Birthday Retrospective, Part XLI

Here I sit, on the 17th floor of a hotel overlooking (the admittedly interesting) downtown Cincinnati, having just returned from a traveler’s solo dinner —for the record, a tasty gin cocktail and a Cajun shrimp platter—which solitude afforded me some welcome opportunity to reflect on what I’d write here, in this decade-long tradition of writing about me on my birthday.

Lawd a-mercy, it’s been a day. I got up at 7 a.m., aided in large part by Fiona d’Cat deciding that my bladder made for a great trampoline. So I got up, took a shower, grabbed a bit of breakfast, then hit the road for pre-trip errands. First, to drop off consignment copies of Jot That Down: Encouraging Essays for New Writers (edited by A.L. Rogers, published by Caffeinated Press) to Baker Book House. The book launches tonight at the 10th anniversary Jot Writers Conference. So, yay for that! Then I went to the Secretary of State’s office to renew both my plates and my driver’s license. Which was good, because my DL photo still had me with long hair and TSA is really not amused by ID pictures that don’t look like the person bearing the credential. Then I went to Meijer to buy assorted things. Then I went home to pack and make the house cat-friendly while I’m away. Then I went to the Caffeinated Press office to drop off the rest of the Jot That Down order I didn’t consign to Baker. Then I went to the airport—and holy cow, the new unified security screening at GRR is actually quite impressive—then off I went upon the wings of American Eagle. The flights were fine (better than fine; both legs were on an Embraer 145 with a 1×2 configuration and for both I sat on the “1” side of the aircraft). We connected through O’Hare, so of course my journey to CVG was delayed an hour. Then I Uber’d it to the hotel—great driver, so I tipped him, which is a thing with Uber now. Unpacked. Ironed my clothes; sent my navy suit and black jacket to the dry cleaners. Grabbed dinner. Now I’m blogging. I’ll probably re-read my NAHQ board book before I go to bed, for I do NOT want to disappoint my colleague Andrew tomorrow.

It’s been a week. In the last seven days, I’ve released the advance review copy of Isle Royale from the A.I.R. (edited by Phillip Sterling, forthcoming next month from Caffeinated Press) to Phillip. I joined a mini board meeting with my colleagues at the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters to discuss administrative stuff plus, significantly, marketing and rebranding. Cool things are coming on that front. And I retrieved our print run of Jot That Down from Color House Graphics. I’m pleased with CHG’s speed, quality and cost. Oh, and I released another of my pseudonymous erotica novellas to Amazon. Plus pushed the most current episode of The Vice Lounge Online which—holy hell—is now at episode No. 333. Icing on the cake: I received notification that I’ve been admitted to WMU’s Graduate College on a non-degree track; I think I want to start a grad certificate in applied stats and then transmogrify that into either something related to healthcare administration or the interdisciplinary PhD in evaluation.

It’s been a month. Finished the re-architecting of my home office thanks to an equipment swap with my mom: She took the recumbent bike, I took the recliner and its plush rug. We’ve gotten a ton of major work efforts tidied up at Priority Health, in anticipation of the long slog of budgeting-and-pricing season, which officially begins today. I gave a second-to-last pass on edits to Conversion Therapy, a novelette I wrote in August at the MiFiWriters retreat. I completed the advance review copy of Ladri (a dark urban fantasy novel written by Andrea Albright and forthcoming next month from Caffeinated Press). I got the GLCL membership database synced up. And, I got to see my cousin and her husband and two children, including newborn baby Athena!

It’s been a year. We moved to a different office space at Caffeinated Press; I re-did much of my home’s interior layout because of this consolidation, including bringing my big U-shaped desk home. I’ve gotten my own personal writing slush pile increasingly honed and ready (almost!) for more vigorous shopping. My team at PH has, in many ways, set the gold standard for my division’s new operational focus—I’m immensely proud of them. I’ve survived two leadership transitions at the day job and picked up a side consulting gig for my old mentor, the infamous RL. My two indoor feline overlords have been joined by two outdoor feline fellow travelers in the form of Ziggy and Tiger. I launched the Grand River Writing Tribe, which is hummin’ along great. I spoke, this spring, at the Illinois Association for Healthcare Quality conference as well as the inaugural UntitledTown authors’ conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin. I joined the board of directors of the GLCL—and saw it lose its gorgeous building. I’ve gone hiking and kayaking. Last fall, I went to Las Vegas for VIMFP and to Orlando for NAHQ.

It’s been a decade. My early 30s weren’t all that hot. But it got better. Inasmuch as I had dreaded (perhaps too melodramatically) the arrival of The Big Four Oh, I find that there’s a certain charm in things like having a positive net worth, a reliable and modern vehicle, insurance and the means to do stuff like hire movers instead of begging family to bring trucks over. I joke with Brittany that #AdultingIsHard, but after you crack the code, it’s surprisingly charming.

It’s been a life. My mother visited me on Wednesday to give my my birthday card. During the course of conversation, she inquired—in a roundabout way—whether I’m happy, in a big-picture kind of way.

My TL;DR answer? Yes.

How could I not? This post has taken twice as long to write than it needed to, because every minute or two my phone dings with a text message, Facebook post, LinkedIn message or tweet wishing me a happy birthday. Dozens of people think kindly enough of me to take a moment to send a brief message of support.

Perhaps that’s the biggest accomplishment of all.

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