Meeting and Plotting

Its been a long day, but it feels like its been productive. I spent this morning with some colleagues putting together a risk assessment for reopening one of the libraries. Lots to consider but the writeups didn’t take too long to complete.

The bonus for the day however was getting home to find a care package from one of the DDC – specifically Mre B – full of hand crafted items, and tactile delights. It absolutely raised my spirits and I’ll post photos when everyone who has had one sent has received their parcel.

DDC Shenanigans

Life continues to ebb and flow in its complexities, but the DDC continues to be a creative and entertaining source of comfort, support, and humour in all the oddness around us.

Our latest set of things has been creating quizzes and games to play through shared screens in Discord. Whoever is running the quiz sets up a PowerPoint document with questions and answers revealed in turn, while everyone works together to find the answers. Mre B created the template based on their running similar things with their friends, and myr s has taken up the baton to create rounds tailored to our various strengths and foibles.

Roughly once a week we gather of an evening to play. We start with general levity, and yet despite there not being any competition between players, there’s soon a very serious air as people try to identify TV theme tunes from sight reading music, interpret kinks by their formal clinical names, identify pop culture characters from pets dressed up as those characters, and puns based on shows where one character has been changed – and that was just for starters.

Lateral thinking, chat, and everyone trying to resist googling any answers – a fun combination that is proving as much a draw as the weekly Dungeons and Dragons session.

Oh, and then we used Roll20 to make a Trivial Pursuit board and grabbed four different sets to make a monstrous random hodgepodge of topics from Star Wars, Stranger Things, Harry Potter, and a general family edition. That got very silly, very fast. We’ll have to do that again…

The Unexpected AMA

We did a thing this weekend, quite unexpectedly, when Lady B messaged the polycule to ask if we’d be willing to gather on Discord and be part of an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on her Facebook stream.

As followers and supporters of her series of streams about her experiences of transition, we of course agreed. A couple of hours and some muffled stubbing of toes later, we were gathered round our respective devices for what was intended to be a quick half hour that turned into an hour and a half of us spinning off on tangents and laughing a lot.

I’ll add a link below to the streams recording – but I must add that the first five to ten minutes is completely silent due to a technical hitch known as “flicking the wrong switch” in Lady B’s kit.

Nevertheless, it was fun, and a good chance to talk a bit about who we are and how we relate, and our thoughts on being the oddballs that we are. So, enjoy the stream.

New Player Ready

So we’re spending this evening mostly helping Lady W set up a character to join in the DDC adventures. We’re having a quiet evening as people are just feeling a bit wiped out, and it came up in conversation that she had felt unable to join the group as she hadn’t been around for the first session.

We immediately disabused her of this idea. As Lady W has never played D&D before, we’ve been making use of the Roll20 Charactermancer and a copy of the Player’s Handbook to help her create a new persona.

There is much jollity, silliness, discussion, and explanation going on – and therefore a good wind-down to the week. It may not be the D&D session I’d planned, but I think its the one we collectively need today

Generosity

Lady B has been secretly assembling a range of gifts to distribute among the DDC – literally, as she has a 3D printer. Today a care package arrived.

Our friends know us so well

Both Lady M and I received a prison for misbehaving dice, a pedestal for favoured dice, and a nameplate. The vox also contained a dice-rolling tray, an Eberron DM shield, a card game, and a glass bottle with four red dice in it, representing a potion of healing. Our geekery levels just jumped significantly.

We really are very lucky, and its been a lovely bonus as we head into the weekend.

Tired

I’ve been quite productive today but I’ve noticed a growing sense of anxiety and exhaustion around the work I’ve been doing – so I’ve opted to take some leave. This may seem odd given there’s a worldwide lockdown in place, but for my own wellbeing I feel I need to commit to not dialling in to work remotely for a few days next week.

Lady M has also booked some time off from her work for similar reasons. We would have been going to Portsmouth Comiccon and possibly looking at next week off to recover anyway, so in the grand scheme of things its not too different from what we would have been planning.

Its thoughts like that which remind me just how the convention and cosplay circuit has been hit, and by extension our little hobby and our connections with the friends we’ve made there.

Its why I’m continuing to get involved with daft cosplay collaborations – yes its fun to dress up and be silly, but the conversations and planning behind the scenes have been wonderful for keeping in touch and celebrating the creativity and oddness of us all.

If it raises smiles and lightens people’s days during lockdown then all the better, and I can take heart from that.

Another Day

I’m not a fan of doing huge amounts with spreadsheets even as I acknowledge how powerful and versatile they are. This is mostly due to my number blindness which makes reading and recalling number sequences something akin to wrestling an oiled python.

Currently however that’s what a significant part of the day job entails, so I am now very pleased to have a couple of days off for the weekend – being able to remotely work has brought the advantage of bringing some form of structure to the week after all.

I’m hoping to use the weekend to get some letters off the DDC as a general nice thing for people. I’ve hand written some missives with a drop pen and calligraphy inks on some traditional paper-milled paper, and included a D&D game prop and a little present in the envelopes too.

I hope it brings a smile to everyone’s faces, but especially to myr s who is particularly struggling with lockdown isolation at the moment. Fingers crossed.

Being a Listening Ear

My counsellor is the first to tell me that I have a tendency to want to help people and put their problems above my own – and she usually says so when I’ve spent a long time talking about my concerns about a friend, or someone I work with. So this extended period of lockdown and general stress has been an exercise in closely managing my own mental reserves so that I stay boundaried in the sense of maintaining my own safety while still being present for people.

Its not easy. It can be quite seductive a call to throw grand dramatic gestures. Everyone wants to be a hero after all, but keeping the slow and steady drip of checking in on people – listening when they do or do not respond, or sending the odd off-colour joke without expecting a reply – seems to be a middle ground that is allowing me to not over extend myself or to feel that I’m abandoning people.

Its hard when there’s that little voice wanting to leap down the phone and hug someone who is clearly in distress, but that little voice doesn’t take into account other people’s wants, needs, or support networks – that’s where it becomes unhealthy in trying to impose itself.

That’s the point where it becomes about me, not about them.

I am glad to bale to report that I amvery lucky with the support networks that I do have, and with the friends that can and do ping in and out of sight on various platforms. I’m doing my best to be a reliable generally positive part of their networks, rather than a burden on their time or the cause of a heavy sigh.

So, silly memes and reimaginings of scenes with disney characters, songs and daft videos – all of these and more will continue to flow as distractions. I might even get some work done in between them all too.

Morning All

Well its a glorious sunny morning and we’ve all the windows open to let a gentle breeze through the flat. The sound of birdsong is mingling with the chattering of children being walked around the estate and the dull roar of the M3, and an enormous bluebottle flying round the living room trying to find the open windows in front of it.

I have coffee, all is well

Okay, the windows being open may be partially to dispel some of the lingering smells of the after effects of the rather chilli-heavy mince dish Lady M cooked last night but thats purely coincidental.

We had another Cards Against Humanity game last night, this time factoring in Doctor Who and Harry Potter among the standard decks, and because there was no one on an absolute roll the scores were pretty even – making for a game that at one point I’m sure we began to think might never end. (We were playing first to twenty with seven of us in the game.)

So having a quiet day of officially not working is good timing as far as I’m concerned. I may do some more prep work for the D&D at some point today, but otherwise sitting and reading, and continuing to chat and be nonsensical with the DDC and anyone else who happens virtually along is the entirety of my plan.

Retail Support Therapy

We’ve all been looking in the DDC for ways to brighten each other up during the lockdown. I mean, we’ve been looking at ways of making life easier as much as possible for as many people as possible too, but in particular we’ve been rallying round to help each other. I think it was brewing anyway, but as Lady B had her birthday recently it prompted a move to send presents that has since expanded across the whole group.

For the most part its sporadic – little things like postcards or small gifts made on a whimsy – but it is a wonderful little spike of pleasure when there’s something unexpected in the mailbox. While this is a thing that could happen at any time, I think the enforced isolation has made the effort more appreciated and more meaningful for both sender and receiver. If so, then I take it as an example of people rising to support each other in adversity – through a series of acts that you could be forgiven for thinking had been a thing long in the past. Now all our various communications channels are sprinkled with little remarks like “Oh I showed x what I’ve made for you”, or “Oh, reminds me I must get to the post office” – and each time I get a little glow in my chest that is almost certainly not heartburn.

It doesn’t make us any better or worse than anyone else just because we’re choosing to reach out to support our friends and partners at this time rather than engaging in some grand gesture to help the world at large. Instead, I hope that it is a trend of rediscovering contact that has been denatured by the immediacy of social media. There is no immediate gratification of a notification on a phone or laptop – its merely something that appears at some point in the letterbox, and is all the more precious for it. I hope its something that catches on among friend and family circles as a rediscovery of a slower way of showing you care. Its less ephemeral that social media, and goes alongside the other ways of showing we care that we already use on a daily basis. I feel incredibly lucky.

Silver linings and all that