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