A Beautiful Day

25 January 2010 · 3 comments

I turned in the manuscript for Your Money: The Missing Manual on Friday, January 15th (the one-year anniversary of Paul’s death), but that wasn’t the end of the work. No indeed. Right away, I dove into a marathon ten-day editing session. One by one, I’ve gone back over each chapter, polishing the prose and eradicating errors.

As part of this process, I called an emergency meeting of the Woodstock Writers Guild. Though our group hasn’t met for a couple of years, the fellas were kind enough to pitch in last Wednesday, each person critiquing three chapters.

Dave happened to draw the debt chapter, in which I have a section about the dangers of compulsive spending (something with which I am very familiar). “You want to be careful here,” he told me. “It’s almost like you’re giving psychological advice. Besides, do you really know that compulsive spending is a psychological disorder?”

This sort of threw a monkey wrench into the chapter, something I’d have to fix. I put the chapter on the backburner to deal with later.

Then, by a stroke of great fortune, on Saturday I received e-mail from Brad Klontz, a psychologist in Hawaii. He was pimping his new book, Mind Over Money: Overcoming the Money Disorders That Threaten Our Financial Health, which includes a section on compulsive spending. “Let me know if you are interested and I will send you a copy,” Klontz wrote.

“I’d love to see your book,” I wrote back. “But I need it today.” I told him instead that I’d head out to pick up a copy at Powell’s.

I didn’t get up to Powell’s on Saturday — I was too busy editing. In fact, I’ve basically lived in this damn office for the past month now. And for the past week, I’ve been working non-stop to finish my edits. (I have a hard deadline tonight at midnight, though I’m sure my editor would like to have all the chapters before that.) I’m down to my last two chapters now, including the chapter about debt, for which it’d be nice to have a copy of Klontz’s book.

So, late this morning, I managed to squeeze in a trip to Powell’s. I drove up, sunroof open to the blue sky, parked by the Bagdad theater and dashed across the street. Alas, Powell’s wasn’t open. They were closed for inventory until noon. No problem. Since it was only 11:51, I decided to grab a bite to eat.

The Hawthorne district is packed with funky restaurants, most of which I’ve never visited before. One such place caught my eye today: Nick’s Coney Islands. “A hot dog sounds great,” I thought, so I crossed the street to give it a try. The place was perfect: No nonsense, just coneys, burgers, and fries. I sat at the counter and ordered a coney dog and a diet coke. (I’m pretty much living on diet soda today; I need to stay awake to finish my book!)

While I ate, the waitress chatted with me. “It’s a beautiful day,” she said, pointing outside at the sunny streets.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s gorgeous.”

“It makes me wish it was spring,” she said. “I’m from New York, so I’m used to winter weather, but days like this make me wish spring was here already.”

“Me too,” I said.

Taylor Swift’s “You Belong to Me” came on the radio. The waitress belted it out, paying no mind to me or the other customers. I tapped my foot to the beat.

“Have a great day,” the waitress said as I left. “You too,” I said. I left her a big tip.

I just missed the light at the crosswalk, so I had to wait. “Wanna sign my petition?” asked the kid on the corner. He looked like a beatnik or a Bolshevik. “It’s to stop off-shore drilling.”

I don’t normally sign petitions, but it was a beautiful day. Plus, I had to wait for the light, anyhow. I filled out the form. “Hey!” said the beatnik. “You live on Lee?!? Me too!” That seemed odd since Lee is a very short street. He told me which house he lived in, and I told him which one was mine.

“Thanks,” he said, as I crossed the street. “Have a great day.”

In Powell’s, I picked up a copy of Mind Over Money (along with the new edition of The 4-Hour Workweek and a book about budgeting, all last-minute research material). As I waited to cross back over to the other side, I realized that the man in the sunglasses standing next to me was actually my new friend, Chris Guillebeau.

“Chris!” I said. He looked at me for a minute, trying to figure out who I was. (To be fair, I’m very very scruffy today: Unshowered, unshaven, slovenly dressed — the usual.)

“Hey!” he said as his bus pulled up. “How’s it going, J.D.? What are you doing up here? I’ve gotta catch the bus, but I’ll see you Wednesday night, right?”

“Yup!” I said, smiling as he climbed on board.

Altogether, it was a slightly surreal hour, but fun too. It’s strange how all these connections tie together sometimes.

But now I need to get back to work. I have eleven hours to finish editing my book. I think I’ll do it, but just barely. And if I do, I’ll be able to say today was a beautiful day.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 dowingba 25 January 2010 at 23:35

As much as I automatically hate all popular music, Taylor Swift is actually pretty awesome.

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2 Matt Jabs 26 January 2010 at 14:57

Sounds like a fun afternoon!

I’m visualizing you walking down the street (almost skipping) whistling as you go… Jiminy Cricket on your shoulder taking it all in and whistling along with you. :-)

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3 Chris Guillebeau 27 January 2010 at 23:09

Hey! Sorry it took me a while to come over. What a great writeup — I tell everyone that J.D. Roth is the master of descriptive narrative. Here’s proof!

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