My brain hurts and that is not an exaggeration. I just spent a week learning a new coding language for my job and I feel like Neo must have felt when he first discovered the Matrix. I have far from mastered XML, but I might at least be able to ask for the bathroom in the land of Extensible Markup Language. As a technical editor, I have become comfortable over the years with my cozy desktop publishing software, templates, and style guides. The hardest part of my job, before this week, was chasing down subject matter experts who provide the content for my manuals. (This usually requires bribes consisting of copious amounts of strong coffee and free doughnuts.) As of today, however, the hardest part of my job will be converting, coding, tagging, and publishing my documentation within the context of a single-source publishing universe. Ouch. This is…different. Different feels uncomfortable. Should I take the blue pill and return to life as I knew it or opt for the red pill and accept the reality of my future as an editor in this fast-paced world of technology? My brain knows what is best for my career, but my heart tells me to reach out for my floppy yellow legal pad and hold on for dear life. In a parallel universe this week, the twins started Kindergarten. At first the idea seemed fun to them, like Adventure Camp. We excitedly laid out our first-day-of-school outfits, picked out what vegetarian entree we wanted for lunch in the cafeteria, and even agreed that being in separate classes this year could be a good thing. Everything was running so smoothly…and then we went to school. It was not as they had pictured in their happy little heads. It was different. What’s a car pool line? Why are the halls so long? That playground is pretty daggum big! Immediately, I sensed their discomfort. Little hands clinged to my skirt, wide eyes searched for signs of familiarity, and the quiet sniffling began. I knew they would have first day jitters, but I encouraged them to be brave and enjoy their new experiences. They were not convinced. In fact, they were not convinced even after a week. The tears began every night around dinner time. “I promise to be happy if you just let me be in Charlie’s class!” Poppy sobbed over and over. “I don’t like recess because I don’t know those kids,” Charlie whimpered over his ice cream. It was hard to watch as they realized that life as they knew it had turned upside down. I tried not to show them that I was a little sad, too. I mourned the loss of their happy-go-lucky innocence. Going to big kid school means there is no turning back. If I think about that too much, I get downright heartsick. But, as the saying goes, time marches on and standing still is just not an option. We are thrust forward, sometimes against our wills, into situations new and strange. It takes a while to get used to, but the strangeness will become the new normal before we even realize it’s happening. At least this is what I have been assuring myself at five o’clock every day this week. I look forward to the day when I can bend a spoon in this new Matrix with ease. Meanwhile, I will continue to snuggle with the possums at bedtime and assure them that school will most certainly be a little more fun tomorrow.