Suburban Nerds

The geeks across the street

Update!

Yeah, I know….it’s been a minute or two since the blog was updated.  I haven’t yet figured out a way to incorporate blogging into my daily routine, and for 2.5 months, it made it’s way to the back burner. With the kids all off at summer camp this week, I thought I would brush off my daily routine and try again at figuring out how to be a dependable blogger.  Bear with me.

So, here is a short list of what I haven’t blogged about recently:

1.) Kids.  Yeah, this a nerd blog…but it’s a nerds-with-kid blog as well, and the kiddos do get written about from time to time.  The long and short of it is they are out of school.  Between standardized testing and end of year activities, my schedule was jam packed for  couple of months.  But, we made it through, everyone was promoted to the next grade level, so come August, we will have two sophomores in high school, a first year middle schooler, and a first grader. I don’t even know how to handle all that, so for now, I am just going to focus on no alarm clock needs and glasses pitchers of Sangria.

2.) Dystopia Rising.  Being a mom of a litter of kiddos means my schedule isn’t always conducive to attending DR events as often as I would like.  That’s the way it is.  I missed the big event in April, because we had no kiddo care.  And May’s event was over Mother’s Day weekend…which, as a mom, I decided I wanted to spend with my kids.  DR Bravo closes for the summer and reopens in September, which is already up in the air because I was personally asked to audition for a local production that opens that weekend, plus it’s homecoming, and I have two kiddos in high school…one of which is in band  which means she is at every football game. So, right now  don’t know what I am gong to do.  That said, I have noticed that I still dint quite fit in with the DR crowd…in that we don’t live close to other players, so we miss out on out-of-game hang outs.  And it’s very out of sight/out of mind.  It feels al little cliquish BUT again, there i no harm no foul…because it is difficult to be in the inside when you are so far on the outside.  I mean, physically, so far outside. The game is fun, and I still want to attend when I can…but so far,  being a mom has to come first.  And some people don’t understand that.  But that’s their issue, not mine. Most fellow players I know don’t have 4 school aged kids and don’t have family in the area that can care for the kids for several days.

3.) Amtgard.  Oh, boy.  Amtgard.  Where to begin, and what to say? I would say, a good 60-70% of my friendships in Amtgard are kaput.  A common theme among the various personalities that are attracted to Amtgard is that if you don’t agree with them, most especially if you disagree with them, you are a prime target for personal attacks.  It is taken personally if you don’t agree with someone else on any random aspect of the game, most certainly hot button issues.  Not everyone, mind you, but a recent majority, in my experience.  So, I’ve decided most of those people can go to hell in a hand basket, for all I really care.  Not exactly out of spite, but more out of “I am too old for this high school bullshit” frame of mind.  So, I will focus and the part occasionally in my home field, likely not even signing in, because there is really no point, as I have no desire to “level up”.  I like nerding out with my friends.  If my park needs numbers, maybe I will sign in.  Otherwise, it’s whatever.

4.) Make-up.  I haven’t taken the time to play around with make up in quite some time.  Like blogging, its taken a little bit of a trip to the back burner due to time constraints.  I am determined to figure that out as well. I will need to take a look and see what has been posted and what hasn’t, and will post a little bit here and there until then.

Of course, there are the social issues, political issues, etc etc that I always have something to say about as well, but specifics escape me at the moment.

The bottom line is, we are back for the time being, hopefully permanently. So stay tuned for more!

 

Interview with a Nerd – Andy’s Walkin’ Like an Egyptian…

Way, way back in the day, my dearest Andrew was one of my favorite people.  We met in middle school, and were in Academic Pentathlon together.  I lost touch with him after I moved to another state my sophomore year, but through the magic of Facebook, we have since reconnected. I have to say, Andrew hasn’t changed much over the years, but in answering my call for interviews, I did learn something about him that I never knew before…and that is he is a huge nerd like I am. It really is totally by coincidence that his interview is printed on his birthday week. So, happy birthday, Andy! Here’s to YOU!

 

Name: Andrew

Age: 35

Current location: The Colony, Tx

Q: What is your nerd thing/passion?

My passion is that Im a HUGE nerd when it comes to Old Egyptian culture.
Q: When were you first introduced to your passion?
My mom actually likes talking about how when I was a child, I always drew pyramids in all my pictures. Even before kindergarten I was drawing eyes in pyramids. My first real memory of being actually exposed to it was back in the fifth grade, our school took us to the Ramses Exhibit at Fair park and I can remember crying threw the whole thing. I wasn’t scared, I actually remember feeling like I was at home and I didn’t understand it.
Q: What turned it from an interest to your passion?
I’m completely taken with it. Im not a big fan of the history channel or documentaries but I will watch ANYTHING on Egypt. And I will re watch it to make sure I got it all.
Q: How often do engage in your nerd thing?

Whenever I can
Q: Tell me a few interesting personal stories regarding your nerd thing.

I guess one thing I can say would be that I have been going to the state fair now for years and there is a lady who runs a stand there and she sells things from Egypt. Her name is Dee Dee and she owns her own store in Richardson. Over the years we have become good friends and she always likes to see what new “toys” Ive added to my collection.

Q: Tell me a few things you have learned from your nerd thing.
Ive learned a whole lotta history :). Funny cause it was always boring to me in school. I find myself watching movies and laughing when they are trying to tie something Egyptian in and they get it wrong. I find myself drawn to the combination of Egypt and Aliens and I study that religiously now. And because of my attraction I find that I do beleive in reincarnation. I beleive I did live back in Ancient Egypt and my love for it comes from me being there.

Q: Any advice for newbies?

Have fun with it. I hope there are people as curious as I am to all the mysteries that surround Egypt.

Q: Where can one learn more about your nerd thing?
Tv, documentaries, books, the internet. The truth is out there :P

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Thanks, darlin!  Next week, we have another buddy from way back when I lived in TC…Robert!

Want to be featured here?  Shoot me an email at dmcscollins@gmail.com with “Nerd Blog” in the subject line.  Your answers remain yours, and are only edited lightly if needed.  All interviews are published in the order they are received.

Until next time,

XOXO

Sam

SFX Make up and stuff

I have been playing with make up since I was 8.  My mom used to give me all of her leftovers and I would play and play and play…eye shadows and lipsticks galore. Granted, no one ever showed me how to do it.  I was never taught and boy have I made some mistakes over the years.  (Still do, truth be told.) But I also have always liked to use make up to do other things than try to look pretty.

I’ve always liked using make up to try and look ugly as well.

Being in theatre nearly all my life has taught me some tips and tricks, but recently I have delved back into the world of special effects (SFX) for my own amusement, and for maybe helping out a little with DR as well.

I recently got Mehron’s SFX kit.  I have had the bruise pallet wheel for a while now, and i LOVE that thing. I created these just messing around with it and a little coagulated fake blood.

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Snake bite…from a BIG snake…

The bruise wheel went with me to my last DR event, and while I didn’t have anyone banging down my door for a little SFX make up, I was able o do a handful of things on a handful of people.  (I am not cleared to take and use a camera, so I have no pictures, unfortunately.)

Add in a liquid liner and things start looking a little cartoon-y.  But it’s still fun!  (Note:  I know, it isn’t superb.  But on first tries, I thought I did pretty good…)

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My comic book character is starting to break through…

I’ve been trying to use some highlight and contouring to fake a broken arm, and I still need some work on that. But, practice makes perfect passable better!

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Left is normal…right is a first attempt at “broken but not gory”…

My last show offs are really pretty gory, so…dont scroll further if you have a weak stomach.  I was pretty proud of this one…Grossed myself out…and my husband.

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Here we have a severe burn…

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And here is a gory gash in the arm.

11082608_10206402621970399_4786258449732199900_nI did the above before my Mehron SFX kit came in, using my bruise wheel, some coagulated fake blood, tissue paper and elmer’s glue.  I will try and do it again with videotaping it, tutorial fashion.

I havent had much of a chance to mess with the rest of the SFX kit.  As soon as I get the opportunity, I will give a run down of the fun (albeit smelly….VERY smelly…as in a skunk that ate some bad mint sort of smell) stuff later on.  I have some challenges I have put oneself to try like bites, claw marks across the face, and sewn together faces.  I am open to any other suggestions!  If I can pull it off, I will record it and show you how I did it!

Until next time, 

XOXO

Sami

 

Creating Characters With Depth…and Then Becoming Them

Many, many, MANY of the people I know play a character of some sort, at least some of the time.  Whether because they LARP…whether they are theatre nerds…whether they have a public persona that is a little different than their private one…we all have roles we play at some point. This post is about LARPs, in particular, but you can construe this to fit any need you want to.  The following can certainly help actors, dancers, teachers, what have you. If you wear a literal or proverbial mask, my hope is that at least some of this can help you.

Tragicomic Theater Masks. Sad and Smile masks

LARP.  Live Action Role Play.

Usually, part of playing in a LARP is creating a character. This can be anyone you want it to be, given your parameters in a particular game. But, for me anyway, the main focus of a LARP is the actual role play.  Becoming, interacting, reacting, behaving and moving in such a way that my character has practically come to life.  Through ME! It’s an amazing feeling.  But then again, I am a big old theatre nerd. Maybe that’s just how I get my kicks…becoming someone else for a little while, and letting Sam rest.  Knowwhatimean?

Granted, lots of people in LARPs are content with merely putting on a costume/garb, responding to a different name, maybe wearing different make up or a mask or what have you. And that’s fine, too. I have no beef with stick jocks and boffer badasses.  I am just saying that, for me, becoming a character, someone other than myself, enriches the experience.  I might do, say or feel things I wouldn’t otherwise.  The role-play, the acting, the metamorphosing into some one else…that’s the draw for me.

Maschere veneziane - Venetian masks

So, where do you start?

First, in nearly every game, either live action or table top,  you start by giving your character the bare bones it needs to fit within the game.  A race, a strain, a job, a name.  Fairly basic, yeah? You often pick from skills your character can work with off the bat. Once everything is filled out on paper, then you get into the costume/rough idea of what the character looks like:  How your character dresses, what they wear, what they carry with them. Occasionally, they give their character another accent or cadence to speak with. And often at this point, people assume they are done. Their “character” is made.

But for me, stopping right here means you play you…you present yourself to the game as yourself, in different clothes, with certain skills, and maybe talking a little differently. Not a lot of role-play here.  Not a lot of character immersion.  (Again, if this is where you are comfortable stopping, stop.  No harm, no foul, no judgement.)

 

But, let’s go further down the rabbit hole, shall we?  Let’s make this barebones skeleton a fully fleshed out character.  And they start out ANY WAY you want them to.  (Sometimes, later on in this process, you feel a little more restricted in who this person can or cannot be. Just don’t limit yourself.  Hopefully, you will see what I mean pretty quick.)

Teen Girl with Sword over White Background with Clipping PathThe next step, quick and dirty style.

In the LARP of Dystopia Rising, my character asks everyone she meets “How ya doing’? How’s ya mutha?”

Granted, part of this exercise is to give the respondent an instant clarity of a little bit of who I am. I am obviously a Yorker.  I am obviously new in town.  Two key pieces of information that others might find important off the bat.

But the bigger point is, it makes the respondent think. There aren’t a lot of players that I have come into contact with that actually have an answer to this question.  They haven’t delved that far into who their character is. And how do I know this?

The mother/child bond is often the strongest bond between two people, and the first human connection at least one of them has with another.  (I don’t meant to imply sappy music and butterflies here.  The bond isn’t always a great one.  But it is often one that is the first significant connection, and sets a tone for the rest of their lives.) Ergo, knowing how your character’s mother is can tell me a lot about who that character is inside.

Live Action Role Play Warrior Princess Girl Child

If one was abandoned by their mother, there might be a deep scar on their psyche. They may be willing to do anything they can to keep another on their good side, for fear of rejection or abandonment.  If they were abused by their mother, they likely don’t trust anyone and keep their distance until a large chunk of trust is earned first.  If their mother was warm and nurturing, but their mother is no longer alive, there might be sadness and loss behind their eyes, and yet there might be a glimmer of pride and security that was reinforced from infancy.  If she was nurturing and loving, and is still alive, that person is often filled with hope and a little extra security…in that no matter what happens, mom’s house is always there and is a safe place to fall, and that no matter what they do, their mother will love them. If they don’t know whether their mother is alive or dead, there might be a hint of urgency and longing to find her. I can go on and on with other examples, but I am hoping you get the idea by now.

Does that make sense? No matter what the relationship is with one’s maternal parent, it leaves a mark: good, bad or indifferent.  It’s there.

Now, 9 times out of 10, the response I get back when I ask “How’s ya mutha” is “she’s dead”, and that tells me quite a bit…about the player.  I’ve only attended two events thus far, testing the waters with “How’s ya mutha?” At the next event, when someone answers their mother is dead, I will ask how she died.  Make you think a little more, because merely answering with “She’s dead” is boring.

So, if you have little time or aren’t ready/willing to go any further with your character creation, at least ask yourself about your mother.  Is she alive?  If she is, where is she? When did you last see her?  Is she well? If she is dead, how did she die?  How old were you when she died? How old was she? (You can continue to narrow it down, depending on how interested you are in this, and ask yourself to imagine your last day with her, what she was doing the day she died, your last words, etc.) Make it as happy happy joy joy or as traumatic as you like.  This is your character.

Attractive Thirties Black Man with Sword

 

Please make no mistake:  these small nuances will and should affect your character, just as they do real life people. Experiences, good and bad, help shape someone to become who they are today. In real life, you wouldn’t be exactly where you are right this second if you hadn’t experienced your life every day up to now, and lived with every choice you made.

(Side note:  You can do the above exercise as an actor as well.  If your script doesn’t state specifically, you can make it up. Just because a nuance isn’t written, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If you explore the relationship of your character and their mother, you might get a deeper sense as to who this character is. You may have to change it if it affects your portrayal in a way your director doesn’t like.  So be a little flexible until you nail it on the head.)

Aggressive Medieval Group

Going beyond “ya mutha”

Take your character sheet, and sit somewhere you can think a bit.  Some people need total quiet.  Maybe you do fine sitting at the coffee shop.  Whatever you need to be able to devote some attention to this character, do it.  You might want to bring paper with you for personal note taking. Whatever floats your boat.

Then, play a little game.  Pretend you have been offered a specific amount of money (let’s say, $1) for every specific detail you can find about your character. Pretend your character is a real person, and you are interviewing them in your head.

With your brand new, infant stage character idea, answer the following questions as your character:

*What is my goal? (To be a hero?  To save someone?  to find safety?  What is the number one thing that drives you day to day? You might decide you have many goals, so pick the one that stands out the most, and flesh it out…and then go down the list in order of importance.)

*When was I born?

*What day was it?

*What was the weather like the day I was born?

*Who named me?

*Why did they pick that name for me?

*Why do I do (profession) what I do?

*How did I learn my profession?

*What am I doing in this town/settlement/community/war?

*How did I get to this town/settlement/community/war?  What is my mode of transportation?  How long did it take?

Afraided teen girl

And you can continue down the rabbit hole as far as you want to.  The further you go, the more real your character becomes. Here are more suggestions:

*What is my most vivid memory at age 5? 10? 20?

*Am I virgin? If so, why?  If not, who did I lose my virginity to?  When? Where?

*How did I earn my first bit of currency? What was my first job?

*Who do you trust, and why?

*Who don’t you trust?  Why not?

*What’s my favorite color?

*How did I get the clothing I have on?  Did I make it?  How?  Did I find it?  Where?  Did someone give it to me?  Why?

*What is my favorite meal?  When was the last time I had it?

*Who was the nicest person I ever met?  What did they do that was so nice?

*Who is the meanest? What did they do to me that was so mean?

*What offends me the most?

*Describe the happiest day I have ever experienced.

*Describe the saddest day  have ever experienced.

*What is my most prized possession?  Where did I get it?  What do I do to protect it?

*Have I ever received a gift from someone?  What were they?

*Who was your first love?  Do you still love them?  Do they love you?

*What is one thing you don’t want anyone else to know about you?

*What are you most afraid of?

*What is something that you find relaxing?

*What is the worst thing you have ever done to someone that you feel guilty about?

beauty girl cry

And so on, and so on.  You can go as far as you want to. If you have started answering these questions in your head, I am willing to bet you might be feeling a deeper connection to your character. They might seem a little more real to you.

Keep in mind, these answers are only for you.  You don’t have to share any of this information with anyone if you have no desire to.  This information is only for you to know.

knight

Putting this in to practice

Take a hike

Once you have nailed your character down…once you have dug deep into their mind and memory and you have a clear sense of who they are, put yourself in those shoes, and walk across your living room, or down the street.  At first walk normally, and replay all of this information in your head.  Your gait may change. Your hips may swing more, or less.  Your chest might inflate, or your shoulders my swoop down.  Your pace might quicken. Or you might shuffle your feet.

Your gait, stance and pace will be different if you are on a mission to avenge a wrong doing, than it is if you are carefree, right?  Practice that walk.  (Preferably in whatever shoes you will be wearing.)

Most of us humans have an innate sense of empathy.  Thats why often, when your friend is sad, and they are telling you why, your shoulders sag a little more, and you often begin to mimic their stance.  So, tell this story in your head about your character and walk and pace.  If you have a hard time distinguishing whether anything is different or not, record yourself on your laptop or phone, and then study the footage.

Old and dirty military boots isolated on white background

Through the looking glass

Take the time to dress in your costume/garb and stand in front of a mirror.  Read or replay your answers to the questions, using first person narrative, and looking in the mirror. Notice if your face changes expression. If you begin using more or less hand gestures. Practice how your character might laugh, or ask a question.  Determine if your character will look anyone in the eyes or if they pinpoint more the bridge of someone’s nose as a focal point. Dance.  Flourish.

If that gets a little boring, do something a little different away from the mirror.  Cook a meal as your character would cook a meal.  Change out your laundry.  Walk through the grocery store. Do everyday mundane tasks as someone completely different to get a better feel of your character.

Man sticking his tongue out

A page out of a book

Take a page out of a book, and read it as yourself, and then as your character, and I mean really as your character.  Tell yourself the story of your character in “I” sentences, and then immediately read a page from a book. Do you emphasize different syllables?  Is your cadence the same?  Is it slightly different? Did certain words jump out?

Immersion Word Dictionary Definition Circled Experience

Rinse. Repeat.

Practice makes perfect.  Getting into and coming out of your character might take some real work at first, especially if you have never done it before.  But the more you practice these things, the easier it gets, I promise you.  Do all of the preceding at least once a week.  Or at least twice before you head off to an event. Or for at least 2 hours.  Notice any different feelings, senses, changes and take note of them. Seriously.  I know you might feel it’s stupid, but go with me on this.  Enriching your character might change your role-play a bit, and your experience might be enhanced through really getting under the skin and picking the brain of your character.

I know several of you may think this is all overboard and too much, and maybe it is for you.  That’s okay. Just…maybe don’t knock it til you try it?  Don’t worry about folks judging you.  We are all huge nerds. We LARP for goodness sakes. We cosplay.  We get involved in tabletop games.  We have real emotions with these games.  Come on. Who is judging who?

If you would like to bounce ideas off of me, or consult me with ideas, please feel free to reach out. I am always happy to help. :)

LARP word cloud shape

Interview with a Nerd – Cassie says what?

I know, I was supposed to post this last week.  One of these days, I will be better able to balance blogging and momming and wifing and nerding. Anyway, this week, we have my friend Cassie.  Cassie, say hello! Cassie is a friend of ours from Amtgard, and I really enjoyed learning more about her nerdiness.  (I love learning about all my friends’ nerdiness-ess-es.) Onward, ho!

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Name:
Cassie

Age:
33

Current location:
Texas

Q: What is your nerd thing/passion? 

  1. Video Gaming- Any games on consoles or PC. I am pretty much game for any but sports games.
  2. Anime – Animated shows, usually hailing from Japan but I have seen some fairly good ones from Korea as well. Big fan of Inuyasha especially :)
  3. Doctor Who – Very lovely british show.
  4. Battlestar Galactica- Very cool scifi show featuring Robots called Cylons that look like humans but are trying to wipe us out.
  5. Amtgard – Live action Role play game where we fight with foam weapons and learn the arts and sciences (sewing and cooking, etc.) from the 16th century.
  6. Crafting- I love to craft! I have dabbled in a little bit of everything.

Q: When were you first introduced to your passion?
Most of my obsessions started when I met my husband. Before that I was pretty sheltered.

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Q: What turned it from an interest to your passion?
I personally connect in some form or fashion to all my passions.

Q: How often do engage in your nerd thing?
Every single day :)

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Q: Tell me a few interesting personal stories regarding your nerd thing.
A month or so ago, I was introducing my friend to the anime Inuyasha and we were watching a particularly funny scene where the main character and a rival were arguing with each other. I only watch anime in subbed format so it was in Japanese. The two characters were calling each other stupid over and over again, but of course the Japanese word for stupid is baka and well it just is so much more fun to say. So my friend and I went around for weeks greeting each other by saying “Baka!”
Q: Tell me a few things you have learned from your nerd thing.
Amtgard has taught me quite a bit. I have learned many crafts. Gaming has taught me how to solve puzzles, work in groups, and think tactically.

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Q: Any advice for newbies?
Do your research. This applies to any of my passions.

Q: Where can one learn more about your nerd thing?
For anime, I would suggest a site called Crunchyroll. They have a decent collection of old and new. Amtgard has a website where you can learn more amtgard.com. As for crafting, Pinterest or Instructables.com

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Just as Cassie in real life, this is short and sweet. ;) (And I get to say that because I’m a special snowflake.)

Next week, we have one of Sam’s oldest friend’s, Andrew.  They’ve known each other since Sam was in 7th grade, and Andy was in 6th.  He’s always been such a sweetie, AND his passion is very interesting.  I had no idea!!

If you would like to be “interviewed” for this blog, please send an email to dmcscollins@gmail.com with “Nerd Blog” in the subject line.  Submissions are in your words, except for minor editing.  Each interview is published in the order it was received.

A Fat Girl in the LARP world…

(This post is cross posted on May The Forks Be With You as well.)

Let me start by saying, I have never been what one would consider petite. In high school, the crowd I tended to run with were the “pretty girls”, and I was the DUFF. (For you older folks, DUFF = “Designated Ugly Fat Friend”.) I am the poster child for the meme “I wish I weighed what I did when I first thought I was fat.” I remember being a size 9 when all my friends were size 2 or 4. I haven’t seen a size 2 since 6th grade.

I have had weight issues most of my life. I have hips, I have boobs, and a healthy/”skinny” weight for me is around 150. And I haven’t seen that in years. YEARS. Over a decade, in fact.

For the longest time, up until fairly recently, actually, I have judged myself for being a fat girl. I quit doing theatre, something I absolutely love, because I didn’t want to be on stage, I didn’t want to see the looks of “My god, you’ve gotten fat.” I’ve hid in baggy clothes. I’ve been conscious of what and how I eat in public settings because I didn’t want the judgey stares. I didn’t want to assume people were thinking “That’s why she’s fat” if I ate a burger in public. I have dieted and dieted, I have juice fasted, I have low/no carb’d. I have said horrible things to myself in the mirror after stepping on the scale. I mean, you can’t even imagine…I have been emotionally, mentally, and verbally abusive to myself. Had I said them to a child, I would be locked up for child abuse, and so rightfully so.

As if the higher the number that shows up on the scale, the less of a human being I am. The less deserving of love and affection and loyalty I am.

There have been times that I loved what was in the mirror, and then 15 minutes later someone snapped a picture and I was horrified at what came up on the screen. My marriage suffered because I didn’t want to have sex because I felt unworthy and ugly and, well…fat. I’ve become a recluse because I don’t want friends to see me. I’ve been involved with LARPs for nearly 9 years and I always wanted to be the drop dead gorgeous girl that could show her belly or her legs. Not I, though. I can’t show my stretch marks and rolls. I can’t be that girl.

And then… something happened. At some point, I decided I was okay with being “fat”.

Listen: I can hear the gasps now. For some reason, one isn’t allowed to use the word “fat” in reference to themselves. But it’s true. I am fat. Big fucking deal.

Note that it is not okay to be unhealthy. It is not okay to not deal with your emotions, to eat them instead. It is not okay to abuse your body in any way.

But it is okay to be fat. It really is okay if I refer to myself as fat. It’s not self deprecating because…it’s okay if you call me fat, too. Because, I am so much more than waist circumference.

“Fat” doesn’t define me. “Fat” shouldn’t define anyone with half a brain over the age of 21. “Fat” is not **WHO** I am.

Fat is an adjective, but it’s not a definition.

“Fat” doesn’t make you a bad person, anymore than “skinny” makes you a good person. “Fat” just is.

I do have to say, it can be somewhat difficult to be fat in the LARP world. It’s even harder in the real world. It is really difficult when you are one of the larger people in your social circle. And every once in a while, when I see how far away I am from my personal ideal weight, I cry. It seems unattainable. I know logically it isn’t. But everything I have tried has backfired, and I am nearly as fat now as I was just before I had my last child. Sometimes, that realization is horrifying. Sometimes, the old Sam creeps in and I say ugly things abut myself in my head. (Oddly enough, I have never passed judgement on anyone else that is fat. I was the only one that suffered the abuse…I would never dare to say or think ugly things about my friends that are above their target weight. They are beautiful…I, on the other hand….)

But, in reality, being fat doesn’t mean I am not an awesome person. I don’t think that even means I’m ugly or unattractive, on the whole. I may not have anyone but my husband saying “hubba hubba”. But, isn’t that all I need? That’s enough for me.

Even at my size, I can do some pretty amazing things in the gym. I can run (even though I hate it…because…boobs.) I can plank. I can do push ups and I can squat like nobody’s business.

Medically, it is not healthy for my potential lifespan to remain at the weight that I am at. It would behoove my long term health to lose weight and that is my plan. But it’s less to fit into a certain pants size (although single digit sized jeans would be a dream come true) but really its more so I can be here for my future grandkids. And maybe great grandkids. Also, that I can move and be active and live life like we all should. And, also so I can show my kids a better way…so that maybe they don’t grow up as unhealthy as I have, and face 20+ years of self inner mutilation.

I am so much more than fat. I am a fiercely loyal friend. I am a good mom. I am good for a laugh, either at my expense or, in good humor, at the expense of a friend. (I try to not be hateful or mean about it though.) I am a good writer. I am imaginative. I am creative. I make chainmaille belts. I crochet. I drink wine. I dance. I clean. I will find a way to get there, no matter where “there” is or how many obstacles get in the way. I am stubborn. I am smart. I am amused by puns. I love to cook. I love to experiment. I love adventure. I spoil my fur kids. I find beauty and good in damn near everybody. I will give the clothes off my back for you. I am friggin amazing.

I am worthy. I am loved.

And, I am fat. Big whoop.

Dystopia Rising – LoneStar: New to Bravo? Part 2

Last month, I went to my first Dystopia Rising event, and put together a list of things I thought it might be helpful for others to know before their first trip.  This past weekend, I attended my second event and thought I would update with maybe some more helpful hints and practical advice, especially as it pertains to being new to the culture and people.

Here are my experiences from  my second event:

10.) Starting up in any sort of LARP can be a little intimidating. The Bravo community has been together for a long time, some even for a few years, and it can feel like it is hard to find your niche, especially if you do not live near other players.  This is a tight community with hundreds of people involved, with strong bonds and inside jokes. There is so much that is going on all at once, with semi-intricate stories that have been going from the beginning, and you just sort have to jump in, sink-or-swim style.  But here’s secret:  the community wants you to swim.  For every new person that gets involved and active, the richer the experiences for everyone. New people are a win-win for this game.

biohazard 5 escape

9.)  I became FB friends with a lot of people from Bravo after my last game, and I have interacted over the webz with a few of them several times, if not nearly daily. Do not underestimate the power of social media to break down barrierseven in a game like DR.  There are a few that I have barely interacted with in game, but that are super supportive and sweet online. And there are a few I really didn’t interact with online that I chatted with ALOT in game.   I am not kidding, literally within the first minute of stepping out of the vehicle, right after we pulled into the site, I hear “Are you Samantha?” from someone, and received a big hug! I felt less distant from the community instantly, which led me to:

8.) Putting myself out there a little more.  In real life, I am pretty stand offish in new situations.  Not to be cold, but because I like to assess the situation and people involved.  It had been a full month since the last time I had been there, and I was still unsure of myself.  But, I put my big girl panties on, and went with it, since I had more of my bearings this go round.  I would say, a good 85-90% of self initiated interaction was positive. There were a few that either ignored me all together, or that would look at me when I spoke and then walk away and maybe one or two that were downright snappy.  BUT, to be fair, I don’t know where their stories are, nor do I have a good feel for their characters yet.  (Remember, some people play characters that are assholes.) Don’t take it personally, until it is without a doubt, personal.  Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

7.) I rearranged my character’s priorities a little bit.  I had originally made her to be aloof and standoffish, not having loyalty or allegiance to anyone except her three traveling companions…but…I softened a bit.  I stood watch over the tavern at night when others needed a rest and things were too quiet or a stranger had been lurking near by.  I informed others of what I had seen (again: strangers).  I gave what little in-game-money I had to an effort to help protect the town.  I helped 2 other people squirrel away another player who was being hunted and attacked by a group, by standing in front of a door, and not letting anyone chase them down. While sitting with a group including pureblood “proper ladies” who were unarmed, I promised I would alert them first if anything headed our way.  I talked. I listened. I broke bread and shared in some homemade strawberry jam. I allowed my character to become a person, a part of this humanity.  Moreover, I became a little more involved with the community. If I have learned nothing else, it is this: You gotta make your own game and experience…you can’t wait for people to bring it to you.  It is there for the taking. But you have to take it.  No one is going to force feed it to you.

Crumbs_saucer_fork

6.) So, I hurt myself in the day or so leading up to the event.  I don’t know exactly what I did…a pulled muscle? Strained tendon? Stress fracture? Not really sure.  What I do know is my foot hurt like the dickens. So, there were a few story mods I didn’t take part in.  But I didn’t exactly hide off in my tent either.  (Well, okay…I did take a nap Saturday late afternoon…) Because even in this story, people get hurt, either in game or out of game.  People have headaches. People roll their ankles. People hobble, and limp and beg for the tinkers to tinker a little more quietly.  You still have to go with the flow.  I was probably the slowest and least effective medic out there, but I still got into it.  No excuses. I mean, if you are seriously injured, people will help you.  But if it’s relatively minor, just go with it. Know your real limits, but don’t let them limit you at the same time.

5.) One of the  many, many things I love about this community is that, mentally, everyone is give or take the same age.  Mentally, I feel like I am 17, or sometimes 7, playing in this world of bloody make believe. There are various ages of people playing.  But the 20 year olds don’t interact with me as if I am literally old enough to be their mother.  I don’t interact with older folks like they are old enough to be my parents.  Some of my favorite people to interact with are a full decade or more younger than me, but I don’t feel the age gap. Everyone is on equal footing, and equal respectability.  There are people of all different ages, races, sizes, fitness levels, everything, and everyone is having a grand old time.  In fact, this fat girl will run…RUN I tell you, and not blink an eye.  However, I carried my 20-25ish lbs of gear with me everywhere, and today, I feel I am definitely NOT 17 anymore.  See below for why.

4.) I hate gravel.  And I hate the trek to the lake.  Dudes.  That is torture on an owwie foot.  Hell, it isn’t pleasant on a non-owwie foot. Because, fuck gravel. Fuck the lake. (But really, as much as I hate it, I really do love it.  Kinda.)

Stone.

3.) I haven’t done this yet, but Trey did.  The first half of the event, he wasn’t feeling his character.  His heart was trying to be in it, but something kept him back.  So, after our NPC shift (really some of the most fun of the whole event), he rolled up an alt character and played him. Being so new, I don’t have an alt fully fleshed out in my head, and I wouldn’t suggest rolling your first few games with an alt in mind.  (Actually, if I remember correctly, you can’t roll an alt until your 3rd game or later.)  You really need to have a good handle on what’s what before you go bringing out a different character. But, when you can, and should you desire to do so, you can make up a separate character to role play with.  It helps you take a break and it can be like a mental changing of the socks if you need it. A change of pace.  A breath of fresh air.  It’s good for ya.  And your game.

Dice

2.) I love NPC!!!! I really do. In case you don’t remember, your NPC shift is when you get to take the time  (about 4 hours or so) to be the zombies, raiders, or what have you.  This is the most fun.  For part of this NPC shift I got to be a zombie, of course, and I also, for another story, got to be a “headhunter”, who are pretty gross.  They carve off the faces of their victims to wear.  (AGAIN, I feel like I can’t stress this enough for non-LARPers, this is all pretend.) Anyway, as a headhunter, I wore this mask that looked sort of like different rotted faces all stapled together, and we went and attacked people.  I laughed like a homicidal maniac (fitting) and chased after people, shrieking that they had a pretty, pretty face and I wanted it. Yes, you die, a lot and always as an NPC, but whatever.  Now, not everyone likes doing NPC, but…whatever.  I do.

1.) I learned I didn’t need to find a niche, per se.  I already had it.  I just needed to expand upon it.  I needed to let people know I was there, I was a part of their story now, and they were part of mine.  And that’s all you really need to do, yourself.  Join in.  Don’t watch from the sidelines.  Talk to people.  Most of them will talk with you.  There were a few mods I wish I had inserted myself in, and again, lesson learned, because next time I will.  DR Lone Star/Bravo really is the sort of thing where you will get out of it what you put into it, and likely much more. On a scale of 1-10, if you put in a 2 effort, you will likely get a 2 our of it.  If you put in an 8 effort, you will likely get an 8-12 out of it.

My biggest regret is out of my hands right now  and that is that we live pretty far away from our new friends. There isn’t any grabbing coffee or game nights or BBQs out of game. We don’t live in a major metro area so it isn’t like they are coming to us anytime soon.  So, I feel like those feels and bonds will take longer to strengthen than they would otherwise.  But it is a community.  We are all big, giant nerds.  And it’s okay.

Until next time,

XOXO

Sam

Gas mask in quemical war

Ashes, ashes…we all fall down.

(Side note: the above picture is really triggering some feels after the town burned…mayhaps a writing prompt later?)

Interview with a Nerd – What’s up, Clarence?

Heyyoooooo!  Today, we have an questionnaire that was answered by long time friend of Trey’s, Clarence. Well, he is Sam’s friend as well.  (BTW, I have only ever known him as “Sparky”…I mean, I knew his real name, but, I have only ever called him “Sparky”…so referring to him by his real name is odd.) Anyway, Clarence is an interesting fellow.  Read the following, and I think you will agree.

Sparky1

Name:

Clarence Sparks

Age:

31

Current location:

Rosenberg, Tx ( just outside of Houston)

 

Q: What is your nerd thing/passion?

My main one is gaming. I do collectible card games (Magic, L5R, Rage, and a few dabblings here and there), table top role playing games (D&D, Pathfinder, White Wolf, All Flesh Must Be Eaten, Star Wars, and more dabbling), miniature wargames (mostly Warhammer 40,000), LARPing (Amtgard and some SCA mostly), and though I play video games, I’m much less passionate about them than I am about the other categories.

My secondary one is rules. I’ve almost always loved going over rules. The nuances of them, why they are, what they are trying to enable or prevent, and trying to find the difference between Rules as Written and Rules as Intended. Then I try to find the balance between enforcing the rules and prevent them from ruining the fun (this last part mostly applies to gaming, but not always).

Lastly, I love history. I enjoy going through large volumes. If it it done well, you can discover the lives and times much more fantastic than you could ever imagine. History is the stories of who we are, and how we got to where we are.
Q: When were you first introduced to your passion?

Gaming is thanks to my uncle Gary. Over the course of a Spring Break and Summer one year (I believe I was 9) he introduced me to D&D and Amtgard. I’ve been hooked ever since. The others I just stumbled on randomly throughout my life.
Q: What turned it from an interest to your passion?

There was no real change for gaming, I was hooked from day one. And like a junkie I began seeking out as much of it as I possible could. That’s where Dave’s shop (originally Mind Play, now Astral Castle) served as my base of bothering people into letting me play in their games. Eventually people stopped asking me to leave them alone and friends were made.

History was a college professor, though I can’t remember her name sadly, who kept elaborating on the information in the text books. She made me want to dig deeper into the past and find the hidden nuggets that are usually glossed over in school (There are plenty, trust me). Oddly enough, my other history professor was the exact opposite and stifled such desires. He was all dates and names, the uninspiring history most schools give us.

As for rules, that one just showed up. I love reading, and rulebooks were no exception. And if I love a game, I want to know all I can about it.

Sparky2

Q: How often do engage in your nerd thing?

At the very least, once a week. If things are going well, every day. Whether it is reading a book or working on a project (such as equipment for LARPing, miniatures for Warhammer, or writing for a D&D campaign).
Q: Tell me a few interesting personal stories regarding your nerd thing.

I once was simultaneously and accidentally punted in the face and had my nards (it’s okay to say nards, right? It was in Monster Squad…) crushed while playing Amtgard. I am still friends with the man that punted me in the face (It was the first weekend we’d met).

My love for rules has helped me immensely while working in the medical field. No neat stories, but it’s a thing. It also led me to being the policy proofreader for the clinics I have worked for. It also helped me become the youngest recipient of a major award in Amtgard (both age and length of time playing).

I have made almost all of my friends while gaming in one form or another.

I once took third place in a tournament that I broke my ankle during the first match. I was assisted to the field more than once.

I once killed a Carnifex in melee with a Heavy Weapons Team. Seriously. It was awesome.

A one eyed Canadian soldier liberated an entire town in the Netherlands from German occupation while on a reconnaissance mission. They killed his lumberjack buddy and he went ballistic and stormed the town. Alone. He lived though the ordeal too.

Sparky3

Q: Tell me a few things you have learned from your nerd thing.

There was an event sometimes called the Boston Molassacre. A giant tidal wave of molasses burst it’s container and flooded part of the town, killing 21, in 1919.

Did you know that the new D&D doesn’t suck?

There was a bear in a Polish artillery company of the British army during World War 2 (Poland hand already been overran by that point in the war). He had an enlistment number, name, rank, and everything. Saw combat in two battles and is even credited with capturing a spy!

In World War 1, an American soldier had a dog who outranked him (Sgt. Stubby).

How to build chain and scale mail.

Thomas Edison did not invent the light bulb. He did buy the patent (for the one he is usually credited with) for a fraction of it’s worth from the inventors widow!

A common cause of death in ancient Greece for newborns was “exposure”. You probably don’t want to know any more or look into that one.

Q: Any advice for newbies?

Give everything a chance. You never know what will grab your attention and never let it go.
Q: Where can one learn more about your nerd thing?

For history, I have to say give Ben Thompson, the King of Hyperbole, and his Badass of the Week, a try. He has an amazing way of making sure the focus of every article is the why (as in why is something or someone was important). I warn, he is very generous with his vulgarity, so mature audiances only. Though he did just release the PG Guts and Glory: The American Civil War that you can find at your friendly book retailer!

Wikipedia is an amazing tool, but also just look into good old fashioned history books. Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen is also a good start, it give parts of US history skipped in high school textbooks.

For Amtgard, look up onling and see if there is a park near you, then visit and ask. You could go to www.amtgard.com or www.amtgardinc.coml, but you you only get to see a very slight bit of it. It is best to experience in person to get the, dare I say reality, of it.

For gaming, visit a local gaming store. There are so many different types of games, many I have never tried or even heard of. Ask around and see if anything strikes your fancy.

 

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Sparky is really an interesting guy to talk to.  Plus, he is pretty easy going and full of interesting facts and pretty good advice.  Always willing to lend a hand to someone who is still learning. Thanks, Clarence, for your time and sharing your information!

Later this week, we have an interview with Cassie!

If you would like to be featured here, please send an email to dmcscollins@gmail.com with “Nerd Blog” in the subject lines.  All questionnaires are published in order of receipt.

Interview with a Nerd – Here comes Marcus!

Hey, yall!  It’s that time of week  again!  This time, we are talking to one of our good friends and fellow DR tabletop RPG players, Marcus. (He plays Dandy.) He took time out of his busy schedule to answer our questionnaire. Take it away, Marcus!

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Marcus H.

Age: 26

Hobbs Nm.

 

Q: What is your nerd thing/passion?

Anime and Manga

Q: When were you introduced to your nerd thing/passion?

I was introduced to Anime at a young age, with the movie entitled “Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland”. This movie was first released in Japan in 1989, and was based off of Winsor McCoy’s comic strip “Little Nemo in Slumberland”. The film would later be released in the U.S. in the year 1992 at which point i was 3 years old and was my favorite movie.

I discovered Manga back when I was 10 or 11, when the Pokemon craze was sweeping America. My family and I had gone on a vacation to visit my grandmother, who at the time lived in Garland Tx., and my parents took me and my sister to Toys R’ Us like they always did. This particular time around I came across an aisle that had books depicting the main characters form the tv show and to my surprise they were all comic books, but not like the normal American comic books which read right to left, these read left to right, so I bought them and would read them until, sadly ,they fell apart and had to be thrown away. It wasn’t til i was in junior high did i find out that they were referred to as Manga and from then on I began my collection.

Q: What turned it from an interest into a passion?

That is difficult to really say. You could say when it happened when I was around 16, and began to spend my allowance on volumes of manga at the local Hastings store. It was there that I found the first series I truly began to enjoy and started on my collection and that series is called ‘Bleach”. I would check back every day to see if a new volume had hit the shelves so i could see what happened next. Sadly i stopped collecting Bleach and moved on. Today my collection of Manga volumes number in around 450+ and I am still going strong

Anime was around the same time as Manga, but I was truly introduced when I was young and with Saturday morning cartoons. I can remember waking up early on Saturdays so I could get to the TV before my sister so I could watch shows such as Digimon, Escaflowne, Pokemon, and of course Dragon Ball Z. As of today, I own roughly 38 Anime series and most have been collected within the past year

Q: How often do you engage in your Nerd thing?

Almost everyday. I am always on the look out for a new Manga to read or Anime series to watch. Just a quick tid bit of info: almost all Anime is Based off of a Manga series.

Q: Tell me a few personal stories regarding your nerd thing?

Well, with my Manga, I honesty dont have any, sadly.  But I do have one with Anime:
A few years back, I found an Anime series called “Spice and Wolf”. The series’s story is based in medieval era and follows the story of a traveling merchant by the name of Craft Lawrence. While leaving a town, for which the townsfolk had began a pagan harvest celebration which involved them catching the godess of good harvest,  a wolf by the name of Holo (many fans may argue that her name is Horo and not Holo) when night time falls Craft stops for the night to rest.  It is then when he lifts the cover of his wagon that he finds a girl asleep amoung the furs he was waiting to sell.  But this young woman had the ears and tail of a wolf and claimed to be the wise wolf Holo. When asked what she was doing, she said that the people of the village no longer needed her help in providing a bountiful harvest, due to new farming techniques and that she wishes to return home. Craft then strikes a deal with Holo; he will accompany her on her journey home and help locate it, if she helps him turn a profit. Thus the story of their journey begins and the love between the two blossoms. How is this a personal story of mine? Well sadly the creators of this anime stopped at season two and left the story (in the anime) unfinished and I myself fell madly in love with this series rooting for the characters, enraged when one or the other was being an ass, and crying during the sad moments. When I found out that there was not going to be a third season, I cried…. bawling like a baby because it was the most beautiful love stories I have ever seen. I now own both seasons of Spice and Wold, but they are still in their plastic covering because i refuse to watch them alone again. That is my personal story.

Q: Tell me a few things you have learned?

Well, I have learned through various series how the Japanese culture is so different from ours, how they celebrate holidays or events, how their schools operate and their home life as well. It is all very interesting.  I’m sure there is so much more I could talk about, but because my genres are so spread out, I can’t honestly pinpoint the truly interesting facts.

Q: Any advice for newbies?

Yeah. Stay away for anything called Hentai and always give a new series a shot. If you dont like it then move on. Same with anime. There are tons of anime and manga out there for you to explore and possibly fall in love with or enjoy greatly

Q: Where can one learn more about your nerd thing?

You can learn through the internet or local book stores. For me, I mainly use the internet, because there are a multitude of websites that have free manga to read…even some that havent even been published in the U.S. Same with anime. There are a handful of sites as well offering the same thing, but their anime may be subbed (subtitled) or Dubbed (with English voice actors) so it only comes down to your preference

Thank you for letting me tell you a little bit about my Nerdom and I hope that what I have said can help turn you to the wonders of Manga and Anime .

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Thanks, Marcus!  Next week, we’ve got an interview with Clarence, a friend of ours that Sam has known for about 8 years and Trey, for many years more than that. He is a self described gaming, rules and history nerd.  Wonder what he has to say about that?

If you would like to answer our questionnaire for IWAN, please email dmcscollins@gmail.com with “Nerd Blog Questions” in the subject line.  All content is left as is by the author, other than minor editorial edits.  Interviews are published in order of receipt.

 

New to Bravo? Here’s some tips from another n00b.

So, as I have previously posted, I recently had my first experience with Dystopia Rising, the LARP.  I went to an event at Bravo, and I thought I would put together a few things that I found to be important to know.  Please note, my only experience has been with Bravo, and there are other event sites across the country.  Based on reading the rule book, though, I am led to believe that this may pretty well hold true no matter where you go.  I am by no means an expert.  This is merely based off my observations from my first time.

So, if you want to walk in to your first event a little less blind, read the following.

Old and dirty military boots isolated on white background

10. You need the right shoes.

So, the camp site that Bravo takes place on is a beautiful camp site. And it is quite big.  BUT, a) there are lot of rocks….big rocks, little rocks, rocky terrain and uhhhhh cacti, and b) there is LOTS of walking and running.  Having the right shoes is imperative.  It would be great if they match your costume but it’s not that necessary.  Now, I made sure my shoes were comfy and had great arch support.  My husband had gone the episode before (December) with inadequate arch support and slightly stress fractured his feet.  At the same time, if your ankles are roll prone like mine are, you really want something for support.  My ankles have been prone to rolls and for me, in this terrain, a brace isn’t exactly what I need.  I need a high boot (ankle to low calf), with good tread and traction, with supportive insoles (to be fair, those can be bought), and variable lacing to fit various thicknesses of socks. (That will come up again later.)  You will also want them already broken in, as, again…you gotta keep them on alllllll day, and you don’t want blisters.  So…do yourself a favor and spend some time looking for the right ones.  They don’t have to be expensive.  But try them on, even if you have to imagine a separate insole.  And then wear the crap out of them so you are used to them.

Three plastic bottle of drinking water isolated on white backgro

9. You need water and proper nutrition.

I personally found the game quite demanding. In other LARP events I have attended (only one other game, to be fair), the action is slow to get going and comes in fits and starts.  I noticed with DR, there is always something going on.  Maybe not at your camp exactly, but there always seems to be a mod going. Trey and I took more than 20,000 steps in 15 hours.  I mean, it can be taxing.  So it is important to drink plenty of water and eat properly.  Several groups have their own cooks/chefs that provide (when you chip in a bit of cash…most as for very reasonable amount) and the bits the I have tasted from one camp at least was AMAZING and fairly nutritious.  If you decide to bring your own food, bring a variety.  It doesn’t have to be expensive but…you will need protein and healthy carbs. Most important is water. Can’t stress that enough.  Trey and I went through 2/3 of a case of 16 oz bottles of water in 39 hours and it wasn’t enough.  I was still dehydrated.  So bring your water.  Seriously.

Full moon overcast night

8. It’s hella dark.

I figured it would be as we were on our way to the site, but nothing could prepare me for just how dark.  Now, this does help to amp up the fear factor at night, and boy, does it.  Especially for fraidy cats like myself.  Now, you can have a flashlight ***with a red lens***…this is pretty important. But you don’t want to use it took awful much because…well, all that says is “Hey, zed/hunters/snipers!!  I’m over here!!”  I would highly suggest getting to the site as early as you can.  (I believe they open up around 3 PM on the first night.)  This way you can get a decent feel for the land before sunset.  We didn’t make it much in time for that…and I really regretted it.  On the second night, after I had been around the site all during the day, it was better for me after dark. So, just saying…

Man sticking his tongue out

7.  There aren’t many that are jerk faces in real life.

Now, their character they are playing might be a total jerk face, but before the game starts at 9 PM Friday and After the game ends Sunday, most, if not all, the people you will/have interacted with are normal people, pretty friendly, and willing to lend a hand.  The game is completely immersive though, so if they play a jerk face type character, they are going to be assholes.  I didn’t run into that too much, and my understanding is if someone crosses a line with you, like SERIOUSLY crosses a line, you can say something out of game. The rules are straight forward though.  So, if their character is being a jerk to your character, don’t take it personally.  It’s not meant personally. Be a good sport.  If you happen across someone that crosses the boundaries set in the rules, you can tell a Marshall/ST/someone in charge.  I didn’t see any of that, though.

Immersion Word Dictionary Definition Circled Experience

6.  Speaking of immersive…it really is.

Put away your cellphone.  I took mine on to the camp site because my children were at home and I wanted to be reached if necessary.  But, it stayed in my tent, and on silent.  I only checked it when I had the chance to run to the tent real fast.  A quick look at the screen that there were no calls or texts saying anything was wrong, and back up it went, usually. You won’t be playing Candy Crush on your down time.  Make sure you read the rulebook, and if it doesn’t fit the game, leave it in your car or tent. At the same time, you have to try to stay in character.  I had a hard time with this (see my previous wrap up post), and I kick myself in the ass for it now. There isn’t any chatting about the Super Bowl or your kids or your commute to work.  Stay with it. It might be hard your first time or two, but it really is rewarding and it will totally pay off.

Dark gothic woman

5. Do your costume in layers, if you can.

February, I expected it to be cold.  Even checking the Weather Channel for updates, I didn’t account for the difference in humidity between my home (in the desert) and where this site is.  It was really warm, damn near hot even, during this day on this particular weekend…and a bit chilly at night.  So be creative with your costume, but also smart so you neither freeze nor melt. And, don’t forget your sunscreen (applied in tent…again, try not to break immersion for yourself or others).  We spent most of our day out and about in the Texas sun.  Mind yourself you don’t develop melanoma. That would be bad, mmmkay?

Old Style Question and Answer

4. You’ve got questions?  Someone has answers!

Unlike a few other LARPs, no one expects you to know 100% of everything off the bat.  If you are unsure as to what is going on, or your are given a direction that you don’t understand, put your hand on your head to signify you are Out Of Character/Game and simply say “Clarify” or as your question to a Marshall or Story Teller and they are happy to help you. I had a ton of questions (read: yeah I didn’t really read the rule book much…bad Sam…bad bad bad) and no one but NO ONE I asked rolled their eyes or patronized me or condescended to me about anything.  Very refreshing! Now, no one really wants to baby you, so you kind of need to observe and catch on with some stuff yourself.  But a balance between the two and in no time, you will totally get the hang of it. Again, if you do have a question, try and find a marshall or a story teller to help you because a) this helps with everyone else’s immersion and game and b) this helps ensure you get the right answer.  You never know if your fellow player has been active for 3 years or three minutes

Sculpture A. Taratynov by Rembrandt painting "The Night watch"

3. All for one and one for all.

To go along with number 4, if you see someone that needs a hand, lend it.  They will lend it back! Now, you are expected to be self monitoring, picking up after yourself, and if you see trash, pick it up. You aren’t a maid, you are just expected to be an adult, and thereby respectful of the campsite.  (Doing this throughout your time in game also lessens the clean up time after the game, when everyone is exhausted and ready to head home.)

Afraided teen girl

2. It’s okay to be scared.

At least part of the point of this game is to push your buttons and scare the bejeezus out of you. That’s part of the draw…the thrill, the adrenaline…same reason we watch scary movies at night in the dark.  Yup, it’s scary, but that’s kind of why we do it. However, sometimes your buttons get pressed a little too hard.  Maybe something in game triggers something in your head. Maybe a scene becomes a little too real for you.  It happens to lots of people.  The good news is you are NOT trapped.  If ish gets to be too real for you, you can go to Logistics and take a break.  Have a cry.  Let it out.  Talk to someone. If you can’t go with a buddy, go to logistics anyway.  There will be someone that isn’t judgy that will listen if you need to talk or just be there for you if you don’t want to talk.  You might feel embarrassed, stupid, lame or what have you.  I get that.  I sure did when I had my panic attack. But, I have to tell you, even at my most sensitive, I didn’t feel judgy or condescending eyes watching me.  I didn’t see a single person look at me and whisper or giggle or smirk in my direction.  Some expressed concern on their faces, but, as I had two buddies with me, they didn’t impose.  They seemed to just be humans checking on another human and assessing their situation.  As the situation was being handled, there was no need for them to intervene.  It really is a safe place.  Trust me.

Portrait of a funny couple

1. It’s a game.  Have fun.

The most importantly, this is a game.  Games are meant for you to have fun. And if you allow yourself to, you WILL have fun. Games are not meant to be an obligation, or make you feel negative things. Check your baggage at the gate and leave the world and it’s problems behind for a few days. It will be there when you get back, and you may even have a whole new perspective when you get back to them that helps you deal.  This is time to be a kid again.  I mean, we are dressing up in some different clothes and pretend killing pretend zombies.  It’s a world of make believe and it is exhilarating.  And if you brave an event by yourself, you won’t be alone for long because there are so many people there that are just like you!  If this is something that you are into or interested in, I am willing to bet that there are others there that not only have DR in common with you, but also lots of things.  You will make some new friends. You will have fun.

 

Warm knitted woolen socks knitting needles isolated on a white b***BONUS***

You need socks.  LOTS of socks.

Now, I didn’t get this talk from the directors themselves, but this is a thing at Bravo.  When your attitude sucks or you are feeling worn out or just all around meh, go change your socks.  Sounds stupid, right?  WRONG!  Best advice ever.  I don’t know if it is the actual feel of cool, clean, dry socks on your feet or taking the few minutes to gather your wits and do something slightly mundane that feels nice or a bit of both, but “change your/my socks” is now a thing even at our home.  So grab a value pack of good socks and bring them…2-3 times as many as you think you *need*.  Heeding this advice, in and out of game, will change your life.

 

That’s what I came away with as a first timer at Bravo.  I hope this can help someone else feel a little more secure about their first time coming up. If you have any further questions, please contact your local directors or even FB group, or hell, even me.  I will probably  not have all the answers, but I can try and help get you in touch with someone that does.  Go for it.  Do it!!  Stop holding back, go to an event, and you will be hooked.

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