Col. Kurtz, old journals

I stayed up late (a subjective term these days) last night and watched Apocalypse Now. It’s been a while, and I felt a need to go up the river with Col. Kurtz myself. You know it’s a weird night when you’re thinking more about the mission and the river than the helicopters and explosions. The movie really hit the spot.

I read a bunch of old journals from the end of 1995, trying to find out when I named my second book, Rumored to Exist. It’s always odd to read old stuff, but it’s even stranger to find thick, deep, intellectual writing in a time when I thought I was just dicking around and spending too much money. 1995 now feels like a different era to me, and all of my old struggles and exclamations made it an interesting read.

I swore against it, but I feel another trip to Indiana coming on. I think it might be the same deal as last year, but it depends on money. I feel a need to shoot a lot more video of Bloomington this time. It’ll be nice to travel with a MiniDisc, too. A MiniDisc, a GameBoy, a camcorder, a cellphone – I think RoboCop hauled around less gear.

I’m going to go eat pizza in a second, and then go to the movies with my team at work, so I better split.

06/09/98 19:47

We went to see The Truman Show today. It was okay. It’s hard to say it’s a great movie, because then it puts you right in the demographic of the pathetic people they satirize. I don’t know if that’s a hidden joke, or a way of business. It wasn’t the kind of movie I’d pay to see, but it wasn’t as unbearable as being forces to paying to see a Julia Roberts movie with one of your friend’s recent ex-girlfriends, or watching Threesome with your mom. (both happened – don’t ask).

Actually, the whole premise of the movie was too similar to the excellent and overlooked Dark City, which did the whole city-you-can’t-escape thing, except with this whole scifi/noir thing which was the best cinematography I’ve seen in a while. It flaked out toward the end, though.

Someone should make a self-balancing washer. The basket would have water chambers around the perimeter and in the hub, and it would fill the ones opposite the imbalance. Maybe there’s an easier way – IU didn’t have an engineering program. I wish they did – I would’ve tried to get in some classes, maybe learn how to blow up bridges or do cool things with liquid hydrogen.

It’s time to work on the book.


Hello from the office

Hello from my office. One of the reasons I started this again was so I could spend my lunch breaks writing and eating a brownbag lunch, instead of spending $7 and half of my break in pursuit of 600 grams of fat and some bread. I’m hoping the word count for this project will go up as my weight goes down.

I feel like I’m going to jinx it if I say it, but I started working on my third book last night. I got a good 5000 words down last night, and a rudimentary outline, and I would’ve wrote another 5000 except it was 3 in the morning and I had to be at work today. I have a good feeling about this one, and I’m not sure where it’s going, but I think it’s a cool project. I feel stupid talking about it in such vague terms, so I’ll stop for a bit.

I do have this weird feeling about starting a book like this. Both of my other books were conceived in 1995, which seems like forever ago. Summer Rain was born in an era where I was killing myself over getting a book started, and I had a great short story that begged to be turned into a full-length novel. Rumored to Exist began as a writer’s block exercise while in Boston on a trade show visit, using Bill Perry’s semi-stolen Dell laptop. I don’t remember the moment I decided to take that short story about the summer of 1992 and turn it into a book – in fact, I didn’t even write it down in my daily journal. I remember starting Rumored – I was in a hotel bar, and some drunken woman from Minnesota was hitting on me with the line “hey, is that a computer?” Starting a new book is like starting a new relationship – there’s so much charged energy, you can’t stop thinking about it, and the future goes from being indeterminate to holding so much promise.

Although this is my third book, it’s also maybe my 10th attempt at a book. So maybe by Friday, all of this will collapse and I’ll be trying to figure out what to do next. Buyer beware.

A shout out to The Meyhem Project, now posting daily again.


A random trip to see the collapsing bridge

I loaded up the Escort with my cameras, MiniDisc, and an atlas and headed out yesterday, with the goal of taking a short to moderate roadtrip to somewhere I’ve never been before. So I got on I-5 south with a vague plan in mind, and pressed onward.

I do miss the Escort for some of these medium-length drives. I always complained about its road noise and vibrations, but compared to the Rabbit, it is whisper-quiet. The whole car feels so different now – newer, wider, and somewhat clunkier. Even though it has power steering, it drives less responsively than the VW – which isn’t all that bad. Also, it has air conditioning, which helped yesterday – it felt like it was above 80 for my trip. The MiniDisc was great for the road, too. That’s not a car-specific thing – mine is a Sony MZ-R50, a portable recorder about the size of a cassette tape box. I plug it into my tape player with a faux-cassette adapter, and it sounds fine. I listened to the new Pat Metheny album on the highway south. The perfect sound, small size, and nice little wired remote of the Minidisc made it a good companion for trips like this.

No, I didn’t drive to Longview, although I thought it would be a nice little drive, and it would be a real freakout to see that place again – it was bad enough when I zipped past there with Ryan Grant when we went to see Joe Satriani in Portland last March. Instead, I went down to Tacoma, and got on 16, which cuts to the west and up, into the peninsula on the other side of Puget Sound. After a bit of a haul, I got to the Tacoma Narrows bridge, another Pacific Northwest engineering tragedy story. Back in the 50s? the original Narrows bridge got destroyed in a windstorm. It was a gradual thing – the bridge gyrated all over for a day, and a bunch of people shot film and pictures of the thing before it broke apart and keeled into the water (I think some footage of it was recently in some Sony or Pioneer car stereo ad). The bridge seemed solid to me, but I still unloaded the rest of the b/w film in my still camera while driving across.

After the bridge, I saw a cemetery and decided to stop and look around. When I got out of the car and the AC, I realized it was pretty damn hot, and I was wearing a black t-shirt. Oh well. I have a morbid fascination with cemetaries – I’m not some kind of gothic zombie type, but I think cemetaries are a strange sociological phenomenon. We treat people like shit during their lifetimes, and ignore them until they die. Then we spend thousands of dollars to commemorate them with a piece of land and a chunk of stone. It’s the epitome of cookie-cutter ceremonies. Nobody is born the same way – there are so many stories of rushed trips to the hospital, prolonged labor, C-sections, kids born in the elevator, natural childbirth in swimming pools, and the whole deal. But (almost) everyone who dies gets the same ceremony, the same square of limestone.

This cemetary was a dud, in my opinion – all flat markers, and no real artwork or interesting history. It was a nice looking place though – there was a little newsletter I should’ve stolen, talking about how the staff was there to serve you and to stop by the office for cookies and icewater. It was a nice location, too – you could see a tributary of the sound, with some sailboats and homes built on the hills. There were no interesting graves, although I accidentally found a WWI vet that shared my birthday, so I loaded some color film and got a shot of that.

I continued north on 16, running out the Metheny MD and switching to some Henry Rollins spoken word. You might or might not know the story about how I claim Rollins turned my life around, but maybe I should recap since I’ve been feeling pretty depressed lately:

The story starts in October 1993. I’d been in a relationship since March, and I thought it was pretty perfect. Things had settled down from the hyper-romantic “in love” period, to a more cosmopolitan “day-to-day love”, but I still thought it was the greatest relationship I was in. Famous last words – in October, she found out she had an ovarian cyst, and had to go in for surgery in December for it – really serious shit. She had doubts about the relationship, and she felt she couldn’t deal with both the relationship and the medical stuff, and she couldn’t get rid of the medical stuff, so she dumped me.

Of course this completely flattened me. But there’s more background. At that point in time, I was on this academic rollercoaster where I was barely hanging on. At IU, you go on probation for pulling your cumulative GPA below a 2, or doing something asinine in one semester, like getting all F’s. I’d spent more semesters on probation than off; my recent transcript was like: on probation, off probation, on probation, on probation, dismissal, reinstatement, off probation, on probation, and now I would’ve bet money against myself that I’d fuck up the rest of the semester and face another dismissal. I’d also given up on my original dream of finishing a computer science degree, since there were too many hurdles (calculus, foreign language) that I couldn’t finish.

My academic goal at that point was to get a degree in general studies – a loophole provided by the school of continuing studies. I could finish a non-specific bachelor’s degree if I had 120 credit hours – no foreign language, and I got to pick and choose my classes a bit, although I had to have a certain number of social and behavioral, science, and humanities classes, and I had to take a speech class. No problem. I figured I’d never get a job as a hot-shit unix programmer, but maybe I’d get a job answering phones somewhere. I worked with computers then as a support consultant,had been for three years, and knew a fair amount. I knew people with English degrees and History degrees with no experience snagging good-paying computer jobs, and I was properly positioned at the very start of the whole WWW explosion, so maybe there was hope. But I still felt like I was drifting, like all of my mooring lines were being severed one by one. I was taking stupid, passionless classes in public management and business computing, and counting away my time until the real world kidnapped me, without really getting ready for it.

Ten days after the girlfriend left, my paternal grandmother died, and I rushed home for the funeral (I didn’t have a car – my sister drove down from Ball State, and then back up to Elkhart). We briefly lived with Grandma Konrath when my mom, dad, and I showed up in Edwardsburg, MI after he got done with the Air Force in North Dakota. We went to her house almost every weekend from age zero until I was 16, 17 and started running with my own car and friends. Even then, I’d get out there at least every month or so. My maternal grandparents lived in Chicago, and I only saw them on holidays; my paternal grandfather died when my dad was only 2 or 3, so I never met him. So my Grandma Konrath was probably my closest grandparent. I last saw her the day I picked up my truck from U-Haul to move to Bloomington for the fall, and didn’t think of it as a last goodbye, but I guess it works better that way sometimes. I don’t have problems with funerals – I don’t believe in heaven and hell, and that’s problematic when you’re surrrounded by crying people who are talking about that. I feel grief, but it usually doesn’t happen until weeks or months later. Call me weird. Anyway, the strangest part was seeing my dad – he mostly had it together, but there was this almost scared look on his face when we were at the graveyard. He’s the youngest kid in this huge family, and I suddenly realized both of his parents were gone, and it made my father, the person that I see as more of an icon or a figurehead, seem a lot more like me.

So where does Rollins fit into all of this? When I got back to school, I bought The Boxed Life, which is a hilarious spoken word album. Hank talks about travel, depression, the road, people, aggression, humility, strength, and much more. I lived about two miles away from campus, and although I had a bus pass, I’d rather walk home than wait two hours for a BT bus. So I’d strap on my trusty Aiwa walkman, put in one of the Rollins tapes (it was a 2-tape set, and I later bought up the back-catalog too) and hiked it home. His monologues made me think a lot more about my life, the depression, and reinventing myself. Pretty soon, I started hauling around a spiral notebook and writing down my observations and feelings during the lull between classes and work. I dug out my old 110 lb weight set at my mom’s house and brought it back to Bloomington, trying to get back into shape. I stole a bunch of paperback books from my mom’s – stuff like Catch-22 and Fear of Flying, and made a habit of reading an hour or two a night. Later, I started dropping more cash every payday at Morgenstern’s on stuff like Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski, and I devoured their stories of loneliness, romance, life, and living. I still thought about my ex every day, but I knew I’d need to reinvent myself if I wanted to live. And I guess the distraction of the writing, reading and the lifting got in my way, and kept me from jumping into a temporary, fucked up relationship, like the chain of them behind me. And within a few months, I was a writer. I filled the void title in my life by hacking out short stories, poems, and trying at a first novel. And here I am: Jon Konrath, writer.

About 80 pages ago, I was talking about my trip. I was headed up 16, which is a nice road, with a lot of evergreen trees on either side and some small hills in the distance. There are few stops, just the occasional Texaco station. It reminded me a lot of my time in upstate New York with my dad, the summer before my senior year of high school. The drive felt good, even though I didn’t know my destination.

I got to Bremerton, which is an old Navy shipyard town. I flew over the shipworks in a tiny Cessna plane with a coworker once – there’s a lot of old iron down there. When I pulled into town, I could see the old gray battleships right off the water – a bunch of them were pushed together, hull-to-hull,like they were in storage. I saw a sign for a naval museum, and I hoped there would be a place I could drop a 10-spot and walk onto a decommissioned destroyer. But it looked like the ships were in some fenced-off, official-looking facility, and I couldn’t even get to the water’s edge for a picture. Bummer.

I motored around Bremerton, which is a small town with a heavy naval influence to it. I can’t describe it much better than that, but maybe the smell of saltwater and presence of marinas remind me of being on the Oregon coast, or my walks around lake Union and Elliot bay. Small towns are weird, because they are always beat – worn out signs on little local stores, high school kids with nothing to do, lots of senior citizens. It’s always fucked up, but it’s fucked up out of ignorance more than corruption. In the big city, the problems are that everyone wants to make a buck – everything is a high rise or a parking lot or a no parking zone. Everything is covered with soot and neon signs and billboards for beer or Guess jeans. But in the small town, it’s all about atrophy. And the people like it – and, I guess from a lifetime of living in small towns, it’s nice for me to get a small dose of it here and there.

I got back on 16 and banged north again. I thought about going to 3 and crossing the Kitsap bridge, and headeing west, on the north side of the Olympic State park, until I either got to the ocean or a nice outlook on the Juan de Fuca Strait. Realistically, I didn’t have time for this, and you can’t go all the way to the ocean because the prime real estate right on the tip there is an Indian reservation. So I stopped in Silverdale, with the intent of picking up some cash, hitting a restroom, and maybe getting a bite to eat. I found a Seafirst – while in line, a guy started talking to me about my Joe Satriani shirt. I guess he was up from the Bay Area for the weekend. He looked Navy, but I couldn’t tell. I stopped at the Target by the Kitsap mall – the whole place reminded me of a mall I saw during a stay in Corning, NY. I decided against Burger King, and got back on 16, heading south.

I got back into Bremerton and circled around again, looking for that museum. I saw what looked like Hyatt Regency or Days Inn towers in the distance, but there were a bunch of them – sort of modern-adobe looking, pinkish-sandstone colored, with bright terraces and modern-looking roofs. Why the fuck would they need so many hotels? I got a little lost, and ended up at the gate of the Navy base, so I turned and drove the length of the base, looking in the fence. Then I realized that those buildings weren’t hotels – they were barracks! I thought all barracks were required by law to be 50’s-looking quonset huts, but these were modern, high-rise apartments. I also saw a Subway on base, which looked a little out of place. Just outside of the base were a bunch of run-down bars that looked like they’d never served a drink to a person since the Korean War.

I couldn’t find the museum (I’m sure it’s a snap to find) and I was bored of driving, so I decided to drop $8 and take the ferry back to Seattle. I got there halfway through the lineup, and only had to wait 15 minutes. I grabbed all of my gear, and spent the ride taking still and video pictures of the birds, boats, and water. You can get excellent panning shots when you’re moving through the water – if the water is moving toward your angle, and you zoom in, it looks like you’re flying over the water. Also, the birds had a horrible headwind, and were trying to fly with the boat, so it looked like they were hovering right over us. I shot about 15 minutes of film, and got some great footage (but horrible audio – the wind!) of the approach to Seattle. I got back to the car early, and spooled out the rest of my tape on the approaching kingdome (Sony Hi8 tape is actually 122 minutes long, I found out). It felt good to sit in the Escort after the sound and the headwinds. That car still smells new – it’s amazing.

I got home tired, and sort of depressed. It was 7:30 on a Saturday night, and I was broke and with nothing to do. No messages, no calls, no email – I felt like I should’ve kept driving. Instead, I fell asleep, woke about 3 hours later and ate a TV dinner while watching the tape that was in the camcorder. It had the tail-end of my vacation last October to Indiana (which shows you how much I use the camcorder). My mom had a bunch of old slides from when I was a baby, so we rented a projector, aimed it at the wall, set up the camcorder, and I had her talk about each slide while I taped it. The picture quality is poor, but the commentary is great. I also faux-interviewed my friend Tom Sample in his apartment in Indy and got him to recall some great stories about our time together. After the tape, I spent part of the night, screwing with the new glossary system, and reading the Cliff Stoll book about the German hacker, The Cuckoo’s Egg.

Now I’ve spent forever typing all of that and yet I don’t feel like I’m really talking about what’s going on. I want to get out of the house though, and this will probably be more pedestrian, like a trip to safeway. More later.

06/07/98 21:48

I just re-read and edited what was above. I can ramble when I have nothing better to do with my time. My apologies to low-baud users.

I spent the day wandering in the Escort, wandering Northgate mall, wandering Mountlake Terrace, wandering University Village. It felt good to get out of the house, even though I didn’t have money to blow shopping. Malls have a certain cathartic appearance, and they’re a prime location for peoplewatching. It drives my friends nuts that I will spent so much time at malls without even going in stores, but hey – it’s exercise.

I was reading a book at a bookstore (Waldenbooks? It was someplace I don’t buy books) and it said that you can give your dendrons in your brain a workout by doing things you aren’t used to doing. So maybe I wouldn’t feel as atrophied if I started studying Sweedish or Russian or something. I think that’s true to an extent, because when I was suffering with physics or Spenser and Chaucer, I felt a lot more alert than when I was watching TV 19 hours a day.

I’ve declared Rumored to Exist officially stalled. I need to change gears again, and I have an idea for a third book that might work out well right now. Mum’s the word until I can get an outline hammered out.

Did you know Indiana University had a president with the first name of Elvis? Did you also know that Indiana University, defined by law on January 20, 1820, shares a birthday with me (1971), Bill Perry (1971), physicist Andre Ampere (1775), second man on the moon Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin (1930), Deforest Kelley – Star Trek’s “Dr. Bones” (1920), mathematician and physicist Daniel Bernoulli (1700), creator of Little Orphan Annie creator Harold Gray (1894), Lorenzo Lamas (1958), Kiss guitarrist Paul Stanley (1949), novelist Johannes Jensen (1873), and Skeet Ulrich (1968)? That’s quite a lineup – I’m thinking a secret society is in the works.

I need to figure out dinner and then start outlining this book.


A return to posting

After about 5 hours of hacking, this thing is up and running again. Sure feels weird to have all of the old entries on the server, and only one new one. I had to redo all of my interface here, and rewrite the C program that indexes everything, but it seems to be working. There are many bugs and rough-around-the edges things that need work, but it’s letting me enter in stuff, and it’s putting it on the web site, so that’s all that matters for now.

I have my Escort back. It feels weird to drive it after the Rabbit – almost like it’s a big car or something. It smells new, and the seats are more comfortable. I like the feel of it, and the interior, but it’s very sluggish. Going up hills, I kept grabbing for the gearshift to downshift. It also feels odd without a clutch under my left foot. Although I’ve cursed that car the last 34 months I’ve had it, I will miss it when it’s gone. It’s about as stable and well-adjusted as American cars get. Although my trips to Longview last year got to be a pain after a while, I will miss driving down I-5 on a nice, sunny day in that car. I’ve owned it longer than any other car, so it’ll always symbolize the beginning of my Seattle experience. And in 2 months, it will be back at the Ford motor credit office, on its way to another sucker.

I feel a need to update anyone who may have read my last journal and then got to the new one (or people who maybe read all of the old entries and then wondered what happened in the 6 month gap). So I guess I should run through the list.

I guess the biggest thing is that I’m single now. I split things off with Karena about 3 months ago. It’s hard to describe diplomatically in a public forum, but I guess I’ve been in the middle of some kind of weird identity crisis, and I wanted to get more serious about my writing. There weren’t any major dramatics, fights, etc. It’s hard to go into it any more than that, but I can describe what’s been going on with me, and maybe that will explain it more.

First, I’ve been writing a lot this year. I screwed around for a month or so, got a bunch of new computer gear with my tax money in January, and then decided to get back on the horse with my first novel, Summer Rain. In the middle of editing this book, I got to the point where I wanted to write full-time on it, and it became hard to do anything else. I thought about it so much, I *dreamed* about being in the book. And in all of this wanting to be a writer, and having a crisis about my purpose in life, I didn’t think I could live this bipolar life of working and being in a serious relationship, and writing. So, I got more into Summer Rain after the split, and then got into my second book again, Rumored to Exist. Right now, I’m supposed to be editing Rumored, but I’ve been blocked for a few weeks. So who knows what is next.

I bought a second car, another VW Rabbit like the one I had back in 1992. I was fixated on it after working on Summer Rain, since the car in that book is practically a main character. My old one was a 1980 diesel, 4 door, sunroof, 4 speed, silver. This is a 1978 gas, 2 door, sunroof, 5 speed, silver. It ran good for a while, and now this water pump shit started up. After I get that fixed, and a few other little things, it will be an okay car.

Since the beginning of last December, I’ve also bought a new stereo for the VW, a MiniDisc recorder, a bunch of computer crap, a bunch of books, and about 250 CDs. I’ve still managed to do okay with the bills – most of that was from a windfall of money at the start of the year, taxes and bonuses. I’ve been somewhat broke lately, and I am worried because the Escort has some paint scratches and I’m almost certain they will charge me $1000 for them when I return it. So I’m eating a lot of ramen and lunchmeat sandwiches these days.

I signed another lease on my apartment. Not much to say there, except that I’m too lazy to move, and I’m afraid if I move elsewhere, I won’t get any writing done.

My friend Bill Perry moved back to Indiana at the end of January, because his mom had cancer. She passed away the day before Memorial day, which really sucks. It’s weird without him here, since he moved me out here and he was kindof my default Seattle friend. He still works in Seattle (remotely) and shows up every once in a while.

Life has otherwise been very boring and routine, and maybe that’s part of the problem. I’ve been suffering fits of depression about what to do next. It’s not that I’m planning on quitting my job and backpacking across Tibet. It feels like the only interval after entering the corporate world is retiring, and that’s why people get married and buy houses volvo stationwagons and take package vacations and have kids and go to church. I don’t feel like I could do any of those things, but I almost feel like it’s expected of me. When I was in school, I always had goals – getting money for a semester, getting past midterms, getting through the semester, finishing requirements, meeting the right woman, etc. But it seems like life is a giant open frontier. I guess that’s good and bad.

It’s getting daylight out – I should probably sleep. More about this later.

06/06/98 12:23

I imagine I’ll be doing 9 entries a day for the first week, but the reading level will taper off with time. Bear with me.

As you can tell, I don’t sleep much on weekends. It’s very eerie to be sitting in bed, listening to a CD, and catching up on the paper journal as the sky turns from black to blue to broad daylight. The days are getting longer, which puts a cramp on a person who claims they can only write during darkness.

Although I am broke and tired, I promised myself I would leave the house and do something of interest today, and going to the mall doesn’t count.


Everything I touch breaks

Sometimes, it seems like everything I touch breaks. Almost three years ago, when I first moved to Seattle, I went through a period where I never wanted to leave my apartment, because I was certain I would accidentally do something that would cost me money. My salary looked decent on paper, back in Indiana<, but once I got a car, an apartment, and got hit by all of the nickel-and-dime real world expenses, I had way less in my pocket at the end of the week than I did at my poverty-level hourly job back in Bloomington. And then every time I moved, I got hit with another asinine fee or bill – it felt like these people expected me to have a few grand in the bank for idiot expenses. So on Saturdays, when I was alone and had nothing to do all day because I was so broke, I feared going downstairs to the mailbox, because I knew I’d find some new bill awaiting me. And I feared leaving the house, because I was certain I’d either get in a car accident or in a breakdown that would cost me tens of thousands of dollars.

I’m beginning to feel like this again. Today, my VW started making engine noises that sound expensive. It actually started on Tuesday, but today was the first time I opened the hood with the engine running and gave it a good listen. I talked to a friend of mine who says it might be something like the water pump or timing belt, and that makes more sense – it will also be a hell of a lot cheaper than a complete engine rebuild to fix a knocking rod or something. Either way, I don’t have time time or money to deal with it right now, so I will switch back to driving my Escort full-time.

I spent part of last night watching old Twilight Zone episodes. The day of the last Seinfeld episode, I got on a major anti-TV rant, tore my cable out of the wall, and cut it so I wouldn’t be able to watch any TV again. I’ve since found that I can barely get a decent picture of channel 5, the local NBC affiliate, but it’s so fuzzy and screwed up that I can’t focus on a TV show. Life without TV has been more lonely than exhilirating. I’ve realized that it opened me up to a whole different world of people and experiences. Granted, most of them made me feel like shit – everyone on TV is thin and in shape and beautiful and together, and after watching for 3 or for hours a night every night of the month, you wonder if you’ll ever be able to find a woman as beautiful as Monica or Phoebe or any of Jerry’s girlfriends, and you’ve become programmed. You can’t buy the cars or the clothese they advertise, so you revert to buying the beers and pizzas, and soon you’ve gained 50 more pounds and you’re less together and less beautiful than when you started. It’s all a trap.

Background info: I grew up on TV, like the rest of you. We only had 5 channels (NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and a neo-nazi religious channel) until we got cable around 83 or 84 (my parents were late adopters on most things – we didn’t get a VCR until about 1988. We did have a microwave oven around 1980 though.) I got out of TV when I was in high school – by the time I had a car, a job, and friends who were interested in anything but TV on a Friday, I stopped watching. And when I went to college, I didn’t have a TV to bring with me. In my first year of college, I watched maybe 4 hours of TV. But in my second year of school, I lived at home. I worked, but there was usually a night a week where I watched every show – the first semester it was when LA Law was on. And I watched a slew of stuff on Sunday night – it was part of the routine, to go to the grocery with my girlfriend, and then watch America’s Funniest Home Videos. Somewhere in there, I realized that I didn’t do anything outside of work anymore – I didn’t write, or play bass, or get into music that much, or go to movies, or anything. I also gained 30 pounds from sitting in front of the tube with a bag of chips or some candy or a pizza. So I went off of TV again, for almost six years. I didn’t own a set, and when my roommates did, I seldom watched. I did watch movies on VHS, but I think that’s a different experience. Movies aren’t written to draw you in and herd you toward a sponsor. The only TV show I watched in that timeframe was Beavis and Butthead – I taped a bunch of those when I was home one summer. My TV celibacy continued until the end of 1996, when I bought a TV and a VCR to watch movies. At the start of 1997, I bought a cable to hook up and watch the free cable in our apartment. Then I got hooked again. I got locked into must see tv, saturday night live, syndicated seinfeld, abc’s wednesday lineup, and late night talk shows. Any time I didn’t feel like writing or doing anything creative or productive, I would channel-surf. And about two weeks ago, I stopped. It was weird at first, like I had a lot of extra time on my hands. I used to watch TV and eat, and eating in silence or with a CD going seemed weird. I usually start writing at 9, and that used to mean I’d eat, finish my shows and go to the computer. Now I sometimes have hours between eating and writing, and I don’t know what to do. Anyway, it’s weird. I wanted to give you the background so you don’t think I’m an anti-tv nazi or a devout couch potato. I’ve lived both roles.

Anyway, I was watching Twilight Zone last night. I have a bunch of them on tape, and sometimes I watch tapes or movies to get over the eerie silence of the evening, or when I have writer’s block. When I was a kid, we watched these every night at 10 on WGN. After a few summers of this, I thought I saw all of the episodes. Maybe I’ve forgotten some, or maybe there are ones that weren’t in syndication before, but many of these seem new to me. I wish I could’ve written some episodes for Serling, because I bet I could bang out a bunch of weird ideas that would’ve been great. Other odd things I noticed – have you ever noticed how many Twilight Zone episodes had a wild west background? I bet they used the Universal Studios wild west lot to shoot all of them. Also, ever notice how many times Robbie the Robot from Lost in Space appears in Twilight Zone episodes? They must’ve had some kind of loaner program.

I don’t remember what the hell I was going to say about the Twilight Zone. I’ve been watching in an effort to pick up weird ideas for the now-almost-stalled work on Rumored to Exist. I’m in a weird sort of funk and I can’t write anything new or unique. I’ve been pushing around old ideas, and cleaning things up, but there’s no energy behind it. I’ve also been having a series of weird dreams, 2 or 3 a night, that all have to do with women. They are completely different dreams, but usually involve falling in love with somebody or chasing after someone, and the women are all composites of various ex-girlfriends or other women I knew in Bloomington. The dreams are vivid and lifelike, and I wake up wishing they really happened.

This is the first journal entry I’ve done for a while. Now I need to get the archive of old stuff and get this site going again. Maybe I will journal for a few more days first….