The New Year has come and brought significant changes. I once again have full time employment with the theater I was previously attached to, and this opens up a lot of possibilities that were not feasible before. Stability is thrilling. And I absolutely love my work as a scenic carpenter.
I chose three words to be my touchstones for the year. Balance, which has been my word for several years now; Challenge and Growth.
My Genji Project continues. I had been able to keep pace with the schedule until this week. I started with only a 2 week cushion, and in hindsight, this was a mistake. I got to the point where I was recording the main chapter videos and editing them to throw immediately onto YouTube. For chapter 9, I pulled an all-nighter. And I couldn’t continue that way. The quality of the videos suffered, and I really just couldn’t pull another all-nighter. So I’m taking a break from uploading videos. I’m still going to do the work and get new videos ready, but I won’t upload again until April 1, so I can regain a cushion.
Scroll Assignment! I accepted a scroll assignment. It’s for an Order of High Merit due at Mudthaw on March 25. It’s going to be a 16th century Italian piece. I’ve picked the hand, the calligraphic style, and I have a line on the word structure, I was advised of a popular rhyming scheme for the period. I think I’m going to use English and not translate this one. I have a few more days to pick an exemplar for the illumination and then I move into production mode. This will be my first piece with real gold leaf, I’m finally going to do it.
Auction Offering: I’m going to have this project, a lined robe and hakama, finished by April 1. If I can manage it a little faster, I’ll be able to hand it off in person to the very patient recipient at Mudthaw.
Samurai Training. I’m back at it. Slowly ramping up through March while I finish the scroll and auction commission, and then rattan combat training becomes my main focus (outside of the Genji Project, of course)
I now have a list of events I’m going to try to attend leading up to Pennsic. Mudthaw (maybe), Coronation, Balfar’s Challenge, War of the Roses, Southern Region War Camp, War of the Pearls (maybe), Northern Region War Camp, Great Northeastern War and Pennsic.
Pennsic prep has begun as well. I have alterations to make to most of my garb, and a few new items to make. And I have classes to plan. I’m thinking of teaching my Pilgrimage and Power class, and 2 variations of my Get Ready With Me (GRWM) class, one for a travelling outfit and one for a courtesan’s ensemble. My current thought is to teach each class twice, once during peace week and once during war week.
And since we’re talking Pennsic prep, as Baronial Largesse Coordinator, I need to do something to ensure there is enough largesse for Pennsic and Carolingian 50 Year. To that, I’m going to host largesse crafting nights once a month (in lieu of the A&S night I had been thinking about). The first meeting will be virtual, and the rest will be hybrid.
It’s come to the end of the year and I’m wondering, what have I accomplished? It feels like there hasn’t been much, but that can’t be true.
In January, I was still Consort’s Champion of A&S.
February saw my last addition to Meet the Artist Mondays. I also co-autocratted the East Goes East (a virtual event which received a commendation from the BOD) and taught two classes at the event.
In March, I completed a scroll for my successor and stepped down as Champion. I also represented the East at Gulf Wars in the A&S Champions War Point, and learned I can completely hand sew a kosode in less than 24 hours.
At Coronation in April, I began retaining for the Royals and displayed my 24 hour kosode. At the Feast of Fools event I was named First Poet of Carolingia. Later that month I performed a tanka at a bardic challenge.
May saw me inducted into The Barony of Carolingia’s Order of the Moon, an A&S award.
In June I created an AOA award document. It didn’t go out, as the person missed court, but they may have it by now, I should check with the Signet.
In July I finished several pieces of garb for TRMs. This was specifically for Opening Ceremonies at Pennsic. I created 3 kosode for HerRM and a bonus obi, and a kosode and obi for HisRM. I also taught 3 classes at GNEW.
August was spent prepping the Genji Project for release. There is so much behind the scenes work in this project’s ongoing presentation.
September saw my Genji Project come to life and take over my life.
In October my channel exploded to over 100 subscribers.
November saw the Genji Project steaming along and I also successfully completed the annual #TankaChallenge. And I wrote a book of poetry. Hopefully that will go to press soon.
It’s now December and I’m still excited about my Genji Project. I’m learning a tremendous amount and trying to share that through my videos. It’s a grueling schedule, and I’ll admit to being behind, but it’s so satisfying to share Genji with the world like this.
Throughout this year I have continued to write a tanka everyday and share them on Facebook. I’ve also struggled with keeping on track with my language studies and samurai training. And I’m disappointed in having to turn down my last scribal assignment. My last outstanding item is a sewing project. I volunteered my sewing skills for the auction to benefit TRMs. I have a lined ginu and a pair of shortened nagabakama to make as soon as I can.
In the next year, I plan to continue writing tanka everyday and to keep working on my Genji Project, one chapter at a time. Once my auction items are complete, my sewing will focus only on mending and prepping for Pennsic. I also plan to focus on samurai training. The only two events I know I’m going to are Birka in January and Pennsic in July/August. And I want to fight at Pennsic. If I can get a good routine going, I’ll pick up a backlog scroll assignment. Oh, and I want to host a virtual monthly A&S night for my Barony.
I certainly have plenty to keep me busy in the new year. And I’m satisfied with what I’ve accomplished this year. It really helped to list everything. I feel that I have done enough.
So it’s been two weeks. The channel is growing and the Genji Project is taking up most of my free time. I’ve even added to my studio gear with a pair of soft box lights.
Keeping up with the channel is quite a bit of work. And I’m dreading part of it. Advertising. No, I’m no where close to monetizing the channel, that’s unlikely to ever happen. And I don’t mean posting to facebook about new videos, that’s easy. There’s another place. A perfect place.
I’m a member of a google group, Pre Modern Japanese Studies. Other YouTube channels have been shared to the group, so I know it would be ok to post there, these people are exactly the right audience. But I’m terrified. I’ve seen posts that Royall Tyler has commented on. ROYALL TYLER. Genji translator. My favorite Genji Translator. He’s in this group and might see what I’m doing. This group is full of serious academics, and I’m incredibly intimidated. I know I need to do it. And I will, but for another few minutes I’m just going to be scared about it.
I am so proud of how this project is shaping up. I’ve been dreaming about this project for years. In 2020, I started it and then set it aside for my Travelling Outfit.
Initially this project was very narrow. Read the book. Pull the clothing references. Done. But I dreamed of ever expanding ideas of how to approach the text, and interrogated what it really was I wanted out of the project. I decided to embrace the scope creep. In 2020 I got started. I created this website, a facebook page, and a YouTube channel. I wrote the first 5 or 6 scripts, even filmed a little. And then stopped to focus on the Travelling Outfit.
As I was gearing back up for this project, I reevaluated my timeline, the scope, the goals, and am finally happy with my approach.
The new and improved plan is this: I’m reading 5 translations of Genji: Suematsu, Waley, Seidensticker, Tyler and Washburn. Yes, at the same time. I’m hoping that this will maximize my understanding. Washburn wrote “it is only through multiple translations of brilliantly complex and historically influential narratives like Genji monogatari that we can ‘get at’ a source work in another language…” There is a great deal to be learned from the subtle and not so subtle differences in the translations. I also hope to make the project more approachable for you this way. Pick the translation you like or have access to and join in. I’ll make a video for each chapter where we’ll compare the translations, talk about the plot, discuss some of the seasonal and cultural references and specifically examine colour in regards to clothing.
And then there’s Poetry. Poetry in Heian Japan was a fundamental part of court culture. It deserves its own space. So I decided to make a concurrent series with the Genji project videos – Waka Wednesdays, waka meaning “poem in Japanese”. In a video on alternating Wednesdays I’ll share and discuss a poem from our current research project and one I write inspired by the week’s reading. The Genji Monogatari contains 795 poems to explore in 54 chapters.
As a part of this project, I’m creating a video each week. On alternating Sundays I’ll release a new Genji video and on the Wednesdays in between I’ll release a Waka Wednesday video. This means the project will take just over two years to complete. At the end, I’ll have not only read but truly examined the Tale of Genji and should have a database of poetic terms, copious notes on clothing, and a deeper understanding of the Heian period. It should be fun. And a decent challenge.
I have a long list of possible projects, things that I would really like to make or do. And things get added to that list with frequency. And sometimes a project that has been relegated to obscurity for years announces suddenly, “it’s time!” But as I look ahead, I’d like to decide what gets priority.
Focusing in is hard, especially when there are so many different things I really want to do. The beauty of this blog is that it forces me to really interrogate my choices, because I’m sharing them.
I want to choose projects, perhaps time projects so that I can manufacture my own joy as I progress on the path I’ve chosen. I need to pick things that make me happy and work toward my goals. My SCA goals are first and foremost, to continue to explore the Heian period through it’s clothing, material culture and literature; second, to fight in the Empire of the Sun Battle at Pennsic 50; third, have fun while doing it.
Obviously my “Samurai” Training is an ongoing project. But I need to do more to prioritize it, to actually get in armor and fight.
I will continue to write tanka, everyday.
I’m still working on starting The Genji Project in earnest. I have the announcement video filmed, I just need to edit and upload it.
Those three are my main focus right now.
But of course, there are minor things brewing too. And these have deadlines. Or, a deadline. I want to make one new outfit for my partner and a new uwagi for myself. Both of these projects were conceived long ago, and the uwagi is even already cut out. Both will be large challenges, and I’d like to have them ready for Birka in January.
I’ve also submitted my Pilgrimage and Power class to Daigaku-ryō: Pan Asia University happening October 14-16, 2022. I’m considering turning the handout into a slideshow to better suit the digital format, and I plan to record the class if at all possible.
There are some completed projects! Clothing for Their Majesties of the East was made and sent to Pennsic via a friend. I spent at least 70 hours on that project as I also listened to the Dennis Washburn translation of The Tale of Genji while I made it, I highly recommend the audiobook for its accessibility. It’s a compelling 72+ hours worth every moment spent. An award document/scroll was finished, but it didn’t seem to go out, so I can’t share it yet.
The East Goes East – was a rewarding event to autocrat/schedule. Their Royal Highnesses attended, and much to my surprise, They even sat in on one of my classes. It was such a deep honor. And speaking of honors, Lady Patience Faircloth and I received a commendation from the Board of Directors of the SCA for the event. I was floored. We have discussed the possibility of making it an annual event.
Aisles of March / Crown’s A&S Championship – In what will be a recurring theme, I did not complete the items I wanted to for this event for myself. Eventually I’ll make a hiogi (wooden fan) but it has not happened yet. I did complete the scroll/document for the next Queen’s Champion of Arts and Sciences. The next blog post will be its write up.
I was very emotional stepping down. I didn’t cry in public, but it was incredibly difficult to let that position go. I am quite in awe of the project submitted by the new Queen’s Champion. It was a deep honor to be in the room consulting with Their Majesties and Highnesses regarding the next Champions. I am so very grateful for my time as Champion and the work I was able to do to inspire the Arts.
Gulf Wars in Gleann Abhann – This is a 22 hour drive one way. For this trip, 9 of those hours were through heavy snowstorms. I don’t know why I decided that driving straight through was the right idea, but that’s just what I did. We arrived early enough to get on site and set up camp, but with the temperatures predicted in the high 20s and weary from the drive, we stuck to the original plan and a hotel was procured. Our tent heater got a workout as it was in the low 30s the next night on site. I spent the majority of my free time sewing, even staying up through the night and sewing for nearly for 24 hours straight to finish the items for the Champions A&S Competition. I was very pleased with the work I did. But there was disappointment at the A&S Competition. Of course I wanted to win for the Glory of the East Kingdom, but that did not happen, and that’s ok. It was my first in person A&S competition, and there was definitely a learning curve. I did get some confusing and even angering comments from my judges that made it clear they did not have the time to read my documentation. I’m puzzling over ways to make it easier to get into the documentation for future competitions. I’m also very grateful for the Laurel who took me aside after the competition to talk me down and help me reframe the competition. I didn’t know if camping/eventing would complicate it, but I was able to continue writing and posting poetry the entire time. My partner and I did decide to leave the event a day early (there was a minor flooding issue) and the drive home was very relaxed. This event was also the 19th anniversary with my partner, we met at Gulf Wars.
Gathering of Fools – was a pot luck local event. I made two lovely Japanese dishes, a carrot and daikon salad and a shitake mushroom dish. I was astonished when I was called into court and made the First Poet of Carolingia. Her Excellency Carolingia presented me with her own quill, tied with a beautiful silk ribbon to mark my new office.
Coronation – was a beautiful event. I displayed the kosode that I sewed at Gulf Wars and retained for the first time officially. I was also able to process in with the new Royals in evening court. This was the first time that I was able to wear my travelling outfit at an event.
Balfar’s Challenge – gave me another chance to retain for TRMs. I spent a lot of time chatting with friends and meeting new people. And I also learned that the makeup I wear is not adequate in preventing sunburn.
East Kingdom College of Performers Challenge Assembly and Schola was a delightful Bardic event that I attended with Her Excellency Carolingia. I took a few classes and performed a tanka. It was a beautifully relaxing day, if a little warm.
Otter’s Welcome was the Barony of Carolingia’s event to welcome newcomers. I had a ferocious migraine, and showed up late, but eventually found where I was supposed to be to set up for the Largesse Derby. I spent most of the day speaking with Mistress Cathain who was watching over the A&S display. In court I was inducted into the Order of the Moon, the Barony of Carolingia’s A&S award. Just before court, His Excellency Master Aquel presented me with a small box. inside were two beads, a beautiful glass bead, and an astonishing carved bone netsuke charm in the shape of a tiger eating it’s tail. The gift was presented with a directive to carve my own inro, a decorative case used to hold small objects that usually hangs from the obi/belt.
War of the Roses did not happen for me. That migraine I had at Otter’s was actually a COVID symptom. Luckily no one seems to have gotten ill from spending time with me at that event. I did not complete the items I wanted to for this event either, even if I couldn’t go. Every time I approach making myself something other than Japanese garb, I freeze up. I know how to make these things, I just can not picture myself actually wearing anything other than Japanese. So I guess there’s no point in making any of it. I do still need to make a few non Japanese items for my partner, a Viking under tunic and pants, and a late period shirt and doublet. We also discovered at Gulf Wars that he really prefers more simple garb, so I’m devising ways to make the ties on his hakama much easier and will be revising all the sleeves on his kosode.
As much as I would love to go to every event I can, that is just not currently financially feasible. I’m grateful for the 8 events I’ve had so far this year. I plan on 1 in July, Great Northeastern War; 1 in September, Falling leaves, though I’d love to attend Ducal Challenge to see the former Sovereign’s A&S Champ be inducted into the Order of the Laurel; and 1 in November, St Eligius Arts and Sciences Competition. I will consider Coronation and Crown list once they are scheduled. Unless circumstances change, this will be it for the rest of the year.
Beyond events, I have a few active projects…
TRMs Garb is “due” this month. I may need to ask for another two weeks, as I lost two weeks to COVID.
New Scroll! I actually turned down the next assignment I was offered. I was asked to make the Bardic Champions’ documents, and really would have loved to do it, but I was planning to compete and thought that would be a little weird. This assignment is an AoA. Luckily the gentle has an East Kingdom wiki page, so I can easily pull the information I need that was not included by the person who recommended them. This document has a quick turn around, and will need to be completed by the end of June so that someone can hand deliver it to the event on July 1st. There’s no way I can give up the time required to mail it. And I’m loathe to mail scrolls/document anyway.
Samurai Training – I’ve picked this back up. I’ve been attending Fighter Practice and doing daily drills. I need to get my armor together so I can actually start sparring.
Genji Project – I’ve now talked to a number of people about this project, and I think I’ve worked up the courage and cleared my project schedule. I’ve decided to start in July. I’ll do a write up of the project to officially announce it. And there will be other happenings. This will also mean more frequent updates to the blog to follow along with the project.
And I have a completed project:
100 Days of A&S – At last, a completed project. I spent at least 15 minutes, every day for 100 days doing something A&S related. Usually this was writing a tanka, but it was also work done to support A&S at events and studying Japanese, sewing and researching and teaching classes. I’ll admit this was an easy project, and that it continues as I am still writing tanka, every day.
Now that we’ve reflected on the year, it’s time to get set for the next. Shall we start with reviving the old project list? Perhaps a list by type of project? Or prioritized by deadline? Hmm. I think we’ll just go by how they pop into my head.
Travelling Outfit 2.0 – this needs a kosode and a kake-obi. While I still haven’t decided about the sleeves (whether or not to remove the “extensions”), I have the materials for the other two items. This has no hard deadline, but would be best if it was ready for spring.
Karaginu Mo – I would like to wear full court dress at the upcoming Crown’s A&S Champions. This requires amending the karaginu I was gifted so that it has a lining. Deadline is the event, but it hasn’t been scheduled yet. Depending on when it is held, I’ll be wearing either hana tachibana (flowering mandarin orange) or yamabuki no nioi (scent of kerria rose) as those are the only appropriate kasane (color combinations) that I can make with my current wardrobe.
Hiogi – wearing full court dress requires the appropriate fan. I have the supplies for this as well, I think. I might need a sturdier pin for the pivot, but that would be the only thing. Same deadline as karaginu mo.
Eboshi – if I make a hat, I can get away with wearing my partner’s hitatare kamishimo, a matching outfit of hitatare (like a jacket) and hakama (pants). My partner would also like a hat. I think I have some black silk to use for this, I don’t know if I have enough for two or not. No deadline.
Secret Project – I’m tremendously excited about it. The deadline for this is a the same as the karaginu mo and hiogi.
Samurai Training – I need to come up with a plan and stick to it. This is complicated by it now being cold enough where I live that I’m not really willing to spend much time outside. Also still dealing with a pesky injury.
Language – I’ve fallen behind, badly, having not studied in months. I’m trying to be gentle with myself with the projects like this one that languished while I was dealing with the loss of my father. I’m honestly still dealing with that. Grief is complicated.
Tanka – this is an ongoing practice. I write at least one every day. It feels good to have this constant artistic outlet. I will admit I’ve been toying with the idea of doing another 1000. Probably not though, as I have a different project that requires the kind of dedication it took to complete that and then some. (See Genji Project)
Possibilities Dancing in the evening air Intoxicating
One idea outshines the rest And a plan begins to form
Time Travel – I have two full outfits for myself and some pieces to make for my partner to complete two outfits for him. None of this is Japanese, and it has a deadline of May 25th.
Classes – the Saishi/Hair Ornaments class still needs research. Pilgrimage and Power needs its handout spruced, and so does Introduction to Japanese Women’s Dress. I’ve recently dreamed up an advanced kasane class (which requires a ton of research), but my basic class, Kasane for the SCA, still needs its handout worked on. There’s a theme here… I also have a demonstration video I want to record showing how to use modern theatrical makeup to fake the look of period Heian makeup. I’ve done a test run, I just need to do a full go. Deadline-wise, I’ll need to have the intro class and kasane class ready for February 19th.
Meet the Artist Monday – this project will continue until I step down as Consort’s Champion of A&S , probably April. It would be neat if the next set of Champions decide to continue it.
The East Goes East – a virtual event on February 19th! I’m co-autocratting the event with Lady Patience. It’s planned to be a virtual schola centered on East and Southeast Asia celebrating the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Tiger. There will be classes, an A&S display, and it will wrap up with a renga party. (Renga is collaborative poetry)
Genji Project – Have I actually described the project before? Maybe bits of it… I don’t really want to divulge its secrets just yet if I haven’t… I want to get this started, but I’m having trouble committing myself to the time as I find my footing with the work I’m doing to pay for my hobbies and life in general. It’s a major undertaking, and a commitment of just over a year. I have all of the resources I need for this one, I just need the courage to start. It occurs to me that starting this project for either 2022 or the Lunar New Year might be appropriate.
Annotated Bibliography – a list of books and papers with whatever notes I care to share. I’d like to create a resources page, and the annotated bibliography would be part of it. This will drive me to read more books, and really get to know the resources I have at my disposal so I can more easily share them.
Wardrobe Organization – as I contemplated the massive amount of delicate laundry I need to do having dragged yards of silk behind me at an event, I realized my wardrobe has gotten a little unwieldy. I need to give everything a proper organization and create a spreadsheet so I can better fill in the gaps as I create new pieces. My partner’s wardrobe could use the same treatment.
Commissions – I’ve started taking in commissions. I have one solid and another likely. And a large group of possibilities. The likely one requires a bit more research and patterning.
So many projects Responsibilities and Quickly moving parts
A little work every day And all remains in motion
OK, so that’s a lot of things going on. And a lot to keep track of. A lot of responsibility and so many moving parts. The priorities are starting to shake out as deadlines firm up. It will require a fair amount of discipline to execute everything well. Perhaps the daily tanka practice has exercised my perseverance muscle? We shall see.