All About Me

Today’s radio show was interesting. The host called me about a half-hour before and said he wanted to talk not about my books, but me. My childhood, what it was like. What my high school was like. What college was like. Law school. Did I have regrets about not staying with music (yes).

I think I was as open as I’ve ever been. I’m normally a very private person, and talking about myself like that makes me uncomfortable. But I wasn’t this time. Maybe it was because I was by myself. I mean, I was on the phone in my office, not in a studio. I can’t imagine saying those things if I was on TV, or being videotaped.

So what was my childhood like? In many ways, it was wonderful. Living in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s was such fun. I used to save my lunch money and take the bus downtown. I’d wander through the Smithsonian, I’d wander through the federal buildings. And it was all in my backyard. Mind you, I was 10-12 years old. A kid. Can you imagine letting your child do that these days? Absolutely not. But it was a different time, and the world was a different place.

For high school, I went to Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts. By then I was an accomplished pianist, and it was a no-brainer that I’d get in. Again, in many ways, it was wonderful. Playing music almost all day. I learned to play the oboe (badly) and the trombone (not as badly). I belonged to a city-wide orchestra, and traveled to Japan with them.

Then, college. The music department was very good, but it wasn’t stellar. So I opted to quit music, and majored in what the school called government. Those four years helped define me as a person, as it does just about everybody.

I kind of fell into law school. An accidental lawyer. I was working as a paralegal in New York, had been for two years, and it was time to move on. Except I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Well, all my friends were going to law school, so I thought I might as well go, too. Biggest mistake of my life. I hated law school, to the point where I was depressed, and basically drank my way through it. After I graduated, I thought I’d be a lawyer for a couple of years, and then go do something else. Thirty years later… Now I’m a lawyer-journalist. I don’t necessarily write about the law, but I do write about taxes, which, in my columns, sometimes involves the law.

My avocation, of course, is writing novels of the fantastic. That is far more satisfying than anything else I’ve ever done, save being a musician. Three books, a fourth being written, and a fifth in the works. I wish I could do it full-time. But I need a couple of best-sellers under my belt before that can happen. I mean, I don’t want to be a poor writer. I don’t have to be a rich writer. But I do have to be a comfortable writer. And, with a day job, I’m comfortable. Of course, it leaves less time to write, but that’s just something I have to live with. At least for now. And then there’s Blackrose Press. Sometimes I think I’m never going to get it launched. First it was 2016. Now it’s 2018. And then, most likely, it’ll be 2020. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens.

And there you have it. My life in a few paragraphs. Oh, I’m leaving things out, like two disastrous marriages. But in the larger scheme of things, though they’ve had a hand in shaping who I am today, I really feel they don’t count. Bad things happen to good people, you know? You grieve, get mad, and then move on.

Writing is my life, now. And may it forever be. 

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