You know, it’s amazing how busy I deliberately keep myself sometimes. I mean, really. If you think about it, I’m probably the busiest person you know.  I’m ALWAYS working on some project or another. Or playing with some new hobby or another. Or recording another damn YouTube video about something or the other. This can, I think, be evidenced by the fact that my last blog post was done three and a half months ago, with nary of a whisper of an update since thing.

So, here’s the latest update.  (I’ll get back to the house purchase process blogs eventually…maybe this weekend!)

November was a relatively quiet month for me here in the new Armstrong homestead.  I spent a lot of time just getting used to being in a new house.  There was a lot of work that needed to be done to get the house functional.  The interior was very nice, but it was missing things like lighting fixtures, closet organizers or rods, blinds, etc.  So I spent a lot of time in the crawlspace or attic running cables for surround sound, ethernet, and TV.  I got closet organizers installed in the master bathroom.  I got shower curtains, toilet paper holders, and towel rods installed in 2 of my 3 bathrooms.  I got my studio wired up.  I hung all of the acoustic panels on the walls for the studio, and bought a huge carpet remnant to lay on the floor.  I built a massive panel to block off the window in my studio to block for sound treatment.  And I built 4 4’X3′ acoustic panels that I hung from the ceiling for additional treatment.

By the time all of this was done, it was time to decorate for Christmas.  This year, however, I was in no mood to do the Christmas decoration thing in any way, shape, or form, so I didn’t bother.  It just wasn’t worth it to me. Besides, I wanted to enjoy my house the way it was for a little while.  2014 will be the year Christmas decorations threaten to overwhelm my abode.

And this was back in September. I have even more ink now.
And this was back in September. I have even more ink now.

2013 was the Year of the Fountain Pen, for me.  The hobby I started on the 24th of February with the purchase of my first fountain pen has turned into a massive obsession.  In less than 10 months, my collection of pens blossomed from one pen, to three pens, to 6 pens, and now I am sitting at 36 pens.  I started using ink cartridges in my pens, and within a year, I now have over 70 full-sized bottles of ink in my collection.  I have started purchasing paper from all over the world.  I write probably 5-7 letters a week, and often write in my journal.

Perhaps most exciting for me was the creation of, and explosion of popularity of, my Fountain Pen blog and YouTube Channel, The Pen Habit. I parlayed my experience in performing, film, sound design, and lighting to put together an increasingly popular YouTube channel with hundreds of subscribers and tens of thousands of YouTube views. And it’s just me, reviewing fountain pens.  It’s a little cray-cray, frankly.  But it’s been a LOT of fun.  When I started with my first fountain pen, I truly had no idea the depth and breadth of information about these esoteric writing instruments that “nobody” uses anymore. Huge, thriving, and even growing communities of Generation X’ers who have fallen in love with the decided low-tech pen and ink of nearly a century earlier.  It’s been a fun, fun ride.

One that, I am not ashamed to admit, I have roped more than a couple of people into with me.  (I’m amazed by how many men are fascinated by fountain pens…I’m sure there’s some psychological nonsense about power associated with such a phallic object or something like that. Whatever. I used to go to office supply stores for fun. I’m not a good indicator of what’s “normal.”)

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December found me at home with my family for the Christmas holidays.  It was wonderful to see my brother and sister in law, and their clan of 5(!) kids ranging from 13 to 3 months.  I also got to see my Sister and Brother-In-Law and their two chirren.  And, of course, my folks, and friends.  It was a nice vacation.

IMG_5955IMG_5965January hit with a vengeance.  Shortly after the start of the year, I was in Costco, picking up a 36-can box of Diet Pepsi, and collapsed in the aisle in agony.  I had thrown my back out for the first time in my life. You know, in my life, I have always kind of mentally rolled my eyes when people complain about how much pain they are in with a bad back.  I used to think to myself, “Oh, come on. It’s really not all that bad. Just suck it up. Your muscles will relax eventually.  Just get on with it.”

I officially apologize to anyone about whom I have secretly harbored those thoughts.  Back pain is awful.  Not quite as awful as the kidney stone pain I experience last summer, but not all that far off.  I had several trips to a chiropractor in a two-week period, and now I’m largely back to normal, but with an increased drive to meet my weight loss resolution for 2014.  (More on that in a future blog post, perhaps.)

January also brought a massive influx of new audiobooks that needed to be published. It (once again) put the book I wanted to work on myself on hold while I worked on other peoples’ books, but that’s okay.  Andrew (my business partner) and I are taking a new tack with the next batch of audiobooks that we’re publishing, and are going to start focusing more efforts on marketing.  Hopefully those efforts will pay off.

February started off normal enough, but was instead shocked out of complacency by coming home to this disaster.

Broken Back Window

When I came home from work a few days ago, I found a huge gaping hole where my sliding glass door had been, a patio paver brick on the floor where one hadn’t been before, and a very stressed out dog, sitting on a pile of broken glass, standing guard over his house.  I also found a deep gouge in the hardwood floor I had refinished myself. (Not pleased.)

As far as I can tell, the vandals/would-be burglars came into my back yard over the fence, used a patio stone to break the class, and were scared off by Luke the Dog™ before they could steal anything at all.  (Either that, or they were just punks being vandals for the fun of it…but I rather doubt that.)  In any case, Luke’s presence in the house was a very fortunate thing, because just outside of the frame of this photo, I had my entire video shoot setup (cameras included) set up and ready to roll to record several new pen videos. There was a computer monitor less than five feet away from the door. And they didn’t take anything.  I have to say…I was really, REALLY upset by the experience.  I have ordered a killer new security system (cameras, glass break sensors, the whole nine yards) which will be arriving tomorrow.  And I should have new glass installed by Tuesday.  Right now, my door is boarded up, which really looks classy.

So, that has been a short capsule review of Matt’s life over the last several months.  Now that things have slowed down a bit, I’m hoping to dedicate a bit more time to writing more blog entries.  I’ve had a few ideas blooming for a while, and thought I might finally start working on them.

Next post: An update of music.

  • Carol

    THANK heavens Luke is okay! What a great dog. Glad to hear all is well. Somebody up there likes you! ;) For added peace of mind, there’s some amazing stuff you can apply to glass (goes on like contact paper) that makes it impossible to break. (you probably already know this, but gosh it’s scary to think of Luke the Dog sitting on broken glass.)
    All the best.