Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

Another Hundred Things

My wife’s sister had twins in February, and they live in Davis, so we’ve been making visits to help them deal with the onslaught of human shit invading their house on an hourly basis. She’s going to have to start dressing them in different colors or something, because I can’t tell them apart, which probably makes me a horrible person.  Both parents are English professors, and they are surrounded by a dozen PhDs at any given time, so I am the only person who can explain to these two what the designated hitter rule is and why it’s a travesty, which I have.  You gotta start young.

(There’s not actually a lot to worry about, since the closest AL team to Davis is the Oakland A’s, and by the time these two are little league-aged, the As will probably have moved to Portland or Las Vegas or Puerto Rico or wherever someone writes them the biggest check, and good for them for getting out of that horrible stadium.)

So I am going to London and then to Germany next month.  I have done zero planning for both trips, aside from buying the relevant book for each.  What should I see?  What should I do?  What should I eat?  All I know is I will probably be doing a hell of a lot of walking, and I plan to take as many pictures as possible.  The flights will be a bitch – for both of the overnights, I am in the middle of one of those six-person rows in a 777, which probably means I will have two morbidly obese people having total flesh-to-flesh contact with me as they ooze out of their tiny coach seats.  I am very excited to take my DSLR camera over there.  I’ve never been to London at all; I’ve never been to Nuremberg, but have been to Berlin.  But Berlin was in 2006, and I’m sure the entire thing has changed since then.  Anyway, suggestions welcome.

I am also going back to New York in June for a brief work thing, which will be interesting.  The work part is good, but I just find myself with some odd nostalgia for the place, which will of course dissipate the first time I get pissed on in a subway car or have to deal with a cab driver or take a nice whiff of the garbage and dead fish aroma.  But yeah, it is weird for me to think about some random year, like 2002, and think about the time I spent in that Astoria apartment, or hiking to the subway, or sitting at my old desk, hacking away at FrameMaker docs while finding ways of covertly getting my coworkers to open up sodomy images unsuspectingly.  (Pro tip: create a Windows CD-R with an autorun that opens up goatse and then write “Half-Life beta” on it.)

In my mind, New York has this small, tangible quality to it, as I only remember the bits and pieces surrounding a narrow view of the past.  Like I think of Times Square and Penn Station, and how you could walk from one to the other in a few minutes, and in my mind, it’s almost the same as the walk from my front door to my parking spot.  But in reality, two and a half million people are between those two points, a densely packed chunk of an island with dozens of levels and layers of subways and trains and streets and sidewalks and offices and lofts and apartments, with wall-to-wall tiny stores and bodegas and locksmiths and cell phone stores and landmarks and all of that seems to fall from my mind.  I remember the last time I went to Manhattan, I stepped outside at night on Fifth Avenue, and at an hour when everyone should have been asleep or parked in front of their TVs, there were more people criss-crossing and walking than four minutes after the last out at a World Series game.  The height of the buildings and the bustle of the crowd and the noise of the car alarms and taxis laying on their horns overwhelmed me.  When I lived there, and in my memories, I turned all of that off, buried myself in my headphones and walked fast from point to point.  But when you’re in the middle of it… oh, man.  I do miss that, although I just want a small taste, and probably couldn’t hack a week there, let alone any long period of time.  How did I survive eight years there?

I may have mentioned to some of you that I had a health “thing” which of course was bullshit.  I had what I thought was a bad sinus infection that went on for a few months, and after a couple of rounds of you-just-snorted-anthrax antibiotics, I still had problems.  So I fought with my insurance company for a month and got a CT scan of my head, which revealed… nothing.  So I guess it’s just allergies.  But getting a CT scan of my brain definitely freaked me out, especially because I got a CD of it and have it sitting on my computer now.  And if you look, I do have a cyst in one of my sinuses, which is harmless and something like 40% of us have them, but when I first saw that, I was certain that was my death, a big, fat, c-word getting ready to tap into my brain.  It’s not, and there’s nothing else wrong in the scan, aside from my teeth, which of course contain more metal than a god damned terminator robot.  But still, the week between getting the CD and seeing the doctor was not exactly calming.

The mortality trip is a k-hole that I don’t like to fall down.  Everyone my age has parents that are checking out.  Every one of my aunts and uncles on my dad’s side is either dead or has some kind of cancer, except for my dad, and you don’t need to be a statistician to lose sleep over that one.  But it’s not something I can focus on.  All I can do is write as much as I can write, and try to not eat shit and get some regular exercise.  It’s been nice enough outside that I have started walking again every day.  And I bought a kettle bell, mostly because Joe Rogan won’t shut the fuck up about them on his podcast.  I used to lift free weights, and thought this was similar, but I did the DVD workout the other day, and an hour later, was like “why the fuck is the back of my upper thigh so god damned sore?”

I am continuing work on the next book.  I also have a number of old books that were never released as proper books that I’ve imported into scrivener, and I wonder if I should polish them up and release them.  The current list goes like this:

  • Air in the Paragraph Line #1-7
  • An “essay” book of some of my favorite blog posts
  • The story of my 1999 road trip across the country
  • This collection of short stories about Bloomington

All of these are “done”, but would require covers, formatting, editing, and names and blurbs.  The big issue is that none of these are part of the big picture plan, the direction I’ve been going with the last couple of books.  And if I had time to work on these, I would work on the next book.  And the big fear is that I will spend weeks and weeks getting this crap done, and it will sell exactly zero copies.  So, tell me if you’d really like to see one of these see the light of day.  For now, they’re all severe writer’s block day alternate projects.

Speaking of, gotta go write.


2 responses to “Another Hundred Things”

  1. motel todd Avatar
    motel todd

    Well since practically everyone and their dog is at least a Type2 Diabetic, I’m sure you keep some track of your blood sugar – normal is between 50-150 – in case you did not know. Walking is the only exercise I’ve ever been able to stick to.

    1. (Was this a comment on the fitbit thing?)

      The fitbit tracker program has a thing to keep track of glucose, if you have a tester already. I’m damn surprised I’m not diabetic yet, so I haven’t started that ritual yet.

      The only exercise I was ever able to keep up was walking when I lived a few miles out of town and had no choice. Even if I found the best workout DVD in the world, five minutes into it, I’d stop and go watch TV or read facebook or something. Walking works, because if I walk a half a mile and then get bored, I still have to walk back a half mile.