Sunday, December 2, 2012

... On 37

A lot can change in two years. The last time I put together a post like this, I was in a decidedly morose state of mind. "The future doesn't feel quite as exciting as I used to believe it to be," I wrote on September 19, 2010 on my 35th birthday, with a self-photo taken at my desk that was all-too reflective of my overall mood.

Things are a bit better today.

As the first full year of what I hope will continue to be a fairly successful freelance writing career nears the end, I'm celebrating my most lucrative month ever. I billed close to $2,000 more in November than in my next-best month, back in February. Freelancing is always a feast-or-famine proposition, and December is usually slow... but I'm happy (and still amazed) to note that even my "worst" month of 2012 still gave me more than what I made at the old office job. I'm also happy to note that I've diversified my client base, with assignments from several new companies and, most notably, Aviation International News.

Even if the Great Freelance Writing Experiment crashes down tomorrow, I'll have no regrets in opting to pursue this full-time. It's incredibly vindicating to be paid for doing something you love doing anyway. I just need to be careful not to burn out.

Unlike the last time I made my living in aviation, though, there are ways for me to enjoy that outside of my job. At this writing - which comes over eight months since my last post, eep - I've also accumulated 26.7 hours as pilot-in-command of Remos N28GX, including a Class C checkout by Jim Crone, my CFI in Florida, who had the time to fly with me while traveling through the Land of Enchantment on his way back home to Seattle.

After that flight on May 1, my first "long" cross-country was from Santa Fe down to Belen (E80) and back. That was also my first trip there since I soloed back in July 2004; it was amazing how familiar it felt to be back in the pattern again, this time without an instructor onboard or even watching me from the ground.

I've also flown down to have breakfast at the Bombing Range Cafe at Double Eagle II (AEG) and I've done three sets of touch-and-goes at the Sunport (ABQ.) I even, finally, made it to Moriarty. I've taken friends (and Mom) out to Cabezon Peak, and I've helped encourage another as he makes his way through flight training. Seeing Ray make his first solo two weeks ago was one of the highlights of my year. I'm looking forward to taking mountain flight training next year.

Being a regular visitor up to SAF has also allowed me to ingratiate myself into the local airport community, as a member (and soon-to-be Secretary) of the Aviation Association of Santa Fe. One of the major tasks ahead is helping to come up with projects to build enthusiasm for the airport in the community - a daunting task, but also a challenge I'm looking forward to, and trying to meet with an open mind.

Another highlight this year was being published in a book published by the Omaha World-Herald newspaper. The compilation "At War At Home: The Cold War" assembled stories about area residents who played a part in forming the nation's post-World War II defense network, as well as those who fought in Korea and Vietnam. My Aunt Peg let us know about the book earlier this year, enough time for me to write a short feature about my Grandpa Darmody and his work with SAC and the ballistic missile program.

It's only one-third of a page, but it matters to us. Mom put it best: it's gratifying to know that even a brief history of her father's contributions is now recorded in a place outside the family. It was also a fitting postscript, as she and I finally made it up to Omaha in August, so we could see the final resting places of my Grammie (below) and my Grandpa Sayers.

This year also witnessed a family move, into a house that - despite many faults and flaws - I could actually see owning someday. It's the first actual house that's been in my name, and while it's a rental for now, and I doubt this would be the one I'd buy... just the fact I'm thinking like that tells me I have a more 'grown-up' outlook on my life than I have had before. I guess that comes from having a family to take care of in the first place.

So, all in all... 2012 has been a pretty good year. I also have precious little to complain about at three months in to my 37th time around the sun. I'm grateful for my live today, in part because I know how fleeting such things can be. There are no guarantees that 2013 or 38 will be as kind, so I have to appreciate it all while I can.

And I am.