blog Journal

Level 37

I turned 37 today and I’ve mostly managed to not panic. Mostly.

I took today off from my chess coaching work to relax a bit and allow myself time to do something I haven’t done regularly for almost three years: Write.

It felt great.

I lay in bed for about an hour longer than I usually would, reading Inhibitor Phase by Alastair Reynolds and vaguely pondering what I would write if I allowed myself the time again. After helping out a bit with GG and the yard, I went downstairs to my freshly cleaned an illuminated office, opened up a blank MindNode document, and started exploring ideas. With a mix of music playing loud, chat apps mostly ignored, and no specific tasks in desperate need of attention, I managed to get into the rhythm of storytelling again pretty quickly.

After about an hour and a half of focused work, I had a rough plan for a new novel. I’d say the outline is about 1/4 finished at this point.

Which brings us to the point of this post: I’ve leveled up. I’m a year older. It’s time to assign some skill points, swap out some armor, and socket some new gems into my tools.


I was in a really bad place several years ago, but managed to turn around by biking and swimming religiously. That was followed up by almost a year of intense yard work, which mostly maintained my health even as I went through a lot of life changes.

Then COVID came along, accompanied by serious illnesses in the family, and I found myself gaining weight and feeling various join pains again as I returned to my old ways of eating too much to deal with stress.

I’m going to try to end that. Try really hard. I’m programming my Apple Watch with new fitness goals tonight and hope to have the tenacity to get up earlier and put in a good hour of exercise every morning. I have subscriptions to Apple Fitness+ and Supernatural, as well as driveway which is perfectly suited for a mix of intensities.


I quit teaching public school two years ago and, other than no longer being in line for a paltry pension, it was the best choice I have ever made. As much as I love coaching chess, teaching photography, and guiding kids in creative storytelling through D&D, I feel the need to put a little more direction my career.

As far as Outschool goes, I plan to continue teaching 15-20 hours a week of live classes and bring back my flexible schedule photo courses. I love the interaction and opportunity to help kids find enthusiasm.

But I keep feeling the itch to make things, especially stories, photos, and films. I want to write novels again and seriously try my hand at some form of game development and interactive storytelling. And I love creating videos for YouTube, especially when there’s a narrative or crafting element.

So I’m going to push at that more.

Career Priorities

In no particular order, these are the tasks I want to focus on for developing my business:

  • Develop more OutSchool photography courses.
  • Finish transferring my teaching license to Maryland.
  • Post to YouTube weekly. A mix of “I did a thing”, gaming, vlog, and experimental films.
  • Post to my blog daily. Links. Articles. Fiction. The point is to be regular about writing.
  • Finish Apocalypse Summer.
  • Provide a conclusion to Dyson’s Angel.
  • Work on my new novel.
  • Produce at least one 30+ minute film.

Personal Goals

  • Exercise daily
  • Eat better
  • Due to the above, shed 30lbs
  • Call / email / text with friends and family more often
  • Grow more confident. I know who I am, but I still worry about upsetting people too much.
  • Finish designing my next tattoo and save up for it.
  • Read a book a month in print.