Last Seattle entry

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This should be my last entry from Seattle. Unfortunately it won’t be a great one, because I am sick, running a fever, having stomach problems, still have a lot of packing to do, and I leave in only 12 hours. If there is any one sure thing in life, it’s that I will get sick right before a trip. It looks like I will be seeing the great southwest in a dayquil haze now.

I got the rental car thismorning. It is an Oldsmobile Intrigue, in old-person white paint. It has auto-everything, and will be a real rest to drive it. It’s quite a bit different than the rabbit, which had manual-everything, except for the things that just didn’t work. I already took it for a test drive up to Lynnwood and back, and it seems great. I don’t know how good of mileage it gets, but the needle barely wavered int the 40-something miles I drove, so hopefully that will be OK.

Almost everything is packed. I am backing up the computer, and then it gets powered down. The apartment looks REALLY vacant now, just my air mattress and a bunch of piles of stuff awaiting the car or the dumpster.

I was going to write some kind of great ending at this point, but I’m trying not to get too sentimental about Seattle. I just want to get this shit in my car and get it behind me and think about it later. The cold isn’t helping me either. So I’m going to cut this short while I can still type. Maybe I’ll type in some entries from the road. If not, you’ll get the whole story when I reach New York on the 16th or so. Keep in touch, and wish me luck.

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VW gone

The VW is gone. I turned over the title for a mere $100 to someone who answered my usenet ad. It’s the end of an era. At least this time, the person buying it intends to fix it up and keep it on the road. When I sold my last Rabbit, the frame was rusted through and the brakes were gone. The guy who bought it, also for $100, intended to use it as a parts donor for other stuff. This one went to a kid who worked at a Jiffy Lube and wanted to put in a bigger stereo and do other stuff to it. So, I hope it went to a good home. It served me well.

I’m trying not to get sentimental about this stupid shit. I’ve got a pile of junk awaiting the dumpster, including a comforter (you know, bed sheet) that I got for christmas 92. The pattern reminds me so much of the past, the different houses and beds on which it rested from 1992-1997. It reminds me so much of a certain ex-girlfriend, of the last era of the Mitchell Street house, and of my first years here in Seattle. Luckily, it smells like hell from being in storage, or I’d be sniffing it and thinking even more. This is what my life has been like lately: throwing out things that need to go in the trash, even though they are instant time machines to events and memories of my past.

Bill Perry is here, and just got back from a trip to Japan. He’d been awake for about 24 hours straight, but gained a day on the return flight. I went to Chang’s Mongolian Grill with him and Duffin. It was the last trip I made with the car, which I guess is a good way to end things.

I hate to say it, but I feel like I’m getting sick. I don’t know, I was moving stuff on my balcony and kicked up a lot of smog dust, so maybe I’m just coughing that back up. But I would hate to get bronchitis the day before this fucking trip. I already know my digestive system will massively rebel an hour before I’m scheduled to leave – that’s a given. I think that some kind of hypnotism or aversion therapy might make these medical problems go away. I know that I occassionally use a meditation tape for depression, and it actually works fairly well when I’m trying to fall asleep and 80,000 things are going through my head. I doubt there’s a similar tape for respiratory infections, though.

It seems like there was something else I had to write about, but I’ve got to haul some more garbage downstairs, and then try to go to bed early. I’m not going anywhere tomorrow without a car, so I’m sure I’ll write more then.

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The Bellevue Denny’s run

How long has it been since I’ve updated? Everything’s been a blur of either going to UPS or hauling crap down to the dupster. I have one last trip to UPS, and that’s to send off my stereo. Otherwise, everything’s going into the trash or my car, with the exception of a few things that others might snag. The place is starting to look very empty, but now the mad rush of cleaning, scrubbing, and vacuuming needs to start.

I have allegedly sold my car, for $100. I say allegedly because I have it until Sunday night, when the sale takes place, and there’s always a chance it will fall through. But it will be gone, and I guess I’m a little sad. It’s a piece of shit, and it’s starting to develop problems, but it reminds me so much of my old VW, the one from 91-92, and there’s so much nostalgia behind that old heap. I won’t miss driving in Seattle – don’t believe anything you hear, Seattle’s transportation situation sucks balls in a major way. And don’t believe that there’s a public transit system here, because there isn’t. I won’t go into that now, though. The car – I will miss it. I should take some pictures tomorrow. I would take it for a nice two hour drive, but that only gets me about 5 miles from my house.

Almost every Friday night, when nothing’s going on, I drive to the Denny’s right off of 520 in Bellevue for dinner. I eat alone, write a bunch, and then drive to the Barnes and Noble over by Bellvue Square Mall and shop for books. Sometimes I also hit the Tower Records there, and on the way back, I go to Safeway for junk food and various caffiene. Then I get home and write. This has been a tradition since I first got to Seattle. I didn’t know where any other B&N or Denny’s was, so I would go out there. And I’ve done this on and off for about four years.

So it hit me that today was my last Friday in Seattle, and I had no other plans, so I decided I needed to do this again. On the way over, driving across 520 in the dark and listening to the last Queensryche album, it really sunk in that it’s almost over here. I guess all week I’ve been so busy with packing and thinking “I’ve got another week,” and then it was suddenly Friday. I’ve got the weekend, then Monday and Tuesday are eaten up by cleaning activities, getting the rental car, and maybe saying bye to a couple of people. But then, I’m on the road. It was an almost scary thought, as I sat there in Denny’s eating one of those awful skillet things and scribbling in my notebook.

Everyone keeps asking me if I will miss Seattle. I thought about this today while driving around Northgate, listening to the aforementioned Queensryche album. That tape reminds me so much of the apex of my Seattle experience, which was probably when it came out – late spring of 97. It reminds me so much of driving around in my old 94 Escort, I can pretty much smell the new car smell and plastic interior, and feel the power steering and plush bucket seats. I drove so much then, down to Longview every other weekend, listening to that tape over and over. It was when I was pulling out of debt, and actually had a few bucks left over on the day before payday. It’s not that I miss the situations or the people as much as the general aura, the feel that I’ll always get when I listen to that album.

I guess I didn’t answer my question. But, it’s hard to explain. I miss all of the places I’ve lived, even the horrible ones, for different reasons. And I wouldn’t want to go back to them today, but the memories are great. And I guess that’s what will happen with Seattle.

I’ve gotta hit the hay. I’ve been trying to push back the sleep schedule so I can leave at 6am on Weds. I’m waking up at about 9 now, so I should be able to make it. We’ll see.

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About to rain

Today felt like a day in Bloomington back in 1992 – the weird vibe you get when it’s about to rain and it’s light out, but the clouds are trying to stomp it all out. Although I ignored this in my book describing that summer, the first week or two was filled with cold and borderline rainy weather like this. I didn’t have a job, the girlfriend had split, and I was stuck taking a political science class that looked pretty daunting. For about the first 10 days, it felt like the entire world was going to collapse in on me. And that weather helped reinforce the feeling.

I read in one of the Bukowski letters books (I’ve been reading both of them on and off, just opening to a random spot and reading for a few minutes or hours) and when he quit the post office to write full time, he went on a ten day terror ride of drunkenness, hangovers, no food, and despair. I guess things have been somewhat easier here, although every time I go to Safeway and drop a fiver on a couple of 2-liters or something, it makes me cringe a bit and think about money. It’s going to be an odd trip across the country.

Ryan’s party on Friday was pretty decent. I got there early and we were both a little freaked because nobody showed up for a couple of hours. I guess everyone learned their lesson on his last party, when there was no food and he was still cleaning an hour into the thing. But the whole gang showed up, plus a bunch of other people I didn’t know. It was pretty fun because everyone knew it was my going-away party so all sorts of strangers were coming up to me and talking to me. I had to tell the whole story a thousand times, but it was much better than doing so with the people at work, because these were all people that thought the whole adventure was cool.

So I shot a bunch a video, talked to everyone, drank a fair amount of beer, and got home around 5am. Since that has been my new bedtime lately, everything worked fine.

All I’ve been doing, aside from sleeping and wandering around aimlessly, is working on Summer Rain, or throwing stuff out. I’ve been shuffling through various shelves, boxes, and corners and pitching more and more stuff in the garbage. I sort of feel like those guys who pushed helicopters over the edge of aircraft carriers during the evacuation of South Vietnam.

Oops, I went off and started reading something for like 45 minutes, and now I forgot what I was talking about. I guess this would be a good place to stop.

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An effort to think more like a starving writer

I removed myself from On Display because I’m sick of every other journal except mine. Is that wrong? Maybe I will start a ring for text-only journals written by people who don’t read other journals and don’t care about graphics. If you think your journal fits the bill, email me. Also, it helps if you like Black Sabbath.

I’ve been reading Bukowski’s two books of letters, in an effort to think more like a starving writer. It’s made me realize I need to think more seriously about my books and get stuff done. Today I went to Virginia Lore’s and gave her the first two parts of Summer Rain and a recent draft of Rumored to Exist. She read part of Summer Rain and seemed into it, so hopefully that means another dedicated reader to give me detailed feedback, along with Michael, Andrea, and Marie. BTW, if you are reading this and want to review any of my stuff, it’s on my web site. But you have to email and ask for the password. I’m warning you in advance though that it’s a daunting task – thousands of pages, but maybe you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve been working more on Summer Rain lately, trying to get the third book in shape before I move. It’s at about 62,000 words, and my goal is 85,000. (That’s for the third book – the whole thing is currently like 220,000 words.) I’ve been piddling around with how the ending works. The whole thing needs to come crashing down pretty fast, like within a couple of chapters, and it’s not exactly smooth right now. It happens too fast, and out of nowhere. I’m trying to hid little clues and sort of pull back the duration of this final hammerblow to the chest so it’s not too formulaic or something. Although the word count is getting there, some of the final chapters still look pretty fucked.

In the last day or two, I’ve been looking back at older pieces of Summer Rain and doing some housekeeping. I’ve been working on the book almost constantly for a year now, except for the sporadic vacations I’ve taken with Rumored. So there’s writing I’ve done from like last May or even older that I haven’t looked at or messed with in a while. In fact, there are bits and pieces in book 3 I haven’t touched in months. It’s always nice to go back to something you’ve written and forgotten. When I go back to old parts of SR, I see pieces that make me laugh, prose that I think is strong, and stuff that works. That’s good, because in old drafts of SR, I cringe at the stuff I find. Rumored takes the cake though – after I set it down and let it ferment for a few months, I pick it up and find stuff I forgot I wrote, stuff that usually makes me laugh out loud. I love when that happens.

The big party is tomorrow. I don’t know who will be there, except for the usuals. I hope it’s a lot of people, but even if it’s just me, Ryan, Todd, and Keiko telling old stories about Spry, it’ll be fun. Every time I say I won’t miss Seattle, I think of another person that I will miss. And today, me and Virginia went walking, and went to this park up on Queen Anne hill, where she lives. It overlooked EVERYTHING – all of Puget sound right in front of us, the waters going off to the San Juans on the right, with little tugboats and ferries going back and forth below. And to the left, you could see all of downtown Seattle – Belltown, the Space Needle, the buildings, Alaskan Way, Key Arena, and if it would have been clear, even Mount Rainier. Virginia told me this story about how that spot was her first view of Seattle, how when she was going to school in Olympia, she had a crazy blind date that drove her up there and it was the first time she saw the city. It’s kindof sad to think that it will be one of the last times I get a good look at everything at once.

I videotaped it, of course. Making lots of tapes before I leave. I’m going to bring the thing to the party. Having a bunch of drunk people pass around a camera and make commentary is usually a pretty good view later when you’re sober. I have 3 more two-hour tapes to fill on the way out. I have no idea what I’ll do with them once I finish taping them – I still have about 4 hours of Disneyland circa 1997 that I’ve only watched like twice.

I promised myself I’d write until I was tired, and now I am.

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First day of freedom

Today was my first day of freedom. Too bad I spent the whole day dragging hundreds of pounds of books down to my car and over to UPS. I dropped about $250 on shipping today, but now my apartment looks amazingly more barren. I started to pack more books tonight, but I’m down to one more box, and then I need to buy more.

It always feels odd to be hanging out on a day when the rest of the world is working. It’s like seeing a world you never knew existed. When I went to college and I skipped classes or otherwise found a way to screw around for an afternoon, I never felt the same sensation – college towns have their busy times, but so many people are vaguely employed or full-time students. I saw the same thing in Elkhart, though. I’d work at Monkey Ward’s during the day some summers, and when I went to get some lunch at the hot dog stand in the mall, the concourses would be completely barren, save a few senior citizens. During my first trip to UPS, Seattle felt like that – fewer cars on the road, the yuppie contingent was absent, and it just had a strange feeling, like you could tell at a glance that the majority of the city was behind a desk or at a factory.

During my second trip, around 3:30, traffic was already nearing a peak. I don’t know what the hell’s up with this city. They should’ve spent half a billion on a monorail, not on two stadiums.

I’m supposed to be working on Summer Rain, so I’m going to get back to it.

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The temperature cycling has begun

The cycling has begun. I’m talking about temperature cycling, a feature of my wonderful apartment. Here’s how it works. It’s colder than hell out, or at least cold enough that being indoors is a better option than being outside. But it’s not snowing or anything – we’re talking maybe 47 and pissing rain. Normally, I’d run my heater a little and keep my room at a nice, cozy temp. The problem is that I live on the top floor of the building. And the assholes below me have their heat on the “solder” setting. And heat rises. So without my heat on, my apartment is about 115 degrees. This means I need to open all of my windows and let my apartment cool down to 47 degrees. And when I close them up again, my apartment is at an ideal temperature for about 3 minutes. Repeat this over and over and over until you feel a great need to buy a firearm and hunt down other people in the building like wild game in the forest.

I spent some time with my friend Virginia, at her incredible top of Queen Anne house, talking about some short stories of her. For a long period of time, she swore she would not be a writer anymore, and stayed heads-down at her day job. It’s good to see her mad at work on a bunch of stories and sending them out. I wish I would’ve brought bits of Summer Rain for her to read. And I wish I could spend more time talking shop with her or talking about anything, really. I think I can count the people in Seattle I’ll miss on one hand, and she’s probably the first on the list.

My day otherwise has been so off-center and odd. Not sleeping (due to the temp. cycling, mostly) threw me off majorly. But I saw the new taco (“El Taco”) at 7-11, which was not exactly as memorable as hearing about JFK or the space shuttle, but now Ray has another reason to drag me there at 3 in the morning. In a city as dead as Elkhart, 7-11 is the nocturnal person’s mecca.

I packed a bunch of stuff tonight. After my Monday drop-off(s) at UPS, the apartment will really start looking bare. These books are now gone – those bookcases are in the trash, and about 7 big boxes are stacked against that half-wall. Plus, I got rid of another little shelf, and my last two bookcases are down to about 70% capacity. A few more boxes, and all of my books will be on the way. I’m also working on clearing out closets, and that’s more done than not. My next big, messy project will be sorting through CDs and tapes. I want to ship ahead anything I won’t need, and drive with about half of my discs in the trunk. I also need to get stuff recorded onto MD. I have a 45-cassette holder which I will fill with longer stuff, spoken word and whatnot, and that will be the backup to the 80-some MDs I will have pre-recorded. I’m glad I’ll be home all day during the week to figure this shit out.

It’s two and I feel like I’ve been running all day. I’m going to finish recording an MD and then get some shuteye.

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Films are propaganda

My new quest: to hit all of the regional/semi-obscure hamburger places on my trip across the country, i.e. In-N-Out, Whataburger, Carl’s Jr, White Castle, Rally’s, Checkers, Hot N Now, etc. Please advise on any other places like this, in which states they occur, etc. Maybe I will start up a page with some comparisons and whatnot.

I feel like quoting the lyrics to Iron Maiden’s song “Running Free”. I am now gainfully unemployed. My final exit was anticlimactic and fairly retarded. It still hasn’t hit me yet, except for every time I reach for my wallet and realize that money’s gotta last me for a while. I’m hoping that without the final commute and the daily lunches at the deli, this will be a cheap final two weeks. Plus I want to try and eat everything out my kitchen before I leave, which will most likely result in odd combo meals like a corn dog, a frozen burrito, cup-a-soup, and creamed corn with a big glass of Tang on the side.

I saw Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas last night at a midnight show at the Egyptian. I think this was my favorite for all of ’98, and it sure was a hell of a show to see right before I vanish into the desert on my own insane roadtrip. Before I reorganized everything to get to the Trinity site on time, I was planning on going from Vegas to LA, partially because of the trip in this movie. (Okay, they made the trip in Swingers, too.) I went with Duffin, and we both laughed our balls off. I’ve seen the film five times now, but the first twenty minutes still make it almost impossible to breathe. And it’s even better when you’re in a theatre with a bunch of people who are also partially fucked up and freaking out, too.

I got a weird, heavy vibe from the more philisophical parts of the movie, the narrations about the hippie community and the San Fran scene. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I have this feeling that in five years, I’m going to be writing some book that deals with my ambivalent feelings with Seattle. I guess when I first got here, it would be like that Steven Levy book Hackers, with this group of wizards casting pure black magic on unix machines, the internet, and the industry as a whole. I mean, when I was in college, we had our gang of hackers, and outside the work and the grades, it was all about the jokes, the caffeine, staying up for three days straight, and snorting lines of the purest technology available. I pictured Seattle as an orgy of an exponential factor greater – the same kind of momentum, but everyone would be bathing in cash and living the life. Instead, it’s diluted into a bunch of people shitting bricks over their stock options and taking orders not only from The Man, but from The Man’s idiot marketing team. Shit, I’m rambling again.

So we went to the fucking movie. I saw the new Star Wars trailer there. If you just downloaded it and you’re watching it flicker and jump in a postage stamp sized QuickTime window, go see it in a fucking theatre. It is so damned ominous – I couldn’t breathe through the whole thing. The details are mind-numbingly incredible. It’s the first time I’ve seen an audience applaud a trailer. When that thing comes out, it’s going to break every attendance record ever… until the second one follows. I bet it won’t win an Oscar though. They only give those to films with retarded people in them.

Before the film, I hung out at Duffin’s and ate some dinner. We came back later and watched Baseketball, which his roommate rented. I’d forgotten how damn funny that film was. It makes me wish Orgazmo was out on video already. Both of those films getting panned by critics is a prime example of why critics should follow Gene Siskel’s example and have an anneurism and die. It’s clear that the reason that they gave both of these films bad reviews is because they don’t like Matt and Trey, probably because they have a lot of good ideas that don’t fall into the traditional hollywood mold. Oh, and they didn’t cast Juliette Lewis as a retard.

I don’t mean to get down on the mentally challenged or anything. My point is this: films are propaganda. Popular films define a culture, and sometimes change it. After Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan make a half dozen of those weepy chick-flicks, guys suddenly realize that they need to buy flowers and pay attention and be romantic to get into somebody’s pants. After Deliverance, everone in the world knew that if you dropped your wallet in Kentucky, kick it until you’re in Ohio and then bend over to pick it up. And what about all of the Rocky/Rambo films which got all of us (except me) whipped into a frenzy about the small guy coming out on top and killing the entire Red Chinese army with a steakknife and a pack of chewing gum? Propaganda. Big films can change the opinion of a country.

So, wouldn’t it make sense to make great films that tell people that it’s okay to be different, or that you should study hard and go to a good college, or that it’s our #1 priority to work hard and be compassionate to help others, or other good stuff? Instead, studios would rather make money telling people that retarded people are cute. And why not? Forrest Gump scored high in test audiences, and made the studios a trillion dollars. Retarded people are a license to print money in Hollywood. Even the most asinine person in the middle of Martinsville, Indiana is smarter than Forest Gump. So what happens when a generation of kids want to grow up being mentally handicapped instead of wanting to be astronauts or the Beatles? If I was the president, I would nationalize film studios. George Lucas, I’d let him keep making Star Wars films. In fact, I’d cancel the Stealth Bomber program and give him all of the money so he could make another 16 of those damn things. But everyone else – they are in the propaganda business. No more dizzy chick-flicks. No more retards, or short people, or fat people, or whatever else that we’re supposed to feel sorry for. And no more god damned redemption-through-sports films. If a group of underdogs wants to prove they are better than the tough jocks at the neighboring school, they aren’t going to put together a hockey team and win the pennant. They’re going to go to Stanford, get PhD’s in high energy physics, build an atomic bomb, and blow up the whole fucking city. I’d pay nine dollars to see that. And maybe then kids would think “hey, college is cool”, instead of thinking “I wish I was retarded so people would like me – maybe I will just act dumb for the rest of my life”

Am I completely out of line on this?

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Last day at the job

It’s my last day at this job. Since this is the end of an era, I guess I have a lot of ground to cover.

First of all, I work for WRQ, Inc. It’s a software company that’s best known for Reflection, a line of terminal emulation products. I’ve worked here since June of 1996, when my job at Spry/Compuserve basically fell apart from under me. I started work here on the Macintosh version of Reflection, writing balloon help and other online help. In January of 1997, the Mac team was used as the basis for a Java team, and we started work on what became EnterView, a Java-based terminal emulation program. I was on the team for the first two releases – the second release just went out the door on Monday.

Why am I telling you this? Because if you search my journal archive, you’ll find no direct reference to where I work. I’ve always had a fear that if I offhandedly said something bad or top-secret in my journal about my job, that I’d show up for work the next day and get handed a pink slip. And I don’t really consider this job to be part of my identity or a part of me. I have no need to tell the world about what I do here or my office politics. When I leave this building, I leave behind my job. I never work on weekends. I never spend all evening talking about what I need to do at work. I try not to talk about my job when I’m at parties or other social functions. I work when I’m at work, and I spend my paycheck. As a human being, that’s how I think it should be. I could see why companies would want to brainwash their employees into thinking about their job 24 hours a day – it allegedly keeps them focused, makes them work harder. But my #1 priority is my fiction, and I’ve tried hard to make sure my technical writing does not contaminate it.

This hasn’t been a horrible place to work. It’s right on lake union, in two of the nicest buildings I’ve ever worked in. (Although the Musical Arts Center in Bloomington probably takes the cake.) I made good money, I got good benefits, and the company really took care of me. I got offices with doors, nice computers, free soft drinks, good dental insurance, garage parking, paid vacations, and lots of other stuff I never even had a chance to use. The people here are professional and treated me decently and I have no horror stories about the management or other coworkers, other than tiny pet peeves and boring meetings. No real complaints there.

This is the paragraph where I’m supposed to start the downslide, the one that starts with “But…” I can’t think of many problems with this job that weren’t my fault. Not that there’s any fault or blame, but I never felt like I fit in. I mostly work with people about ten years older than me who are interested in rock climbing and bicycling and saving the environment and doing Bob Vila stuff to their houses and going to little league games with their kids. If you know anything about me, that isn’t me. And I’m not saying that stuff is wrong, if that’s what you want to do. If you are a family person and interested in your community and everything else, that’s fine. But I’m not, and I’ve been afraid that if I didn’t conform to that, and think about my job 24 hours a day and make it the focal point of my life, that things would never work out here. And I was afraid that if I stayed here long enough, I’d wake up one day and have two kids, a minivan, and a Volvo stationwagon. So it’s not the job or the employer or anything like that. I think that most companies this size in Seattle have a similar demographic. And it required a drastic change for me to escape that. So here I am, packing up my shit and moving to New York.

My office is almost empty. It’s pretty new to me – I think I moved in this January. There’s an older building at 1500 Dexter that is very huge, very beautiful, with terrace decks overlooking the lake and a ten story tall atrium in the middle. I was over there until this recent move. My last office was on the tenth floor, and I could see the space needle. But the office pick situation got very screwed up this time, and now my office in the newer 1100 building is in the center of the floorplan, with no windows and no light except for the fluorescents. It’s a bummer, but since I’ve basically been hiding out and counting days since the move, it’s a good place to be. It’s not on an arterial hallway, and it’s rare that you see anybody walking past. It’s been a convenient location for being a short-timer.

When we moved in January, I hadn’t given notice, but I knew I was leaving. So I packed up almost all of my personal stuff and took it home, under the guise of streamlining my move. So my books, coffee mugs, Internet Bowl trophies, photos and everything else I accumulated over the last couple years are at home, waiting to get UPSed to New York. Actually, the trophies are already there. And last night, I brought everything home except my page of phone numbers. The place is now pretty bare.

It’s the end of a long era, and I feel that I should be saying more. The summer of 1996 seems like a hundred years ago. But, I’m excited to get out of here, pack up my shit and hit the road. I guess that’s all I’ve got to say about it. Maybe I’ll add more after I go home. For now, I’ve got to make some phone calls and get ready to leave.

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Written Picture

It’s time to do my next collab for On Display.
“write about where you are. paint a written picture of where you live, and of the random people you meet during a typical day. walk through it, looking with a visitor’s eyes.”

I live in Seattle, Washington, in a small studio apartment in a fairly new building. It’s on the hill between Pioneer Square and First hill, which gives a decent view of the Kingdome and the area immediately south of downtown from my balcony. It’s also unofficially called “pill hill” because it’s right by Harborview Hospital, and near Swedish, Virginia Mason, and a dozen smaller hospitals. That means that at least a dozen ambulances a day pass below my fifth-story studio, and I have the best view in the house of Harborview’s helipad. I’ve lived here since the summer of 1995, so I don’t even notice these things, but if you’re a new visitor, chances are you’ll get freaked out by the incoming choppers and ambulances.

I guess Seattle is beautiful and everything, but I didn’t move here because I’m the outdoor type. I can’t explain the clubs or museums or mountains, because most of my tenure here has been in front of a computer monitor or at a Denny’s. And in three weeks, I’ll be done here, and on my way to New York City. All I can tell you about the outdoors and Seattle is that no matter how far away you drive, the natural scenery will still be overwhelmed with yuppies, driving Land Rovers and Volvos, dressed in overpriced REI gear, and hauling around their precious children in expensive European strollers that cost more than my car. Don’t come here to spend time by yourself.

My apartment is small, and without any of my stuff, it would look more like a hotel room – nice beige walls and light wood trim that looks very institutional. It’s not much bigger than a hotel room, really – it does have a huge bath and a kitchenette that overlooks the main room with a little bar-like counter. There are some big closets, one of which contains a washer and drier. The place is carefully constructed to facilitate a single person who doesn’t entertain much.

There’s one big room, which is my bedroom, office, living room, practice space, and library. It’s nice to have everything combined, really – I love sitting in bed, getting up and taking two steps to get another book, or three steps to go to the computer and log on. It’s a very comfortable space for me to get lost in.

Right now, there’s a lot of chaos involved with the move to New York. About half of the 500 or so books in my collection are either in NY already, or in boxes waiting to be carted to UPS for their shipment. My book collection covered two walls on a ragtag collection of shelves, but it almost looks sad in its current state. There are a lot of other boxes and gear that’s getting ready for the shipping truck, and many storage areas and closet shelves are now bare. In the next two weeks, everything will end up on the truck or in the trash, so it’s an odd picture right now.

Next to the books is my computer. It’s not much to look at, a home-built Linux machine sitting inside a case I bought back in 1992. But the desk under it is like a timeline of everything I’ve been doing lately, covered with all sorts of shit. A 35mm camera – a wind-up metronome – Strunk and White’s _Elements of Style_ – the new Adversary CD – a Timex Datalink watch – a Sony MZ-R50 MiniDisc Recorder – instructions for Shanghai for the Gameboy – a checkbook from 1992 – Burger King Ketchup packets – a ginsu steak knife – Denny’s receipts from last December – a small notebook that I filled with obscene haiku – an address stamp for my zine – two masters from my old band Nuclear Winter – a highball glass from Kilroy’s bar and grill in Bloomington, Indiana – a 1995 promo from the Japanese hardcore band United – a word count log from December for my second book, Rumored to Exist – a ton of notes on index cards from my first book Summer Rain. Oh, and a keyboard, mouse and monitor. The desk is a kitchen table, small and originally from an RV or modular home, not sure which. It’s a piece of shit and will soon be broken up for firewood.

My stereo is almost always on. Right now it’s playing track five of Dream Theater’s latest album, Falling Into Infinity:

 Responsible thinkers  throw caution to the wind But I find myself speaking from within I can't live my life Walking on eggshells to stay on your good side

All of the stereo gear is Kenwood, except for a JVC tape deck and the aforementioned MiniDisc. My “entertainment center” is an endtable, which used to house a TV and some VCRs. The TV got sold a week ago, one VCR got returned to my ex, and the other is packed. Now the table is covered with about a hundred CDs. There’s a rack next to it with another 300, and another 100-odd discs are on bookshelves next to my computer. If you’re feeling industrious, go to my homepage and take a look at my collection sometime; it’s a real study in obsessive-compulsive disorder. I love my CDs though. From Anal Cunt to Frank Zappa, they’re all cool.

On the floor just next to my left foot is a pile of MiniDiscs, labels and cases, in various states of recording-dom. I’m dubbing as many CDs as possible for my two-week roadtrip across the country. There’s also the master pile of notes and sketches for Summer Rain. Oh, and my Hi8 camcorder and tripod are also there. And about five degrees over is a Hartke bass amp and my current bass, a Cort headless with the Steinberger Sound licensed tuner setup. My very first bass was an identical model, although in worse shape, so when I glance at it, I sometimes think it’s 1989 again.

I have a patio door over there which opens to a soot-covered balcony – I live right by I-5 – and I can see the Kingdome and all of that other stuff from there. Next to it is one of those huge sideways-sliding windows. When I open the shades, the place looks more like an air traffic control tower, but it’s a great feeling on one of the three days of the year when it’s actually sunny out. It’s cool to have that much glass facing the sky when it’s a clear night and it’s dark out, or even better, when the sky is dark grey and the clouds are light grey and quickly racing across the sky.

There’s not much more to go – just a bed, endtable, and dresser. My paper journal is on the floor – it is vastly different than this guy, and I’m much more religious about it than this. There’s usually a huge pile of books next to the bed, stuff I’m reading. But I haven’t been reading much since I’ve been so busy with the move. I think there’s a New Mexico tourism magazine and the Rand Mcnally atlas, and the Grimoire of Bass Guitar, a music theory book.

I was supposed to walk you though my day, but there’s not much left. I work for a software company about two miles away, but my last day is Friday, and all week I’ve shown up late, left early, and done nothing. I don’t have much human interaction because I am a shorttimer, and because I have the worst office in the world, tucked away in the bowels of the building. I talk to the guy across the hall, and every day we walk down the road and across the street to a deli to get sandwiches for lunch. Not much of a picture to paint though, I’ve been in my office planning my trip, writing email, and surfing the web.

After Friday, this will be my office for two weeks. When I’m not packing it up or throwing it out, I’ll be at the computer, trying to finish as much of Summer Rain as I can before I head out. That’s cool, though – I’ve done so much writing in this same exact spot, it’ll be good to get a decent run in before I left. I figure I’ve probably written close to a million words while sitting in front of this table. I hope to get another twenty grand in before the 31st.

This is turning into less of a description and more of a nostalgic crying jag, so I better stop for now.

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