Business Casual and Me

I haven’t had a reason to dress up in over three years. The last time I dressed up for an event, it was when I was Best Man in a wedding, back in 2019, before coming out to anyone, back when I was still living under the gender identity I was assigned at birth, in a time that seems almost unreal at this point. Not because I’ve come out in a big way (I’m masculine-presenting for one thing, so not much has changed so far as it feels from day-to-day especially given that I’m also not out at work yet), but because it happened before the pandemic. I almost went to a Roaring Twenties themed New Year’s Even party back in 2019/2020, which would have meant wearing a suit, but I wound up skipping that to stay at home and hang out with my roommates. We played D&D as I pushed them to see how far they could get through one of the starter kit adventures in a single evening. It was a lot of fun, but I kind of regret missing what felt, for a long time, like my last chance to get fancy before becoming the isolated, comfort-focused individual I am today.

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Wearing New Clothes Can Be Exhausting

I bought some new underclothes recently. I haven’t gotten new underwear in years and new undershirts in even longer, to the point that my supply of those clothing items was dwindling to dangerously low levels as I was forced to toss things out as they disentegrated past the point of wearability. I put this purchase off for a long time, not because of money or any of the usual reasons people don’t buy socks or underwear or undershirts or bedsheets or whatever (I mean, c’mon, those are some of the most boring things to spend money on, most of the time). I put it off because I have issues with the textures of clothing and I knew that even replacing the items I owned with the same cut, style, and brand would be a problem. This is also the same reason I’ve been using the same deodorent for the past decade and live in constant fear of it being discontinued like my last brand/scent were. I just can’t filter out the sensory input in the way that most people can.

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Saturday Morning Musing

Trying to put together gear and clothing for a medieval combat society’s summer event is a hassle. I enjoy Belegarth–the foam fighting system I participate in every Thursday–because it can be a ton of fun to run around and hit other people with foam weapons without having to worry about role-playing or special rules. All you have to do in Belegarth is hit them hard enough for them to count it as a real hit and not hit them in the head. Pretty simple, when it comes down to it. At least, that’s how it plays out in practices. I’m sure there are more rules that come into play when participating in the huge fights that happen during national events, but I haven’t done any of those so I wouldn’t really know about them.

Even when it comes to creating gear and clothing for events, most of the rules revolve around ensuring safety in a full-force sport. There are a few rules about “garb” for events, but mostly people just don’t want to see anything overtly modern like screen-printed t-shirts and cargo shorts. Which is unfortunately eighty percent of my wardrobe. Since the rules are fairly lax and most people aren’t sticklers, you can get away with loose fabric pants with the cuffs removed and plain shirts with a triangle cut out of the neck and the cuffs removed from any long sleeves. Removing the cuffs is the big thing, apparently.

There are, of course, more elaborate methods of creating garb. Sewing loose pants from some dark-colored fabric, throwing together complex top assemblies made of fashionably arranged bits of fabric that are going to get absolutely shredded as soon as you start fighting, tunics, surcoats, tabards, sashes, belts that are tied instead of buckled or cinched, and more! They all take a surprisingly large amount of work and knowledge if you want to do them right, though. Pants made of two bits of fabric seem like an easy thing to make, especially if you have a sewing machine, but there’s a lot of work that goes into making sure the legs are the right width in the right places, that the seams are straight, and that there’s adequate room in the crotch and rear for whatever you’ve got going on there. A tabard is essentially a long bit of cloth with a hole for your head and a design on it if you’re feeling fancy, but you’ve still gotta make sure it fights well, ties up properly, and isn’t so long that you’re tripping on it or dragging it behind you.

Now, I’ve done costuming before. I’ve helped to create various articles of clothing for theatrical products. Put in my time in the sewing mines, as I like to think of it. I still suck at it, despite that. I can follow a pattern easily enough but, even with a really good sewing machine, I have trouble keeping everything straight, un-bunched, and turned around the right way. The second pair of pants I ever made had one seam on the inside and one on the outside. I can do clothing repair by hand easily and quickly if I’ve got a sewing kit, but that’s an entirely different beast. I would not want to embark on a bigger creation project without either guidance or a strict pattern to follow. While those things exist, they can be hard to line up at the last-minute when you’ve spent the last few months procrastinating until about a week before you need the clothes you’re still not sure how to make.

I have no one to blame but myself.

Despite the fact that I’m probably going to need to either give up all my evenings or go to an event in what feels like really low-quality garb, I’m excited for the event. Despite participating in this combat society on and off for over four years, I’ve never actually gone to an event. Fighting is incredibly stressful for me as even a minor verbal conflict can be enough to exhaust me, and fighting as a part of a large group sounds like a nightmare made real. Half the reason I fight is to prove to myself that I am capable of overcoming my limitations and proving to myself that my mental health issues don’t limit me, so going to an event seems like a good idea to aim for. Next weekend’s event is going to be relatively small, as far as events go, and I don’t really plan to fight for very long during it, if at all, so I should be fine. I might fight for an hour just to prove I can and help me get used to the idea before I attend a national event or try to fight in a huge battle with hundreds of other people. Dip my toe in the waters, so to speak.

There’s plenty to do at these events without fighting, though, so I’m going to try to keep myself as busy as I can while I’m at the event. If I can stay busy and outside the fighting for most of it, I should be fine. Plus, I’m a huge fan of anything that keeps me busy and focused lately. Keeps my mind away from any dangerous spirals. Toward that end, I’m going to start obsessing about making the perfect fighting pants for next Saturday and see if I can figure out how to make them the kind of pants that can also be shorts since I’m going to get heat exhaustion if I have to wear pants and run around outside all day. There’s a line, just a little bit past the knee, where they can wind up being both. That’s my target. We’ll see how many tries it takes me to hit it.

You NEED to Read this Webcomic!

As anyone who has read my blog for long enough can tell, I am a firm proponent of representing the struggles of mental health in stories and media. I try to do it myself and I’m always looking for other media that does it as well. When someone I follow on twitter re-tweeted another comic author/artist and added a comment that this other author/artist did an amazing job representing mental health in her comic, I felt inclined to check it out. As always happens, I wound up not actually doing that for almost a month. I followed the author/artists on twitter and then promptly forget about the comic I was supposed to start reading. That was a huge mistake and I regret it immensely.

Daughter of the Lilies (link to page 1, so don’t worry about spoilers), by Meg Syverud, is an amazing webcomic about self-doubt, depression, anxiety, and religious themes cleverly hidden in a comic about fighting monsters in an epic fantasy world. The religious themes are cleverly-hidden and the mental-health ones are part of the main themes for each chapter as we follow the story of the protagonist, Thistle, when she looks for work with a local mercenary group. There is some gore and some uncomfortable moments the author/artist handles well (with warnings and obfuscated pages that require you to click to see), but the amazing story and excellent characters make it worth it. The religious themes are not yet fully explored and are more along the lines of a more subtle Narnia than the sort of “in-your-face” version seen in most Christian rock. Honestly, unless you read the blog posts under each page or know a lot about Christianity (well, as much as a general practitioner of a Christian faith would know), you might miss the references entirely.

I sat down to just check it out after seeing a few more recent shares on twitter and subsequently forgot about everything else I was going to do that night. It is so good! I came in at the perfect time. Since the beginning of the comic, the protagonist’s face was hidden. There were hints, but the most popular thing for fans to do was to theorize about what she looked like. The day I started reading was the day her face was finally shown. I was able to read through all of the that the author/artist had spent the last few years creating, enjoying the drama of not understanding her identity, before finally seeing it once I’d caught up. I immediately went to support her on Patreon because I want this comic to update daily and storytelling as wonderful as this deserves as much support as I can give it.

This comic has pretty much everything you could want and does such a good job of creating a world that I might be copying some of the stuff I’ve read here for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. The mercenary leader actually has paperwork to do, to register the protagonist as an official part of his team and it looks just as confusing as tax forms! The logistics of the world are incredible. It is firmly grounded in the typical fantasy world, but it moved the time forward a couple hundred years, so you have more of a “renaissance” feeling instead of a “peasants farming dirt near a castle” feeling. The orcs can be friendly, the racial designs are great, and everything is so colorful! The clothes are probably one of my favorite visual details since almost everyone wears them and they’re so incredible to look at.

I went to go look up some stuff for more to write about and accidentally re-read the entire comic. Whoops. There’s just too much that’s wonderful about this comic for me to try to chop it down into a review. I suggest you read it for yourself. You’ll understand, then.