Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Default park experience

Why are Sundays always so depressing for me? I always thought it had to do with the fact that in Indiana growing up, Sundays were always an abbreviated day, with everything either closed or only open from 12-5, with the exception of 7-Eleven and Kroger, and maybe Target, which I think was open until 9. But I think part of it too is that I spend all day Sunday dreading the fact that I have to go back to the same old grind on Monday. And I think I had that mindset even when I didn’t have a regular 9-5 job, just because it was so burned into my head. Maybe I should save all of my vacation time and then take three-day weekends for the final four months of the year, if that’s at all possible. (I think I get enough days to do that; I just don’t think they’ll let me take time off like that. Maybe I should have kept working for a university for my entire career. Sure, I’d only be making $29,000 a year, but I’d get like 22 weeks of vacation a year.)

We hung out with A yesterday, packed a bunch of picnic stuff (a cooler full of sandwich meats and various salads, which cost about $247 at Whole Foods) and went to Hidden Villa up in the Los Altos Hills. We hung out there for a while, seeing a variety of animals, from cows to goats to chickens to a wild snake. This was all with Crosbie the pit bull in tow; he was pretty non-plussed by every animal, except for the one or two times we ran into other dogs, in which case he was wildly enthusiastic about approaching them. We also drove way the hell up into the hills to a vantage point where we saw the entire peninsula unfolded below us. Then we went towards the ocean, passing Alice’s Restaurant and many redwoods, to a park at the beach, where we set up camp, made our sandwiches, and watched it slowly become dusk, as a hispanic couple next to us, blasting AC/DC from a shitty jambox, told us how they accidentally bred their pit bull and chihuahua and were waiting to see what the hell would come out. (Probably a huge market for a pithuahua, if it looked like a pit bull and was a tiny purse dog. Other way around, probably not so much.) Overall, a pretty good day.

Three random thought cycles came out of the day:

First, it’s strange that every outdoor park-y situation like that goes back to my default park experience, which was Ox-Bow Park. This was the place right next to my grade school, and where we often went for bike rides, picnics, to bring the Chicago family to see what a non-city area looked like, field trips, and for winter sledding. And now, whenever I’m in a park that has the split-log fences and info stations with maps and donation boxes and non-running-water outhouses, it always reminds me of being a kid and going to Ox-Bow. The big difference is that Elkhart County parks did not have signs warning you want to do in case of a mountain lion attack. I think the closest thing they had was a warning sign about your boat picking up zebra mussels.

The second thing is that being in an outdoor situation like that always begs the question of what the hell I should do with my land in Colorado. I look at the various trees and gardens, off-the-grid irrigation, and wildlife, and wonder how the hell I could get a pond going on my property, or put in some shelters, or a nature trail. Hell, maybe I could build a few bunk cabins, hire some teenagers, and run some kind of outback religous whackjob scared straight day camp for kids, and get a few dozen juvenile delinquents to help me plant some trees and work the soil for a few months of a year. Hang up a few Jesus statues, get a deputy sheriff to come in with some DARE propaganda and let the kids run the sirens on the Crown Vic cruiser – this could turn into a real cash cow. I could set up a shooting range and have the rugrats shoot some crappy .22 rifles at pictures of Nancy Pelosi and Al Franken, maybe get some loons from the local Pentacostal church to come in and teach us about gold hoarding and weapons stockpiling to prepare for the end times. It’s either that or do some kind of organic green solar-energy back-to-nature camp for kids of rich hippies up in Boulder or down in Taos. But this would combine two large fears of mine: kids and the outdoors. Better to farm this out to someone else, I think.

Last, being at the ocean reminded me of being by the water down in Playa Del Rey. That’s where we went last year for the 4th, and the undeveloped hills and sand brought back that feeling, and ultimately made me miss being down in SoCal. That seems to happen now and again, and it’s a weird feeling, especially since I lived down there for like 30 seconds, and I have something like 359 mortgage payments left here in Oakland. This happened the other night too, when I watched the pilot of Californication on NetFlix. Not sure what I think of the show as a whole, but it made me miss LA. And it made me miss being a writer, because ultimately, I’m not even treading water these days on any sort of fiction – the best I get is pushing around some leftover food on my plate. I recently finished a short story, but it was something I wrote to maybe the 90% mark last year, so it doesn’t entirely count. And I just re-read Leyner’s Tetherballs of Bougainville, which is absolutely everything I would want in a book. So I need to start thinking about what to do with the next book.

I think I do need to go to Target, though.