Time for that annual literary check-in: how am I doing? What am I doing? What haven’t I done yet? Why? Because that’s what I do.

If you spend a lot of time in your head, as I do, you get to know yourself pretty well. I’m well aware that I’m a curious mix of mature and immature, exemplary and execrable. I tend to downplay what’s good and be overly aware of and sensitive about what’s less than good. I guess I’ll handle the bad news first and get that out of the way. Most of this will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s hung around me for any serious length of them.

Not So Good

My emotions remain on a hair trigger, a problem that dates back to before elementary school. About the only improvement I’ve made on this score is that if my temper makes me want to rant in a lengthy fashion, my intellect has enough time to apply the brakes and not say the first thing(s) that come to my mind. I didn’t handle the shutdown of Disney well, for example. I laugh easily (even when it’s sometimes not appropriate) and I allow myself to get wounded and fly off the handle just as easily. The only plus to this, I suppose, is that if the hurt isn’t deeply serious (to me), the grouchy rant doesn’t last very long. Other hurts stir something deep and stubborn in my inner Irishman and  I will stay angry or distrustful for years or decades afterward.

My tastes in clothing, literature, and television are not particularly mature: Hawaiian shirts, comic books, and Marvel Comics movies, respectively. But then I’m not exactly lunching in the Hamptons, am I?

As noted in the intro, I tend to focus on what’s wrong with me rather than what’s right. This behavior interferes with things like trying new things, writing and selling fiction, maintaining long-term romantic relationships, and advancing my career. Someone asked me if I go back and reread my 32 years’ worth of journals occasionally. The answer is usually no because a) the journal is for venting/getting ugly thoughts out of my head and b) some of the things that bother me haven’t changed or improved in 32 years. Oops.

What’s Good?

So what’s good? I suppose the plus side of noting my weaknesses/faults is that I’m not as conceited as I might be otherwise. I have a healthy understanding of my biases, flaws, and gaps in knowledge. I am more than willing to concede any of the above.

I’ve got a nonfiction book coming out in Kindle form August 31, with a paperback following soon thereafter. That book offers well-meaning advice for the aspiring or practicing technical writer but also anyone working in the white-collar business world. It makes no grand promises about life-changing results (again, that painful self-honesty), but it does try to convey my love for work and my respect for handling one’s professional life well.

Despite living through a stressful year in the midst of a pandemic and various other crises, I’m managing to stay sane and away from my primary coping mechanism, adult beverages (190 days and counting). My other primary time-filler has been travel, and I’ve tried to supplement that with a weekend drive somewhere in the Sunshine State. As an extra bonus, driving in my car doesn’t require me to wear a mask much unless I decide to make a stop.

With alcohol and travel off the plate, how am I filling my time beyond the basics of work and body maintenance? I walk. I scribble in the aforementioned journal. I think about ways I can spend my time better in ways that don’t require booze or a hefty travel budget. I’m still reading through my Amazon Wish List to keep my brain fresh. I’m keeping my weight steady, if not as low as I’d like. I haven’t completely fallen apart in the isolation of the current world circumstances, so that much is right. I just keep having wistful thoughts about a world without masks. Don’t we all?

Anyhow, 51 isn’t too bad an age. Parts of me feel every one of those years keenly. Other parts are still convinced that I’m young, so I guess I’ll keep going. Despite all the craziness, the world is still here, so I might as well hang around, too.

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