I was stuck at work, being unable to share my bemusement on Saturday at a conversation playing out in my messages.
The Charleesi had let us know that her temporary freelancing job had just been converted to the offer of a permanent copywriting post within a week of her starting, so we are all very pleased and excited for her in this early stage of her campaign to take over the world.
Talk soon turned to needing to have a celebration, which resulted in a query about our Sunday availability – which clashed directly with the birthday celebrations previously mentioned.
I therefore had the moderately bemused expression of a man seeing his wife tell his ex-wife that we weren’t available as we were celebrating the joint birthdays of our partner and ex-partner in the company of our partner’s partner and partner’s son, and our collective emotional support human/friend – and being unable to tell anyone at work without having to explain an awful lot of history to people.
Needless to say, everyone at the Sunday gathering smirked when I could finally relay it…
We managed to get most of the DDC together this afternoon in East Brighton Park to celebrate the birthdays of Mre B and myr s – despite the best efforts of my satnav to take us along every B road between us and there rather than using the motorways.
I chose to treat lightly its choice to direct us through the village of Faygate, or to keep telling us to “stay straight” along the road.
I managed to dissuade Lady M from buying the complete stock of our local Tesco too, as she went into mother hen “feed everybody” mode. I’m not saying that her anxiety was becoming infectious, but I swear I saw people hurrying to buy what we’d left on the shelves like it was toilet paper at the beginning of lockdown.
There was a play park for the cub, a tree to partially shelter from the elements under, and cupcakes and a cupcake cake that ended up being served into cups for distribution. All par for the course really.
We’re home now, tired and glad of having had a quiet time together, enjoying each other’s company without feeling a need to perform or fuss. Nice.
Just for the hell of it I went down to Portsmouth today to gather up myr s, the cub, Ladies J and B and go grab some food, drink, and relative normalcy out on the town. And it feels so good to have done so.
It says so much about the disruption that that has happened this year that it was, for some of us, the first time for eating out. There was a palpable sense of relief and accomplishment in just being around a table in public.
To round out the afternoon, we had a lazy afternoon where we enjoyed each others company. We did some shopping, and went back to Lady B’s flat to talk and pass some time – and it has been a tonic for the spirits for us all.
And then I came home to find that my order of one of my t-shirts had arrived from Amazon. Lady M immediately grabbed it to twirl and model and I very nearly lost it to her before ever wearing it myself.
We’ve been trying to arrange it for a while, but yesterday we managed to surprise Lady M with an unannounced visit by myr s and Lady B, and then consensually kidnapped Lord S to drag him away from his opera practice. In short order we then had most of the DDC in our flat, and never have we been so grateful for having so many sofas.
With advance knowledge of when they were arriving I was able to have the kettle going and suitably obfuscation their arrival so that myr s was able surprise Lady M with a massive bunch of flowers – and nearly launch her out of her skin. Saying Lady M can be startled easily is something of an understatement.
We exchanged various gifts, chattered away, and the afternoon sped into evening with barely a pause. Lady M, myr s, and I were also able to put on our rings for each other too – much delayed by lockdown.
It was just so good to finally get us all back together – some of us for the first time – and those of us who haven’t really been out much during lockdown I think at times found it overwhelming. Here’s to it fast becoming a more normal thing again.
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.
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…
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
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.
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.
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.
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.