Next Steps, Reinvention, and Opportunities in The New World

As I discussed in last week’s newsletter, I am in a transitional spot. The worst of the pandemic is over, so my kids are slowly getting back on track and requiring less help from me. However, I don’t think I can go back to cheerful education journalism any time soon, because schools and education have been permanently altered. Also, I can’t separate my own family’s experiences with schools during the pandemic to write something without bitterness and regret. So, what’s next?

One idea came out of last week’s experiment with smoothies.

On a morning walk with a buddy, she told me she started a 10-day smoothie detox to get rid of the pounds that she packed on during the pandemic. She said that she was using the recipes from a book — 10-Day Green Smoothie Cleanse. When she went home, she texted me a picture of the book. I ran out and got the book, too, because my winter pounds are making me sad. Nestled on the sofa, looking out at our icy front lawn, I read the book.

Reading that book from cover to cover took about 20 minutes. The only essential part of the book was the ten pages that had the recipes for the smoothies — which are delicious, by the way. The rest of the book was filler: a story about how the author got into smoothies and changed her life, testimonials from friends who tried her smoothies, and various disclaimers.

With my academic background, I tend to think that books should take years, involve lots of research, interviews with experts, some graphs, and lots of footnotes. But most books aren’t like that. This book was a best seller, which made the author tons of money. And she probably pumped those words over a few weekends.

I could do that.

Over the past year, I’ve been slowly turning my kid with autism into a college student. I think I’m going to do a newsletter on that topic, and put it behind a paywall. This blog and newsletter, as I said last week, are simply for fun. But I might monetize some of the stuff that I write about.

Another advantage of putting this information in its own space is that I can go much geekier than I do here. Most of you aren’t autism parents, so I try really hard not to go into the weeds with details. But if I’m talking just to autism parents, then I won’t worry about boring people with details that are actually really important to folks like us.

But that’s just an easy-peasy afternoon of work. What else am I going to do?

In the short term, I’m still dealing books. I had Steve and Ian haul about 300 books out of an old house in a suburb outside of Newark this weekend. I got them all for $200, which is more than I usually spend. But there were large sets of antique books in there. All together, I’ll get at $3,000 for them, eventually. I’m turning my basement into a maze of bookshelves. It’s slightly insane, but fun.

During the pandemic, we did a lot of day trips together and had some marvelous adventures. Our weekend trips kept us sane and amused, when the world grew small. This past month, we’ve been more sedentary, because the weather sucked, and we’ve had a lot of family events. (Including my dad’s 85th birthday at a local Italian restaurant, shown in the picture above.) Soon, we’re going to return to our adventures.

Reinvention is fun, but it does require lots of thought to do it right.