Today’s post is from Nick Bachan, Austin’s premier young writer, cartoonist, and podcaster! He’s one of my favorite people on Twitter and he’s racking up a serious amount of interviews on his show Nick vs. the Podcast. At only 24, Nick’s got all the wisdom and self-awareness of a seasoned 25-year-old. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do. -Mad Betty
I think I’ve done it. I think I’ve finally become a successful adult. I sit at a desk for the majority of my week, I complain about traffic to cashiers at the grocery store, and I check my mail as regularly as possible.
Recently, to reward myself for my tremendous achievements, I let my parents take me on an amazing trip to Aruba. I even let them pay for everything. What can I say? I guess I’m just a wonderful and completely dependent son.
Vacation or no vacation, I’m prone to anxiety. Several alarming thoughts found their way to the forefront of my mind while I was sitting on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Apparently, my version of having a clear head is just having extra room for my deepest, darkest fears to come out of hiding.
Here are a few things that concern me regarding my personal development over the next 5-70 years:
- I look forward to doing laundry at my parents’ house
- I stress out when my employers offer me “benefits,” “promotions,” and “money”
- I eat most of my meals standing up, in my kitchen, over the course of 3-5 minutes
- I ask if I’m on dates while I’m on dates. Also, are those dates?
- I confess personal details about my life to strangers via other people’s blogs
I know I’m not the first person to wonder where my life is headed at 24, but it is a disturbing reality that I couldn’t ever stop worrying about my future even when everything about that pristine, tranquil beach setting was aggressively screaming “Relax!”
Upon discovering my age, people immediately tell me that these are the best years of my life. That’s a lot of pressure, especially when all I’m going to remember about this time in my life are everyone’s real-time opinions of Breaking Bad and how I spent a week trying to figure out iOS 7. How do people let go, live in the moment, seize days, etc.? Is it drugs?
I suppose there’s a bulleted list of things to be concerned about at any age, so I’ll keep that in mind when I can afford a second trip to Aruba in a distant, post-apocalyptic future. I’ll do it right next time! Until then, I’ll see how long my parents will put up with my financial instability while I’m living the best years of my life.
Going off the grid! After an entirely too busy few months, I’m taking a week off. From work, from social media, from the internet, from TV. A week of snorkeling and beach time in Playa Del Carmen is the escape and reset I need. I’m bringing some crappy paperbacks for entertainment, but otherwise I’m just going to enjoy my surroundings and take some time to breathe.
No laptop, no iPad, no phones. See you all next week, friends.
We all have flaws. I definitely have more than most of you. I am damaged goods, yo, and I carry my baggage around on my shoulders at all times. I’m not going to get into how I’m overly critical and can’t relax and grind my teeth and have zero patience. Those are separate posts. Or a separate blog.
My main struggle lately is the complete lack of balance in my life. I work pretty much around the clock. I work at work. I work after work. I work on the weekends. I have fitful sleep because I’m worried about the work I have to do, the work I haven’t done and all the things I just know I’m forgetting. I feel guilty when I’m not maximizing every second. I’m completely neurotic.
It’s not just for my regular job. I don’t want to give the impression that I work at a sweat shop. I absolutely do not. I have a million other projects going all the time. One-offs that I promise to do because they seem easy but are always, without fail, more complex and time-consuming than originally intended. One-offs that I’m always on the verge of finishing before my schedule is freed up. One-offs that finally end but are replaced by three more.
The truth is, I’m terrible about saying no. I like to be involved. I like to work on things. I don’t want to miss any opportunity to do something cool, make a little money, make new friends, etc. The lure that these extra projects will “lead to something more” is normally what hooks me. But the truth is, I don’t need that something more. Unless that something more is money, in which case I do need it.
Recently I kind of had a meltdown and had to unload some responsibilities. When I sat down and prioritized some things in my life, I had to take a look at what was worthwhile to me and figure out what my schedule could handle. It was sad to realize that much of what I’d been doing has been a time-suck and offered little satisfaction or reward. It was heart-wrenching to let go of some responsibilities that I valued so highly. Even more heart-wrenching was that no one seemed to care. Ouch. I have turned in to a workhorse and developed a workhorse personality to match. Utility over friendly. Business over pleasantries. Results over joy. When did I turn into this person?!
My intense drive and the constant push, push, push do not necessarily mesh well with everyone. I get shit done, but I’m not always winning people over in the process. I’ve had issues with this since moving to Austin because the East Coast work ethic doesn’t always translate. My fellow eastern brethren who have moved away often talk about this, so I know I’m not unique in this phenomenon.
Anyway, I’m attempting to restore some balance and find some happiness. I’m proud of how hard I work, but that doesn’t mean it makes me very happy. In fact, the process makes me very unhappy. I cannot recall the last time I was available to attend a party or read a book or jump in the pool. My workaholic tendencies haven’t brought me a better lifestyle. So I’m taking the steps to make improvements to my schedule, my relationships, and yes, all my flaws.
So there it is, world. I’m kind of sucky right now.
Today marks two years since Mad Betty started. This is also my 400th post, so I look at it as a double milestone. I’ve learned a lot in these two years and I’ll share a little with you.
Blogging Ain’t Easy
It might seem all cool and fun, but keeping up with a blog is a lot of work. There is so much to know. To learn. To figure out. Trends and technology change all the time and it’s work to keep up. It’s work to promote it. For the love of Pete, it’s work to write all the time. Which brings me to my next point—
Bloggers Need to Write
Content is the essence of a blog. Sure, there’s SEO and promotion and social media. There are plenty of ways to get people to your blog. But if there’s nothing good there…what’s the point? What are you putting out there? Does anyone really want to see another “Wordless Wednesday” post? (More like Worthless Wednesday.) I consider it an honor to have you on my site, reading my words. So I attempt to put something up that’s worth reading, and to regularly put up fresh content.
Do I feel like writing all the time? No. Hell no. I write for a living. I freelance write, too. On top of that, I’m constantly sending email or texting or some other form of writing. If anyone gets tired of writing, it’s me. Sometimes I don’t feel like blogging. But then I’m always glad that I do. It’s comparable to working out, I guess. Writing makes you smarter. I might not be putting the most intellectual thoughts out on the web, but I hope that I’m not making any of you actively stupider by reading Mad Betty. I hope you are entertained for a few minutes every few days. And I hope that occasionally I make you think.
People ask, do you ever run out of stuff to write about? The answer to that is no. At any given time, I have a list of 40-60 things I want to write about. If I don’t get to something quickly enough, it drops off my list. There’s simply not enough time to discuss the pop culture things I love (or hate) or all the great (or bad) things happening in Austin.
Focus on What’s Important
My somewhat prolific, short style of blogging isn’t the only way of doing it. I really enjoy reading long-form, deep posts that others do. Ones that may take weeks to write, and then when they are complete, they are masterpieces. I write with a short attention span and I imagine my readers have short attention spans. What’s important to me is regularity. Consistency. Freshness. I’m a tough taskmaster on myself and I beat myself up if I only post three times a week.
Over the past year I’ve abandoned any real push to gain new readership. I watched my numbers steadily grow each month until they reached a nice, comfortable plateau. At first I panicked. How can I get more people to Mad Betty? But then I realized that the time and focus I’d have to spend on traffic would take away from the time I need to be working on content. I simply cannot do it all. And so I let that go. I’m at peace with my readership and value each and every one of you.
Thanks for a great first two years. I look forward to growing, getting better, and putting more words on this little tiny corner of the web. Thanks for reading.
Today’s post is by featured writer Chris Sheppard aka Mr. Betty aka Huge Yankees fan. Enjoy! -Mad Betty
The Yankees are a family tradition for the Sheppard’s. My grandparents listened to the radio broadcast as a dying Lou Gehrig professed that he was the luckiest man on the face of the earth. My father saw Mickey Mantle hit home runs from both sides of the plate at the old stadium, and I was fortunate enough to see the greatest relief pitcher of all time, Mariano Rivera, pitch in The Bronx. This is a story about his farewell tour, a 162-game swan song.
Of all my sporting obsessions, baseball is the one that Betty
enjoys tolerates with the most, claiming They’re the Yankees. They’re celebrities. Not a surprising answer from a pop culture blogger. But Mariano Rivera, affectionately known as Mo, is not your typical Yankee celebrity. He doesn’t date models or famous actresses. He has never cavorted with The Material Girl. You won’t find him on Page Six. (Mad Betty note: That’s a shame.)
In his 19th and final season, Mo wanted to reach out to all the behind-the-scenes employees at opposing ballparks, thanking them for their hard work over the years. So all season he’s been taking the time to meet with the grounds crews, ushers, concession workers, and invisible personnel.
“I appreciate what you guys do. We see mostly what goes on when we’re on the field and not what’s going on behind the scenes. I wanted to say thank you for everything that you guys do, for the love and passion you have for your team. It doesn’t matter if you are a Yankee fan or not. You are a baseball fan.”
Teams are reciprocating the goodwill and showering Rivera with gifts. The FDNY gave him a bronzed fire hose and firebox, symbols of immortal “fireman status,” the ultimate compliment for a relief pitcher. The Tigers gave him a plaque and vials of earth from both the old and current fields. The Minnesota Twins gave him a “Chair of Broken Dreams” made of shattered bats, a common side effect of his lethal cut fastball.
Baseball teams aren’t the only sports franchises honoring Rivera. The Globetrotters have drafted him. Mo got game. (Mad Betty note: OMG, I love the Globetrotters.) Delta Airlines dedicated a 757 jet in his honor.
When I reflect on what his career has meant to Yankees fans, I realize he gave us a sense of security and finality. He excelled in the toughest of towns; the spotlight always burns brightest on the mound at Yankee stadium. With Rivera’s departure the Yankees Universe loses our sense of security, our ninth inning safeguard.
There hasn’t been this much fanfare over a Yankee retirement in my lifetime. This is the end of a wonderful chapter. It’s a bittersweet time. I’m sad to see him retire but I’m happy with the way he went out. Thanks for all the great years, Mo.
After almost a year of working for myself, I went back to the normal 9 to 5.
I enjoyed freelancing for the flexibility and ability to work in my pajamas. But I’m so over the pajamas! And I’m really eager to put my paycheck, workflow, health insurance and office supplies in someone else’s hands. I like knowing what work is in the pipeline; I’ve never been good at pounding the pavement to line up my next freelance job. I don’t have a salesman aspect to my personality, preferring to passively let work come to me through a recruiter or other contacts. And that’s not the most successful approach.
For me, the cons of freelancing outweighed the pros. The flexibility was good. I could go to a movie in the middle of the day if I wanted. Or hang out with my friends. The problem is, most of my friends are, you know, working during the day. And I’ve spent far too many a late night in front of the computer trying to meet a deadline either because the client didn’t give enough lead time. Or I underestimated the scope of work. Or I’ve mismanaged my time.
Plus, you have to find your own health and dental insurance, which in today’s climate….sucks. A lot. And make your own invoices. Deal with your own complicated taxes. Not saying I wouldn’t go back to it one day, but I’m in no rush. I like structure and if that means I can’t sleep in during the week, then so be it. Because honestly, that’s the best part of working for yourself. The sleep.
So for now, you’ll find me living for the weekend. And often the weeknights. But the workday hours? They’re taken.