When my dad was 51 he was retired from the fire department, with a hefty pension, and working part-time as a mechanic. He and my mother traveled, their house was impeccably maintained, and the man HAD HIS SHIT TOGETHER. Still does, in fact.
I, on the other hand, feel like one of those vaudeville performers who spin plates on sticks. I’m constantly giving them another nudge to keep ’em going, paying close attention to the balance, and trying not to let anything crash to the floor. I’m exhausted, because of all the goddamn maintaining o’ the plates.
It’s not the greatest way to live, believe me. As my spiritual adviser, Paul Westerberg, would probably put it, I’m unsatisfied.
But, I haven’t given up the fight. It might be due to mental illness, but I wake up most days full of optimism. Toney doesn’t understand this, but it’s true. I almost always climb off the dormancy platform feeling positive. The day sometimes crushes it, but I’m no sad sack by nature. And I almost always have something going on that gives me hope. Or at the very least… provides a pleasant diversion.
Today I’ll give you a quick rundown of the stuff that keep me sane(ish), and turn it over to you guys. I hope you’ll also share the things that inject a bit of additional happiness into your lives: the hobbies and various diversions. Let’s get to it, shall we?
A new novel I’ve abandoned my shitty-job memoir, for the time being, anyway. And I’m about to start writing another ridiculous novel. The great thing about it? There’s no way in hell a traditional publisher will touch it. So, it’s incredibly liberating, knowing from the start that it’ll be self-published. Or, as the cool kids call it: indie.
I’m going to learn from the mistakes I made with Crossroads Road (like not really working with an outline, and completely botching the ending), and make this story as entertaining and satisfying as possible.
And… I’m going to give myself a deadline. I don’t work well with open-ended projects. The shit stretches out for years. I haven’t decided on a timeline, but no more than six months. Possibly less.
I’m invested in this thing right now, constantly thinking about it. I come up with plot twists and new ideas every day. And it’s keeping me fired-up.
Podcasts I work ten hour shifts, five days per week. A lot of it’s computer-based, and I would likely lose my mind if it weren’t for my little blue iPod; I cling to that thing like a life preserver. Every morning I load it with podcasts — I subscribe to dozens — and play them while sitting in front of the monitors at night. Oh, I can rip through a ton of programming in a week. It takes a LOT of fuel to keep the day moving in the right direction.
There are programs on just about any subject at this point, and I’m constantly in search of new ones. I often get hooked on one, burn out, and move on. There are only a few that I’ve stuck with, and never abandoned. They are: WTF with Marc Maron, This American Life, and The Adam Carolla Show.
Carolla is a divisive character, but I like him. He’s not educated, and not as sophisticated as some people, but he’s really smart and funny. I’ve probably listened to 500 or more 90-minute episodes of his show. It’s like spending time with friends, or a big plate of comfort food.
Marc Maron can be a little annoying, but he’s a great interviewer and gets interesting guests. He had Robyn Hitchcock on, just a few days ago. I listen to every episode, even if I don’t know or like the person he’s talking with. I’m almost never disappointed.
And This American Life is just really good. It’s been on the radio forever, and is fantastic. I never miss it.
Beyond that… it’s just a rotating lineup of podcasts about music, entrepreneurship, and entertainment. The “podcasts” tab at iTunes is a treasure trove of greatness, if you’re willing to sift through the not-so-great stuff. And almost all of it is free.
My Kindle I’ve always loved to read, but everything got cranked way up when I bought a Kindle. It’s not a tablet, or anything like that. It’s one of the early ones, designed for reading and nothing else. There’s a light built into the case, I can adjust the font size to whatever feels comfortable, and if I’m patient… I can get almost any book in the world for a ridiculously low price. I love that thing, I really do. I escape into it, every night. And I can read it in bed, because the small light doesn’t bother Toney while she’s sleeping. It’s perfection, and over the past five years or so… I’ve probably read more books than the previous 45 combined.
Watching dumb TV with my wife On Fridays and Saturdays Toney and I watch a lot of shows like House Hunters, and Ghost Adventures, and that sort of thing. Oh, and Property Brothers! That’s one of our favorites. Recently we’ve started watching Master Chef, on demand. I know nothing about cooking, and couldn’t give a shit, in fact. But it’s a great show, because you get involved with the contestants and their personalities. I love those weekend nights of just sitting there, decompressing. I don’t watch too much television — almost none during the week — but it scratches some primal itch on the weekends.
What about you? What gets you through the week? The tiny things that keep you sane? Please tell us about it in the comments.
And I’ll see you guys next time.
Have great day!
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