Pennsic 2012 Diary: Saturday, August 11

9:55 am – my house

And suddenly it’s tomorrow. I’ve spent some quality time with my boyfriend, played board games with friends, taken a real shower, and slept in my own bed. I even weighed myself, to find that I’m more-or-less exactly the same weight as when I left, which is about as good as I can hope for with the copious amounts of eating I do at War. The memories of Pennsic are rapidly fading and losing detail, so before I forget them all, it must be time for the ever-traditional…

Post-Pennsic Brain Dump

Overall, this year’s War was mostly middling. There were no supreme highs (though becoming Marian of Heatherdale’s apprentice is definitely up there) and no abysmal lows (though, again, the afternoon I lost to a severe migraine was pretty horrid). The weather cooperated for the most part, and things were on the whole fun and pleasant. This probably isn’t going to be one of those Wars I look back on with crystal-clear memories, but that’s okay. It was still Pennsic, and it was still awesome.

To start off, as I always start off, with bardic: I found myself doing a lot more during the days than in years past, hopping from camp to camp and offering a few songs or stories before moving on. Frankly, that’s the type of bardic I’m coming to like best: little mini-sessions to an appreciative but small audience. I find that doing more bardic during the day gives me more patience at circles; I don’t worry so much that the circle’s taking two hours to come around again on the GUI-tar when I’ve already done performances during the day. I can just sit back and enjoy.

A few performances stand out in my mind: doing the intermissions for Lorelei’s concert, with all-new songs that I’d written in the last week and a half; heralding Liam into the State Dinner and presenting my poem to the Kings and Queens of the Known World; running through pretty much all of my saint stories at Enchanted Ground on Monday War Week. Those were all a lot of fun.

Speaking of saint stories, they went really well. My class in particular was a huge success: I got more than 30 students (I know because I ran out of handouts) and everyone seemed to get really into it. I had people coming up to me even a week later to thank me. Of the 15 or so stories I’d prepped (and I use the term “prepped” extremely loosely), I think I have about five or six really polished by this point. Oh, well. Time enough to polish the rest of them before next year. [Editor’s note: All the saint stories can be found here.]

I was also pretty prolific this War: four new songs (two with original melodies!) and I re-wrote the end of my poem for Liam because Ernst was “hepping.” A few people asked me how I can write so much, so fast, to which my answer always is, “I don’t care whether they’re any good or not.” Some people will be known for their rousing, inspiring, uplifting songs; the ones that you pull out for Coronations and court. I… am not that person. I’m the one you come to when you want something fast, funny, and super-timely. I know my place, and I’m happy with it.

Finally, not quite bardic-related but close: I’m Marian of Heatherdale’s apprentice! How cool is that! I had a friend, a horn-carving Laurel from Trimaris, ask me whether Laurels in my own kingdom would be miffed that I chose an out-of-kingdom Laurel. To which my response is: no one’s gonna be miffed that I managed to snag Marian of Heatherdale as my Laurel. ‘Cause she’s just that awesome.

Moving on from bardic to other stuff. The weather this year was… okay. We had a bunch of decent days, but also a bunch of super-hot days that threw me for a complete loop and gave me a few body issues that annoyed me. I managed to avoid the lower back pain / constipation that’s plagued me for the last few years (mostly by using the flushies at least once a day) but my traditional heat rash was back with a vengeance and my ankles were being annoying towards the end. Also, I had my very first migraine that didn’t respond to advil. Boo-urns!

Not that something as small as aching ankles would keep me from wandering. A lot. I think I’ve now got upwards of a dozen camps and merchants that I try to visit at least once every couple of days, and it’s growing all the time. I’ve got super-wanderlust at Pennsic; I don’t think I can sit still for more than an hour in one place. Naturally, this causes problems during set-up weekend, because I want to be wandering while everyone else is taking a break, but I don’t want to be away while the work is getting done. Thankfully, that frustration and awkwardness mostly dissipates by Peace Week Monday or Tuesday. (Thank goodness!)

A novelty this year, at least for me, was the ability to access my email and internet while I was at War. I’ve never done that before, but I got a smart phone in February and felt the need to at least keep up with my work emails because we’re in a crunch time at the office. (Didn’t reply to anything, but still…) And since I was checking work emails anyway, I occasionally popped onto Facebook or Livejournal, just to catch up. It was remarkably awkward. I’ll probably do it again, though, because I’m tethered to my technology. At least I can say that in almost two weeks of War, I only managed to drain half the battery of my phone, which I think is kind of an accomplishment.

Another new thing: leaving War early by choice. Yes, I had a reason (to see my boyfriend before he left for the weekend), but I was ready to leave by Thursday. I was tired from the heat and felt I’d done everything I came to do. Weirdly, it looked like there were a fair number of people who thought as I did. I was not the only tent coming down on Thursday, even though there were officially three more days left of War. Things just are coming down earlier and earlier. If you want to take pictures of Pennsic at its height, you really need to do it Tuesday or Wednesday or War Week.

Sadly, I may not have the opportunity to have a nice leisurely Pennsic again for a while: because of a new contract at work, I’ll only get one week of War next year, and probably none at all the year after. On the flip side, by 2014 I’m sort of hoping that my life situation will be such that other matters might prevent me from going to War anyway. (Yes, friends, playing with babies for two weeks has given me baby-brain. Sigh.)

Finally, you’d think that after eight or nine Wars, my packing list would be finalized and beyond tweaking, but you’d be wrong. While I don’t need to bring a tent or any kitchen gear, I’m still finding things I’d prune out of or add to my gear if I could go back and do it over again. Among them:

  • I didn’t use nearly as many of my toiletries as I thought I would. In particular, I didn’t use the face-cleansing wipes at all.
  • The shower shoes were an excellent addition to my gear. On the other hand, I may need to replace my period shoes next year. They’re starting to wear out.
  • Given that I’ve gained weight and my apron dresses are tight about the bust, the sideless surcoats were an excellent addition to my garb. If I were doing another two-week War, I’d probably buy another two. For a one-week War, the two I have now are probably okay.
  • Some of my garb I didn’t wear at all: the wench garb, the pink cotehardie, the blue overtunic. I’ll have to rethink bringing them next year.
  • I have to rethink my “braes.” Last year, the boys’ boxers worked pretty well, but I found that this year they were too short and caused annoying thigh-rubbing. Next year, I may try to find some cheap pyjama pants and cut them off at the knees.
  • Fitted sheets simply do not work over my air mattress. Next year: two flat sheets, and I need to replace one of the one’s I’ve currently got because it’s too big.
  • Other stuff I didn’t use at all: feast gear (aside from my mug, which got constant use) and anything from my A&S bin. Unless I’ve got a project prepped, there’s no point bringing anything but a sewing repair kit.

So that’s just some stuff to think about for next year. At some point today, I really should unpack and get laundry going, and ease myself back into modern life. I think I’ll start by playing some stupid online games. See you all next year!

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