Planning

Hello, dear readers! We’ve made it to another Thursday.

It’s been a decent week here, for the most part. The weekend was lovely. On Saturday, my husband and I attended a Zoom workshop that two of our beloved Song School teachers put on about tips and tricks for managing a neurodivergent brain. There was a lot of useful information and we’ve been working on starting to implement some of the tips this week. One of the big things we’re working on is having a quick check-in every morning to run through the major schedule items and tasks for the day, so that we are on the same page and can better support each other in getting things done. We also got some great reminders and tips about the difference between projects and tasks, and help in breaking down projects into tasks. Did I use what I learned in the workshop as an excuse to buy a new planner? …maybe. But all in all I’m excited to work a little more gentle structure into my day and have a broader toolset for the two of us to support each other.

I’m really enjoying the in-person D&D game I joined a few weeks ago. It’s been a bit of a tumultuous start – I was really excited about the character I created, but halfway through the second session, she died. It wasn’t malicious on the part of the DM – I got unlucky with my dice rolls. Thankfully, I had a backup character rolled up and ready to go. I was sad about the loss of the original character, but I actually think this new character will be a better fit for the group.

I only have two class sessions left of my four week intensive! I can’t believe it’s almost over already. It’s been a really good class, and while I’m overwhelmed by getting the last of the work done while having the first bigger paper of my longer class due right as this class ends, I’m confident I’ll be able to do it.

I’ll leave you with a photo of Nova from yesterday – there was a pigeon on a windowsill across the alley and she was absolutely TRANSFIXED:

Settling

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. It is almost Friday, and thank goodness for that.

After the chaos of the past couple of weeks, this week has been all about settling back into some sort of routine and getting back into the swing of schoolwork. There is still chaos, but it’s feeling less like a crisis and more like something we can tackle over time.

I honestly don’t have a lot to report this week. I’m tired, and definitely have had a few days over the past week where I’ve felt extremely burnt out and cranky. But also, I’m managing. I’m recognizing when I’m feeling those things and why, and regulating myself as best I can.

I’m working on finding an in-person D&D group. The first one I connected with fell through, but I have a strong lead on a second, so fingers crossed that works out.

I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite photos of Nova from the past week:

Allergies for Everyone

Good morning, dear readers – we made it to another Thursday.

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, some of us have sneezed and sniffled our way here. Ragweed season is really bad in the Twin Cities right now, and I am struggling…and so is Nova. We’ve been giving her Benadryl all week to help with it, and it is helping, but it’s pretty heartbreaking when she gets really itchy and is clearly uncomfortable. I’ve just had a perpetual sinus headache and continue to want to sleep all the time. I’ve made it to my desk on time for work every day this week, though, so that has to count for something.

I’m not in the best mood today, mostly because of how sniffly and gross my head feels. To counter that, here are three things I’m grateful for this week:

  • My friends. I’ve had several reminders lately that I really do know the best people who really care about and take care of each other, and I’ve really been overwhelmed with gratitude that I have such incredible people in my life.
  • D&D (and other games). I got to play D&D on Tuesday night, and even though it kept me up well past my bedtime, it was so worth it. I’m also working on starting a game of Wanderhome with some other friends, and I’m so excited to try this system out. The importance of play and of story in my life is huge, and I’m reminded every time I get to dive into a fantasy world with some friends how much of a difference it’s made to have those things.
  • Fall weather. The heat seems to have finally abated, and now it’s been in the 60s the past few days. It’s supposed to get back up in to the 70s today, but I think the 80s are behind us, and that is just fine with me. I’m looking forward to wearing sweaters soon!

I will leave you with this ridiculous picture of Nova, who was definitely not at all interested in what my husband was eating when they took this photo:

Hello, I see you have pizza. I also would like to have pizza.

Anticipation

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. I had a bit of a restless night and ended up getting up a bit after 5am this morning. I took a shower, got dressed, and now I’m sprawled on the couch writing this a bit after 6. I’m hoping this doesn’t mean I’m going to crash super early tonight, but I guess we’ll find out.

It’s an exciting week! Tonight after work, I’m getting a real haircut and beard trim for the first time in 18 months. I’ve been doing it myself throughout the pandemic, and while it feels a little weird and extremely indulgent to pay someone else to do it now, I recognize that they will do a better job than I will, and also that it means less cleanup for me at home, which is great.

The other big exciting thing this week is that we’re officially meeting a dog to potentially adopt on Saturday! The last couple of days have involved many emails back and forth with a local rescue about various dogs who we hoped might be a good fit – the first one we emailed about didn’t sound like she was quite right for us, the next two we asked about were already spoken for…but we’re very excited to meet this particular doggo. I’m not going to post any pictures or other details until we know if she’s ours (but if you text or otherwise message me directly, I will share), but suffice it to say she’s very pretty and seems like a great pup. (Evidently her foster was planning to foster-to-adopt, but she’s not getting along with the resident cat.)

The D&D group I am DMing for is getting back into it on Sunday after a couple month hiatus while folks were moving and starting new jobs. I’m nervous but excited about that. I think I have a fun story planned and while I know there are a handful of details I’m still need to plot out, it will hopefully be a good time for everyone. I also might have found a local D&D group to join!

I hope you’re all hanging in there. It’s been a wild week for a lot of folks. If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, please do that. If you can, get your booster shot. Wear masks indoors and in crowds. Take care of your communities and yourselves – it’s the only way we’re going to get through this.

Happy Thursday

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! It even mostly feels like a Thursday to me this week, which has not been the case very often lately.

I am having a shockingly good week, despite feeling a bit under the weather and very tired (mornings have been a consistent struggle). Our quarter at work is wrapping up, and I’m living in the space of knowing that I only need to make it through two more days of work before I take a whole week off, so that’s lovely. I got some really phenomenal financial news yesterday that’s going to have me flying high for a while. All-in-all, life is good.

I spent some time earlier this week working on worldbuilding for the D&D campaign I am DMing for some friends (we’ve been on a hiatus for a bit as a bunch of us were moving and starting new jobs and stuff, but will hopefully be back to playing soon). I wrote more of the story for our next session, and created a map of the world we’re playing in using dice. I’m really pleased with how things are coming together and I’m excited to get back into the game. I’ve been watching a lot of “actual play” RPG content in the last couple of weeks, too – some stuff from Critical Role and Dimension 20 (basically this means I’m watching a bunch of people play D&D or other RPGs, which might sound horribly dull but I get really into the stories and I love learning how other people handle the stuff that comes up in RPGs). And I’m trying (so far without success) to find some local folks to game with…although with COVID numbers trending in the direction they are, I probably won’t feel comfortable playing in person for a while yet.

I think that’s it from me this week. Please, please, if you haven’t been vaccinated yet and are able to do so, do it. Wear a mask indoors/in crowds. It’s not fun but that’s where we’re at. I hope you’re all hanging in there.

Scattered Thursday Thoughts

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to a Thursday that for some reason feels like either a Wednesday or a Friday but is, in fact, still Thursday.

This has kind of been the tone of my week – just a bit off-kilter. I finally finished the project I’d been putting off for work, and now that the stress of that is past, my immune system seems to think it’s time to take a vacation, and I’ve been feeling sniffly and achy and generally under the weather the past couple of days. Nothing too awful, mostly just annoying.

My husband made it back from Chicago on Monday after doing the final cleaning of our old place and dropping off the keys with the landlord there. It was weird being in this new place alone for five days.

I don’t have a ton to write about this week. One of the things that’s been occupying my free time is trying to figure out how to find a local D&D group – I am continuing to play with the friends I’ve been gaming with throughout the pandemic, and I’m so, so grateful for those games, but in the interest of meeting some new people, making new friends, and getting to bring some of the characters running around in my brain to life, I’m hoping I can find something local to add to the mix. So far I haven’t had much luck, but it’s been less than a week, so I’m trying to be patient. I knit myself a new dice bag last week that I’m really happy with, because my collection has finally outgrown the bag I knit myself a decade ago:

It doesn’t look that big in the picture, but compared to my old dice bag it’s enormous – it holds all of my dice with lots of room to spare. I also got myself a dice tower and tray from Elderwood Academy (highly recommend, fellow nerds – they’re gorgeous) to make rolling physical dice more fun/less likely to end with me crawling on the floor trying to figure out where they ended up.

Anyway, I think that’s it from me this week. I hope you’re all hanging in there.

Brief Thursday Thoughts

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday. It’s going to be a pretty quick blog this week – I have a lot to pack in at work today since they’ve given us tomorrow off in recognition of Juneteenth.

This week I’m delivering performance assessments to my direct reports at work for the first time. It’s nerve-wracking, because I want to be supportive and encouraging and also help them grow and deliver it all in a way that’s motivating rather than paralyzing. The upside is that I was not at all nervous for my own performance assessment this time around – usually I get really in my head about it, but I’ve been so focused on getting assessments written that I didn’t have the brainspace to worry much about it.

Last weekend I dove full-force back into being a social human, and ended up needing to take Monday off to recover (and also because I woke up with a massive sinus headache). Friday night I went out for dinner and drinks with some coworkers, a couple of which I’d never met in person (and then rest of which I’d only seen in person once or twice, basically). It was fun getting to know them a little better IRL, and to see how tall they actually are. Saturday, we got dinner with some dear friends, and then I ended up going over to their house afterward and we wound up playing D&D until 1am (which is SEVERAL hours past my usual bedtime, but it was worth it). I cannot put into words how delightful it was to get to play in person with some of my favorite fellow nerds. And Sunday we got up early to grab coffee with another friend at the park near our apartment, and then I had a virtual D&D game that night (which only went until 10, thankfully). I am definitely swinging wildly between, “I want to see all my friends and do all the things!” and, “I am way too anxious for being social right now.”

We’re down to two weeks away from moving, and I’m trying not to panic. We’ve made good packing progress already. The big thing that’s hanging over my head right now is figuring out how to get rid of the furniture that’s not coming with us to Minnesota. I’m sure it’ll all work out, though.

I think that’s it from me for this week. I hope you’re all hanging in there and taking care of yourselves, whatever that looks like, as many of us start taking our first shaky steps back into social life.

Spicy Dragon

Hello, dear readers, and welcome to Thursday! I nearly forgot it was Thursday today – I’ve been attending a virtual conference the past few days for work and it’s got my routine a bit out of whack.

I don’t have too much to report this week, except that on Friday, I got color added to my dragon tattoo, and I am SO EXCITED about it!

A bright red dragon clutches a purple and pink d20 and grins mischievously.

It turned out SO GOOD. It’s currently at a very gross stage of healing (the photo above is from when it was fresh), but I’m excited to get past that so I can show it off all the time.

While she was working on it, the artist was joking about this being a “spicy dragon” (by the end of the 3 hour session I was pretty sore), and that nickname has stuck, particularly since it was pretty tender for several days. They’ll get a better name eventually, but this spicy little dragon is bringing me a lot of joy this week.

I will have more news to report in the next few weeks (there are some big life changes afoot), but in the meantime, take care of yourselves and each other, keep wearing masks and washing your hands, GO GET VACCINATED if you haven’t yet.

May the Manticores Not Notice You

Greetings, dear readers! We’ve made it to another Thursday. I don’t know about you, but I feel like this week has somehow lasted two weeks already. Not for any reason I can pinpoint, but it’s been a long one.

February marches on, and FAWM with it. I am having a blast and just posted my 12th song this morning. I don’t have a whole lot else to write about this week, but I wanted to share one of the songs I’ve written that I’m really pleased with.

The backstory here: My D&D group records all of our games (we play via Zoom, because pandemic) so that our fabulous DM can write better recaps, and this week we realized we could upload the videos to YouTube and YouTube will spit out transcriptions, and the transcriptions sort of read like poetry. The lyrics for this song were a riff on something that was said in one of our last games – our DM posted the quote for us, and one of the other players said it sounded like it could be a blessing, and, well, I’m the bard in the group, so I had to do this.

This was my first time really experimenting in GarageBand, and my first time using my new audio interface (a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2) and a proper mic. The rest of my FAWM recordings have been voice memos on my phone, so this was a big step up in quality. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I had a ton of fun putting this together! I could have kept going and adding layers, but the spirit of FAWM for me is about generating material, not working on production, so I stopped here:

Adventurer’s Blessing, (c) Alyxander James 2021

The lyrics:

May the guards not notice you
May the manticores not notice you
May you be like a cool night breeze
May your passage leave no trace

A Little Gratitude

Hello, dear readers – we’ve made it to Thursday. I haven’t had a bad week, per se, but it’s definitely been an anxious one, between the increasing number of COVID19 cases in the Midwest, and the upcoming election, and… *gestures at the general 2020 dumpster fire*. I don’t expect that to ease up any time soon, so in an attempt to counterbalance that, let’s do a little gratitude list this week.

  • I had to do my final presentation of my big quarterly stretch project at work to our leadership team on Monday, and it went well! I was feeling very behind in the past couple of weeks and wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull it off, so the fact that everything came together in the end was a nice little boost at the start of the week.
  • Also, Monday was my Grandma’s 93rd birthday. We have a complicated relationship, but I ended up getting to chat with her on the phone for a few minutes in the evening, and that was nice.
  • Last night I started a new (online) songwriting class with Sue Demel, who is one of my favorite people. This is my third time taking this particular class, and it always draws out really interesting material. I’m very excited to see where the next eight weeks take us.
  • I have spent an inordinate amount of time this week creating a character for a spooky D&D one-shot that I’m playing with some friends tonight, and I am SO EXCITED. D&D has been one of the major bright spots in my life lately – I love collaborative storytelling so much, and I have the most wonderful people to do it with.
  • I dropped off my mail-in ballot at the nearest early voting site on Sunday, and got the notice this week that it was accepted and my vote will be counted. Terrified as I am about this election, I appreciate how easy it is to vote in Chicago, and I appreciate the abundance of resources online that helped me to sift through the ~65 judges we were voting to retain (or, in several cases, not retain).

Hang in there, everyone. Keep wearing your masks and physically distancing (I know it’s hard and we’re all tired of it, but the pandemic doesn’t care and it’s not over). Keep checking in on each other. And if you’re in the US and you haven’t voted yet – please, please, please vote. If you need help making a plan, send me a message.