The following is a free sample of AN ALMOST TOLERABLE PERSON: Uncommon Thoughts on Life, Loss, and Looking Back. The book is available for preorder now and is officially launching on April 20! If you preorder the book, you'll get in on your Kindle three days early!
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The following is a free sample of the book from the opening chapter: By Way of Introduction
I’ve been a lot of different people during my lifetime. I imagine that’s true for most people, but it’s especially true for me, I think.
I’ve been “a human chameleon,” a “little ball of clay,” and “an awkward spaz.” I’ve been described as a “nice guy,” an “insecure and clingy boyfriend,” and “just INTOLERABLE. Like for REAL!”
All of those quotes are either from my own old journals, papers or letters. Two of those quotes are my own. I limited myself to ones that don’t have bad words in them, what we’d call “normal language” back home in Jersey.
Looking back, I think I was a lot.
As I write this, almost a full year into a global pandemic, I’m in my forties and live in a middle-class suburb in Northern Virginia. There is a very sweet yellow Lab trying to get me to throw her ball again as I work on this. My three teenage children are all slogging through their virtual school day while my wife works hard at an actual job.
Spoiler Alert: I’m pretty content with where I find myself these days. We’ll talk about that more, but I wanted to get that out right away because it was not always that way. Not at all. Remember, I was once considered “INTOLERABLE! Like for REAL!”
As a person, I’ve always been pretty reflective. I reflect on things. Sometimes I overthink them, but I’ve always been wired that way. I’ve always looked back, particularly at the things that have gone well, or poorly. The people who I’ve loved and lost, I look back on them a lot. I think a lot about loss and always have. Now that I think about it, I kind of reflect on everything. I should reflect on that.
OK, that last paragraph is pretty clear evidence that I probably overthink things. The more I overthink about it though, I think that, to brutally paraphrase our old friend Robert Fulghum, ‘all I really need to know I learned from loss and looking back on it. Just much later on and in a roundabout way.’
It doesn’t really roll off the tongue, I know. It would look awful on a book cover, which is why you didn’t see it there, but I think it’s a pretty accurate assessment of where I find myself when I consider the journey my life has taken, the ridiculously circuitous road I’ve taken on the road towards happiness and fulfilment, and the realization that finally, (yes, finally) I might just have arrived at a point where I can tolerate myself. Where I might actually be a person who’s almost tolerable for other people to be around.
So, how did I get here?
Outside of leaving a career in education in my beloved New Jersey to become a stay-at-home dad in Hawaii, transitioning into a life of domestic tranquility with occasional jaunts into the world of professional mixology and then eventually embracing my life as an author and founder of what my son once called a “somewhat successful publishing company” in an extremely public forum, I think what’s made the biggest difference in my ability to morph into the almost tolerable person before you now is that I’ve grown up a little. Also, I’ve run out of ‘forks’ to give about what pretty much anyone thinks about me, my life, and my choices.
Yes, that’s right, the almost tolerable author, who hopes you love this book and go review it on Amazon and Goodreads and share it with all your friends and help make it a huge bestseller so that his in-laws will finally have a reason to brag about something he did to their friends, really doesn’t give a ‘fork’ what you think about those things. For real. Mostly.
That said, I’ve already spoiled the fact that I’m pretty good with where I am in life right now, even during a pandemic. I may have given that bit away, but there’s a lot more to say about how I got there, so definitely keep reading. Looking back, it seems like the mass of my years were spent nowhere near any kind of “good with where I was” much less pretty good, so there’s a lot to talk about in this slim little volume.
When I was writing the Avery & Angela series of novels, finding my mind in the headspace of an eighteen-year-old kid was informative at times and gave me an interesting perspective on my own journey to adulthood. Writing in Avery’s voice was enjoyable, but it has taken some time for me to shed that voice for other projects. In some ways, I think that attempt at a course correction is what has driven me back to writing as myself, trying to make sense of our increasingly complex world by using my own voice.
I’m not a psychologist. I’m not a therapist. I’m not a doctor. My Master’s degree is in Education and it’s written completely in Latin, so I can’t even read it without Google Translate. I’m not an influencer with millions of followers and loads of social proof. Instead, I’m a person (an ALMOST tolerable one maybe?) who, just like you, has lived a life that’s led me to this exact moment where my writing and your reading have serendipitously intersected. What a cool thing to have happened, am I right?
But seriously, I’m not an expert on anything. I’m a pretty good cook, a borderline excellent mixologist, I’m pretty good at trivia and I’m still a really strong swimmer. I’m probably not the guy you should be seeking advice from about anything seriously important.
That said, I pay attention and always have, especially when things are difficult. I listen. I think (overthink) most things and right now, I feel like the angst and hunger of my youth and the wisdom of my advancing years have collided in a pretty interesting way, and that collision has inspired me to reflect and to look back. It’s inspired me to really take a long, loving look at loss and to consider how my life might have been different but for fortune and timing. It’s inspired me to take an equally long look at myself, my choices, and the way that I have and continue to respond to loss in my life.
My hope in sharing this with you is that, if nothing else, you walk away from the pages herein feeling better about yourself. Chances are that you’re actually doing awesome and need to cut yourself a break. If you need help with something troubling, please, ask for help. It’s OK. I wish I’d done that earlier and more often, as you’re about to learn. I’m sure I’ll need to ask for help again in my life and that’s going to be OK too.
There’s a question on the last page of this book that I hope excites you as much as it excites me. There’s nothing stopping you from flipping ahead and spoiling it, but I hope you won’t. I’d rather you get there as I got there: one word at a time.
Get your copy of the book HERE!
-excerpt from AN ALMOST TOLERABLE PERSON: Uncommon Thoughts on Life, Loss, and Looking Back, publishing April 20, 2021 by Four Leaf Publishing ©2021, All Rights Reserved
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