Extreme olfactory triggers and strange nostalgia

I’m in one of those strangely nostalgic moods that only happens when you combine an extreme olfactory trigger from the past with an old CD that strikes a nerve. I’m burning a candle that smells like 1993 to me, and the CD was Rush – Counterparts. It reminds me of someone from a long time ago that I probably shouldn’t even be thinking of anymore, but I still do.

I was talking to my shrink about this on Friday. I’ve been getting through the emotions and problems of my last couple of relationships, trying to figure out where I went wrong, or if “wrong” is even the right word to use, or whatever. It would be much easier for me to say “my ex is a bitch and it’s all her fault” when I break up with someone, but they usually aren’t at fault, it’s just my reaction to the situation, or I’m at fault, or… well, whatever. The problem is, my last couple of relationships have been very long and involved, and there were many factors involved. These were people that were my friends, lovers, partners, everything, and it’s hard to pick apart the issues about what’s going on when you have so much all wrapped into one package. I don’t know if things would have been different if I never moved to New York, or if my work situation was different, or if I owned a car still, or whatever. It gets confusing fast, and it’s hard to analyze, especially when you’re still in the middle of it.

But way back when, things were different. I had a relationship that only lasted from March to October, but it still haunts me. And it’s because it was so fantasy-like in so many ways, just in the time it happened, how it all went together, how we met. There was no real-world component – it was just pure infatuation, pure fairy-tale. And then we spent the summer apart. And then school started, things wavered a bit, and then it was over.

One of the reasons this is so important to me is that it’s almost mythological. I was depressed as hell, and this innocent little 18 year old wandered into my life like a puppy dog, and we were in love. It ran its course, it hit the ground, and it was over. It was like when they take a brand new car and smash it into a wall. There are no other factors to consider, like tire wear or a drunk driver – it’s just the car and the wall. And that’s what this is, because when it was over, I couldn’t reason with it in any logical matter, or place blame. I was forced to feel loss. And for a guy who has spent his whole life using logic to avoid feeling loss, that’s a major fucking beating.

So here I am, in New York City, 7 years later. I don’t even remember what her voice sounds like. I can barely remember what she looks like. The idea of being close to her – or anybody – seems so remote to me. I’ve been in two relationships that, combined, lasted five times longer than the time I spent with her. Yet it still bugs me. I don’t obsess about her every day – I’ve got enough shit in my life going on. But it seems like I’d be able to forget her and move on with life.

I think part of it is that I think I will somehow repeat what I had with her, but make it all happen right again. I’m convinced that I made a couple of dumb little mistakes, and if I meet her again, the 30-something version of her, and I don’t fuck up, I will have the perfect woman and I’ll do everything right. I think every relationship I’ve had since, every first date and failed encounter has started with some sick fantasy that this woman would be as perfect as her. Not that she was a supermodel or anything – I mean that everything would dovetail nicely; that we would be a nice match and the atomsphere would be incredible and everything else.

It’s silly for me to continue this discussion, because I’m not going to say that wanting something spectacular is a bad thing, and I’m not going to say it’s helping me out, either. I guess that’s the rub. Either I’ll figure this out someday, or I will be in the right place at the right time again.

Not much else. Time to go to bed.


Saturday afternoon, no plans

I feel a need to update, even though not a lot’s going on. Saturday afternoon – no plans, a few bucks, and so-so weather. I went out late last night to Kiev, to eat some food that I probably shouldn’t have. I have been passively drifting on some kind of diet thing, but it’s more like I’ve just been feeling more guilty about eating bad, and avoiding snacks. I tried to get on diet Dr. Pepper this week, but my allegiance to The Real Thing is too heavy, and I was back to six Cokes a day by Friday. I’ve also been trying to take more late-night walks through the ‘hood, but it’s been raining all week, and spending an hour and a half walking around is kinking the Rumored to Exist writing schedule.

I haven’t been doing much writing, but I read a lot of Rumored in the last few days, and I still really like it. I can’t wait until it’s 100% and I can start showing it to my friends and stuff, because it is very tripped out and the current draft is very tight. I still have some stuff to fix up, there’s some slop in the language and some of the references are too far out for anyone but me and maybe Ray Miller.

I registered this week. It points to my home machine. Not much located there, but maybe later I can use it for some weird project.

Okay, I need to get dressed, catch some lunch, do something cool. I’m thinking of the Strand, but spending money might not be the best idea at this point. We’ll see what goes down.


ISBN, Dolby

Okay, I’m calmed down now.

The good news is that my book has an ISBN number. Forevermore, Summer Rain by Jon Konrath will be known as 0-595-13494-7. And that is cool. I feel very legitimate now. I just wish I didn’t have another 2-3 month wait until the thing was in my hands.

It’s pouring rain. I’m listening to the Peter Gabriel – Secret World Live album, which makes the subwoofer sound incredible. I also went through the Dolby Digital test disk tonight, which has some cool trailers, but is way too damn short for $15. But it really shakes the rafters, especially the ‘City’ and ‘Rain’ demo trailers.

Okay, nothing else. I need to finish dinner and write a book.


Early Sunday

I don’t think I’ve ever been awake this early on a Sunday morning, unless I was still trying to make it home from a Saturday night out. Even back when I was a kid and my mom used to drag me to church, there was an 11:15 mass. But I went to bed early, and I’ve vowed to get something done today, so here I am.

I started working on Rumored again last night. It’s tough – I have a lot of little ideas, fragments, but I can’t string them together so they flow well. I’m going to keep struggling with it, in hopes that it will fall into place better or maybe the stuff that I’m doing now is somehow editable at a later date. I’m trying not to throw out anything, because I’m eventually able to twist it around and come up with something more functional. It feels good to at least be thinking about this.

Not much to report here. Yesterday was a quiet day; went to the mall in Jersey City, which was probably a mistake. There are too many people and not enough good stores there, but it’s the only mall-type mall around here, unless you go to Staten Island. I wanted my Midwest fix, but didn’t really get it. The train rides were okay though – air conditioning is always a plus. I almost saw X-Men again, but decided I didn’t want to kill half the evening on it.

I think I’m going back to bed.


wanting pierogies

It’s a beautiful day out, and I woke up early, and I have a wad of cash in my pocket I can spend on anything, but I’m sick. My stomach’s bothering me, and I really want to go eat something bad, a pile of fried pierogies with sour cream or a plate of greasy hash browns and some fried eggs, but I don’t think that will happen. I hate this stomach stuff, and it’s been happening pretty much constantly for the last few weeks. I’m hoping it’s just stress, but maybe it’s a warning sign that I should be paying attention to some of the other problems in my life.

I should be working on Rumored. Marie loaned me this book (and I don’t remember the author or title) and I started reading it last night, and it reminded me exactly of what I wanted to write like. I stopped reading after about three pages because I didn’t want to subliminally rip off this dude when I got back on my own writing. It got me motivated to at least think about Rumored for a while.

The problem is getting some momentum going, to sustain it. I need to figure out the process, how I can get back to writing every night and return to that sweet spot where I can produce golden prose for three hours a night. With Summer Rain, there was this entire process, pages of notes and outlines, the music, the food I ate, the smells I smelled, that pushed me into that creative zone where I could recreate the past with words. A glass of cold Coke, a compilation tape of my favorite songs from that era, and I would be able to work. The problem with Rumored is that I’ve sometimes found that zone, but it’s so difficult. I can get so distracted by music – it needs to motivate me, but it can’t pull me away. It’s difficult to describe, but the setting has to be just right. And I haven’t found that magic combination yet.

Maybe I need to buy a new desk. I don’t know.

I’m also not in the mood where Rumored is always in my head. I need to think of ideas all day long and then write them down. The Palm Pilot is nice for that, but it doesn’t happen enough. I spend my days daydreaming about stupid shit, not thinking about the book. The book needs to be my daydream. When I worked on Summer Rain, it was easy to drift back to 1992, to replay those memories and fantasies and get far too sentimental about old flames and distant days. Then when I checked in every night and sat down at the computer to pound out another chapter or whatever, it was easy to really get into it. I haven’t been doing that now, and I need to.

There was a period in 1998, between Karena and when I met Marie, where I was 100% gung-ho about Rumored. I think it was back when Fear and Loathing was in the theatres and I was watching it constantly and never sleeping and pushing myself with tons of Coke and low-grade speed and food from Denny’s and hanging in this freaked-out state where I was the book, where I ran through reality like a machine gun firing at everything 72 times a second. I wrote a lot of fucked-up stuff back then, stuff that still makes me laugh out loud. I didn’t give a fuck about my job, and I wasn’t a technical writer by trade – I was me, writing. It was a good time, but it didn’t last for long. No heavy reasons, I just couldn’t sustain it.

I have been sober for seven months today. The medicine I just took for my stomach is .5% alcohol, but I don’t think that counts. Besides, it didn’t make me want to run to the nearest bar and get loaded. I could barely keep the stuff down – it tasted like fucking turpentine.

Okay, at the very least, I need to go to the bagel shop on 30th Ave and get something for lunch. Go visit the book site if you haven’t already, dammit.


exhaustion, heat, and lack of demarcating events

Life is like a daze right now, a combination of exhaustion, heat, and lack of demarcating events to mark the passage of days and weeks. I wish I could find the most ideal bed in the most ideal temperature and simply sleep for weeks, with machines feeding me and stimulating my muscles and whatnot. But I know after fifteen minutes, I’d go mad thinking that I needed to figure out how the interconnects on my CD player worked and how I had to balance my checkbook, take out the trash, wash dishes, etc etc etc.

I’m listening to the Pink Floyd album Momentary Lapse of Reason, an instant time machine to my senior year in high school. I was on such a big ‘Floyd kick back then, probably because most of the mood matched my own. I didn’t realize until I got to college that everyon thinks the same thing, and it’s a pretty played-out thing to do. I still like some of their stuff, mostly the albums nobody else likes. The Final Cut is probably my favorite, but it’s far too depressing for tonight. I just like the sound of Momentary Lapse… in the new system. Very crisp and exact. Too bad the army of fans whirring at top speed cut most of the quality out of the disc. But it’s either that or extreme heat in the apartment.

I have very little to report except that I’m slowly chipping away at the Summer Rain homepage. And I think I’m ready for bed, maybe after a long, cold shower. Maybe I’ll sleep in the shower…


Book done, Seattle nostalgia

Well, I think it’s time to start writing here again. Aside from the number of people that keep writing to see if I’ve jumped off a building yet based on my last entry, there’s been a lot of nothing going on in the writing world, and I don’t want to resort to other less savory methods of wasting my time after the 9 to 5, like watching prime-time TV. So here we are.

The biggest news is that my book is done. I sent off the masters on July 5, and now I’m just waiting for the designers to send me proofs to correct and approve. I’m also working on a site (located here) that all of you should check out and keep up with as I add more great new content and news on what’s up with the publishing process. I think I’m looking at a mid-September release, so start saving your pennies.

The lack of the book means my daily process has been screwed. With no deadline and no project, I’ve been drifting. Everyone keeps asking if finishing the book is exciting, and honestly, it isn’t. I think if I would have kept writing and rewriting for another ten years, I still wouldn’t feel done. So it feels like I submitted an incomplete work. Secondly, this wait is killing me. I want instant gratification, but at least this is much shorter than most publishing cycles. And most of all, it’s hard to not be immersed in a project. I know I should be working on Rumored, but I can’t force myself to get started, and it will take some time to get back on it. So until then, I will drift.

Today I bought a new stereo. Actually, it’s one of those home theatre in a box things – five surround sound speakers, a 100 wattx5 receiver with DTS, Dolby Digital, and many functions, inputs, and outputs I will never fully understand. It also came with a huge-ass 50 watt self-powered subwoofer. The receiver does a good job of powering its 5 matched speakers plus my old 12″ 3-way Pioneer speakers when I’ve got a CD in the player. I’m listening to the Zappa Au20 gold disc for One Size Fits All and it sounds better than ever, especially with the sub to pull out all of the bass. And Top Gun and The Matrix in AC-3 both made me glad I don’t have neighbors underneath me. I can’t use my remote for my CD player anymore (long story having to do with proprietary Kenwood system interconnect crap) and it’s sort of difficult to jockey the volume sometimes on Dolby Digital movies. When you lower things so the Terminator’s motorcycle isn’t waking the dead three houses down, you can’t even hear peoples’ dialogue. There is a special mode to correct this, but it also flattens out all of the ass-kicking sound that I just paid a bunch of money to have. I guess you can’t win there, unless you live in the middle of nowhere.

I still haven’t found any magical answers to life, although I’m getting a little better at dealing with things. I’ve had rough spots, but I’ve also been slowly figuring out what’s bugging me and why. I still basically have nothing to do in my life except my job, but sometimes doing nothing can be enjoyable. Nothing’s better than cooking some dinner, reading a book for a while, and making a few phone calls. It’s not the way to Carnegie Hall and it won’t earn me any Nobel Prizes, but I think this downtime is important. I seriously need to regroup, figure out a few things, and get a little more comfortable with my surroundings.

Case in point: like an idiot, I bought the DVD for Singles. Okay, Bridget Fonda is nice with the first-season-Agent-Scully haircut, and as long as you don’t think about the Kevin Bacon thing, Kyra Segwick ain’t bad, either. And I was at Virgin and there was some “buy 4, get 1 free” deal, and it was the first thing I saw. So I put it in the player tonight, and all of this imagery of Seattle hit me like a sniper’s bullet to the temple. It made me wish it was a Saturday night at 7th and James and I was climbing in the Aqua Ford Escort to drive around in the darkness and do a lot of nothing. All of those comfortable memories hit me – the places I used to hang out, the scenes I used to stroll through and the drives I used to take. After about three minutes of this, I tore the movie out of the player, and spent a long time thinking I needed to get the hell out of New York and go back to Seattle so it could be 1997 all over again.

Then I realized how stupid this was. It’s not 1997. And I can’t go back to Seattle, any more than I can go back to high school or the third grade or living at my mom’s house and working at the mall for my pizza and CD money. I have strong memories of the Seattle experience, and maybe there was something magical about the scenery or the people I knew, but I think a lot of it was how I perceived myself there. Because I wasn’t happy in Seattle – in fact, I was pretty depressed a lot of the time. There were many Saturday nights I went to the Barnes and Noble to sit around and read magazines because I didn’t have anything better to do, and at the time, I thought it was pretty pathetic. So why don’t I go to Borders or whatever in Manhattan and do the same thing? Good question. And that’s what it all comes down to – I have all of these convenient memories of my past, but they are of mundane activities in a glamorous setting, and the whole thing is blurred by time. So if I went out every Saturday and wandered through the streets and ate at 24-hour diners and went to bookstores and maybe even picked up a copy of the Voice and found something slightly more interesting to do, maybe I will create the same memories, the same experiences. I can’t expect to talk to people or make lifelong friends or meet the lover of my dreams, but I can expect to get out, and expect the occacional weird stuff to happen.

So I guess that’s the plan. Except it’s raining and shitty tonight, and I stayed in all day running wires all over high hell to get this surround sound stuff working. I am exhausted now, my arms hurt from hauling in a hundred pounds of wood and plastic, and I feel about ready to drop off to sleep. But before I do, I’m going to keep cleaning, rearranging electronics and cables, and wear myself down a bit so I’ll drop off like a baby.

I don’t know when I’ll update next, but if it’s not for a while, just assume I’m still trying to program all of these remotes. Why can’t they write decent documentation for this stuff? Wait, I should know the answer to that one.