I am a writer.
Yeah, I know. If you have been reading my thoughts on god and life and baseball over the past 22 years (yes, I started writing for John Benson in 1993, which does seem like yesterday), you probably figure I always was a writer.
But, due to family and especially health, I was also locked to a job.
As it turns out, it was a very good job as I finished up as a Project Manager with ATT for the last 20 years, handling some high powered and successful IT projects. And, I can say, as a Berkeley hippie of the highest order, that ATT was a fantastic employer.
As most of you know, I have dealt with Crohn's disease most of my life (since I was ten) and as a result, suffer from stage three kidney disease (I have only half of one functioning kidney). I also had a severely disabled son, Joey (he passed away in 2006, six months after Cathy), and the illness of my dear late wife Cathy is pretty well publicized I suppose.
Because of just that, I have been stuck the last 35 years, working jobs that provided solid health care for obvious reasons.
However, thanks to the ACA, and since I turned 62 last October, I was able to retire from ATT as of next Tuesday (I saved vacation days, so my last actual day of work was last Friday, December 19) and just be a full time writer. For, though I do get a nice little pension from ATT (and another from a job I held before I worked for the phone company), as well as my Social Security, I don't get any other benefits till I turn 65.
I could have stayed at ATT for three more years, and that would have added health care and a lot of benefits to my exit package, but again, remember, I have had Crohn's since 1962, and have pretty much had a full time job since 1968, even while going to college. I have been advised six times that I might not live through the night thanks to Crohn's emergencies/body break downs, although if you know me, or saw me in the street, the fact that my health is sometimes compromised might not ever occur to you.
If you have followed my existence here for at least the past couple of years, you will know that the last time this happened--my life apparently in jeopardy--was just two years ago, when after Crohn's surgery, my poor body went into acute renal failure on Christmas Eve 2012.
So, largely thanks to Obamacare, I can simply stop the regular grind, begin collecting my pensions, and settle into being a writer full time. That means covering a lot more baseball and football, and mostly writing about it in the daytime, even (my old routine was to work my ATT job till 5 PM or so, and then take a little nap, and complete whatever column was due the next day).
Since I began writing on the Net, in 1996, if I averaged five columns a week, since that time I have written over 4500 columns, and if each column was 750 words, it means almost 3.5 million of them, as a second gig.
I decided--thankfully with the support of my lovely Diane and great circle of family and friends--that though I felt just fine, working those extra three years simply for a bit more pension and health care to simply do what I always wanted to do anyway (be a writer) was probably not the best gamble or use of my time.
Mind you, I have no intention or desire to leave the planet any sooner than is absolutely necessary, but, well, I have gotten old enough to at least try to be both practical and realistic.
So, from now on out, I am a writer full time. Although I must also confess that I studied literature as an undergraduate, and then a graduate, and what I really like to write the best is fiction.
I have three novels mapped out (I wrote another as a thesis) as well as a collection of short stories that has eight, but could use a half dozen more to really make it a volume of anything substantive.
In addition to writing, I plan on playing a lot of guitar and bass (toss in some ukulele, too) and hopefully finish off a second album of original tunes (my first, "Downward Facing Dog", is out there on Amazon), read fat novels, watch classic movies on TCM, cook, spend time sitting in the sun with our dogs, and checking out our wonderful country with my pal and partner, Diane. Oh yeah, and spending time at the yard during the season, keeping an eye on the machinations, and reporting back what I see to you.
I think it will be a pretty good ride. Happy for you to come along.