Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

My days in Seattle are numbered

Watching reheated Chinese food cool to an edible temperature, listening to Shadowfax. Track ten of their CD The Odd Get Even is on repeat. “One Heart” is the name of the song. It’s soft – ethereal guitar, dischorded piano, and eerie reeds, the kind of thing you listen to when it’s four in the morning and it’s been raining for a month straight. It reminds me of 1993, when I was all alone in my mom’s basement, everything I owned temporarily stacked against the walls of an 11 by 11 cement cell. My girlfriend was temporarily in Tampa; my social life was temporarily in Bloomington; my zine was temporarily on hiatus; my posh computer job was temporarily on sabbatical while I ran a punch press third shift and unloaded trucks first shift. It was one of those situations that needed definition: a song, a smell, an anthem, a t-shirt, a car that would always pull my life back to it. This is one of the songs, albums that does it. Maybe in five years, it will also remind me of this moment. Who knows.

It’s time to go public with a fairly big secret. I think I know all of the people who read this journal (and if I don’t, you should drop me a line) so this isn’t a surprise to any of you, but here goes. My days in Seattle are numbered. On March 31, I will get in a car and take a two-week voyage across the country which will end with me in New York City, which I will call my new home.

First, I should explain the plan. I’ve quit my job, but I will continue working until the second week of March. Oh, I will be in New York for about a week next month, visiting Marie and maybe laying some groundwork for the move. I’m moving in with Marie, in Washington Heights. I’ll be shipping books, records, electronics ahead of time. Basically everything but my clothes, my computer, my music, and the stuff I’d take on a two-week trip will be going through UPS. My third-hand furniture will be chopped into bits or abandoned at Goodwill. My car will be sold for scrap. Some other stuff will also be given away or sold. And I’ve been dumping a lot of shit I accumulated over the last four years. I’m hoping this move will be a little cleaner than the last, although that wasn’t too bad.

And where will I work? From my computer desk, creating fiction. The pay’s not much, but it’s what I need to be doing. I have some money in the bank, and I will probably pick up some freelance work here and there, but from here on out, my full-time job will be novelist. I need to get Rumored to Exist off the ground, and start other stuff. I can’t do this weird dual-lifestyle thing anymore. I’ve known this for a while, and I thought my only way out was to work a day job and save money to retire at 50 instead of 65 and then write, or maybe go back to school. Marie has been very gracious about this, and I think the time and the change in environment will mean an incredible Rumored to Exist and an even better next book.

I’m anxious to be with Marie more. And Mungo and Henrey – I really like cats, and having two of them to hang around with will be great. I’m anxious to be in New York, the city where everything’s there – every big record store and every famous street and corner and building and every bookstore, and every publisher, and everything. Seattle is very second-tier – it’s thirtysomething, people going to little league games and competing with the Joneses and Working Hard / Playing Hard ™ and driving SUVs. There’s some counterculture here, but even that needs more counterculture. Seattle is a stereotype, where New York is everything. Maybe I’m just guessing this stuff, but I feel like I need the change. I can’t stay here forever, I’ve decided that.

I feel like I could write about this forever – what I see ahead, what I don’t like about today. It’s not that I hate Seattle – it sure beats Indiana. But there are many things that make it impassable for me. I hate the traffic. I hate the rain. I hate the parking. As of right now, I feel very alone in this city, probably more alone than I did at the absolute low in Bloomington, which was the period between when Larry left (5/95) and when I left (7/95). I have no friends in Seattle – no regular friends. I have a half-dozen friends that I see once or twice a year. One calls the other out of the blue, “it’s been forever, let’s do something,” and then a dinner or a movie happens. There’s nobody that I could just call out of the blue here and say “let’s go to the mall.” I don’t want to short-change the couple of people that I do see a few times a year – I love to hang out with them. But I have no default friends, like Ray or Larry, and I would never expect to meet one here.

I don’t expect NYC to be filled with people interested in meeting me or anything. But I need the change. I think being out of college has killed my drive to talk to others. I used to meet new people every semester, and now the only people I see are my coworkers. I’m sure I could go to somebody’s kids’ soccer game, but I need people like me. I think being on the loose as a writer, going to readings and workshops and stuff, might help me. Who knows.

This has gone from an announcement to a bunch of whining drivel, so I should wrap this up. I’m sure a lot more stuff will be discussed about this move, and I’m glad it’s out in the open so I can mention it. I’d like to avoid making this into some sort of countdown to the move (“day 7 – I bought some boxes.”) but I’m sure it will come up again. Drop a line if you have any questions, as always…