Welcome to our collective insanity!
Let's see...my first few years, I struggled and pretty much tried everything (it was helpful that I lived where one could actually do this). If you live in an active barony (like I did), there's probably a lot of workshops, meetings, etc., on a regular basis. For example, where I "grew up", there were monthly meetings of the cooks guild, storytellers, and weekly music, dance, fighter, and fencing practices. For my first few months, I went to all of them, but gradually focused on just one or two that were a) interesting, and b) had welcoming people. (Guild promoters take note!) If you don't live in an active barony, this might be more difficult, though you could probably find these things if you don't mind driving.
Selecting an area of study is easy...if you're willing to give it time. (I myself have given it 20+ years, and am still working on it...what I do now is vastly different from what I did ten years ago) Your interests will evolve, and the SCA is not like college: you don't have to choose a major by the time you've accumulated 60 credits. (It's more like adult education, where this month you're learning belly dancing and next month it's Russian cooking and the month after that it's Italian madrigals...) Do what you're interested in; it's the best guarantee you'll give it the attention it deserves.
Life and family...now that's a tough one for me (I met my wife in the SCA). My best advice: "The first one is free.." I'd go with a "two event" strategy. First, a relatively innocuous generic event, where they can just go an enjoy the show (and see that, while we have an odd hobby, we're otherwise ordinary people...). For the second event, find one that will pique their interest. You know your family better than I do, so you'll know if they're going to look at the heavy list and say "Hey, that would be fun..." Or maybe they're foodies, in which case any of a number of feast-centric events would be appropriate. Or they might be dancers, or musically inclined, or any of a number of other things.
Conversations: First, let me say that "speaking forsoothly" is great...if you happen to be in that small minority for whom that speech pattern it is appropriate. But it detracts from the look and feel to have a 14th century Ottoman saying "Prithee, sirrah..." (I really detest "SCAisms": calling a car a "dragon" is nonsense, since the word "car" is period, and if you don't want to use this word because it sounds
too modern, you could use the word cart, wagon, transport, vehicle...)
I find the best way to do this (for me, at least) is to consciously avoid certain words and topics that are very modern. Then, since I'm watching my speech for these words, I'm incidentally watching for other modernisms. For example, try to eliminate the word "OK" from your event conversation, or avoid discussing the internet during feast.
The most important thing to remember is that the people of the middle ages were...people. So they talked about what their kids did the other day, or what trouble their useless third cousin got into last week, or that their landlord hasn't fixed the hole in the roof, or that coworker who keeps trying to steal credit from them. For example:
"The brakes on my car had to be replaced the other day; mechanic ripped me off and charged me 500 bucks, so we'll be just scraping by this month."
Change "car-->cart" and "mechanics --> cartwright", "bucks --> dollars", and you have a conversation that would be at home in the middle ages. Throw in some colorful descriptions of the cartwright and you're speaking Shakespeare...
From: LavadaN <lavadanahon@...
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 12:35 PM
Subject: [SCA Newcomers] Re: Looking for ideas for a class
I've been in the SCA since December, my first event was last November. It's been great but also a tad overwhelming. Everyone I've met has been so kind and generous with their time and talents. Reading all the info has helped me get things like feast gear and a handle on garb, but proper forms of address and basic etiquette would help. I've been a hostess enough so introducing myself to people is easy, but learning history and how to select a few things to do is my biggest challenge. I think I'm already doing too much, and I'm finding myself getting frustrated. How to selected an area of study, suggested books for general information about period references, and help in understanding that the SCA happens on at least two levels, what you do on your own, and what you do in community. Hearing how others managed these first couple of years would help at lot especially if they joined later in life and not while in college. How others juggle work and family
life, especially when the other family member's don't play, and the SCA would be good. Tips on how to keep my mundane life out of SCA conversations, but also how to bring it in when it's appropriate. I'm an 18th century historian and find myself hesitant to bring it up, but also watching people struggle with a task when I know how to do it is difficult. Because I'm new I tend to stay in the background not wanting to interfere. I guess mainly just real life stories. Looking forward to my first Pennsic and meeting you. Thanks!
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]