Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Nostalgic grapes

I’ve said it a million times before, but smell has to be my most sensitive sense; some things always bring back the strangest memories. This morning, I was eating a bunch of red grapes while typing away at the computer, and I noticed after a while that they had a very slight sulfurous smell to them. Maybe it’s something with this region’s grapes, maybe I should wash my fruit. But the smell immediately brought me back to Treasure Island, Florida. The water there, especially the water they used for sprinkler systems, had the same sort of sulfery smell to it. It wasn’t overpowering, like driving through Gary, Indiana in the 70s, but it was just enough to remind you that you weren’t showering in Evian. So that smell, the grapes, brought me immediately back to my first trip in 2001, and my return in 2004, as if I boarded a magic DeLorean and hit the gas pedal to 88 miles an hour.

Denver’s got a pretty high allergy situation. I had no problems with allergies (other than aspirin) since junior high, after a childhood of tests and shots and pills. New York would give me about four days a year of allergy problems, but that was largely exacerbated by the fact that New York has the shittiest air quality in the country. I didn’t expect much here, but got completely slammed with allergies this week. It’s pretty dry, which ups the pollen count, and the fact that the air is thinner from the altitude makes respiratory-based allergies even more a pain in the ass. I have no Proventil, and haven’t been to an allergist in ages, so I went on a hunt for Primatene Mist today. Aside from the fact that the tree-huggers are trying to ban the stuff, there’s currently a nationwide shortage. I lucked out and found a store brand at a Walgreen’s in Stapleton. (And yes Larry, that town’s name does always remind me of a certain cheerleader that had a sex tape scandal an eon ago.) Anyway, I got the inhaler, gave it a couple of blasts, and the smell and taste and weird feeling of inhaling cold, dense adrenaline in an alcohol suspension reminded me of when I was ten, and every time since then I had an allergic reaction to crabgrass or tumbleweed or lawn clippings and had to hit the pipe.

In another fit of nostalgia, I bought the aforementioned grapes at a King Sooper, which is a regional grocery chain. We got a gift card to them from our apartment broker for some reason (imagine that, New Yorkers – we didn’t have to pay 17 months of rent in advance in cash to a broker, on top of deposits – we paid zero and got $50 of free food) and so we went for the first time the other night. I immediately found out that King Soopers is really Kroger. As we wandered the aisles, we found all of the Kroger and Big K store brands, some unchanged since 20 or 30 years before. I practically grew up in Kroger, and my parents only bought store brand, so this was pretty much like going back to the kitchen of my childhood home. I was very happy to find I could once again shop at Safeway, but now I’m going to have to trade off between the two or something.

The great book I pledged to finish this summer still hasn’t had word one added to it since the move. I have been busy, writing a short story for the zine, and then writing another story for someone else’s anthology. There’s also the matter of learning Ruby on Rails and how to write stuff using Google Maps, for another project for someone else. I still can’t believe how my days vanish so much faster than when I was at the helm of a desk with a salary job.

That said, I’ve got two short stories in first draft mode, and want to get them done eventually.