What are the things in your life that you love the most?

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I’m supposed to write a collaborative thing for On Display, but I’ve been balls-deep in another project all week. It’s great to be writing like a madman again, but nothing else is getting done. Also, my friend Michael is in town, and I did some running around with him. There are a million other excuses, but it’s almost the end of the month, and I have to get this thing done. So here goes.

The Feb. collab question is: What are the things in your life that you love the most? I immediately envisioned a bunch of pages on geocities by anonymous journalers with cute names, their pages covered with hearts and rainbows and animated gifs of puppies with wagging tails. Their entries would be like this: “I love my mommy. I love my daddy. I love my boyfriend. I love the band U2. I love all of Amy Tan’s books. I love the dolphins. I love all of my friends from high school. I love my hometown. I love Touched by an Angel. I love the following 263 online journals which are nearly identical to mine.”

Of course, regular readers of my journal and any of my close friends know that I hate a lot. Maybe it’s not that I hate a lot, but I don’t accept a lot of things that people are supposed to accept without even thinking about it. I have a lot of ideas about an ideal society where people think and don’t judge each other, and our society is so far from that ideal, that I simply hate about 65% of it. I hate cops. I hate politicians. I hate people who run around yelling “what about our children”. I hate Microsoft. I hate bigots. I hate 90% of the people in the Midwest. I hate religion. I hate the moral majority. And based on this, I can’t go around loving everything I can point at, like many people.

But I’m supposed to write about what I love. I’ll cut to the chase and try to put it in a list.

I LOVE:

  • The small group of people who have unconditionally stood by me over years of bullshit.
  • Bacon
  • Linux
  • Compact discs
  • Coke
  • my MiniDisc recorder
  • The smell of diesel exhaust, a rich running gas engine, Lysol, Obsession for men, Drakkar, Pine-Sol, Coast soap, new electronics, and the wiring of an old VW. All of these are time machines into my past.
  • Entombed: Clandestine; Queensryche: Empire; Pat Metheny: Imaginary Day; Lizzy Borden: Master of Disguise; Metallica: Master of Puppets; Chick Corea: Beneath the Mask; Guns ‘N Roses: Use Your Illusion II; Gary Moore: Run for Cover. I love many CDs, but these ones are also time machines into my past.
  • Both of the books I’ve written, and much of the other stuff I’ve done over the years.
  • the fact that I’ll be moving in a month.
  • the expectations I have for my future.
  • the memories I have of the past.

I hope that list isn’t too mushy.

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Strange Antibiotic Dreams

I am still sick. I managed to sneak out of work on Thursday afternoon and catch a doctor’s appointment at the Polyclinic. After reading a March 1998 issue of Forbes for about an hour, the doctor gave a quick listen to my cough and determined that it was bronchitis. He gave me antibiotics and told me about 9 times to drink lots of fucking water with them, or I would explode and possibly kill other people nearby. He also said I should be better by Tuesday, which blows the whole idea of being better today. I do feel somewhat better today – not as much coughing or aching. Of course, my thirteen hour nap helped somewhat.

I wish Seattle would give me some nice weekend days before I left. I woke at about noon today, and the sun was peeking out a bit. Now it’s 3:30 and it looks like the sun is going to set in about 2 minutes. I don’t know what I would do if it was sunny, except maybe drive to the mall or bookstore or something. But dammit, I want one good Saturday with some sun and my sunroof before I junk the fucking car and go to riding the subway. I hate driving in traffic, I hate I-5, I hate parking, and I hate my car, but nothing beats a steady speed on some winding hills with the Rush song “Red Barchetta” in the player.

I had many weird dreams last night, which is strange because I’m trying to lay off the NyQuil after a 14-day stand. I wanted to learn to fly – a plane, I mean. In the dream, my uncle Jim used to have a pilot’s license, but it was decades expired and he couldn’t teach me. I was going to get LASIK surgery on my eyes to pass the flight physical, and I even went up on a test flight with anotheer pilot. Then I remembered I was going to New York, and I got all depressed because I thought it would be almost impossible to find a place to take flying lessons if I lived in Manhattan. My parents were mad at me for wanting to fly. I was in New York and my uncle died. When I went home, I had a cousin I didn’t know who looked like Nancy Travis who was in a wheelchair. I was strangely attracted to her. I went to visit my dad at work, where he was raising bioengineered plants like the ones in Jurassic Park. I was trying to get him and mom to pay for a summer program at Rutgers. I started thinking about how I would set up my .forwards on the Rutgers email accounts, and then use gnus on rumored.com to read all of my mail. When I woke up, I had a strange, intense feeling where I missed my old Escort, and how I should sell my VW and buy a Corolla or something similar with a really nice interior.

And right now I’m listening to the newest Pat Metheny album Imaginary Day, which does remind me of the Escort, and the trip I made up to Bremerton last summer with the MiniDisc, listening to Metheny. (Look in the 1998 entries in the beginning – it’s in there somewhere.) This shows that I can be nostalgic about something that happened less than a year ago, which shows that I’m completely insane.

The Karate Kid was just on. If I ever make a movie, no matter what it is, I’m going to cast Pat Morita as something.

I better go do something before the hundred mile an hour winds start.

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alt.hackers

I’m still sick, but I think I’m making progress. I slept almost all day yesterday, and thismorning it didn’t feel like my lungs were full of paste. I’m still not up to 100%, but I have hopes of being functional by the weekend.

I’ve started reading alt.hackers again, and it’s got me all messed up on this early-90s technology kick. It’s amazing how little things have changed in some ways. If you ignore all of the internet explosion bullshit and Bill Gates’ totalitarian wet dream, the old iron was still the same. Unix machines have become more powerful, and now anyone with a PC can have one, but the basic tenets are the same. Gcc, sed scripts, X11, sockets programming, it’s all there. But back then I was logged in via a 286 running Procomm and a Sytek 2400bps connection, instead of a Pentium and an ethernet connection. Even with all of the crap on the web, I really miss the days when usenet was a cool place to talk and find information, and there were a few cool internet BBSes to mess with.

Nothing else is going on, and I think I’m going to get back to being sick and stuff.

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The Burroughs house

I am back. I am sick. I could barely talk today, and felt like crawling under my desk and dying all day. But I have a deadline this Friday, and I had 248 mail messages waiting for me at work, so I had to get there. Plus I woke up at 6am when the Nyquil wore off, and I had nothing better to do. Actually, I had a lot of better things to do, but I chose to go to work instead of calling in. Maybe tomorrow.

New York was cool, although I was too sick to do much. It was good to see Marie for a couple of days, and hang out with my two feline friends Mungo and Henrey. We did go out a few times, to a Ukranian deli, to the village to look at CDs, and to Tower. I bought two new prerecorded MiniDiscs (Ozzy and Pink Floyd) and I saw the lab which was used as an exterior in Seinfeld when they went to get the frozen yogurt tested for fat content. So that was my big brush with fame for the trip.

Actually, on Saturday, we went to a big party at this giant three-story house. It turns out that the place used to be divvied up into tiny apartments, and in 1943 and 1944, William S. Burroughs lived there. Kerouac and Ginsberg visited there a lot, and it’s the place where Lucien Carr visited the morning after killing David Kamerrer and showed Burroughs the pack of bloody cigarettes he lifted from the body. It’s a flat with some real history to it.

Of course, when we were there, all of that was gone. The building was converted into one giant house long ago. Burroughs’ old residence is now a kids’ bedroom, full of toy cars. On the top floor, there was a bathroom that was seriously as big as my entire fucking apartment, with a sauna, giant bathtub, fireplace, everything. And the whole house was wired for audio and TV, so you could listen to music all over or divide it up to certain rooms. Later, we were trying to guess how much the place would sell for – at least in the seven digit range.

So here I am, sick. I better stop my whining and get some rest and a few good belts of the Robitussen. Maybe tomorrow…

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Denny’s hot soup

I feel a need for an update, but I’m sick today. It hit all of a sudden, and it’s more fatigue than the scratchy throat/raspiness thing. Some hot soup at Denny’s helped some; a four hour nap was even better. I wanted to get so much shit done today, but now the day’s pretty much over. I hope that massive doses of vitamins and rest will get me back to semi-normal status by Wednesday, so my trip to New York will be uneventful. (I mean btw of problems. It should be a very cool trip, although short. Marie said that next week, we are going to a party in the apartment (it’s now a condo) where Burroughs lived when Lucien Carr showed up to tell him he killed David Kammerer. That’s kindof cool.)

I bought a bunch of boxes, and I’ve been trying to pack. It’s a slow process, and incredibly nostalgic, which makes it go even slower. Every single thing I pull off the shelves to put in a box reminds me of a ton of stories and other mental baggage. It’s always great to live in the past for a moment and explore the stream of memories, but it makes me take hours to pack each box. I bought ten boxes today, and when those are packed and on a UPS truck for New York, my apartment will look threadbare. I’m also hoping to get as much of the breakables and invaluable items to New York on my trip. I’m packing as little as possible for the three days, and filling the rest of my luggage allowance with journals, photos, video masters, my whole Nintendo setup, and as much as I can get into the 3 bags/70 lbs each limit.

You’d be suprised how much broccoli seems to help a cold. Most be the vitamin A. Anyway, I can barely think, so I better quit for today.

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The length of a cubit

I’m building an arc. Math majors and/or biblical scholars, please tell me how long a cubit is. I will not be bringing any animals, except for Marie’s two cats. They are both males and fixed, so it’s not part of a plan to populate the world with cats. That would, however be a good scifi movie – Planet of the Cats. Charlton Heston yelling “get your paws off of me you damn furry kittens!” It would sell to the SciFi crowd and folks who think cats are really cute.

It’s still raining, which makes the days go by faster. When I can’t leave the house and I spend all of my time eating, sleeping, or watching TV, it only takes about 6 or 7 hours for a day to pass. I’m not writing right now – I have completely run out of steam on Rumored to Exist. I think I will go back to Summer Rain this weekend, and maybe get the last third close to done by the time I leave for NY for good in March. The difference between the rain in that book and the rain here is that in Indiana, it would pour rain, and then instantly become sunny. I’m pretty sick of the rain now, but if the sun came out in a split-second, I would run around on the wet pavement and smell the earthworms and thunderstorm ozone, and enjoy it more than this 40 days/40 nights shit.

Although I get more positive comments about Rumored, working on Summer Rain is ultimately more satisfying. I can write more per night on SR, especially when I get caught up in dialogue that works well. I can take things slow, and carve out scenes with a lot more visual impact. I also like to build up the characters more. Rumored is fun, but it’s very hit or miss, like writing copy for a newspaper instead of actual prose. But, more people enjoy reading it, and I enjoy reading it, and it will probably manage to sell someday, while Summer Rain will never really be finished. The only distribution methods I see are printing a hundred copies and giving them to my friends, or someone finding the ms long after I’m dead, and publishing it posthumously. Oh well, it’s fun anyway.

I thought about describing this company meeting I attended yesterday, but then I realized there there wasn’t much going on there. It was at the Moore Theatre, where me and Bill Perry saw Henry Rollins perform spoken word on his birthday, 2-13-96. Rollins spoke for so fucking long – it was great, but my bladder was exploding during the third hour. I ran to the bathroom, and it was the worst torture of North American plumbing – the trough. Luckily, this time there was no trough – they removed it and installed a bunch of stalls. After the meeting, there was a bunch of beer and food, and the line for food was very long while the line for beer was negligible. So, I started drinking right away on an empty stomach – hey, it’s free. I didn’t do anything stupid, except not cash in on the free food, and after they bussed us back to the office, I had to sit around for a few hours playing on the web and sobering up.

I’m more into this reuben sandwich than writing, so I better split.

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Seven Days, time travel

More rain. I’m listening to Lizzy Borden – Master of Disguise, which is a very good album to have in the player on a dark and dreary day like today. It also reminds me a lot of my first semester of college for some reason, probably because I listened to it so much back then. The fall of 89 is on the very short list of semesters when the most change happened.

Before I get into this, I need to launch into an aside: Have you seen the show on UPN called Seven Days? The basic plot: the government has a time machine that can send a single person back seven days (called “backstepping”). So let’s say Sadaam gets a nuclear bomb and U-Hauls it to the superbowl and kills a few million people (which really isn’t a bad plan). So this secret division of the NSA would stap this guy in a giant machine, shoot him back a week, and now he has to go find Sadaam and distract him with some Asian hookers while he dismantles the nuke with a Bic pen and a book of matches, ala MacGyver. The special effects are on the moderate to shitty side of the scale, and sometimes the writing is a little too oversimplified for the scifi crowd – dumbed down for the action/adventure types. But it’s an interesting idea – sort of like Quantum Leap but grounded in reality a bit more. I’m not saying the technology is real, but they make this more like the government sending in the ATF or the Navy Seals, as opposed to a guy leaping all over the place and becoming different people. (But I liked that show, too.)

I have been studying a lot of scifi shows and movies about time travel, because I’m writing a book about it. So, I have some observations about the plot. I doubt anybody who reads this has seen the show, but maybe someone looking for Seven Days sites who is a big fan can answer my questions about the technical aspects or “time model” used by the show. I just did a search on UPN.com and found that the 7 is not spelled out in the title, and the main dude’s name is Frank Parker. It looks like it will be impossible to do web searches on “7 days” though because I will get hits on every calendar-type page on the way. On to my observations…

Okay, the first thing I can’t figure out: when Frank Parker goes back seven days, are there two Frank Parkers, or does he replace the old one? It appears from the one show I saw that they can also travel distance a bit with their machine. So, let’s say I am Frank, and I go back 7 days to the top of the Sears tower, but seven days ago, I was at a strip club. Does the me at the strip club vanish, or coexist? Doesn’t mean there are n+1 Frank Parkers, where n=the number of times he’s backstepped? If he replaces the old version of him, that would be a very interesting time model. It also eliminates gaffs like going back in time, robbing banks, fucking shit up, etc. because he is basically him. If I went back to 1947, I would not be me – the police wouldn’t be able to look me up and find me anywhere. If I go back to last Thursday, I’m still Jon Konrath – same fingerprints, same vehicle registration, same apartment, etc. If I knew I was backstepping in an hour, I could do a bunch of stuff that maybe wouldn’t happen, but I’m not sure – see next observation.

It appears that 7 days follows a destiny-based model, because (at least last night) some events happened exactly the same in both timelines. For example, the chief-type guy accidentally broke a tooth, which became a key plot point. Now, if it was a pure chaos-theory model, a butterfly in Nebraska could’ve completely thrown things off and the second time, his tooth wouldn’t break. But, if things always happen, how can a meddling time traveller do anything to throw off the process? In a 100% destiny model, no matter what he did, he wouldn’t be able to stop anything from happening. In fact, he might even cause them to happen. Imagine him backstepping to prevent the assassination of the president, and when he shows up, he tries to shoot the gunman, but instead accidentally shoots the president! So there’s some mix of destiny and freewill – maybe events are fixed by destiny, but an entity that goes through time has the ability to stop or supplement destiny and do their own thing.

When Frank Parker backsteps and then shows up at his office, everyone knows it’s him and that he has moved back to do some important work. They immediately listen to him and fall in line. Now they know that they put him back seven days, and they know all about his missions and whatever. This is a pretty smart way to do it. In most Terminator-type movies, they spend the first hour fucking with “oh my god! you can’t be from the future! you need to prove it!” crap. Of course, we’re not taking about 60 or 260 years of travel – they know the dude, and they paid to zap him back a week.

Also, their time machine is a huge basketball-arena sized thing with nuclear reactors and a few dozen operators, not a pocket-sized device that lets you zap all over. That means that time travel is pretty regulated to real missions, and you don’t have Biff going back in time to give himself a sports almanac or whatever. It’s not as cool looking as a DeLorean, though.

If I had time, I would start talking about all of the different, evil things I would do with a time machine. But I’ve gotta split – you’ll have to wait for the book.

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Dental malady, trinity

Part two of the dental malady will take place in a few hours. I get a real crown and a new filling, plus a bunch of shots in my gumline, a lecture about why I need to floss more, a sore jaw from the rubber block they jam in my mouth to keep it open wide, and hopefully some more nitrous. I will probably start having Frances Farmer flashbacks while I’m in the chair and put a dental explorer through an assistant’s thigh. Think gentle thoughts…

One of the best bits of luck has hit me with regard to my trip across the country. As I may or may not have mentioned, when I leave for New York, I will be spending two weeks in a rental car, exploring the country. My original plan was to go from Seattle to Salt Lake, then Vegas, then LA, then follow Route 66 to St. Louis, skip over to Indiana, see all of my friends, go to see Micheal in Ohio, and then head to the city. This was the plan, with me leaving on the 31st of March. But, get this:

The Trinity Site is opento the public on April 3! What does that mean? This is the place where it all started – July 16, 1945, the first atomic explosion ever. It’s only open two days a year, and I will be in the general vicinity for one of them. This means the whole trips is changing. I will stay in Vegas for one night, then immediately drive east, stay the night in Albequerque, and drive down in the morning to check this out. I’ll also have time to go to Roswell and see all of the fake alien UFO museums.

For a good site on Trinity, check this out. There isn’t much there – it’s not like the NTS tour, where there are huge craters from plowshare explosions and fake cities which were nuked to study structural integrity. But there will be some cool government spook signs, I’m sure – telling people not to pick up radioactive stuff or they will be shot on site or whatever. It will be a very cool photo op.

I just called NTS – they have monthly tours, but they are on March 22 and April 23, or something like that. You can’t take cameras there, either. I also found out from the above site that you can now scuba dive at the Bikini atoll, although the tours are very small and expensive, and you need to be an advanced diver. It almost makes me want to learn how to swim just to check it out. The aircraft carrier USS Saratoga is sitting at the bottom there, and you can swim all over it. Also, the Nagota is there, which is the ship from which the attack on Pearl Harbor was conducted. They hauled all of those old ships out there to see what an H-bomb would do to them.

I’ve gotta check out this guy’s web site. More later…

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Brown-orange sky

I woke this morning (well, it was about 11:45) to a strange condition of light outside that I can’t describe. The same thing happened yesterday; it’s like the almost brown-orange color between when it’s very sunny and when a storm suddenly dumps hail out of the sky, an eerie rust-colored available light that’s still full sunlight, but maybe when it’s obscured by a giant storm that hits and vanishes like the Viet Cong. But thismorning it wasn’t just this light – in the half-awake state between the last cycle of sleep and the first moment of being awake in bed, my mind was fully convinced that it was 1988, even though I was a 28 year old adult (?) living in Seattle, and not a kid in high school back in Elkhart, Indiana. I completely thought Ray Miller drove a grey Citation and Larry Falli had a cow’s skull on the hood of his Cordoba and I worked at Montgomery Ward as a master paint specialist for $3.65 an hour. This wormhole lasted for about two seconds, like when you have a dream that you knocked your teeth out and you wake and think for a split-second that you have no teeth. When this temporary portal slipped past, I felt an intense burst of depression that it really wasn’t true, or maybe that I couldn’t go back to sleep and exploit it further. After a half a minute of that, I realized how retarded the whole thing was, and started looking for the remote controls to the TV, stereo, and VCR.

Here’s another dumb thought that happened today. It takes forever to set up, and maybe I just want to ramble about the past more, so bear with me. It also has to do with Pearl Jam, so don’t freak out on me.

I wasn’t a big Pearl Jam fan from the beginning. I wasn’t really a fan of anybody from the whole Seattle movement, because I was too busy with my Motorhead collection and whatnot. When I met Tanya back in the spring of 1993, she initially started emailing me because my process name on the VMS mainframes was always “Doctor X.” (Process names: on VMS computers, you can set a 16 character label that will appear next to your userid when someone looks at some or all of the users on the system. Many people set them to everything from “NoBlood4Oil” to “BoKnowsUnix” to “Sid Lives” to whatever other music-related or depraved things you could think of on a college campus.) Doctor X was a Queensryche reference, and we had that in common. She was also very into Pearl Jam, and I was reluctant, but I heard Alive or Jeremy or something on the radio once, and it wasn’t too bad – it was more metal-based than Nirvana and I thought that maybe I could be into them. One Friday night, we were sitting in her loft in Willkie Quad after a typical dinner/movie date, and she played the whole album for me. Although I wouldn’t call myself a Pearl Jam fan, all of the songs deeply cemented that evening into my head. The relationship started so sweet, innocent – walking across campus, holding hands, being in love and beautiful April days, and the eleven tracks on that album were and still are a direct condiut back to those days of spring 1993.

So she went away for the summer, so did I. We both came back, things went on, but were different, and it ended at the end of October. If you need more details than that, you can read any of the 400 journal entries or short stories I’ve written on the subject. Needless to say, when Pearl Jam’s second album came out, I was pretty anti-Eddie Vedder. And the breakup wasn’t exactly smooth. She tried to politely and distantly be friends, and immediately got into another relationship. I wallowed in episodes of psychotic bullshit that were entirely my fault, and created a huge rift between us. It was the kind of situation where I didn’t feel I could win. I couldn’t have her back, but I couldn’t pretend it never happened. But I couldn’t have her back.

There were drunken, suicidal phone calls, new medications, rambling emails, and other mind games. Then the process names started to change. Even when you aren’t talking to someone anymore, the process name wars will always happen – I found that out with the astrology chick. These were not of the “JKONRATH=dick” sort, but much more subtle – obscure musical references that 1 in 10,000 people would catch. During that time, when we weren’t speaking, one of her process names was “rearviewmirror.” I knew it was a Pearl Jam song, from the new album, but I dismissed it and went on to my chaotic, singular path to destruction.

Fast-forward to July 1, 1995. Everything I own is in a U-Haul truck. I said goodbye to A and Liggett after they helped me load the last of my stuff, and then said goodbye to the city of Bloomington. I’d drive up to Elkhart, say my parental goodbyes, and then head west to Seattle. On the way, I stopped in the Karma records in Kokomo, about halfway through the 250 mile trip. I had a fat wad of money in my pocket, and I figured I’d buy every used tape they had that I could endure. I found the entire Anthrax discography, and a copy of the second Pearl Jam tape for $3. What the hell, I was mostly over her, I thought. I’d had sex with two other people since her, so that qualified as over in my book. I got the tapes, and during the 40-some hour, no-sleep drive to Seattle, I must’ve listened to it a couple of times, but I didn’t pay attention. It seemed marginal, and not as good to me as the first one, so I went back to Henry Rollins or whatever I was listening to on that trip.

I got to Bill’s house, slept for 8 hours, took my first shower in about three days, and got ancy. His wife and kid were in Indiana, visiting relatives, and he was at work, which left me in Mountlake Terrace with no car, a U-Haul full of shit, and in a strange house. I needed food, a walk, and some exploration. I grabbed the walkman and the Pearl Jam tape, rewound to the song rearview mirror, and went walking to the Dairy Queen about a half-mile from the apartment.

I don’t want ASCAP to sue me, but here’s enough of the lyrics for you to get anidea about this song. This is a rough transcription – Mr. Vedder is far too artistic to include a meaningful lyrics sheet in the album:

 I took a drive today time to emancipate I guess it was the beatings made me wise I'm not about to give thanks or apologize  I couldn't breathe holdin' me down hand on my face kiss the ground enmity guaged knotted by fear tried to endure what I could not.. forgive                                I seemed to look away wounds in the mirror waved  it wasn't my surface most defiled  saw things saw things saw things saw things clearer clearer once you.. were in my rearviewmirror  I gather speed from you fucking with me  once and for all I'm far away hardly believe finally the shades are raised.

So, two thoughts were going on in my mind. One was the knife turning in me over her process name, and how it had to directly do with how much of a dick I was after we split. But the other, less predictable response had to do with my own interpretations of the song, the first song (in theory) that I listened to whhile in Seattle. The relationship aspects hurt, but it made me think about how Indiana was in my rearview mirror. Since my breakup with her, things went downhill for me in Bloomington. It wasn’t her fault – it was that everyone was graduating and moving away, and it made the whole scene more alien for me. Seattle was my start over, and the song was oddly appropriate.

Today, I was about a half hour into the 4 minute trip from my house to the Taco Bell, and for some odd reason, I put in my copy of Vs. and rewound to the song. It won’t be long until Seattle is in my rearview mirror, and the ramifications of this were like a sharp blow to the sternum with a huge weight. I’m not scared of leaving, but it doesn’t seem like too long ago when I was walking to that Dairy Queen and listening to this song on my walkman. My memory has been fucking with me so much, snapping me into brief but chaotic periods of confusion, nostalgia, and depression. I’ve been in Seattle for my whole life, but two minutes ago, I was talking to A about Leonard Maltin in Simms’ old apartment while he was making Indian food and getting ready to tape Duckman. It’s all very confusing sometimes.

That’s enough shit to stew over for now. Hey, when I move, my dates and times won’t be 3 hours off anymore. How’s that for a solution to my stupid problem?

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