The Writing

23 April, 2017

to be Faire

I need someone to explain to me why it is that I cannot go to a Renaissance Festival now, in my 40s, without getting eyed and oogled, when I was invisible as a 20-something. Maybe the sun? The heat? Too much alcohol on the part of the hitter? A couple of years ago, I think that's what happened. Drunk dude weaving all over the food court, decided he wanted to drape himself on me and babble about my beauty. I do not have a black belt in martial arts just to hold up my pants, and I deflected him (gently). When he came back around for another go, the Rat, who has many more degrees of black belt, and who is substantially taller, interposed herself, looking stern, and he toddled off.

Anyway, I don't think he was aware of much except there is a female over there and she is smaller than me and oh, I am about to fall down.

And he was an anomaly. One is not generally accosted by strangers, which puts Ren Faire on a slightly different plane than, say, everyday walking down the street in which accosting has always and ever been by strangers: hey baby, wolf whistle, little-girl-let-me-show-you-my-penis (truth).

But Faire, see. (Or Fair; much like the spelling of fairy, there is variation.) There's this thing about Faire, in case you've never been, this element of carnivale, of boundaries strained to breaking. There're some folks who try to be period, and then there are the people who are there to cosplay pirates or Doctor Who or their current D&D campaign or whatever. Mostly the cast is the former, and the dressing-up-public is the second. But point is, there's a lot of skin on display. Boobies, mostly, to the limits of legal. And, you know, great! Yay boobies (and whatever else).

Because of the high flesh factor of a ren faire , there is a corresponding bawdy factor. The sexual innuendo content of your average interaction with performers and cast (and even vendors) is pretty high. This is a ...feature, I guess, of Faire. Which is to say, I don't actually like that aspect overmuch, but without it (or when organizers attempt to suppress it) makes Faire seem childish instead of subversive.

I also realize I started off this post complaining about this very thing. Maybe I don't mind it happening, I mind it happening to me? Or I find it just... weird. Like, come on now. I mean look. Here.  This is a photo from 2015. I have a lot more ink on my right arm now, and less hair, but this is what we look like every year.  

I realize this is a strange, fine line I'm treading. Shit gets said in a Faire that I'd never think was okay in any other setting, ever. It's like we leave the norms at the door: this is how polite people behave. We don't wear corsets. We don't have shelves of cleavage, or people dressed as wenches, or belly dancers, or shirtless men in leather pants, in a general public setting.

Maybe it's consent. (I'm working through this as I write). You go to Faire, you know this sort of behavior's out there, you're...okay with it? Or at least, okay with it being around you. I definitely don't think you should have to interact with anyone's toadshit if you don't want to, and no one should touch you, like, ever. So not consent. Forewarning.

And maybe I, me, the 40-something woman, just want to be able to look at the hand-forged knives without having the shop owner, who is older than my father, trying to flatter me by telling me how sexy I am.  It's weird. Like, dude. Seriously. Stop.

I think maybe it's not about me at all. It's about Nous, and they assume he's the dude and so he's the one who's into weapons and so by complimenting his wife they are complimenting him...? I don't know.

When we go with the Rat and Shan, people stop Shan to take pictures of her--because she has this crazy hat covered with ostrich feathers, yes, but also because she's all curves and you can rest a dinner plate on the shelf of her cleavage. And I get that, but also just gods knock it off. And it is always, always the cis-het guys who do this. You don't see the dykes coming over and going oh, lady I do not know, can we photograph you and your boobies. The straight women and gay men don't swoop down on Nous and make admiring comments or ask for photographs.

Ugh. I don't know. I have loved Renaissance Festivals since I was a teenager. The Rat and I worked at the one in Colorado in college as street entertainment. It was cosplay before cosplay was much of a thing. It was this place where the Rat and I weren't the weirdest people in the room, hell, we weren't even in the top five. It was weirdly safe in a way a lot of our lives weren't at the time.

So maybe my willingness to tolerate and excuse the atmosphere is based in a romantic nostalgia. But even now--there's a certain defiance to the anything-goes attitude. No one apologizes for who they are, or what they look like, or any of the usual shaming weirdnesses. That's great! Let's keep that! The problem, though, is that the cis-het normative harassing bullshit falls into the same category of no shame, and I want it to. Like--y'all have had your time, okay? You still have it, outside the gate, every day. This is the place for the rest of us. Because you can't live out your fantasies and let the rest of us be safe to live ours at the same time.

16 April, 2017

just don't touch it

It is one of those days when I am absolutely certain I should not attempt the WIP. I'll get in there and start second-guessing everything I've done  and then try and fix it and THEN decide no, I was right the first time and I'm the worst at this, ever, I should just quit.

(Case in point: I have rewritten the opening sentence of this post twice already, and it's in its original form again.)

So I left myself a note along the lines of "fix this relatively minor point b/c" and here I am, because this does not count as writing...well. It does, but it's also something I can do while waiting for the dryer cycle to finish.

It's chemical. As in biochemical, not external additives chemical. I joke about alcohol, but I don't actually drink that much, and then not before, oh, quitting time. I don't deal with the other sorts of chemicals, except caffeine. Seriously. 13 years in Boulder, CO, and I never smoked anything. Anyway, this is biochemistry fucking with me, as it does. Give it a day or so, (or a week, considering the current drafts/commenting schedule) and it'll be okay. In the meantime, I need to work on things with immediate payoff, like baking, or something on which I can see measurable and permanent progress, like knitting.

Or Mass Effect: Andromeda, which is starting to feel like Dragon Age: Inquisition for the sheer size and proliferating side quests and my rising levels of 'goddammit, I just left that region/planet, why are you trying to send me back there again with another fucking little quest?' I don't want the game to be over, but I do want to feel like I'm not just being arbitrarily sent on load-screen-heavy journeys without much story payoff.

Anyway. No writing today. Except this. Which, now that I hear the dryer buzzing, is done.

13 April, 2017

(belated) National Pet Day (or, Cats! On! The Internet!)

I keep meaning write a real post, and by real I mean about Mass Effect: Andromeda. but I haven't because I have not gotten far enough to justify pontificating and because it's early enough in the quarter I am unlikely to get that far for a while.

So for now, this will have to do.

Here is a parade of Eason animals, since Nous and I first got together, beginning with the dead. You will notice a theme. Black cats are the least loved in animal shelters, and so... we have black cats.

Pooka, on the left, came with me. We lost him in Oct. 2013, at the venerable age of 17.  He was a swaggering badass who feared nothing and no one, ever. Even after he went blind, and then deaf--no fear.

Pixie, on the right, came with Nous. We lost her in Jan. 2013. She never much liked Pooka--always hissed at him, never groomed him--but she always made sure she was in the room with him, too. She was neurotic and fiercely loyal and she loved bacon more than anything except (maybe) Nous.

And then Idris. He still makes me cry sometimes. He was by far the smartest cat we've ever had, but also the most high-strung and unstable. I mean, Pix would lick herself bald sometimes, but with Idris, it was constant stress. He chewed things. Cloth. Fiber. Silicon. That's what killed him. He was also devoted and sweet and playful and awesome, and I miss him.

And now for the living.

 On the right, we have Louhi, the runt of a litter, hand-raised by people who were very patient with a cat who was just not interested in eating (that changed). She's also wicked smart, and absolutely certain she is not a cat, and also that you have forgotten to feed her. The photo doesn't show you how small she really is.

...which is fair, because the photo also doesn't show you how big Skugga is. He's part Maine Coon, smart as hell, but very chill. And very gentle. We go for evening walks together. He has the loudest purr and the tiniest meow.