Well, the bad boy blogger is back.
Sorry for the long absence. I retired the blog for a while because, quite frankly, I didn’t know what to do with it.
When I started it years ago, I was seeking a creative outlet as well as a platform to opine about politics. And, to be honest, I wanted to needle some of my adversaries in Maryland political circles.
Well, the needling got old.
I found I enjoyed writing about policy and politics in an agnostic fashion more than personalities. So, I focused on opeds for newspapers such as The Sun and The Hill.
This approach got me into as much trouble as my blogging did. But I’ll get to that in a moment.
Anyway, 2016 was a year of highs and lows for everyone, and my experience was no exception. But in my case, the highs outweighed the lows for three reasons.
1) I wrote a tribute to my ailing, formidable first boss – Congresswoman Helen Bentley – which appeared in The Sun on the day she died. But what made the experience special is that I got to personally show it to her when I visited her with former Baltimore Councilman Todd Huff about 10 days before she died. Crusty former journalist that she was, she read it carefully as I stood there – the acolyte waiting for the mentor’s verdict. She nodded, quietly handed it back to me, grabbed my arm and said, “You can visit me anytime.” I nearly cried.
2) I participated in the GOP convention in Cleveland, where I had the opportunity to write the so-called “Benghazi mom’s” incendiary speech. Then, when I got back home, I wrote an oped that summarized the experience which got me both national attention (“Anderson Cooper would like you to appear on his show. Can we send a car to pick you up?”) and a boatload of trouble (“The convention people are really mad at you”). In both cases, I felt like a hunted animal.
3) In December, I closed out the year appropriately by returning to my alma mater, St. Paul’s School in Brooklandville, where I had the chance to speak to students about these experiences (Thanks to Alumni Director Charley Mitchell for making it happen).
On the less positive side of 2016, I turned 50 and it wasn’t a fun experience. I dealt with career and personal angst, and wrestled with some health issues. Part of the aftermath of 2016 is that a lot of people are mad at me at the moment - even more than usual.
So why am I resurrecting this blog, which I last updated in November 2015?
Well, my friend - life coach, fellow blogger - and I were talking about the value of New Year’s resolutions. She found them trite, and while I agree, given the volatility of 2016, I probably need to set some goals if not outright “resolutions” for myself.
So here they are…
I I will spend more time focusing on the future than dwelling on the past.
I will be a better friend. Other than my sister, I have no surviving family – at least not that I care to ever talk to again. The positive side: it gives you the chance to build your own “family,” so to speak, from the ranks of the people you meet and connect with organically. I truly love my friends, but let some of them down last year. Specifically, I have committed what I have long regarded as the cardinal sin of friendship: I cancelled plans at the last minute, on multiple occasions. This has cost me dearly in some cases. I am ashamed.
I will do a better job of listening. I don’t think I am a selfish person, but I have a tendency to get wrapped up in my own stuff, especially when I am in a period of transition or tumult. It's an introvert thing, I guess. Consequently, some people I care about a lot now think I take them for granted and, in some cases, take me for granite.
I will learn to integrate my emotions with my intellectual side. I have always been a better Spock than a Kirk, and this led to some awkward moments in 2016.
I will work to Make America Great Again.
OK, that last one was a joke.
Anyway, I promise to blog in a less confessional, Richard-centered manner, and with greater regularity, in the future. I may also make it less political - the Kardashians need love too.
Coming out of a fractious year, I need to hit the “reset” button. If I have disappointed you, I hope you will give me the chance to reset.
My hero, Richard Nixon, was once asked why he still got out of bed in the morning. “I do it to confound my enemies,” he replied.
I’m not looking to confound enemies in 2017. But I do want to shatter expectations.
Happy New Year.