Friday, May 13, 2011

So, what's next?

Wow, once again it has been a long, long time since I have updated this blog. Mostly I have been plugging away on my freelance career, my SCA heraldic endeavors, and my SCA musical endeavors. I even started a professional blog. But every once in a while I think about the "bigger picture," so here goes.

In one of my favorite TV series ever, The West Wing, President Bartlet frequently ended discussion of an issue by saying, "What's next?"

This phrase comes up for me every time I think ahead to what I want to accomplish in the SCA. And by "what I want to accomplish," I mean my Lithuanian studies. Yes, I do have other responsibilities to my barony and Kingdom, and those tasks will get done because they are part of being an all-volunteer group. For instance, at the most recent baronial business meeting, I took notes and then typed up the minutes and sent them to the seneschal, because our regular chronicler was out of town for the weekend.

For me, my Lithuanian studies are the "special sauce" on top of all the other cool things I do in the SCA. But the "special sauce" won't happen if I don't procure the ingredients and mix them together in a way that makes sense.

I've taught classes about Lithuania and I've been recognized by Their Majesties, but still, I can't help feeling that I've only barely scratched the surface. There are still so many "persona questions" (from lists like this and this) that I cannot answer yet. Thanks to the Web, I see photos of Lithuanian reenactors such as the members of Pajauta, but I don't have firm documentation for what they're wearing, and I'm not sure that documentation exists (Lithuanian medieval graves contain metal artifacts, but no fabric -- and they didn't document their lives with paintings the way western Europeans did). A few books out there may provide some answers, in either English or Lithuanian, but they're not generally available outside a few academic libraries and/or the Library of Congress. (Yes, I do live in the general metro area of the Library of Congress, but I'm not very good at finding the time to visit the place.)

Once I define what I'm looking for, and then I find it, then what do I do with the information? In the short term, I know that I missed the deadline for getting classes listed in the "Pennsic book" for Pennsic XL, coming this August. I still really, really want to go to Pennsic, but I may be able to attend for only a few days, perhaps an extended weekend. (Now that I don't have a steady job, I have time but no money; if I land a full-time job, I will have money but absolutely no vacation time.) I think it's better for my sanity to avoid teaching if I'm just going to be there for a couple of days (with a third day for setting up and a fourth day for packing out).

Perhaps the thing I need to jump-start my Lithuanian research efforts is to write up a short generalist article for something like Tournaments Illuminated, the SCA's quarterly magazine. Maybe I could give it a clever title, like "Seven Reasons to Consider a Lithuanian Persona" or "Ten Things You Didn't Know About Medieval Lithuania." Would anyone even be interested in reading such an article?

I also can't help feeling that I need to specialize in "an art" that has something to do with my persona: tablet weaving, naalbinding, clothes-making, amber-carving, music-making, etc. I tend to dabble in a lot of different things and specialize in none of them. Not quite sure what to do about that.

Sometimes I think I should be apprenticed to a Laurel who would guide me in the "how to do what I want to do" part of the SCA. Again, I know a lot of Laurels, but no one individual close enough to apprentice to. Maybe someday....