The meeting itself went surprisingly well. We just got switched into a new district, and this was the first Fraternal Visit by the District Deputy.
(Background 1: the Grand Lodge of MA is divided into 30-some "districts", each of which consists of 4-10 lodges. They are supposed to work together, visit each other, and so on. These districts have gotten rather gerrymandered over the years, and the new Powers That Be apparently decided to stop this nonsense and redistrict so that things make more sense. So my Lodge, Mt. Tabor, got dropped into the district that covers Wakefield, Woburn, and the towns around there: much more geographically compact and sensible.)
(Background 2: the District is run by a District Deputy Grand Master -- sort of a regional Seneschal in SCA terms, but with a more active remit and more ceremonial duties. Each year, the DD has two visits to each lodge, one "Official Visit" in which they actually inspect the books and such, and one "Fraternal Visit" to just hang out and talk about what's going on at the Grand Lodge level. Each of these is conducted with a "suite", essentially equivalent to an SCA retinue, composed of officers from the other lodges, visiting DDs from other districts, and other muckety-mucks.)
Anyway, the new district is quite encouraging. The DD's suite was fairly large -- about 25 guys -- and pleasantly *young*: I was probably around the median age of his suite. The guy I wound up sitting with at dinner turns out to be a 20-year SCAdian, who used to be pretty active down in the southwest corner of the Kingdom, moved up here about ten years ago and mostly fell into Masonry instead. But he still does Birka, and it was pleasant having someone who knew what the heck I'm talking about when I made SCA references.
As I mentioned earlier, I had to go tonight because it was a Second Degree. Nominally, the Second is all about the Senior Deacon (SD), which I'm not -- but our SD has been having a very bad case of Life lately, and it was a safe assumption that he wasn't going to show up. So as Ritualist (not to mention one of the more experienced SDs around), I figured, correctly, that they would need me.
As it happens, the large and distinguished suite of the DD was *exactly* what I needed: nothing like having a bunch of muckety-mucks staring at you to give any actor a good jolt of adrenaline. So I marshalled all my energy for the Middle Chamber Lecture (a six page monologue delivered by the Senior Deacon), and launched into it. Having needed to do the same thing two months ago, I was better-prepared this time, and pretty much nailed it. The DD and the rest of the suite complimented me effusively, including one senior DD telling me that it was the best rendition of that lecture he'd heard in 55 years. I will admit some pride in seeing that I've still got it.
So for the second night in a row, things went a lot better than I'd expected. Last night's dance practice had reasonably solid attendance and good energy despite the snow, so it was a similar case where my trepidation proved unfounded. And since an energetic dance practice and a good piece of ritual are both among the best things for my mood, and both quite energizing, I'm doing rather well, cold or no. I expect I'll crash hard once the Sudafed wears off, but it'll be a well-earned crash...