baronernst gave me:
The Medical Profession
The ageing of the SCA
They're what I *do*, especially in the SCA. I was introduced to the concept, really, when I joined the Order of DeMolay as a teenager. Now, in this sense, I'm not talking about the most common sense of the term, "repeated action". Brushing your teeth is not a ritual, not in *that* sense. What fascinates me is the ritual that *changes* things, what disneybaroness once called "theater with consequences". SCA ceremonial is often called "theater" but I think that's dismissive. When the curtain comes down, Romeo and Juliet stand up, take their bows, and live to play again. But when you get married, or get knighted, or get convicted, or get raised as a Master Mason something *changes*, permanently. Next week, you're still married, you're still a knight, you're still in prison, you're still a Master Mason. And those things, those states, have *consequences*. The most interesting changes that ritual can cause are when ritual *changes your mind*. Changes the way you think. This can be a change in philosophy, in the way you look at the world. Masonic ritual, done right, does that. It can transport you to another time and place and state of being, mentally and emotionally. SCA ritual, done right, does that. Ritual, through symbols (physical, gestural, verbal), transforms you. And ritual doesn't have to be found in a dark and dusty tome. It can be constructed, a la minute, from what you see around you. That's what Masonry will teach you if you really pay attention; I think that's the *real* secret, or one of them. In the SCA too, we can construct rituals that are deeply meaningful to us on the historical, Scadian, *and* real-world levels -- and those are all different -- all at the same time, if we look at the commonalities in the symbology.
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION
I have enormous respect as well as not-a-little frustration with physicians as a group. I couldn't do what they do. But I'm certain that I have a *far* greater understanding of what they do, and the restrictions and constraints under which they work, than they have of what *I* do. I really wish they had some grasp of the legal doctrine of "corresponding liability", which, in a nutshell, says that "because the doctor said to" is not a defense. I also wish they had some tiny notion of the mechanics of a prescription insurance claim, and of the regulations of agencies like the DEA and the Board of Pharmacy. It seems they just scribble out the script and it's "fire and forget". I wish, when I fax them about a potential dangerous interaction, just once I'd get an attitude of "thank you for saving my patient's life" rather than "why are you pestering me?". Oh, and as for nurses: I am in utter awe. No way I could do what they do. No *way*.
They taste great with Buffalo sauce and bleu cheese dressing. The origin of my "wing thing" came when I was 8 and looking for a symbol for the "family coat of arms" I was designing. Yeah, it goes that far back. I saw the owl-shaped cookie jar between the silver Sabbath candlesticks on top of the fridge, and an owl between two candlesticks became my heraldry. Until I joined the SCA: I was (erroneously) told that that design was "too religious". (What? What about all those crosses?!) So I registered a monstrosity with two owls. And I quickly formed a household called "Silverwing" because "Silver Owl" reminded me of cheap cigars. The badge for that was chappe ploye invected -- stylized wings -- with a chevron, and I changed my arms to be similar, with an owl replacing the chevron. The wings have mutated, in my mind, from owl's to angel's. The persona story is that my Welsh-border holding has a chapel with a reliquary housing three silver feathers that fell from Gabriel's wings at the Annunciation. The church, dedicated to St. Gabriel of the Annunciation, is commonly called "Silverwing". To my real-world mind, they represent the protective wings of the Shekhina, God's Presence, sort of a mystical Jewish version of the Holy Spirit.
THE AGING OF THE SCA
When I joined in 1977 at the age of 28, I was an old man in the club. It seemed everyone was a hippie/folkie liberal college kid. That was one reason that I had very little "peer fear" in those days. (Another was that I had zero social skills and didn't know my place, but we'll pass over that). The SCA *has* gotten older, and more conservative. It's *way* more of a "family activity" now. That's not a bad thing by any means, but it *can* -- and *has* -- led to stodginess and stagnation. We don't so much need youth for the sake of youth. What we need is fresh minds and the spirit of being bulletproof that *comes* with youth. We need to take risks and try new things, and while revering our traditions -- a subject about which I'm a fanatic -- nevertheless being willing to mix things up once in a while.
I wasn't a popular kid. I was a pathologically shy and under-socialized, utterly unathletic nerd. Sound familiar? In fact, I was rather severely bullied in junior high, and the scars have never gone away, even at age 63. I went to a 5-year college, so when I was a senior my few friends all graduated, got jobs, and moved away. So I refer to 1970 to 1977 as my "dark years". Then I found the SCA. It wasn't like being stranded on a desert island and then finding other humans. It was more like being an alien on Earth all my life, and suddenly finding the other aliens. Here were people who *got* me, and appreciated what *I* thought was cool, and thought that what I *did* with that was cool. Heraldry? They knew what that was, and respected me for my knowledge of it. Despite being an under-socialized nerd, I was made Holder of the Favor of the Ladies of Felding, Ladies' Champion of Carolingia, and a member of the QoC (back when it was a polling order, no less). People *accepted* me. Some of them even *liked* me. Combine that with the fact that I have little family contact: no kids, no nieces or nephews. I cherish my friends more than they can possibly imagine, and -- though I often fail -- I'm on this planet to work toward someday *deserving* them.
We all have them. You know *you* do. They can range from "peanut butter and pickle sandwiches" to "those human body parts in the freezer". My favorite play of all time
is "Equus", which is about a boy with some very disturbing secrets...and why he has them.
But as for me...no, no body parts. I'm addicted to cooking-competition TV shows: Iron Chef, Chopped. Even though I don't cook. I'm also a fan of Project Runway and Fashion Police: I'm not sure what a Free Safety does or how to change my oil, but I know a Balenciaga when I see one!
Private *time* is something I require. I was a private kid (see above), maybe even edging on the autism spectrum, and always needed time to be alone with my own thoughts. I've never been a party animal, although I do love sitting around with a group of good friends. Working part-time with Beth out of work means that we're almost always together, which is wonderful, but still sometimes I need to get away alone. She respects that, and I'm thankful for it.