Ten months ago, I rebooted my life. This is my monthly check-in for August.
Near the beginning of June, someone asked me if I was planning to do any travel during the summer.
“No, I’m staying home to write a book,” I said.
“Oh? What’s it about?”
“It’s a collection of short stories that I’ve been wanting to tell for a long time, but haven’t had time to tell, because I’ve been doing other people’s work for the last couple of years.”
“That sounds like a cool project. And the year is only halfway done!”
“There’s another way of saying that,” I said. “The year is already halfway done.”
And so here we are, past the halfway point of the year. A long way past it, actually. Today is the 244th day of the year. There are 122 days left in 2016. Better start your holiday shopping.
I never thought I would have a midlife crisis, because the way they are depicted in media and pop culture are anathema to me: the sports car, the clothes that look ridiculous on someone my age, fucking someone young enough to be my kid. These are all things I would never do (things that are pretty gross to me, actually) so I just figured that it wouldn’t happen to me.
But I read Henry Rollins’ column in the current issue of LA Weekly, and he mentioned something about having more days behind him than in front of him, and I realized that, yes, I’m having a midlife crisis. It’s not that I want or need to do any of those gross things I just listed; it’s the feeling that there are more days behind me than ahead of me. It’s the feeling that I’m running out of time to do the things I want to do, and the fear that comes with that. It’s feeling the world around me change and leave me behind. It’s seeing young people who have no idea just how fast they’re going to be me. I guess it’s the feeling that motivated me to do this reboot in the first place. I may have fewer days behind me than in front of me (or maybe not; my generation is probably going to live for a really long time, maybe even to a point when we can upload ourselves into computers … unless we’ve already uploaded ourselves into computers and all of this is an illusion) but I’m going to make the most of them, to the best of my ability.
So let’s check in and see how things are going.
For those of you who have forgotten, or who are here for the first time, the changes I decided to make late last year are:
- Drink less beer.
- Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading).
- Write more.
- Watch more movies.
- Get better sleep.
- Eat better food.
- Exercise more.
Drink less beer. So I quit drinking entirely in January, so this feels like a cheat and an easy A. I’m keeping this on the list, though, because I like that I make an affirmative choice every day to not drink, and to dig deeper into the reasons behind that. I’ve been thinking a lot about this particular part of my reboot, especially all the reasons I drank more alcohol than was healthy for me, and how my life is different since I quit. More than anything else, I just feel more present in my life. I get more out of my days. I’m more productive, I’m healthier, and I’ve lost nearly all the weight I wanted to lose (this goddamn last 1.5 pounds is turning out to be as reluctant to fuck off as it was when it was 3 pounds, and it tasks me.)
The last week or so has been really shitty for my Depression and anxiety, and choosing to not add the depressant effect of alcohol (that tricks you into thinking that it is the opposite of that, when it’s actually making everything so much worse) is the right thing for me. Because I have been present in my life, because I have been willing to face the good and bad things head on, because I have refused to be a victim and because it’s been really fucking hard for the last ten or so days, I have earnedan A+.
Read more (and Reddit does not count as reading). I finally read Cat’s Cradle, and it blew my mind. It inspired me to think about a lot of things from a Bokononist perspective, and I haven’t processed all of it, but I still find a lot of comfort and serenity in it. Busy, busy, busy. I picked up William Gibson’s The Peripheral again, after putting it down a couple months ago. It’s dense, and in true Gibson fashion, demands to be carefully read and re-read, rewarding me or leaving me behind, accordingly. It isn’t light reading at all, but it’s enjoyable, interesting, and keeping me turning pages. I’ve read three issues of Lightspeed Magazine, caught up on several issues of Mental Floss, Mother Jones, The Nation, Playboy, and WIRED. I’ve been reading almost every day, and deliberately getting offline to read almost every evening. I just picked up a couple of books for writers yesterday, and I’m picking around them. More on those next time. For the month of August, though: A+.
Write more. Well, I’ve done 18000 words this month just one one story, plus close to another 12000 or so on my blog and various other places online and off. Until I got distracted and tried to kick Lucy’s Audition football twice in a week, I was feeling super productive, very content, and like a real creative artist. I haven’t written every day, but that’s okay. The thing about writing (at least for me) is that I can be writing when I’m not sitting at the keyboard. It’s a state of mind as much as anything else, and I am in it. One of the reasons I put this on my list was to make myself choose to write, instead of doing something else, like play games or fuck off, or wrap myself in a blanket of Depression and try not to suffocate. I have had the single most productive month of the year, building on a very productive and satisfying month of July. When people ask me what I do, I can honestly, confidently, and proudly say, “I’m a writer.” A+
Watch more movies. Like writing, this was something I needed to change because I was spending too much time looking at Twitter because someone was wrong on the Internet, reading Reddit because someone was wrong on the Internet, and not entertaining and inspiring myself with movies because someone was wrong on the Internet. I watched a ton of movies this month, from weird, experimental Kenneth Anger films to Republic Serials, to modern films that I was late to the party on. Two standout films for me were The Invitation, and Guardians of the Galaxy. “Wait, Wil Wheaton,” you are saying, “Guardians of the Galaxy came out a hundred years ago in Internet time!” You are right. I have tried to watch it at least half a dozen times, but I kept finding myself looking at it instead of watching it, because the visual effects are so fucking incredible. I finally forced myself to stop doing that, and just enjoy the story. It’s easily my favorite of all the Marvel movies to date, edging out Deadpool by a Groot. Anne and I also started Daredevil (holy shit is it amazing) and finished Outcast (Kirkman, call me if you need a guy like me because I love your show). I also started Bojack Horseman, which I had avoided because it looked like one of those Adult Swim stoner shows, and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which I just hadn’t gotten around to watching. So: I was totally wrong about Bojack Horseman. It’s incredible, and I can relate to it in a way that makes me uncomfortable. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is hilarious, and Rachel Bloom is a national goddamn treasure who we don’t deserve. I include television with movies because we are living in a moment of nearly perfect television that is, on average, more entertaining than most movies. Part of being an artist is finding inspiration in other people’s work, and I’m getting a ton of inspiration from the performances and the filmmaking that I see on television. A+
Get better sleep. WELP. Something had to wreck the curve, and this is it. In my defense, it’s not my fault. I’m doing everything I can to get better sleep: wearing the dumb goggles before bed, reading before bed, sticking to a regular schedule as best as I can, no caffeine in the afternoons, and regular exercise. But the things that are outside of my control, like my stupid goddamn broken fucking brain that insists on waking me up at 2am every fucking morning so it can remind me about all the things I hate about myself, or my stupid goddamn brain deciding to wake me up every hour just to remind me that it can, so ha ha ha who’s laughing now, meatbag. My nightmares are relentless and I wake up almost every morning feeling like I’ve hardly slept at all. I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that this has lined up almost exactly with the worst Depression and Anxiety I’ve felt in months. If I were to base this on my effort, I get an A, because I really am doing all that I can, but — you know what? I am going to give myself an A. It’s not my fault that my brain is being an asshole.
Eat better food. When I started my reboot, my diet was garbage. Sure, I tried to tell myself otherwise, but a 44 year-old can not live on burritos alone and expect to stay healthy. I’ve been doing a pretty good job staying on target with my calorie and macronutrient goals, and what was threatening to become a serious ice cream situation is mostly under control. When we eat out, which is rare, we always go to someplace that makes healthful food, but mostly we cook our meals at home. I can’t look at the last month or so and say, “well, this was garbage” over and over again, so I’m on target with this one, too. Because I could probably dial back ice cream a little bit (cholesterol is a thing we middle-aged dudes have to worry about), I’m giving myself a B+.
Exercise more. I’m running almost every day, and the days that I don’t run, I’m walking my dogs. I adjusted my step goal to 7000 from 10000, because I felt it was better to succeed at a realistic goal, than it was to consistently fail the ideal goal. I’m in season 2 of Zombies, Run!, and I have my average up to 5K or about 35 minutes, whichever comes first. I’m doing a combination of running and walking, so my time isn’t as fast as it would be if I was training, but I don’t care about that. I’d like to get myself up to running for 30 minutes without stopping, so I can start training to do 10K, and then a half marathon in the next six months or so. I’m proud of myself, because I have made myself put on the shoes and hit the road even when I haven’t really wanted to. I don’t make excuses, I make steps and then strides, and before I know it I’ve done my exercise and I am always glad that I did. A friend of mine has this concept of “Future Me” who is always grateful to “Past Me” for doing something that “Present Me” is happy about. I think maybe I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s been a helpful way for me to think about stuff. I like Future Me, and I want to do nice things for Future Me, especially when Past Me was selfish and Present Me is feeling shitty because of it. All the versions of me get an A this month.
Okay let’s total up my score and see how I did. Last month, I thought I was on track for an A+, but I didn’t quite get there. I got 28/30 for an A, which was still pretty great, all things considered, and this month it’s …. (you can’t tell, but that ellipsis, actually represents about two minutes of counting and scoring): 31/30! Holy shit I get a very high A, that I could probably curve up to A+ if I wanted, but I won’t because I want to really earn it without a curve when it happens.
One last thing I wanted to mention, that may interest you if you’ve read this far: I have had a ton of help from my son, Nolan, who is an internationally licensed trainer, with certifications in fitness nutrition and performance nutrition. Nolan has guided and counseled me every step of the way, and it has made all the difference.
Nolan has started doing remote training, using e-mail and videoconferencing to guide and help his clients. If you’re interested in having a professional help you reach your fitness and/or nutrition goals, I know that he can help you. He’s at Nolan Wheaton dot Com. Tell him that I sent you.
I know that some of you are rebooting with me. How’s it going?