Archive for March, 1996

Look at This

18 March 1996 at 6:51 pm
by Jonah

Sent: Monday, March 18, 1996 6:51 PM
To: Berck
Subject: heh heh

Look at this…


1) Read Next Message
2) Show All Message Headers
3) Send New E-Mail
4) Reply To Current Message
5) Delete Current Message
6) Open Your Personal FileStore
h = help q = quit system
p = previous menu t = top (main) menu

no mail. heh. I deleted all my mail. I saved almost all of it too. I
wonder why. If someone wants to investigate my life, they could spend hours
looking at stuff. Days even. Why do I do this? Why do I save it all? Is it
a quest for immortality? Something that will outlast me?

Except it won’t. It’s on disk. And I’ve got this feeling that all electronic
data will be erased somehow. Paper isn’t much better. It burns. People
throw it away.

It’s not like I’m going to be able to go back and read to find stuff in this
huge file I’ve just saved. But I suppose it’s like memory. I can’t trust my
brain to remember every detail of all the e-mail I’ve received, so I put it on
my hard drive.

Either that or I’m bored.

No, I
am not bored.


spinal tap

17 March 1996 at 9:16 pm
by Jonah

I seem to have a rather fatalistic outlook on life, or at least
relationships. I’ve seen so many friendships fall by the wayside. I never
meant for it to happen, it just does. “Letters that you never meant to send,
lost or thrown away.” Except that I’ve written letters to people and meant
to send them, but never finished them, never stuck them in envelopes, never
affixed postage… Perhaps this has affected my outlook on my relationship
to people. When I meet someone, I tend to forget their name right off.
Maybe it’s because I never intend on seeing them again. Maybe because
precedence has proved that in general that’s what happens.

I’m wondering who that woman is who was in the bathroom with all the girls
with St. Paul’s nametags at school last week. I know I’ve seen her before.
Or if not her, someone very much like her. I’m sure I had a conversation
with her. She has kids. Maybe she homeschooled or used to. I can even tell
you what her personality is like. At least, I’m pretty sure I can. But I
can’t remember where I saw her. And there’s no way I’m going to recall her

My family all seems to suffer from phone ring timing disorder. A bunch of
people are downstairs. I can hear them addressing one another. The phone
just started ringing. It rang. It rang again. And again. No one was
picking it up. So finally I picked up the one on my desk that’s virtually
attached to the modem. I turn the ringer off because I hate having a phone
ring in my room. I can usually hear it from downstairs or in Steph’s room.
My parents’ room is directly under mine, so I can usually hear it through
the floor. And if I can’t, that’s okay. That means I don’t have to worry
about answering it. Considering that it’s never for me. About the only time
I touch it is to pick it up to see if anyone is on the line or not so I can
get on the modem.

But the phone was ringing, and no one was picking it up. So I did. I waited
a second to make sure no one had gotten the same idea downstairs. Then I
said quietly into the receiver, “Hello?” “Yes,” came the calm voice at the
other end of the line, “May I speak to…” At that moment the speaker phone
downstairs came on and my mom yelled, “HELLO?!” There was that moment of
confusion when three people are trying to communicate at once and aren’t
really sure who the other is. I just kept quiet while the lady on the other
end repeated her request, this time able to complete it by asking for
Stephanie. Mom yelled something back, but I hung up. My services were no
longer needed.

We all tend to yell into the speaker phone. That’s because if we talk
normally, it doesn’t seem to catch our voices.

Nathan and I were having a discussion about nudism. I said that I didn’t
think I’d have much a problem with it. It’s just not a big deal for me to
see naked people, and I don’t think it’d be real embarassing for me to go
around without any clothes on. Anyway, now everyone is in the discussion.
The guys seem to think it’d be a really bad idea, while people like my mom
and me aren’t ready to condemn nudist colonies. I mean, it doesn’t embarrass
me to see someone without clothes on. And the only reason I’d be
uncomfortable naked is if the people around me are feeling that way. But I
can say this and not know how I’d really react until it actually happened.
Which, chances are, it won’t. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

Nathan said he could make a killing selling nude pictures of me. He said
next time he sees Stephen he’s gonna ask him how much he’d pay for nude
pictures of me. We made predictions about what his reaction would be. Ah,
what we do to amuse ourselves.

It’s been an interesting weekend. Denise, Nathan, and I have done some
hanging, since Steph’s been off babysitting each night. They all just went
down to Cream ‘n Bean for coffee. Asked me if I wanted to go. I declined.
I’m supposedly writing an English paper.

I need to start a new chess game. That’s what I need to do. I’m having
trouble finding a reason for living. A chess game should do that for me.

My brother just gently berated me for keeping the popcorn popper up in my
room. He’s probably been looking for it for 10 minutes now. Ah well. I
should have appologized.

Did you know that Newt Gingrich fell in love with his high school teacher,
and they got married? She got cancer later on. He grew up, changed, and
divorced her.

Irises, mums, and pink flowers

17 March 1996 at 4:22 pm
by Jonah

This dead camellia is so pretty. I’m not the green thumb type. I don’t have
any plants in my room other than the dead camellia on my desk and the dried
purple flowers on my dresser. But they weren’t meant to live permanently, so
that’s okay. I suppose I could have a live plant in my room, but I’m on the
north side of the house, so I don’t get much light. Odd, sunlight never
shines in my room. Never.

I don’t have a live plant in my room, but I can look through my partly opened
curtains and the window that is slightly open even though the air conditioner
has been running to see the side yard with its huge oak tree and the plum
tree that’s blooming and the couple of azaleas that didn’t die and on to the
string of trees growing along the fence and through that to the pasture and
the tall pine trees beyond.

I don’t have a green thumb. There was that summer thing I was involved in
one year when I planted a vegetable garden and go back and check on it twice
a week. But here the weeds grow so fast and the critters hungrily chomp on
whatever we plant, and the stuff we buy at the store looks so much better,
and we don’t have to work for it. So I haven’t found myself too eager to get
down in the dirt to coax something to life that is going to take work and
isn’t going to yield much results.

But I planted some stuff today. I took some cuttings and buried them in the
ground. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. I don’t know if they will
survive, but it was a favor to someone. My activity was not aimed at some
future goal. It was merely the completion of a present request. I don’t
know if I did it correctly, but I did what I could. And I enjoyed it.

Someone once said that gardening is good for the soul. Or if they hadn’t,
they should have. I discovered that today. There is something basic,
something elemental about a hand holding steel turning dirt, all for the
purpose of life. When someone dies, we put them in the ground. These roots
I put in the ground to make them live. The dirt that accepts death gives

I don’t know if they’ll live or not. Chances are that some will make it. I
stuck every root, every branch, everything there into the ground, leaving a
potential end exposed. I watered them thoroughly. It’s no longer up to me.

It’s an investment that will take time to show results.

Movie rentals, toaster ovens, and the Ides of March

16 March 1996 at 4:02 pm
by Jonah

Yesterday I went looking for videos of Othello and King Lear, since I had a
paper on them due Friday. Dr. Allums shouldn’t be back at school till
Monday, however, so I think I’ll just write one and go in early Monday
morning to stick it in his door. My search for cinematic Shakespeare led me
to the Blockbuster on Moffet Rd. They didn’t have either. I was on my way
home, when I decided to turn around and check the one on Airport. My path
took me directly by the Springhill branch of the public library, however, so
I stopped in there to see if they had either one. Nothing doing. So I got
back in the car (I’m going on just a couple hours of sleep here, having gone
to bed at 4 the night before) and fought traffic down to the Blockbuster on

I went inside and waited for a lady to notice me so I could ask if they had
King Lear while a man butted in line in front of me. Turns out they had a
1987 version. It looked really weird, so I got it. I skimmed through the
titles in the drama area looking for Othello but found Julius Caesar instead.
I picked it up, since we did that in class earlier, then headed over to the
classics area. Sure enough, there was Orson Wells’ Othello. I picked it up
too and returned Julius Caesar to his shelf. It was then that I realized
what day it was. March 15. The Ides of March. The day Julius Caesar was

By the time I’d made my selection, there was another formidable line at the
checkout counter. I picked the one where someone was leaving, and handed the
videos to the clerk, who wore a tag saying “Manager.” Then I remembered that
my Blockbuster card wasn’t in my wallet but in my purse, which was still in
the car. He said that was okay, all he needed was my drivers license. “Is
it under your name?” he asked. I told him it was probably under my parents’
names. “All we have in here is a George Brenner,” he said before adding, “If
you haven’t used your card for a while it bumps it from the system.” I told
him I’d get my card from the car. I came back to find his desk empty except
for my videos, which were out of reach behind the counter. I waited for him
to return. He took my card. “Driver’s license?” he said again. Then he
added, “Only the person who’s name is on the card can renew it.” My mom’s
name was on the card. “You’ll have to fill out a new application,” he handed
me a pen and pointed over to a table across the store. I came back and
waited in line again, this time with an entertainment magazine containing an
article about Alanis Morisette. I handed the application and pen back to the
man behind the counter while still reading the magazine. By the time he’d
finished making me a new card and checked out the video, I’d finished the
article. A potentially frustrating experience actually turned out to be


do I really need to get out more?

Oh, by the way, the Othello was marvelous. Well, pretty good anyway. They
just don’t make pictures like that anymore. The Lear was… very odd. I
watched it last night after everyone left my house or went to bed. If you
hadn’t read Lear, it would make very little sense. If you had, it wouldn’t
have made any at all.

Still, I enjoyed it. Probably for that reason.

I want a video camera. I want to make movies

Oh, and this letter has absolutely nothing to do with toaster ovens, in case
you hadn’t guessed.


15 March 1996 at 2:44 am
by Jonah


I don’t watch much TV. I really don’t. Movies, videos, I watch my fair
share. But ever since I got a modem, TV hasn’t held nearly the appeal for
me. I mean, why sit passively and watch something when you can interact?
Why view a projection of the world when you can be involved in the real
thing? Okay, okay, so maybe the Internet isn’t reality, but it’s closer.
And, in my eyes, more entertaining.

I went downstairs just now to get some juice to keep me from snoozing over my
Greek translations. After I poured myself some apple juice, I discovered the
baggie with a few crumbs left over from the brownies last night. Instead of
returning immediately upstairs, I sat down at the kitchen table and scooped
the brownie remnants into my mouth, leaving the juice for later. I like
apple juice, and I like brownies, but not simultanously. This is why I
picked up a magazine with three of the cast members of the TV show “Friends”
plastered across the front. I figured since I never actually watch the show,
I might as well read up on it to see what the big deal is all about.

Well, okay, never is too strong a word. I saw about 60 seconds of one
episode once several months ago. Then when I was in Nebraska this January, I
watched perhaps half an episode.

As I read the article, it talked about the show and then discussed three
scenes in detail. Was I ever surprised to realize I’d seen two of them. One
of them had a direct quote from the show… the one I’d seen one minute of.

I dunno. It’s things like that that make me do a double take on life. I
hear mathamaticians call coincidences like that “clumping.” Like a jar full
of jelly beans. At least, that was the analogy I heard.

It’s kinda like another experience. I’ve only seen “Saved by the Bell”
twice. The same episode both times.