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Friday Report: January 8, 2021

My calendar informs me that it is now 2021, although to be honest, the past week has certainly felt like a continuation of 2020.

When I put on my work hat, I generally pretend that everything is business as usual regardless of whatever’s going on in the outside world or in my life. Because that’s how people are supposed to do things, right? I write posts here and send emails telling you about books I’d like you to buy, as though none of us could possibly be concerned with anything bigger.

Maybe just for this week, let’s not pretend.

For nearly all of 2020, I was extremely distracted and unproductive because of all the chaos going on around me—not only the big, national and international issues (the pandemic, the U.S. election, the police violence and astonishing assaults on civil liberties, and the heartbreaking growth of extremist movements, just for starters), but also more personal concerns (a son with severe disabilities and no one to help care for him besides my wife and me, major home repair issues, a sick cat, and much more). I’m still not OK.

I’m usually pretty good in a crisis, but yesterday I lost it when, in the midst of all of the above, our car broke down far from home, and I had three different complex processes to figure out and coordinate at once (getting a tow truck, locating a repair shop and making an appointment, and finding alternative transportation home for two adults and two kids in car seats)—all while one kid is running around shrieking, my phone battery is dying, and I’m exhausted, having been up late the previous night keeping an eye on Congress in the aftermath of the attempted coup. HP < 1.

Tomorrow is my birthday, but I keep forgetting, because that seems like the least significant event in my life. On the one hand, I feel like I aged a decade in 2020; on the other hand, I feel I deserve to stay the same age since last year was essentially cancelled.

As I look at the tasks before me, I have (hold on, have to count) 12 books of my own that are urgently in need of significant updates, all of which I had intended to deliver in 2020, but, you know…2020. And that’s just the books I’ve written myself, never mind all the books by other authors that are in various stages of writing, editing, and production. In addition, there are still 83 items on my Take Control to-do list—bug fixes, new features, and other badly needed improvements to our website, payment processing, email, and our books themselves.

But remember: those are just the things visible, in some fashion, to the public. I also have to deal with my taxes (a huge project every year, even though my accountant does all the heavy lifting), prevent my house from falling apart, keep my cat alive, avoid catching a deadly disease, try to squeeze in a bit of exercise (thanks, Apple Fitness+), and hopefully remain sane in the face of huge family demands, little sleep, and a workplace that’s rarely quiet. Overwhelmed is much too mild a word for my current state.

So, um, would you like an ebook about computers today?

I mean, of course I would love for you to buy loads of books from us. They’re pretty great books, they’ll help you a lot, and buying them will help our authors and me pay our bills. Also: a lot of terrific new and updated books are in progress, although they obviously aren’t being finished as rapidly as I had hoped. I will have more to say about them in the weeks ahead.

But if buying our books isn’t exactly your top priority right now, I really really really understand.

With any luck, life will begin moving in a more hopeful direction soon. In the meantime, how about if we all do our best to cut each other some slack? I think a bit of grace will help us all—even more than vaccines, stimulus checks, or a new government—to regain something approaching normality.