Christmas and Beyond

As someone recently noted on social media, I live a strange life, and I embrace that and aim to keep it that way so it doesn’t lapse into being boring and dull. I am proud to include a diverse and vibrant bunch of people in my life and celebrate their individual journeys as well as our commonalities.

This Christmas has allowed us to reconnect and bond with friends, partners, family, and those who might wander between. I caught back up with my brothers, and the Charleesi, with friends who have built their own forge, my parents, my partners, and a variety of children attached to various of the above.

So the plan today has been to sit quietly with Lady M, give our presents to each other, watch TV, play games, and not stray too far from the sofa.

It’s not the family gathering we had planned, but it’s a good substitute and rest ahead of the excitement and busy weeks ahead.

Escape Room Shenanigans

We’re celebrating the cub’s birthday across this weekend, accompanied by Lady M’s niece and nephew, and the highlight as far as he’s concerned has been this morning where we took him to an escape room at the Denbies Estate just outside Dorking. He’s been wanting to do one for months since watching YouTubers attempt them and so we had a look round without telling him. Through careful questioning we discerned he wanted to try something spy-based, so it seemed appropriate to allow a little cloak and dagger about the event. Which is why we made sure it was all a big surprise.

Even as he got out of the car, he still didn’t know why we’d made him get up on a Saturday morning to come to a vineyard. When he noticed the signs, he started getting excited and asked again why we were here – and then when we confirmed we were there for an escape room, he started bouncing up and down on the spot. It’s probably the most excited I’ve seen him in quite some time, and the gleeful grin was wonderful.

The scenario was, as described, an explosive spy thriller, involving hidden rooms and videos of missile launches and we managed to not only beat the game, but completed every single puzzle – the last with 8 seconds to go. It was far more fun than I imagined it would be, and our respective skills and experiences meshed well. From knowledge of Ancient Greek, autistic hyperfocus, a head for logic puzzles, and all the inquisitive running around you can imagine; we all cracked puzzles, found solutions, and unearthed conundrums.

The kids, and cub especially, were buzzing with excitement and retelling of things they’d found and done – and to be fair so were the adults as we gathered for a pub lunch. About the only thing that sparked more excitement was the unwrapping of presents later – but that’s the cub for you.

Wouldn’t have him any other way.

And They’re Off

A whirlwind day for many reasons today, not least because boy s finally got his hands on the keys to his new flat and we’ve spent most of the evening loading up a hired van with his possessions and a few pieces of furniture to take down the road. Even the cub got involved with carting bags down the stairs, eschewing his normal whinges about child labour while still doing his best to pretend to be too cool for all this really.

There are only three seats in a van, so I volunteered to travel in the back, standing and pretending I was riding a bus in the dark. It made for an interesting mental exercise to match the vehicle movements and road rise and fall to my recollections of the surrounding area. Braced carefully near the sliding door, it was almost restful, especially on the eyes after a long day of meetings and difficulties. I felt quite proud to be able to match what I could detect to my mental map as we got there – a sense of achievement in this self-set test.

And then we unloaded everything and left the boys to unpack and nest for their first evening in their new home – and home to a suddenly quiet and empty-feeling flat and a new set of very mixed emotions. After what had been a turbulent day for various reasons, it was enough to get the tears flowing a bit. I know they’re literally ten minutes down the road, but it is still a wrench.

And so there will be more transporting of goods and furniture tomorrow, to get things like computers and desks and a table and chair or two over there too – including the rest of our bed as we’ve donated that to him to make way for a kingsized replacement.

I’m just worn out.

Keys and Presents

There was a lot going on today, but some good things among the chaos. Most notably, boy s received confirmation of securing his new flat, and after some banking shenanigans is due to pick up his keys tomorrow. As a major distraction from the stress of it all, he’s now playing Sims4 on the XBox while we eat our bangers and mash, and muttering under his breath about all the clothes packing he’s going to need to do tomorrow. I think he’s in that slightly bewildered state where he wasn’t really expecting to get the flat, and now its all becoming a bit more real. He’ll be fine.

Just to throw an organisational spanner in the works, the cub’s birthday is due among all this upheaval – we have plans for the weekend, and I’ve just spent a spare fifteen minutes with the bedroom door firmly shut while I wrapped a selection of presents. With his birthday so close, he’s a bit sensitive about Christmas wrappings and trappings so mindful of that I had some more generic paper stashed in the cupboard. It’ll make a nice surprise for him when he gets to see them. For now there’s a small stack of presents on top of the wardrobe that he walks by and never looks up at.

Like most preteens he lives in his own little world by the gaming logic that best appeals to him. For example, his school tries to encourage him to read with a reading star scheme and everyone in the class contributing towards awards and bonuses like days not wearing uniform. He has decided that as he doesn’t read every day he can’t get the reading star, therefore won’t be contributing, so therefore why bother. Its a very selective and circular form of solipsistic reasoning that he specialises in, while sounding to his own ears very reasonable.

I try not to rise to the bait.

Tidying Day

We’re getting ready for boy s and the cub to move out, and so today we’ve been having a bit more of a tidy and gather of their things into readily shiftable containers. It was always going to be a short-term living arrangement while he looked for somewhere to start fresh but there is an element of sadness to it. Admittedly there’s also a sense of relief that we won’t be four people crammed into a two bedroom flat and that he will have space of his own, but even so – all a bit mixed.

Still its been good to have a day where we all got round to sorting out bits and pieces – I’ve even started to grab the various Christmas-themed Funkos to make a display, because it’s that time of year. I’m saying that quietly as there’s a birthday needs to be sorted before we go into full Festive mode. I even have a multipack of DC characters that I picked up from Tesco the other day ready to take their place once I’ve cleared some shelf space.

Next week is largely going to be a mixture of another round of interviews, an appointment with a specialist to finally investigate my stomach issues – oh and assuming the references all come through in reasonable time we’ll of course be helping boy s and the cub do the whole relocation thing. It’s only going to be about ten minutes drive away, but that’s enough to give them their space. I do feel a little for the cub though – he honestly thought that because he is due to move he wouldn’t have to go to school any more. It had to be broken to him by boy s that buses exist..

The look on his face was one of shock, horror, and disbelief that the universe could be so cruel – he had no problem with us being so, but that society would continue to insist that he go to school was just too much. There may have been pouting. By him, I hasten to add. I know boy s has his moments, but this was sheer outrage on the cub’s part and I have no shame in finding that deeply funny – admittedly for all the wrong reasons.

Clanning Together

The last few nights I’ve been playing Destiny with boy s and Lady B. We’re each one different platforms due to the wonders of cross play. I’m on an XBox, Lady B on a PC, and boy s on a PlayStation. We’re using Discord for voice comms and it’s turning into a nice semi regular end of an evening bit of fun.

We’re using a Clan I set up back in the first Destiny game to help organise our Roster, and it’s another good example of how tech can be tangled in new combinations to bring us all together – albeit this time united in the desire to shoot aliens in the face and dance in the middle of battlefields.

Admittedly it’s now one in the morning but as I had my Moderna booster shot this morning my arm is currently very stiff and sore so I can’t settle anyway. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I spent a fair chunk of this afternoon dozing on the sofa.

So, that’s why I’m blogging a little later today as I try to switch my brain off and curl up with Lady M. Here’s to a quiet day off and a body that continues to more or less behave for a bit

Spinning Wheels

Like an overrevved car with smoking wheels, the week has managed that age old trick of standing still and generating a lot of noise and motion – but somehow still isn’t over. I actually had that moment of being genuinely shocked this afternoon that it was only Thursday.

Between running round helping boy s gather things for his new flat, various illnesses, and general stresses with work deadlines it has been packed. I’ve had conversations around outreach opportunities with partner organisations ; talked about potential Arts Council funded events for the future; focused on further recruitment; and generally steered and pushed things as only a library manager can.

There’s a lot there, but as a lot of it is kind of setting things up rather than necessarily delivering discrete results, I think it hasn’t felt as productive as it has. I suppose it could be worse, but it has felt at times like an extended anxiety rush with added heartburn. But hey, there’s still Friday to look forward to.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Could You All Just Stop?

My day started with one of my branch managers phoning me while they were having a panic attack on top of what turned out to be an acute asthma attack. They were worried that they might have to close their library as they were working on their own. There’s a lot to unpick there, and once I’d talked them through getting their breathing a bit less on the edge of collapse I wasted no time in telling them that I couldn’t care less about closing the library – their health is far more important. This is an individual who is new in their job and feels they have a lot to prove, despite my telling them many times over that they are doing a great job and literally have nothing to prove and they need to slow down.

Grumpy? Me?

While still reeling that in I got a call about another member of staff wrenching their back while reaching for christmas decorations in a cupboard, had an update on another person about to undergo surgery, and had calls from the cub’s school that he wasn’t well and could someone come and retrieve him. I may have growled about that as he’d pranked me this morning by walking out of his room with red vaseline around his mouth so that it looked like he had foot and mouth but was thankfully at that time okay. Lady M meanwhile had called in sick with a heavy cold, and while down in Portsmouth boy s had also succumbed to the same cold.

It turned out that the cub has, you guessed it, got the same heavy cold as Lady M and boy s – so I’m chalking it up to Con Flu from the weekend. Lateral Flow Tests have remained negative.

Me? I haven’t got time to be ill. I had school runs, building health and safety inspections, job shortlisting, event risk assessments, and partnership meetings to sort out – and retrieving boy s from Portsmouth after hours. Tomorrow I have more of the same, so I’ve quarantined everyone else in the flat in the other rooms and laid claim to the sofa. If I get this in the same week that I’ve had my blood pressure medications increased, I won’t be happy.

So, could you all just stop falling apart please? I haven’t finished my turn yet.

Time Alone

There’s a convention on this weekend focused on Streamers and YouTubers up at the Excel and so most of the household plus E2 the niece and nephew are off to visit their various favoured people. I am working so haven’t accompanied them and so last night I had a rare night on my own curled up with a montage of Mock The Week video clips and a pile of bacon butties as I used up things from the fridge. I may also have indulged in a bottle of wine too.

I needed the time alone. This has been a very stressful week at work with a new set of systems and processes coming online alongside a number of site and personnel issues that have left me with very few reserves to then deal with a rambunctious plague goblin. I suppose I shouldn’t call him that any more as he has tested negative and can now go back to school. Either way, being a typical ten year old he is busy pressing buttons and pushing boundaries and I’ve come very close to snapping and losing my temper. I can at least take a measure of comfort that I didn’t, and instead stepped away and got boy s to take over.

I have since been feeling awful about it, but I am reminded by several people that feeling angry is valid and that the important thing is that I didn’t lose control or do anything harmful – I retained the presence of mind to step away and ask for help so shouldn’t be beating myself up over something I didn’t actually do.

So, having a night to myself, and a day working alone in the office before I go join them for Sunday is a good thing and I feel a lot calmer. I imagine the nurse reviewing my blood pressure on Monday will thank me for taking care of myself – which reminds me, I need to submit a week’s worth of readings tonight as part of my review. There’s always something to do…

After that, paperwork for sorting out a referral for further investigation of my stomach issues. What joy… I suspect the various threads are related.

Home Almost Alone

Lady M and boy s have gone off for the night to go see Sarah Millican up in town, so I’ve had a quiet evening with the plague goblin.

We had a pizza and xbox night, at least until he got tired of not being able to shoot bots while playing Halo and having to contend with real people instead. We also played some other stuff before the lure of YouTube pulled him away.

Its been nice. Quiet with occasional bouts of cuddles and demands for ice cream – and it sounds like the partners had a lovely evening out. The goblin is still awake, but is lying in his own bed quietly listening to the noises of the building and not causing any troubles. I expect he will be difficult to rouse in the morning.

Sleep soon for me I think