Pennsic 2010 Diary: Saturday, August 14

morning — Marauders

I had a nice time last night. I didn’t wander too far afield, mostly sticking to Concordia of the Snows for Toki’s “let your hair down” bardic. Cerian was there as well, but otherwise it was mostly Vestfell people. I got a belt ornament thingy from Toki for doing “Love and Madness,” which I may yet string onto my necklace because I haven’t been wearing belts lately. I was overtired and silly, and eventually went to bed around 11:45.

Sleeping in John’s tent was odd, because the sounds were all different: the creak of the poles, the snap of canvas. But I eventually got to sleep. Around 6:30, I had my first occurrence of “You, porto, now!” since the beginning of War. But I managed to get back to sleep until a decadent 8 o’clock.

People are already in full packing up mode. Most are wearing mundanes, and I’d feel in the way journalling in the common area, so I’m writing in John’s tent. Breakfast was half a large muffin, which probably had as many calories as my other breakfasts this War but was far less satisfying. Anyway, I should get dressed and start helping.

4:00 p.m. — service station between Buffalo and Rochester

I’m feeling drained and empty. I left Pennsic around 11:30, feeling unsatisfied. Of course, I’m not sure that leaving Pennsic could feel anything but unsatisfying and lonely, but I felt it particularly this year. I missed quite a few goodbyes, and I’m sincerely sorry for that. Hopefully the people I missed will forgive me.

Before I left, Mistress Brid and Katrusha presented me with a string of amber they’d bought me as a present. Thanks, guys! More bling for my necklace!

I felt pretty useless for most of the morning. I didn’t know where anything went, and I was useless at the heavy lifting. Everyone was tired and moving slow. Though, again, it was pretty amazing to see how fast the Ansteorra camp came down. At least the weather was nice for teardown: sunny. It was hot, but it didn’t feel unbearably so, at least not at 11:30 a.m.

I drove about four hours after leaving, but the first hour of that was spent on the 10 miles beyond Pennsic in traffic. I made better time after that. I think I’ve got about an hour of driving left in me, maybe two, and then I’ll have to stop. I’m just too tired to do more than that. My goal will be a hotel between Rochester and Syracuse, I think. I’ll write more later.

10:00 p.m. — Hilltop Hotel, just past Rochester

I got to the hotel around 5:30. They didn’t have any of the Roomsaver discount rooms available, but I didn’t want to drive anymore, so I just took the ($20 more) CAA rate. The room is clean and generic, which is about what I expected. I took a shower to wash off the first seven layers of dirt (as my mom would say) and lay down for a 45-minute nap. Somehow, when I opened my eyes, it was three hours later. I wasn’t hungry, but I knew I should probably eat something, so I found the hotel’s “pub,” which turned out to be a tiny bar that also sells food. The music was too loud, there were three TVs on, and it took over half an hour for them to bring me my BLT. But the people were friendly and there was karaoke going on. I had my “social bard face” on and did “I Love Rock & Roll” without looking at the screen, which isn’t quite bardic, but I can pretend. It totally killed my post-Pennsic mood, though, and I’m trying to reclaim it so I can write my ever-traditional…

Post-Pennsic Brain Dump

The first thing that stands out about this year’s War is the weather. It was very, very hot. Sweltering, even. It put a crimp in just about everybody’s style: you don’t want to walk as much or do as much when the heat index is 110 F (43 C). Even the nights were hot: I think I took out my wool tunic twice all War.

Other than the weather, Pennsic this year was unremarkable. Which isn’t to say it was bad; I enjoyed myself a lot, as always. But there really isn’t anything big to remark on. No highs (like getting a silver bracelet from Cariadoc) or lows (like stepping on a bee). Just even-keel, pleasant Pennsic. Which is fine, but it leaves me little to say that I haven’t said before. Not that that’s ever stopped me from talking (or writing) at great length.

I suppose I should talk about bardic. I’m very pleased with how far I’ve come in the last six years. I think, of everything I performed, I probably nailed 3/4 of it, and really only had 1-2 flops. It was a decidedly “hot” year for me. Yay! I’m especially pleased that I managed to go through almost the whole War without repetitions. That’s something I’ve never been able to do before. Also, I wrote three new pieces this year, including my honkin’ huge epic about Anton’s monkey, which makes this an above-average year in that regard, too.

Which is not to say that I’ve peaked, not by a long shot. There are still so many things I have to work on. I feel jealous every time I hear someone harmonising or playing an instrument. Maybe this will be the year I finally pick up the recorder or the guitar again, so I can join in the jam session next year.

Which leads me to my big change in status: being taken in as Marian of Heatherdale’s student. It doesn’t feel particularly momentous yet. When Ernst took me as his student, there was a big ceremony with a ton of tin hats around, a formal exchange of oaths and gifts, and a lot of solemnity. With Marian, we had an hour-long conversation and sealed it with a handshake, in private. Word is spreading through the bardic grapevine, but there was no formal announcement (unless you count this journal). It’s not in any way worse, it’s just different, and I’m interested in seeing how Marian and I work on things at a distance and how our relationship will change.

Also, speaking of bardic, a catalogue of the gifts I received:

  • A party token from Casa Bardicci, and one piece of silver
  • A celtic knotwork, triangle metal pendant, from Michelle of Ansteorra for the monkey piece
  • A ring from Aoife for performing at the East-Mid circle (since given to Loreeta for doing Katrusha’s “Anti-Singalong Song”)
  • A hematite ring for attending the Boreal Master Symposium (since given to Cerian’s friend whose name escapes me, for performing at the Marauders’ circle)
  • The amber and silver Viking longship pendant, as “wergeld” from Morgana
  • A pewter token from Ernst, for helping him
  • A knotwork lion belt ornament from Toki, for “Love and Madness
  • A string of chip amber from Katrusha and Brid, for being a friend of their encampment

So, all told, a good year for presents. The Pocket Bard is happy.

There were a bunch of happy memories this year. I got to play with tons of babies and toddlers, which is one of my favourite past-times. Though I will say that trying to teach with a 4-year-old in my class was a challenge. (I kept wanting to play instead of teach.) Even besides babies, it’s great to just always be around friends for two weeks. I was told once (and no longer remember the source) that humans evolved to live in bands and we feel most comfortable when we live in that kind of an environment. Which is why a lot of people have such fond memories of dorm life in college: it’s pretty much the only time of their lives that they’re living in close contact with a “band.” Well, for me, Pennsic is my “band,” and going back to the unnatural state of solitude is one of the reasons for the “con bends.” [Editor’s note: The term “con bends” is usually applied to surfacing back too fast into the real world after a science fiction convention. I think it applies equally well to Pennsic.]

Also on the list of good stuff this year was helping Ernst at East Kingdom Royal. I was around quite a bit the first few days for setup, but not doing much after that, which isn’t quite what I expected. Frankly, when I left for Pennsic I was thinking of entitling this year’s journal, “The Pocket Bard Serves the Crown,” or something like that, which just isn’t true. Serving at East Kingdom Royal was really a small (but pleasurable) part of my War. I really do need to stop making nebulous time commitments, though. One of these days I’ll remember that’s just not the way I like to work; I like nice, delineated sections of time for service (like my Troll shifts), not a vague “I’ll come by every few hours.” It didn’t work out the year I tried working for the Pennsic Independent, and it didn’t work this year, either.

Speaking of the Pennsic Independent, it was nice to see my name in lights again. My article on bardic circles appeared in the Monday paper, though I’m not sure it had any appreciable effect.

Spending time with friends is always one of my favourite parts of War, and I did it in abundance this year, which is great. I even added a few camps to my “meander” list: Concordia of the Snows, Shauna’s Camp, and Dragonet. The list is getting so big that I’m not sure I’ll continue to be able to hit everything in a single meander, but that’s a good problem to have. I really enjoyed talking with all my friends, helping Fiana with her story, and connecting with everyone I haven’t seen in a year.

Of course, there are always downsides to Pennsic, even aside from the weather (which I take as a given). For one thing, being camped right next to the kitchen corner of the common area is not an experience I’d like to repeat. It made it difficult to fall asleep and wake me up early, because I’d hear people talking or Isabella cooking. I’ve already told John that some other sucker gets that spot next year, and he’s agreed. And the less we talk about having a tent mere feet from an almost-overflowing sump pit, the better.

Also, I’ve finally decided to get rid of my tent. I’m sick and tired of the constant leaks when it rains, and John’s talking about making me a pavilion next year (thanks, John!), and I think I’ll just get a smaller, nylon tent for weekend events.

Also on the list of “not so great” was doing the drive down in one day. Never again. I don’t trust myself to do a 14-15 hour drive like that. Thank God for the audiobook I’d had the foresight to download. It’s the only thing that kept me engaged and awake. Definitely a plan I intent to repeat next year.

I also had a few minor health problems this year, though nothing as bad as last year’s bee sting. My feet hurt, because my period shoes don’t offer much support or cushioning. Next year: insoles. Also, my lower back hurt a lot and I think caused some constipation. Boo. I have no idea how to fix that. But, all told, it wasn’t a horrible War, health-wise. No major problems, and even my asthma stayed mostly at bay.

In terms of stuff to do for next year:

  • Sew the new apron dresses and fix the straps on my current ones. If I can buy smaller broaches next year for those days I don’t want the huge ones, that’d be good, too.
  • Seriously work on my bardic. Get new “saint lives” pieces, start playing an instrument, maybe start hosting circles.
  • Buy a new tent and a new air mattress. The toggle snapped off the valve of mine this morning, which is going to make it a lot more difficult to open every night when I need to fill it.
  • Restring my necklace to show off the new bling (yay bling!).
  • Maybe start doing some naalbinding or heddle weave a belt. It would help if I bought some yarn first.
  • Find the fabric website Aoife was telling me about. Buy wool for more apron dresses and light-weight linen for more braes.
  • Work more on developing my new persona. Figure out what sort of gear I should get next year, especially feast gear.
  • Update my water-damaged bardic book and redo my request sheet so it’s up-to-date.
  • Find a way to thank John for all the wonderful work he does.
  • Follow up with Marian and feel my way into this Laurel / student relationship.
  • See about making a mantle or something for cool-but-not-cold nights or rain.
  • See about making some sideless surcoats like Derhilde’s. Comfy!

Yup, that should keep me busy. We’ll see how much of it actually gets done after the post-Pennsic rush wears off and I start seriously job hunting.

And I think that’s it for this year, really, unless I decide tow rite something tomorrow. I must admit, I’m very much enjoying the modern amenities of air conditioning, good showers, and real beds. On the other hand, Pennsic always reminds me what I can endure for a good cause: scorching heat and humidity, bad shoes, too little sleep, and so on. It makes me appreciate the modern world that much more.

And speaking of the modern world, I’m now firmly back in it for the next 50 weeks. Here’s to a great “50-week town run,” and I’ll see you all at Pennsic 40.

Back to Friday, August 13
Return to the main Pennsic diaries page

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4 Comments

  1. John said,

    August 18, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Was doodling with round tent calculations today… A 12 or 13 foot roundwith twelve segments might be a fun challenge.

    • pocketbard said,

      August 18, 2010 at 11:01 pm

      I’d be very happy with anything you made me. So long as I can fit my bed (twin size, about 3 feet off the ground), I’ll be fine. A 12-foot (or even 11-foot or 10-foot) square would also work.

      Again, I hate to impose upon you, because I know how much time and energy these things take. (Or at least, how much time and energy they’d take ME.) So, as I said, any tent you make would make me indescribably happy.

  2. Joel said,

    August 19, 2010 at 11:47 am

    Aoife’s fabic source: http://www.fabrics-store.com.

    • Audrey Bergeron-Morin said,

      August 23, 2010 at 5:58 pm

      fabrics-store is good (I love their bleached 3.5 oz, and will probably try the lighter one next time). Get the bleached, not optic white.
      For coloured linen, I’ve had better luck at http://www.fabric.com (Iess slubby).
      fabric.com will probably have more wool too.
      You can also try Denver Fabric for wool.


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