And Back To Work

We had a good catchup on Monday with the Charleesi and boyfriend – who have both been working over the Christmas period like us. It was an excuse to get presents to them and spend some time – and to give our newly donated slow cooker a first go. Fair to say that the melt-in-your-mouth meat alone was a treat, especially when mixed with spices and coconut milk for a slow-cooked beef curry experience. It was a good start to the week.

Then it’s been back to the grind – and a strange combination of a slow start that also brought some tough managerial decisions. As is always the way with these things, compromise and conversation in person rather than the sole medium of emails got results and kept storms in teacups where they belonged. It also brought some improvements for some of the people being supported so I’ll take the wins.

I dropped by an unofficial munch (if there’s such a thing) over in Farnborough last night following all that to catch up with people and met some interesting new faces, including a couple of fellow D&D people so a lot of geekiness and sharing of silliness from our respective tables happened. Got some good ideas, and think I introduced one person to at least three new authors they hadn’t encountered before. End of the evening I gave Lady T a lift home and then promptly got stuck after that driving behind someone who barely drove over twenty miles an hour for most of the distance between Staines and home. So, that was fun. At least the new car is a pleasure to drive so as the route didn’t really give me any great overtaking opportunities I settled into my heated seats and pootled along behind until they turned off and cleared the way.

My added bonus today is that, by and large, I haven’t had much discomfort from my ribs. There’s still some tenderness near the sternum, but I’ve been able to take deep breaths, cough, even laugh, and not had stabbing pains for my trouble. I think my body has gone into healing overdrive today though as I’m absolutely shattered and drowsy as I reach the end of the afternoon. I logged off from work, and made the mistake of closing my eyes for a few moments and promptly lost a few hours – so I’m going to take the hint and just be kind to myself for the evening

Welcome 2023

Well, so long 2022. Let’s see what comes along next. My own little corner of the world is doing well on the work front, though there’s a lot of sickness in the polycule that we can hopefully all support each through.

Lady M and I had a quiet evening last night with a double-bill on Netflix of Knives Out and Glass Onion and a bottle of wine. Neither of us were in the mood for shenanigans so it was good to just switch off. I’ve also quietly carried on making tokens and portraits in Heroforge as that’s a great distraction.

Last night’s cuppa and book

Today has also been gentle. Some of us are unwell, some of us are hung over – and I am just very tired. I suspect that’s related to my ribs still healing. They’re definitely improving: I was able to actually sleep lying down in my bed for the first time in a couple of weeks. Lifting and shifting too energetically is still painful, but there’s less of it which is encouraging – as long as I dont slouch or lean too often.

I did at least get the group together on discord and roll20 to get characters set up for the one-shot. I still haven’t come up with a title for it – I’ll announce it here when I do.

D&D Shaping Life?

I learn all sorts of things from the random conversations we have in the polycule. One thing that puts a smile on my face is hearing how stories, events, or characters from the D&D games end up having an impact in other people’s lives. One example is Odif – the kobold child adopted by the DDC after drunken shenanigans (and that was a whole series of subplots and adventures unexplored at the time – but who knows how things will loop back?)

I had a couple of crocheted wool dolls made up of Odif – one for Lady M and one for boy s – as presents and Lady M has been known to show her Odif on video calls. This particularly happens if one of her colleagues has a young child appear onscreen. Well, now those children have started asking after Odif and how he’s doing – and as this is usually relayed by their parents to Lady M during work calls, a wider group of people now know about and have encountered Odif.

So this year, Odif received Christmas well wishes from people at Lady M’s workplace.

Jumping to another example: Mx J has been playing Thorin in the DDC as a well-meaning, laid back and generally affable barbarian “himbo” over the last couple of years. The main story thread we just completed saw him step up into a leadership role for his people and reunite them to take back their lands and foil a plot to plunge a sizeable chunk of the surrounding countryside into a never-ending winter. Mx J has also been streaming and cosplaying for a number of years as Miss Time Bunny. They have been widely called Bunny for quite some time – especially in their local area.

In one of the places that Mx J frequents there are also people who watch the streams and are friendly with both Bunny and Lady B – and, you guessed it, they started getting Christmas well wishes under the name Thorin this year.

I find it rather heartwarming – that these characters and their world are living in people’s thoughts and memories, inspiring laughter and smiles and new stories to come. I have the kernels now of the next act in the adventures of the DDC so I can’t wait to see what really lands with people and inspires them – and how else our small entertainments may take on lives outside the confines of the Twitch Stream.

Oh – one last thing that came up in conversation – I don’t see them as its not my Twitch channel, but Lady B gets all manner of notifications and keeps an eye on things while we game – and I was delighted to hear that every now and then familiar names from the past appear as viewers, checking in on how we’re all doing and the latest silly shenanigans of the DDC. I hope they’ve had a good Christmas too – and hope to see them again soon.

Time Off

On my way out the door at work today I quipped that it was finally my turn to have a holiday – and at least in the respect that its not been leave taken in support of anyone else it’s true. I’m not going away anywhere but will be off work to decompress for a couple of weeks.

I can already feel my anxiety trying to get traction as I ruthlessly turn off all work electronics and tell myself my team are all adults and highly capable.

It’s definitely needed as it is that time of year again when the fireworks make life very uncomfortable. My PTSD is in many ways much improved, but it’s difficult not to flinch at unexpected pops and crackles with no obvious source.

I have at least managed to keep it all together and even managed to deliver a brief talk for a black history month event celebrating the leadership of the Stonewall Uprising and what eventually became the Pride movement. I had the usual pre-speech nerves that then disappeared once we started, and so that felt a good positive end of the working week for me.

Yes, it’s only Thursday, I know

Back Home

I’ve loved being away despite my wobbles – but there’s still nothing quite like that first shower when you’re home, and the settle back into your own bed. The silence was briefly unexpected and then I remembered this was a good thing and all was well.

We of course hit the souvenir shop on our way out the door, and have some nice odds and ends snuck away for presents as well as for immediate gratification.

Fortunately the traffic and weather was good for the return trip, and I did have one of those quiet moments of sublime happiness at seeing my partners asleep in their seats as I drove for a while. Its no secret I’m a soppy soul.

As a bonus, I have tomorrow off as a planned recovery day. Sleep is very much on the agenda

Out And About

The grand outing to Alton Towers has had, if you’ll pardon the pun, its share of ups and down with amazing rides, humour, silliness, and some mealtime stresses

The weather has been kind, with only minor showers once or twice, and comfortable temperatures and breezes. The banter and cheer has been great for recharging batteries and passing time in queues.

My anxiety however has been through the roof on occasion, mostly around mealtimes and things connected to that not going to plan. We’re also crammed a little sardine-like into two hotel rooms: four adults and three children. With no aircon it’s all a bit close-quarters.

Still, I’m choosing to be positive and reminding myself of all the positives despite by brain doing its best to sabotage me.

On Holiday

We’re off on out for a couple of days – myself, Lady M and the boy s with assembled kids. I’m not saying he’s excited, but the cub has not stopped exclaiming in his stream-of-consciousness babble all day, and it’s only the first morning.

We definitely need the time together. The last few months have been remorseless in their grind and we’ve really not had much quality time together.  Rollercoasters and silliness seems a good excuse.

There might even be some opportunities for some sleep at some point – a commodity that has been in scarce supply of late. I have driven the first half of our journey, and now Lady M is completing it. A snooze may be in order.

Half Term, oh and that Pride thing too

Being utterly awful people we all forgot it was half term this week until the cub reminded us. Fortunately Lady M and I had already booked some time off to take advantage of the bank holidays so we’ve taken him in while boy s continues to work.

Being myself I immediately booked tickets for myself and the cub to visit boy s at his work place and caused all kinds of merry havoc while we were there. The rest of the week has seen us take the cub to Go Ape, and a variety of other activities away from his usual computer screen.

We’re having a quiet day today – I can hear YouTube videos from the other room, I’ve gone shopping for groceries, and I may even have a nap to make up for a broken night for a while.

Meanwhile, its June. Happy Pride Month alongside all the other things taking place. Its as important as ever, because its impossible to understate how much of a difference it makes for people to be able to live as themselves.

I’ve been asked to put my name forward at work for a position with the LGBTQ+ Staff Network which will be hard work alongside the day job but well worth it if I can help facilitate positive changes. The AGM isn’t for a few weeks so I’ll talk more about that when the dust settles.

And yes, the autism referral stuff continues in the background. I’m not expecting to hear anything on that front for quite some time as it doesn’t seem to be something that BUPA covers and the NHS is overwhelmed. Patience, and all that.

Time For A Break

It’s nearly a weekend, I think. To be fair it’s been another slightly hectic week between boy s falling ill and a variety of surveyors and engineers needing access at strange times to various buildings – all while covid continued to rampage through my staff.

So tomorrow/today is Good Friday, which at least as far as myself and Lady M are concerned is a Bank Holiday. If the gym is open, we shall take the cub with us so he can swim and frolic – and we will unwind on a variety of exercise machines and possibly dip into the spa. Rude not to use all the facilities available.

On the games front, I’m still mostly playing Destiny2 with boy s and Lady B a few evenings a week. I have also managed to recover my old GOG account so I have most of the old Bioware D&D games to rediscover on my laptop. I even dipped into playing Alpha Centauri for nostalgia this evening. I do have a soft spot for turn based games.

Oh, and an added bonus: Lady M has twisted my arm into taking some leave next week, so that’s going to do wonders for my blood pressure.

The Yearly Round-Up

I’m somewhat torn between “good grief, that was a long year” and “wait a minute, it was just March!” as I settle down to write this. The blog has continued to grow – as of the time of writing there are 7,943 views from 4,075 unique visitors, 874 likes were recorded and 7 comments. By far the biggest draw is the main page for the new blog entries, while the rest of the traffic is split between old gaming writeups, a click-baity item I once wrote about almost but not quite having a polyamory tattoo, and a short story called Identity Crisis that I wrote back in 2017.

I’m not aiming to make a financial empire out of the site – there’s links to merchandise, true, but even that’s just artistic odds and ends and nerdy support for my friends and family – so while I’m sure there are bots and even SEO experts champing at the bit to offer me advice on how to grow and monetise the blog there isn’t any interest in doing so. The statistical figures are of passing interest in a “huh, that’s cool” way rather than a driver of activity. If they were, I’d probably not enjoy writing the blog so much.

That’s not to say that it doesn’t sometimes feel like a job or a chore, but I see it as good practice to keep in the habit of writing, even if it isn’t the rolling production of fiction that in my mind’s eye I would prefer to be doing. The real world, alas, distracts me far too often with maintaining the household, working the day job, and looking out for my loved ones – but on reflection that’s a good thing. It means I’m present for people, am keeping relatively active, and am looking after myself. That last one still feels a bit of a radical concept.

A lot has happened this year – including three months of boy s and the cub moving in while they relocated more locally – but there was also a promotion, a more active engagement with LGBTQ+ issues at work, and marching in Surrey’s Pride Parade with colleagues and clients. I’ve built a team of managers who are passionate about outreach and engagement with local communities. I even sold a few tshirts and started an erratically scheduled podcast. Editing of short stories and sharing those with a wider circle of people for feedback has occurred.

And I’ve started to feel less guilty about not managing to achieve absolutely everything all at once, let alone the illusion of productivity born of being busy all the time. Hopefully that will help me manage my health better as the doctors continue to prod, poke, scan, and probe. Fingers crossed, and all that.

That’ll do for the year in review I think. If you want more details, the blog is literally here to dive into – I’m going to make a cuppa and have a light lunch now. See you soon.