend.

I also recommend reading the comments at the bottom of the page. I thought they were very interesting!

Pennsic 43: War Week (part 2)

•August 14, 2014 • Leave a Comment

WEDNESDAY
On Wednesday morning I was introduced to a neuromuscular therapist who fixed my back. I honestly didn’t realize that it could be fixed. Apparently the muscles as far up as the middle of my back and as far down as my hip were affected. He worked miracles! Not only could I walk again, but I could even bend over relatively pain-free!

I did a small amount of shopping and hung around camp rehydrating. I finished the cloth cover for my book for my fighting quest. I decided to embroider any repetitive advice or something that I thought was important to remember on the book cover in runes. The neuromuscular therapist told me I should take a break from fighting, so I didn’t do pickups as planned.

I walked around for a little while. I ran into Sir Wilhem de Broc (sp?). He has just been elevated to a knight. He was talking about how his words have more weight now, in a good way. A compliment or a kind word from a knight can really make someone’s day. I had never thought about it before, but he’s right!

Then I went down to visit my gypsy friends for my traditional yearly gypsy dressup day. While I am not used to baring my midriff under any circumstances, I felt like I was under cover. Many people I knew didn’t recognize me! As a note, I do not believe the way I was dressed was period for Romani or anyone else. I call them gypsies because that’s what they called themselves. This year, I was in a choli, a two-toned skirt, and a jingly coin belt.

I hung around the swamp with friends at night. I didn’t drink all that much because we had battle the next day, but I did stay out rather late.

THURSDAY
I woke up and my back was a little sore, so I asked a friend for some painkillers and put on my armor. As soon as the armor was on, my back pain got worse. At the broken field battle, I chose to stand and guard a flag rather than go to the front lines. Me and Jocelyn were both injured so we spent the beginning of the battle commenting on the battle and tactics and what we could see in the way of gaps and charges. After that, I got an order from Tiberius Iulius Rufus Primus (one of our unit commanders) to keep resurrected fighters from our unit at the flag until there were a few people together and send them to one of our unit commanders in a group. Then I got an order from Sir Wilhem de Broc to keep an eye on the opposing forces and call out where they were stacking their forces for a charge. We were told to call it out so they would be prepared. Every so often, my squire brother Joe would trade out my pole arm for a spear. It didn’t matter much which weapon I had. They only broke through twice to the point where I had to fight anyone. I killed one person each time they broke through. I didn’t die at all. Between all of the orders I was following, the battle went pretty quickly. I did notice that the longer I stood there, the more it hurt to walk.

At the end of the battle, the King of Calontir approached our unit. He had fought against us in the battle and told us how he had 101 coins minted and that 60 were for his use and the rest were for his Queen. He took a few coins out and then tossed the bag to Omega, who distributed them to all of us. Afterwards, Talan wanted to give me his coin because of how I was hurting and went out there anyway. I was touched, but insisted he keep his coin. I heard later that he gave it to one of our waterbearers instead.

I needed to lean on my pole arm to walk. I had issues walking up the hill and caught the bus as it was passing by. Once the armor was off, the pain had lessened, but was still present. I had to pack up the remainder of my belongings and leave. I was trying to pull up one of my tent stakes and failing miserably. I had been loaned a pair of pliers to use, but my arm strength alone couldn’t pull it up. When I tried using my core muscles to help me, my back screamed with pain. The amount of frustration I felt was extreme. Thankfully, a few members of the household I am in helped me out.

Before I left, Fionn, our other unit commander, told me how I inspired him on the field. Because I was injured and out there anyway, he said it inspired him to keep going. That meant a lot because I was really hating my inability to do anything at that particular moment.

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POST-PENNSIC THOUGHTS
I would have liked to have spent more time at Pennsic. I was not able to visit everyone I would have liked to and those I did visit with I would have liked to have  spent more time with. I am grateful, as always, for the kind words and deeds. I was EXTREMELY frustrated that my back started acting up again, especially when I thought it had healed!

Despite the lack of time and back pain in the second half of the week, this was one of the best Pennsics I have attended. It was SO wonderful seeing friends and being able to fight unimpeded by back pain earlier in the week!

When I got home, my slumber was filled with dreams of battles and wandering around Pennsic with friends. I woke up in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom. It took a few minutes for me to realize I was not in a tent and that I would not have to go outdoors to use a port-a-john.

I do hope to start attending fight practices again to fulfil my quest of 1,000 fights, but more about this in future blogs!

Pennsic 43: War Week (part 1)

•August 8, 2014 • Leave a Comment

MONDAY
I returned to Pennsic quite late on Sunday night. Even so, Ionnes and Omega were still up, so I chatted with them for a while. I ended up getting maybe four hours of sleep, so I was very tired for the fighting the next day.

For the field battles, our unit was on the downhill flank of the field battles with the 3rd division of the Northern Army. In the first field battle, we did our job so well that even though it was not part of the plan to swing around their flank and push uphill, that’s what we ended up doing. We came around the side and one of their forces took me from the side and killed me. In the second field battle we ended up with more opponents so we were not able to flank around as easily. Again, I got killed from the side. I was just reminding myself to watch my periphery next time, when someone (I can’t remember who) said something to me about it!

I honestly don’t remember the third field battle. Before the 4th one began, my squire brother Joe loaned me a spear to use. Having used a spear in fight practice only once or twice, I was hesitant to use one in a melee. I had one arm taken early in the battle. I walked around the backfield offering the spear to anyone who wanted it, but nobody did. Then a fighter broke through our line and ran right towards me. I held the spear out with my left hand, aimed for his head, and tried to put ad much muscle as I could behind it. And it worked! It was awesome! The 5th field battle was similar to the 4th (without the awesome one armed spear kill).

I loved fighting in the field battles. I loved being able to move without back pain. I silently rejoiced each time I was able to bend over and pick things up at camp. It was a good day and being pain-free was wonderful!

In the evening I was invited to Bricktober Fest for some tasty German food. I had not eaten much German food before (although I LOVED liverwurst as a kid). This food was TASTY! I especially enjoyed the spaetzle and the saurbraten (sp?)!

TUESDAY
I had found out Monday night that the woods battles would, at the very least, be postponed until later in the week. It had rained a lot the first week and it turned out the EMS vehicles couldn’t get out of the woods because of all the mud. So the bridge battles were rescheduled for Tuesday.

I went to put on my armor on Tuesday morning and noticed a vital piece was missing — the rigid part of my female pelvic protection (often called a “Jane” or a “Jill”). My first thought was, “Oh Gods, where am I going to find another one in time to fight today?” Someone had mentioned seeing it on the field the day before, so I checked the lost and found. It wasn’t there. So I walked around merchantdom asking all vendors that sold anything fighting-related if they sold female pelvic protection. None did. One suggested getting a rigid piece of leather and padding the back of it. It had not occurred to me, but it was a good idea! The first leather merchant I came to that was open was the Real Leather People (it WAS 9:30am or so). They were AWESOME! They not only told me which leather I wanted, but gave me a scrap of it large enough to use for free!

After that the rest were just details. Borrowing leather shears from Sir Albrecht (Von Halstern). Getting the padding from my car. Finding out the battle start time had been moved back an hour. I even managed to show up to the battle field before the first bridge battle started!

When I got out on the field, there it was, the rigid piece from my female pelvic protection, just sitting on the ground right near where Serpentius had set up our stuff the day before. Doh!

In the grand scheme of combat tactics, Serpentius was given the job of being a reserve unit. Wherever help was needed was where we went. We were positioned between the 4th and 5th bridges for the first two battles.

In the first bridge battle, we started by lining up according to weapon type and running ability. Last year I would have gone to the end of the line. This year, I went to the middle. We waited for about 10 minutes. Then we split the unit up with half going to help each bridge. I ended up on the fifth bridge. As soon as we got there, they were making a hole for the pole arms to charge! I was very excited! Unfortunately, by the time I got to the front line, the charge had ended and they were calling for spears to move up. I didn’t end up killing anyone, but I didn’t die. To be honest, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to do either. At the end, there were only two fighters left, so they requested single combat. They did kill a few of us, but Omega killed one and Deacon (Dimitri) killed the other.

We ended up on the fourth bridge for the second bridge battle. They crammed too many people onto the bridge in the hopes of taking it. The front was constantly pushing backwards and the back was constantly pushing forwards. The spears in front had no room to work. I felt like I was in a mosh pit and tried very hard not to push people back. Someone in command knew that we needed to make room for everyone. A charge was called, so I charged. But I was the only one. As I was killed, I hit one sword and shield fighter hard enough to kill, but they didn’t take the shot.

In the third battle, we were moved up to be reserves for the first and second bridge. At first, they told us to position ourselves by the first bridge and would go to the second instead. Then we were going to the first bridge. Then the second. It seemed like every minute or two our commanders had been given new orders to relay to us. I don’t remember which bridge we ended up at, but I didn’t die or even hit anybody.

The 4th bridge battle was pretty disappointing. I did not even get to the front lines. I was killed by a ballista bolt to the foot. The 5th bridge battle was much more interesting. Joe had borrowed my pole arm because someone else had borrowed his weapon. I found a spear sitting at the edge of the bridge, so I comandeered it. I ended up close to the front lines when there was a push. I got shoved bodily to one side and was forced to sit on a haybale that marked the edge of the bridge we were on. Even though there was nothing impeding me, I had a difficult time getting up. It took me several tries, but I did. I didn’t hurt, so I figured I was fine. I took the spear to the front lines, but because I was unaccustomed to it, my aim wasn’t good. I worked with the spear next to me tying up the spear across from us and he killed him. I had fun playing with the spear and want to get one of my own when I can afford it. There were just sword and shield fighters across from us, so I kept trying to hook the shield of the fighter across from me. They charged and that fighter killed me. I was knocked off of the bridge. I returned the spear to where I found it. By the time I got back to the waterbearers, my back was hurting so badly that sharp pains were radiating down my leg and I was having trouble walking.

I did very little the rest of the day. I didn’t eat lunch because I didn’t want to bend over to get into my cooler. I didn’t shower because I didn’t want to bend over to get the towel from my tent. I was constantly on the verge of tears. People gave me a wide berth, but I am assuming that is because when I am in pain, my face looks like I’m angry instead of hurting.

Tiberius Nautius gave me some naproxin, but it did nothing to take the edge off of the pain. I limped down to House Arindale to find Bjorvig who knew someone who could help my back. But Bjorvig wasn’t there. Sir Tanaka was there and kindly tried to help. I felt a little improvement, which was better than none.

We had our household gathering in the evening. We brought several new members into the household. I was chatting with someone who had stated that earlier in the week, he noticed I was moving better on the field. It was good to know some of my issues were back-related, but it was poorly timed.because of the pain I was in when he delivered his compliment. Omega gave me some pills to try for the pain (I honestly don’t remember what they all were). I also started drinking. I am not sure if it was the pills or the alcohol, but my back was starting to feel better.

The household gathering was fun, but I went to bed early in hopes that more sleep would mean more healing for my back.

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Pennsic 43: Peace Week

•August 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I drove down to Pennsic for Tuesday and Wednesday of Peace Week. I spent Tuesday unpacking, settling in, and visiting some friends. While visiting with my friend Olaf, he mentioned doing a “century” drill. Its just doing a shot or a combo 100 times daily, slowly, with perfect form. I like the idea. Maybe I will start doing them after Pennsic ends.

While crossing the battlefield on Tuesday, I happened upon a class on fighting.  As I walked by, the teacher (who was not Duke Sir Paul of Bellatrix) was discussing the teardrop return.  He mentioned that the more experienced one gets with the teardrop return, the smaller the teardrop will be.  That means that the movement will be quicker and the energy that is expelled will be more economical.  I did not grasp that concept the last time I was taught about the teardrop return.  That doesn’t mean it wasn’t taught, it just means I didn’t get it. Because of what I overheard from the class, I decided to stay and listen.  The teacher, whose name I did not catch, stated that no movement should be wasted.  If the energy is not being used to strike your opponent, it is wasted energy.  He also had a great way of likening movements to pie-slices.  I wish I could explain it better, but essentially a fighter’s range is in the shape of a pie slice.  Depending on that fighter’s stance, the pie slice could be thin or wide. Fighters move to make sure their opponent is in their pie slice. He also demonstrated how fighters can control the movement by moving in and out of their opponent’s pie slice. He also showed how fakes could be done with just a hip movement rather than moving the sword. I thought it was really interesting stuff!

On Wednesday, I did pick-ups. Given the choice, I prefer to do melees over singles fighting.  That’s probably because I feel more successful in melee fighting than in singles.  But because of my quest to fight 1,000 fights before next March, I went down to the battlefield for pick-ups. Even though I am notably stronger, because I haven’t fought in so long, certain muscle groups STILL wore out really quickly. I fought 7 different people for a total of 27 fights. I was really tired from the night before, so I can honestly not remember who told me what.  A few of the fights were memorable, so I will recount those.

I fought Duchess Sir Elina. It was really interesting fighting her.  I haven’t fought many female knights, but if she is any indication, they’re all awesome ladies! She genuinely seemed interested in helping me improve! She told me I wasn’t hitting her, even when she left spots open. I don’t know why, but I interpreted it to mean she thought I was psychologically having trouble hitting people. I explained that I was physically having problems hitting people. For some reason, I can’t get shots to go where I want them to. At least I’m not hitting light anymore. She had me compare my current stance (shield foot forward) to a sword foot forward stance. It turns out they were the same for power generation.

I was chatting with her after the fight and a young guy (maybe late teens, early 20s) came up and commented that I was moving too much. She explained to him why I was moving so much. Duchess Sir Elina said she encountered fighters of his caliber explaining a flat snap to her up until six months before she was knighted. I told her I tell people whatever they have to teach, I would be happy to learn. I didn’t tell her that I’m still so unsure of my abilities that I often wonder if I’m doing a flat snap correctly. She said that you can learn something from every fighter. I agree.

I fought the guy who said I was moving too much next. I didn’t win every fight, but I did get a clean face thrust against him. It moved his helmet, but he didn’t take it. I explained what it said in the Marshal’s handbook about face thrusts. Afterwards, he said he was tired and ready to stop fighting. When I asked him to sign my book, he said that I knew everything already. I hope I didn’t offend him somehow. I know I have plenty to learn.

I did learn other things from some of the other fighters I fought. I learned that because when I fight rightys they’re a mirror image of me, what works against me will work against them. Most of their advice is in my quest book and I have already stated that I will not post what is written in my blog. I also learned that even though my strength has improved, my accuracy has not. From all of the bruises I had developed, I learned where the weak points in my defense are, too.

Walking my armor back to camp, I discovered that while my back had greatly improved, some of the muscles surrounding it had not. It hurt to carry my armor bag up that hill. Even though being on the trails had improved my stamina going up hills, adding the extra weight of my armor caused me to get winded fairly quickly.

The next day I was seriously hurting. It was all muscle pain, which is good. It meant that I’m getting stronger. Because some of the muscles were core and shoulder muscles, it meant I was finally using my body to throw shots. It also meant those muscles were not getting worked much in the work that I do.

I left Pennsic anxious to get back. I will be taking some days off so I plan to be at War Week Monday-Thursday. I can’t wait to get back!

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Pre-Pennsic Post

•July 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

As I think I have mentioned before, I have been working at a physically demanding job for the first time in my life. I kept telling myself that when I was no longer tired and sore after my work week that I would start attending fight practices again. That just happened for the first time this week. Sadly, I had too much to do to prepare for both Pennsic and my sister’s wedding to be able to take the time to attend a practice.

I am a little concerned that I will not be at my best for Pennsic since I have not put on armor in so long. I DO know that my muscles are stronger than ever and my body is losing fat. I also know that every day that I crush rocks with a single jack (a one-handed sledgehammer) I am building my sword muscles. Every day I sidehill (a technique that cuts a trail into the side of a hill) with a rogue hoe, I am building my pole arm muscles. Even so, I haven’t actually used a sword or pole arm since mid-May. I hope I will do okay!

I plan to be at Pennsic during Tuesday and Wednesday of Peace Week. I will also be there during Tuesday and Wednesday of War Week. I plan to be there either Monday or Thursday of War Week too, but I haven’t decided which day I will take off of work yet. I will be doing pick-ups on both Wednesdays and will try and fight as many people as I can for my quest. If I’m not too wiped out after the woods battle, I may attempt to do pick-ups after that as well. I’ll look forward to seeing many of you there!

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