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In Vegas

I’m in a web cafe on the Las Vegas Boulevard, in a crowded strip mall just south of the Harley cafe. It’s not really a cafe, though: it’s really three computers in a giant gift shop containing Las Vegas shot glasses, ashtrays, t-shirts that disintegrate in two washings, and pretty much everything else that could have the words Las Vegas printed on it and could be made in China by slave labor for under ten cents. It’s also a Budget rental car desk and sells tours of the Grand Canyon. They are mostly empty except for the occasional wanderer, and the overhead speakers are droning some local 80s station, which is marginally OK but mostly sucks. I turn 33 tomorrow, and I’ve got a suite at the Stardust that’s roughly twice as big as my apartment and much better furnished. I have a thousand dollars in twenties in my pocket. I’m depressed.

I spent all weekend with Bill and Lon and Jaime, and just ate a taco dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe with Lon, the last to depart except for me. Then I took the long walk back to the strip to get on this place and delete 188 messages of spam and two legitimate messages from my friend Dani. I have to leave on Wednesday at seven in the morning. But tomorrow afternoon, I will jump out of an airplane at 15,000 feet. I try to do the most dangerous things on my birthday, so both dates will match on the tombstone. This seemed to work well for Shakespeare, because we’re still reading his stuff.

We did a bunch of cool stuff this weekend and I ate a bunch of good food and we saw some really incredible comedians. But sometimes when I’m out here, all I can think of is what I’ll do when I get back. And that’s what’s bothering me right now. These big milestone dates really make me wonder when I’ll get my shit straight, or what I should really be aiming for.

Ah crap, this is all pretty whiny stuff. I should pack it up and get out of here before they play some bad Madonna song that gets stuck in my head all night. I have a long walk ahead of me, and my iPod is in the hotel room. I see a cab ride in my future…

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Sadaam is back, and so am I

Sadaam is back, and so am I. I, however, feel a lot worse than he looks. I’m still trying to kick the last remains of whatever I caught from that flu shot, and a week in Indiana didn’t exactly help me shake it. I got back last night at about 8:00, and found that my phone and DSL service were tits-up, and I didn’t even have a dialtone. I suspected either that Verizon had randomly disconnected my service, or my stupid fucking landlord decided to snip some copper pairs in the basement and sell them on the black market or something. After a week of getting by with my Sidekick, I was looking forward to some real web browsing and email catchup, but no dice.

Verizon got a guy out to the house at about 10:00 this morning, and he had to go through the usual bullshit shuffle because out landlord doesn’t have a super (which is against the law) and the phone closet was locked. After a few hours, the repair guy got in there and determined the problem was in the CO, and the pair was fine at my place. He phoned it in, and within an hour or so, I had service again.

So about the trip… the whole thing was very subdued, and I didn’t really do a lot, so there is no trip report and there are no photos. I did see all of my family, see both of my sisters’ new houses, and hang out at Ray’s place. Elkhart in general hasn’t really changed much, at least in my view. Some stores are new, and some buildings have been built, but I had an incredible sense of deja vu for most of the trip. So much of the scenery reminded me of my time driving around Elkhart and South Bend in 1990, 1991. I had this incredible nostalgia, this feeling a step above depression but still a strong pull back into the past. I did not like the year of college I spent in that town, but I wished I was still in that timeframe, maybe so I still had the friends, the job, the old favorite restaurants and hangouts to return to. Being there without any of those things made it all seem like a huge daydream to me, and very unsatisfying.

I also had mixed feelings because everyone had houses, new houses with full basements and spare bedrooms and giant kitchens and lots of closets and driveways and garages, and here I am in a tiny one-bedroom apartment overrun with DVDs and books. When I see this, it makes me wish I could settle down into 2000 square feet and a decent mortgage. But there’s no way I’ll find that in New York for under a half a mil, and there’s no way I could move back to Elkhart. If I could keep my current salary, and keep my current DSL connection, and have a house, and find the perfect woman there, I would move back. But those are four things I don’t think will happen in Elkhart.

I read a big chunk of Summer Rain while I was gone and decided that while I still like the book, it would be a waste of time to try to correct or reissue it. I really need to write another new book, and it won’t be some straightforward, sappy, nostalgic thing. It needs to be Rumored to Exist times two. I don’t know beyond that what it will be, though.

Okay, it is almost 6:00 and I have not eaten all day, so either I need to stall a bit, or think about an early dinner…

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Boston

I’m back, and I had a pretty good four-day weekend in Boston. The weather was nice (albeit a bit rainy on one day), the subways did not reek of piss, the restaurants had working public restrooms, and the cashiers actually talked to you, as if having paying customers was a virtue. Quite different from my home town, and a nice change.

The main event on Friday was the reading, and finally meeting my writer friend John Sheppard. He read last, from his book Small Town Punk. I read from Rumored to Exist, the first time I ever read from anything, and it went okay. After that, we went to a bar called Bukowski’s. I met some cool people, sold some books, gave away some books, traded some books, and got some books. So that went cool.

I also saw some old IU friends. Jeff Sumler showed up at the reading and had a few with us there and at Bukowski’s. I hung out in Harvard Square on Saturday afternoon with Brian Smith and his wife Sarah, where we ate some Mexican food and walked around the Harvard campus for a while. And even though our plans didn’t pan out, I got to chat a bit with my old friend Drew. So there was a lot of the conversation about where persons x and y were, and what it was like back in Bloomington, and how the campus has changed in a decade, and all of that. And that sometimes feels a little childish, like I’m one of those high school football player types stuck in the past. But sometimes it’s good, too.

And now I’m back. And I’m dead tired, and I’d love to tell more details or upload the pictures and make a web page, but I really need to crash…

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Too cold to think

It is too cold to think. To get to work today, I wore two pairs of pants, an army jacket, a leather jacket, a hat, a hood, and a pair of gloves. I was still so cold I couldn’t breathe. My apartment has been in spats of hot and cold; the heater runs but sometimes bangs like Godzilla is in the basement and trying to escape via the radiator, and that worries me that the whole thing will stop working and my landlord will be in Italy for months. If so, I will light the place on fire. Also, the wind blows so hard, it blows right through the windows, no matter how much foam tape and bunched up blankets I cram into the crevices. I am slightly sick, but not a lot – maybe some kind of infection in my throat, a lump that I can’t swallow. It is getting slowly better, so hopefully more juice and water will lodge things free.

I got back on Tuesday from a pretty decent trip to Vegas. There were four of us: Bill, Lon, me, and Lon’s pal Cliff, who is a pilot for a regional airline. It was cool to talk to Cliff about planes and flying and the inside world of the aviation industry. I envy being able to fly a plane, but I don’t envy the fact that a third-year pilot makes about $20K a year. Anyway, we did a lot of cool stuff, so here’s a short list off the top of my head:

  • Went to Blue Man Group and sat in the front row (the poncho section.)
  • Ate at Emeril’s fish restaurant; had the 6-course tasting meal, which was all incredible.
  • Shot a Madsen M50 9mm automatic rifle with a silencer.
  • Rented a pimped out Caddy with leather everything, power everything, onstar, rear radar, an incredible stereo, ass-heating seats, and all the other goodies.
  • Bill found out that the Caddy has a 120 MPH cutout. It felt and sounded like we were going 60, though.
  • Ate at In-n-Out and Jack In The Box
  • Went to the Grand Canyon; threw a copy of Rumored to Exist into the canyon.
  • Went to the Hoover Dam, took the tour, found a tour guide who didn’t know what The A Team was. I made the wild sarcastic guess that she was born in 1986; she was actually born in 1984. I officially feel old.
  • Ate at Denny’s twice.
  • Went to 7-Eleven. Got a Slurpee. Did not fuck sluts. (Sorry, Ray.)
  • Went shopping at Caesar’s Forums. Bought a new pair of Vans shoes.
  • Went to Best Buy and bought a ton of new CDs and a new camcorder battery.
  • Won $40 on blackjack at Imperial Palace.
  • Went to the car museum at Imperial Palace.
  • Threw paper airplanes out of the hotel windows.
  • Got the Caddy airborne on a speedbump.
  • Went downtown and saw the Fremont Experience light show.
  • Went to the worst pawnshop ever downtown.
  • Talked to some strippers on Fremont Street.
  • Watched the movie Jackass on pay-per-view.
  • Watched the movie Undercover Brother on Bill’s laptop.
  • Ate a good breakfast at the Luxor.
  • Drank way too much at Smith and Wollensky.

That’s all I can think of. But we got a lot of stuff done from Thursday to Tuesday, and we didn’t do that much Vegas strip stuff. So I’m pretty happy with the results, except for the part about puking up a $160 dinner.

My camcorder was great on the trip, and now I have a firewire card for my PC. I installed all of the stuff on my Windows partition, and it works pretty good for editing video and pulling in stuff through the DV connection. I need to now pull in old stuff from Hi8 and make some real movies with it. I still have a lot to learn, but it’s not like I’m going anywhere this weekend.

OK, I need to do some more DV editing research. I’ll try to get back on schedule with regular updates, but my semi-hibernation isn’t helping things much.

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Hello from Las Vegas

Hello from Las Vegas. I’m typing from the Internet cafe where I usually log in, at this sort of Korean-oriented strip mall. My laptop has taken a dive, or at least the battery power has, and I cannot get a dial-up connection. But it’s good to be ssh’ed to the computer sitting in my living room in Queens; at least I know it is not without power or under three feet of water.

And no, I did not have heat when I left on Friday, but there was a repair truck outside, and I’m hoping that means it will be fixed by the time I am back tomorrow night.

Many good things sofar. I met Penn and Teller after their show; I saw a Jackson Pollock painting at the Guggenheim (and a bunch of Picasso, Monet, Reubens, and other crap, but the Pollock was the best.); I saw the 250+ car collection at the Imperial Palace, including a TON of cool and famous cars; I hit four aces on a video poker machine on like my third deal, which cashed 60-1 (I quit gambling after that, doesn’t get better than that.); I walked nine miles on Saturday; I saw an IMAX 3-D movie; I saw the movie Jackass twice. (It is the funniest thing I have ever seen.); I ate at In-n-Out and Dennys; I did about 200 other things I can’t think of. I’ll write a story over the weekend.

Bad things: I am sick, although it is almost gone. I am cutting it close on money. Laptop is dead. My feet are pretty torqued out. It is extremely depressing here when you are not busy with something. I wish I could write more about that, but my head would explode. Also, I am getting charged to use this piece of shit, and it’s a BEAUTIFUL day out. So I better split. I’ll be back late tomorrow…

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In KC

A quick entry from Kansas City to let you know I’m alive. Asleep, but alive.

I will have to put more detail up here when I’m safe in NY. But to let you know, I’ve made pretty much all of my objectives and then some. Stayed at Salt Lake City wth Roger, went to to Vegas, went to the Trinity nuclear test site, got some trinitrite (sp?) went to the Gnome test site, stayed in Texas, saw the Hoover dam, and now I’m here. 11 states, 3000+ miles.

I must sleep now. Maybe more later…

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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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A random trip to see the collapsing bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

06/07/98 21:48

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Elkhart time warp

I’m now in Elkhart, Indiana, at my friend Ray’s house. I’m staying here for the week, and visiting everyone in the old home town. Actually, ‘everyone’ consists of my mom, sister, nephew, dad, and Ray. Pretty much everyone else I knew from this pit was smart enough to leave, or so ashamed that they are hiding.

The Bloomington leg of the trip was interesting, but not entirely fulfilling. I had a lot of fun – spent a lot of time with Simms and the gang, including a kick-ass halloween party, met up with other friends like Andrea, Joe, Danielle, and more, and saw some of the campus. But with the rain, I didn’t really get to roam the campus as much. I tried, but the cold and everything made it hard to just stroll around and think. It’s also much more distant there – I don’t feel like I live there anymore. Majorly weird.

On Monday, I headed up to Indianapolis on my way to Elkhart, and saw my old pal Tom Sample. He’s the same old Tom, although he has a new apartment and a new cat. We hung out and then went to the abbey for some drinks and talk. I really miss hanging out with him… I will see him again on Saturday though; I am crashing there so I can make my flight out of Indy on Monday.

Today (yesterday – it is 3am) , I went to my old house. It’s still empty, but my mom is renting it out starting in December. I shot some camcorder of the place and searched for old stuff. It was like in Event Horizon when they opened the old ship and dug around. There’s some furniture, but some rooms are empty.. Once again, a lot of weird nostalgia. I also found a bunch of writing from about the 4th grade on up. I figured I should snag it before my mom shows it to someone.

We also went through a bunch of slides and transferred them to video today. Most of my baby pictures were on slides, and it was weird to see my relatives all young, thin, and with retro hairstyles. Also, my mom and sister say that my nephew Phillip looks like I did when I was a baby, and after looking at slides, I agree.

Nothing else here. Just stuck in a weird time warp…

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general

A week in Hollywood (or Anaheim, anyway)

I’m back. The trip was a lot of fun and an interesting change of scenery, but it was also a lot of work. I’m pretty beat from all of the marathon days of walking miles in the heat and standing in lines. On most days, the fun of the attactions made up for all of that, but on the days of flying, there was no fun, and the crying kids, illogical airports and LA freeways took their toll. But overall it was fun.

It would be hard for me to write a detailed list of what I did over the last week, so I’ll summarize. On Tuesday, we flew from Seattle to John Wayne airport in Orange County, got a car, and drove to Anaheim to check in at the hotel. The LA highways massively suck, and it took me 2 hours to make the 40-some mile trip, mostly because I ended up driving in the wrong direction and there was absolutely no way for me to determine this because none of the highways tell you where you are going, they just tell you nice names of dead Spanish people, which might help you if you are writing a term paper on the Mexican revolution or something but doesn’t help at all when you’re trying to figure out where the fuck you are.

On Wednesday, we went to the park from like 9 to 7, and rode every single ride there except for the really dumb kids rides in ToonTown. The Star Tours ride was cute, Space Mountain was sort of a bummer for me, Pirates was great, and we rode Thunder Mountain about 4 or 5 times that day. Thunder Mountain is not an incredible rollercoaster, but it is scary enough to keep infants and screaming kids off of it, and it is unpopular enough that it did not have huge lines like Indiana Jones or Space Mountain. We did ride Indiana Jones, and it was okay, but not worth a 6 hour wait. We also ate in the New Orleans quarter, and it was surprisingly cheap – less than $10 each for lunch. That night, we got in the car and drove south, hoping to find a Boston Market or IHOP or something that was not within walking distance of the park. I found an all-talk radio station and Ricky Rachtman was on with a call-in show. It was surprisingly good, considering the grudge I hold against the guy for his years as the host of Headbangers’ Ball on MTV. We didn’t find anything, and came back to Anaheim and walked to a Denny’s. Once again, prices were low – I got my usual of a grilled cheese and a bowl of soup, and we both ate for like 11 bucks. I wondered if the rumored inflation in California was just a matter of perspective, and things would cost about the same as Seattle. And except for tourist traps, I was mostly correct.

Thursday was early admission day, and we got to the park at like 7:30. We couldn’t get on any good rides like the bobsleds or Thunder Mountain, and everyone was jacking up the lines on the stuff like Space Mountain, so we rode the dumb kiddie rides before the dumb kiddies woke up. I camcordered stuff like the flying Dumbo and the Teacups. We rode a bunch of stuff over again, and checked out smaller stuff like the Disney Gallery, which had some cool models they used to build the park. We left the park to rest a bit and eat some lunch, and went to a McDonald’s which, once again, was only pennies more than the one here in Seattle.

Speaking of lunch, I need to go eat some now. So, more in a bit…

Karena’s staying at my house today while I’m at work – it was nice to come home and eat lunch with her there. But I was in the middle of a story, so I should finish my trip summary here.

Okay, Thursday we stayed until the park closed, and then ate somewhere close to the hotel. I remember we ate at IHOP twice and Denny’s once, but I don’t remember which nights. There was a row of restaurants in Anaheim, and the selection wasn’t too terrible, but the places were packed whenever we got there, which generally made service below par. Both Dennys and IHOP were open late enough so we could get in there when nobody else was around, though, and the servers were pretty nice.

Friday, we decided to change plans a bit and take a day at Six Flags. The drive north through LA was not too bad, and we even got to listen to a bit of Howard Stern on the way up. The park was crowded, but I managed to get to 8 coasters and a sit-down lunch of pizza in 6 hours. We rode on some Colorado water raft ride, and I thought we wouldn’t get too wet – I practically got immersed in the water and my clothes were wet from head to toe for the rest of the day. I almost got in a fight with some people who were cutting in line, which really pissed me off – later I realized it could’ve got me shot, and I calmed down. We left a little early, ate at Wendy’s and headed back. After some rest, we went to Disney and caught the night show. It was interesting – they did a bunch of lights and characters and music and crap, but they also had water projection screens and some explosives, so it wasn’t too bad.

Saturday, we went to Universal, again in LA. We took the tram tour, which showed us old scenery from films like Spartacus, Back to the Future, Three Amigos, Psycho, and a million more. The rides at Universal were for the most part lame and had million mile long lines. But we did go on the special effects tour, and I got to do sound effects for a Harry and the Hendersons clip. We also saw the movie _Chasing Amy_ while we were there. That night, we went back to disney again to check things out and ride a few rides for the last time.

Sunday was a horrorfest. We couldn’t find where to drop off the rental car at LAX, and then we couldn’t check in our baggage because we were too early. We couldn’t find any lockers, then had to go to another building to eat lunch, while dragging all of our luggage. We finally checked in, and waited another 4 hours for our flight. It was full, and full of screaming babies, so it took forever to load. We got back and I just broke down, from a total lack of sleep, food, patience, and ability to go on. Luckily, I was able to sleep it off, and here I am.

And here I am leaving – it is 5:15 and I am still at work. Maybe I will write more later tonight.