Here are the new things first, then I’ll get into the rest.
Last week’s Digital Savant column was a guide for retweeting. My editor mentioned at one point that she liked how careful I was about not retweeting things that weren’t confirmed and suggested I do a full-on rant about people who are more careless. The piece on reckless retweeters maybe wasn’t so much a rant as some helpful suggestions from someone who’s been annoyed for a long time, but it did earn me a new nickname in the newsroom: “Cranky Omar.” I’ll take it!
On Thursday, I had a “Coffee with…” feature in the paper about Amanda Lepre, a musician who writes videogame-inspired songs and who is the frontwoman for the videogame cover band Descendants of Erdrick. She was a fun interview and it was great to get a story about her into the paper. I took the photo that ran with the story with my tiny Canon camera.
And since I’m not sure when I’ll update next, here’s the next column, which runs on Monday. It’s about how my videogaming habits are changing as I get older. It was a chance to drop mentions of Diablo III and the word “escrow” in the same column.
I’ve been brain-dumping a lot here on the blog because really, where else can I do that without it being weird and uncomfortable? It still sometimes feels a little strange to me that I get paid at work now to frequently write in the first-person for the column and that, based on emails from new readers in other cities where it now appears, things seem to be working out OK on that front.
But here, at least, I can say things like “I feel tired and old!” Or, “shitbag!” Or tell you a whole graphic and embarrassing story involving a vasectomy (which I won’t, don’t worry).
This used to be a blog (or, rather, an online journal back when I was updating three times a week rain or shine or blocked) where I wrote long diary essays or made funny lists or created complex conceits about hunger-striking pets or sold plastic goods. Now it’s sort of where the website started — a place to let people know about stuff I’m working on elsewhere. Because all my time and energy is going to work, to an ongoing writing project that I’m working on with my friend Tracy and whatever freelance stuff pops up for Kirkus Reviews, CNN and elsewhere.
That’s not a bad thing, it just means that when I come back here and sit down to write a catch-up entry, it means I usually have a lot of pent-up thoughts and emotions that didn’t end up anywhere else and that I still need to share (or overshare).
Like the thought that this week I was really having a hard time with some writing, so much so that I wrote Tracy a long, desperate writer’s-blocky email saying, basically, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” And then that night, I went home and cleared my head and wrote and then everything magically seemed better. I went to bed and slept well, woke up and went to work, had time to hit the gym and everything seemed 150 percent better than it did just 24 hours before. And the rest of the week and into the weekend has been beautiful, wonderful, filled with just cool family stuff, pleasant surprises on Twitter and in emails, and just a flurry of sudden activity, doing things I’d been putting off a while like donating a bunch of stuff to Goodwill and ordering some stuff online that I’d been on the fence about buying.
I’m just finding that I feel like a big set of dials and controls, all these variables that turn into a great machine when the variables are correct. They include exercise, sleeping enough, not being lazy when the opportunity presents itself and having enough time to not feel overwhelmed with it all. When the settings are off for too long, I start to crash and get wiggy and it all starts to affect my outlook and attitude in general.
It’s weird because I thought that by 37, I’d already gotten well past that and figured out my emotional equilibrium. And for the most part, I think I’m pretty even-keel, but lately I’ve been measuring my worth more in word counts and time spent with the kids and the ability to not let unexpected disappointments throw me off and put me into bad moods.
The stuff that puts me in a good mood lately tends to put me in a really good mood, so much so that I have trouble putting it into words. So I’ll just show it in a photo from Lilly’s dance recital. Apart from the star herself, my favorite bit is how her sister looks like her publicist, asking people to hold off on questions until after all the pictures have been taken.
I think I’m actively seeking more things to be inspired by. Whether it’s movies or books or just being outside and enjoying some fresh air or having great conversations.
It’s really easy to get jaded because there’s so much good stuff around us right now that we don’t even have time to get to most of it. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking things are mediocre because the base level of the stuff you’re exposed to constantly is so high that you start to expect and demand that everything you plug into resonates at that level.
So I’m trying to promise myself that I’ll enjoy the things that are great. Because I’m finding there’s no shortage of that around me. Noticing and appreciating it all in the moment is the bigger challenge.