Let's Rock the New Year in just right with a thoroughly upbeat edition.
Nuts and Bolts
December goes down as the month in which I really found my legs in The Cool Gray City of Uncommon Funk. What did I accomplish? I:
--Published Red Champagne, my eighth ebook in just over two years. (The output consists of revamped work from my years in The Desert...new work...and a special 25th anny edition of my first published novel, The Suiting.)
--Bought a 12-speed blender on sale. (See Sports section below.)
--Also bought a DVD player at a Doorbuster special.
--Picked up an application for Elliott Bay Books and organized my papers for an intensive new job search.
--Increased my mastery of the city transit system, learning to rely more on the Tunnel system, where I can use any bus or train to get around within the downtown area.
--Continued prepping the new Boss MacTavin novel.
--Resolved the earnings ceiling on my current studio, the one factor that would have compelled me to move. I have their blessing now to earn more.
--Superior mobility. Here's a partial list of the things I can get to in minutes by train or bus, or on foot: my job, the DVM, the main post office, Gold's Gym, the Central Library, dozens of Starbucks and other cafes, two movie complexes, the museum, two shopping malls,Macy's, Nordstrom, Barnes and Noble, the Mystery Book Store, four drug stores, Pike Place Market, hair salons, Office Depot, Safeway, QFC...and on and on and on.
--Second wind. Conventional wisdom warns us about running from Town A to Town B. If we're only running from, it's said, then we'll find the same problems wherever we go. I've done enough running from to testify to that. But I have also moved wisely--to New York, San Francisco, Seattle. And there aren't many boosts to the soul that surpass the joy of testing and finding ourselves in new towns. There's the difference, friends, for me: as I discover Seattle, I tap into the best of myself.
--Risky business sometimes.
Though I've lived in some rough places, Seattle stands apart in ways. There's a genuine Wild West atmosphere in certain quarters of the town that I haven't seen anywhere else. As I saw more, I had concerns about getting home late at night after work. And, after chatting with two cops, I followed their suggestions for legal, non-fatal protection. Thanks, times two, to:
--Spiritually empowering. My focus has shifted, in less than four months, from thoughts of all I couldn't do to thoughts of what I can do. I couldn't: get around, work out regularly, escape my third-shift job, have time to write on a regular basis, etc. Now all that's changed and I wonder daily: where else should I feel more empowered?
I've added two things to my workouts at Gold's. Despite the difference in their cost, they're equally important.
1) A daily workout log.I found this one for under a buck:
I use this to help me step things up, day after day: with each exercise, each workout, raise the weight used or the number of reps.
2) Whey protein powder for the smoothies I make using the new blender.
The consistent advice I've read and heard is to drink a bit of smoothie before the workout...the balance shortly after so that the body isn't feeding on muscles I've worked hard to build.
Entertainment: Kick of the Month
The Doorbuster DVD player I bought further boosts my cable-free existence.
Through December I watched a half-dozen DVDs purchased at Doorbuster prices. And I'm now watching the 8th season of 24, the only one I missed. Soon I'll start replacing prized DVDs I lost--including all seasons of Prison Break and Have Gun Will Travel.
Just finished reading and reviewing: Midnight Blue by Pauline Fisk, a haunting and beautiful fable about childhood traumas and choices.
Also: The Operator by Valerie Laws. The second installment in this gritty crime thriller series was more than a match for the first.
Now reading: Parsival: A Knight's Tale by Richard Monaco. This two-time Pulitzer nominee is greatest reading discovery in years. And, halfway through this masterpiece, I'm already preparing to order the second entry in the series. Will post a link to my review next month. Till then, check out Monaco!
Just finished proofing and revising: The Vanishing Magic of Snow. My first ebook, a new novel, suffered in the formatting: faulty indents and line breaks, extra spacing between words. There were also some things that I wanted to change. So I spent most of December getting the book ready for new formatter to fix. This should be finished within the next week and will be re-launched with a free event. Details will be announced on both Facebook and Twitter.
Red-hot tip repeated from the December issue:
A wonderful new online literary magazine put out by Richard Monaco, Leverett Butts and Scott Thompson. The first issue is terrific!
And highly recommended:
To refresh your memories, I lost all I had in the cross-country move except for one trunk and three boxes. Here's a partial list of things acquired to get back on my feet.
Studio basics: air mattress, sheets, blanket, comforter, pillows, dish rack, plates/cups/glassware, cutlery, bathroom towels and washcloths, garbage can, broom/dustpan, blender, futon/sofa, vacuum cleaner, DVD player, dining table/desk, newspaper/magazine rack, thermos, smoothie bottle, caddy trays, bathroom rugs, shower curtain, hair dryer. desk accessories.
Personal: security devices mentioned above, sport coat, heavy winter jacket, lighter Eddie Bauer reversible jacket, umbrella, flat cap (a gift), lumberjack shirt, running shoes, Fusion razor...
Ripoffs and Savvy Savings
1) Overpricing complaint. Kress IGA on Third Ave. does have a prime downtown location. And I'd begun to go there after my boycott of Target. But one day at the corner had a small basket of stuff that rang up for...$25. My eyes were opened. I've moved on. This review says it all:
"The only thing this has going for it is a convenient location.ad of
The small variety of food is overpriced, and the produce was terrible quality.
I'll travel extra to go elsewhere."
2) Savvy Savings. Once I got off my duff to look elsewhere, I found what I'd been missing--far superior selections and prices at both QFC and Safeway. On a typical visit, I save $5-$10 by using the store cards, more still (in comparison) when I buy the store brands. But I also save big buckeroos by making my own protein smoothies and post-workout treat (whole wheat muffin with a tbsp of peanut butter and a round of Canadian bacon).
Discovery of the month: Starbucks at Fourth and Seneca. A capacious and well-appointed Starbucks,with a balanced selection of long and private tables, plenty of electrical outlets. The single bathrooms are clean with code openings and Occupied/Vacant signs.
Wanted: Brave new ways to greet each day with my hat--and not my hard--on.
Ask El Reberoo
Alicia T asks: What makes you think you're so special?
El Reberoo responds: We're all special, darling. It's just that those who don't know how they are make more of it than they should.
Petty acts are emotional food stamps for the spiritually unemployed.
Here's what I know about writing after fifty-odd years at the trade: Less is more...more or less. Except when it is not.
R.I.P., Potty Man
HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!
Now go forth and multiply your talents, dreams and chances.