Synthetic gin

In Orwell’s 1984, he talks about filling his tin cup with a ration of a synthetic gin that’s greasy, difficult going down, and the only drink available. That sounded like the coolest thing in college. I think the only reason I ever drank rum was because of the stories of sailors and wooden barrels of the stuff – yo ho ho and a bottle of, and the Disney caricature of the same scene that was recently revisited a bit. (It’s not too much different – there was a scene of guys chasing after women, and now the guys are stealing food and the women are chasing after them. If you think it’s some PC brainwashing, go fuck yourself – Disney can do what they want. It’s not like it is a historical monument or something). Anyway, I was saddened to later find that all gin tastes like furniture polish and it wasn’t as cool of a drink as I had previously thought.

I don’t know much about liquor as I don’t drink at all anymore, and when I did imbibe, I stuck to what I knew – rum and a few beers. I tried tequila before – tasted too much of rotting vegetables or something. I liked rum because it was a more artificial taste, like Coke is more artificial than iced tea. Schnapps has a good fake taste, but too many of them are flavored to hell. Once on a whim, I bought a fifth of peppermint schnapps, and it tasted like eating candy canes right after brushing your teeth. It was the perfect beverage for little 19 year old girls in a dorm trying to get drunk without tasting alcohol – a small step beyond drinking Scope. For some reason, I never tried vodka. I did have a roommate who was a rotgut whisky connoisseuer, and got me to do a few shots of Jack and Wild Turkey here and there. I can’t drink that stuff for pleasure, but if I ever end up a divorced Vietnam Vet on welfare who hates the world, I’ll buy that shit by the case. It’s the most pissed off of any drink, in my opinion.

While I’m on a roll, let’s talk about beer and wine. I don’t like wine, and it probably dates back to when I was a Catholic kid and I didn’t want to drink the wine at my first communion, and my mom put a gun to my head and told me God would fuck my ass if I didn’t drink that wine. Okay, she worded it different, but you know how moms get about that shit. Like a Jonestown Massacre victim, I drank the wine and it was the most vile tasting shit – okay, there are probably many more vile things in the world, but this is the worst that was given to me by an alleged son of god in a church. I’m sure many Catholic altarboys have worse stories, but I won’t get into that. I think that shut me off of wine forever. It’s sad because so many of the artsy-fartsy poet types are always drinking wine because they think it’s more sophisticated than a case of Schlitz. Maybe, maybe not. I think I’ve drank wine about 3 or 4 times in my adult life, and unless it was immediately followed by food, it wasn’t that memorable.

But beer, shit – I think it’s humorous how so many people hate the taste of beer, and so did I, but it’s like Spanish – you can learn it in a semester or two if you work at it every day and incorporate it into your life. Except for the first communion incident, I didn’t drink a friggin drop of alcohol until the night of my 21st birthday. My mom’s a recovered alcoholic, and her whole side of the family is filled with substance abusers, recovered, dead, or still at it today. I also had a good friend from junior high and high school who later got into drugs and alcohol, and ended up in juvenile homes, rehab, AA, NA, halfway houses, and jail. I drove him to AA meetings during high school and learned enough to keep me petrified about alcohol for years. I was certain my first drink would snap me right into full blown alcoholism. Also, when I was in school, I didn’t know how to hide teen drinking from my mom. If I came home as a 17 or 18 year old and drunk off my ass, I would probably get the ‘first strike, you’re out’ treatment. And not only did I fear getting caught, I just felt bad about the whole thing. I didn’t want my mom to work hard at staying clean for all of those years and then have a son who was a drunk. So I didn’t drink.

Then I turned 21. I was at school, and I started thinking that maybe it would be cool to try it out once. It’s just like voting – I am totally against the political system, but if it’s legal to go in there and write Jimi Hendrix on the ballot and run out again, then fuck – I’ll try it. Plus, I figured that if I went out on my 21st birthday, I’d get a bunch of free drinks. So I started drinking fruity shit like Pina Colatas and I got into wine coolers because I didn’t like wine, I didn’t think I’d like beer, and coolers were all that they sold at the grocery store. Those were fun because if you drank like 4 of them real fast, you’d be set. Anyway, I started drinking beer because it is the lowest common denominator – it is at every party and every store and every bar, and it is the most accessible. It is the ZZ Top of alcohol – it goes with anything, and everyone who is cool can tolerate it.

I don’t know where I’m going with this, except maybe as a laundry list of the beers I liked and didn’t like. I don’t get into Guiness or all of the ultra heavy beers. If I wanted to drink something as thick as syrup, I’d stick to Robitussen. It tastes better and is cheaper by the ounce. I like cheap beer – if I am just drinking to drink and be merry, it’s going to be Budweiser. If I have the extra two dollars, I might get Molson. If someone else is buying, I might get something like Rolling Rock or even Sapporro. I am banning Coors beer, and I don’t like to pay double or triple for some brewpub small-brewery private label bullshit. I don’t buy $8 beer for the same reason I don’t buy $75 jeans – the labels make no difference, they are there for the pretentious who need them. Trade secret – it doesn’t matter if the water is as pure as the woodland stream when you are brewing a beverage that essentially tastes like piss.

Like I said, I don’t drink anymore. I didn’t surrender to any 12 step bullshit, although I respect those who do. I just woke up one morning after drinking like a fifth of rum and blacking out, and decided it wasn’t worth the time anymore. I didn’t drink every day to start my day and keep me going until the next drink, but I did drink heavily when I was alone and felt a need to ‘self-medicate’. But I found that if I didn’t spend money on it, I didn’t drink at all. Although it feels good in the moment, it’s essentially boring. It can be awkward to not be a drinker and not have a reason, but I’ve stuck to my guns on it.

I’ve also decided to quit Baked Lays potato chips. I hate them, but I always buy them, sort of by accident. Like I’ll go to Subway, and grab the wrong thing. Anyway..

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Mental screen savers

I always play these weird games in my head to keep me busy and eat away the free time in elevators, showers, and meetings when typical people probably either shut down their brains or think about God or something. One of my puzzles is to think about the Camaro I had back in high school and what I would do if I wanted to restore it and had an unlimited budget. That one’s boring – the big gun is thinking about a quarter of a billion dollar inheritance. It sounds shallow, and many people would just think “I’d buy a car. Then I’d go to Nordstrom’s”. I think about a life-sized game of Risk: starting corporations, large scale retribution, and political destruction. I guess it beats doodling on my arm with a magic marker.

Anyway, my newest mental screen saver has been this: imagine going back in time only five years, confronting yourself, and hanging out with a week. Now, this is more advanced than the typical ‘see yourself as a kid’ thing. I haven’t changed that much in five years. Hell, I still have the same glasses I had five years ago. But, it was a whole different era for me – I was back in Indiana, living on dog food, mostly unemployed, and going through women like I go through Coke now. I could mostly unnoticed in 1992 – I could probably show up at work and work for 8 hours if it weren’t for the fact that I probably weigh like 20 lbs more and I wouldn’t be able to remember anybody’s name.

I thought about it more and wrote some of the science behind the thing. I would be fully functional (not like a Quantum Leap hologram), and I would be able to change anything. I would have a preprogrammed jump-back point of like a week. When I returned, everything in the past would revert to its previous value. Nobody would remember me, and all of the things I diverted or messed up would go back to the values that had already happened. Basically, a week-long divot of the past would be cloned and held in escrow while I fucked around, and then when I returned, a union of the past I changed and the piece that was removed would be grafted back in place. I thought of such a complex system so multiple machines could knock people back to the same timeframe of the same world without wiping out future people when grafts were reimplemented. A simpler system would be to take a week-long sample of the past and then feed it into something like the Star Trek holodeck, but it wouldn’t be entirely true. Here’s why – lets say the 1997 me decides to meet up with the 1992 girlfriend and I tell the 1992 me to get lost so we can talk for a bit. Okay, if I was in the holodeck, the only rendering information it would have would be my views of the 1992 girlfriend, and not her actual reactions to new situations. Well, I guess it would if it greatly sampled the entire week-long piece of the past from the actual past and not from my brain. The problem is this – I don’t know everything about people from my past – I only know the events I saw. I can guess, but it’s not 100% accurate unless it is really the living, breathing person in front of me. I think.

The weird thing of all of this – when I travel back to 1997, everything else reverts, but my memory doesn’t. I can carry back thoughts that change my future, because it hasn’t happened yet. I just can’t change the past.

The grand total of all of this is that I end up with this odd playground where I get to see and talk to people that I will never see again. And I get to do stuff like visit IU the way I remember it. I can drive my VW to Garcia’s and log into my old computer accounts and sit around with the 1992 me and lay some heavy shit on him/me about what’s going to happen in the past/future. I guess the whole thing is sad and abnormal, and I wouldn’t be doing anything worthy or changing things or anything. It would be like a photo album except with all senses, and it would probably just be depressing.

Other things I was thinking about in this – would I need to take my medicine? I would have to somehow bring it, as I took different medicine then. How would I hide myself to other people? I could say I was an older brother or something. I think about how I would identify myself to myself – I guess that would be easy – I know a lot of things that I have never told anybody, and if I laid out a bunch of those to the 1992 me, I/he would figure it out. Everything in my wallet would be wrong – the only thing in there that I would’ve had in 1992 would be my Social Security card. All of my money would be unspendable – I have $4 in my pocket, 3 are 1996, one is 1993. None of my credit cards would work. But I could probably use my 1992 photo ID without any problems, as long as I kept my story straight when I got pulled over or whatever. The people I saw everyday would be confused about me because my hair is probably different, I weigh a little more, etc. but the people I only run into every few months wouldn’t know. I don’t know, it’s a very strange thing to think about. I mean, I could sit and tell myself who would die, who I would date, but it would only be for my own morbid fascination. I guess I want to drive my VW again, too.

I want to write a long thing about FM radio. I don’t know what the focus would be though. The coolest places for FM radio are probably LA and San Fran. I remember driving into San Fran from Jose and the seek button would stop about every tenth of a number on the dial. 98.1 98.2 98.3 98.4 etc. Within 6 or 7 hits, I found a station playing Obituary. And although I’m not into these disco dancing stations, there are dance stations that must play commercials like all day, because they spin records for hours at a time without stopping for a commercial break. Any music that’s fast and doesn’t stop every 2 minutes for a car dealership ad is pretty cool to me. My biggest peeve is the station that has such a rigid format that you could set your watch according to the next Snapple commercial. When I drive south every other Friday to Karena’s, I listen to KOMO AM for the traffic reports. Bill Gallant is on and he’s a fairly cool guy, but they actually take like 15 seconds of callers per hour. It is commercial / traffic / commercial / intro / commercial / traffic / commercial / intro / two seconds of talk / commercial / traffic etc. Why can’t they just play commercials for like 4 minutes of the hour and shut the fuck up so they can get some entertainment going? I mean, I hate Rush Limbaugh, but I bet he talks for more than 3 minutes of his 7 hour shift in the morning. What makes it even worse is on the music stations when they do the same commercial rotation and then they play the same 6 songs all day. I hate listening to 107.7 now because they play all the commercials and then they play the same 311, No Doubt, and Porno for Pyros songs over and over and over. They play that Pets song by Porno for Pyros like it’s a new hit – IT’S BEEN OUT FOR FIVE GODDAMN YEARS! So I try to listen to 99.9 and they are moderately okay, but they have this thing “we play 9 in a row all day long”. Well, they don’t. They play 3 or 4 blocks of 9 with a lot of commercials in between. Like, if they finish 9, they don’t do 4 commercials and a station ID and then go into another 9. They dick around for a while, work around the lunch break or whatever, and an hour later they start another 9. And during the blocks of 9, they break between the songs for station promos, which I think is a ripoff. But, they play some older ozzy, and some other good metal stuff, which is better than listening to Bryan Adams or Air Supply.

I still think Seattle is better than Indiana though, because I NEVER listened to the radio there. Your choices were elevator music, or adult contemp. pop music. I guess now they have some “alternative” stations, but still. There are usually 4 stations that your FM radio will pick up in Indiana, even in the major cities. People are happy listening to the Chicago 17 album or whatever.

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Lots of work and little sleep

I know I haven’t written anything in a while. Life’s been an odd combination of lots of work and little sleep, but not in the traditional sense. I don’t know how to explain it – I am not sleeping less because I am working so much. I am sleeping less because I keep getting sick to my stomach whenever I eat anything substantial. I ate at McDonald’s for lunch yesterday and could barely eat one hamburger before I got an intense stomach pain like food poisoning. You’re probably thinking “no shit Jon, McDonalds food will kill you”. But typically, I can eat 9 hamburgers there with no problem, and I’ve eaten there a LOT over the last 26 years. And it isn’t just McD’s, it is ANY food more than say a bagel. So I barely ate, wasted $3.50, and got back to work with this mixture of hunger and sickness where I wanted to eat but I didn’t want to ever eat again.

So when I try to work at night, it is hard because I am hungry and all low-energy, but scared to eat anything other than rice. And this introduces this whole weird cycle of weakness and naps and caffeine and staying up too late and no concentration and blah blah blah.

But I am slowly working on things. I have more writing than time right now, which is a rare thing for me. I’m usually stuck on what I will be doing, and I bang my head into the wall over what I will be working on. Speaking of which, I should be working on some other stuff now…

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NT 4.0 self-surgery

I’m installing NT 4.0 on one of my computers right now. It’s about as involved as a heart valve replacement self-surgery, and twice as dangerous.

I haven’t written in here for a while – it takes more effort and I’d rather spend my time working on other stuff, but I’ll still try to nail stuff in here as much as possible. It was just the 4-day weekend and I spent a lot of time doing anything but working on the computer. I did a little work, and I’m happy with the changes that are starting to happen in this draft of Rumored, but it is taking forever. Oh well.

I better get back to this installer before it completely destroys all of my work.

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Write, work, play NFL football

I’m trying to write as much as possible on the book and I just don’t have enough fucking time. I need to trim more from my life – I wouldn’t say trim more from my life really. It’s not that I write and work and play NFL football and I need to drop one of the three. It’s that I lead a very lazy lifestyle and it’s a choice between being comfortable and living a busier lifestyle and writing more. I mean, I sleep 8 or 9 hours a night, every night, unless I have time to sleep 12. Should I sleep 4? Maybe that will burn me out so much that I can’t write. I need to read and fuck around and play on the computer to get ideas for writing, so it’s almost like those things are essential. I could seriously drop everything and have a 6 or 8 hour of space available every night, as opposed to my 2 or 3 hours. But would I be able to write if I did that? There’s the delicate balance of the whole thing.

I like how the writing is going – i am simultaneously worried that I am not getting weird enough and that I’m getting too weird. I am worried that if I put in a billion weird scientific references like I want to, I will become a Mark Leyner clone. But I like to be thought of as a thinking man’s (or person’s) writer, and I like having fucked up references that only apply to computer programmers, biologists, and illicit drug users. Building a cult audience is my first priority. Fuck accessibility.

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Questioning future value of current drudgery

Sometimes I wonder what parts of the present will be things that I cherish in the future. That doesn’t make sense, but when I think about the past, I enjoy the memory of certain things, people, places, or times. But I can also remember that I didn’t neccesarily enjoy these things in the past.

Example: in the 1994/1995 school year, pretty much everybody moved away or graduated, except me and Larry. I spent a lot of time with Larry and a lot of time alone. I wanted to be elsewhere, and I wrote every day about how I wanted to escape, sell all of my stuff, get on a greyhound and go to LA or Arizona or Seattle or Mexico or whatever. When I was there, I hated that life. But I enjoy many of the memories of that year. I think about when I’d spend Saturday mornings in bed writing until 2pm, and then wander the streets of Bloomington. And on weeknights, I’d take a nap until 8 or 9, and then go to a computer lab and write until past midnight. It’s a pleasant memory now, as long as I don’t remember everything alienating and alone about that point in time.

But the point is, I didn’t think I’d ever look back at that point in time and cherish it. And now I think about my life and wonder what parts of it are going to stick out in my head 5 or 10 years from now. It’s strange to think about.

Two years ago was my last night in Bloomington, and my last day of work for UCS. I sold my blown-up Mustang, worked my shift, cashed my paycheck, and packed the last of my stuff into boxes. It feels like it was so damn long ago. After I left, I always thought I could go back and it would be the same, like all of the times I went home for a summer or a weekend or a Christmas. But when I did go back over last Xmas, I realized too much has changed. All of my old hangouts are gone, all of the people I knew have left, and I see everything in a different way somehow. Bloomington was always beautiful compared to Elkhart, but when I go back to the campus, I just see another Indiana town with all of the typical Indiana problems. And the sad part is that I don’t have the same magical feeling I had in Bloomington in my new home town. Seattle is okay, but that campus held such an incredible, perfect feeling to me for all of those years.

It all sounds sappy, so I’ll stop babbling…

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