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.

Sleepy Week

Hello, dear readers! It appears we have made it to another Thursday. Since we had Labor Day on Monday here in the US (which meant a long weekend for me), I’m a little bit extra discombobulated about time right now.

I’ve been extra tired this week. A lot of this, I think, has been the weather, which has been pretty consistently overcast. I also haven’t been sleeping great – staying up later than I should and having weird and unsettling dreams when I do go to bed – which is not helping anything. It hasn’t been a bad week, though. The long weekend was nice. I had two D&D games, a couple of other regularly scheduled virtual hangouts with friends, and my first songwriting class of the new session at the Old Town School (via Zoom, of course). And Monday we used the extra day to put together a LEGO set, which was a lot of fun.

I wrote a song for class this week that I’m pretty happy with (I might post it here next week – I want to let my classmates hear it first), I got to play another session of my friend’s tarot-based game last night, and work has been pretty chill, so all in all it’s not been a bad week. I’m just very sleepy.

On that note, I think I’ll sign off for the week so I can focus on drinking my coffee and trying to wake up a bit more. Stay safe – keep wearing your masks and social distancing and washing your hands. I know it sucks, but the pandemic isn’t over. Keep hanging in there!