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Ways that conflict plays out
SSar's Beast
Whoops, I did that thing again where I planned to make a big trip post - two, actually - and because I haven't carved out the time to sit down and write it up and embed pictures, I've not posted anything at all in the intervening time. Sorry.

Last weekend was the semiannual 33AR LARP session. Our cooking went well. I am continually in awe of my co-chef's baking talents. "Vegan cheesecake???" I said, occasionally with more question marks. And then I said, "this is amazing, this is delicious, please don't change anything, more please!"

LARP plots and LARP immersement are a curious thing. A full 33AR session runs from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon. On Saturday, there was an in-game incident I've reflected on a lot since. It reinforced my feelings of not wanting to LARP, but I feel I have a glimmer of what the participants got out of it.

There was a scene involving player characters and crew characters. The crew characters are bit parts; the crew go back to the crew room and swap out cultists' robes for soldiers' uniforms, and the next hour one might be a demon, and another might be someone's long-lost brother. Earlier in the day, some crew had been bandits and had "stolen" medical supplies from the players' Infirmary.

Then, the GMs sent some crew into the players' camp as traders, selling medical supplies. With limited props, the same physical item may need to represent a new item in game. Players will often have things taken and returned to them by circuitous means.

So these were "totally new medical supplies", but they were the players' kit. And one of the players didn't get the message about the status of the supplies. Thinking that the crew characters were brazenly re-selling what had been stolen, the player instigated a violent tussle scene, with knives; the trader defended himself; the trader's wife cried out in horror; another player reacted by "shooting" the trader's wife and then the trader. In barely a minute, two NPCs were "dead", and it very swiftly dawned on people that according to the information available to the characters within the world, our player characters had murdered innocent villagers.

(The GMs sent two more crew to be the traders' children and yell at the players that they DIDN'T WANT THE MONEY, THEY WANTED THEIR PARENTS BACK. Also to convey the information that the woman had been pregnant. Thanks for the knife-twisting, GMs.)

One of the players who was helping us with Saturday dinner prep explained the play-by-play. I felt rather squeamish. It seemed awful to me that this could have happened. Even just in a story. I'm invested in our player characters now - and Frank and Sophie had been playing Jack and Ivy for five sessions straight. And the way an out-of-character misunderstanding had led to an in-character debacle made me feel helpless.

What this meant, though, was that the central plot on Sunday was the involvement of distant but legitimate constabulary, Ivy's death by poisoning, the trial of Jack, and all the drama and fallout that that entailed.

Everything I've heard since about this, from players and GMs, has been celebratory: that for a while now, the 33AR characters have been veering away from their moral compass, and this was finally a chance to explore Consequences With a Capital C. It was worthy of celebration that Sunday's plot was purely player-generated, with only the lightest of following touches from the GMs. It was enriching. To me it seems like hell; to them, cathartic. Of course, when going through hell, keep going, out to the other side.

I'm still thinking about this. It was odd to witness.

Another big thing for me right now is that N is moving out. It's been coming for a while: she mentioned her intentions before we went on holiday, and has been flat hunting for weeks. Finally, last week, she closed in on a promising place. Her prospective landlady called me up:

"Would you say that N is tidy, reliable, and honest?"


"You sound hesitant."

"Uh, no, no I'm not. N is very reliable and honest. And tidy too." [moving into panicked babble stage.] "It's just that I'm the neat freak one in the house, you know? N definitely keeps things clean to a normal standard."

"Oh, right, I know what you mean. I'm difficult to live with too." [Embarrassed pause.] "Um, I didn't mean to imply you're hard to live with..."

[Ahah, the upper hand again!] "Oh, that's all right. No, I've known N for..." etc.

So she got the place, finding this out on Monday. It went out on Facebook before she confirmed it with me directly, and I reacted un-graciously. Finally we talked in person, and I managed to convey that I wasn't mad, and had no reason to be mad; I just had a lot of feelings about everything. This is what happens when your excellent and wonderful housemate of three years (and another non-contiguous year) moves out. Some emotional adjustment required.

I tend to tie myself up in knots about this kind of thing. I get upset about something and want reassurance and don't know how to reach out for it. Often I do so in prickly ways. I'm working on it. When I was a kid I had tonnes of temper tantrums. Obviously I learned to control them, but I think I also internalised the idea that anger is scary; if you are angry, you are at fault. I don't trust my anger. And coming to a tense conversation, and expecting the outcome of being told my negative feelings are unreasonable, is really scary; unfortunately that's a self-reinforcing pattern because it leads me to bottle things up, or justify them circuitously.

Eh. I'm rabbiting on about this partly because I find conflict management really interesting. I'm also happy to have words spilling out. I've written many stories over the last few months, but blog writing is such a different skill.

I'm sorry I've been commenting so little on your lives and adventures and interesting thoughts. I have been following along, a little. Yuletide is taking up so much space in my brain.

Other good things: my boyfriend has a job; I've had a good few days at work; the Medieval Reading Group session tonight went really well. I'm happy about my part in 33AR. Final session in March! I am in awe of these people.

I keep needling Joel to make a suggestion for his 30th. "If you want me to organise a surprise party, you're going to have to hint harder," I tell him. The dessert party last year was pretty neat. We'll think of something. It's just that large birthday parties in late December need to be planned well in advance. And not just because of my immersion in Yuletide, ha.

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...... well that's vaguely upsetting (the LARP thing), I think I'd be unsettled too. It's definitely one of the reasons any kind of mass cooperative gaming thing makes me nervous. Humans make me nervous. :P

Also wehhh, I don't like change, so the housemate thing would rattle me too. You're a Yuletide star, as usual, and I'm in awe of you. <3

Humans make me nervous Haha, yep.

The game also has a few homunculi and android characters, and they are far more Lawful Good than any of the remaining humans. My housemate has been playing a homunculus who has been the administrative backbone of the camp, and her end for this session was a gloriously chilly departure from the camp, because she definitely wasn't taking their shit any more.

Thank you! Argh I need to send you your book. And Yuletide sign-ups are in less than a week. I'm so excited.

"I tend to tie myself up in knots about this kind of thing. I get upset about something and want reassurance and don't know how to reach out for it. Often I do so in prickly ways. I'm working on it. When I was a kid I had tonnes of temper tantrums. Obviously I learned to control them, but I think I also internalised the idea that anger is scary; if you are angry, you are at fault. I don't trust my anger. And coming to a tense conversation, and expecting the outcome of being told my negative feelings are unreasonable, is really scary; unfortunately that's a self-reinforcing pattern because it leads me to bottle things up, or justify them circuitously."

Someone recommended a parenting book to me that starts off with 'Acknowledge people's feelings' (and then had lots of roleplay scenes where a kid came home steaming and the parent said things like "You're angry. You're really angry. [hands the kid some paper and a crayon] Show me how angry you are." and moved on from there to giving the kid room to problem solve for themselves) which felt like this really profound paradigm shift compared to everything that I grew up with - my mother's reaction to visible anger, or sadness, or any other expression of negative emotion has always been to shut it down as soon as possible, so I really get that sense of "if you are angry, you are at fault.' But the parents I know who use the technique I talked about seem to have really happy (and polite) children, so I'm trying to think about using it with adults - and myself. You know? Just reminding myself that I'm allowed to have an emotional response to something, and that isn't a bad thing, and that what I do about it is within my agency. I guess?

I can see merits to that.

I think I've seen that play out, in a way, with the way that some of my friends talk about mental health issues, rather than moods. Not everyone, obviously, is comfortable talking in this mode, but I will now often see, on Facebook, a post that says: okay, I am having a bad day, it is like *this*... and depending on the situation, they may include something like "I am not up to doing X, Y things, sorry to the people I need to cancel on," or, "Please help me out by Z." But mostly just giving an update that references how they are doing on mental health things. I mean, I realise overall mental health and moods are not really analogous, but what I've noticed is that acknowledgement of the mental health situation as a thing that is relevant to and affecting the person, and for which the person is still - responsible may not be the right word, but not making anyone ELSE responsible - but as a thing somewhat apart from the person. Here is me: here is my anxiety. Here is me: here is my anger; these are not the same.

Oh gosh, look at all those commas. I hope I'm making sense.

I think it's good to separate out one's mood and the things one actually wants at any given time. I've heard anger described as a signal to oneself that there is a discrepancy between what a situation is and what we feel a situation should be, and that signal is obviously useful, but at the same time the anger doesn't help to problem solve to bring those two situations together. That interests me. On the other hand it's a very limited view of anger.

Also, it's good to hear from you! I see photos on Google Plus occasionally - I am stubbornly resisting joining in on Google Plus, and I shouldn't really. I've just got Facebook to exactly where I like it: I rarely post, but I comment on people's things and seem to get along there, and it's handy for events. How is E? I have a book for you and her, actually, that I picked up in Vic Books one day.

I find mental health and moods to be actually pretty analogous, but that might say more about my particular mental health stuff than anything else. Hm.

Eleanor is good, with parentheses. (She was ill last week, and we ended up at the hospital being observed by a paediatrician for about 6 hours. But there was a happy ending! Also, the doctor made unkind observations on the size of her head. :-) ) She's right now going through a stage where her abilities and interest in the world are going up massively, but at the same time she needs accommodations for things that used to be really easy. So we're having to change up how we parent, but for a good reason.

Are Robert and Christine back from travelling? (I assume it's them running the Reading Group?) Do you think they (and you) might like to come over for an afternoon tea sometime?

I think they (and I) would love the idea of afternoon tea. Yes, they've been back for a while, and I don't think they're far into planning their next major trip.

Unkind observations! Hmph.

We also mentioned you last night at Medieval Reading Group. We're just starting Old Norse, and most people haven't done it before, so we're doing it almost one word at a time. "Hann var..." "He was!" "Very good!" You'd be very welcome if the time slot suited you, E included. Our next session's on the evening of Wednesday 29th.

You know, that's really tempting (I've been thinking how much I enjoyed language study and haven't done any for ages). We've got roleplaying on Wednesdays right now, but that might be switchable.

Our evenings are switch-able too, with some notice. Wednesday is by no means fixed...

I had a therapist once who recommended parenting books to me, under the reasoning that if there were areas my parents had fallen down on parenting, well, I'd just have to parent myself then wouldn't I?

It was actually pretty delightful. What an idea! I can teach myself the skills I lack, with the patience I would show to an actual kid! Coping with feelings was definitely on the list.

It's been interesting for me. My parents were successful in the sense of everybody got fed and mostly clothed and we all went to university, but thinking back, there were a bunch of incidents that were household battles that didn't really have to be. And I figure, you don't change your default way of dealing with the world by declaring what you won't do. On the plus side, I have a bunch of friends who are very functional parents and there've been a bunch of times I've read something in a parenting book and realised that that slightly odd thing one of them did a while ago was a conscious strategy. Having some real life models to ape helps a lot, both for dealing with children and grown ups, I think.

Mine were successful in the sense of food and clothing (not so much the schooling part, but whatever), but not in terms of teaching me, for example, to notice when I am tired or hungry and take care of those needs. Which is a weird thing never to have learned, and yet so many people seem not to have!

I agree that having real life models helps a lot.

This is such an interesting post to me. I wish I were better at replying. I like talking with you, but we never seem to have the spoons and time at the same time. ;)

Ha! That is so true. You have the rotten luck of always popping up on gchat when I'm tired and in the middle of something, and you say something interesting about language or travels and I go, "buh... buh... intelligent question get?"

It's just nice to know you thought it was an interesting post.

I feel that way about you, too, so don't worry!


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