ONE YEAR

It’s been one year.

A year ago today I was standing in the middle of an oval in Dampier with members of the writing group to which I belonged at the time, preparing to read The Alphabet Book of Murderers to a crowd we were hoping would arrive any moment. And then I got the call.

Luscious. Three words.

Blake. He’s gone.

And I was already running for the car.

One year since he took his own life. One year since he left us with nothing but grief and questions, and no belief that either of them will ever be put to rest. One year since our world fell down around us. Since then we’ve lost all momentum, all desire to pursue our own lives, our own ambitions. I don’t write. I don’t build. I don’t exercise. Luscious is all that and more. We’re waiting for something that will never arrive, and we don’t have the energy to get up and find it.

I don’t have any more words. Just that. It’s not fair. It’s never going to be fair. It’s never going to be right. And it’s never not going to hurt.

None of this is fair.

YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019, THE YEAR THAT LITERALLY SEEMS TO BE DYING IN A FIRE.

Time for me to review the year that was. Let’s be honest: this isn’t going to be a cheery gagapalooza of cheeriness. 2019 was a terrible year, where everything was overshadowed by one moment so deeply traumatic that we will be struggling with its aftermath and connotations for years to come.

But bad should be recorded with good. That is why we journal. To lay down our own truths, and share our lives, no matter where they take us. I mean, that and nob gags, obviously.

So, read on if you wish, forewarned and foreskinned  forearmed:  this year contains more on the truths side and less on the usual level of nob gags. And let the wind grip the ashes of 2019 and blow them into the ocean.

Continue reading “YEAR IN REVIEW: 2019, THE YEAR THAT LITERALLY SEEMS TO BE DYING IN A FIRE.”

BREAKING A SPINE WAS EASIER

Today marks twelve weeks since our son Blake took his life.

There are few, if any, physical signs of our ongoing pain. My weight has ballooned again. Luscious wears a tiny urn, filled with perhaps 1/16th of a teaspoon of Blake’s ashes, on a chain. Connor’s attitude, work, and marks at school have plummeted. Erin has become focussed on her approaching move away from home to an obsessive extent. As a family, as individuals, we are… fractious. If you glance, you might think we’re coping quite well, actually.

But nobody else in our town, outside of our family unit of four, is counting our time for us. Nobody else compares what is to what was. For them, time blurs and smudges. The cause is easily forgotten, or overlooked. Only the symptoms remain. From past experience, I know the phase of “Oh, how terrible” is passing. The phase of “Still?”will soon begin.

I suffered a serious car accident in 2001, as a result of which, I fractured several vertebrae in my spine, along with several injuries that still affect me to this day. If they flare up, they alter the way I walk; my capacity to lift, carry, stand and sit; my mood; and even my ability to hold a decent conversation. If anyone asks, I can simply tell them– car accident, cracked spine, flaring up, bad day.

Oh, dear. Poor thing. So sorry.

We don’t get that with grief. There’s an expectation that, at some time — always unspecified, but always soon or by now — you will get over it, move past it, move on. As if a broken place in the Universe is a simpler fix than a broken bone. I took four months away from work when my first wife died, and even then, it wasn’t enough to cope with the stress of returning. It was several years before I was even fully functional, never mind coping and ready to turn my thoughts to being a completely rational member of my community. There are still members of the Australian SF world who will leave a room when I enter, because I was in no fit state to interact properly when they last saw me, and that gulf between the way I was and the way I ‘should’ have been resulted in too much bad karma and too great a hit to their perception of me. I have destroyed entire blocs of relationships through nothing more than the effortless feat of helplessly drowning in public.

Blake killed himself in the last week of the school term. We had one week away from work, and then the two weeks of the holidays. We were back on the job shortly after term four started. That was as much time as the Education Department could give us, and even then, we were ‘lucky’ to have the holidays in there as well.

It’s not enough. Nothing could, realistically, be enough. We won’t be whole again for an uncountable period of time, and even when we are, we won’t be the people you knew. The shape of us will have changed, forever. It will affect the way we walk; our capacity to lift, carry, stand and sit; our mood; our ability to hold a decent conversation.

And, still, we will be subject to “Still?”, as if a broken place in the Universe should be healed by time and some sort of psychic cast. Like a broken bone.

A broken back was easier.

It’s only been twelve weeks.

 

FOR OUR BLAKE

It was eight weeks ago today that Blake left us. Today, Luscious and I had these done.

 

Tattoo Both

“Me hath the main of much bereaved.” (Sonatorrek, Stanza 10*)

 

My chest, Luscious’ arm. The vikingr compass he wore above his heart.

For our boy.

 

 

(*This comes from the translation I read at Blake’s funeral. If it’s incorrect, or you have greater knowledge, please don’t tell us right now. It’s not our time to hear it.)

HELP HOLLY

Everything has been tough since Blake died, but for his partner Holly it’s been complicated by Real World ™ difficulties that have made life doubly hellish. Not only did she lose her job for the crime of mourning her partner, but thanks to a ridiculously short vacate notice and housemates who have chosen to cut and run rather than step up and take responsibility, Holly is left holding a financial can she can’t manage, never mind cope with.

The Triffitt and Battersby families have done what they’ve always done, come together to help one of their own. We’ve started a Go Fund Me Page to help Holly get back on her feet.

We can’t bring Blake back, we can’t get Holly into a new home, we can’t give her a job. But we can reach out to you, our friends, and ask that you help Holly in this time of desperate need. 

If you’ve got a couple of bucks to help a young woman who shouldn’t have to cope with the emotional load she is carrying dig herself out of a financial hole she shouldn’t have to bear, you would be helping in a way that will have very real consequences.

Click here is you can spare a buck or two to help Holly out.

A BARDING OF BLAKE

One of the things that defined Blake was his love of Dungeons and Dragons. When he moved out of home, I gave him my original set of dice, as I wasn’t playing at the time. He had them with him when he died.

One of the conversations we had, as a family, after his funeral, was around finding a way to commemorate him within the game he loved so well. We had his plaque, but somehow it felt important that others be allowed to have this aspect of his passing, too. I don’t know why his plaque, out of everything, but there it was: we wanted anyone who wanted to, to have a plaque of their own. So I hit upon the idea of creating a plaque as a magical item, and releasing it into the wild. That way, people could have a way of including Blake in their own games.

The idea has grown into two linked items, and here they are. McTrippy’s Plaque and the Night Lenses incorporate several of Blake’s unique facets: his weird plastic sunglasses collection; his love of the Lythari class; his unique, strong charisma; his compulsive need to travel; his ridiculous enjoyment of setting comedy traps within games. They are, I hope, perfectly Blakey.

I’ve uploaded them to The Dungeon Master’s Guild, so hopefully they’ll be on that website and DriveThru RPG soon for all and sundry. But if you’re a reader of this blog, and a player of Dungeons and Dragons, they’re here for you now, should you wish to use them.

It’s something, I suppose.

 

Download McTrippy’s Plaque (pdf)

 

Credit: These cards were created using a Creative Commons template from the Binary Adventures Blog.

28 DAYS LATER, or ON COPING, or NOT.

Jeff Lacy walked to the ring as the hottest prospect in boxing. he’d been compared to a rampant Mike Tyson, to Apollo Creed, to everything young and brash and good-looking about American sports. He’d been anointed the next big thing, and was almost un-backable in the betting room. Joe Calzaghe was older, slower, past it. Eight years as champion had taken their toll. His hands, never tools of one-punch knockout power, were brittle shells, particularly his left, which he’d broken in his last bout and was convinced hadn’t healed properly. You couldn’t find anyone in the American press, and few in the British, who gave him a ghost’s chance against a fighter predicted to dominate the super-middleweight landscape for the next decade or more.

12 rounds later, Calzaghe was elevated to the legendary status he would never relinquish. Lacy was a hollow shell. Hypnotised by the nearly 1000 punches Calzaghe had thrown, concussed by the 350+ that had landed, the victim of one of the rarest feats in boxing– a perfect shut out round, in which he landed exactly zero blows to his opponent– Lacy was forever beaten. Gone. Destroyed. More than his body was broken that night in 2006. His spirit was ruined. He was never the same boxer again, never the same man. The abyss had not only stared back, it had bitten his soul in two. It was one of the greatest beatings in boxing history, and the man who lost it was forever lessened.

What does this have to do with Blake? Continue reading “28 DAYS LATER, or ON COPING, or NOT.”

PAREIDOLIA: BLAKE

Cattle die and kinsmen die,
thyself too soon must die,
but one thing never, I ween, will die, —
fair fame of one who has earned.
Havamal 76, from ‘The Poetic Edda’

 

Blake tribute dim16.9 (1)_Moment

 

The kids and I flew back from his funeral yesterday. Luscious is in Perth until Thursday, when she will return to us. Perhaps it’s time to talk about it.

On September 21st, my bonus son Blake lost the battle, and took his own life. He was a week past having turned 25 years of age.

Continue reading “PAREIDOLIA: BLAKE”

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL, PART TEN

Over at Facebook, I was tagged in a meme that required me to list three things that made me grateful, every day for three days.

So I thought I’d list them here, too.


  1. I’m grateful for my art. It has provided me with friendships, income, travel opportunities, and was the vehicle by which I escaped the soul-destroying depths off despair I was slowly being crushed by while working in the Public Service. I’ll never be famous, I’ll never be remembered, and I’ll never be considered at even the middle of the tree, but my art has been the thing that has kept me from disappearing into the obscure midst of my mediocre family tree, and I’m grateful.
  2. I’m grateful for a reasonable income. Yes, we struggle, and we juggle finances on a fortnightly basis, but I’m aware that we do so from a level of decent comfort. My children go to a good school, my wife is able to study, essentially, full time, and we have room to both expand our horizons and entertain our hobbies & indulgences. We never suffer, and having both come from backgrounds of grinding poverty, Lyn and I have only ever wanted our children to appreciate a good upbringing.
  3. I’m grateful for the respect of my peers. I get little of it at work, and I rarely feel like an author doing good work, so when a fellow artist expresses their respect or admiration for the work I do then it usually comes as an enormous, and humbling, surprise, because, to be quite honest, I generally don’t know what I do to merit it. I’ve undervalued my work for so long– it’s only in the last fortnight, for example, that I’ve decided to set a minimum fee for appearances, despite doing them regularly for the last 12 years– that I’m always a little stunned when others do value it. And grateful, because sometimes, I doubt I’d go on without it.
  4. I’m grateful for my readers. Despite all the mechanical hoo-ha-ra that goes into writing, ultimately it comes down to entertaining a stranger with the power of your imagination and your words. Anybody who comes back for a second helping, or who picks up my work because they like the cut of my snippets, is someone who has chosen to invest their time and imagination into my maunderings. It’s a weird kind of long-distance love affair of the mind, and I’m thankful to all who take it on.
  5. I’m grateful for my children. As you’ve probably noticed if you’ve read this Facebook page for long enough– by which I mean half a day or more– my kids constantly entertain me, fill me with wonder, and enrich my life by keeping me innocent, impish and focused on doing good for others who need me in their life. Whether it be my naturally-arrived Miss 12 and Master 9, or my inherited bonus kids Cassie, Aiden and Blake, granddaughter Little Miss 2, grandson Little Man
  6. I’m grateful for the quickness of my mind. I’ve mentioned before that my father’s mind is failing, and it’s killing me to watch a charming, erudite, quick-witted man struggle for words and concepts he used to fling about like gossamer. I love being funny, I love being deliberately unfunny to spark a funny exchange, I love to tease, to argue, to explain, to build worlds and concepts out of nothing more than my vocabulary and my ability to knit words into never before-seen shapes and tastes. All my other gifts belong to the people who bestow them upon me. This is the only thing I have going for me that is purely mine. If it ever begins to desert me, I don’t know what I’ll do.
  7. The care and love shown to Master 9 during his illness by people who have no other investment in it than they are his teachers, or our friends. From just-because gifts, to messages of support, to structuring his classroom, people have gathered round him for the 14 months of his illness and provided him with an atmosphere of caring and support that has done wonders for his morale and self-esteem. To Kris, Kim,Grant, Lilysea, Mark and countless others, my gratitude.
  8. Free education. I went to a shitty High school in the 80s, when my pre-Child Support Agency divorced mother raised two teenage boys and covered a mortgage on a single mother’s pension and a $30 a month in child support payments, and thanks to a nominally free education system I still managed to claw my way through 4 years of University. Now, it’s going to cost tens of thousands of dollars to send my children to a good high school. Much as I would love to do my Master’s degree, I simply can’t afford it. My wife’s attendance at University each semester is a matter of financial negotiation. My eldest sons struggle to hold down shitty part-time jobs and find enough time to attend to their study obligations. If I were starting my educational career today, I’d be working at K-Mart full-time, because that’s the best that people like me could have hoped to afford. I’m grateful that free education enabled me– and subsequently, my children– to escape a lower-class existence through education.
  9. A stable political system. Yes, Tony Abbott and his Ant-Hill Mob of witless cronies are a blight on our culture, and yes, we can argue back and forth about the relative merits of our chosen allegiances until we’re blue in the nads. But nobody shot at me today, and I own my house, and my children are safe and my wife can wear whatever she wants and get herself a tertiary education, and any meal I’ve missed since I was at Uni has been by choice, and I have freedom of travel, speech, religion and thought. And I’m an artist, and a well-paid member of the permanent workforce. I’ve never been conscripted, I’ve never fought in a war, or against my own people. I’ve never been gaoled for my beliefs, tortured, or disappeared. My neighbours don’t spy on me. I’m safe, and warm, and comfortable and educated. And I’m grateful.


And, things being what they are, here’s a little bonus extra grateful content:

10. Above all else, I am grateful for the presence of Luscious Lyn in my life. We have been together almost twelve years now, which boggles me to think of, and in that time we have faced innumerable struggles, traumas and hardships, but throughout it all she has been the pivot around which our family revolves. She has brought me unparallelled joy, belief and support, and whatever happiness I have managed to gather unto myself has been, in large part, because she is beside me, pointing me always towards positivity and joy. I cope, and occasionally flourish, because of her. I am a better person because of her.

And for that we should *all* be grateful.

SOME DAYS, YOU GET THE BEAR

Today has just been one of those days where the good arrives in numbers.

This weekend is Luscious Lyn’s annual Jehovah’s Witness convention, so this morning the kids and I dropped her off at the Burswood Dome and shuffled into the Perth City Centre to pick up Blakey Boy’s birthday presents for next weekend.

As always, kids + me + Perth = the museum, to gape at the mummified thylacine, boggle at the size of the muttaburrasaurus skeleton, open all the drawers in the discovery centre, and generally run up and down the corridors pretending to be dinosaurs. Where the kids used some of their going-out money to make their Mum a badge because they decided she needed one to make up for not being with us. And the birthday-shops in question had mega-cool stuff just begging to be Blaked. And Connor was pulled out of the crowd around a street magician to be his assistant for a bunch of tricks. And even the happy meals the kids had for lunch contained exactly the right random toys to make them happy (A Wolverine for Connor and a singing Smurf for Erin.)

An anonymous street magician and the C-Train deliver the famous ‘Making Sure the New Pope is a Fella’ trick….

I, of course, did not have a kiddie-toy happy meal. Because I had already picked up these in the shop before lunch. I am 40, and I play with grown up toys….

Even my Ninjago will be ex-ter-mi-nated….

And to top it all off, my first short story acceptance in several months has dropped into my inbox this evening. Subject to editorial requests, Comfort Ghost will appear in the upcoming ASIM 56. I’ll let you know when.

Some days, everything comes up sunny.

B14!

Blakey-boy turned 14 on Sunday, a day that began with storms and high winds and the boys refusing to take a shower because the water wouldn’t get hot. Well, it was obvious, wasn’t it? The extremely windy weather had blown the pilot light out on our gas hot water system.
Which, indeed, it might have done. It probably didn’t, however, cause the scorch marks right up the side of the storage unit.
Shit.
But that would be a problem for another day (tomorrow, to be precise: thanks to the railway workers stop-work-coz-we-want-more-cushions-for-our-fat-arses meeting, I can’t get to work in any decent amount of time, so I’m off solar hot water system shopping instead). Because Sunday was Blakey-boy’s birthday! His 14th, to be exact, and apart from the traditional crack, whores, and shooting an unarmed man, he’d asked for a trip to the air museum to go with the Beowulf DVD and manga graphic novel he’d received.
You betcha 🙂
Adult girlies and kids under the age of 14 had either begged off or knew nothing about it, so we three Kings of boydom duly piled into the car and drove down to Bullcreek, where we spent 2 bloody happy hours comparing engines (that actually sounds faintly rude, doesn’t it?), debating the relative merits of air-cooled and water cooled biplane engines, and quite frankly, acting like big nerdy aeroplane boys, helped enormously by the museum having, in the time since our last visit, added a fully decked out Catalina flying boat to their already seriously bitching collection (including a Canberra bomber; Vampire fighter; two, count them two Spitfires, engines from all sorts of stuff including a B29, sundry parts from a B24, and the piece de resistance, one of only 2 complete Lancaster bombers in the country).
Mannn, if we get this thing working, the chicks we could pullll…….
The Catalina is, arguably, my favourite aircraft of all time (depending on whether or not I’m looking at a Tornado at the time, or remembering standing next to my new true love, the South Australian Air Museume’s shiny P38 Lightning, or thinking about the Wellington bomber. Or the A10…)
I have, on several occasions, informed Lyn of my desire to buy the half-completed hull currently in residence at the Albany Whaling Museum, float it off Rockingham jetty, and use it as a houseboat. I may or may not be channeling memories of Tales of The Gold Monkey when I make this threat. (Yeah, I know it was a Grumman Goose, but the point remains…)So I was only a touch over-enthusiastic and nerdy in circling it several times with my picture-taking finger on high alert 🙂

The World’s Most Beautiful Aircraft by Lee Battersby, aged 37 3/4

Anyway, if chatter and phot taking is any guide, the B-boy had a brilliant time, winning the Lancaster vs Catalina photo-taking lovefest by a count of 14 to 11. Next year, we may try to steal one. Just one. For the backyard.

No, this is the World’s Most Beautiful Aircraft, a Rebuttal by Blake Triffitt, aged 14 and 0 nothings

Happy birthday, B.

Ha! Bet nobody would blog this wacky self-portrait I took when no-one was looking…

GRINNING LIKE A PARENT WHO’S DOING SOMETHING RIGHT

Erin is a happy, friendly class member who is making pleasing progress in all areas. She listens carefully to instructions then settles readily to the task in hand, always trying hard to do her best. Erin has a positive attitude to her learning and is developing sound work habits. She is a well behaved student who enjoys a happy relationship with her peers, is able to work co-operatively with a partner and willingly helps others.
So sayeth Erin’s first ever school report card 🙂
And while it would embarrass the buggery out of him to have the details made public, let’s just say that Aiden’s report card makes his plan to become a robotics engineer and/or member of Drowning Pool nowhere near outside the bounds of possibility. One-a smart-a cookie.
CRAZY, MAN
To celebrate the end of term, Erin’s school held a crazy hair day today. Except: no hair colour allowed, no gel, no glitter, no product. You know, no actual anything that might help make your hair crazy.
Given the limitations, and with the addition of a bright pink cowboy hat and tiara, I’d say her Mum did Erin rather proud in the crazy hair-making stakes, don’t you?
Cthulhu: the hair!
NOT CRAZY PANTS DAY!
Not for us the lazy sleep-in on an Erin & Connor-free Sunday morning, no siree. Up out of bed we were, at the crack of Jesusweptit’sfuckingcold, and off to Belmont to watch B-Henry T getting trussed, masked, and tied to an immovable object.
Yup: Blakey had a fencing tournament. And bloody fun it was too. Luscious and I were hugely proud, watching the B-boy take the field (line? battle? bit of the gymnasium?) against taller, more experienced fencers, some of whom were decked out in their Australian representative uniforms. Fencing is a brutally fast, physical sport, and after three hours of duelling he was limping, bruised, exhausted, and with his hands covered in nicks and scratches, but he was happy as a teensy Athos and so were we. It was the first time we’d seen him in competitive action, and we were instantly hooked. Next time he has a tournament, we are so there, and it looks like we’ve finally found a sport we can both watch come Olympics time (Lyn hates boxing and I don’t consider Love, Actually a sport…)
And, you know, we happen to think he looks rather dashing in his kit.
Is that a sword in your hand, or… oh, right, it’s called a foil….
AND LASTLY
Can anyone explain what goes on inside my children’s heads?

NIGHT’S EDGE…

…was a fun two days away from the world. Rather than bore you with a detailed Con report (If you’re like me, detailed reports of Cons you didn’t go to leave you a wee bit disinterested), some random personal highlights:
*Two days away from the world, in a hotel room, with Lyn. People should be glad they saw us at all…

* The Wacky Weapons of WWII panel with Paul Kidd. I don’t know Paul socially, but he and I seem to work really well together on panels. It may have something to do with being two geekboys with rampant senses of humour. But it was a funny panel, a very funny panel indeed.

*A spur of the moment pool tournament between me and the boys, in an empty bar during two hours of panels we didn’t fancy attending. For the record, Blake Henry Triffitt, aged 13, is a bloody shark.

*Aiden Triffitt, Mobile Daycare. Three sets of friends brought their under-3s to the Con, and at several moments, Aiden took it upon himself to look after the kids and give said parents some adult time. Nobody told him to, nobody even asked him to. Aiden simply decided that he wanted to help, and what’s more, he was brilliant at it. And to me, it’s a measure of how trusted and respected he is already, at age 14, that the parents in question handed over their babies and then turned their attentions away without constantly checking to see if their kids were okay. They just knew that they were.

*Aiden and Kaneda Go Large. I’ve joked before about how Aiden is turning into ‘One of Ussssssss’. But I will remember this as the Con when he stopped turning, and simply was. We allowed Aiden his freedom, within the usual parental limits, and he didn’t let us down: attending panels on his own, wandering the convention space on his own merits, consorting with the friends he has made by himself (And while many of those friends are also ours, not once did I feel they hung out with him, when we weren’t around, out of anything other than genuine friendship towards him), and interacting with the convention environment as a member in his own right, rather than just ‘Lyn & Lee’s boy’. And when he attended the Saturday night party wearing his pal Kaneda’s hat and boots, and announced that they were heading down to the fan lounge to practice their stunt falls, a Fen was born 🙂

*The Legend of Mothers Sarah. Okay, Kylie as well, but that buggers the Manga reference….. I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for the teensy-tiny people. So I loved seeing babies Nora, Vincent, and Ellie at the con. And much kudos to a monumentally-heavy Callisto for getting through the two days with body and emotions intact.

*The all-in jokefest that started out as a panel on how to survive the apocalypse and ended up as a discussion on whether we could create a horse-drawn internet in time.

*A brand new Grant Watson comic book. My inner Grantfan says Yay. My outer Grantfan agrees.

*Dinner with friends and general attendance. I’ve been away too long.

At this stage, Swancon is theoretically possible, but financially problematic. But unlike last year, I at least want to go.

BIRTHDAY

I turned 37 on Sunday, and didn’t really care, other than that my family showed their love for me by making sure I was well rewarded, and I was able to bask in the glow of their happiness. The boys, especially, blew me away, taking money from their Con budget to sneak out and buy me three DVDs when I wasn’t looking, despite the fact they’d been told that there would be no more money once they’d spent their lot. Having already bought myself the present I desired (a potentially magnificent rare protea longifolia (piccie down the bottom of the page) sapling currently dubbed The Fifty Dollar Stick), it was a touching gesture that genuinely left me speechless. I have a wonderful family, and at the risk of sounding all tree-huggy about it, I’d much rather spend a day in their happy company than be showered with all the gifts in the world. Not that I’m giving any back….

Many thanks also to my good friend Stephen Dedman, who not only presented me with a copy of Men And Cartoons by Jonathon Lethem, over which I’d been seen to lust, but led the assembled crowd in a chorus of Happy Birthday at the end of my last panel, causing me to lapse into embarrassed mumbleness.

And thank you to the long list of friends, colleagues, and facebook pals who have contacted me to wish me a happy one. A happy one was had, everyone. (Incidentally, big slaps on back to Simon Haynes and Chris Barnes, fellow no-longer-unique Remembrance Day birthday boy writer types)

But, as has become my tradition, at least mentally, I now present thee with the by-no-means-comprehensive list of famous people wot I have outlived. To whit:

THEY DIED AGED 36, POSSIBLY WITH BOOTS ON

Marilyn Monroe; Diana, Princess of Wales; Georges Bizet; George, Lord Byron; George Armstrong Custer; Veronica Guerin; Doc Holliday; Blind Lemon Jefferson; Casey Jones; Phil Lynott; Bob Marley; Maximilian Robespierre; Henri Toulouse-Lautrec; Gene Vincent; and Nathanael West.

This is, of course, hardly an exhaustive list. Feel free to contribute your own favourite dead 36 byear old, and we’ll start the cloning process.

SOLD!

It’s been an interesting year, as far as story sales have gone. What with other projects and Real life ™, sales have somewhat resembled a cowboy riding a falling nuclear bomb. That is, they’ve been Slim Pickens (Zap! Pow Kapiiingggg! Comedy GOLD!)

Ahem.

Aaaaanyway, the good news is that I received an email from Stuart Mayne of Aurealis last night, to tell me that they’ve accepted my urban Peter Pan fantasy story Never Grow Old. Which makes me happy indeed. It will appear in issue 40, which is due to be born in December. Never Grow Old marks my 5th sale to Aurealis. If the magazine were the Luftwaffe, that’d make me an ace, and I’d get to wear a little square of coloured cloth on the breast area of my t-shirt when I go to Cons.

Damn I’m in a strange mood today.

AHWA MENTORSHIPS ON AGAIN

Marty Young, happy and disturbingly attractive severed-head honcho of the Australian Horror Writer’s Association, contacted me during the week to sound out my interest in being involved in their mentorship program again next year. Given the fantastic time I had working with Mark Smith-Briggs this year, my reply was an immediate and enthusiastic Yes!

This time around, I’ll be making myself available to work with short stories, and scripts of up to 45 minutes length. No official announcements yet, but applications are likely to be open as of January 1st for mentorships to begin sometime towards March. I’ll let you know as details become available.

REMIX MY LIT

Also from the cool project front comes my participation in the Remix My Lit project. Several established authors will have their stories ‘remixed’ by up and coming new scribes, and the results, as well as the original stories, will be made available using a Creative Commons license, for people to read and to remix themselves. A dauntingly-talented list of writers from a wide variety of genres, including our own Kim Wilkins, has already signed on for what should be an awful lot of fun. More details are available at the website, and like always, I’ll keep you posted as details present themselves.

A BIG SHINY FLOWER AT THE END OF THE POST

Ooooohh, gardenporn 🙂

THAT’S OUR BOY

So how proud were we when we recieved an invitation to attend Aranmore High School’s end of year awards ceremony because Blake was due to receive a gong? Bursting with, is the correct answer.

We don’t often get a chance to say it, because Blake doesn’t stay with us anywhere as much as we want, or as he should. But he is a deeply special young man, and carries limitless potential in his hyperactive young frame. In a school with such demanding academic and social requirement, to achieve any sort of award is no small thing.

We’re proud of you, Blakey-boy.

Source of pride and his happy Mum

BLAKE

Stayed in last night, and is staying overnight again tonight, as he’s not responding to treatment as well as had been hoped. He’s actually quite bright and happy, but walking makes him dizzy and he’s still wheezing.

ALL MY GANGS AGLAYED

The plan was such a simple one: get the littlies out of the house for a few hours this morning so that Aidey-baby and B-Henry could have a morning to themselves without having their younger siblings climbing all over them at every opportunity. A few hours for the big two to lounge about like holidaying teenagers without a care or duty in the world. Which, you know, they are.

The moment we arrived home from our wandering, Aiden shot off to his best friend’s house. And fair enough, too: teenager, holiday, no cares or duty. Half an hour later he was back: poo, meet fan. Fan, poo.

Because Blake couldn’t stop coughing, and he couldn’t stop wheezing, and his asthma protocols meant we were going to the hospital. By 12.30, he and I were in the emergency department and he was getting his first dose of super-ventolin.

And he’s still there. He’ll be there until the morning. His Mum’s right beside him, on a fold out bed tucked into a corner of the ward. And I’m at home, having sat with him for the last couple of hours, after Lyn and I had taken shifts all afternoon to be with him. And frankly, all I want to do is put my head under my pillow and cry.

It’s been 6 years since my first wife died. For those who came in late, she died in hospital. Because of hospital. There’s more, but that’s the crux. And still, every time I walk into a hospital, a part of my heart freezes. Walking in with someone I love, being there as they are admitted, and given a bed, and then having to leave them to come home…. sheer, unmitigated terror. And, you know, I’m the Bonus Dad, and the husband, so I’m holding it all together and making little witticisms to keep the mood light (next time you see Blakey, ask him how the circumcision went….) and absorbing all the information, and counting the puffs so Blake can concentrate on just breathing nice and slow and steady….

There’s a part of me that just knows I’m not going to see him again, no matter how nonsensical and insane I know that idea to be. And I just cannot stop wanting to cry.

B-13!
Okay, so it’s next weekend, but because a) he’s at his dad’s house then and we weren’t keen on our chances of getting time with him and b) nobody wanted to wait 2 weeks if we couldn’t get him, we held Blakey-Boy’s 13th birthday a week early this weekend!
He’d tell you how much he enjoyed heading out to our favourite curry house for dinner; scarfing mass quantities of his cheesecake birthday-cake-of-choice; and playing the Gross & Yucky Electronic Trivia board game he received, but we can’t get him to put down the copy of The Dangerous Book for Boys to tell us 🙂
I must say, though: it’s a tad disturbing to sit near a boy who interrupts your evening at regular intervals to inform you that he now knows how to fletch his own deer hunting arrows, or which is the most poisonous animal in the country……
The gathering hordes…

Kill the cake, kill the cake!

One head, much loot.

A PORTRAIT OF THE WRITER AS A YOUNG BOY

One of the things my mother left mewhen she died was a large plastic bag full of photographs, a companion to the enormous plastic box of photos she left my brother. When we moved to our current house I packed it away, without much of an idea what I was going to do with it other than keep it around to amuse myself with when I needed to bore the kids with stories of my past.

Re-arranging my computer desk last week, I realised that what I really needed to do was to scan them all in, so that I could burn them to CD. Then I could give a copy to my brother, and I’d have an indestructable collection of photos so I could amuse myself when I needed to bore my grandchildren with stories of my past. This was the first photo I pulled out:

Me, aged somewhere between 3 and 5, I’m guessing. Looking at it, I’m struck by how innocent I am, how there’s a look on my face that says I’m just happy to be here, just soaking it all in because everything is wonderful, everything is an adventure and a source of excitement. It’s the same look I see on Connor’s face, that same happiness. Looking at it, I feel old, and broken down, and sad in a way I don’t feel a man with such a happy family life has a right to be. And honestly, I look at myself now: in my mid-30s, in constant pain, with a million responsibilities and a million and one irritants, and I don’t know which urge is strongest– to somehow go back, to put my arm around this little boy and sit him down, tell him of his future and all the pitfalls and pains that will beat him about, and give him the clues and the keys that will turn him into me, mid-30s, pain-free, with the world at my feet and all the power and fearlessness that innocence should become; or to gather my children into one all-embracing hug, look into the innocence and happiness in their faces, and weep for what will become of it.
Or maybe I’m just getting old and mentally flatulent.
And then I do look at the two children I have fathered, and I hear my friends and family telling me how much of me is present in their faces, and I struggle to see it– genuinely, hopefully, I look at their faces and see nothing of myself. And I wonder how much is projection, and how much is hope? And really, in the end, it doesn’t matter. I have 5 children, and only 2 of them have a share in my face. And I would die for the three who have no share in my genetic heritage every bit as much as for those who do. I have 5 children, and I love them all dearly, and as long as I do right by them that is enough.
I should have taken better care of my future, when I was young. At least I have some chance of helping my children do so.

Any Dad in there?

WOAH, TOUGH SCHOOL

Received a phone call from Blakey tonight, just to say hi and catch up on stuff before he comes over this weekend. Life is good, school is fine, everything’s going swimmingly, except….

BLAKE: I got an academic detention.
LEE: Huh? What for?
BLAKE: We had a casual day today, and we had an assembly, and I was wearing the wrong shoes.

Detention for wearing the wrong shoes. As Aiden said, that’s like getting detention for having the wrong nose…

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE, THE MORE WE STAY WHERE WE ARE

So, after our big walloping announcement a couple of months ago, the world has changed around us.

To be more precise, Blake has changed our world.

If we went to Brisbane, he wasn’t coming with us. He was going to stay here with his Dad, and we would fly him over every school holiday to spend them with us. And that was fine, we thought, because he lives with his Dad full-time and we’ve become reconciled to making the most of what time we get with him. It’s become a routine. Not the ideal routine, not the one we want, but it makes him happy and that’s what counts. And we knew that we’d make the new routine work too, as much as we could.

And then he changed it.

On Boxing Day, as we were all scattered about the house doing our own thing, he quietly came into the bedroom where Lyn and I were lying on the bed reading. He sat down between us, curled into his Mum, and without any fuss, calmly told us that he loved us, and wanted to change his care arrangement to shared care: two weeks with his Dad, two weeks with us. He misses his brothers and sister when he’s not with them. He misses us. He’s happy when he’s with us and he’s happy with his Dad, and he wants to share it equally.

What do you say to that? What can you say except We love you. We’re happy you love us. Of course you can. We’ll do everything we can to make it happen.

Then, on the 28th, while I was at work, he climbed a tree at the park across the road from us, attempting to retrieve his new boomerang from its perch. The tree was high, the branch was weak, the fall stopped suddenly. And broke his arm.

Lyn rushed him to the doctor: there were x-rays, and pain killers, and a cast, and now he’s happily playing the Playstation one-handed and counting the days until his cast is dry enough to write on.

But I was a wreck: I was stuck at work, an hour’s drive away, while it all happened. I was so far away. And Lyn was at home, and she coped beautifully, because she’s a brilliant mother and knows how to hide her fear and heartache from her children.

But later that night, when everyone was asleep, and we lay in our bed debriefing the day, she cried over her son’s pain, and told me what Blake had said when he was in the doctor’s surgery: I wish Lee was here. He could make me laugh. And then I cried, and we talked some more, and we realised—

We can’t do it. We can’t go to Brisbane. No matter how much we rationalise it to ourselves, and to anyone else, we can’t leave any of our children behind. We’re a family, all seven of us. The moment we leave Blake or Cassie, we’re not a family anymore. I can’t handle being an hour’s drive from them when bad things happen. How could I handle being a continent away? And how could Lyn live, knowing her child was hurt or in trouble and she was on the other side of the country and couldn’t be there?

So: we’re staying here, in Perth, with our family.

Pick your nose again and see what happens, boy!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Lots of love and wonder to our beautiful daughter Erin, who turned 5 yesterday. We held a joint birthday party for her and Connor on the weekend: there are some snaps below.

I find it hard to talk about Erin in a rational manner. She brings to the surface so many emotions, and so many conflicting feelings that I end up burbling like a deranged emo-monster. It’s no exaggeration to say that she quite literally saved my life– her birth mother died four days after she was born, and had I not had the pressing necessity to get up each day (and night) and care for this helpless, needy little baby, I would have stopped things right there and then.

As it is, my memories of our first year and a half together are sketchy at best. It was only once Lyn entered our lives and brought with her an enormous reservoir of love and forgiveness that I was able to enjoy Erin for what she is, and not see in her all the failings and guilt I held over her birth-mother’s death. I never blamed her, understand: that blame too obviously belonged to the doctor that killed her birth-mother. But Erin represented the motivation I needed just to survive, and my concentration upon her was so acute that the rest of my life was in danger of withering into atrophy. It’s hard to explain, other than to say that my personality was so fractured that it needed the most extreme focus to do anything: tying my shoelaces needed just as much concentration as driving or negotiating the million dollar tax repayments which was my job at the time. Erin, as the most important thing in my life, commanded all of it, and everything else, being at the periphery of that focus, was slowly crumbling.

Those who knew me before, and who still know me now, would recognise that many parts of my personality remain unrecoverable. I am quite literally a different person. Most who knew me would say better.

But she’s 5 now, my daughter, and such a complex and vibrant personality that I become entranced around her. She can be snotty, whiny, petulant, and irrational beyond all means to understand. But this is the child who will stand between me and her brother in order to protect him when I go to give him a smack; who will ask us to turn off the kiddie songs so she can listen to Chicago (her favourite song in the wide world!) and who knows most of the words to Ballroom Blitz and We Will Rock You; who has seven favourite colours; who I catch singing to her dolls because it’s the best way to get them to sleep; who sees no reason why dinosaurs shouldn’t be allowed to drive trains…. she’s five years old, and in many ways she is the fulcrum around which the two halves of our blended family revolve. She brought us together: it was she who decided, at age two, that Lyn was her Mummy and that she would call her so, and the rest of us fell into line behind it. Because of her refusal to play the ‘step/half/birth’ game, we have a family of brothers and sisters, rather than a melange or partially related siblings.

I dedicated my first book to her and Lyn, because together, they are my soul. And to see her now, so intelligent, so fiercely independent, and so loving, makes me feel like I might be doing something right in my life after all.

First bath, less than 12 hours old, and not liking it!

5 years old, and so much to come

PARTYPARTYPARTYPARTY

Thanks to everyone who came along on saturday to help Erin and Connor celebrate their birthdays. the kids had an amazing time, runnign between bedroom, toy room, paddling pools, and cubby house, and the house is awash with new toys in the process of being hammered half to death (the Megablocks pirate ship is a real favourite, and the young-uns get to play with it too!)

I’ll put up a full gallery on flickr some time in the next few days, but for now, a couple of snaps for awwwwwww purposes:

Hello? Look, I can’t talk right now, I have presents to open….

It’s a car, it’s Bratz… my God, it is everything I’ve ever wanted!

2 cakes! That’s right, count ’em, 2! And they’re ours, do you understand, ourrrrssss!!!

WHAT THE HELL ARE MY CHILDREN LEARNING?

Ahhhh, Blake. So young, so funny, so damn disturbing.

ME: Well, it’s better than watching a John Wayne movie.
BLAKE: You mean John Wayne Gacy?
ME: No, John. Wayne.
BLAKE: Who’s he?

I’m not sure what’s more worrying: that he doesn’t know who John Wayne is, or that he automatically assumes I’m always talking about serial killers….

GRADUATO!

So it’s got to be something important to drag me away from the final session of the most exciting test match in years.

It was Blake’s primary school graduation ceremony last night. The B-boy and I realised on the weekend that I’ve known him exactly half his primary school life: we met when he was partway through year 4, and there he was on stage, accepting his certificate, class photo, and cup (?)

I missed quite a bit of the ceremony due to dealing with a stroppy non-sleeping Connor, but I was proud to see my Bonus Boy doing his bit on stage: the first signs of the man he will become are makign themselves apparent, in his poise, his maturity and his grace. I can’t wait to see him tackle high school next year: of the three Triffitt children, he’s the one I see acclimitising the quickest, and sucking all the marrow he can from the experience.

Ready to graduate and get his coffee cup!

One of the lovelier moments of the evening came when each of the graduating class came down from the stage and presented their Mums with a flower by way of saying thank you for getting them to this stage in their lives. Between the tears and the head-to-chest hugs, I managed to get this snap of an overwhelmed Mum and her carnation, with added Aiden-Head!

Too proud to speak, with her evil twin head showing….

Proud mother, happy son, the culmination of a beautiful evening

AND LASTLY, BECAUSE I KNOW YOU’VE BEEN HANGING ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEATS

6 points clear at the top of the table after 19 rounds, and drawn against free-falling Charlton in the 3rd round of the Cup.

The future’s looking good for the boys in Red…..

Song(s) of the moment: Songs From The Labyrinth Sting & Edin Karamazov

Reading: The Book of Fantasy Jorge Luis Borges (ed)

PROGRESS

Over at Battblush, Luscious Lyn has posted on her progress with her new project, a YA novel.

I’ve also started work on my new project, my second novel, The Corpse-Rat King.

We’ve decided to work at a slow, steady pace, setting a low word count of 250 per day, rather than bash away at it and get demoralised if we miss a day or two along the way. It’s much easier to recover 250 words than it is to recover 1000, and it feels like more of a victory if we surpass the lower total. Besides which, with the The Memory of Breathing script still on my plate, and my usual short story work, it’s about all I can squeeze in 🙂

So, as a way of keeping track in public, my first word meter of the project: 660 words added last night to the 3688 I’d already achieved.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meterZokutou word meter

4,348 / 90,000
(4.0%)

POSTED

The synopsis and 3 chapter package of Napoleone’s Land to the new Agent-Of-Choice. Now to wait. And wait. And wait. And……

ADVANCE TO THE REAR

I’ve been thinking about the possibility of organising a writer’s retreat some time in the new year: a long weekend away, with nothing to do but write, meet for meals, take long walks in the surrounding area to recharge, etc etc and so forth. I’d also like to bring in a couple of experts to deliver talks, maybe something along the lines of the psychology of success, and something in regards to marketing.

Three days away from the world, being writers in close contact with each other. What do people think?

JUST BECAUSE THEY MAKE ME PROUD

There’s been some stupidity going on in LJ-world regards where people should and shouldn’t be allowed to bring their children. I’m not going to link to it. You’ve got better things to do with your day, believe me.

But it has reinforced in me the belief that I have children in whom it is easy to be proud. In particular, Aiden and Blake have recently entered the SF Con circuit, with Aiden being on a panel at the KSP SF Day, and both boys attending Fandomedia and the Fantasic Planet Horror Day readings. And those who have met them, interacted with them, and participated in activities with them have had nothing but respect and admiration for the way in which the boys, aged 12 and 13, have handled themselves.

It’s simplistic to hold to the “if you don’t have children you don’t understand” argument. But as any parent will tell you, there is no pride quite like that when your children acquit themselves well. Anybody who holds the wood-headed view that my children should be turned away from interacting with my world and the people within it, well, the problem and the loss is yours.

Blake & Aiden at the Horror Day Readings: Boys to be proud of.

IN MUCH COOLER NEWS

Blakey turned 12 yesterday! Which means we take him out for a big-ass dinner tonight, and get to give him his presents (which are cool even by our standards) and we let him drink Coca-Cola from now on, and we get to spend all weekend making age jokes, and…..

Happy birthday, B!

Song of the moment: Loving The Alien David Bowie