An American Blogger
WELCOME TO A FREE-RANGE BLOG written by an old man trying to live a simple and frugal life. Please join the conversation. Your input makes all the difference. There are no wrong answers, and no exams.
I’m an American with too much experience, some of which I can remember. My name is Bernard John Hayden. Most people call me John. You might find something new here on any given day. It’s unpredictable!
Long time ago, there was a used typewriter . . .
The first major purchase of my life was a used Royal typewriter (standard, not electric). I bought it at the Wheaton Typewriter Co. for $99 in 1965. Earned the $99 at Hot Shoppes. Bought the typewriter so I could take a typing class in senior year of high school, and maybe be a newspaperman. It seemed like a good idea.
Majored in journalism at the University of Maryland, received a degree.
AlwaysUsually worked hard, no exceptional talent to brag about, but pretty good at front-page design, competent at reporting, editing and writing headlines. Five newspapers, all told. Also 13 years editing at a monthly journal indexing the “Working Papers of Congress.”
Newspapers are the incredible shrinking industry. I took my leave of a top metro daily in 2002, gracefully as possible. 1966-2002 was a good, long run as an editor and sometimes reporter. I’ve still got typewriter ribbon in my blood.
Life after Journalism . . . I thought I’d catch on at something in a year or two. Real estate seemed like a good idea. Sold 5 houses the first year. Expenses eat you alive.
Ran for the General Assembly. Twice . . . Lost. Twice. But it seemed like a good idea.
Simplicity and frugality. Working survival jobs after 50 is an adventure in reality. Maybe it builds character. Everything is good experience for a writer. Working retail, driving patients to physical therapy, processing drivers licenses at the MVA. Finally, five good years working in the motel business in Ocean City, MD.
Beginning in 2007 . . . BLOGGING! Now comes eBooks . . . Kindles, iPads, Nooks, Smart Phones, Apple watches. The pace of technological change makes my head spin. Fortunately, I have this one skill — I can touch type. I was born to type! Typing, writing, editing, blogging . . . 50 years and counting . . .
Losing Speed and Altitude
I have a picture in my head of America as a high-flying jumbo jet with two powerful engines. One engine is democracy, and the other is capitalism.
Democracy and capitalism have served America well, but both engines are showing their age and seem in danger of burning out.
I could use the same metaphor for my life’s trajectory, and I will. Flying at typical American cruising speed, I enjoyed moderate career success and a modest level of affluence. I lived the middle-class American Dream, credit cards and all. After 50, I began to lose speed and altitude at an alarming rate. By the time I hit 60, I was flaming out!
At 70, I feel tired, old, and fortunate to have survived to tell the story. My brother, a cousin, a high school friend, another cousin, another friend, this one from elementary school and Cub Scouts . . . all have passed away in the last few years. Ages ranged from 60 to 69. Are people really living much longer in retirement? Or is the truth, now and always, that a few people with good genes and good luck make it to old age?
Many Americans in my cohort (the Baby Boomer generation) are in the same boat . . . make that the same airplane. Sometimes, it feels like we need a handbook, “How To Make A Controlled Crash Landing.”
“Life After Sixty” “Dispatches from ConsterNation” “Work in Progress” “Living On The Grid, Thinking Outside The Box” (I keep changing the name) reports on the faltering American political and economic systems and the predicament of everyday Americans, particularly those who’ve reached a certain age (retirement). I call this a “free-range blog” because I write about whatever and wherever I please.
Mid-flight corrections are needed to save American democracy and capitalism. Many Americans are coping with adjustments in the way we live. It’s called CHANGE. We’ll be talking about it a lot.
Posts to this blog will be frequent, short, and sweet. Or not. Period. Amen.
Searching for Simplicity
Simplicity seems a reasonable goal. Simplicity and a sense of purpose.
And frugality? I really don’t see an alternative, other than a winning lottery ticket.
So who needs another blog — specifically the blog you’re reading right now? I can’t justify it, except to say that it’s a matter of perspective.
Once, I had an office in Bethesda, MD, with a window on the ninth floor. Across the street was a church and a high school. I memorized the air-handling equipment and watched the repairs on the flat roof of the church. I could read the greetings of bygone graduating classes, spray-painted on the pitched roof of the high school. I could even see the athletic field on the other side of the school. I knew summer was nearly done when the football team began morning drills in the August heat.
The rooftops of the church and the school were hidden in plain sight. I could see them clear as day because of my perspective from the ninth floor. Pedestrians on the street had not a clue about the roofs of the buildings, or the practice field beyond. That information was not visible or knowable from street level.
Long story short, this blog will offer a different perspective.
Welcome. Make yourself at home. Your comments are always welcome.
— (Bernard) John Hayden