Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Bike junk

Yesterday, I got an application for Bike New York in the mail. I have no idea how they got my name – maybe from some bike junk I ordered off the web – but it was a strange coincidence, because I would love to get in shape and try the ride, but I’m completely fucked up right now. I sprained the MCL in my right knee about a month ago, and I’m just now at the point where I’m not in agonizing pain on a costant basis. Hobbling around on a cane has caused my other knee to feel a bit wonky, and I have to wear this horrible compressive brace every day, which is like having my leg in a vice while I’m at work. Then when I get home and take out my leg, it’s imprinted in a reverse-mold of the inside of the brace, like some kind of Play-Doh fun factory thing. After extrication, my knee feels really – weird – as it expands and sloshes back into its regular form. I usually take drugs by then, so I can avoid this strange feeling. Despite all of this, I am getting around better, sometimes without the cane, and maybe the brace will go away soon, too.

But I don’t think a 42-mile bike ride is in the cards, at least not on May 6th or whenever it is. I keep trying to do the math on how long it would take me to train for a 42-mile ride, and then also trying to predict how long it would be until I could ride a bike, and then add them together and see if they were less than eight weeks. While I could maybe train more in a given time period, by riding way too much, I can’t speed up the healing of the knee, so that pretty much fucks the whole thing.

Why do I want to do it? I guess just to say I’ve done it. I’ve ridden farther before, and this is not a competitive race-type event, so it isn’t harder in that sense. But the last time I did anything like this, I was 16, and I rode a 100K ride on a POS Huffy 10-speed that you get on sale for $100 at Wards, along with a rack and panniers filled with probably 30 pounds of shit I didn’t need. It poured rain the whole day and it was bone-chilling outside, with plenty of headwinds that made me wonder why the fuck I even did the event, since nobody in my entire school even knew about it and it obviously wasn’t about getting chicks, which was one of only two things I cared about back in 1987. (The other one probably involved listening to every Rush album in a row in one sitting, which I used to think would be the ultimate project, and now I realize will be my own personal hell if there is in fact a god when I die.) The New York ride would also be slightly more interesting than the Indiana one. The New York one goes through all five boroughs, which means a couple of interesting bridges, and a rare chance to ride on closed-off streets of the city. I guess the Indiana one was interesting too, and at least took you through Michigan and across some attempts at hills and twists, but unless you go south of Indy, there isn’t much beyond the one-mile grids of county roads and cornfields.

I haven’t been writing shit lately. Part of it is a lack of a routine to fall into, part of it is a lack of anything to write about. I guess I have two projects that I want to eventually finish. They are both biopic, modernist, whatever; one’s high school, the other is college. Both of them don’t have enough greatness to survive. I wonder how Summer Rain turned out as good as it did, as far as the story and length. Was it just a coincidence that everything happened in such a great story line like that, or was it just a lot of hard work that carved it into a solid line? I don’t know. Sometimes I’d like to think if I kept my nose down enough on this high school one, I’d start to get some bulk, and the pieces would become carvable and eventually fit into each other until it started to look like a book. But I don’t know, there’s a lot of pessimism here on that.

In the reading category, I just finished The Wishbones by Tom Perrotta, which was a decent read. It was close to the style that I wish I could write in, similar to Nick Hornby and High Fidelity, although not as raw or as dense as I’d like. There was also this weird twist at the end that sort of threw me, but I won’t get into it. Anyway, now I’m reading Will Leitch’s Life as a Loser, which I completely spaced and forgot I read half his shit on Blacktable.com years ago. I’m enjoying the book despite the fact that it’s a typographical disaster; it’s a weird size that it too square and too big, and the columns are way too wide with small print, so it’s impossible to track across the page, especially if you’re on a bouncing F train.

My only other complaint about Leitch’s book is that it makes me wish that either I had a better way to chop my own life into zany and compelling bite-sized 2000-word pieces on a weekly basis, or that maybe I should get some kind of life that lends itself to doing that. That Tucker Max book had the same effect on me. I read about all of this crazy shit that he did, all of these good stories, and I thought I needed to live a life like his – not necessarily HIS, but with other activities that were easily shrink-wrapped into entertaining portions. I know the stock answer is “but Jon, you can write observational pieces about ANYTHING,” and my answer is, go ahead and do it, but I need to find what works for me.

Okay, enough babbling for tonight.