Americana: Bleach & Cat Food

A man walks through the front door with a gallon of bleach in his right hand, a bag of cat food and a vape pen battery in his left. He walks across the living room, directly into the kitchen. He sets the cat food on the counter, the bleach on the glass stovetop. He then leaves the kitchen, walking into the bedroom to plug in the battery for the night. As he does, he thinks, “If I wear clothes I care about, I’ll fuck up and ruin them for sure.”

He returns to the kitchen a minute later and carefully opens the bleach. Wearing only his underwear, he removes the seal without losing a drop. Not that he doesn’t care about his underwear. It’s just that, damnit, you gotta draw the line somewhere.

Wanting to be as close to the front door as possible when he’s done, he leaves the kitchen and goes directly into the master bathroom. He pours a little into the second sink, then the first, then the tub, and then the toilet. And then he loosely places the cap on the bottle and makes his way to the front bathroom—right outside the kid’s room.

He quietly closes the door behind himself, turns on the light, and does another pour into the sink. Another for the tub. And one for the toilet, 2000 Flushes be damned!

“And so it begins, with the bugs. Again.” He thinks, “I hate this time of year.”

Everyone terrified by the big cockroach casually crossing the living room floor not an hour ago is already fast asleep. Meanwhile, high on life, 40-something man in his underwear begins his annual chemical warfare campaign against the foul depths of the sewer system. Or the hoarder lady next door’s house of moaning felines.

“Not on my watch.”

Damnit, Banovsky.

I need another epic idea like I need another student loan.

Earlier this week, I shared my April Fool’s plans, announcing we’re putting printed issues of Gearbox Magazine back in the crates a while longer. It’s just not feasible with all we’ve got going on.

Over on Facebook, Andrew Pascarella asked:

“What about a single yearly anthology issue?”

And then Michael Banovsky chimed in.

“Gearbox Yearbook (Yearbox Gearbook?) where clubs / events bring Brian out to events and he publishes everything once a year in time for the holidays.”

Damnit, guys. These are REALLY good ideas.

And you KNOW how badly I want to go back to real, actual print.

I told them these are both excellent ideas. In fact—just between us?—if I can get my shit together with the podcast, find a couple more next level gearheads to join the team, and maybe land a sponsor or two, I miiiiiight be able to make something like this happen.

But in that moment, I discovered a new, parallel opportunity. What if I went all-in and spent 2018 researching and piecing together an actual book on the automotive enthusiast zeitgeist?

Like, what if I said, “2018 is the year we finally get our shit together, and I’m going to spend the year interviewing gearheads like us to document what that success looks like, the various ways we chase it, and what it takes to realize it—so I can pull all the pieces together into the book I’ve been wanting to write for at least five years now.”

Shit.

I’ve still got Targa Florida notes in here somewhere from 2013!

And it doesn’t help this interaction takes place the day I see Andreaelbee mentioning she’s flying off to Wyoming to research locations for her novel.

I’m not saying I’m going to do this, but you better believe I’ll be thinking about it all the time.

This is parallel. Sometimes the hits come hard and fast.

355 dailies in a year. (I did it!)

I’ve officially done this for a full year.

365 days, 355 dailies published. I can live with a 2.7% failure rate.

(Sometimes even I don’t have anything to say.)

GRAND TOTAL: 54,874 words written since 02/15/17, 150/day on average.

Yeah, I know I fairly regularly missed multiple days in a row and then cranked them out in batches after the fact, but I don’t know how often I did so as a percentage. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to do that for the year ahead. Maybe thinking, “Mark doesn’t like it when I publish several at once” will continue keeping me on-schedule(ish).

So much has changed since I started writing these.

I still feel my stomach twist up when I think back to that one morning at LeadMD when I emailed almost 20,000 people to check out an important blog post that didn’t publish automatically like it was supposed to.

I don’t remember the blog post at all, or the campaign, or if any of the above was even worth our time—but I remember something important in my wheelhouse shitting the bed and making the company look careless, incompetent, or both.

Today, I feel like I’m finding my stride with these. I’m not trying so hard. What began as a simple way to write and vent and feel like I was still creating something when I was too busy for and too disappointed in GBXM has become a simple, easy way of honing my writing skills, clearing my mind, and more.

So many ideas. So little time.

Reflect on why you enjoy the things you do, explore different ways of using your skills in meaningful ways, discover new opportunities, act on them, and take lots of notes. It’s work life parallel.

And it’s worth the struggle.

Again, if you want to try this, I’ll help you.