A new direction, handwritten letters, and why I like doing laundry at 4 a.m.

I like doing laundry. There, I said it.

I got up early this morning like I do every Saturday, at 4 a.m., before the sun rises and all the noise starts. It’s one of my favorite times of the week.

Is this because I’m a “morning person?” Not really. I’ve always thought of myself as a night owl, but I also don’t mind getting up early in the morning if I have to (or want to). I’m not one of these people who can’t function in the morning if they don’t have their coffee. For one thing, I don’t drink coffee. Also, I’m used to getting up really early, probably from all of those years having to get to the restaurant by 5:30 a.m. for the breakfast shift. So I’ve never really known how to describe myself.

And then it hit me: it’s not specifically day vs. night, it’s not morning person vs. evening person, it’s the darkness I like. It’s quieter, calmer. No traffic going by, no one working outside, no distractions. That’s probably one of the many reasons I like the fall and winter over spring and summer. Those 4 p.m. sunsets bring me joy.

(God, the next three months are going to be hell.)

Now, it’s not like I would, if given a list of activities to do, choose doing laundry over eating pizza, watching TV, or sitting in a chair reading, but I don’t find doing laundry a chore like many people do (see also: dishes, washing the). Get some other chores or writing done while the wash is going, shower while the clothes are in the dryer, take them out, fold, and put away. It’s a sense of accomplishment.

We all need our little victories every day.

So the next time you’re in bed some Saturday at 4 a.m., looking at the ceiling, unable to sleep, think to yourself, hey, I bet Bob’s doing laundry right now.

I really hadn’t planned on opening this post with a discussion of washing and drying clothes, but sometimes these things just happen, and I know the type of “content” people crave these days (laundry content). What I really want to talk about is what the future holds for me and this site.

After a long time thinking about it, I’ve decided to shift focus, so now this site will be all about the history of artisanal cheeses. It has always been a passion of mine and I want to concentrate on it more and maybe even make a little money from it. Please sign up for my Substack, Cheeses Christ. Only $50 a year!

OK, that’a a lie. But I am making some ch-ch-ch-changes (personally, yes – the past two plus years have made us all rethink things – but let’s concentrate on the professional):

First: Professor Barnhardt’s Journal is back. I ended it a few months ago but then I thought I should keep doing it. I mean, why not? Now, “why not?” isn’t always the best reason to do something, but I enjoy doing it and it’s not like it’s taking up too much web space that could be used for something else (like a blog about artisanal cheeses). And it’s a good place to put things that I don’t really want to put on this site: interviews, recipes, vintage videos, links to things I’ve found, random this and that. Check it out. It even has a blog roll! (Tonight we’re gonna blog like it’s 1999.)

Second, to expand on my Goodbye Freelancing piece that got a lot of traffic and caused a bit of controversy in certain parts of the web, I’m drastically changing what I’m going to concentrate on, writing-wise. I’ve given up looking for writing work every day like I did for over 30 years (though if you’re an editor of any type of publication at all and want me to write something for you, we can talk) and instead I’m going to put my energy into three things:

  • writing books. I’m pretty much going to spend full-time writing books now, both print and on Kindle. Mostly fiction, pulp and otherwise, but maybe some non-fiction too, and short stories.
  • my newsletter, Passing Fast Remarks, which launches later this month and you should subscribe to because it’s insanely cheap.
  • more longform: longer essays and longer features, both print and online.

(Speaking of, thanks to everyone for making the new issue of Noir City #1 on Amazon!)

I even thought, for a brief, crazy moment, about joining social media again. But then I remembered, hey, I actually don’t like banging my head against a concrete wall every single day. I am doing handwritten letters again. Not The Letter (which I ended a few years ago) but real personal letters to people. (I guess you could say that letters are my social media?)

So you can look forward to all of that. Or not! If you’re reading this site for the first time you can put your email in the “Don’t Miss A Post” box on the right and you’ll get an email every time I post something here; you can read my Saturday Evening Post columns every Friday; and you can send me an email or leave a comment with any questions, kudos, or criticisms.

Thanks. We now return you to your regular web surfing, already in progress.

Meanwhile, over at The Saturday Evening Post …

I usually link to my weekly Post column over there in the sidebar on the right, but because I know some eyes don’t drift over there when they visit this site, I sometimes link to it here.

This week: the last payphone in NYC, Roger Angell, the kid from Jaws is now the police chief where it was filmed, bottle caps, Johnny Carson’s last Tonight Show, Dashiell Hammett, and a bunch of salad recipes.

Advice to graduates

Some advice I thought I’d pass along (a post from a while back with some new additions).

1. If someone says to you that your high school or college years will be the best of your life, run away from these people as fast as you can. That’s just depressing.

2. Save money. This may seem like a no-brainer, but trust me: having money is a lot better than being broke.

3. Good credit is more important than love. You’ll find love eventually, but if you mess up your credit you’re screwed.

4. If you fail at something, don’t freak out about it. You really do learn as much from your failures as your successes.

5. “I’m really not sure what to do next” is not a reason to go to graduate school.

6. Don’t be one of those people who constantly talks about their grades, athletic success, or anything else that happened in school. People stop caring about this stuff one hour after you receive your diploma/degree.

7. If you find yourself in jail, act crazy. The others will stay away from you.

8. Your parents are smarter than you think. I know this doesn’t seem true now but it is.

9. Working is usually better than not working. See #2.

10. To high school graduates: when you get to college, you will meet a lot of assholes.

11. To college graduates: Same when you get a job.

12. Read books, of all kinds. Read, read, read, read, read.

13. Move out of your hometown. And if you need/want to stay in your hometown, live some place else first and then come back to it.

14. Sunny weather is fine, but learn how to appreciate the rain and snow.

15. Don’t tweet. Nothing good ever happens on Twitter.

16. It’s amazing what a simple “thank you” or “I’m sorry” can do. For the person you say it to and yourself.

17. Kindness is a superpower.

18. Don’t envy anyone. It’s a waste of time.

19. Have an interest in things that happened before you were born. People, events, movies, TV, music, everything.

20. Put your phone down. Seriously, just put it down.

21. The best app? Pen and paper.

22. Take a second and breathe before you speak. Don’t be in a hurry just to get a word in.

23. You can’t control what other people do. But you can control how you react to it.

24. You can tell a lot about a person by how they act at the supermarket. Say hello to the cashier, put the divider after your groceries for the next person, and return your cart to the corral when you’re done.

25. Don’t be the type of person who would go on a reality show.

26. Naps are underrated.

27. New Year’s Eve is overrated.

28. Don’t put tomatoes in the fridge.

29. Underbake cookies a little bit.

30. You can never have too many batteries.

31. Shemp is just as funny as Curly. Don’t let anyone tell you he isn’t.