Back to the Game

We resumed the Eberron Dungeons & Dragons game this week, so I’ve posted this week’s write-up this evening in the usual section. We had a bit of drama this week as one player had to suddenly disconnect from the session following a chocolate-related IT breakage, so we all rallied round and made sure his character had someone to drive him.

I’m told that domestic harmony has since been restored and repairs have been effected, which is good.

The importance of routine

One of the ways that I kept myself healthy is through the use of routine as a tool, rather than something to be endured. I love dealing with the varied demands of working with the public and the sometimes downright odd things that people commission me to write; and I’ve never been particularly threatened by the prospect of change, even when that threatens to cause massive disruption, but choosing certain things to keep as a routine have proven to be very useful.

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My phone lock screen says it all...

I mentioned the other day that there is a certain calmness that comes with winding my fob watch every morning; and being able to spend some time on a Wednesday in my favourite coffee shop goes a long way to easing me through the week, if only for the smiles and brief chatter before I sit in a corner to write. Now that I’ve got my laptop set back up at the desk in the guest room, I’m starting to appreciate having an area set up for writing again, and in part that’s because of the routines I can start to slip back into.

Some of these had been disrupted in recent months by having Lady M around the flat so much, working from home through sickness and to alleviate her tiredness from the long journeys she was otherwise having to make. While it was nice to have someone else around the place, it’s only now that I am starting to appreciate how disruptive to my own routines of managing work, downtime and household chores it was.

When I’m writing, I often slip into quite an isolated state of mind – another way of saying I concentrate, really – and long bursts of work will then take over. With Lady M around, this was more difficult to achieve. This doesn’t mean that she actively distracts me, but much of her work is conducted by phone, interspersed with emails and reports that need writing, and so the rhythms of her work day are very different. I would either find myself getting distracted by overheard conversations, or requests to check the tone or content of an email she had just written as a fresh pair of eyes. Conversely, I would find myself less willing to take the breaks I really needed.

I like to break the writing day up with set time playing on the Xbox or listening to music as a break from the laptop or the subject that I’m tackling so that I can come back to it. Instead, I was becoming worried that I would disrupt her concentration, or that her conference calls would be disrupted by the sound of my shooting people in Destiny or assassinating historical figures in Assassins Creed. This may sound rather lopsided, and we’ve had plenty of conversations around it both to reassure each other and reinforce or move boundaries as needed to keep things fair.

I’m still finding the return of the old routines reassuring however, especially with the new shorter commute times that Lady M now has. It is helping to rebalance the household and reduce the feeling of living in each others’ pockets. This is particularly important for me as routine is a tool that I use to manage my depression. Having a selection of healthy familiar things to do as a distraction and regime keeps me from spiralling on tough days, and with the last couple of months having been particularly draining its become more important than usual to be able to exert some control on the day.

So when I talk about routine, its not in the sense of chores, but rather of reassuring elements of control in the day. A time to wind my watch, a midmorning cuppa, a stroll round the block, quiet time listening to a coffee shop’s ebb and flow, prepping a meal for Lady M’s return from slaying corporate dragons: these are all the things that help me stay awesome and prepared to make 2015 do as it is bid…

Everything is Awesome!

Funny how some phrases put a grin on some faces, and a worried expression on others. The Lego Movie used “Everything Is Awesome” as a cornerstone of its advertising, and Lady M and I gleefully started singing it too once we encountered it. Sometimes it was through gritted teeth if things were rough, or not going to plan, but that somehow usually brought a spark of mirth that lightened the mood.

It still does, but not for my daughter. She gets a pained expression when she hears it, which largely came from not having seen the film or much of the advertising and having the perennially detached coolness of an intelligent teenager down to a fine art. Then, when we flew over to Florida last year, I encouraged her to watch it. I think the memory of her faintly horrified expression is going to stay with me for quite some time.

I’m not sure what has brought this to mind this evening beyond the meandering conversations we’ve been having that have touched on all sorts of things: snoring, family holidays while growing up, arguments with traffic police, people Lady M has made nervous at work, why I flinch at certain types of sudden motion near certain parts of my anatomy, the amount of food eaten at Christmas, and the aerodynamic properties of chocolates thrown in proximity to tablet devices. The cry of Everything Is Awesome once more sprung forth to lighten the mood.

I think it’s a good phrase to exclaim: whether in denial or defiance is of course, up to you and the moment