July Write-O-Rama 15: But about these men I cannot make pastry

As I mentioned yesterday, I started reading Great Esquire Fiction: The Finest Stories from the First Fifty Years (1983). The second short story is "Little Miss Universe" by William Saroyan – published in December 1934. In this story, I found a gem of a quote:

It is impossible for me to lie, even though Mr. Kipling has declared that writers can never lie, that even when they do so, they unconsciously reveal even more profound truths. But about these men I cannot make pastry.

I love "But about these men I cannot make pastry." I already know that will be the title of this entry when it ends up on the blog.

It sounds like something Damon Runyon would have his characters say and it makes sense since this short story is about betting on horses. I also like how Saroyan repeatedly breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader head on

This book is easily the best 10 cents I ever spent. What a lucky accident to stumble upon it.

I am coming to you, faithful reader (I might as well address you also if Saroyan can do it), from the kitchen table. I have my hot cup of coffee. KKJZ radio is playing over the Google Home Hub on the shelf behind me. The dishwasher is chugging along. After the dishes, I’ll start loads of clothes. I am caught up at work for the moment while still putting off those reports. I need a rush of energy to dive into them. I have three months to complete them before the next round but I do like to finish them in the first month. Once I get going, I will make quick work of it.

I looked into checking out The Artist’s Way from the library to read on my Kindle and there is a huge hold list, of course. I could buy a copy but I already own the physical book. I was hoping to do a re-read and capture my highlights in Goodreads so I would have quotes I really like organized there which is, I think, the best feature of Goodreads. It pretty much sucks as a social network. But, I have been thwarted and will probably pull out the book and start with week one and a highlighter even though it is probably already full of my highlighted notes.

I am glad to be reading anything at this point and to be reading at my own pace. I don’t care how long it takes me to finish the Esquire book (almost 600 pages) or what I do with The Artist’s Way. No more turning reading into a To Do. I think it was burning me out. It’s time to slow down and enjoy some things. I even had a shortwave radio outside with me for a bit after dark. It’s been months since I powered one up.

We have no choice but to slow down, I guess. We had another band meeting last night, this one a parent meeting. It was all remote but I was on it and I said my part. I ended up taking 5 minutes instead of the 2 I thought I could say it all in but that’s ok. We all tried to be optimistic although I know we all feel discouraged even though we keep trying to move forward and figure out the best way to give the students a good year of learning while all of the events we normally attend are cancelling. My argument is that just teaching the basics and having to time to spend together as a band family, even in small pods of people, is worth the effort. I don’t look back 30 years and remember the contests or games. I remember the people I was in band with and how much they meant to me. That’s the priceless part and if we can provide that, we’re preserving the best part no matter how COVID changes the rest.

Fast forward and it’s after lunch now and I am out on the deck in the little bit of remaining shade (currently 90 degrees) and this here writing laptop, my Dell Inspiron 7347, a 13.3 inch laptop from the year 2016. I don’t believe I have told or written the story of how I got this laptop so here it goes.

A year and a half ago, I think, I was on the hunt for a writing laptop and I didn’t want to spend a ton of money. My regular personal laptop is a bit large and heavy. It works great for everything but it is a beefier machine so I edit audio and do all kinds of stuff on it and it rarely leaves the house. After searching all of the stores and seeing nothing decent under $200, my wife suggested the pawn shop not far from here. Well, that pawn shop was laptop heaven and I found an HP laptop with a 64GB SSD for $90 that had been bought and pawned so fast that it was still under warranty. It was a great deal but pretty soon, my daughter needed a laptop for college classes so it became and still is hers. I doubled the RAM in it and she loves it.

Last summer, Acer stopped updating our old Chromebook and it only had a 16GB SSD so I decided to start looking for a replacement since Chromebooks are still used at the high school with all of the Google stuff and, guess what, the pawn shop had a year old Lenovo Chromebook with a 32GB hard drive for $99 that is still under the Google updates through 2026

So, when I got the itch to once again look for a cheap writing laptop (something bigger than my Asus Transformer which is a good machine but a bit too tiny), I headed back to the pawn shop but this time, OH NO!, the laptop shelf was empty. Totally bare! I asked what was going on and they said because of school going to remote learning last semester, they were bought out completely. But, well, not completely – they had one laptop left that they could not sell because they could not get the pawner’s personal information off of it. I asked to see it and VOILA! This perfect Dell Inspiron 7347 with a backlit keyboard that looked brand new.

And, it is basically brand new. The guy pawned it about a year after he bought it and it has been in the back of the shop ever since because no one could get the data off of it. That’s three years of sitting. It’s a really nice machine. I instantly offered to get his data off if I could use the front counter for a bit. It took me almost 30 minutes (there was an error in the Windows 8 OS preventing a wipe) but I finally did it and I got this fantastic machine for $150.

I brought it home. Updated to Windows 10. Doubled the RAM. Upgraded the wireless card to the latest version so I can use my AC wireless speed and I ordered stickers to personalize it as mine, mine, MINE!

So, you might say, why waste the money? You already have a laptop and more bags and gadgets than you know what to do with. And then I say that this machine (and the new Targus bag I mentioned in an earlier post) has been responsible for my new found dedication to doing this right here – writing every day. I have long stumbled in my desire to write and now I feel like, even if it is in the form of probably boring daily blog posts, that something is happening. I don’t focus on grammar and I do no editing. I just get the words out, very Morning Pages, as I’ve mentioned before. Investing in yourself for something creative has really given me a boost. Investing in things that were not creative at all like backpacks and bags that truly served no purpose did absolutely nothing for me.

Lots of changes happening this month in my attitude toward myself and not just my own creativity but also my own health and these are all good things. I don’t know what will come of it all but I am enjoying the journey so far.