The Bard’s View: Baroness’s War

It was a beautiful, sunshine-y day in the neighboring Barony of Vulkanfeldt (south-central Washington), and the company couldn’t have been better! Two words: epic weekend.

This was pretty much my first big event as Kingdom Champion, because it was the first time I had to fulfill court duties. Thanks to my chats with the other Champions and Mistress Isolde, I felt fairly prepared for what my duties would actually be: processing into court with Their Majesties, standing with them, and being prepared for entertaining at a moment’s notice. Yet in actual practice, I still felt a bit awkward. I expect it will take me a little time to adjust and grow into my place in Their court. I have to keep reminding myself that I have only been truly immersed in the SCA for about two-and-a-half years… and it takes a while to thoroughly pick up the nuances of court etiquette.

Good thing I have a year to get it all settled!

One thing I did learn this weekend (much to my chagrin), is that while I am thoroughly enjoying playing/singing period (more or less) materials, I am quite lacking in the ‘filk’ department… which is what the Inlands definitely appears to prefer in terms of bardic fire entertainment. A ‘filk’ can be modern song written in a period fashion, or period-esque wording and concepts fit to a modern melody. It can also be a song about the SCA experience and shared history.

I felt quite out of place as the evening wore on and I meandered from fire to fire, for only having somber and/or serious materials at my disposal, none of which were an acceptable fit to a jovial crowd (no matter their kindness and appreciativeness for the craft). This is something I need to work on. One of the cardinal rules of being an entertainer is giving your audience what they need and/or want — and it appears my region wants filks… And lots of them.

I am woefully unprepared at this moment for such a thing. However, last month I was gifted with a copy of the “Elfhill Times” songbook (a favorite here in An Tir) to work through — like most things in my life at the moment, I just need to make myself sit down and DO it.

This year’s Baroness’s War was a lovely learning experience, and has whetted my appetite for the other events on my current SCA schedule. I will master the etiquette. I will learn a modest selection of songs for most types of crowds. I will learn just how to juggle my regalia and my instrument gracefully… so I at least look like I know what I’m doing… :)

This role is quite a bit more than anticipated, but I am up for the challenge. :)

12 Months and Counting

Every time I sit down to write an update to the pregnancy journey, most of what I find is frustration.

  • Frustration that I’ll have been pregnant for at least 18 months, just to walk out of the hospital with a living child in my arms, when every other woman in the world seems to be able to do it with nine.
  • Frustration with non-medical professionals giving advice and pressuring me to “make the right choices” this time.
  • Frustration with strangers’ rampant excitement, because it feels too much like counting your chickens before they’re hatched.

Sadly, that’s the tip of the iceberg. The arrival of the second trimester has been an exercise in faith and emotional management, to say the least. Though my belly grows by the day, it seems, and I’m starting to feel the baby’s kicks (hurray!), and each appointment brings a gently positive affirmation from my doctor, I find myself in an ever-watchful stasis: barely daring to hope and hesitating to fear the worst. Limbo.

I’ve even hesitated to touch and talk to the baby the same way I talked to Michael, so daring that action feels — it’s like claiming this child as mine, presumptuously, when I know that this child truly belongs to God until such a time as he or she is placed screaming in my arms to take care of. I have sneakily done it, and then found myself praying that I haven’t just counted a chicken too early, that I haven’t tipped the cosmic scales of life and death in a direction I’d rather not see.

Michael's feet.

Michael’s feet. During my pregnancy with him, he squirmed and kicked me OFTEN. I look forward to seeing how active his little brother or sister turns out to be. :-)

Grief and psychology experts like to say that a pregnancy after a loss is often “the longest nine months of a woman’s life.” I so wish that weren’t true, and yet the time cree-ee-ee-eeps by and I resort to distraction tactics to keep myself from worrying myself silly. As long as I can ‘float’ through my time between appointments by keeping my music and SCA schedules full, I do okay. I do my best to find joy where I can (in each moment I’m kicked or shoved by the little one, in each day I look at my pregnant belly in the mirror and see how fast it’s growing, in each shared smile or touch of my belly by my husband), but there always is an undercurrent of frustration.

So, here I am: 12 months pregnant and counting.

Inner Strength

All my life I’ve considered myself a weak person. I was never athletic. I was never physically strong. I never really knew how to stand up for myself, and, as my family often told me, I was “too sensitive.” I felt too much, and was very susceptible to hurt and heartache. I had skills, but was almost always inept at the things I needed to have skill at. I was “heavy.” I was never conventionally “pretty.”

Following Michael’s death, everyone told me how ‘amazing’ I was, what an ‘inspiration’ I was, how ‘strong,’ how ‘courageous,’ and all I could see was the girl who was so weak, she was falling apart inside. All I could see was how I couldn’t keep my sh*t together, the myriad of spinning plates crashing down around me.

So when my friend, Anna, asked me to be a model for her art photography project — a project about the modern lady warrior in all her independence, strength, and confidence — I almost turned her down. “Why on Earth would she want me for this?” I wondered. “I’m the weakest link!”

Photo by Anna Davis

Photo by Anna Davis

But I’m so glad I didn’t turn her down. Though I’ve never done any modeling before, and though the session was a bit awkward due to my inexperience and *ahem* lack of photogenic-ness, I donned the things that made me feel confident — my motorcycle jacket and my cross — anyway. I grabbed my rapier that J. modified for me and had some fun. I left her studio with crossed fingers that she had gotten some good shots. She sent me some copies of the photos this week and they are… amazing. Looking at them, I find myself moved great distances.

I don’t know how she did it, but somehow she managed to capture that inner strength I’ve never seen. Somehow, through the power of her lens, she focused in on that side of me I never knew existed. Looking at those photos, I see a woman of confidence. I see a woman of grace under fire. A woman who is capable and resilient and strong. A survivor. I see courage, and spirit, and perseverance against all odds. I see a warrior, a quiet champion standing against the every-day dragons that seek to destroy our lives.

It was there, all along. Hiding just underneath the surface. I’ll never look at myself the same again.

Because even when we can’t see our own strength, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Look a little harder, probe a little deeper.

We are, always, more than we think we are.

***

The show is scheduled for April 21st through 25th, with the artist’s reception from 6-8pm on Friday the 25th, at Washington State University in Pullman, WA.

To view Anna’s portfolio, please visit: thecreeativeanarchist.com

Photo by Anna Davis

Photo by Anna Davis