Seattle is back

Seattle is back. It’s 68, cloudy, and I managed to sleep without drinking alcohol last night. I even had to turn off the ceiling fan and close a window, it got so cold last night. I’m very happy – I feel like a changed man. Maybe I’ll get some writing done tonight.

My New York visitor is going to be here over Labor Day weekend, and I’m excited about that. Time to throw out the beer bottles, stock the bar, and do some serious cleaning…

The other night, I thought of the perfect plot for an action-adventure movie. I don’t know why, it just appeared in my head while drinking a beer and waiting for sleep. I’m thinking I subliminally ripped it off from some Van Damme movie or something, but I’m not sure – maybe it’s an amalgm of a bunch of movies. If I had any time whatsoever, I’d write a treatment, or even a screenplay, and then send it to a bunch of people. But I guess I have better things to do with my time.

I’ve been listening to the new Garbage album for some reason – I usually don’t listen to pop albums, but I got a copy from a friend of mine, and I actually like it in some weird way. I could imagine listening to it while doing 90 in a cnnvertible with the top down – it has a lot of energy to it, and sounds fresh. Maybe I should dump this to an MD and listen to it more.

I’m really not that nervous about the car now, but brief explosions of anxiety hit me when I really sit and think about it. I’ll miss that car, but not the dealership. My loyal zine readers keep asking me if I will still put “No thanks to Evergreen Ford in Issaquah” in the back of every issue of Air in the Paragraph Line, like I did with 1-9, or if I’ll find a new cause to berate. That’s a good question, and I guess you’ll have to buy a copy of #10 to find the answer.

I’m bored. I now have a NY subway map and a bartender’s guide, which should keep be busy for months.

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The 30-day Diarrea Diet Plan

It’s motherfucking hot in Seattle. Maybe I’m just whining, but you should try hanging out in my apartment for a few hours. Even with all of the fans on full blast and the windows open, it must be 90 in there, and the mercury doesn’t drop much at night. I know there are some of you that think “I’m a tough guy – 100 degree heat doesn’t bother ME.” That’s because you’re brain damaged. I can’t do anything but sit in bed when it’s this hot out, and with the jet-engine roar of my fans, I can barely hear the sound of the stereo or TV. There’s no use in trying to read any new books or write anything. I’m glad I discovered that if I drink a beer right before bed, I fall asleep a lot faster. I’m not glad that I’m down to my last beer, and I’m pretty much broke until Friday.

Yes, I’m counting the days until Friday, when the Escort goes away. I have $400 of the $620 I need to pay Ford, and payday plus bonus-day is Friday, so I should be home free. I am down to my last $11, which I’ll probably spend on Sprite, Gatorade, and stuff for lunch this week. I should make it. And after that, I’ll have cash every month – enough to save for weird trips around thw world and still have enough to go to the CD store and buy everything in sight.

I keep thinking about where I’ll travel next. I think another default trip back to Indiana is in order, except this time I’ll try to hook up with Michael in Cleveland and take some better pictures of Bloomington. I also want to take a trip to NYC, and one to LA. This huge Amsterdam trek is still on the drawing board, but I’m not sure when that will happen or how I will pay for it. I’m thinking of keeping very detailed journals on my next couple of trips, and then writing a book about them. It would be about the tree or four places I visited, which would all be completely different, but it would be more about me and the time I spent on the road. It wouldn’t be like On the Road – more like Kurt Brecht’s book The 30-day Diarrea Diet Plan, which is a cool book about his voyage into Mexico on no money.

Nothing else. It’s nice in my office though. Maybe I should move in here.

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CD test list

I’m thinking of sinking an insane amount of money into some new stereo hardware. I really want a pair of Magnepan speakers, and I really want a Crown amp. I don’t think panel speakers will sound too good with Entombed, but they’d sound great with this new Pat Metheny CD, or some Shadowfax or something. So I’m coming up with a list of all-purpose test CDs I could use while auditioning new gear. They all have to be familiar, but exhibit some weird quality I’d need to test. I think the list is something like this:

  • Motorhead – 1916
  • Chick Corea Electric Band – Under the Mask
  • Pat Metheny Group – Imaginary Day
  • Peter Gabriel – Us
  • Mariah Carey – Mariah Carey
  • Death is Just the Beginning II comp.
  • Dismember – Indecent and Obscene
  • Brahms – Piano Concertos (complete) (Philips)
  • Frank Zappa – Civilization Phaze Three
  • Frank Zappa – The Yellow Shark
  • Frank Zappa – One Size Fits All (Au20)
  • Joe Satriani – Crystal Planet
  • Shadowfax – Folksongs for a Nuclear Village
  • the digital domain test disc
  • the Holophonics test disc

I think with those CDs, I could find new speakers that didn’t suck, or at least piss off the sales clerks.

It’s a beautiful day out, I’ve got a twenty in my pocket – what the fuck am I doing writing on here?

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Cable TV relapse

I gave up. I fell off the wagon. I relapsed. I once again have cable TV. And I’m watching way too much of it.

I decided one night that I wanted to watch the Conan O’Brien show again. He’s really funny, and I like his guests and his jokes with Andy and Max, and it used to give my life a certain amount of regularity. So did the Seinfeld reruns at 7:30, but they always preempt those with the fucking Mariners games. So the other night, I got out the wire strippers and fixed my TV cable, and there it was.

Conan was funny, and I watched some other pseudo-educational things, like a show on the Berlin Airlift, and this giant Noam Chomsky thing on PBS. But I find myself wandering the stations, which is bad. Oh well, I need some new ideas for the book, and I can’t think of any while hermetically sealed in my apartment.

It’s Friday, but it feels like Tuesday. I hope this will be a breakthrough weekend for the writing – I have been hovering right below 40,000 words on this project, and I’d really like to break through and officially be in the 40s. Yesterday, it got so nice out that there was an emergency beer and ice cream meeting on the patio. It was HOT out there – it felt good to be drinking cold Corona while standing around on the concrete and looking at Lake Union. Days like that make me wish I had a boat moored across the street, so I could hop in and hit the water.

I’m in the final stretch of this money ordeal, before the car is gone. It looks like I’m going to make it with a few bucks to spare, but I’m waiting for Ford to pull the old switcheroo somehow, and ask me for more cash. So that means I’m mostly broke for the next two weeks, but then I’ll be back to dropping bills in the CD store and buying many books I’ll probably never read.

I’m bored now. Time to do a bunch of stupid web searches.

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Wedding invitation from an ex

I got paid a day early and didn’t know it. It’s raining. I think the I-5 construction is done. I gave a panhandler 75 cents. My apartment smells like something died in the pile of unwashed dishes. I’m drying some jeans for the 4th time and I hope I remember to take them out and fold them.

I got a wedding invitation from an ex-girlfriend. Not really an ex, we went out a couple of times and it disintegrated before the labels were established. But I liked her a lot in early 1993. I had a dream about her the other night. I’m not mad or upset that she’s getting married, but it’s another reminder that I’m drifting. And I wish I had a better alibi for being single and childless. I wish I was Marilyn Manson, so when people would ask me why I’m not married, I could say “Where the hell have you been? Turn on your fucking TV.”

At least I got an invitation. I’d like to make a list here of all of the people who are/were allegedly close to me who didn’t invite me to their weddings.

I think I’m taking a long weekend in Vancouver BC in the near future. I don’t even know what I would do there, but I just want to go. I don’t know anyone there, except for maybe thirdhand connections or vague stuff like that. Now I know a couple of people in LA, but I can’t easily drive there, so the investment is higher.

I really need to do my dishes and find out of something did die in the sink, before it drives me nuts.

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Portable hot tubs and jackhammers

The jackhammers continued until about 5 in the morning, when the construction crews started running something that sounded like a tablesaw running in my kitchen, even though it was 200 yards away, slicing through the bridge decks of I-5. I hope to fuck that this roadwork finishes on time (allegedly tomorrow) so I can get some sleep.

07/13/98 12:46

The Damark catalog had a “portable” hot tub for like $1000 or $2000, and I kept thinking about how cool it would be to rent a two-bedroom apartment and set that bitch up – or a one-bedroom, and I wouldn’t put any other furniture in the living room. I don’t OWN any other furniture. Instead of buying a couch and a loveseat and a bunch of tables, I could just buy the hottub, and hang out in there when I rent movies. I just have to remember not to put any Japanese tourists in my Karl Fargman dresser.

Have I mentioned how slow the book is going yet today. Slow. Monumentally slow. Motherfucking slow. So slow, I shaved my dog’s ass and taught him to proofread backward. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. Here’s an example – imagine you have to put yourself on a “tight schedule” to write a mere 300 words a day. Then imagine you break that schedule like 5 out of 7 days a week, and on the other two days, you don’t make up for it. This is why I’m thinking about a rewarding hobby in paint-by-number clown pictures, maybe working up to some dogs playing poker.

I was just looking at a web page and I couldn’t figure out why I would reload it and it would jump right to the end of the page. I thought maybe they used some kind of special anchor or something… until I realized I was holding down the space bar. It’s one of those days.

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Saw a ghost

I saw a ghost today. To me, a ghost isn’t a dead person dressed like a Klansman, making weird noises and scaring people. It’s when one or more of my senses receive input that matches some other point in my history enough to make me think I’m there again. It can be a perfume, a song, a place, a car, a picture, or anything else that strikes a chord and really tears into me. Smell is my strongest sense, but a combination can really freak me out. An example – I used to drive a silver 1980 VW Rabbit diesel, back in 90-91. The smell of diesel fumes, like when a bus goes by, reminds me of my old Rabbit. Now I drive a silver 1978 Rabbit with a gas engine, which sometimes reminds me of my old Rabbit, but there are enough differences and I’m used to it, that it’s a different car to me. But, one time I was driving and I stopped at a light behind a big construction truck, and the diesel exhaust huffed away that familiar smell. And I saw a ghost. For a few seconds, it totally made me think it was the summer of 1991 again, like I was working at NIBCO and dating Johanna down in Bloomington.

Maybe I shouldn’t call it a ghost – maybe it’s more like a wormhole, a way for me to peer back into the past that’s triggered by external events. Like deja vu, but that’s more of an unexpected thing, like you’ve been at the current event before, not like the current event is a weird shadow or afterimage of a past event you know you lived. I guess this happens to a lot of people, and it’s simply called nostalgia. But I think it’s more for me, because I have such a strong memory for the past. Sometimes, when I’m hanging out with friends and talking about old times, I’ll rattle off a story from 5, 10 years ago with such precision, and everyone else says “I totally didn’t remember that until now.” Other people forget the past, and think it’s a curse. I think remembering the past is the real curse. I can’t put ex-girlfriends out of my mind, or forget my stupid mistakes. I wish it all faded away, but I think some people and places will chase me to my grave.

Today’s ghost was nothing tremendous. I walked to work and back, to time the distance (~40 min each way) and the clouds, the smell of the wind, the temperature, and the Rollins Band MD all made it feel like the fall of 1993 again. It wasn’t a total sensation – I was walking in downtown Seattle, not from Wrubel to Colonial Crest, the Rollins album in question came out in 94, and I didn’t have either the black leather jacket or the Aiwa walkman that were Konrath trademarks at the time. But it felt like time skipped for a second, and it lurched back five years.

That’s all I did today. I slept in, went for the walk, and by the time I got home, it was like 5:30. Then after I drank 2 gallons of icewater, passed out, and dealt with an incredible headache focused in the center of my left eye, I got my dinner, and here I am. I wish I had more stories for you about street festivals and shopping and contra dances and mountain climbinb and running in the park with puppy dogs, but I don’t.

I should be working on the book…


Waterproof sunscreen blinding kids

Eating nachos, getting ready to launch into it on the book. There is heavy construction going on just outside my apartment – they are replacing bridge decks on I-5 south. The current work is about 200 yards from my apartment, and I think it’s a 24 hour job – lots of hardcore banging and welding and scraping with tank-like vehicles and about 100 cops blocking off the road.

There’s an urban legend going around in email about waterproof sunscreen blinding kids. It’s idiotic, and the “anything for the children” types have been pummeling it out there. I got multiple copies at work, and a huge flamewar per copy. I get a lot of this – people who forward on jokes, etc. It’s an odd internet phenomenon – I bet you could get a Master’s thesis out of it without much work.

I’m not entirely sure why, but I’m listening to Mariah Carey’s self-titled album right now. The only reason I don’t have sick and/or unrealistic fantasies about her is that if I did manage to luck into something with her, I’d have a Puff Daddy number of 2 (like the Kevin Bacon numbers, get it?)

I’ve given up on finding cool journals on the web, and I’ve given up on reading about 98% of the journals I once thought were cool. It seems like in my darkest hours, I’d openly embrace the whole journal community, but I still think the idea of telling people how their personal sites should be run is stupid. It’s the reason I’ve given up on the zine community – it’s all people saying “be 100% DIY and do your own thing – just follow these steps so your stupid punk zine will look like every other one and conform to the highly regimented rules of content and appearance.”

I don’t put counters on my pages, and although I could check server logs, I never have. I think there’s a sort of beauty to that. It’s art for the sake of art, and I’ve never worried how many people read this. (I think it’s somewhere between 2 and 3, but it could be less) I guess lately I’ve been preoccupied in telling people my ideals on this, and it’s wasting my time – I feel like Lenny Bruce, spending hours talking about trials instead of telling jokes. Maybe I should shut up about it.

07/11/98 14:12

Sleeping is out of the question. They jackhammered I-5 straight through the night. At around 6, it went from one jackhammer to a dozen. I managed to sleep about 7 or 8 hours, but it was in 90 minute spurts.

I have begun trimming back my web site – I pulled a bunch of stuff today, and I’ll continue cutting, abbreviating, and moving things. Why? Because I’m sick of selling myself on the web. I’m tired of the fact that when someone gets my URL, they instantly know a bunch of things about me – maybe the wrong things. I don’t think I’m extroverted enough to tell the world all about me. I’ve always wanted to have this cool website that archived everything I’ve written – the zines, stories, books, web posting, whatever, and anyone could jump there for free and print the stuff out, or read it online. I now realize that I don’t like putting my work on the web, because my old stuff really sucks, and I’m nervous about the new stuff – it’s not the kind of writing that you want your boss or your uncle in New Jersey finding on the web. So, it’s slowly being pruned. And I’m inches away from killing this journal again. I might just remove the archives, but I’m not sure. I’ll need to think about it.

It’s 2:17pm and I’m still sitting around here – no shower, no food, incredibly depressed about nothing. I have $21 to blow this weekend in the “miscellaneous” account, and I’m trying to decide whether or not I should cut off all my hair, or just go see a matinee and walk around the mall, looking at things I want and can’t have. I’d hash out the depression issues here, but it’s essentially the same old shit, a few new players. About that shower…

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Cars, Beppo

I haven’t felt like writing lately. Not much has been going on with life, and that makes the journal pages seem stupid (“I got up. I took a shower. I checked my voice mail. I dried my hair.” etc.) I don’t want my journal to become that predictable, especially since I’m stuck in a 9 to 5 life, and I’m not climbing the Himalayas or walking across Africa or something else profound. And I can’t spend time with giant fictional discourses, because I don’t have the time or energy to do that with my “real” writing, aka my book.

Some people wonder (hey, maybe they don’t) why I don’t do cool graphics and site design and intricate HTML in my pages. It’s because I’m not an HTML designer or a graphic artist, and I don’t want to be. Some people enjoy tweaking their HTML by hand to get every page just right, to add next and previous links and screw with jumps and colors and sidebars and counters. I have no desire to do that. This isn’t my main project in life. That’s why I don’t spend all night writing intricate, sharp, and witty articles. It shows. Why cares? I am not “creating content” right now. I’m writing. I’m keeping a journal. I don’t have to write my paper journal in perfect cursive, and I don’t need to lint all of my pages and worry about fonts and sizes.

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t care, and if I kept any attitude other than that, I’d quit this project again. I might, I don’t know. Maybe I’m in a slump, maybe this is a bad idea. I don’t know.

That said, let me dump two days of news on the table.

I took a day off Wednesday to figure stuff out with the two cars. The Rabbit is all good news – no more leaks, and I installed a new battery. It cranks over find, and all seems well. I need to run it around the block for a half hour this weekend and make sure it works when it’s up to temp and on the road. I’m also slightly scared that there’s some electrical problem (like my stereo wiring) that caused the battery death, even though the battery was out of warranty and it’s death was justifiable. But, I’m scared there’s a short and the new battery will be dead too. So maybe Saturday I’ll hit the road with it.

The Escort went to the Ford dealer for an estimate on my end-of-lease charges. They were fairly cool, but the body damage quote wasn’t entirely pleasant. I will have to pay $620 cash, and I don’t get the deposit back. That’s not horrible though, and I can swing it. I’m driving the Escort until 7/31, and then it goes back to Evergreen Ford in Issaquah for the last time. Sure will be weird without that thing. End of an era.

Tonight, Bill Perry called me at 5 and told me of a 20-person party at Julian’s, a restaurant/bar/pool hall/gameroom just a few blocks down from work. I hiked down there at 6 to meet up with him, Marc, and a bunch of their fellow workers at Aventail. Bill lives in Indiana now, and I hadn’t seen him in ages. He works in Seattle remotely from Vincennes, but managed to get back here now and again for a week of on-site work. Marc VanHeinengen, fellow ex-Spry, ex-IU computer geek was there with us. I shot a game of pool and sucked, and we all talked and hung out. I met some new people there, and everyone was cool. Then we got on the air hockey tables, and Bill kicked everyone’s ass. The computer games were pricy, and we were hungry, so we split.

Across the street is a semi-new place called Beppo, a family-style dining Italian place. There were 5 of us total, and since there was a wait, we hit the bar. My new drink is a Vodka-7, from Bukowski and Elmore Leonard, of course. It’s pretty good and I like it a lot better than Rum and Coke – maybe because I drink a half dozen 7up’s a day. We ate on the patio – a wild, thin-crust pizza with mashed potatoes instead of sauce, and ravioli with feta cheese inside. They brought out big-ass dishes of food, and we all shared. It was a fun time – lots of joking, talk, catching up, and the usual computer geek discussions.

After food, we split, and me, Bill, and Marc went to Aventail’s new location and played with remote control cars a bit. We also checked out Marc’s kick-ass Micron laptop, and their new setup.

Now I’m home. It always feels satisfying to spend a lot of time with a bunch of cool people, the kind of time where it’s 6 and then you look at your watch a second later and it’s 9:45. The people, the cool night on the patio, the drinks, the good food – it all made me wish I did this more often. Maybe I should.

No writing tonight. The weekend’s almost here though. I need to cover serious ground on Rumored to Exist this weekend…

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Rabbit plumbing

Very tired. The Rabbit’s plumbing might be fixed, but the battery had no juice and I couldn’t turn it over to tell. I finally made a discovery that would’ve helped my car repair experiences long ago – latex surgical gloves. I slipped some on before monkeying in the deep antifreeze and grease of the engine, and it felt great to just snap them off when done.

Both of my parents called today (separately – not a joint thing. Sort of a flashback of my last ten years of being parented.) I only hear from them every month or two, and I usually have enough experiences queued up to get me through a phone conversation, but today I didn’t. I know that when they talk to me and all I have to say is “I haven’t done anything lately. I’ve been working a lot.” that they interpret it as “I’m getting ready to go off the deep end.” And it seems kindof stupid that if they called and I said “oh, I just went shopping for new cars” or “I’m going to Boston next week” or something idiotic like that, they’d be content.

I need to get off of here and do some work on the book…

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