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.


More From ‘A Puzzle Known As Life’

Grandpa — May 17, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours onContinue reading “Grandpa — May 17, 2022”

Study Abroad — May 15, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼‍♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation andContinue reading “Study Abroad — May 15, 2022”

Family — May 13, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸‍♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hearContinue reading “Family — May 13, 2022”

Heat Wave — May 12, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And hasContinue reading “Heat Wave — May 12, 2022”

Gambling — May 8, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Losing Money 🥊The Best F’N Mom Ever👩Heat 🥵 Wifey Poo and I took our weekly date Saturday and went to the city made famous in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie: East St. Louis. No, East St. Louis isn’t in Missouri and no, it’s not a popular data destination, but whatContinue reading “Gambling — May 8, 2022”

It’s the End of the World As We Know It — April 19, 2022

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Why We Suck🤡No Finishing Power🔚McReally? 🍔 The world is dumb, and America is the leading idiot. I don’t reach this conclusion with any sort of glee. It’s simply what I see. Societies hold together because of three things. Shared stories Strong institutions Social networks that engender trust. The past 10Continue reading “It’s the End of the World As We Know It — April 19, 2022”

Welcome Back, Swagger

There was a time in my life when I had swagger. I was never the most popular or athletic kid in school, but for a while there, I was a really good baseball player. I could hit. I could field. And, boy, could I pitch. Some of the most “over” kids in high school wouldContinue reading “Welcome Back, Swagger”

Balloons — Dec. 21, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Sad Dad Club 💔A Toast 🥃🥃Done Writing? 🖊️ It took me less than 24 hours as a part of the Dad Whose Child Died Club to learn that membership came with a myriad of uncomfortable situations. It was the day after Jacob (AKA Boy The Eldest) was born and died,Continue reading “Balloons — Dec. 21, 2021”

‘The Plan’ — Dec. 20, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Plague Life 😷The Real Plan 😭A Hilarious Obituary 🤣☠️ Does it ever randomly smack you in the face that we’re living through a historic freaking pandemic? Are you ever going about what you might fool yourself into believing is your Before Times life and then suddenly something jolts you out ofContinue reading “‘The Plan’ — Dec. 20, 2021”

Tornado Sirens — Dec. 10, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hey There, Dorothy 🌪️Christmas Hurts 🎄Bye-Bye, Checks and Balances ✔️⚖️ If you’re ever in need of some entertainment, might I suggest being in a church with a bunch of homeschool parents when tornado sirens go off? That’s where I found myself tonight, accompanied by Boy The Younger at a spring trackContinue reading “Tornado Sirens — Dec. 10, 2021”

Off — Dec. 6, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Detached 💭Intentions for a New Year 📆Red is Deadly 😷 Today sucked. The problem is, I don’t really know what the hell happened. I woke up just after 6, later than I have been recently, and I felt so significantly off that I truly don’t remember much of the first 45Continue reading “Off — Dec. 6, 2021”

Tree Haulin’ — Nov. 26, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Family Rituals 👨‍👩‍👦‍👦The Grinch Rocks ❤️Churros and Poke Bowls 🤤 It’s interesting to think about how family rituals actually become family rituals. There are some that are very intentional. You had something done for you as a child, so you do the same thing for your kid. Others just sort ofContinue reading “Tree Haulin’ — Nov. 26, 2021”

Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Self-Teaching 👨‍🏫Beer Flood 🍺🌊Space Mission 🚀 When I left the newspaper industry in 2009, I knew how to write, take decent photos, design pages and copy edit. I landed a job in which the mandate was, “Go make our communications program better,” something I’d assured those who interviewed me I knewContinue reading “Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021”

Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oh Deer 🦌The Thought Gap 🧠Unplugged 🔌 I was sitting in my as-yet-to-be-named home office this morning when this big boy ☝️☝️☝️ walked out of the woods into my yard. It’s the opening day of deer season in Missourah, a day of significance for many local inhabitants on par with theirContinue reading “Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021”

Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they liveContinue reading “Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021”

Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021

🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wrasslin’ 🤼‍♂️Wifey Poo 🦶Costco 🛒 Boy The Younger and I found ourselves this evening in the most difficult-to-spell-without-looking-it-up building in the Midwest, Chaifetz Arena, home of the Midwest’s most-weirdly named college basketball team, the St. Louis University Billikens. But we weren’t there for hoops. We were there to watch the oddContinue reading “Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021”

5 thoughts on “On Writing and Life Right Now

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: