Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

When I lived in Seattle, my studio was on the top floor of the building. Okay, there were only five floors, but with the couple of levels of parking lots underneath there, it gave me a bit of altitude over Pill Hill. Seattle winters aren’t too brutal, and I probably could have survived the whole season without a winter coat, especially given that I drove everywhere. My apartment had a single baseboard heater next to my bed, about four feet of inductive coil inside a metal case, maybe something you could buy for $30 at your local hardware store. I seldom ran the heater, though, because everyone below me ran theirs. I’d often get home from work and find my apartment about the temperature of a bread oven, because the jerkoff below me left his heat on full and then went to work all day or all week. That meant, I opened the window or the patio door, and let the cold and usually rainy Seattle winter battle the apartment until it got comfortable.

I don’t have control of my heat system here either – most apartments in New York have steam radiators that are centrally controlled by who knows what kind of mechanical or manual algorithm. This usually means in mild weather like today – mid-40s or so – my apartment also approaches the temperature resembling a kiln. Unfortunately, the opening the window approach isn’t as pleasant. For one, my crap windows are very difficult to open, and are more binary than linear; you apply way too much pressure to a non-ergonomic handle like you’re trying to open a can of pickles, and after too much time – CREEAK – the window opens about as far as you’ll be able to correct it. Compare this to my Seattle digs, which were only a few years old and had all-new, tight-sealing, perfectly-balanced Andersen windows. And in Seattle, the distant rain and hum of traffic (with no horns or car alarms – I think most people in Western Washington aren’t even aware their cars HAVE horns) sounded so much better than the too-present sound of jocko-homo-italiano guys beating their wives or whatever else I hear outside my window on a regular basis.

I had another round with the dentist today, the last for the year. He finished up a root canal, put in another titanium post, and sealed it all up in temporary crud to await a real crown next year. I’ve burned up all of my insurance for 2004, so I will come back right before my Vegas trip for the porcelain replacement. And I’m doing the flex-spend thing so I will save a little bit of cash and not pay as much in taxes. I am all for any way to pay less tax, although I wouldn’t want to go through all the hoops of considering my writing a “business” so I could write off my computer and stamps and pencils and whatnot. It’s too much work, and I haven’t even bought a new computer in a while. Maybe I should, and deduct the whole deal. Those Tablet PCs look nice…

I finished reading the stock market book I was talking about, and I guess it is good, in the sense that the guy lost like a million dollars and was a total dumbass and admitted it at the end. The whole thing makes me NOT want to invest, to just shovel cash into some kind of blind trust and not look at it, and not buy anything and just read and write and let the money quietly accumulate. I guess that’s what the 401K is for. I have like a dozen choices in the thing, in contrast to old jobs that used Fidelity and offered a bazillion options. All I know is that I max out the thing every year, and I actually made a decent amount of money from my picks last quarter. So that will be there, and if Social Security survives, maybe I can use that money for books each month.

I came to the realization that my biggest fear about retirement now is not getting the money to stop working, but actually living long enough to spend the money. I know that sounds nuts, but 67 is a long way off. I mean, all of my grandparents died at just a few years older than that. Okay, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I don’t sit around eating giant blocks of organ meat doused in lard like my grandfather. But when I get out of bed in the morning, my 33-year-old ass doesn’t exactly feel young. What will it be like when it’s twice as old. Maybe I need to get my ass off the couch and run around the block a few times. I mean, having five million in the bank doesn’t do much if my arteries are 99% clogged and my bad cholesterol is a four-digit number. Of course, maybe in 30 years, I will take a roto-rooter nanotech pill and have my circa 1985 heart back again.

After spending the whole day veering in and out of sleep and hoping the dull pain of the new metal in my mouth would go away, I’m now far too awake, and I don’t feel like writing on this new book. I need to dig through my pile of unread books and find something new…