Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath


I can’t believe my first car did not have air conditioning. I mean, I paid $300 for it, and I’m sure if it did have AC, I would have disconnected it to get a faster 0-60 time, because that and a loud stereo were about all I cared about then. But I was thinking about the fact that I spend all day indoors in the AC, and I go into our enclosed garage and get in the car with AC, and sometimes it can be days before I’m exposed to the outside air. That’s great when it’s 95 out, but it’s also weird, which made me think about life with no car AC.

That Camaro had an all-black interior, and no pleasant new-car smell anymore, so getting in after parking for an afternoon in the sun was never pleasant. And the only antidote to the summer sun was opening the huge side windows, and maybe running the vent fan setting, which worked about as effectively as crepe paper body armor. But I spent a lot of damn time in that car back then. And I remember driving down Cleveland Road, the back way to Mishawaka from Elkhart, thinking about how the soup of hot air would flood the car every time I stopped at an intersection.

The Camaro had no AC. My first Escort had no AC, but it also had no right side, so it never got hot. My Turismo had AC, but it was disconnected when I got it. Also, that car lasted a school year and blew up before the summer, so I never needed air. VW: disconnected air. Mustang: it had AC, but it was almost out of freon. If you drove a long roadtrip, it would spin enough to produce some cold, but otherwise it was useless. So that’s almost a decade of cars without AC, and then my second Escort (no thanks to Evergreen Ford) had a very good AC system, and the new car smell that made you want to keep the windows closed.

New car smell, by the way, is carcinogenic outgassing from the plastic. What’s good is bad.

I still have many fond memories of driving around in the summer, though, in that huge black beast of a car. It’s so strange: my current economy wagon-thing has more BHP than my Camaro, and weighs half as much, and gets maybe twice the milage if not more. And I was always horribly broke back then, making something like $100 a week if I was lucky, and there probably hasn’t been a day in 2007 that I had less than my 1987 net worth in my wallet without even trying. But my brain still goes back there.

I still have this conflict that I want this time right now to be the same, or bigger than what was then. Like when I’m 50, I want to be thinking “man, back in 2007…”, and I probably will be, but it’s easy to overlook that. (Hell, sometimes the right song hits the shuffle on my iPod and I’m thinking back to 1997, and I have absolutely no intention of ever going back to Seattle, and I have no desire to revisit any part of my life back then.) And the part that gets me is that I don’t want to ever write another Summer Rain, or dick around with short stories trying to capture some long-ago part of my past. But when I start thinking about these things, I do want to write them down, or use them as source material. It’s so tempting, but it’s also not what I want to do anymore.

I went back to “book three”, which is tentatively called The Device, and I keep yo-yoing between that and some other random project of the week, but I know I need to finish this first. I’m 65,000 words into it; it’s three parts, with the first one done, the second one getting there, and the third pretty mapped out. What I have now is pretty basic and doesn’t have the thickness or level of weirdness Rumored does. But the first draft of Rumored didn’t either – it took seven major drafts and about five years worth of work to get it there.

The zine deadline is tomorrow, and it is 16,500 words short of #11’s length. Maybe there will be some last-minute additions, and I guess I have to write an introduction, which is like a thousand words. But shit, I can’t keep waiting. I will just widen the margins or something.