Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Chicago, old cow pastures

I’ve noticed this weird pattern between my online and paper journals. I write about stuff that happened the night before in my online stuff, and stuff that happened that day in my paper one.

Not much is going on here. I didn’t know it, but Indianapolis is bigger than Seattle. So is Columbus, OH and San Jose, CA. Seattle seems so much bigger than Columbus – I’ve only been there once, but it was like every other midwest city. It had a completely revitalized downtown area with brick streets, artwork, and brand new buildings, and then if you walked 5 blocks it would be all of these abandoned warehouses and bombed out neigborhoods. And then if you drove for another mile, you would be in a cornfield. When you drive on I-405 in LA or Seattle, there are buildings on both sides of you as you circle the city. When you’re on I-465, looping around Indianapolis, there is nothing but fields around you. Now there are a few yuppie suburbs and strip malls, but the transition from city to nothing is very abrupt. Compare that to Chicago – if you got on 72 – Higgins Road, somewhere around O-Hare, you could probably drive 50 miles and see nothing but wall to wall strip malls and subdivisions. The city of Chicago is huge, but the tentacles of the suburbs run forever.

I haven’t spent much time in Chicago, but I can almost navigate the highways to get around it and through it. Last summer, I flew into O’Hare late at night, rented a car, and drove to Elkhart. Driving through downtown on the express lanes at 100 in a brand new Corolla reminded me of every trip I’d ever taken there. I’d been there a billion times with my folks, visiting my grandparents and family, but that’s nothing like getting in your own car, cranking some music and taking the trip yourself. I wonder how many times I have taken the trip? Can I catalog it?

89 – w/ Larry to see Metallica
89 – w/ Steph
90 – w/ Becky – car broke down
90 – to drop off Becky at airport
90 – to pick up Becky, with Tom
90 – with Tom
91 – with Jo
92 – with Ray, merch incident
93 – with Ray, at least 3 or 4 times
94 – with Simms and A, from Bloomington
95 – return from Chicago, Angie’s graduation
96 – from O’Hare, mom’s wedding

So, I averaged about a trip a year, except for 1990, when I had nothing better to do. If you count layovers where I was stuck in O’Hare, there are at least 4 or 5 in the last 2 years.

Monkey see, monkey do, monkey will destroy you. Sorry, listening to Rollins again. I’ve been thinking about writing a bunch of fake letters to people and mailing them (in the real mail) not to be malicious, but to make people wonder what is going on. A sort of art, I guess.

I’ve been thinking about how much money I’d need to buy some land in the middle of nowhere and build a house. It’s a common recurring daydream for me, ever since I had to watch dozens of hours of Bob Vila videos during architecture class in high school. I’m convinced I could do most of the work on a house except for the foundation and the plumbing. I’m not sure I could do it by myself though, or right the first time, or while working a full time job. But every time I go to home depot, I start having fantasies in the plumbing section, looking at those giant fiberglass tubs and wishing I could start stocking up on 2x4s now while I save up for the land.

I guess land is a big weird thing here. I could probably buy up a piece of an old cow pasture in the middle of nowhere for under a grand an acre, but there would be no water, power, etc. It goes from $6000 lots on up to $2,000,000 parcels up on the plateau or whatever. But ideally, I think it would be possible to get a good 10 acre, ready to build lot for under $50K. But I don’t know. I’m full of shit when I say I know anything about buying land.

And when I bought it, I would be out of money and have to save more. It would be cool to buy a fucked up trailer, wheel it onto the lot, and then dump all of my money into the building. I don’t know. My mom is building a giant extension onto their house now. She found a builder who was going bankrupt and payed him up front, and then got the materials herself. And since she works in a giant interior decorating company, she got a lot of shit at cost or below cost. Stuff like cabinets, windows, she got for probably 40% their price from a builder. So maybe it wouldn’t cost $100,000 to build a house, especially if I wired, painted, decorated, and landscaped the damn thing myself.

Gotta go – must see teevee is on soon.