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First Word

It's a bit of a miracle how people manage to overcome the inherent isolation of the human condition. As discrete, self-contained beings, we're oftentimes limited by our ability to communicate exactly what's on our minds; whether it be verbally, through the written word, or even through body language. We are so filled with ideas, and complex emotions, and things we want so desperately to share with one another that we will go to extraordinary lengths to interconnect. Indeed, we have this innate need to articulate ourselves to others.

Amazingly, we so often fail to convey just exactly what we want to say. Sometimes, it's nothing more than the words that fail us. Despite the approximately 200,000 words in common English usage, I often find myself struggling for just the right word to say. Granted, my personal vocabulary probably consists of about 20,000 words, but you'd still think that, out of all that, it would be impossible for me not to express myself clearly. And yet, hardly a day goes by when I fail to communicate an idea to someone just the way I mean to. It's frustrating as hell.

Fortunately, it's an irritation we all share. And, that too, binds us together in the human experience. We know that people have a hard time saying precisely what they mean, so we all have built-in filters to either fill in the gaps or, at least, cut people some slack when we misunderstand. It's crucial that we exercise that internal, linguistic buffer at all times. And when it seems to fail, it's our obligation as thinking, rationale beings to press each other for more clarification, more explanation, more words to help us understand.

The plain truth is: we want to understand. It's why we learned to speak in the first place -- to ask questions, to learn, and to have ourselves understood by others. Communicating openly and honestly is the single greatest way in which we, as people, reassure ourselves that we're not alone. There are other people who want to know what you have to say. There are other people who want to feel what you're feeling. There are other people who, at its most basic, want to know you! What a wonderful thing this sharing is! It is the chief way in which I, as a member of House Corvus -- and I think many of you, too -- can sometimes be alone, yet never lonely.

Being lonely is too easy a thing and stems directly from not communicating with other people in your life. It can happen anytime you isolate yourself, intentionally or not. You can be lonely in a crowd, lonely with friends, lonely with family. The simple act of not sharing, withdrawing into yourself, is the very essence of feeling all alone. Ultimately, it's a destructive feeling and one I find completely contrary to human nature. Yes, I very much enjoy my periodic "alone time." But that's a far cry from feeling that I'm all alone. For that, I'd have to have no one in my life with whom to share my thoughts, feelings, fears, and joys. And that is simply never the case. For all of us.

Have you ever truly looked at the Corvus roster - online or on the back page of the Roundtable? I mean, looked at it and fully realized it's implication?

Here is an exceptional group of men, women, and children gathered together and guaranteeing that you and I will never be alone or, indeed, lonely. There will always be someone with whom you can bounce ideas, pick their brains, scream at when work makes you crazy, cry with when life gets you down. But, most important of all, here is a group of people with whom you can dream.

It makes our lives, especially in the SCA, so much bigger than ourselves. And, thanks to that, it can even make our dreams bigger. So big, in fact, that we simply can't keep them inside. They spill out in exciting bursts over the phone, in e-mails, in letters, and, best of all, when we're in each other's company. It's a personal joy that only comes with being together, part of something special, and rare, and wonderful. We embody that in House Corvus, to be sure, but it's really the gift of opening up to loving people in any society -- of being there for each other. Giving of yourself in this manner is simply the finest aspect of humanity. I hope you appreciate that gift. I know that I do.

I had a marvelous moment recently at Atlantia's recent Crown Tournament. Oshi and Sine were participants in the actual Tourney and had invited my up to be a part of their procession. As an Atlantian Herald, I have been involved with countless Crown tournaments and called several processionals myself. But, nothing had prepared me for actually being in the procession. I found myself nervous yet, at the same time, grateful. I was nervous that I'd screw up somehow and not represent Oshi and Sine well. And I was grateful that they included me in this dream of theirs -- that they wanted to share it with me! And that I could, in turn, share that unique experience with Julianna and Isabella and Luqman and Billy.

It's the same spirit in which we witnessed ١rgrÝmr's squiring or Julianna's apprenticing at Lyons the weekend before. These are moments -- the moments of people's lives. And they're not limited to the SCA. Whether it's someone in Corvus considering a new career, buying a new home, worrying over a loved one's health, winning Scrivener Royal, or losing a hoped-for residency; we are invited to share in these events because of our household relationship. Sometimes, it's joyous. Sometimes, it's heart-breaking. But it is always special. The sharing itself makes it so.

So what if we don't necessarily achieve each and every dream we voice. The very act of letting other members of Corvus peek into our imaginations can be it's own achievement. Our ideas become small, sometimes inspiring, seeds planted in the psyches of our brothers and sisters. They take root and become a part of our collective desires. We've seen it happen before! That communal musing about a project that Sine or Siobhan or Giuseppe once mentioned may well be the next A&S entry that Alys or Raimondo or Medb create. And wouldn't that be a wonderful thing indeed? --BRAN

Courtly Virtues

(ri-'spekt, ME. from Latin respectus, 14th c.)

The nobler a man, the harder it is for him to suspect inferiority in others. -- Marcos Tullius Cicero

Respect is regard for the intrinsic value of people (including yourself). It means we are sensitive and considerate of other's feelings, opinions, personal space, and very presence. Respect involves accepting and tolerating differences. It does not mean that we necessarily agree, or share their views, or even like the person. But it does mean that we respect their ability to be different from ourselves, just as we have the ability to be different from them. It also means that we recognize that everyone contributes in their own way. It may not be our way, but the contribution is valuable nonetheless. Respecting others involves reaching beyond ourselves - thinking not just of our own needs or desires, but showing consideration for other people's needs and desires as well. Doing so shows that we honor them, their innate worth, and their dignity. And by honoring them, we honor ourselves.

How do you practice respect? Be courteous and polite - do not say hurtful or inconsiderate things to or about others. Ask permission before using others belongings. Listen to others when they are speaking - give them your undivided attention, and do not interrupt. You might just learn something! Arrive on time to meetings and appointments. Do not make assumptions about another person's needs or desires. When in doubt: ask! For example, some individuals are very protective of their personal space. Show respect by asking permission rather than grabbing them and giving them a big bear hug. Though your intentions may be honorable, you may make that person feel very uncomfortable by not respecting their personal space.

It is so easy to become so caught up in our own lives that we do not think about other people's feelings. After all, we live in a fast paced world, and it is easy to get in a rush and "forget" common courtesy. But we in the Society value courtesy and honor, and we seek to champion these virtues so they live on in the Current Middle Ages. So doing this has personal advantages as well. When we give respect, we gain the respect of others. And we gain greater self-respect in the process. We owe it to each other to be considerate and respectful in our day to day lives. When we do that, we honor those with whom we interact, as well as ourselves. --JULIANNA

Weaving Words

The past week has been such torture between work and school. I was getting to the point where I was ready to snap after only having gotten six hours of sleep in the last forty-eight. I stopped to pick up the mail on the way into work last night and didn't even look at it. Things finally calmed down enough to start going through the mail. Too many bills, which just made me feel worse and worse. And then, there was a Raven Roundtable. Everything else was dropped!

I tore it open and started to read. I never even got to the second page - I had to run to the waiting room and bawl my eyes out because of what Bran had written. Not only did I miss everyone so much (I am still so angry that I didn't get to go to Gulf Wars because of my school schedule!) but so many of the things he said were exactly what I'm also feeling right now.

Time does fly worse when you're busier than crap, but not necessarily in a good, positive way. I haven't been keeping up with all of the e-mails because in school and at work I am already on the computer all the time. I don't want to even look at the bloody thing while I'm home, much less wait forever for the stupid dial-up service (the day Ben sells his house, we're getting a cable modem!). But I'm experiencing the same thing as Bran with the SCA. Not only have I become one of those Laurels I hate (the ones who get their peerage then drop off the face of the earth and never do anything anymore -- due to school and work, at least, and not apathy), but Corvus is my only SCA outlet these days. Sometimes, I feel like I'm stuck on a buoy somewhere in the middle of the ocean and it's only the light from your passing ships that lets me know what's going on.

Worse, is that when I make it to events, I'm always judging or something and the only time I get to spend with my Corvus family seems to be in the car there and back, or when one of you is kind enough to flag me down and make me sit and relax and be sociable. It's not that I mind the work -- it's my job and it lets me help people the only small way I can. But I miss hanging out with us and working with Corvus.

I think that's why the loss of Gulf Wars for me this year is still so keen, because I lost my vacation and my big time to hang out with family. When I go to an event with you guys, I have a good time and I'm with people I love. It's one of the things that is keeping me going these days. Whenever I'm ready to throw in the towel and quit school, I think of the SCA and my mundane spinning guild.

Once I'm a nurse, I will only have to work three days a week yet still be doing something worthwhile with my life. I'll be better able to care for the people I love and I'll have four days a week off, meaning I can go to more events and spend more time with everyone! I'll have the time and money to go to the "big wars" and travel and see people more often. I'll have more time to get back to A&S work and research and writing.

I have the manuscripts for two new books half-written; a history of sheep breeds and how dyeing turns out to be alchemy after all (damn Leyden and Stockholm papyri!) along with eighteen different, significant A&S projects started or at least extensively planned, including dye studies and knitted tunics and such. Nothing that any of those can be conceivably done in a day, even if I had one! And, of course, I have way too much fabric for garb I want to make and have events I want to wear it to.

This is the first time in fifteen years that I won't be able to go down to the Georgia RennFest and do a demonstration and the first time in six years that I'm not going to Biltmore to spin for Michaelmas for at least one day. I hate that I don't seem to have much of an outside life anymore. Then a Roundtable comes in the mail and reminds me that this current hell will eventually end and I'll be able to get back to doing the things I love -- with the people I love. And it lets me know that I'm not alone in some little dinghy in the big ocean.

Know that you're never far away in my thoughts, especially when the stress level has hit sphincter factor 5 and I'm thinking of all the things I'd rather be doing other than school or work. Corvus is always right at the top of the list! -- SIOBHAN

Mondo Raimondo

More great news regarding our own Raimondo! Having just won the design competition for new Atlantian crowns, he was notified recently that one of his senior exhibition pieces has been juried into a national art show. It was one of 43 pieces chosen from a field of 515. The piece chosen to appear in the show is "Reliquary for borrowed nostalgia," which was inspired by his trip to Italy. This following is a brief discussion of the piece from Raimondo's senior honors thesis:

"The most recent piece in the portfolio is Reliquary for borrowed nostalgia, my reflection on my feelings while in Italy and since coming home. My interest in all things medieval was greatly piqued during my trip and I absolutely loved seeing all of the castles, churches, walls, streets, and farms. However, throughout my entire trip, I felt like everything I saw was somehow detached from my life, despite the fact that I was standing right there looking at it.

After I returned to America, my memories of the place have taken on somewhat of the same quality, as if I can appreciate being there, but only because the Italians are gracious enough to let me have their memories, their past. The egg tempera technique that I used for the paintings on the sides of the reliquary is almost identical to the one that Cennino Cennini describes in his fourteenth century manuscript.

The chasing and etching techniques are equally ancient techniques for altering metal. The actual scenes are from pictures taken while I was in Italy, but are altered to reflect my memories of the places, rather than being completely accurate to the photographs. The words etched into the sides are excerpts from my diaries written during the trip. It is impossible to read an entire line because of the cut out windows, but the images fill in gaps in the story."

Following up last month's report, above is Raimondo's winning crown design for the Atlantian competition. Of course, Raimondo is learning all about "committee" work as the Atlantian Regalia Committee continues to alter his work to more closely fit what they had in mind from the get go. So, why have the competition at all? I'm not really clear on that. either.

Corvus Calendar

MAY 2005
1st - Caid: Baron's Feast in Gyldenholt (Orange, CA).
7th - Atlantia: Spring Crown Tournament in Bright Hills (Street, MD).
7th - Trimaris: Spring Arts and Sciences Faire in Spring Hill, FL.
9th - Antonia's birthday.
10th - Thorgrimr's birthday.
10th - Anne Marie's birthday.
12th - Alys's birthday.
14th - Atlantia: Below the Salt in Baelfire Dunn (Lenoir, NC).
15th - Helfdane's birthday.
18th - Cassan's birthday.
21st - Atlantia: Feast of St Catherine of Sienna in Falcon Cree (York, SC).
28th - Atlantia: Sapphire Joust VI in Caer Mear (Amelia, VA).
28th - Northshield: War Camp MMV in Nordskogen (Twin Cities, MN).
28th - Trimaris: Coronation in Marcaster (Altoona, FL).

JUNE 2005
4th - Rowen's birthday.
4th - Atlantia: Summer University in Crannog Mor (Piney Creek, NC).
4th - An Tir: JuneFaire XXIII in Dragons' Laire (Port Gamble, WA).
4th - Caid: Coronation & Queen's Champion in Calafia (Encinitas, CA).
11th - Atlantia: Desert Wind in Sacred Stone (Booneville, NC).
18th - Atlantia: In a Phoenix' Eye in Sacred Stone (Drexel, NC).
18th - Ansteorra: Kingdom Dance/Music Symposium in Westgate (Houston, TX).
25th - Joseph's birthday.
25th - Northshield: Schutzenfest VI in Nordskogen (Waconia, MN).
25th - Caid: Gyldenholt's 25th Archery Championship in Gyldenholt (Fountain Valley, CA).
26th - Krystyne's birthday.
30th - Alessandra's birthday.

Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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