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It rains in Seattle

Rain. Despair. Bleakness. Running through the twilight.

Sorry, just trying to sound all gothic. It really is raining though. It’s almost May and Seattle thinks it’s only February.

Things are somewhat confusing here, but not things I’d talk about in a journal. It’s hard for me to censor myself about things, since I’m so used to writing everything in my paper journals. But my paper journals are not readable by 50 million people, so I limit myself. Sorry.

I finished reading that Rupert Thomson book last night. It felt great to finish it with the windows open, the dark horizon of west seattle glowing through the rain. The book itself felt like it took place in the same atmosphere, the same bleakness. I wish the guy had more similar books, but I think he got into historical fiction or something…

Anyway, I should end the lunch and start the work. Cheers.

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Pot pies for independence

I was going to write last night, but by the time I remembered, it was today. The trip back felt like a daydream, the darkness around me. I drove from Longview to Seattle in about an hour 45, pretty good for the slight drizzle that dewed the hills of asphalt under me.

It was a daydream because it was so hypnotizing. The music and the solitude removed the thoughts from my head, let me relax. I got into a rhythm with the spinning tires, the squeaking wipers, and the passing reflectors marking the road I ventured.

When I got to Seattle, the tranquility was broken as I checked my mail and removed a pile of bills. My financial situation is so fucked right now – I spent the rest of the night restless, thinking of the things I’d have to give up to keep afloat for the next few months. I figured a schedule that would involve some heavy payments in the next couple of paychecks, and would involve me eating soup and cooking at home pretty much all of the time. I guess it isn’t too horrible – I spent a lot of time last spring doing the same thing while paying off my Visa card. I think I can pay off my debts by the end of the year, and start figuring out what I really want to do with my money and my future.

Every night I eat 99 cent pot pies for dinner, I am dollars closer to financial independence. Maybe.

I’m listening to Rush – Counterparts. It reminds me of a strange time – my entrance into exile. Every song tells a story, but “Cold Fire” tells the strongest. It’s juvenile of me to spend an evening listening to songs that remind me of people from the past, but it’s either that or spend the evening thinking about money.

I should get back to reading…

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From Longview

This is my first journal from Longview – I drove down last night. The trip isn’t too bad, but getting out of Seattle was a real bitch. I spent an hour going about 20 miles and then the next two hours going about 100. It’s nice that the trip is all in the daylight now. I really hate the drive south of Olympia when it’s raining and pitch black. It gets so dark out there in the middle of nowhere that you can’t even tell what direction is up – it’s like you’re in a tunnel or something. That’s the area where I had a blowout last month. It was PITCH black, pouring rain, and a narrow, two-lane section of I-5 where everybody is going 80. It took me a few hours to get that little baby spare onto the car, because I’d have to time it with the traffic. I’d wait for a break, run out, loosen one lug nut, and then dive behind the car as a herd of semis drove by, creating hurricane-like winds that would rock my poor little car, almost off the toy jack that comes in the back of Ford Escorts.

So that was all cool. I saw the show Sliders last night, and had the chance to see where they filmed it last week (okay, I just saw it from the outside). I always thought they filmed that whole show on location somewhere, but if you watch it, you can sort of tell that 90% of it is filmed in a sound stage. We also rented the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High since I saw the commercials for it and realized I haven’t seen the non-tv version in quite a while. I had a carbon copy of Mr. Hand for US History when I was in high school, although we had no Pat Benetar lookalikes. Many of the girls in my high school did look alike, or at least had the same hairstyle, but I don’t know what they were trying to copy.

I should get out of here. This keyboard won’t let me use the backspace key as a delete – it keeps opening up the emacs online help.

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Steamshoveling into a basement

I can’t wait to get all of my journals into HTML, so I can change the font so they all look like Motorhead album covers.

Last night, I taped about an hour of my rambling about Summer Rain. I set up the camera and taped it on the VCR using a VHS tape running on the slow speed. I don’t care about the picture too much, I just needed the audio. So this way, I can put 6 hours of discussion on each tape. And after an hour, I realized it will take a lot of fucking discussion to get this thing rolling. I am hoping that by the end of May, I will have enough notes to start an outline and a completely new draft of the book.

I brought Bill home last night and hung out at his place a bit, caught up with Jen and saw Liam. He was running all over, and talking about steamshovels. I guess he read this book, which I sort of remember from my childhood, about this steamshovel that digs this basement for a building and gets stuck at the bottom, so he becomes a furnace. Oddly enough, I had a dream last night where Liam kept saying “Boba Fett” over and over.

I started re-reading this Rupert Thomas book, to get an idea of what I want to do with SR. There are a lot of fine details about his writing that make it memorable. I think it’s because he never directly builds up his characters – they are built through strong incidentals. Instead of saying his characters’ age or height or looks, he’ll talk about the cigarette they smoke or their mannerisms in such a way that you build up the character based on your expectations of a person that would drink that kind of drink or whatever. And the characters really build in your head, come back to haunt you long after you set down the book. I like that.

I’m hoping to re-read about 5-10 books that contain pieces of SR that I like, and take a lot of notes on them. I also hope to collect together a bunch of music that will help me to write. I want to make tapes containing songs that I listened to in those periods, or songs that remind me of then. That’ll help me write a bit more. It’s too easy to listen to music that distracts me, or puts me to sleep.

 

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Heavy metal \647

More Motorhead today. I wish I could put the little umlaut above the o – there’s got to be some way to do it, but it will end up being a \647 in most people’s browsers or something. Motorhead, new leather jacket, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing at work. I should go out and steal a Harley.

I had a very intense dream where I was playing with a cigarette lighter for a long time and I couldn’t get it to spark or light. I messed with it for a long time, got it to strike, and started lighting stuff on this kitchen table, sort of as a joke. There was a piece of wood, or a box, or something, and it was burning with an immense but slowly wisping flame, like a scene from Backdraft. I tried to stomp it out, and freaked out because no amount of suffocation would stop the fire – it spread and hovered with a lazy precision over the surface of the whole table, and later the floor. I was screaming and trying to beat out the flames when I pulled myself from the ether and back to the real world. But when I woke up, I could only see in black and white, almost a posterized image. I looked at my window and miniblinds for several minutes, and couldn’t see any hues at all. I got my glasses, and started looking at other things in the room, and my color vision was fine.

I’ve begun reading these 20 year old encyclopedias (encyclpediii?) of mine, as leisure reading. It’s interesting to grab one and randomly browse through the pages, reading about countries you’ve never heard of. Most reference materials contain a certain political bias, but they also have so much useless demographical or technical data, that they’re better for me. I mean, you can’t find out about the Bahamas from travel agents or web sites or the media, because you’ll get this totally sterilized, promotionalized version of the story, wereas an encyclopedia will tell you the number of acres and average rainfall and chief economy and other items with relational values. Grated, they are all fucked up because this book came out in like 1973 or something, but ancient history doesn’t change too much. I mean, in recent years people might say that Abraham Lincoln fucked slaves or was a homo or smoked dope, but at least I can look up when he was born and died, and that hasn’t changed too much.

On a logistical note, I started the first step of shifting everything around and getting it ready for html. I will eventually have a batch program that converts these text files to html. I don’t know entirely how I will do it – something with replacing blank lines and tabs, and slapping on a predefined head and tail, like I do with the index. We’ll see.

I subscribed and then unsubscribed from the Diary-L mailing list. It seemed like a bunch of chattiness and no real talk about the mechanics of journals. Just the “what time of day do you write?” sort of stuff. Who cares.

 

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Changing of the leather jacket guard

It’s another Motorhead day – I picked up a copy of Overkill last night and I’ve already listened to it 3 times today. I also bought an Enigma CD, which must’ve looked weird to the guy at the counter.

So in listening to Lemmy and reading about Burroughs, I wonder why my life is so boring and what I can do to fuck it up more. Most people feel the same feeling, but it’s from a Green Day record or something, so they go out and dye their hair or pierce something or tear up a pair of jeans, but those aren’t acceptable “nonconformist” things for me to do for the sake of adventure or deviance. I think about stuff like writing a completely fucked up story, one where even my friend Ray just spits Pepsi out of his nose while reading it and says “that IS fucked up”.

Like I said, I have been reading a lot about Burroughs in this book – I forget who wrote it – about his years in New York in “The Bunker”, which was a fucking huge 3 room flat in the Bowery that had no windows and used to be a YMCA’s locker room. The book is a series of interviews, of Burroughs talking to artists and musicians and writers in the NY scene where art was getting decadent, music was becoming punk, and writing was just freaking out.

Simms called me last night at about 1am – I left him a message about my Disney trip, because we saw those audiotronic bears at Disney and they were singing “Riders on the Storm”, which is a Simms standard and made me think of all of the Simms standards so much that I had to break out a tape of the Surfing Richards the other day just to listen to some of it. Anyway, he told me about 20 times to go see Lost Highway, so I will have to check it out. Unfortunately, it is just a midnight movie on the weekend, so I don’t know when the fuck I’ll get in there. But it sounds abnormal enough to make me think about what I’m doing with the writing.

I also told Simms about the Small World ride, where they played the song like 2000 times and you couldn’t get it out of your head for days. After we rode Small World, I could sing the first note of the song and Karena would get all freaked out and have flashbacks, as would just about everybody else who rode the damn thing, including the ones who didn’t even speak English. So I was singing other songs all day, and then I would change the words. Like, I’d start singing the Motorhead song “(We Are) the Roadcrew”except when I’d get to the chorus, I’d sing “We are the Small World”. I did that with about every song I could remember the words to, and sometimes I wish/I’m glad I don’t have a portable DAT.

Two unrelated but related items:

First, today is my ex-girlfriend’s birthday. I don’t remember how old she will be, 23 or 22 or something. 23. I didn’t write her, because I don’t know where she is. I just remembered her birthday.

Second, I retired my leather jacket, and bought an identical one. Well, almost identical – it is from the same store, same model, but it has different stuff in the shell, feels lighter, cheaper. The leather doesn’t look as black and the belt buckle is crappier. But the smell – it reminds me of the day I bought the first jacket.

I bought that first jacket in November, 1993, with my student loan check. I bought it because she left me – because I felt like I needed some other icon, some other protective force that defined what I was. It was like a bulletproof vest. It wore on me more perfectly than any other piece of clothing I had ever owned, borrowed, or rented. It became a trademark – the Konrath jacket. Along with the Konrath walkman, it went with me everywhere. It went to Canada twice, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, California, across the country, on every roadtrip, to work, classes, bars, parties, concerts, everywhere.

Anyway, it feels weird to have a new old jacket. The cut is about the same, and at first glance it feels identical. But it isn’t the same old jacket, which makes me sad and wish it was 1993 again. But it SMELLS like the same old jacket did in 1993 – that new leather smell. It’s a brief time travel to the day when it all started. Almost…

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I need a Bunker Era

I’m listening to Motorhead’s fine album Ace of Spades right now – Dojo has re-released all of the old Motorhead albums, remastered with lots of bonus tracks and new liner notes – all at a cheaper price point of about $12 a CD. I’m going to try to buy up all of them that I can, a week at a time.

Last night was pretty relaxing. Karena and I went to eat at Marie Callender’s (Collander’s? Collenaderes? whatever). She had to leave, which was a bummer, but I didn’t want her to get caught in some windstorm at 11 at night in the middle of nowhere or something. I read the rest of On the Road and then started reading this book about Burroughs and the Bunker era – when he lived in NYC from 1974-1981. It was a decent evening because I was able to just read, and the TV set didn’t come on all night. I need to do that more often, if I want to get back up to speed with writing.

That’s my next big plan – I’ve been thinking I need to get off my ass and start writing again. I haven’t even been reading at all this year, and I haven’t really been seriously writing for a year. I have been editing, dicking around, cutting up, experimenting, and writing journals. But I haven’t really been filling empty pages since last April, when I finished the first draft of Rumored to Exist.

So I need to read first. And I need to think more about what I’m going to write. Not just the subject matter, but what I’m really trying to accomplish with the writing. When I read On the Road this time, I tried to ignore the urge to think of it as just an autobiography and really start to look at what Kerouac did with the book – the voice he used and how he had an agenda beyond just telling the story of a generation or a period of time in his life or a friend. There’s an underlying force that pulls you through the book, because if you really look at the plotline, it isn’t like your typical movie that has the whole rise-fall rollercoaster of plot. There’s a more subtle force pulling you from page 1 to 254, and I need to figure out what it is. It was also the reason I read all of Infinite Jest without giving up. Sure, I wanted to find out what happened to the characters, but the hooks were different than those pulling you through a Sylvester Stallone movie or something.

In thinking about all of it, I want to rewrite my book Summer Rain over the next few months, but I want to throw out everything I’ve written sofar. I want to start with the story in my head, take some notes, write a really heavy-duty outline, and start completely over. I have a lot of new ideas, and I think it’s time to throw away the old approach and start filling in the blank pages again. I’m going to start reading books that I think are similar to what I want to do, and start taking a lot of notes.

Ray interviewed Jello Biafra last night, over the phone. I’ve listened to his double- and triple- albums full of politics and humor and anger and punkness so much over the last 10 years, that it would freak me out to talk to him in person. It would be like going to a Pizza Hut with James Earl Jones or walking in a mall with Cheech Marin and hearing him say “gimme a dollar Jon, I want to go buy an Orange Julius” or something. Jello has such a trademark voice that you’d expect him to say a line off of one of his albums, not something that had to do with you. I guess when he talked to Ray, he was really nice and told this story about one time when he visited Goshen, Indiana on a whim – Goshen is right next to Elkhart, where Ray currently lives, and Ray’s girlfriend lives in Goshen. Anyway, it was also freaky to think of Jello in a town where I once spent a summer working in a factory dropping plastic pipes into boxes.

I got the address of one of the main characters fictionalized in my book Summer Rain. We sort of dated about 5 years ago, became just friends, and then she moved away like a year later. I don’t know what she’s been up to, and I have been always wanting to contact her, but couldn’t. Now that I have her address in my hands, I don’t know what to write her or tell her. It’s strange that the most significant females in my life are the ones I can’t find anymore. I guess the lukewarm relationships always end on good terms – the most passionate ones end with somebody moving across the country without a forwarding address.

I accidentally ate some avacado, and now want to go eat a pound of cream cheese to get the taste out of my mouth. I don’t think the taste of it is that horrible, it is just that it looks exactly like guacomole.

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A week in Hollywood (or Anaheim, anyway)

I’m back. The trip was a lot of fun and an interesting change of scenery, but it was also a lot of work. I’m pretty beat from all of the marathon days of walking miles in the heat and standing in lines. On most days, the fun of the attactions made up for all of that, but on the days of flying, there was no fun, and the crying kids, illogical airports and LA freeways took their toll. But overall it was fun.

It would be hard for me to write a detailed list of what I did over the last week, so I’ll summarize. On Tuesday, we flew from Seattle to John Wayne airport in Orange County, got a car, and drove to Anaheim to check in at the hotel. The LA highways massively suck, and it took me 2 hours to make the 40-some mile trip, mostly because I ended up driving in the wrong direction and there was absolutely no way for me to determine this because none of the highways tell you where you are going, they just tell you nice names of dead Spanish people, which might help you if you are writing a term paper on the Mexican revolution or something but doesn’t help at all when you’re trying to figure out where the fuck you are.

On Wednesday, we went to the park from like 9 to 7, and rode every single ride there except for the really dumb kids rides in ToonTown. The Star Tours ride was cute, Space Mountain was sort of a bummer for me, Pirates was great, and we rode Thunder Mountain about 4 or 5 times that day. Thunder Mountain is not an incredible rollercoaster, but it is scary enough to keep infants and screaming kids off of it, and it is unpopular enough that it did not have huge lines like Indiana Jones or Space Mountain. We did ride Indiana Jones, and it was okay, but not worth a 6 hour wait. We also ate in the New Orleans quarter, and it was surprisingly cheap – less than $10 each for lunch. That night, we got in the car and drove south, hoping to find a Boston Market or IHOP or something that was not within walking distance of the park. I found an all-talk radio station and Ricky Rachtman was on with a call-in show. It was surprisingly good, considering the grudge I hold against the guy for his years as the host of Headbangers’ Ball on MTV. We didn’t find anything, and came back to Anaheim and walked to a Denny’s. Once again, prices were low – I got my usual of a grilled cheese and a bowl of soup, and we both ate for like 11 bucks. I wondered if the rumored inflation in California was just a matter of perspective, and things would cost about the same as Seattle. And except for tourist traps, I was mostly correct.

Thursday was early admission day, and we got to the park at like 7:30. We couldn’t get on any good rides like the bobsleds or Thunder Mountain, and everyone was jacking up the lines on the stuff like Space Mountain, so we rode the dumb kiddie rides before the dumb kiddies woke up. I camcordered stuff like the flying Dumbo and the Teacups. We rode a bunch of stuff over again, and checked out smaller stuff like the Disney Gallery, which had some cool models they used to build the park. We left the park to rest a bit and eat some lunch, and went to a McDonald’s which, once again, was only pennies more than the one here in Seattle.

Speaking of lunch, I need to go eat some now. So, more in a bit…

Karena’s staying at my house today while I’m at work – it was nice to come home and eat lunch with her there. But I was in the middle of a story, so I should finish my trip summary here.

Okay, Thursday we stayed until the park closed, and then ate somewhere close to the hotel. I remember we ate at IHOP twice and Denny’s once, but I don’t remember which nights. There was a row of restaurants in Anaheim, and the selection wasn’t too terrible, but the places were packed whenever we got there, which generally made service below par. Both Dennys and IHOP were open late enough so we could get in there when nobody else was around, though, and the servers were pretty nice.

Friday, we decided to change plans a bit and take a day at Six Flags. The drive north through LA was not too bad, and we even got to listen to a bit of Howard Stern on the way up. The park was crowded, but I managed to get to 8 coasters and a sit-down lunch of pizza in 6 hours. We rode on some Colorado water raft ride, and I thought we wouldn’t get too wet – I practically got immersed in the water and my clothes were wet from head to toe for the rest of the day. I almost got in a fight with some people who were cutting in line, which really pissed me off – later I realized it could’ve got me shot, and I calmed down. We left a little early, ate at Wendy’s and headed back. After some rest, we went to Disney and caught the night show. It was interesting – they did a bunch of lights and characters and music and crap, but they also had water projection screens and some explosives, so it wasn’t too bad.

Saturday, we went to Universal, again in LA. We took the tram tour, which showed us old scenery from films like Spartacus, Back to the Future, Three Amigos, Psycho, and a million more. The rides at Universal were for the most part lame and had million mile long lines. But we did go on the special effects tour, and I got to do sound effects for a Harry and the Hendersons clip. We also saw the movie _Chasing Amy_ while we were there. That night, we went back to disney again to check things out and ride a few rides for the last time.

Sunday was a horrorfest. We couldn’t find where to drop off the rental car at LAX, and then we couldn’t check in our baggage because we were too early. We couldn’t find any lockers, then had to go to another building to eat lunch, while dragging all of our luggage. We finally checked in, and waited another 4 hours for our flight. It was full, and full of screaming babies, so it took forever to load. We got back and I just broke down, from a total lack of sleep, food, patience, and ability to go on. Luckily, I was able to sleep it off, and here I am.

And here I am leaving – it is 5:15 and I am still at work. Maybe I will write more later tonight.

 

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Leaving for LA

I’m just about ready to leave for LA – I’m totally packed except for last second additions, and I’m waiting for Karena to get ready. I still have some errands to run before we go to the airport, and we will probably go to lunch before we leave. My stomach is really tore out right now though, I don’t know how much lunch I could eat. Hopefully it will settle down soon.

Not much else is up – we watched that Nick Cage movie Valley Girl┬álast night. Interesting… It wasn’t until halfway through the film that I realized that the main girl’s dad was the guy that played Chef in Apocalypse Now.

Time to get out of here. I’ll be writing more on the 20th, when I get back. Until then, it will be the trusty laptop – a 120 page Mead spiral notebook…

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On the Road tradition

I think I finished packing last night, but I still have to go buy some more stuff, like sunscreen. I can go from white to red in 15 minutes at dusk. I need the SPF-1000 stuff.

I started reading _On the Road_ last night, a regular tradition before I take a big trip somewhere. (_Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance_ is also a favorite) I read OTR when I went to San Francisco last year, and it was great to read about places and then see them myself. I read all about North Beach while I was on the plane, and then when I was wandering around town, I saw all of the same landmarks. Someday, I’d like to read the book and write down all of the exact roadtrips that Sal took and then take the same voyages. I’m sure someone with more spare time than me has done the same thing already, and a lot of the roads don’t exist anymore, but it’d still be fun.

I don’t know though – I drove almost across the country, and it sucked at the time. It’s fun to look back at everything I saw, but it was a really mind-numbing experience. I listened to every tape I owned like 10 times and had to stop in Minnesota or Montana or somewhere at this sad, prefabricated shopping mall in the middle of rural nowhere to buy some more tapes. I was so bored of even the same TYPES of music that I was listening to that I bought Billy Joel, Green Day, and big band tapes, just to keep me awake. And, as Chris Rock observed, malls in the most backward places of the country are the same as the ones everywhere else: Radio Shack, Sunglasses Hut, Chick-Filet, Orange Julius, and Payless Shoes. Anyway, aside from the boredom, I drove across the country on I-90, which is a fairly major road from East to West. Most of OTR took place on tiny, two-strip roads with lots of stoplights and small towns to pass through. This was before all of the highway bills of the 50s. If you’re a Seattle native, try driving on 99 from downtown Seattle to downtown Tacoma – that’s pretty much what Sal Paradise’s life was like for most of his travels.