Nuts and Bolts
Well, now! After nearly six months of planning and prep work, I boarded a train for Seattle on September 1 and arrived here September 5. In my first month in Seattle I accomplished the following things:
--Began work at my employer's Seattle location, reducing my hours to thirty.
--Stayed in a convenient hotel for five nights till my studio apartment was ready.
--Moved into the studio on September 10 after completing a 20-page lease form and obtaining proof of Seattle employment (which took no little doing).
--Decided to travel on foot, not by bus, to gain a thorough knowledge of the downtown area where I work and live.
--Found within easy walking distance: a copy shop, scores of Starbucks and two 4-star indie cafes, a terrific sandwich shop (half sandwich for $2.75), several soup and salad joints, a mystery book store, two movie multiplexes, a medium-sized grocery store, Pike Place Market, hair salons, a post office, an Office Depot, a Walgreens, restaurants of all persuasions (Indian, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, etc.), a large Bank of America, the central library, a store for kilts..The list goes on. All found on foot.
--Visited Gold's Gym and committed to working out there on a month-to-month basis starting by mid-October.
--Spent a couple of mornings on line, notifying anyone who needed to know of my change of address.
--Applied for State Enhanced ID.
--Continued revising my upcoming winter thriller for release as an Amazon ebook.
Give me a city of neighborhoods any old day of the week. Depending on the source you check, Seattle has somewhere between 63 'hoods and a hundred. Central District, Downtown, Capitol Hill, Belltown, Pioneer Square, Lower Queen Anne...and on. In my walks so far I've seen enough to resolve the confused first impression that I was in San Francisco or Portland.
--Pike Place Market: a superior indoor version of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Every bit as much a tourist trap--but with reasonably-priced world-class produce stands. And they'll sell you a handful of grapes...or a cluster....or a half-pound or more with a smile. Six dates? Absolutely, sir! Three bananas--for today or tomorrow or just a bit green?
--The produce artiste at my favorite stand. When asked how much an apple weighed, he held it up in the palm of his hand, deliberated solemnly, then answered: "Seven tenths of a pound." The woman scoffed and insisted that he use a scale. He did--and he'd been off by less than half an ounce. How could I not return there?
--The stoned kid camped out in a doorway, barely holding up this sign: IT WOULD BE SO AWESOME IF SOMEBODY HELPED ME.
--Pioneer Square's stone and brick buildings dating back to 1852.
--The double-buses that seem to stretch half a city block.
--The pedestrian-friendly traffic lights that give walkers time to cross--and cars little more than a second before yellow turns to red.
Size, Statistics and Climate
--The Seattle Metro Area includes the city of Seattle, King County, Snohomish County and Pierce County within the Puget Sound region.
--Estimated population of 3.5 million as of 2012. The 13th largest Metro Statistical Area in the U.S. The adjacent metro areas--Olympia, Bremerton, etc.--raise that population by about 1.3 million.
--Downtown population: 652,405.
--The racial makeup of the SMA is said to be:
- White: 71.9% (Non-Hispanic White)
- Black or African American: 5.6%
- American Indian and Alaskan Native: 1.1%
- Asian: 11.4% (2.3% Chinese, 2.0% Filipino, 1.6% Vietnamese, 1.5% Indian, 1.5% Korean, 0.8% Japanese, 0.5%Cambodian, 0.2% Laotian, 0.1% Thai, 0.1% Pakistani, 0.1% Indonesian)
- Pacific Islander: 0.8% (0.3% Samoan, 0.2% Guamanian or Chamorro, 0.1% Native Hawaiian)
- Two or more races: 5.3%
- Some other race: 3.8%
- Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 9.0% (6.4% Mexican, 0.5% Puerto Rican, 0.4% Spanish or Spaniard, 0.2% Salvadoran, 0.1%Guatemalan, 0.1% Peruvian)
I'll bring you more in months to come as I pound the city beat in search of the Soul of Seattle.
Time now to reactivate! In my time I've been a jogger, a cyclist, a passionate walker, an Hapkidoist, a Kendoist, an Aikidoist and a bodybuilder. Martial arts are too risky at this point, since I won't have full insurance till summer next year. Then I may reconsider Tai Chi or Aikido. For now: till I start at Gold's, home circuit workouts based on The Men's Health Big Book of 15 Minute Workouts. (Note: a Women's Health Guide...is also available.)
A fair number of the exercises don't require weights. And, by bumping the time from 15 to 20 or 30 minutes, you can work all major muscle groups...then add focused time on arms or abs, whatever. My October plan: 3 high resistance gym days a week and 3 days of cycling, abs work and stretching.
For seven years in Charlotte I lived in what I now call a form of house arrest. I worked the graveyard shift, slept and spent hours traveling by bus--to and from work or a distant Starbucks where I could write or enjoy free WiFi. True, I did succeed in publishing seven ebooks after twenty-plus years in The Desert. But, as you can guess, Entertainment is now one of my premium values. So I'll begin surrendering soon to some of my new city's Sirens:
--The Seattle Art Museum I pass every day.
--The Seattle Symphony at Benaroya Hall, also on my daily map.
--A film in the Meridian Cineplex.
--Trips to Pike Place Market to hunt for fresh new produce.
--Ferry rides, locally or up to Vancouver.
--Occasional train trips to Portland and San Francisco to visit friends and family.
--Long walks once or twice a month to Elliott Bay Book Company.
--Pleasures unique to Seattle that I have yet to find.
Currently re-reading: The Art of Seduction by Robert Greene. A masterful text on persuasion in all forms, including advertising and politics. Greene, better known for his 48 Laws of Power, may be related to Satan. Then again, he may be simply be telling the truth when he says it is better to know than to not know the tricks that some others are up to. And know this: Greene treats sexual seduction as a mating dance between two willing partners and he sets out the rules of engagement as he sees them for both sides. He does not endorse lying, roofies, cruelty or force.
Currently reading: Dead Blossoms: The Third Geisha by Richard Monaco. This has been described as a hardboiled samurai saga. Or I'd go that one better: Shogun meets The Continental Op, Though Monaco's been working for decades, he'd slipped under my radar till a friend recommended one of his Arthurian novels--told in the first person and channeling Raymond Chandler. I was hooked. This one is much longer and I've just begun. Too soon to review it. But I can say: a great prose stylist is at work here...full-tilt boogie, Edo-style.
Just finished reading: Wolves of Vengeance by David North-Martino. A paranormal wolf novel with real teeth, plus theme, strong plotting, rich characterization...and style to spare. If you like horror, check it out. The fact that it's an ebook should be all the proof you need that traditional publishing's in a bad way. North-Martino's a writer to watch for.
Currently writing: Red Champagne. a short (40,000 word) thriller about a retired safecracker on board the great old American train, The Twentieth Century Limited. The thief has a top urgent reason to disclose his identity by cracking the train's safe. Goal: a classic blend of mystery, suspense, wit, romance...and rich Thirties atmosphere.
Starting from scratch, on a limited budget, takes strategy, discipline and a lot of patience. You can't have all the bigger ticket items at once--plus dishware, cutlery, garbage cans, paper towels, light bulbs, sheets, linens, etc., etc., etc.
The day I moved in I ordered a metal frame futon from Walmart. Till it arrived, a week later, I needed something to sleep on and bought a twin-sized air mattress, intending to store it for guest use. My thinking evolved: I'll continue to sleep on the air mattress while using the metal frame futon as a sofa...or an occasional Get Lucky bed. (I mean, of course, after I manage to assemble it. Not easy when you're Reb MacRath.) Two pieces of furniture to start with, plus my purple steamer trunk, prominently placed. Next up: a utility table and a chair for writing.
Shopping strategies: Ensure every step is directed toward this groovy end result: a feng shui-fueled studio that appears as spacious as a large apartment. Buy nothing that can't be used, even in a different way, as I continue to furnish. And let everything contribute to greater freedom and simplicity.
Ripoffs & Savvy Savings
1) Ripoff Alert: Don't become duped by the 'all natural' juice scam. The Naked brand is owned by Pepsi...so we can expect pretty much what we would from Vitamin Water, which is owned by Coca- Cola--and tastes like a bottle of sugar whatever the label may claim. (The first formula for Coke actually included cocaine.) A class action suit against Naked alleges that Naked is hiding the presence of GMO and synthetic ingredients including zinc oxide, ascorbic acid and calcium pantothenate, That last one comes from formaldehyde. Odwalla began as a small California company that made real, raw juices but is now owned by Coca-Cola. The pasteurization of juices destroys the vaunted nutrients. Cold-pressed, non-pasteurized Evolution juices are over-priced at Starbucks ($5 a bottle!), but can be found cheaper in some grocery stores. Best bet: your own blender.
2) Savvy Savings Tip: I needed to protect my Kindle Fire in a rainy town like this one, since my 'water-resistant' backpack doesn't do its job. A waterproof cover would cost up to $70. Worse: numerous online reviews point out that the Atlas Kindle cover is hard as hell to put on or remove...and has annoying glitches: hard to use the now-covered control buttons or tap the screen with a stylus. With a little checking I found a 'waterproof case sleeve/dry pouch bag' on Amazon. All the protection I need, along with easy access and a decent price: $10.
In one form or another I want to restore worship back to my life. I trust the right form to come to me soon. For now: daily meditation, starting at 15 minutes, slowly progressing to thirty.
From Red Champagne, my new winter thriller set aboard the Twentieth Century Limited in 1938. Publication date: November, 2014.
Claire's asleep now, her head in the crook of his arm, her face a few inches from his. Smoke and wine. She stires once, then lifts her left leg at the knee. When it grazes him Jimmy groans, stiffening. Bliss. Her left breast, plumped against his ribs, feels softer than a pillow. Down comforter. Crisp linen sheets. Plush blanket of Century blue.
And through some magic of the heart, the roomette seems as big as the Van Der Kloosts' suite. Yards on yards of open space invite their berth for sailing.
Claire murmurs nothings dreamily as prized scenes of their coupling loop around and around in her sleep. When he closes his eyes, he'll have loops of his own and be thrown for one too, three times better. For now it's good to bless his luck as moonlit vistas sway beneath.
One confirmed laptop hobo's wi-fi observations, based on Seattle (so far), Charlotte, Portland and cross-country travel by train.
1) Only the train from Charlotte to Washington provided wi-fi access--and it was useful only for checking email or surfing the web, not watching TV or a movie.
2) The train stations in Washington and Chicago did provide free wi-fi.
3) I learned upon reaching my Seattle hotel that my Kindle Fire still remembered the guest password from my visit two months before. And Starbucks also remembered my Fire. In Charlotte, I'd had to shut down the Fire and reboot whenever I changed locations--even from a Starbucks to the adjacent Harris Teeter grocery.
4) I'd encountered the same problem when using my laptop in Charlotte....and, oh-oh, at first in Seattle. But I've discovered a trick here that works. When I choose my network connection--Seattle Coffee Works or attwifi for Starbucks--I come to the usual home Google page. And that's where the old trouble starts: if I click Outlook or Facebook in my Favorites bar to reach the Acceptance of Terms, the gateway to free wi-fi, I get an error message. Again and again, even when I reboot, till I get through--eventually. BUT if I click Amazon, another of my Favorites? I get through immediately. Every single time.
5) Seattle, so far, seems friendlier to hobos than Charlotte or Portland. Outlets are scarcer in the latter two towns. (In Charlotte, I'd habitually carried two 8-foot extension cords...and sometimes raced by cab at dawn to get my favorite Starbucks table. And Amelie's--Charlotte's best cafe--offers plentiful outlets...but no free wi-fi.) In Portland, hobos might come close to blows over good tables with outlets.) No problems here. Seattle knows how to make its hobos feel at home.
Wanted: a literary agent who can chew glass and crap diamonds without bragging that s/he can.
Ask El Reberoo
Sally X asks: Dear Reb, I'm a little on the shy side but I just can't help asking...Would you like to send me a thousand so I can show you a really good time?
El Reberoo responds: Dear Sally, That is one serious photo. And I thank you for sending it. Who'd have guessed a body could contort in such a way? Still, my own shyness compels me to answer: how about if I show you a thousand instead and you send me a really good time?
No one ever thinks to tell you of the things they can't think of to tell you. And--I'll tell you, cross my heart--I can't begin to think of what could be sadder than that.
In the Poetry section, there's a buried numerical sequence. First 3 peeps to find it and tell me by email win a gift copy of Red Champagne when published.
This month, to prepare you for Red Champagne, have a look at my first Amazon train thriller. That book is called Nobility. In it, one lonely man takes on a 'whiz mob': six pickpockets determined to loot a train on Christmas Eve. Here's the link to this short novel..and, if you care to check them out, some pretty decent reviews: