Real Name: Jean H. Keene

SCA Name & title: Lady Tristyn of Gryffyn’s Keep

Years in the SCA:

I first started in 1995(ish?) and participated for about a year. I rejoined around 2011.

How did you find out about the SCA?

When I lived in Tampa, in the mid-90’s my dear friend introduced me to the folks at the Barony of Wyvernewood.

Where did you start, what was your first event?

When I first started in the mid 90’s, I was painfully shy and, quite frankly, didn’t really understand too terribly much of what was going on. I sort of played on the fringes, being dragged along by my friend. My first event back then was, I believe, Baronial Bash at the Barony of Wyvernewood. I don’t remember much except that I really got caught up in the magic of the whole thing. Sadly, my friend and I drifted away from the SCA, having been absorbed by other things that folks in their late teens focus on such as college and the Rocky Horror Picture Show (I was Magenta!). While I had drifted away, I always looked on my brief time with the SCA very fondly.

In 2011, I found myself in a very different life situation. I’d recently had a son and I found myself living in Western Pennsylvania in a very rural environment after having spent my life living in urban or suburban environments. I was also looking fruitlessly for a job and was feeling very lonely and detached. I knew that I needed some sort of social outlet. Having remembered how much I enjoyed my brief time in the SCA, I sought out a local group. I found the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep and was very warmly welcomed into their fold.

My first actual event was their first Fractured Fairytales event, Robin Hood. I didn’t get to truly get involved with the event as I had to work that day but agreed to stop by after work and offer assistance. I was so nervous and shy that I spent my entire time in the kitchen doing dishes. I never looked for someone to obtain loaner garb from so I did it all in jeans and a hoodie. My first official event that I actually got to participate in and wear garb for was Aethaelmaerc War Practice. It quickly became my favorite event and I made it a point to attend every year for 4 or 5 years. Sadly, in recent years, I haven’t been able to attend this event due to mundane job obligations but each year I try to figure out how I can attend while also working around my job schedule. So far it hasn’t worked out and I’ve missed the last 2 years and will miss this year as well.

What is your persona?/Why did you pick this persona?

This has always been a difficult question for me. I love so much about the SCA that I have a really difficult time nailing down a particular time frame. I like early Celtic and Viking because the garb is comfortable and it’s a very empowering time frame for women. That being said, I do love the pretty, form fitting garb of the later time frames. The name Tristyn was always a name that I chose for games and roleplaying. I chose my full name, Tristyn of Gryffyn’s Keep, when I was being recommended for my AOA because it allowed me to formally align myself with the shire that welcomed me so warmly.

One of the items that I have always enjoyed looking into is how people in the SCA time frame have historically viewed the natural world and the natural sciences. Working mundanely in the environmental field has allowed me to ‘cross-pollinate’ (so to speak and pun intended) in this particular area. Much of the information that I have gathered in this field I have been able to utilize in my mundane job and much of what I learn in my mundane job inspires me to learn more about how these things were addressed during the middle ages.

Do you have any group or household affiliations?

I’ve always been an ‘on the fringes’ participant in the SCA. There are folks in many households that I call very dear friends, although I’m not necessarily a part of their households. Due to my early affiliations with the Barony of Wyvernewood as well as my current affiliations with the Brigadoon Pennsic camp, I have often been called a ‘Friend to Thunder’ which is the closest thing that I could call a household affiliation.

Tell us a little bit about your life outside the SCA.

I am a single parent to a son who also participates but mostly because I sort of force him. He has gotten involved in a handful of SCA activities such as thrown weapons but mostly when I take him to events, he just likes to run around with the other children. Since I literally force him to come to events with me, I don’t force him to wear garb so he is often the little guy running around in mundanes. The exception to this is Pennsic as he actively participates and loves to contribute to War Points. As such, I tell him if he’s going to participate he needs to wear garb.

I have a mundane job working for Pennsylvania State Parks. I feel extremely fortunate in that I work in a job that I absolutely love and look forward to almost every day. Therefore, while many SCA participants play as a getaway from their mundane jobs and lives, I tend to intertwine the two almost constantly.

As a single parent with sometimes atypical work schedules, it’s often difficult for me to get to very many events. Living so far away from the city of Pittsburgh and largely away from many of the more well attended events also makes it difficult to get to events. For that reason, although I have been involved with Aethelmaerc, the Barony Marche of Debatable Lands, and the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep for approximately 8 years, many folks who see me around tend to think I’m new and often do not remember who I am later.

What SCA activities do you or have you participated in?

These days I’m largely involved in archery and thrown weapons. Although I’ve dabbled in other areas, this is the most that I have been truly involved in a particular activity. This has a lot to do with my circumstances of being a single parent as well as living far away from many activities.

Tell us a little bit about your SCA experience (jobs, offices, duties, etc.)

I’ve served as Arts and Sciences Minister and Deputy Exchequer for the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep. I was also the feastocrat for the Princess Bride Fractured Fairytales. Most recently, I have asked to start training as an archery and a thrown weapons marshal.

When you started in the SCA what goals did you have?

My goals have evolved over time since joining the SCA since when I first started, the goal was literally to find a social outlet that I enjoy. I think it’s safe to say that I have achieved that goal.

What are your goals now?

My biggest goals right now are to represent my shire, BMDL, and my kingdom on the thrown weapons range. In addition, I’d like to get good enough at archery to be able to effectively compete more adequately. Additionally, I’d love to be taken on as a student in the bardic arts. I absolutely love to sing and would welcome an opportunity to get out of my shy, stage frightened shell and sing at events and bardic circles.

What was the most intimidating thing you encountered in the SCA?

I have some pretty severe social anxiety. The most intimidating thing I’ve encountered is trying to get out of my shell and go to an event in a new location by myself.

If you could accomplish only one thing in the SCA in the next year, what would it be?

Mostly to improve my skills in ranged weapons.

What advice would you give to a new person in the SCA, or if new yourself what question would you ask and who would you ask it of?

Don’t be afraid to get out there and have fun. I could probably take this advice myself.

If you magically woke up with an SCA talent you do not already have, what would it be?

An interest in and ability to sew. I have zero interest in or patience for learning to sew. At this point in time I buy/trade for all of my garb. Life would be so much simpler if I could just make my own. Alas, that’s not likely to happen.

Don’t be modest, what award or honor would you like to receive above all else and why?

Oh my goodness. Are we talking lofty, anything in the world kind of thing? Here it is. I want to be able to get in front of a group and sing without any shyness or stage fright. And to actually know some SCA period songs in the process. And while we’re at it, I’d love to be a kingdom champion for thrown weapons or archery.

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