A few days ago I found out that my old high school singing group was having a 50th anniversary event. (See https://news.yahoo.com/ledyard-carolers-embark-50th-season-013500733.html for a local news bit).
I had about 8 hours to think about it and decide if I was going to go. Ultimately, I opted not to. Not because I didn’t want to (Part of me still does), but because I’m not that person any more, and the long drive and the high ticket price were hard to justify.
Saying I’m not that person anymore is hard. Because I had a lot of ego (the definitional version, not egotistical version) wrapped up. As a kid, I moved a lot and wasn’t good at much besides ‘being smart’. I started singing in 6th grade because I was bored in math class and it got me out twice a week, and enjoyed it, but until high school it was just a thing you did or didn’t do, from my perspective. But as a freshman in high school I tried out and made it in to a small auditioned ensemble. It turned out that singing was one of the things that I was good at, -really- good at (I am really good, but not great, at a number of things. I have a life defined by not being great at things).
And it was a lot of fun. For three years it was a lot of fun. (I didn’t make it in Junior year, and that was a bit of a crisis let me say). And I kept singing through college and after college. (And when I was let go from my semi-pro group in my mid 20’s it was another bit of crisis….)
I still sing tons of holiday music. It is still some of my favorites stuff. And I often sing the bass line or the tenor line, and not the melody. But I haven’t lived in the area for 20+ years, and haven’t gone to any of the groups concerts or even to the Seaport Carolers event much at all in that time. It was two or three musical directors ago. Half the repertoire is new. And I haven’t done rehearsed singing in years. I have tons of fond memories, but I don’t feel that I belong there any more. Who I am is not who I was, and sometimes, you can’t go back.
The first CD I bought (not the first music I bought, or the first CD I owned), back in the early 90s, was Banba by a group called Clannad. I’d heard some things about them, seen a recent VW ad featuring them, and it had this cool cover and a track from the recent Last of the Mohicans film.
For the next set of years I was busy with lots of school and not lots of money. And they went more or less on hiatus. So I didn’t get a chance to see them tour. 6 years ago one of the original band members passed on, and in general they’re a fading band, having started 50 years ago. I thought I’d never get the chance to see them.
So I was incredibly excited in 2019 when they announced a Farewell Tour. And I do believe this is a real farewell tour. Of course, we all know what happened in spring 2020, so the tour was delayed. And delayed again. And now I’m holding tickets for a show on October 3rd of this year.
Sadly, what survived COVID-19 seems to have been killed now for far more humdrum reasons. Today they announced that because of the increasing in overhead for touring (It’s the economy, stupid), they cannot deliver a live show to acceptable standards and are canceling the USA/Canada leg of their Farewell Tour in September and October.
Two years ago, I took what looked like modest steps in the SCA that turned out to be the first steps in a long, long road.
I’d recently hit the high of my journey in thrown weapons, becoming Champion, and representing the East victoriously at Pennsic. I got the then Princess of the East out to the range and taught her to throw an axe. A few months later at her coronation I officially stepped up as Deputy Kingdom Webminister. As a kingdom level office, the Webministry was pretty small and behind the scenes. There were definitely some moments of drama that we had to help with as an office, but nothing that rocked the boat that much. And as Champion, I was at Crown Tourney when Magnus Tindal won the tournament, inspired by Alberic von Rostock.
Then, of course, the whole world was turned upside down 18 months ago when COVID-19 came on the scene in a big way. Before we knew it, things were shutting down left and right. Events were being cancelled, and the SCA globally slammed on the brakes. It took us months to start to feel out how this was all going to go forward, and it suddenly became clear that the Webministry was going to be a big part of it.
A year ago, I took my growing body of knowledge and skills as part of Kingdom Webministry, and helped in putting Tindal and Alberic on their thrones in a way that the whole Kingdom could see. Tindal and Alberic were fully committed to carrying the East forward and not letting the challenges of the world stop the SCA from continuing to be an active community.
With them on the thrones, I was now strapped in for a front row seat for what has turned out to be quite the year. Sometimes the front row seat felt like the front row of an amazing live show. Sometimes it felt like the front row seat of a roller coaster, going over the precipice into simultaneous terror and exhilaration. Sometimes it felt like being Statler and Waldorf sitting in the front and making comments. We even shticked Statler and Waldorf one time.
The Coronation of Tindal and Alberic was also the moment when I took the pandemic by the horns and told the new royals that they would not be personally responsible for their own video work during the reign. Magnus Tindal is an exceedingly capable video producer and editor, and used those skills many times leading up to that coronation, but I knew that as sitting royals, they’d have enough going on.
This decision turned into an amazing set of experiences. I spent most Thursday nights with a ringside seat watching people be recognized and receive awards as I helped record the weekly Zoom sessions. I had some amazing and dedicated people practically fall into my lap to help me take those weekly recordings and edit them into usable video segments. I sat behind the screen for Ethereal courts broadcasting those video segments for all to see.
I learned a lot. I learned a lot about the production side: the things we could do with Zoom, and huge increases in my knowledge of the tools to edit video, for example. I learned a lot through coordinating the editing team: navigating the best ways to keep us organized, dividing and delegating the work, finding new volunteers to help as we ramped up and added virtual elevations to the show.
I made mistakes. I watched others make mistakes. And everyone involved extended patience and forgiveness and an understanding that this was not what we all wanted, but what we would all do anyway because that was what was required.
Yesterday, the road traveled for the past year came to an end. Yesterday, Magnus Tindal and Alberic von Rostock stepped down from those thrones as the SCA returns to full in person participation. There are no plans at this time to continue with Ethereal Courts as they’ve been done for the past year. I will not be giving up weeknights to do the things I have been doing. That chapter is ending. But I am taking with me the experiences, the skills and knowledge, and the connections made.
Yesterday Tindal and Alberic recognized the kingdom webministry and the video team that had been there all along. We were all given Augmentations of Arms, a truly significant recognition from them. And I cannot tell you how proud I am of those who were a part of this road, and to have been a part of it myself.
Next week, there be further turns in the road. Next week I conclude my time as Thrown Weapons champion. I’m excited to have a fun tournament and to find an excellent new Champion for the new royals, Ioannes and Ro Honig. It’s been a long two years, and it is time for someone else to carry the spear.
The road doesn’t end here. Because Yesterday as the Kingdom Webminister renewed his term, I renewed mine as his deputy. And because yesterday something else happened as well. Ioannes and Honig called on me to attend them at a future court and answer their invitation to join the Order of the Pelican. I will answer that question in November at another Crown Tournament, marking another connection to the past as I go forward. I do not know where that road goes, but I am looking forward to it.
I can’t end this post here. Not without acknowledging all the friends and family, and especially my wife Deirdre, who walked the road with me. Those who made it possible for me to give up so many weeknights and weekend days. Those who helped carry the load. Those who cheered or listened or answered messages and emails when I felt like I was losing my mind. I love you all.