. . . Well, here we are, at the end of the first full year of the Fruitcake Newsletter. Looking back over the past eleven issues (only the first two of which were actually of a comfortably short length), it seems that, on the whole, the newsletter has generated direct attacks on my character at worst (two counts of that to date, actually), surprisingly positive reactions at best (the most unlikely of recipients have complimented me on it), and these things come together and seem to generate an average of mixed feelings about it.
At times I am very serious, at times I am funny. At times I try to be serious and end up making people laugh, and at times I try to be funny and end up amusing only myself. When it all comes down to it, though, I have to say that I do not regret any single issue I have written. I have on a total of two occasions regretted specific things I have written within the text, but have taken steps to prevent that from occurring again. In any case, through the good and the bad, I have never lied to any one of you.
These are my genuine feelings in regards to all events and people that exist in my life. That is by far the most accurate description that can possibly be said about all of my monthly “drivel,” and anyone who chooses to challenge that can happily live in never- neverland if they so choose. We all live our own lives, we all make our own choices, and there is great value in all of our vast interpersonal differences. Progress would never happen anywhere at all if we were all the same. We all have our own worlds, and that is as it should be.
I know I am a naive, seemingly arrogant little snot. But what must always be understood is that I am also very self-aware and unless I make it expressly clear that it does need to happen, I should never be taken too seriously. I have a very sarcastic, cynical attitude that actually comes from the very family that makes up a large percentage of this newsletter’s readership. I have never seriously, knowingly and deliberately attacked anyone who I knew to be a reader of this newsletter. This is simply my life, and the words written within are merely my personal take on all things going on around me. It’s really quite simple.
I may be hard to understand by some, and have obviously been erroneously pegged as many different things by many different people. But this is all a part of life, and it’s all a part of growing up. I have not finished growing up, and the process will not end until the day I die. Not one human being lives with no work left to be done. If approached from the right direction, this is exactly what can make life itself such a fun experience.
Recent communication has prompted me to once again make clear how grateful I am of the life I have, the family that brought me into it, and the friends and family members who continue to make it possible for me to go on through it with confidence. Despite the many rumors that fly about myself and everyone that I know--an inescapable part of the life of the species currently known as human--I do not believe that there is vermin present in this world of mine, not anywhere. Not from within me, not from any of the outside sources. I prefer to see the good in people, and I see infinite quantities of it all around me. No matter how sardonic I get, this is a fact that I still know to be true.
Just because I shroud myself in darkness does not at all mean that I am hiding anything. It only means that I have an overt interest in challenging perceptions that may not always be accurate. But I know who I am, I know who I love, and I know who loves me. That is all that matters, and even though I joke about this newsletter being a punishment, none of you would receive this at all if I did not love you. I only send it to people who I know want it, and that is exactly what I plan to continue doing. I know that I have skill and talent, and it is only natural for me to have desires to at least attempt to share it with people I truly care for--no matter how irritatingly seldom I get written responses from them in the mail.
So, why don’t we just review who those very people are?
1. Angel Benson (It may not be possible until Halloween, at which time I will definitely be in Olympia, but I am very much looking forward to meeting the baby . . .)
2. Darcy Hartley (I often wonder if you and I will ever actually see each other again . . . maybe I should send you a picture of myself one of these days . . .)
3. Danielle Hunt (You are on this list only as a sort of tongue-in-cheek thing; you did ask for this issue, even though we are in contact far more often than most other people I know--but, ultimately, it has been more than a month since you actually wrote to me, so, you know . . . there you have it.)
4. Dawn Addddams (See? I finally took the liberty of remedying my atrocious spelling of your last name. I do hope you appreciate it . . .)
5. Gina Yarbrough (Maybe we should stop trying to plan your trip up here--every time we do, something terrible happens. It would be a shame, though--as soon as you come to visit, I plan on having us record a talk tape, which I very much look forward to . . .)
6. Kim (aka “Dad”) and Sherri McQuilkin (As of the day that you should receive this newsletter in the mail, the play is only four days away!)
7. Jennifer Miga (The last newsletter I sent did not get sent back to me, so I can only assume you received it. Still, I do not know if you have moved or if your number is even the same. I suppose I could try it again one of these days . . .)
8. Raenae Lanning (I would very much like to have you and Toni Marie come up and visit me one of these days--do you think that could ever happen? One of these days maybe I’ll call you at work and talk to you about it, if I don’t see you before I get around to that . . .)
9. Rick Benson (Heard you got married, congratulations . . .)
10. Shane McQuilkin (Haven’t heard anything whatsoever about you, but congratulations anyway to you too . . .)
. . . So there you have it: one addition to the list and one omission (I received what I considered to be notice of cancellation in the mail). Of course and as always, Grandma McQuilkin and Barbara still write with ideal consistency--as does Auntie Rose, who has even been sending me post cards (which I do count as letters in my mail statistics, by the way, if that serves as incentive for any of you) from her travels through Utah and Nevada. I get barely acceptable amounts of e-mail, and only those of you in the list above would be considered those who refuse to return my contact (okay, Gina did send me an e-mail message, but it consisted of a total of five words, and that’s no lie). So what does that leave me to say to you all?
(All together now, one-two-three:)
[this drivel has been brought 2 u with pride by matthew mcquilkin]
a month in the life of a fruitcake
. . . Well, other than the fact that I have had a booked social life every single weekend since I last sent out a newsletter, I suppose the biggest news this month is that Angel is not the only person who has brought a new member of the family into the world. I too, you see, have had a baby. Are you shocked? Well, not only that, but my baby is black. He also has very pretty yellow-green eyes with blue outlines around them, and he has an irritating addiction to playing with my necklace.
In case none of you have figured it out, my baby is actually a kitten. His name is Peng, short for Penguin, and in sharp contrast to Batty’s 23 lbs, Peng weighs 2 and a half lbs. He is now about nine weeks old, and is a domestic medium hair with a tiny spot of white on the front of his neck. He has a wonderfully jovial personality, and likes to try climbing up my body when I have no clothes on.
I got him about two and a half weeks ago, when Danielle was visiting for a week- end. I had vowed to get a kitten not from a pet store but from a shelter. My first choice was The Humane Society, but when I looked them up in the phone book I was shocked to find out that they had no office at all in Seattle, only in Bellevue. Danielle could certainly have driven all the way over there, but Seattle Animal Control was only about two miles north of my home. I just thought that was the more logical place to go to.
Matthew McQuilkin: chronic moron.
At first, I had good feelings about the place. I found this little black kitten frolicking in an enclosed area with about three other adoptable kittens, and since he was the only black one I naturally snatched him up. I agreed with the idea that it was best to introduce an older cat to a kitten instead of another adult cat, but I did not believe it was so important to make it a member of the opposite sex, as I had been told. The reason I felt this way was because when Batty first met Suzy’s cat Jonny, Jonny was a kitten and they were both boys and there was not a problem. So I decided to get this black kitten.
The lady who sat me down and talked to me about adopting the kitty seemed very caring and reasonable. She pretended to be really mean, although I could see that she was nice and was just concerned about the welfare of the kitten, grilling me with all these questions about how I was going to take care of it. “What if he gets hit by a car and needs an $800 surgery?” she asked. I told her I would have it done, knowing how nearly impossible it would be for any cat of mine to get run over, since I don’t let my cats outside. She also asked if I had a job, and when I said no she asked how I would pay for such a surgery. “I have a lot in savings,” I said. “Oh,” she said, “can I have some?”
Anyway, she let me have the kitten, but said I had to wait two days to pick him up so he could be neutered, microchipped, and given dewormer medicine. Everything seemed fine and dandy.
It was when I went to pick up Peng that the problems started, and they have lasted pretty much until now, one after the other. When I picked him up, they said that I was supposed to have been given a coupon for a free veterinary examination. I had never been given such a coupon, and of course it was Monday when I picked up the kitten and that day the section of the building where I could get such a coupon was closed. I was told that I could come back the next day to get one. I never did that, thinking the vet bill would probably not be too bad.
Matthew McQuilkin: chronic moron.
When the lady actually handed Peng over to me, she said that he had ear mites. They cleaned his ears that day, were going to medicate him, but they were too busy and could not get around to it. When I talked about this with Gabe, who has more than five years experience working in a vet hospital that treated cats exclusively, he just about flipped, saying that was completely unprofessional of them and there was something seriously wrong with them handing over a problematic cat to me. The phone call was later, though; when I was picking Peng up I did not know this was not common practice.
I knew that I would have to take Peng into the vet for follow-up vaccinations anyway, so it did not phase me much to think that I had to go to the vet to not only get ear mite medicine, but to get dewormer medicine for two types that Seattle Animal Control does not have preventive medicine for.
So I took the kitty home, and for the first two days he was kept separate from Batty, not only because they needed to get used to each other’s mere presence without true interaction first, but because Peng also still needed to be tested for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (“kitty AIDS”). Peng’s first vet visit was on the following Wednesday, two days after I brought him home. I had to take a taxi to the vet and back, together costing me more than $15.
It was at this vet visit that things started to get bad. First of all (or, rather, in addition to everything else), Peng was given to me with a very severe flea problem, which one would think that Seattle Animal Control would have known about--but they never bothered to tell me. This meant getting four months worth of Advantage flea treatment not only for Peng, but also for Batty--at a total of $37 each (that’s $74! Yay!) Then there was the ear mite medicine, which I also have to give to Batty as well, at $15, the FIV test at $30, the dewormer at $17, and something called Pyrantel for $4 that I still can’t recall what the hell it was used for. With the more than $8 worth of tax attached to all of the above, that first vet visit cost me just a tad more than $185. Suffice it to say that this left me less than pleased--and nearly $110 of that entire bill was a direct result of Seattle Animal Control’s carelessness. (I could have also had the $37 exam fee waved, but that was admittedly my own fault.)
I had to wait until the next morning to get the results of the FIV test, which came back negative, and then I could let my two cats mix. Batty was astonishingly easy about the whole thing.
But then, about halfway through that very afternoon, Peng started sneezing. It became chronic, and he would have fits of twenty or more sneezes very quickly in a row. It rather concerned me, to say the least--and I was also getting a little tired of getting sneezed on my this very affectionate kitten.
The following weekend I spent out of town, and because Peng’s medicine needed to be consistent, I had to board him. I took him back to the same vet--Broadway Animal Hospital on Capitol Hill--and I told them about the sneezing. They said that meant they had to board him in isolation, and if the condition got worse then they would give him an examination. When I got back he had not been examined--I was simply given my $40 boarding bill. He was indeed, however, sneezing a little more often. I had no real choice but to take him home.
It was the next day when Batty started sneezing. It was not long before he was having his own multiple-sneezing fits, and both of the cats were suffering from labored breathing. I was hoping I could consider them as simple colds that I could just have them ride out, just as I do when I get colds.
I called Gabe to consult him about this, and he told me that was absolutely out of the question. He even went so far as to tell me that there was at least a slight chance of this being something ultimately fatal, and I was then on the verge of a panic. To think of losing the one pet that I have felt closer to than any other I have ever had in my entire life, because of my own actions! To say that this worried me would be a gross understatement. Granted, Batty is nine years old and is overwhelmingly overweight, but it is not time for him to go. I just don’t think I could handle finding out that his death was directly my own fault.
Of course, it was not my fault that Seattle Animal Control gave me such a defective kitten--but it was still a kitten that I chose to bring home.
Anyway, Gabe convinced me to take the kitten into the vet the very next day.
I got online that very night, though, and found the Seattle Animal Control site. I happened to find a place where I could lodge a complaint, and I did exactly that. This is what I wrote:
“I recently adopted a black domestic medium haired kitten, and the fact that I am already attached to it does not at all make this any easier. The kitten was not only released to me with ear mites, the only thing actually mentioned to me at the time and an action which I hear is unprofessional (the problem should have been taken care of before I took him home)--but I also took him to the vet and found out he had a large flea problem. This meant getting four months supply of Advantage for both my kitten as well as the cat I already had at home, at $37 each. This was in addition to the ear mite medicine I had to purchase as well as other tests, immunizations, and the regular examination fee. This one vet visit cost me a total of $185 (I do still have the receipt), much of which was a direct result of your organization's carelessness. But, of course, that's not all--it has recently come to my attention that the kitten was released to me with a sickness that causes him to sneeze repeatedly and constantly, and is at this very moment suffering from labored breathing. This is something my other, nine year-old cat has now caught, and he is not eating. Tomorrow I will have to begin the process of finding out whether this problem you gave me this kitten with is fatal or not, and I must say that the whole thing does not make me extremely happy. I am attached to the kitten, but I am much more attached to the older cat I have known and loved for nine years. Tomorrow I will also call Seattle Animal Control to see if at the very least they will give me the coupon for a vet exam that I never got around to picking up (I didn't think the vet bill would be that bad, ha ha). At the very least, no matter how much worse or better the condition of my two cats becomes, I can certainly promise you that I do not plan on ever doing business with Seattle Animal Control again. I just thought I would mention it.”
The next morning, though, I did not have the time to even call Seattle Animal Control, let alone figure out a way to ride the bus up there (I do not usually take buses to that part of town and so I do not have a schedule with me at home, and I also did not have Danielle and her car handy this time). I first called Broadway animal hospital, so I could let them know that both my cats had progressively gotten quite a bit worse. It was nine thirty in the morning when I finally got a hold of them (I called at 8:30 when their phone lines were supposed to be open but no one ever answered). They just happened to have their 11:00 appointment cancel (apparently I would otherwise have had to wait a week), and then I was able to take Peng in.
I then had to finish getting ready to leave, and get to a public versatel machine so I could get the horrid amount of cash needed for a two mile taxi ride. I got to the animal hospital, and had to wait in an isolated room so that Peng would not infect any of the other waiting cats.
My vet finally came in to do the exam, and found nothing wrong aside from an upper respiratory infection--like a common cold for cats, she said, which could not be medicated and would have to simply be waited out. She said it may take seven to ten days, but it should clear up eventually. She said I could call them if anything new worried me, and suggested I get some moist food with a stronger smell for them (the reason why neither of them were eating--they were so congested that they could not smell, and as a consequence they did not recognize what was in their bowls as food). She also suggested I keep them in the bathroom with me and close the door when I take the shower, so the steam could clear up their sinuses.
So I took Peng back home from his second vet visit, where I was charged $37 for having a woman look at his nose and shove a thermometer up his butt (he did not have a fever, though)--and then the amazingly cheap $4 for four cans of prescription cat food (two days worth of food for both cats). I came home thinking I just needed to ride it out, and relieved that nothing serious was going on.
And then, that night, Batty started doing something that rather scared me. First I noticed that he was so congested that he could not at all breathe through his nose. I felt so bad for him, I could hardly stand to look at him. By this time Peng was still congested but seemed to be sneezing quite a bit less, so he seemed to be getting better--however, a kitten will have a much easier time combating sickness than an elderly overweight adult cat.
Then I noticed something with Batty that completely freaked me out--he was drooling. I figured this was because he had to chronically keep his mouth open and was not able to swallow his saliva, and so it just dripped out of his mouth and onto my bedspread (yay)--but then the saliva started to bubble and almost appeared to foam.
I noticed this at eleven fifteen at night, and so once again I called Gabe. He told me it was just saliva that Batty was not able to swallow, so my original suspicions were correct, and it was almost certainly nothing serious. It sure was heartbreaking to see him have to deal with that, though.
So I put them both in the bathroom and turned on a really hot shower so they would be amongst steam. The problem with that, though, was that heat rises, and my hot water ran out long before the steam had a chance to get as low toward the floor as the cats were. So, now I am once again just waiting for the colds to just go away. At present even Batty seems to be getting at least a little better, but it still pains me to know what I brought home for him to suffer through. Just about all of this could have been prevented.
So there you have it--all the very many problems that came with my new kitten, who regardless of everything I already love very much. Even the vet said he was a “perfect kitty” because of his great personality. I am just hoping that everything will be all right in the long run for both of them. I originally got a new kitten because of Batty’s obvious health risks and age, and I wanted to have another pet I was attached to around when I have to deal with the loss of Batty (I also wanted Batty to have company, though--he has never before had to spend three months with no other animals around)-- but I certainly did not want the adoption of a new pet to be the cause of Batty’s demise. Hopefully things will turn out better than that.
Anyway, Peng is really the only recurring news source for my life over the past month, except that I have not had much in the way of income opportunities. Having each and every weekend booked leaves weekdays for the use of what I would otherwise have gotten done on weekends, and I am still living with so many things to do that certain things don’t get done for a very long time--and all this with no steady job going on. Pretty soon I am going to have to make a much more concentrated effort to organize my life; right now my weekdays seem rather uneventful. There is one publication that has agreed to have me write for them for the next year at the very least, but I’ll get into that in the next section.
At any rate, my weekends over the past month, for the most part, are the only things left really worth writing about. The first weekend to occur after I sent off my August newsletter was the last weekend in that very month--the 29th is really what I’m getting at. That was when my friend Josh pulled himself away from his Redmond job to come into town and have lunch with me, and then take me all over the place to look for laptop computers to buy.
I was very thankful to have him around, because he could speak computertalk that I just could not understand--all I knew was that he was making sure I got the best laptop I could have within the price range I was looking for. Ultimately, though, he was the one who was unsatisfied with any of the laptops actually in stock at stores we went to, and he expressed irritation at stores for not having the displayed models we wanted to look at in stock. One place--Office Max, I think it was--would only show us the box to a laptop and would not take it out for us.
What Josh sort of ended up deciding for me was that he would order one for me out of a computer catalogue that he uses religiously, and I would pay him back. I said that was fine, as long as I had comfortable internet speed and it was within my set price range. When it all came down to it, though, certain specifications that Josh knows a lot more about than I do could not be obtained as simple information over the phone, and that dissatisfied him as well. As a result, he waited until he spent a week down in Portland for his job, and went to a certain store down there--and that’s where he got it for me.
He came back to see me the following weekend, in the middle of Christopher’s visit and just before I had a visit from my friend Lynn. That first weekend in September, I had a total of ten guests (counting children) in my apartment at different times. I’ll tell about Josh first, though, because we’re still on the subject of my new laptop computer, which I am writing on at this very moment.
I ended up with a laptop with interchangeable A and D drives (floppy disks or CD roms), a carrier case, a telephone line specially designed for internet connections, and some complimentary CD roms. The computer came with Windows 98, and all of these things combine to make me very happy with the product (manufactured by Sony) that I got--especially with the new version of Microsoft Works in Windows 98, which allows me to do things like the heading of this very newsletter on page one. I don’t ever use my other computer anymore.
I must say, though, that even though I used to very much make fun of Gabe when he first had access to the internet during the first year that I knew him (1995-96), I discovered just how addictive the internet can be. For the next few weeks I found myself both scared and fascinated by its seemingly infinite scope. Depending on how the maneuvering is done, one can find information on virtually anything in the world on the internet. And I came into this at a time when there is heavy rotation of Sisco Systems commercials on television (“Are you ready?” they keep repeating--”one day there will no longer be paper money.”). I often found myself overwhelmed by it all--and still do.
The scary thing is that things like the internet, and at least computers themselves, are becoming a necessity for not only success, but living in the modern world. It’s getting to the point where people who just don’t feel like getting computers, or even online, are looked at as naive idiots. What are they going to do when computers run everything? Chances are, their children will not share the same views, and eventually everyone in the modern world will be online. It’s fascinating, exciting, overwhelming, wonderful and scary all at once.
I was for a long time very hesitant to get online myself. But then it came very clearly to my attention that if I really wanted to write for a living, I was just going to have to get online. There was really not much I could do--I can’t be using only libraries and thinking I can still engage in competition in this electronic market. My old computer could not possibly handle the internet, and that was a major reason--though one of many--why I bought this laptop. I simply can’t face the future with confidence without these tools and investments.
I am a little better about it now, but of course when I first got it, this was a brand new toy and I had to play. I was on the internet quite a bit. Now I have favorite sites collected, a program downloaded called ICQ that allows me to have personal and private chat rooms with individual people, even a homepage (which can still use a lot of work--right now it just has my newsletter posted). There are also a lot of employment opportunities on the internet, and I have been looking into possible writing jobs. Of course I still spend more time just writing--things like this very newsletter--than I spend on the internet, and the internet’s novelty has now worn off a little. I am online every day, but that is because I check e-mail and I also chat with my mother every so often.
The one thing that concerns me about being online is the fact that I have only one phone line--when I am online no one can call me. Not many people have much reason to call me right now anyway--and those who might have online access to me--but it’s still something I will probably have to do something about in the near future.
Anyway, Josh helped me set up the computer, did a lot of fiddling with it so that I would have a lot more memory available on it, and soon enough he left. It was just a few weeks later when I tried to call him in Redmond and the people there said he had already gone home to Clarkston to visit with his parents for a week or so before he went off to be an exchange student in England--where he is right now. I have no idea how long it will be before he actually gets in touch with me again. He and I have never been the best of friends, but for some reason he still does me all of these great favors.
It was two days before that last visit that Christopher and his family got into town--they stayed in a hotel right across the street from my building (in fact, there are three hotels less than a block away from where I live). They got in on the night of Thursday, September 3, and all we did that night was go out to eat. I kept suggesting all of these places, and I would say that it was within walking distance, but that made them think it was just a block or two. Few people realize that, to me, if it’s a mile or less, it’s easy walking distance--and up to three miles is still relative walking distance.
Christopher and Katina would have none of that, and so we all piled into their car, in which we drove to the waterfront where we had dinner at the original Ivar’s. We just ate dinner, though--which was when I realized Christopher started smoking again--and then they were all ready for bed.
The next day I took them all up the Space Needle. Katina came out onto the observation deck, looked for perhaps sixty seconds at best. Then she said, “Okay, I’ve had enough,” and went back inside, where she stayed until the rest of us were ready to go back down to the ground.
Once on the ground, everyone looked to Katina to see what we wanted to do next. At first I thought of just hanging around the park for a while, but that was nixed because this was the weekend of Bumbershoot at Seattle Center, all the whole park except for the Space Needle was blocked off and you had to purchase tickets to get in.
As for anything else, all there was to do in Seattle involved walking, and that was something Katina didn't really want to do. So, there was a rather quick decision to just drive on down to Olympia right then.
I was taken home, where I had to scramble to get things gathered for this overnight trip that I did not know for sure was even going to happen until this very moment, and I called the cafe in Olympia to let my parents know we were coming. I said we would be there in an hour, but I should have thought about who I was with and told them to make it two. We ended up on the verge of getting on the freeway and then realizing Katina forgot her pillow at the hotel, so we had to go back and get it--and all of the one-way streets and “no turn” signs frustrated Christopher’s driving to the point that he ended up taking a rather bizarre route back that could have been cut back by two thirds.I was not much help though, so I probably shouldn't complain. Once we got the pillow, we were just in time for rush traffic on this labor day weekend--and, indeed, it took us two hours to get down to Olympia.
We had dinner at the cafe, and then Christopher and Katina got a hotel room in Olympia while I stayed the night at Dad and Sherri’s house.
The next day I was picked up again, and everyone but Christopher waited in the car while he came in to tell me it was time to leave--so, once again, I had to scramble, and then we were on our way.
That day we went to the ocean--a wonderful travel experience for me, with literally four inches of leg room sitting in the back seat. It was nice once we were at the ocean, though, because two year-old Becca had never seen the ocean before and she got a real kick out of it. Of course, though, we were only at the beach for the predictable couple of hours, and then it was decided it was time to go.
We decided to drive up to Bremerton instead of going up through Olympia and Tacoma on the way back to Seattle, so we could take a ferry across the sound. The one problem with this idea was that when we got to the ferry terminal, the next ferry did not come again for another two hours. So we just parked and waited.
We rode across on the ferry and Katina decided that this first time on a large boat was not so bad, and she would like to take a cruise. Once we got back into town, and I was being dropped, off, Christopher suddenly decided they were just going to drive on over to Yakima, even though it was already 11:00 at night. Once there, Katina planned on locating an old friend of hers, whose last name she does not know, by looking up all of the people with this friend’s maiden name so she could find her mother and thus find the friend through her. I thought the plan was kind of odd, but that’s just me--I went inside to settle back in and go to bed.
It was the next day when my friend Lynn, her baby, her boyfriend, and his two teenage daughters came to spend the day with me. I also took them up the Space Needle, and the only other thing we did was go out for dinner--and they paid for my meal as thanks for taking them up the Needle. Then they took the ferry to Bremerton on their way back to Shelton, which the boyfriend is still in the process of moving out of.
The following weekend was the last time Danielle was here (the fifth time, since I found my apartment). This time, though, she came by herself so that we could record a talk-tape (this was the seventh one I recorded with her, since she became the first person I ever recorded a tape with when we were both eleven in February of 1989). We also went to see Tori Amos in concert together on the first night that she was here.
That was an absolutely wonderful concert, and one at which I hoped that no problems would occur. All of my other concerts had something go extremely wrong: car breaks down, my ride doesn’t show, I get surrounded by drunks, whatever. This time something did go wrong, but it was still minor compared to what happened at the other concerts.
Danielle and I lost each other after the show.
You see, Danielle had left her bank card at home, and so I was paying for everything and she was just keeping a tab of what she needed to pay me back. She naturally wanted a shirt after the show, but I did not have the cash on me. She said she would wait in line while I went to a cash machine. So I walked down the hallway that circles all the way around the Key Arena, and found myself told by security not to go beyond where they were standing--why, I don’t know.
So I turned and found myself facing the information counter, and I asked them where I could find a Versateller. They pointed me back into the directed I had already tried to go, and so I went again to the doorway number I was told the machine was located at. The same security people tried to turn me back again, but this time the information desk guy was within eyesight, and he told them to let me go. So they did, and I went to the Versateller to get the cash I needed.
It was after that when I made the mistake that caused all the confusion that ensued. Instead of coming back the way I had come, I decided to just continue on around the arena, because the hallway makes a complete circle and I figured that I would eventually just find myself at the T-shirt stand that I had left.
When I got to the stand, though, I could not find Danielle anywhere. I stood there, actually irritated that Danielle would just bail on me. I waited and waited, and she never showed up. I kept wondering if she was outside smoking or something, but I did not want to go outside only to be refused access back inside. So, I just stood in line until I had a chance to buy the T-shirt I knew she wanted. I did not know what size she wanted, though, and so I bought a medium.
Once I had the T-shirt, though, I did not know what to do. It was probably around this time that I thought to ask if there was another T-shirt stand in the building, and the people at this stand said there was--so Danielle and I had been waiting for each other on opposite ends of the building.
However, they were trying to clear the building at this point. I tried to walk around to the other side, but a security lady who had much more interest in her stupid walkee talkee than in listening to me refused to let me by. She even tried telling me there was not another stand on the other end of the building.
I had no choice but to go outside, and so I walked around to the other entrance, where Danielle could not be seen and where they would not let me back inside. I took one full walk around the outside the perimeter of the building, drawing stares from people because I had obviously lost someone. I kept worrying about whether I should keep walking around or if I should stay in one spot, and what if I did one and Danielle did the same? Only if one of us stayed put and the other walked around would we guarantee finding each other. Finally I decided to just wait outside the place where we had originally gone into the building for her.
At least forty five minutes after we lost each other, Danielle finally came out the building and up the steps toward me--she had refused to leave the building no matter how much people asked her to. I had already asked a guy if he had any suggestions as to what I should do if I lost someone, and he said there was nothing they could do.
Apparently they were a bit more rude to Danielle. When she explained the situation to one of the security people, the woman simply said to her, “Maybe he went home with someone else.” On more than one occasion Danielle had to assure them that I am not like that and that I would not just leave her like that. None of them seemed to care, though, and it did not make Danielle nor I very happy about them.
The one partly redeeming quality to the whole thing was that a guy let Danielle exchange her medium shirt for a large one, and then we walked back to my apartment. We actually talked about writing a letter complaint to the Key Arena people, but we were tired and our enthusiasm about the idea soon waned.
Regardless of the problem, though, the concert was spectacular. Tori Amos is a woman I elevate nearly to the level at which I put Madonna, and Tori certainly did not disappoint me. We sort of yawned through the mediocre music of her opening act, The Devlins, and then Tori came out and we all went wild--this woman and her piano have such a mesmerizing effect, it’s very difficult to explain. Whether the voice she belts is from heaven or from hell, it’s always pure, and her fingers on the ivory keyboard seem to consistently create nothing but sheer perfection. Her live performance put all of her studio albums--which in themselves are spectacular--to shame.
It’s strange how being completely star struck changes your perception. At one point during the concert, Danielle looked through her binoculars and said, “She’s eating something!” Of course I wanted to see--and then I wondered to myself, why the hell do I care about this? Oooh, she’s eating! What a very novel concept. We also discovered with the binoculars that stuffed dolls of characters from Comedy Central’s South Park were strategically placed around the stage, along with a couple other toys of characters from other places that neither Danielle nor I could place no matter how much we wracked our brains.
Still, Tori Amos stands apart from every average schmo, at least when listening to her sing and play piano. The performance was nothing short of stunning--and then I was stunned that she quit singing after only an hour and a half. That sucked, but it was still more than worth it. It was simply one hell of a great concert.
And when it was all over, I was close enough to home to walk back.
The next day was when I took Danielle to dinner at the Space Needle restaurant as a birthday present. That became the new record of by far the most expensive dinner I have ever paid for, and I do not plan on eating there again for quite some time. It was nice while it lasted, though, and I do know Danielle enjoyed it, so that was nice.
The next day, we left in Danielle’s car for Olympia, on our way to the ocean. Danielle had never been to the Washington coast, and I certainly didn't mind the idea of taking a second trip.
Well, we never made it to the ocean that day.
We did make it to Olympia, where we first stopped at The Shipwreck Cafe, which Danielle has long wanted to see. It was immediately easy to see that Dad and Sherri liked Danielle a lot and thought she was very nice (they mentioned it to me more than once--“I don’t know how Matthew managed to find such a nice friend,” Dad would say). I had also wanted to eat at their restaurant and for once pay for my meal--and I was going to pay for Danielle as well. Instead my parents paid for both of us, and even let Danielle cash a check there so that she could get some cash for herself and give me the money for her tab.
We then drove to Dad and Sherri’s house so Danielle could see it, and Danielle immediately noted the striking difference between their home and my mother’s. She said it was very interesting to learn so much more about the other side of my family, which is fundamentally different from what she has been used to.
From there we drove downtown and stopped at a gas station because her tire air was running low--and that’s when she found a nail stuck in it. So, she and I worked together to change the tire and put the doughnut spare on, a first for both of us--it was actually surprisingly easy (although at one point I did knock the car off the jack while I was jumping on the wrench to loosen the bolt on the hubcap). She managed to find a garage where a guy could tell her not to go more than 50 miles an hour on that spare, and not to travel more than 20 miles on it. Needless to say (but I’m obviously going to say it anyway, because I like to be annoying), this left Danielle less than pleased.
Trying hard to convince her that this was not the end of the world, I convinced her to drive over to the capitol building, which she did want to see. I finally got her to come inside the building, which we were surprised to find was open on a Sunday, and we took many pictures with my camera of the building’s very attractive interior.
Then we walked over onto the front lawn of the governor’s mansion without realizing it. We went up a small flight of stairs and onto a cement walkway, right next to which was a very large “no entry” sign that for some reason neither Danielle nor I noticed. Instead we got a police guard coming over to us while I was sitting on the grass and petting what I later realized was the governor’s cat. “Hi guys,” the guy said. “You’re gonna have to leave.”
He pointed to the sign that both Danielle and I had missed, and when Danielle asked what the place was the guy said, “It’s just the governor’s mansion.”
“Oh, just!” Danielle chuckled. In fact, she was so amused by this that she repeated that another three or four times throughout the rest of the day.
So then we drove back to Dad and Sherri’s house, and waited for them to get home from work--which did not take long at all. Sherri spent a lot of time on the phone trying to find a place where Danielle could get a new tire for less than $50, which was never found, but at least we found a place that was actually open on Sundays. We all stopped at a different place on our way out, though, because Dad suddenly realized that Danielle could just have the tire plugged, and that’s just what she had done--for only $8.50.
And then they finally convinced me to stay the night, so that’s what Danielle and I did, and Dad and Sherri were clearly happy that we decided to. We did leave for Seattle again the next morning, though, and later that day Danielle and I recorded our talk-tape, and she left for home that evening.
The following weekend was when I flew over to Pullman for two days. I had been very surprised to find out that there are three planes that go from SeaTac to Pullman every day, but it was true--and so I flew over on a Friday evening and flew back on a Sunday evening. The visit overall was all right. I got to see Jennifer, who bought me lunch at the Regents Dining Center (where they made quite an achievement, serving me disgusting salad, disgusting scrambled eggs, and even disgusting hash browns). I spent most of my time with Gabe and Suzy, although Jennifer did go with us on Saturday night to see Smoke Signals, which I was seeing for the second time but enjoyed just as thoroughly as I had the first time I saw it. It’s a very funny and charming film and I highly recommend it.
Gabe was also visibly annoyed with me for not wanting to sneak into the football game with him, but I suspect he’ll live. Overall, though, I had a very nice visit with all three of them, and then it was time for me to come back.
Two days later, I saw Garbage in concert--the first concert I went to all by myself (the only interaction I had during the entire time I was there was when the guy sitting to my right decided to offer me some of his licorice, which I declined). They played the Paramount theatre, which is only nine or so blocks from my home and is very beautiful on the inside. The concert itself was great--Shirly Manson, the band’s lead singer, has a very stunning stage presence (and not only when she was sitting on her heels in such a way that the entire audience could see her underwear under her short orangish-red dress). When I was leaving it, though, it was hard not to think about the fact that this was one of the smallest and yet most acoustic venues I had ever been in, and my ears were ringing for a little while. At places like the Gorge or even at the Key Arena, there is a lot more room for sound to travel--at the Paramount, the sound had nowhere else to go but into my ears and never back out again.
I really enjoyed the concert anyway, though--and Shirly Manson did a lot of talking, which I enjoyed. She made fun of the crowd for its insistence on yelling out “Yeah!” to her. “Yeah!” she would yell back, “What the f--- does that mean?” Then they played a song called “Wicked Ways” that she said she wrote for Bill Clinton.
That was about the last noteworthy thing, that doesn’t have to do with writing, that happened in my weekday life. Now I am trying to get this newsletter finished three days before I actually need to mail it, because Barbara is coming again for the weekend and I will not have time to work on it while she is here, but this needs to go out in the mail on the day that she leaves. I also need to work on the birthday present that I want to give her, which is not only a copy of the talk-tape she and I recorded two months ago, but a written collection of all the most interesting things she has said to me in letters over the past year (I sent her one for her birthday last year too, and she really liked it). She does not turn 46 until the 30th of September--the date that most of you should receive this newsletter in the mail--but since she will be here for the previous weekend I will just give them to her then.
As for the weekend I have planned, Barbara and I are going to go dancing on Saturday, and we are both going to participate in the AIDS walk on Sunday.
The following weekend is when Dad and Sherri will come up from Olympia and see the play Rent, which will be written all about in the October newsletter. I also plan on spending a weekend with Auntie Rose in Port Angeles next month, and I will be in Olympia for Halloween (although that holiday, being on the last day of the month, will not be written about until the November newsletter). Anyway, at present there are actually two weekends in October that I actually have free! I just don’t know what I’m going to do with myself!
I guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. As for right now, I have more than enough to keep my hands full, not the least of which is getting through the last section of this newsletter . . .
[this drivel has been brought 2 u with pride by matthew mcquilkin.]
the publishing history
First, I suppose I should tell you all about my failure with Seattle Press. I swear to you, though, it was not entirely my fault--you must understand that not every publisher in the world actually has a brain.
So this is what happened. I was assigned a story about neighborhood residents being tired of young homeless kids living in Cowen and Ravenna Parks. I was told that I needed to talk to regular park patrons, perhaps some of the neighbors, and especially some of the homeless people there.
I did not end up actually speaking to the younger ones that were more my own age--there were not many of them there. Instead I approached a picnic table full of a wide range of aged people, which happened to be the place at the park that I found to be the most intimidating--but I decided to face my fears, and I got quite a few comments out of these middle-aged men who were almost certainly intoxicated. I then tried to get another guy at another table to speak to me, and he just said, “F--- no! And you can quote me on that.” (I just quoted him, too--won’t he be happy?)
So then I started strolling around the rest of the park, and found these two people sitting on the grass and eating a bag lunch. I asked them if they knew anyone who lived in the park, and the guy told me he lived there. The lady said they would be happy to talk to me, and so I got quite a bit of information from them.
Then I got home and there was a message from my publisher, who gave me the number to a woman who I really needed to talk to for this story, because she was sort of at the head of the group of people opposing all the problems with the park.
So I called her, and that’s when I found out that my publisher was the one who did not quite have the story straight, because according to this woman I spoke to, the problem at these parks is most directly the result of an article that had been printed in The Seattle Times about a month earlier, about how these parks were a “safe haven” for young homeless people. As a result of that publication, the population of the park tripled, and the new people were not these harmless young people anymore, but people who crowd up the streets with their vehicles and are heavily involved in drug trafficking-- at any rate, this was all according to Susan Baker, the woman whose number my prospective publisher had given me.
Susan Baker not only gave me lot of detail verbally over the phone, but she also sent me many e-mails that she had sent to tons of elected city officials about this matter. The Seattle Times article was a very clear presence in her text, among many other things.
So I wrote up the story, and felt that I needed to mention that other article, which seemed to have a lot to do with what was going on. I even sent Susan a copy of the article I wrote, for her approval, and she said it was fine.
Just today I got an e-mail from her asking why the story has not been printed in the paper, and I had to write back and tell her that I have essentially been dumped from that publication. Quite some time ago now, I got an e-mail message from that man that began with, “I cannot use the story you submitted for publication.” He then said that I used too many clichés, and went on to talk about how “there is a vague reference to another article that should not be in here at all. You are only supposed to use primary sources . . .”
The man actually thought that I was using other newspaper articles to write my piece. I may not have been a journalism major, but I’m not a moron--I know that’s a huge no-no. I wrote back to him and explained how his perceptions were mistaken; told him that even if someone else wanted to write up the story, I have access to tons of information about it as well as many numbers to even further contacts than I had collected; and even accepted his offer of giving me a “more detailed critique” of my article.
That message was sent to him at least three weeks ago, if not more. The man simply never got back to me. So, I figure I am just not meant to write for Seattle Press anyway.
Ah, but that’s not the only thing I managed to screw up! On the 9th of September I was supposed to go over to Bellevue and give a man some sample of my writing for a possible job doing content writing for a web site. I took the hour bus trip over there, and could not for the life of me find the address I had written down--1328. I would have been on time if I had the address right, but I did not, and I walked about a two mile stretch on that street looking for this nonexistent address.
Because of the bus system I was not able to get back home until nearly two hours after I was supposed to be at this place over in Bellevue, and when I called the guy for the second time that afternoon to ask if the address was supposed to be 1328, he told me it was 13218.
Matthew McQuilkin: chronic moron.
The man was clearly less than pleased with me. “You’re a writer, right?” he asked. “Well, if we need anyone in the future, maybe we’ll call.” That was the basic gist. I felt like the idiot I was.
However, I have been printed in publications that have allowed me to be exposed all over the Puget Sound area. I have yet to see the actual newspapers themselves myself (I do not live near a dispenser for them, and have yet to get around to walking over to the SGN office to find them), but I have been told by the publisher of these papers that my interview with the lesbian activist was printed on the front page of The South End News and also in one issue of Seattle Gay News.
I have yet to find out whether or not my review of Titanic was printed in InSite Magazine. There does not appear to be a site for it on the internet, so I can’t check there, and for some reason so far this month no issues of it have been dropped off at the Sit N Spin laundromat where I have found it before--I have no idea where the paper is dropped.
I have been sent writer’s guidelines for Seattle Weekly, though, and have been trying to think of something I could write up and send to them. Most positively, though, is that it seems certain that I will be considered at least a part time writer for both Seattle Gay News and The South End News for at least the next year, and that’s a wonderful first door of exposure to get through, regardless of the fact that I have yet to be paid a cent for any of the writing I have done. These kinds of things are what a writer just starting out simply has to deal with.
In any case, my friends keep telling me over and over that I am going to be just fine. Right now, I don’t seem to be doing much more than simply hoping they’ll be right. So many people think I am going to go far in life, and I’m not yet quite sure exactly how far I have really gone. Once again I am reminded, however, of the fact that all things come in due time. Whatever happens was meant to be, and only time will tell where that will take me.
Right now I am much more worried about my cats than I am about my own life. Let’s hope that I can write about them both getting much better next month. As for now, I need to work on Barbara’s birthday present.
Love and luck and hope and happiness to you all--
this [drivel] has been presented to you [with pride] by matthew mcquilkin for fruitcake enterprises (9/25/1998)
fruitcake newsletter back issues (vol. 1) #1-11: a detailed account of my life since October 1997