Delight Report: 5/12/13

The last couple of weeks have been pretty rough work-wise. Frustrating circumstances and staffing conditions led to me working lots of additional hours on projects that were fairly stressful. But things have finally leveled out, and I can relax and get back to a few of the more important things on my agenda, like planning a wedding (not mine — I’m officiating) and continuing to work on my master plan for self-employment. Part of that master plan includes a class on entrepreneurship I am taking through Coursera.org, which if you’re not familiar with it, I encourage you check it out. It allows you to take college level courses from a number of reputable institutions — all online, all free. I think it is a remarkable service, and I am looking forward to seeing how this class pans out. It covers both the psychology of entrepreneurship as well as practical skills like drafting a business plan. Online learning hasn’t always worked out well for me, since I thrive on face-to-face interaction — but I am determined to give this one my full attention. Feel free to ask me how it’s going and help keep me honest.

I did get to take a mini-break during the work madness and drive out to Minneapolis. One of my nearest and dearest friends moved out there about 5 months ago, so it was the perfect excuse to visit her, see a bunch of people I love, and get to see the spectacle that is the In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre Company‘s annual May Day Parade and Festival. “Spectacle” is truly the right word for it. Puppets on a grand scale, a ceremony that celebrates the return of the sun (Minnesota really needed that magic this year), and all sorts of wonderful moments and surprises. I was honored to help build the 7-circuit labyrinth that is a mainstay of the festival each year. I got to see so any wonderful folks I haven’t seen in a few years… it was just great to be there. Truly regenerating and truly magical.

I managed to survive the stressful work week and turn in the projects that were plaguing me – so I got to enjoy my weekend. Yesterday was spent with more gaming (referenced in the last Delight Report) and then an evening of relaxation, something that was a long time coming.

Today I got to go over to my friend Kevin’s place to rehearse a duet for his upcoming CD release party. If you’re near Chicago, the pertinent information can be found here. (A website with even more info and sample tracks is coming very soon.) Kevin is an incredible pianist, songwriter and lyricist. I have a hard time describing what his music is like… it really needs to be experienced. He lists his influences as David Byrne, Jill Sobule, Stephen Merritt, and Rufus Wainwright – but I think he truly has his own unique sound. And his lyrics are brilliant. Truly, truly brilliant. The man has a gift for wordplay and musicality that is quite impressive. I might be slightly biased… Kevin is a dear, dear friend – and a former roommate. But I can tell you, he would practice piano for hours when we lived together – and even though he played the same songs over and over, I never once got sick of hearing him … and believe me, that’s saying something. My attention span is not long. Getting to go over to his place today and hear him play made me both very happy and a little wistful. I miss having music in my life like that. But I digress. If you are in Chicago and free on June 15 — come see the show. I can guarantee a great audience, fabulous music and a wonderful time.

Kevin and I also have a long standing tradition of seeing comic book movies whenever they come out, so after rehearsing we topped off the day with lunch and a matinee of Iron Man 3. Lots of stuff blew up. In other words… it rocked.

I hope your week was full of all kinds of delights as well. Feel free to share them in the comments if you’re called.

Delight Report: 4/22/13

Last week was one of those weeks that seemed to keep piling on the hurt, trauma and struggle. I don’t think I need to mention the national and global tragedies that captured our attention over the last several days. But it seemed like there were just as many local hardships that happened to people I love. Personal loss, struggles with money, fears amplified and worries realized… it just felt like no one could catch a break.

I will not rehash the heartache. There were some really bright moments over the last couple weeks despite the difficulties, and I want to highlight them here. If anything, just to remind myself of that age-old saying, “This, too, shall pass.” Emotions and events are just as beholden to cycles as anything else.

So… here is the Delight Report for the week:

  • Hello, my name is River, and I am a geek. I recently started playing a role-playing game for the first time since, oh — my early 20s? It has been at least *cough, mumble* years. I joined a group of folks playing 7th Sea, which is basically a swashbuckling, pirate-themed RPG set in an alternate 17th century Europe. We had a session on Saturday, and while some of our in-game decisions took a wee bit longer to make than they probably should have, I still had a blast. My good friend, Jo, came down for the day and got to join in as well as an NPC (non-player character for those of you who need translation). She made a great old Usurran (fake Russian) woman who wielded wooden spoons with great vigor and recited recipes for borscht in an ominous tone while standing on a cliff while the rest of us attempted to take out a 100,000-strong Montaigne (fake French) army …. Yeah, in reading that over, I guess you had to be there. But suffice it to say I had so much fun, and laughed harder than I have in weeks. That would be the point.
  • The real reason that Jo came to visit was for Kev-i-o-key, aka our friend Kevin’s annual birthday karaoke bash. We go to a fabulously kitschy Korean place called Sing Sing Karaoke. Each group gets their own room with a big screen TV. The rooms each have a personality all their own… with names like “Orchid,” “Lily,” and “Rose,” not to mention the gaudy wallpaper and mirrored walls… you can take your best guess what happened there before the karaoke business moved in. I just find it part of the charm. You pick your song out of the book, punch your number into the remote, and the song comes up on the television screen. Our room came complete with a tambourine and disco lights that threatened to cause seizures. I loved every minute. My go-to songs appear to all be by Bon Jovi. Don’t judge.
  • On Sunday morning, Jo and I headed over to our good friends’ place for breakfast. Katje & Bill are always so incredibly welcoming, and in spite of a difficult week, this visit was no exception. Great breakfast, wonderful conversation — and then a group solving of the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. I love doing puzzles with people, but this group of folks is particularly special. It certainly set the tone for the rest of a lovely, sunny day.

These are the highlights that stand out for now, although as I am thinking back through the last few days, there were more great things that happened that I had previously forgotten about. Good. It’s working.

I am considering adding the Delight Report as a regular feature of this blog – particularly if you want to join in. I invite you to add to the Delight Report in the comments, if you’re so called. What brought you joy over the past few days? What inspired you? What did you learn? Where did you find a little sliver of light in the darkness? Share it. I think we could all use a boost.