I’m a few days late posting this, but it’s taken me awhile to conjure up some words to reflect my latest orbit around the sun. Partly it’s because I thought of myself as 48 a few months back. Still, I think it’s good to take my mental/emotional temperature to see how I’m doing and sort things out in literary form. Enjoy (or not) as you see fit.

Physical: First, the self portrait: still 5’11”, grey hair, somewhat (but not grossly) overweight, my German-Irish face and arms somewhat darker from regular exposure to the sun. The eyes are as blue as ever, though subject to squinting, even with the new, round-frame glasses.

Social: Out in public, I’m often working, reading, or walking. Sometimes I think when I walk, sometimes, I shut off the brain as much as possible and just take in the scenery wherever I happen to be. I renewed the Disney Annual Pass, so the walks are usually around Walt Disney World property just to get my money’s worth. My more introverted mother was surprised that I’d willingly go to places where all those people were around; I explained, simply enough, “I’m not talking to them.” Mostly, I’m moving along at a brisk 3.5-4 miles per hour through and around crowds. I try to get an hour’s worth of walking done, so you can do the math to figure out my distance.

Recently, a cousin suggested that I might “find someone” in the way of a love interest. I responded that while she meant well, she had to trust me that some folks are just better off single, and I’m one of those people. And honestly, I’m fine.

One major plus this year is that I’ve made a friend at the coworking place whom I have clicked with on what I’ve taken to calling “a Bart level,” meaning I’m comfortable enough with her to let down my guard and share some of the occasionally icky stuff in my head. (Men are not her type, so those of you thinking I’m going to solve my dating “problem” are mistaken). Anyhow, it’s nice to have someone to vent at in person occasionally. I don’t have a lot of reasons to vent, but I appreciate having someone in close proximity regardless. Thanks, Tara!

Intellectual: My sister and I are both avid travelers, and we both spend a great deal of time researching the next big trip–what we’ll do, where we’ll go, etc. I’m starting to give thought to where I might go as a “big deal” for when I turn 50, having had such a blast with Europe at 40. It’s still a thought. I just returned from an eight-day trip to San Francisco and Napa Valley with my friends Tim and Gwen and came back quite refreshed. I realized that I react physically and emotionally to beauty–faces, places, art, what have you–so travel seems to fulfill a physical need.

However, I cannot afford, as yet to travel all the time (maybe buying Lotto tickets wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all?). To fill the free time, I’ve been disciplining myself to read the 200 or so books that have been residing on my to-read list for years, some going back to the year 2000. I think I’ve irritated some friends by putting off any suggestions of “books you must read now” because I’m determined to finish my list before I start just picking up books on a whim again. So far I’ve cleared out around 38 books, some by removing them from the list, some by just slogging through. It might take me a longer stretch to get through War and Peace, for example, but others breeze through my brain at a rapid clip. I read fiction faster than nonfiction because I’m usually trying to learn with the latter, which is a different, slower thinking process from just expecting to be entertained.

Creative: I still have hopes of writing a book of my own at some point: maybe all the stuff from the 200-book list will inspire/inform me, or maybe I’ll write some sort of nonfiction based on my blog content, but that’s still a work in progress. I’m one of those lazy writers who needs to be inspired and have a definite plan or I slack off. Bad Bart! BAD!!

Professional: The bill-paying contract managed to get extended another year, so I’ve got another year to figure out where to find work and how to pay the bills after that. The book-writing and career-planning activities will be sorted out with my friend Kate the Coach, so we’ll see what comes from that exercise.

Political: I stopped reading the news in depth after Election Day. The general strife between Left and Right is disconcerting and not something I enjoy arguing with people about anymore, so I’m now registered Libertarian and staying the hell away from mass rallies of any kind. I realize not everyone can “drop out” the way I’m doing, but I don’t think that this particular voice/vote out of some 300 million is going to make any particular difference in an environment where neutrality or calm voices of reason are not welcome.

Anyhow, I’m paying my bills, keeping myself in line (not drinking as many adult beverages), reading some good books, and generally trying to keep myself out of the way of things that stress me out. After all, if there’s one thing I’ve learned after several years of honest navel gazing, it’s that I can be a high-strung guy and it doesn’t always take a lot to set off my Irish temper. Who knows? I might learn to mellow out by the time I’m 60 or so!

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