Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

War Pigs weather, New Years past

When I was driving to work this morning, the Black Sabbath song War Pigs was on the radio, and it summarized the emotions of the current weather in Seattle almost perfectly. I think I’m suffering from seasonal disorder. Or maybe it’s normal to never want to leave your house and sleep 10 hours a day and still be tired. It’s not like I’m ready to go shoot a bus driver or anything like that, but I really do miss those long July nights. Even if my apartment was 110 degrees and I had to sleep naked in the bathtub with the cold water running.

Today has been a real seige with my account on speakeasy. They changed to a new server, and it’s faster, but everything is broken. I couldn’t use my mail program at all – and still can’t. Ok, after 15 minutes of mid-journal-entry screwing with it, I can read my email. But it will take some time to get everything going to 100% again. I guess I have something to do on my day off tomorrow.

And it’s the new year. Since I haven’t taken any extra time off (except for one day that I got to spend with Marie, this Monday), I haven’t been thinking in terms of holidays like I did when I was a little kid. I don’t have a three week break anymore, and I don’t sleep an hour on the night of the 24th because I know cool stuff is waiting under the tree. Things have become pretty lax, which is both good and bad. I feel like having a full-time job kills a lot of the seasonal aspect of life. When you’re in school, you know what time of year it is because you get breaks and you are working to finish the semester or the summer session or whatever. It makes you more closely grounded to the calendar. Now that I work, I tend to forget what season it is. I think that’s why people have kids and take up seasonal hobbies – it reminds them that summer is summer and winter is winter.

I don’t have new year’s plans tonight, except that I’ll finish the pizza in the fridge, go to the corner store for some junk food, watch Conan, and try to stay up late and get some writing finished. I don’t like to go out for the new year, because it’s always a bunch of amateurs getting drunk as fast as possible – it’s the same reason I don’t pull pranks on people on April 1. Let the amateurs have their day. I’ll be inside, enjoying the three-day weekend without the hangover and massive cash outlay.

I used to celebrate New Year’s with my friend Tom Sample, back when we were in high school and college and had nothing better to do. It was one of our rituals, and must’ve started in my sophomore year of high school. Tom and I didn’t drink back then, so we made the small parties a complete orgy of junk food and horror movies. We’d go to the grocery store and spend 40, 60 bucks on frozen pizzas, candy bars, popcorn, chips, sodas, punch, and other sinful garbage. This was back when I had an ultra-high metabolism – I was six feet tall and weighed about 110 pounds. I could eat two Pizza Hut pizzas and still lose weight. Anyway, the shopping trips were the most fun of the whole evening. For the longest time, I saved one of the receipts in my wallet – it was a foot long and read like the inventory of a convenience store. After that, we’d go to the video place and try to find the worst B-movies imaginable. It usually meant stuff like the Faces of Death series, but we also got some music stuff like Decline of Western Civilization or Rock and Roll High school or whatever.

The parties were always at my mom’s house, and were pretty informal. Sometimes a few other friends would be there – Derik Rinehart, Matt Wanke, Joe Gellert, Larry Falli – and we’d watch movies and eat like Atilla the Hun. Sometimes we’d flip the channel at 12 to watch Dick Clark and the ball, but sometimes we’d say ‘fuck it’ and keep watching Hellraiser.

I remember bits and pieces of each year that made it unique. One year, our mutual sometimes-friend Roger Eppich was on leave from a psychiatric hospital and invited himself to the party. Roger was locked up for trying to blow up Tom’s house, so Tom wasn’t exactly nice to him, making covert references to Roger’s insanity every 2 minutes. Another year, Tom and Matt both spent the night. The three of us sat on the couches down in the family room, rating every single girl in our high school from 1 to 10, and getting into these long discussions about our ratings. (I wish I would’ve recorded that). In 1988, our band Nuclear Winter had a New Year’s day gig at this battle of the bands, so most of the people in the band were also at the party. In 1989, I was home from college and my girlfriend came to visit on a Greyhound bus. We fought most of the time, but me and Tom bought a bunch of mixed drink stuff and put together rasberry margarita mix with Hi-C and rootbeer and whatever else was around, making vile concoctions for everyone. He also hooked up with one of my sister’s friends, something that lasted for another five months. I don’t remember much of 1990 or 1991, although we were there for both years and probably cleaned out the snack food aisle of the local Martin’s supermarket both years.

1992 was the first year that the tradition stopped. I was in Bloomington, and Tom was in Elkhart. Since it was dead week and absolutely nobody was around, I didn’t have anything to do. I spent a lot of that break in seclusion – I was still getting over this woman named Cheryl who was very sexy yet very psychotic. And I wasn’t exactly calm and stable either. That day, my friend Cayte Huesman came into Bloomington and hauled me around town for a bit, because I was in the dumps, without a car, and hadn’t talked to another human in almost a week. We ate Chinese food, and I bought a bunch of stuff: a bookcase from Target, CDs from Pungent Stench and Entombed, and the Flight of the Intruder video game. Cayte went back to Indianapolis, and I built the bookcase. I listened to Entombed – Left Hand Path – over and over, while I tried to learn all of the controls of the F-4 and A-6 Navy planes. I had this big map of Vietnam and I was going on all of these missions, dive bombing bridges and fighting MiGs and getting killed every other minute. The CD was on repeat, and was incredible. Before I knew it, I looked at my watch, and it was about 20 after midnight. I missed the whole thing – the song, the kissing, the resolutions, the big ball, Dick Clark counting down… It was surreal, but it didn’t bother me much, and I went back to the game.

So I’ve had a couple of good new year’s parties since then, and I’ve spent a couple doing nothing more than watching the countdown. It doesn’t bother me much, but like everything else, it makes me think of the past.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough. Have a good New Year’s, and please don’t play that Prince song.