Another milestone – or is it?

Today, my oldest kid turned 18, and just like that he’s an “adult”.

I can remember when Owen was still a little guy. We’d come home from work, pick him up from Grandma’s house and I would sit him in his chair, feed him dinner and sing songs, read stories, or tell him poems. I can still nearly remember “Mooses come walking” by Arlo Guthrie, and at least the intro to goodnight moon. It was so dang long ago. These days, conversation over dinner (when we can manage all having dinner together), revolve around grown-up things. Or at the very least, more ‘mature’ endeavours. Lately, we’ve spent rather a LOT of time talking about college, scholarships, student loans, cost of living, jobs, career, and so many related topics. It’s not at all the same, and yet, nothing has really changed, not in ways that matter, at least yet.

It’s funny how we think about age and coming of age. Yesterday, Owen was 17 – technically still a kid. and today, by some arcane legal magic, he’s technically an adult. As of this morning, he can vote, be drafted, work whatever hellish hours an employer can dream up, more or less make actual legal decisions on his own behalf, and 100% from now on be accountable as an adult for everything he does. All that and yet, tomorrow he’ll go to high school just the same as he did yesterday, as if nothing at all has changed. A huge mile-stone is on us, and it feels simultaneously like a big deal and yet just another day in the usual grind.

Over the past few days as we’ve been trying to figure out college and how to pay for it, it’s occurred to me that while he’s earned the label ‘adult’, he’s not really an adult, is he? He can’t rent a car (technically can’t drive yet, but that’s another issue altogether). He can’t support himself, even if he went out and found a full-time job tomorrow he’d still be dependent for some time. The kid can’t go for a beer, buy a cigar, or try recreational marijuana (not that I’m advocating for any of that, mind). I suspect if he tried to book a hotel or a flight, he could not. There’s no possibility for renting his own place, buying a car, or getting a credit card. Even opening a bank account is going to take an adultier adult.

I’ve been dreading this milestone for a while now. I thought I’d be freaking out, maybe crying a lot or seeing to it that at least one freshly opened bottle of whisky doesn’t see the light of day. I don’t know, it’s supposed to be a big deal. Instead, I’ve found it to be a pretty normal day, all things considered. I went to work, called a plumber in a panic while shovelling poo out of my front yard, fretted about taxes a bit, ordered dinner, and went to Target. About the most substantive thing that happened today (outside of the poo thing) was that we lit some sparklers in the kitchen and sang happy birthday over some birthday ice cream.

As bedtime closes in on what is supposed to be one of the biggest milestones of my kids life, and a huge one in mine, I’m realising that turning 18 isn’t really a milestone, it’s the first in a series of steps in a years long transition. We still have a lot of time before our kid truly launches into independence. There is much work to be done yet and perhaps more beyond. I don’t really know, I guess we’ll just have to see.


It’s 2023, and I’m exhausted already.

In considering this year’s New Year’s post, I’ve observed folks on Facebook and Twitter giving the usual “Hoping for a better 2023!”, but also, and notably: “All right 2023, what sort of bullshit do you have for me? Let’s get this over with.” Perhaps it’s always been that way, and I just haven’t noticed. I know lots of my friends and acquaintances have had a tough year, some life-changing, some downright tragic. Others did okay, with lots of travel to wonderful places, or perhaps paid off some debt, or maybe took on a new job.

I’d characterize my year as good, overall, but very, very tough. After a quick agreeable discussion with the wife, we decided that this year, we should have an ‘epic’ Christmas. Everyone got something surprising that we normally couldn’t really afford: computer, iPad, all the Lego & video games, and even kittens. I wanted to do this in part because we’ve all had a really hard few years, and still managed to keep on going. In part, I wanted it to be a day where I didn’t have to say “I got what they had” or “I didn’t have time to…”.

Myself, I got a new VR headset for flight-simming, which is among my favorite things to do in the simulator, when I have time. It’s not a thing I’ll get to spend much time on. After all, I need 1-3 hours uninterrupted to really get anything out of it. That’s not something I feel like I can get these days. I tried a few flights over the holidays but had to give up on more than one attempt because there was just too much going on in the real world. I think last night on new-years eve was the longest uninterrupted relaxation time I’ve had in as long as I can remember.

In 2020, the pandemic hit, and I rolled with it. We redesigned whole workflows, from surveys all the way through the writing. It was 40 years of program development pivoted within a year. This December, the report representing the most complex and comprehensive attempts was finally published. It was a huge accomplishment, but the amount of work the team put into it involved many nights and weekends of intellectually challenging work. We continued at that same pace moving through 2021 and into 2022 as we worked in totally unprecedented conditions and then tried to ‘return to normal.’ The pace 2020 set hasn’t let up. In returning to normal, we’re trying to do it with a ton of new staff, new procedures, new software, and new problems. All that AND we’re trying to catch up with work that was postponed. To say the last few years have been exhausting would be a real understatement.

With that in mind, I think, what I’d really have liked for my ‘Epic Christmas’ this year to close it out is some real time off. A break that doesn’t involve getting up by 8 to deal with email or answering questions. A break that doesn’t require 4 meetings over two days with substantial follow-ups. A break where nobody needs me for a couple of weeks without a massive detrimental impact on my entire section. A break that doesn’t cause a backlog in my own workload that I simply can’t fix. If I’d found that in my stocking, it would’ve made the past few years seem a bit less. As it is, you can’t just go and buy that on Amazon, no matter how big the PFDs were this year. Now I’ve got a very nice headset that I may not see again for six months, but it is a thing just for me where I get to be alone with my thoughts and picture myself flying over some far-away place.

So having said that, what’s my point? Well, my hope for 2023 is this: People start to realize that it’s NEVER that people don’t want to work, it’s that there is too much being demanded of us, and we’ve all hit a brick wall after running with low staff, high expectations, and something new literally every day for almost 3 years. Some to the point where it’s not even worth going in anymore. We’ve given all we can, and there’s nothing left. It’s time to stop complaining and be kind, maybe take a deep breath and tell that barista thank you even if they did screw-up your order.

Not NaNo – Chateaux of the Night

This one needs rather a lot of work, but it’s an idea I”m kicking around. Please bear with me on Gus. I’ll be working on his dialect to make it proper cockney, but more research is required :).

Mortimer pinched the bridge of his thin, pale nose with two bony fingers and closed his eyes. He took a deep breath, not that he needed to, after all, Vampires didn’t need to breath. When he opened his eyes, the situation failed to improve. The small goblin butler that Mortimer regretted hiring, some decades ago now, stood a still as a statue, massive reflective eyes fixed up at him. In one hand, dangling to the goblin’s side was a smallish rubbish brush and in the other, held up like some kind of morbid trophy was a dust-pan heaped with ash.

With as much confidence and dignity as he could muster, Mortimer asked, “And that’s all that’s left?”

Gus turned his enormous eyes at the heap of ash on the dustpan then back up to Mortimer. “I got as much of ‘im as I could, Mort.”

“I’ve told you to stop calling me that!”

“Don’t see why, Mortimer is one of them pansy-posh names, innit? As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted, the wind kicked up an’ just started blowin’ ‘im about. It was a right pain in the ol’ bottle and glass, I can tell you.”

Mortimer gritted his pointed teeth. “I needed this to work.”

“An’ I needed a good Rogan Nosh, but ‘ere we are. Where do you want the brown bread ‘ere?” Gus asked, holding the dustpan a little higher.

“Just chuck him in the bin and fetch me another Alchemist.”

“I reckon you’ve killed ‘em all then, innit?”

Mortimer frowned at the goblin. “What do you mean killed them all?”

Gus shrugged, spilling a bit of the last alchemist on the floor. “I didn’t make ‘em into vampires an’ march ‘em into the daylight.”

“No, not that,” Mortimer said shaking his head. “I mean the thing about there not being more. What do you mean there aren’t any more?”

“Ah, yeah, that bit,” Gus paused. “No, this was the last one. I reckon your rubbish bin is got the most bits of alchemists in the world in.”

“That can’t possibly be.”

“We’ve been at it for about an ‘undred years. I expect it is. This one took me a month to track down”

Mortimer tipped his head back. “I’m so tired of all of this skulking about in the dark.”

“That’s the lot of a vampire, innit?” Gus asked. “Why not just enjoy it?”

“I can’t enjoy it!” Mortimer exclaimed, wishing there was some sort of table or shelf or something to pound his fist on. “You know what I want?”

“I do. You’ve only told be about an ‘undred times.”

“I wanted to be a –”

“Painter of landscapes,” Gus intoned.

Mortimer balled his fist in front of him. “Painter of landscapes,” he said. “And you know what landscape painters can’t do?”

“Paint landscapes in the dark.” Gus replied quietly, audibly settling into the impending monologue.

“All I ever wanted in life–.”

“Just a reminder, you’re undead now.”

“Was,” Mortimer continued, “to paint landscapes, and you can’t very well do that when you burst into flames at the very sight of the sun!”

 “I’ve been telling you for ages, you just need to lean into the dark lord of the knight thing. It’s what you are and I reckon you could get pretty good at it.”

“Alright, fine,” Mortimer said, “maybe I’d like to go out and watch a soccer game.”

Gus showed a mouthful of horrible, crooked teeth and growled.

Mortimer rolled his eyes. “Football match, you happy?”

“It’s better, I can’t abide that horrible American word. You know every country in the world, the goblins, the trolls, all the other vampires, and even the whole lot of were-people call it football?”

“And yet you can abide fetching me totally unworkable alchemists.”

“You know they wouldn’t burst into flames if you didn’t keep turning them into vampires, right?”

“They would be turning right back into regular alive people if they got their elixirs right, wouldn’t they? It’s not my fault they’re rubbish alchemists!”

“Still no excuse for calling it soccer.”

“Just dispose of old max there and work on getting me another alchemist.”

Gus turned around. “Right-o, I’ll just pop an ad in the newspaper.”

Image by Anja from Pixabay