Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Feels like fall

It feels like fall today. It’s almost chilly out, and the clouds are making it look less like August and more like October, which I think is cool. I like the fall, the time when it isn’t hot out anymore, but before the weather goes to hell. It’s very lazy and subdued. I don’t want to sound like a goth wannabe, talking about the leaves and running through the forest in sorrow, or whatever. I guess I just have positive memories of the fall semester, of returning to campus after a summer of laziness to meet the new bumper crop of freshman women. I used to love taking new classes, meeting new people, spending my time in new buildings. I guess most of my relationships started in the spring, but many more attempts happened in the fall. I think my best semesters academically were in the fall, and I know many of my best memories were then.

The slippage of time has taken on a new meaning now that I don’t know how to handle. The division of time into semesters and breaks and vacations made things a little slower – I was always working toward finishing that one semester, like a long-distance runner trying to get in that one last mile before exhaustion. Now time free-wheels and I have no reference point. Someone asked me if I was depressed that summer was almost over and I hadn’t realized that it had started. Remember back when summer was that three-month sabbatical where you rode your BMX bike hundreds of miles a week, playing army and going to the mall to play video games and stealing candy from the corner store and building forts out of old packing crate lumber?

I never stole candy from the corner store. I stole change from my stepdad’s spare change box, and used it to buy candy. And I mowed lawns.

About fall – this time around, I’m thinking about 1991, which is the only fall when I had my old VW. I didn’t have it at the beginning of the school year – the rings went out and I had to limp it back to Goshen at like 40mph (a 250 mile trip, do the math) so this old German guy could fix it since nobody in Bloomington knows what the fuck they’re doing with water-cooled VW’s. But I had it later, and it reminds me of working at Lindley hall, spending late nights in the C335 lab (I had to stop working at 9am and drive my car home so it wouldn’t get ticketed), and everything else that happened in late ’91. It was my first semester back on campus, and I went from working in labs with armies of Leading Edge Model D computers (the Yugo of PCs), Panasonic 24-pin printers that jammed every 3 sheets, a PRIME computer, and almost no networking, to a campus filled with ethernet, laserprinters, nice Macs, SparcStations, a whole fleet of DEC miniframes, and lots of other people into computers. I hung out in the “orchard”, a student cluster of Sparc IPC machines. The machines weren’t bad, but I spent my time there because of the cool people. Whenever I got stuck on a new hack, I could ask someone else about it, and we were always playing pranks, joking around, going out to eat or get a drink, or playing games. It was a really tight, communal environment – probably one of the best I’ve ever seen.

Marie will be here in 16 days. It seems like an eternity, but then again, my place is a real hellhole and I’ll be lucky to get it in shape by then.

I forgot to mention that I ran into Anita at the new/old Safeway on John st. on Sunday, buying light bulbs and trash bags. I just wanted to mention that so you non-Seattle readers will think there’s some kind of Seattle journal mafia where we run into each other on a constant basis. Jealous?