On Writing and Life Right Now

The toughest thing about writing isn’t the actual writing. Give me a topic and tell me to bang out 500 words and you’ll have something passable in the next 30 to 60 minutes.

No, the toughest thing about writing — these days, at least — is the reality that I have only so many words during a given day that my brain is able to put together into something approaching good, and I’m expending an awful lot of time as of late doing that for money.

That means the few folks who find this site of some value have been short-changed on John’s Deep & Insightful Witticisms For Better Living, such as they have been over the past year-and-a-half. That makes me sad, to a degree, because though you are few in number, you are great in positive affirmation, and that’s something I apparently feed on as a 47-year-old manchild of sorts.

What I have been doing these days — when I’m not doing my day job marketing the Best Damn Real Estate Team This Side of the Mighty Mississip’, putting together porch and bedroom furniture (Side note: FUCK YOU, inventor of the allen wrench) and generally being an awesome dad and husband — is writing for Northwestern University’s publications to help them attract more students to their various masters programs.

It’s been a fun and comparably lucrative side gig compared to, say, delivering pizzas or slinging coffee. It’s also been informative and enlightening. I’ve written things on the future of computing, gene therapies, supply chain automation, blockchain and a whole host of other topics that show me I really have misspent my time on earth compared to some of the high achievers who get the thick envelop in their mailbox from such a prestigious university.

The gig came about because of a 21-year-old kid I hired while I was a newspaper editor in Faribault, Minnesota. Marc was an obvious hire, and the only reason I didn’t just give him the job on the spot is because others don’t seem to have the intuition I have when it comes to interviewing applicants. Marc was so far above and beyond any other candidate, even at that age, that everyone else looked like clowns. Marc had “it,” and he proved me right when he rose to be sports editor, like, three months after I hired him.

Of course, the newspaper world was a lesser version then of the still lesser iteration it is today, which is to say “not good,” and soon after I left, Marc left. He now does important stuff marketing Northwestern and was in need of someone to help him write articles based on interviews he’d already done.

I can do that kind of thing in my sleep.

To have my stuff now edited by Marc is altogether fair and right. For months and months and months, he walked into the newsroom to start his afternoon/night shift as a sports dude to find a marked-up copy of the previous day’s sports pages on his desk, and let me tell you, I am free with my use of a red pen.

Marc always took those edits and suggestions in the spirit they were intended, which is to say as a roadmap for improvement. Now, that’s how I’m taking the edits Marc gives me — though times have changed. He doesn’t send me marked-up copies of my work that look like they have been through a pig slaughterhouse. He sends me nifty little Loom videos to tell me what he changed and why. In just about every instance, I’ve agreed a thousand percent with what he has done. He makes my stuff better, and I appreciate that.

So yeah, I’m spilling out a lot of words into the future of Northwestern University, which I’m not quite sure needs my help being awesome but I have no problem helping them out if they’re going to pay me something for my time. The issue I have is that it doesn’t leave me much in the way of time and creativity to do the things I’d love to do with my writing on here.

And it’s not for wont of stuff to happen. Life as a husband, father, marketing guy, woo-woo creation and observe of the world gives me plenty of fodder to chew on and spit out in words. For example, I’m back in a minor version of Longhaul hell, going for ozone therapy today, as a matter of fact, to have a bag of my blood drained, infused with O3 and then dripped back into my body. The last time, a combination of ozone, an improved diet, regulated sleep apnea, restorative yoga, meditation and a change in mindset helped me get back to the land of the living. It’s not that I’ve left that land with this latest go-around with that thing only one person in China has (second side note: FUCK YOU “president” Trump). It was more or less a recognition that I, in general, was feeling blah after my second battle with Covid. So I’ll be several hundred dollars lighter when these treatments are over, but I’m reasonably confident I’ll feel better.

My job is going great. It truly is rewarding to be able to write month-end reports that show triple digit percentage point increases in the metrics that matter. That kind of growth won’t last forever, but while it does, I’ll enjoy it. I was even named the Kick Ass Team Member of the Month for March. Booyah.

And then there’s the work I’ve been putting in with a therapist. I’m not ashamed to be in counseling. I think the world would be a lot better place if more people found a good counselor and availed them of his or her services on a regular basis. I learned long ago that, for me, I need an outlet to let out Unfiltered John, which, while often ugly, is somewhat of a must-have if I want to stay centered, regulated and not on my family’s last nerve.

What I’ve been doing as of late with my therapist is wading into the dark and murky waters of stuff I’ve never addressed before. Step 1 was admitting that there was, indeed, stuff to address. Once I committed to that process, I realized I’m an idiot. That process is hard, yo, and it’s kicked my ass to the point of exhaustion on more than one occasion. Yet here I am, having times when I truly feel that I don’t just see the light at the end of the tunnel but that I have actually emerged from that tunnel — finally. So as much as I hate having to swim around in these waters, infested with creepy-crawlies and a whole lot of nasty repressed shit as they are, it, like ozone, like having a therapist in the first place, is necessary.

So I do it. Because, really, that’s what I’ve always done. If I see the hard thing that needs to be done and see some semblance of a pathway through it, I’m going to at least try to find my way.

I write for Northwestern. I do my job, at home and at work. I seek out the better in life. I put in the work. I get knocked down. I get back up again.

It’s working.

I think.

Onward.


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