Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Empire time machine

After 5:00 on a Friday. I should be tearing down a road at 80 miles an hour, a bottle of liquor in one hand, the other flipping off a state trooper, a woman in the car, some loud music, all that jazz. Instead, I’m waiting for the traffic to die, so I can drive home in under an hour.

I had a glass of champagne a little while ago, and that’s probably what’s bothering me. I’ve been in a bad mood all week, but right now it feels the worst. Fridays should be a cause for celebration, but I feel like my weekend is already shot. Either I’ll spend the whole weekend writing on this book, or I’ll fail. That’s what it’s come down to. All week, I blow off a day and say I’ll make it up in some 18 hour Saturday writing session. And I wish the weekend could consist of wandering, shopping, exploring, meeting new people and doing new things, but with $13 in my wallet and not much more in the bank, I’ll probably be watching old videos I’ve seen a hundred times, and trying to get on that novel.

I started to read On the Road agains last night. Like I possibly mentioned once before, I’ve read it every year for the last few years. Oddly enough, I originally bought my copy, this 25th anniv. issue paperback, in 1992. There was this huge used bookstore right around the corner from my place – some crazy old Russian lady ran it, mostly old, moldy books and nothing of value, but sometimes I’d scour the place and shake down something good. I think I picked up my copy of ‘Road for less than a dollar. I read the first dozen pages, but got disinterested. At the time, I was already living my own beat paradise and I didn’t know it yet. So now I’m back on it again – I figure some good vicarious adventures will help me while I’m starving away with all of my own troubles here in Seattle. Maybe I will take some better notes this time on all of the journeys, cities, roads, and highways. Then when I have a few bucks, I can hit the road and follow Dean’s footsteps.

I’m listening to Queensryche – Empire, which is like a time machine to me. I listened to this album every day, twice a day, for months, almost a semester. That was 1990, when I drove my gray 5-speed Turismo from Elkhart to South Bend and back every day. I’d blaze down US 20 into Osceola and Mishawaka listening to all of these songs while eating my breakfast, either bagels or pop-tarts, and watching the morning Michiana roll by me. It all seemed so hip at the time, getting out of the house, living in the computer labs, learning pascal and writing computer games, eating lunch with Ray every day in the cafeteria. This album reeks of trips to the Miami street comic shop, the quarter pounder value meal, no pickels, from the McKinley st. McDonalds, trips down Logan to the Scottsdale mall, before it got semi-cool, and runs to the Hooks drug store or 7-11 for junk food. I think I’ve described this before (I know I have, I just don’t remember if it was here). It’s now July, almost 8 years later, but it’s cold enough to feel like an October day in Indiana.

What the hell am I doing here? I better go home, at least.