Tap tap, is this thing on?

Well, the last four years have been an adventure, I suppose. I ran for office in 2018 for the state house in my legislative district, and came in a distant second, but the experience itself was life-affirming. My kids got older and I no longer have any diaper duty. Susanne went through the tenure process and has settled in as an Associate Professor, and is working on her next book.

My book projects, on the other hand, are a bit . . . quiet. I have a full draft of the Unintentional sequel, but I have a POV issue to resolve, and an improved ending to write. I stopped trying to sell short stories when work got busy.

My work, well, that has grown, which makes sense, as it has been my focus these last four years. It’s no longer a sleepy little nonprofit with a tiny caseload. When I walked in the door in July 2010, I literally wiped up the dusty keyboard to a then 11-year-old iMac. Its memory was half-filled with photos and music files of Yanni, for no discernible reason. I mean, I guess some people really like Greek air flute music, or whatever. There were four employees, two of whom were extremely part-time, I was slotted for 20 hours a week, and one full-time case manager. We ran the whole deal on $180,000 a year.

These days the agency has an annual budget of $3.4M, 27 employees, 3 of whom are part-time advisory board members, 3 staff who are part-time, and the rest of whom are full-time. We’ve got somewhere on the order of 200 clients across half a dozen programs, and a vehicle fleet, which still blows my mind. Nobody’s computer is older than 3 years. But along with this growth has been a shift in the time I have to dedicate to writing, and that is a cost I am willing to bear a while longer. At some point though, I want to get back to it.

In the interim of 2018 and now my mother passed away, from appendix cancer that spread to her lungs. I spent roughly two-and-a-half months with her in that last year of her life. It was time well spent, but saying goodbye to her was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, by far. Double mastectomy and sex changes, and catching Lucas at his birth, and hearing that my Dad had died after the fact, saying goodbye was excruciating. And then she didn’t die, and I got to see her again! But when I left in early January 2019 (as opposed to leaving shortly before Christmas 2018), was the last time. Saying goodbye again was also painful, although somehow, slightly less so. I’m grateful she is no longer in pain.

The pandemic could be a great reason I stopped blogging, but of course that wouldn’t explain the first two years of my absence. I just ran out of time in the day as work became more involved. Years ago I jokingly said that my goal was to make the agency too complicated for me to run it anymore. Now I realize what a stupid thing that is to say. It’s definitely more complicated, and I’ve driven away at least one bookkeeper in the process, but I am still hard at the work, as is the staff.

But to be clear, the pandemic has been a trying time, as I know it has been for nearly everyone. I like many others try to mediate my risk on a daily basis, but I’m not wearing my mask as vigilantly as I once was. I do watch the transmission rates, for what that’s worth (I’m sure we are missing a lot of data and that the accuracy of the published transmission rates are no longer great). I get my boosters and last week the boys got their boosters. I still don’t get on a plane or run through the grocery store open-faced (like a sandwich). But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t fatigued by it.

Once upon a time this blog was to communicate with my social fabric of friends as Susanne and I made our way across the continent from DC to Walla Walla. It became my lifeline to sanity as I faced two years of unemployment because nobody in Walla Walla would hire me (or Portland, or Seattle, for that matter) in the wake of the 2008 Great Recession. Now I am the job creator, a fine twist of fate. When I was writing, jobless, and looking to get noticed as an author this blog was a requirement oft-referred to by agents, none of whom contracted with me. Somehow I published two books anyway, and army-crawled my way through the publishing industry. Then this blog was part of my writerly persona.

Now? What now? I think time will tell. Speaking of time, I don’t have a lot of it, between work, a master’s program in public health, two tweens, and a beautiful spouse, but I will commit to at least one post a week, and see how it goes. I’ll have some unpublished stories on here, thoughts about the work I do, reflections on speculative fiction, and possibly some political posts, but honestly I’d like to focus on other topics for a while.

I hope you are well, and if you made it this far, welcome back.

Categories: Uncategorized


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