Nuts and Bolts
May Day! You know you love it. The great trick is to love it in style and with heart. When winter's had its way with you, and April's made you wonder if there'll really be a spring or if the whole season is winter's last joke...the first of May arrives. And there's magic in the air: hope, anticipation, the marvelous sense of a new lease on life. You have been renewed again--and not a minute too soon.
Here are snapshots of the April that I've just left behind. I:
--Survived an intense two-week training period for a new job, a call center position. Graduated with honors.
--Hit the floor with minimal supervision for a half-day Saturday...then my first 2 nine-hour days.
--Finished drafting the work in progress that I began in San Francisco during my visit in March.
--Promoted a successful blog event: a round table discussion with six well-known writers on the subject of violence in art. Final score: about 4100 viewings.
--And I began:
Oh, yes, I had some studio cleaning to do. My halo there had gathered dust. But I wanted this May to be special, more than dusting and sweeping and straightening. And so:
--I got rid of all the old cool shirts I'd worked so hard to fit into my trunk. My taste has changed. I'd outgrown these--and I want my new shirts to have pockets!
--I got rid of a $400 Ralph Lauren yellow seaman-style coat, also ten years old. I'd hardly ever worn it and it doesn't suit the style here.
--After a former friend turned foe, I tossed 3 large metaphorical bags filled with emotional garbage: anger, hurt, the whole gang. Internal spring cleaning: done.
--On the other hand, I took long and loving look at the circle of real friends I've been blessed with...and committed to strengthening those ties.
--The Cafe on the Ave:
This was what I had in mind when I moved 3000 miles. An expansive indie cafe with a wealth of tables and outlets. The coffee is organic and the atmosphere is charged.
--My favorite shopping center:
I'd been a Trader Joe's fan since my time in Portland. The store there was a five-minute walk from my place. Naturally, in Charlotte, the nearest TJ's required a commute by two buses and dangerous confrontations with thugs and crazies on the buses and at the Transit Center. Boo-hoo. No Trader Joe's.
But...On the ground of our office building is a splendid Trader Joe's. And once again I'm lovin' pre-made sandwiches and salads made the same day, plus decent chocolate bars cheaper than $4.00.
My gym hiatus continued. High stress from job loss for a couple of weeks...then the challenge of fitting both my writing and workouts into my new working schedule.
May marks my return. The tentative schedule will be:
Sunday: my first day off work.
Wednesday: my second day off work.
Saturday: a half day at work.
Goal: to fit in one extra night, so that I can hit all core/arms, then legs, twice weekly each.
Progress report next month.
Through a staffing agency I landed a temp-to-hire position at a call center in the University district. Commute time from my studio: about 20 minutes on a tunnel train, with a 7-minute walk after that. Salary: $4 more than I made at 'The Store'. It's a definite change for the better in most ways. But it's highly regimented and all about checklist call handling and speed. Main drawbacks: more hours than I want to work and the schedule conflicts described above. Will give it my best while keeping my eyes open.
Entertainment: Kick of the Month
After scrapping Hulu and maybe-scrapping Netflix I looked into Amazon Prime. The free 2-day shipping would more than pay for the annual membership. Plus, close inspection of TV shows and films available made AP a no brainer for me. Will keep Netflix open for a month or two before I make my decision.
Currently watching on AP a terrific recent Arnold film:
Next month I hope to report on purchase of a good flat screen TV.
Just finished reading: The Assassination of Julius Caesar by Michael Parenti. I began reading this as further research for my work in progress, looking for anything the other Caesar books had missed. Lo and behold, Michael Parenti insists that the others have missed the real story: the assassination of a flawed but incredibly complex and brilliant, fearless man by the vested interests he planned to make pay for reforms. Parenti makes a powerful case. And none of the old 'champions of the Republic--especially the Nixonian Cicero--slink away smelling like roses. This 'peolpe's history' is highly recommended.
Now reading: The Grail War by Richard Monaco. The Parsival cycle of novels is this author's masterpiece--and this is an exceptionally entry....with the semi-retired 'Parse' being drawn back into action.
In the works:
1) On 4/29 I printed out the completed first draft of Caesar's Ghost, my work in progress. (232 pages) For the second draft, and sometimes the third, I like to work from a hard copy. I'm in my glory with highlighters and multi-colored pens. Goal: to finish the second draft by the end of May or mid-June latest.
2) At the same time, I'm proofing and revising, slowly, the scanned copy of Mastery. I'd hoped to do this in a month, but scanning results in scads of glitches. My scanner/formatter caught most of these. But I don't want any remaining, so I'm taking my time, also tweaking the ms. as need be. Expected publication: July.
3) Have nearly completed the second part of the round table chat about violence. Expected publication on my blog: by May 8.
Well, here's a purchase that was way overdue. And no well-dressed writer should ever be without one, not at home or on the road:
The Bilsom Thunder T3 earmuff/headset is an industrial-strength noise reducer--one of several in Bilsom's line. If you're working at home and car alarm outside is simply driving you crazy...this is your friend. Any loud, persistent noise is taken care of nicely. Voices are not erased but reduced: if someone speaks to you, you'll hear them...but if some is droning endlessly on his/her cellphone...the Thunder does the trick again.
Now that I'm better employed, I'll get back on track this month with Feng Shui-ing my studio.
My two favorite discoveries are both on The Ave (aka University Way) at 42nd Street--in fact, they're on opposite corners.
1) The Cafe on The Ave: please see above, under City Beats. Opens at 6:30 a.m.
2) Starbucks--one of the great ones. Opens at 5 a.m.
Friendly service, clean locked washrooms for patrons, a wonderland of tables and electrical outlets. Once again, the preponderance of students and university staff make this a great place to write. And I haven't seen anyone rousted unless he falls asleep or sits forever with no purchase.
Ask El Reberoo
Chiquita La Flama asks: My boyfriend used to be a happening dude. Classic Harley badass. Then he discovered your blog and started meditating, cleaning our apartment, reading, writing, taking yoga, making nasty juices...What'd I ever do to you to make you ruin my life?
El Reberoo responds: Now, now, don't blame me. True, there's no way to right a Harley badass who's turned good, other than to ride him until he begs for mercy. To do that, though, you'll need the strength that comes from nasty juices.