Open Letter

Dear Jeff Bezos:

Greetings from 1996! 

January 5, 2016 Published in the January 2016 issue of Seattle Met

Credit longnow qjw6b1

Photo via Long Now

Well, not exactly. But that January, when the Long Now Foundation set out—with your funding—to encourage people to take a longer view on life by launching a project to build a 10,000-year clock in the hills of West Texas, well, I decided the best way to heed that advice was by standing still. Not literally, of course. I still walk to the fridge and the outhouse and into town from my bunker. But in the figurative sense, I chose 20 years ago this month to live in the now. Indefinitely.

It’s not as hard as you might think to live like it’s 1996. I have the Internet. Course, I can’t get on to any news sites because it’s still dial-up and the opossums are always chewing through the phone cord that I ran up to my neighbor’s house. But that’s okay because I don’t spend much time on anything other than my favorite doomsday prepper message boards. And I stockpiled so many of them AOL free-trial CD-ROMs that I can last until the Apocalypse—assuming it begins no later August 2021 like my friend Rob says it will.

Food’s never been much of a problem, neither. Just before I started this here social experiment in off-the-grid livin’ I bought a vacuum sealer, so I can extend the shelf life of my raccoon jerky by at least a couple years. Now, I know what you’re thinking, and yes, those varmints can get a little, shall we say, aromatic while they’re curing. But then I haven’t had a shower in goin’ on a decade, so pretty soon the smells all start to blend together.

You’d also be right in assuming that it can get a little boring cooped up in a one-room, underground shelter, but I manage. First off, I don’t have much need for pop culture. Most of them TV shows is so depressing anyway, what with how the characters all gallivant around, blissfully unawares of the decades of war and dystopia that’s headed their way. (I did tape the first six seasons of Seinfeld, though, and I watch a few episodes a year; it’s too bad I missed the last three seasons and won’t be able to revel in seeing how those New York sinners meet their fate.) And, honestly, I get a lot of entertainment from the plays that my wife and four children put on for me. My oldest son, Waylon, wrote a gripping stage adaptation of the Book of Revelation.

You know what, though? I do have one gripe about this whole “taking a long view on existence” thing. (Some might call it a life devoid of progress, but I prefer to think of it as acknowledgment that “progress” is just distracting us from the inevitability of society’s collapse.) Supplies ain’t so easy to come by out here where I live, all secluded and what not. Yes, I send the twins into town occasionally to barter for staples, like duct tape and flares. (The potato gin we distill brings a fair price because it will not only mess you up, but them Seattle hippies also use it as alternative fuel for their cars.) But it just takes so darn long. Sometimes, in my moments of weakness, I wish there was a company that sold just about everything under the sun that a guy like me could need—bullets, gas masks, canning jars, more bullets—and let me order it from this here old computer that I power by making the kids turn a crank for a couple hours every morning. And then imagine if they’d ship all that stuff directly to my door in like a day or two! It’s crazy, I know, and a guy like you who believes in slowing life down would probably be offended by such a notion. So please don’t think less of me. But if you do come across such a business as you wander the earth, contemplating our insignificant existence in this big ole world, please do let me know.

Yours truly,

Steven Jennings

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