My Story (so far...)

Hi! I'm Chris. I'm a Connecticut Yankee. I was born outside Philly in the mid 60s to a college chemistry professor and an amazing cook. I have an older brother and sister. (And now, a nephew and a niece!) We moved to
Redding, CT when I was little over a year old, and I lived there very happily for the next 25 years.

I went through the Redding School system, enjoyed romping through the seven acres of woods surrounding my parents' home with my lifelong friend, Sarah, feeding greedy raccoons, ate my mother's thoroughly delicious food and learned to love cooking and baking from her, and buried myself repeatedly in my father's huge and ever-growing collection of books (floor-to-ceiling stacks in nearly every room, most three to four stacks deep). I grew to enjoy rock music and classical alike. I loved watching cheap, badly translated martial art flicks, and I also enjoyed going to the latest British sitting-room drama. In other words, I had a pretty darn good childhood and I learned early on to thrive on learning new things.

After graduating with journalism and communications degrees from the state college where my father taught chemistry,
Western Connecticut State University, I fell into working for many years for the community newspaper, The Redding Pilot. (First as a freelance writer, then as a fulltime reporter, quickly becoming the company's first associate editor, and soon after a managing editor. All within a few years. Pretty good for someone who blithely wandered out of college without any firm career plans, eh?). It was a great job -- always something new and different. The hours were long and the pay sucked, but I worked with some absolutely amazing and dear friends.

While at The Pilot, I won two
regional newspaper association awards -- one for my editing and layout design of the newspaper, and the other for a difficult and sobering front page story on a double homicide (a mentally disturbed man who bludgeoned his elderly parents to death). It's nice to earn recognition for one's hard work, but sitting in the court room for the following year, watching this man sitting a few yards ahead of me and covering the trial, was eye-opening for someone who grew up in a rather isolated, affluent bedroom community, to say the least.

Oh, and I got married. I covered a photo-shoot of a medieval reenactment group's event one afternoon (more on that in a little bit...) and one of the people I interviewed was an intelligent and charming gentleman from Westchester County, Kevin. He managed to get my phone number out of me in a creative way, and asked me on a date soon after. We shared interests in
good food, music, role-playing games, comics, and current events, among other things. I hadn't expected to get married so young, in my estimation, but Kevin was a wonderful friend so it felt right..

Moving to New York, Changing My Life
It was in 1993 that, for a number of reasons -- including the fact that I realized that I was doing my job on autopilot, Kevin had trouble finding a job in his field, he hated Connecticut, we couldn't afford a decent house in that state on our current salaries, I wanted to see more of the world, and I was getting disillusioned with the predatory and rude industry that the press was becoming -- we moved to an Upstate NY suburb.

After a brief stint as a general-interest magazine editor and a year where I couldn't find publishing work, I'm now a book editor for a legal publishing company,
West Group. Once again, I love my job -- only this time, fortunately, the hours are more normal and the pay is better! For five years, I coordinated and edited American Jurisprudence, a 140-volume set which is the legal equivalent of the Encyclopedia Britannica. (If a lawyer wants to know the general definition of a topic, say criminal law or automobile law, s/he can leaf through the volume on those topics and learn what precedent exists, what the issues are in various states, etc.) It was actually quite interesting and rarely dry, contrary to what non-lawyers often think!

I now coordinate a series of print, online, and other products regarding human resources law and news, most of which are archived at or on WestLaw. Yes, I love sinking my (editorial) teeth into something new and challenging!

Ironically, on the 10th anniversary of our wedding, Kevin and I celebrated our divorce. We had problems for several years, like many couples, and we agreed that we were better friends than effective partners. However, we kept in mind that we'd had many good times together, and thus parted very amiably, kindly, and with affection. The split was not without pain and sadness, but it was also liberating and envigorating for both of us. We keep in touch and speak well of each to others. Unusual, eh?

I soon moved about 10 miles north to live with a longtime treasured friend, Eric (and now, husband!). He's smart, honorable, considerate, wildly funny, very gentle and supportive when it's important, responsible, a great cook, impressively creative, and thoroughly, completely wonderful. (Oh, and did I mention yummy?) <huge happy grin> 
I honestly did not expect to have another strong relationship in my life, especially so soon after my marriage failed. However, this feels very,
very right. Even if he's grumpy and tired after work and leaves laundry on the floor. So what? It's "small stuff." We often finish each others' sentences, and joke that the oft-"Clueless Twins" share the same brain. Although I don't recommend it as a way of learning how to have better relationships, a first marriage can teach one how to appreciate better a second relationship... how  not to "sweat the small stuff" and instead to speak up about the serious stuff in a constructive and respectful way. At least, it has taught me so...

A major part of my life for the past 17 years has been my friends and activities in the
Society for Creative Anachronism (an international not-for-profit educational organization which researches and reenacts the Middle Ages and Renaissance). I first learned about the group in 1985 from one of my journalism professors, but I didn't  become really active until 1987 when I met Kevin at an SCA event. (See? I told you I'd get back to that...)

My involvement back then was somewhat limited by the long hours of my newspaper job, but my work in New York has been more along normal office hours and has thus allowed me the free time to immerse myself in the local group. I'm very active in
The Barony of Thescorre, as well as in my greater kingdom, AEthelmearc.

Many of my favorite hobbies dovetail with the group: a lifelong love of cooking and baking (Thanks, Mom!) easily transformed into an interest in
recreating Medieval and Renaissance recipes. Years of interest in herbalism metamorphosed into a study of European plants of the Middle Ages. A lifetime of writing turned into researching papers and teaching classes. The ongoing but sporadic practice of yoga throughout my life smoothly parsed into the enjoyment of Middle Eastern dance. And most curiously, the necessity of choosing a "persona" background allowed (or forced, depending upon your viewpoint) me to learn more about my father's faith, Judaism.

In the Society, I am Dame Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina. She's a baker living in capital city of Atil in the Jewish country Khazaria in the 10th Century. (See
my Khazar page.) I've been a local chapter president (seneschale) and a household chronicler (newsletter editor). I'm currently my kingdom's archivist, and am trying to find the time to take the Red Cross CPR course so that I can be a chirurgeon (person with basic first aid). I've performed with the barony's dance troupe and, best of all, I've cooked numerous feasts of medieval food for upwards of 175 people.

I am proud (and often stunned) to have earned the Society's highest recognition both for service and for arts (
Pelican and Laurel), both of my kingdom's orders of high merit for arts and service (Fleur & Millrind), both of its orders of merit for arts and service (Sycamore & Keystone), my barony's award for service (Raven's Feather), the Royalty's personal award of thanks (Sigil), and the Baronage's personal award of thanks (Raven's Egg). 

Pretty cool for doing stuff that I love, eh? <grin>
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