On Peer/Dependent Relationships

Originally published on May 5, 2019, but I decided to push it out today instead of backdating it so it would get some more views. Reading this now, over a year later and having been elevated, I’m not sure if I have changed my mind or not, honestly.

I’ve been thinking about peer-dependent relationships lately, and how they work and don’t work and the ways we regard them in the SCA. This has informed some conversations I’ve had and my view of some recent events that I’ve seen happen adjacent to me.

Firstly, I have come to the realization that I wish, fairly seriously, that we did not use a pseudo-official signifier to indicate that someone is a dependent. I understand why we do it, but in many ways, the position of dependent has come to almost indicate a status or rank that I think damages the SCA. I’m not entirely sure what to replace it with, but people could do household badges or livery on clothes or favors, and that would suffice nearly as well. It would be harder to say “I have a job for a protege/fight for a squire/project for an apprentice” and immediately pick one out of a crowd, but I’m not sure that would necessarily be a bad thing either; it would probably push people to communicate more than just look for a colored belt.

The other, larger issue is that it seems to me that a lot of peers and dependents have no idea how to resolve internal conflict. There’s no structure or process built in to their relationship to address what happens when there’s a serious disagreement, a crisis, a misunderstanding, whatever, and when it happens, all hell breaks loose.

A lot of people like to to do the “year-and-a-day” thing with new dependents, and I think that’s great, especially when the peer and dependent are initiating a new relationship. But I’m a project manager, and I believe in iterative processes. I think that peers and dependents should talk about their relationship early and often. There should a structured, yearly review, and that review should go in both directions.

I think that most people have been lucky enough to not have a peer-dependent relationship go sour on them; my experience of having that happen three times (twice with the same peer, no less) is pretty unique. I own my own mistakes and actions in those matters, and I’m not terribly interested in debating what happened; the insights I took away from those failures are that they, in many ways, stem from a lack of preparation. Add that to how we amplify these relationships as I talked about above, and you can often have a recipe for disaster.

I don’t go to a lot of vigils, but when I do, my advice to vigilants is always “have a plan for when a relationship with a dependent goes wrong”. Have someone you can turn to as a mediator. Understand your process for dissolving the relationship with as little pain as possible for all involved. Failed peer-dependent relationships don’t have to end friendships, they don’t have to destroy households, and they don’t have to end SCA careers.

As for Goodness

As for Goodness – you yourself desire rank and standing; then help others to get rank and standing. You want to turn your own merits to account; then help other to turn their to account – in fact, the ability to take one’s own feelings as a guide: that is the sort of thing that lies in the direction of Goodness.

Lúnyŭ (Analects)

Pelican Stuff

Originally published May 28, 2020.

I am gratified to announce that as of May 27th, Warder Rashid and I have been associated for a year and a day. He and I have officially agreed that he is my protégé. He will swear fealty and receive the symbols of our relationship from my hand when we are able to safely do so in public, for all to witness.

I am also pleased to announce that Lady Reishi and lady Gelis have agreed to enter into association with me as my students. They will be my students for a year and a day, at which point we will discuss how our relationships might change or evolve. They will also receive the symbols of our relationship from my hand when we are able to safely do so in public, for all to witness.

Until then, know that Rashid, Reishi, and Gelis enjoy whatever benefits my patronage carries. They are members of me and my wife Laura’s Family of Choice.

Also know that I believe that within each of these gentles is the potential to be worthy of peerage. I hope all of my friends and all of theirs look forward to seeing them achieve their goals as much as I do.

In strength, in service, and in song, is this done by my hand in the early hours of morning, May 28, AS LV.

Andreas, Magister of the Order of the Pelican, Baron of the Court of William and Isolde.

It’s Not Always Fun

Originally published May 24, 2020.

So I was talking to some folks today (more on that next week) and I articulated something that I’ve been thinking about for a while, so I wanted to talk about it to a wider audience.

A lot of people in the SCA say “do what you love, and peerage will come,” and while I don’t think that’s true, because the process is flawed and has far greater random elements than most people realize, there is a nugget of truth to the statement.

I might rephrase it as “do work you can tolerate doing most of the time, and it’s ok to not like every second of it,” because, well, some of the administrative work of the SCA just isn’t all that much fun, but it still has to get done, and no one loves doing their chosen activity all the time. As long as you fulfill your obligations, you’re generally gonna be good.

The point I’m working towards is that it is okay, upon occasion, when asked “are you having a good time” to say “no, but you are, and that is personally satisfying to me.”

There are aspects of heavy combat that I don’t like very much, but I still love fighting. Same for rapier and archery, and poetry, and the Storycast, and general Bardic. Woah is it big time applicable to Bardic. Maybe more than everything else put together.

This isn’t even about having bad days, although everyone, even peers, have bad days. Just that there’s a reason why it’s called “work,” right, and it’s incumbent in those of us who can to pay it forward / give back to this organization we love so much.

Even if sometimes we don’t like doing it.

Thoughts? Disagreement? Outrage? Don’t be shy.