May 1999

[Author’s note: the section “rhododendron festival” was taken from the letter barbar79;
and the section “southern california” was taken from the letter barbar80.]

"May Eye"

vol. 2----issue#8----May 1999


Practice being “the eye of the storm.”

. . . Some of you may have noticed that the newsletter is actually a little late this month. I didn’t really want it to turn out that way, but it did--this newsletter written to all you people who never write to me anyway (and a couple who have solicited it on their own) is not always highest on my priority list anymore, particularly when it comes to writing. I am in the middle of two other major writing projects that I will be working on over the course of the summer, and they have cut a bit into the time that would otherwise be needed for the newsletter. I didn’t figure any
of you would be too offended that this issue came a little later than usual, though. You should of
course be thankful you get it at all--right? Of course, right.

Most significantly, the release of this newsletter was postponed by the trip to Disneyland
that I took with Jennifer, which is written all about in here. It took place through most of the last
week of the month, which is usually when I work on newsletters. I don’t really expect any other newsletter to be late like this any time soon--but of course, anything is possible. I am no longer sure of how long I will keep up this newsletter anyway.

For now, though, I suppose I could just run through all the recipients of the newsletter
this month, a particularly high number:

ANGEL one day you’ll find that guardian
BEN AND SANDRA . . . you asked for it . .
COURTNEY hope wal goes llew
DANIELLE just details, for you--but worth it
DARCY . . . one day . . .
DAWN the sun also rises again
GINA things change
JENNIFER MIGA this is your punishment, missy
DAD AND SHERRI hope Dollywood was fun
PAUL brace yourself
RAENAE AND TONI brace yourself
RICK AND TAMMY trace yourself
SHANE chase yourself

. . . And of course, I’d never be happy without listing the better people . . .

AUNTIE ROSE who continues to write regularly
BARBARA who continues to write regularly
GRANDMA McQUILKIN who continues to write regularly
JENNIFER McQUILKIN who continues to write regularly
UNCLE JIM who continues to write regularly

So what do you think I have to day to the rest of you people?

a month in the life of a fruitcake

The less you care about seeking approval, the more you seem to get.


My birthday wasn’t a particularly memorable one, but it was still okay. Danielle picked
me up at the airport in Spokane that evening at 8:00, and we went to pick up her boyfriend, who
then went with us to a coffee shop to see some piano playing by a local musician named Dax Johnson. His music was introduced to me by Barbara, and he is a fantastic piano player. We were only able to see about half of the show, though, because we had reservations at an “American-Italian” restaurant for dinner at nine.

So that’s where we went--the name of which I can’t remember anymore, which is obviously because the restaurant was rather forgettable. To have the word “Italian” in the restaurant title, and then not serve either rigatoni or lasagna was beyond me. The waiter rationalized it by saying, “We’re an American Italian restaurant.” That wasn’t good enough for me. The crab pizza I had was rather good, but the mere fact of knowing that they didn’t even serve lasagna kind of put me off.

Danielle made it a point to tell the waiter that it was my birthday, hoping that they would
sing for me, or at least embarrass me in some way. All he would do, though, is take a picture of
me for their “birthday wall” and give me a free dessert. The waiter took two pictures of Danielle
and me together, and hung the one in which both of us smiled-- making a wonderful picture--on
their wall, and the other one I got to keep. For that one Danielle said, “This one’s for Matthew,”
and blew her tongue at the camera as the picture was being taken. It turned out to be quite possibly one of the best pictures ever taken of me, with Danielle sitting next to me with her face in a slightly less than appealing contortion.

They also gave me a free dessert, something called burnt cream, which I was not at all
crazy about.

Danielle then drove me to Christopher’s house, which was where I stayed for the weekend. I stayed up fairly late that night just visiting with him and Katina, and then hung out for the day after that--which was when they had their housewarming party. Although quite a few people were invited--including both Katina’s mom as well as mine and Christopher’s--the only people who showed were Grandma and Grandpa McQuilkin, Dad and Sherri, and myself; all of whom traveled from across the state to be there. It was still a very nice visit, though, and all of us found Katina’s homemade lasagna (one pan of which she made special for me without any meat, telling me not to complain if it’s not that great--but it was fantastic) to be completely delicious.

Grandma and Grandpa got them a rose bush as a housewarming gift, and I gave them a
wind chime and some cookie cutters. I can’t for the life of me remember what Dad and Sherri
got for them, but they did bring me a birthday present: a fairly extensive kitchen utensil set,
which I absolutely loved. I had been meaning to get some cooking knifes for some time, and now
I had those as well as a bunch of other useful things--like a ladle, metal spatulas, even a plastic
contraption to help me cut my bagels straight. It was really cool.

All of us who had come over to that housewarming party left the next day, although since
I was flying, I didn’t have to leave until around five o’clock that evening, which gave me
sufficient time to visit with my brother and his family.

Once I got back that Sunday night, I was finally able to see a movie at the Cinerama
Theatre that Paul Allan renovated, which is located on the other end of my own block (and is
also where Star Wars is currently playing). What I saw there was one of my favorite
movies--Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which I jumped at when I found out I had a chance
to see it in a theatre. Now, Beth and I were able to see how it looked inside the lobby from the
windows, when she came to visit me last month. But we didn't have any idea what the
moviegoing experience would actually be like there. First of all, even when standing in line
outside, you could hear speakers projecting the sound of the music and dialog of the movie. The
same was the case inside the lobby, and even in the bathroom. And the most amazing thing of
all, which was almost creepy: inside the lobby, at either end, are those glass-encased poster
containers for coming attractions mounted on the wall. Only these were different: instead of
posters, they were actual screens, showing previews to coming events! They showed
letterbox-formatted (horizontal rectangle) screens to show the motion picture trailers in the
center of the glass case, with changing still photographs and typewritten messages above and
below it. It made me feel like I was suddenly witnessing the technology of the future, and I had
somehow done some sort of time travel. It was weird.

Now, for the theatre itself: it was packed, and rightfully so: even three rows from the very
back of this gigantic room, the view of the screen was nothing short of stunning. I had never seen
anything like it. You couldn't possibly sit anywhere in there and not have a spectacular view, and
this particular movie was so perfect for such a gargantuan screen that I really felt like I was
watching it for the first time, even though I've already seen the movie four or five times (I own it,
in fact). It was a filmgoing experience
like no other--igniting excitement in me that equaled that of when I saw the 3-D IMAX movie.
Now, if a regular motion picture presentation of two-dimensional images can be seen as just as
good as that of a 3D IMAX, perhaps even better in some respects, I would consider that rather
impressive. Certainly enough so that it warranted the kind of hullabaloo that was had over its
opening the night before Beth left. I saw all sorts of details about the movie that I could never
possibly have caught on video, and perhaps might have even missed in a regular theatre.

Anyway, when the movie was over, the lights came up, and I got a good look at the room.
I was in awe over the ceiling, which lit the room with tons of tiny lights scattered at complete
random, giving it the convincing appearance of a night sky. Then I left the theatre, and went to
look at the coming attractions boxes on the outside of the building on the other side: yet another
motion (that is, actually moving) picture trailer box, this time with speakers coming out of the
building. You can watch full trailers while just walking past the building outside. It was just too
cool--and it's right at the end of my own block! I wonder if most theatres will have preview
boxes like that after a while. Paul Allen certainly spared no expense in renovating that building,
that's for sure.


I certainly enjoyed going to see Gabe and Suzy graduate, though some parts of it were
sad--being the one-year anniversary of when I graduated sure brought back a lot of memories,
and it was kind of weird. It brought back a wave of nostalgia for a time when our lives had so
much more order, which we all had far less control over than we do now. There's a certain
indescribable feeling to graduating from college after having essentially been taken care of for
all of that time, and now you're entire life is before you, and you don't know what it will bring.

But this is a major event for many
reasons, and witnessing Gabe and Suzy going through it brought back my own anxieties I had a
year ago, and they were all crystal clear. Still, I'm far more used to the uncertainty now than I
was last summer. On the other hand, this trip made me slightly more anxious in regards to my
quitting my job, and facing yet another uncertainty. But then I thought to myself, What
difference does that make, really? It's not like that job was ever really significant to either my
personal life or my finances. It was merely an augmentation, which is why I needed to quit.
Besides, there's a certain element of excitement to an uncertain future that I kind of like as well.

But anyway, Gabe in particular was savoring every moment (insisting on staying until the
very end of his ceremony, after we had all already sat through Suzy's that morning--can you
imagine going through that twice in one day? Well, I did it), and he even sang that stupid alma
mater song. I couldn't believe it. But I could understand why he didn't want to cut it short. As
soon as we left that coliseum, that aspect of both of their lives was all over forever.

It was a nice visit, though, despite the fact that of course there were the usual tensions
hovering about, especially between Gabe and me (though Bob looked at Gabe and me bantering
and he said, "You just pick up where you left off, don't you? It's like you were never apart").
They loved the graduation presents I got for them, and the birthday presents they gave me were
hilarious and cool: one was a Tinky Winky doll (the Telletubby everyone wants to say is gay),
and I just about busted a gut when I opened that. Gabe also made me a tape of all sorts of stuff,
including a hilarious section where he sings along to Madonna songs. Then he got me a Kurt
Vonnegut novel that sounds awesome, called Player Piano.

I stayed there from late Thursday that weekend until quite early Sunday
morning. On Thursday and Friday night, I stayed with Jennifer; on Saturday night I stayed with
Gabe and Suzy, because Jennifer had to be out of her residence hall by ten that morning. I spent
most of Friday with Gabe and Suzy, when I treated them to a lunch at a Mexican restaurant in
Moscow. They kept telling me I didn’t have to do that, but I did anyway, just to bug them.

It was that evening
that the rest of his family came: his mom and his two brothers, with a brother’s girlfriend as
well. I had to sleep in their apartment with all those people there, but it really wasn’t as crowded
as I thought it might be. I’m actually kind of glad I got to stay one night with them during that
visit--even though the last thing we did before I went to bed the last night I was there was watch
Star Wars (the original) while everyone in the living room passed out one by one (because it was
late--not because anyone was drunk, in case any readers are wondering).

I got a lot of great pictures on Saturday after the two ceremonies,
and had a very pleasant visit overall, despite a moment in which I realized I had acted like a
complete jerk a few times over the weekend (Gabe kind of pointed it out, actually) and I rather
regretted myself. But most of you know me well enough that I got over it rather quickly, and
then just went on enjoying myself--but making an actual effort to keep myself in check. It was a
very heartwarming weekend, being able to watch these two great friends of mine step over such
a tremendous threshold--and seeing them enjoy it so much. It was kind of strange when I looked
at all the pictures after they were developed, and they looked noticeably older than they have in
any of my other photos. It was like I could tell just from the photos themselves that they had
gone through this particular significant doorway.

Or maybe it was just that I hadn’t seen them in a while.

I certainly didn't like getting up at five in the morning so I could make the six o’clock
flight on the day I came home, but even though I would have loved to visit with Gabe and Suzy
longer, I am always glad to be home. In addition, at least the flight home was far smoother and
more comfortable than the flight over, which was late at night and had incredibly bumpy
turbulence (even the flight attendant almost fell down at one point). I had never been so scared
on a flight before, and to make matters worse, the turbulence was the worst while we were
descending to land. Then I got off the plane into heavy rain and high winds, after leaving a
beautiful Seattle. It didn’t make any sense--but no weather seems to anywhere anymore, come to
think of it. Anyway, I also had the wonderful privilege of sitting next to a completely drunk guy
on the way over, who kept trying to talk to me, and in so doing breathing his disgusting beer
breath into my face. So then he had two beers during the flight.

I had to deal with none of that on the way back home, for which I was
eternally thankful.


Well, for the first time, I actually am writing on this computer using only the battery. I
am actually on the Bainbridge Island ferry at the moment, waiting for it to pull out from Seattle
(and it’s taking an alarmingly long time to do so). I found a table to sit at, so I could more
comfortably type. This commute to Port Townsend is two hours long (coincidentally the life of
my battery), and I figured it was more useful to me to spend this time typing as opposed to
reading, since I have so much writing to do. In addition, I am also finally making use of the fact
that this computer is portable--eight months after buying it.

. . .

. . . I’m on my second and last bus now, with this laptop actually in my lap. Cool, huh? I
didn’t do any writing on the last bus, the one between the ferry terminal at Bainbridge Island and
a place called Christ Memorial, because it was quite crowded and it was only a half-hour ride. I
just didn’t think it was worth taking out the computer for. This bus, though far jerkier than the
ferry and therefore makes me type less easily, is far less crowded and takes about an hour to get
to where Auntie Rose is to pick me up--some place called Four Corners, the closest any bus
connections from the Seattle ferries gets to Port Townsend. Anyway, I do need to tell you about
the rest of my day.

So I was on the bus #56. I haven’t been keeping up with the news lately (I usually watch
the Today show every morning for about twenty minutes before taking my shower, while I eat
breakfast, which tends to keep me up to date on the foremost national news, but I haven’t even
done that lately because of all my work on another writing project)-- but apparently the President
is in Seattle this weekend. I thought it was a joke when our bus was stopped as soon as we got to
the south end of Pioneer Square, but after I heard a lot of other people talk about all the traffic it
caused (because of streets being blocked off), I figured it must be true. I do not, however, know
what business the man has in Seattle.

Anyway, there was a Secret Service guy, with his ear cord and all, standing on the
sidewalk where we stopped just after Jackson street. One of the bus riders got off, and the guy
was directing her to walk elsewhere. At first I thought she was being arrested or something, and I
couldn’t figure out why. Then it became clear that the road was being blocked off. When a cocky
young man sitting across from me at the front of the bus said, “Where’s the president?” I thought
he was being sarcastic. Then that Secret Service guy said we wouldn’t be able to get through on
that street for fifteen minutes--and our bus driver just took off his seat belt and leaned back in his
chair, patient as a man sleeping indefinitely in a morgue.

I, on the other hand, did not have fifteen minutes to spare. I asked the driver what time it
was, and he said it was 4:21. I got off the bus right then and there, and walked over to Fourth
Avenue, thinking perhaps I could at least hop on a bus on that street that would otherwise pass
me by. I had to walk through a small park in order to get there in the fastest time possible (the
one Beth and I were riding through when other passengers were talking about its heavy drug
activity), and I did not realize until after the fact that I had stepped in what I believe was horse
crap along the way. Oh, joy.

I got over to Fourth Avenue, though, and began walking up it. I caught sight of a 174 bus,
and thought I might be able to hop onto it. I had to walk about three blocks up before I could
find an actual bus stop I thought might have the number 174 written on it, during which I was
actually walking faster than the 5:00 traffic. I got there to find yet again, however, that there was
no such number on it. However, the 174 caught up with me and someone got off it right there, so
I hopped right on and rode the rest of the way up to its stop closest to my building, about three
blocks away. I finally got home, though, and it was a quarter to five.

I put myself into high gear to situate the apartment for the cats, thankful that they had yet
to piss on the blankets at the front door (so it’s fresh for them to do so this weekend while I’m
gone; I’m sure they appreciate that). I was out of the apartment not long at all after that, as I
decided to walk to the ferry terminal. I could have waited to catch the #16, which goes straight
there, from right across the street from my building, but I decided that I could still walk at least
as fast as the rush-hour traffic, and I would thereby get there earlier than the bus anyway. And
that’s exactly how it happened.

So I waited in line for the ferry, then got on--and the rest is history. It was just one long
string of annoyances in getting here. About ten minutes ago I just about got off on the wrong
stop, because of a bit of a miscommunication: when I got off the 90/33 bus from Bainbridge and
walked up to this bus, which I was expecting to be the #7, there was nothing written in the bus’s
signs. So I asked this guy with long brown hair and a blond streak in it, who was standing just
outside the bus smoking a cigarette, if this is the #7 to Four Corners. He said that it was, and that
it was the stop he was getting off at as well.

Then I actually boarded the bus, and asked the driver the same question--and he actually
seemed a tad perplexed by my question, if you can believe it. But a passenger sitting up front
confirmed again that it was, and that it was the stop he was getting off at as well. I got on and sat
here, at the furthest back seat that faces the aisle (which is the way the seats are in the front half
of the bus), and that guy who had been smoking a cigarette got on and sat at the first seat to my
right, the first one on the left side of the bus (left when facing front) facing towards the front.

Anyway, two stops ago, that guy who had been sitting up at the front of the bus got off
and said, “I don’t know if that kid wants to get off here or not” (I must say that I like being
perceived as quite young--it makes me feel better about getting older, and hopefully this will be
a lasting trend). I got all confused, because the bus schedule said it was to be an hour before I got
off. So Mr. Cigarette over here asked which Four Corners I’m getting off at--apparently there are
two of them, which no one ever bothered to let me in on. He asked if I was going to Port
Townsend, and I said yes; he said that’s where he (my emphasis) is going as well. He went on to
say, “You have to distinguish between which one you want--’Our Four Corners,’ or ‘Their Four
Corners.” Then he gave me a broad smile with rather nice looking teeth.

This stupid bus keeps on jerking back and forth, and it just made me smack the laptop
into the little wall to my right. That in itself has encouraged me to put this machine away for a

Saturday may fifteenth nineteen ninety-nine:

I am now in my Auntie Rose’s living room, unaware as to where she herself is at the
moment, listening to her copy of the soundtrack to The Sound of Music and looking every so
often out the window, where there is an unbelievably fantastic view of the Olympic Mountains,
as well as other inlets of salt water. I am actually in a place called Cape George, which is across
on the other side of the peninsula that Port Townsend is on. Cape George is just a little tiny
community, though, so she still uses Port Townsend as her address.

My contact is making my right eye have really blurred vision. It’s a little annoying.

So anyway, it’s around 10:00 a.m., and we had some sort of strange breakfast, apple
pancakes. They weren’t bad though, particularly after I put some sugar on them. Auntie Rose
said I didn’t use any sugar on them when I came here to visit in October, and for the life of me I
can’t imagine why I didn’t. I also can’t imagine why you might actually find any of this

This is kind of weird, writing on my own computer so many miles from home. I’m in
such a different context now, I actually feel like I’m writing in an at least slightly different way.
Maybe it’s because of how I modify my behavior at a place like Auntie Rose’s--she’s far older
than me, and has different expectations, which of course I respect (I don’t even tend to say the
word “crap” around her, for example).

Now Irish music is playing on their CD player. I still don’t know where Auntie Rose is at.
I assume Uncle Imre is doing some sort of work down in the garage. He sure is cool. He’s lived
in the U.S., coming from Hungary, for something like 40 or 45 years, but his accent is still rather
thick and I have to strain sometimes to understand what he’s saying. He’s one of the most
genuine people I know, though, and I think that’s because he’s not originally American, and so
he’s not jaded in any way. I think that’s what being an American by birth does to a person.

This weekend is the Rhododendron Festival in Port Townsend, and we’re going to go to a
parade today. We’re also going to a park in town for a picnic lunch, simply because I mentioned
in my October newsletter that I loved visiting that park and didn’t get to spend as much time
there as I would have liked. Strange how people like Grandma or Auntie Rose pick up on those
things, and then remember six months later, so they can find new ways to spoil me.

I actually rather like this Irish music. Pretty cool.

I told Auntie Rose last night that she still holds the record for the longest letter ever sent
to me. She then said, “Really? You mean Barbara hasn’t beaten me yet?” I don’t think she
realizes that although I wrote massive letters to Barbara, hers are usually rather small, at least by
comparison. I did tell her, though, that my last letter from Barbara made it to number three on
the list.

These Irish people singing with their accents keep making me expect to hear something
about Lucky Charms.

I keep on thinking about work on Monday. I am going to try best to avoid Bill all day.
We’ll see if we make it.

Auntie Rose says we’re leaving. So I guess I’ll write again later. Naturally.

. . .

. . . It’s rather far later now (about ten p.m., actually), and I’m actually ready for bed. I
wanted to tell you about the rest of my day, though. Once again I would really be better off
working on my newsletter, but I am powerless to the desire to write directly to someone. In any
case, I can still sort of consider this working on my newsletter, because I plan on pasting a bunch
of what I wrote about this weekend into the newsletter anyway.

Anyway, about today . . . this weekend is the Rhododendron Festival at Port Townsend,
and so we went into town for the parade. We went and ate a bag lunch at that park that I liked so
much, and we stayed there far longer than the brief visit we had there in October. You wouldn’t
believe the view from there--the park itself is extraordinarily well-kept, and then there was the
water and islands and other peninsulas across the inlet. It’s beyond gorgeous--and serene. I could
just sit in that park and stare at the view, doing nothing else at all, for hours on end. I don’t think
there’s any place in Seattle that would make me feel like that (which, of course, for the most part
is a rather good thing--because most of the time I have too much to do anyway)--but for a
weekend visit up here, it was perfect. Even though this visit is in itself a part of my cram-packed
and busy schedule, at least I have had some scheduled time where I could just sit back and relax
a bit.

After the lunch we walked the two or three blocks over to where the parade was
supposed to come by, and we sat on the curb. It was either Grandma or Sherri who told me to
expect this parade to be like the incredibly puny, five-group / fifteen minute parade I saw at the
Tulip Festival--but she was far wrong about that one: this parade had more than 130 entries, and
it lasted for two and a half hours. It could have lasted for an hour and forty-five minutes, though,
but groups kept on falling behind, and there were quite a few parts where there were long
stretches of nothing in between groups passing through in the parade. I was definitely ready to
move on when the parade was over, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit.

After that we went to this place called the Worcester House, or something like that. It’s a
house on this medium-sized lot that is evidently the smallest state park in Washington, and it was
owned by some “important” member of the community in the mid-nineteenth century. You
wouldn’t believe how old some of the stuff was in this unbelievably old house--I think the oldest
date I saw posted was 1860. One of the bedrooms upstairs had a doll in the crib, and there was a
sign that said the doll itself was more than a hundred years old. All of those rooms upstairs were
blocked off in the doorway by both a velvet rope and a glass panel stuck in the bottom half of the

Auntie Rose pointed to a large bowl set on the floor at the end of a bed in one of the
rooms, and asked me if I had any idea what it was. I didn’t really know, and the thought flashed
my mind that it might be a bedpan--but that only made me think of hospitals, and the idea that
only people constricted to hospital beds need them. So she asked me again, “You really don’t
know what that is?” When I said no she said, “When they only had outdoor plumbing that’s what
they would use in the nighttime.”

I said: “Oh. Gross.”

There was all sorts of really fascinating stuff in that house, including the elderly
volunteer lady who was working there, telling us what the date was when certain wallpaper was
put up (the wallpaper in the living room, I think it was, dated back to the late nineteenth century
--and all of this stuff was in awe-inspiringly great condition, like it was no more than five years
old, as opposed to five score old). Then the lady revealed herself to be kind of eccentric, and
decided to tell us about the state of her husband’s health and where her grandchildren go to
school. Even when Auntie Rose asked her something about the basement, the lady just gave her
a short answer and then went on to talk about her husband, although neither Auntie Rose nor I
really gave her any concrete indication that we were riveted by this personal information of hers.
Her husband was apparently quite ill, though, and so of course out of mere respect we stood and
listened to her. It was still kind of weird.

From there we went out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant, and I was relieved to hear the
waitress greet us as “Senores” as opposed to “Senoras” (which means she realized I’m actually a
man--which a lady at the park had not realized, pointing for her kid at something near me and
saying, “By where that girl is sitting”).

And then we drove back to the house, and for the remainder of the evening just sat at the
kitchen table, with their fantastic view of the bay inlet through their many windows, visiting.

Auntie Rose showed me what Web TV looks like by showing me pictures of her new
grandson on the internet with it. I noted that Web TV is designed by Microsoft, which is what
Valerie and Scott (Auntie Rose and Uncle Imre’s daughter and son in-law) worked for for some
time--and that was when I realized the very obvious reason why I would never find an iMac in
this house.

Sunday may sixteenth nineteen ninety-nine;

I just sat down at the dining room table with Uncle Imre. He’s eating his beloved
scrambled eggs and onions, which I don’t really have much interest in (despite his insistence that
I am “fussy”). I already ate a bowl of cereal, which he offered me--”puffed wheat,” one of three
sugarless cereals they have because Imre is diabetic. I poured and unbelievable amount of sugar
on it, and then it tasted okay. Now I really want some more, but I won’t ask for more, because I
know I’ll get it--and I don’t need it. I suppose I could have more without the sugar, but what the
hell would be the point?

Auntie Rose is not here right now, and I really couldn’t figure out why. So when I asked
Uncle Imre he said, “She’s at church”--and I said, “Oh,” suddenly realizing that today is Sunday.
Before I could even think to ask why he didn’t go with her, he joked, “You see, Matthew, some
people are more guilty than others, and so they have to go to church. You and me, we are not
guilty, you see?”

I couldn’t imagine what Auntie Rose could be guilty of that Uncle Imre and I were not.
Excessive hospitality?

It’s raining outside right now. Ugh.

I can’t think of much else to tell you at the moment. So I guess that means I might as well
work on something else for a while.

. . .

. . . I never worked on anything else, actually. When I finished what I wrote above, I just
put my laptop away and visited for a while with both Uncle Imre and Auntie Rose, who had just
returned from church. Right now I’m on the ferry again--the Wenatchee as a matter of fact. Once
again, it has yet to leave dock. Oh well; it gives me more time to write.

I sure was able to get onto this ferry quickly. It was about 2:35 when we drove up to the
ferry terminal, and the next ferry was (is) the 3:00 one. The one coming in from Seattle got here
less than five minutes after I did, though, and as soon as it emptied, I was able to get on. So here
I am, trying to write with my laptop on a table that makes me raise my arms too high for comfort
and has a glare from the sky on the screen. What a pain. And it’s mostly cloudy!

Okay, now I’m sitting on my foot, which raises me higher. That’s a little better. The glare
isn’t any different, though.

We left Auntie Rose’s house this morning at about eleven o’clock, and headed out to the
Suquamish Indian Reservation, which is right on the other side of the bridge from the West side
of Bainbridge Island. It’s where Chief Sealth (“Chief Seattle”) is buried, and that’s why we went
there--because I am so vastly interested in Seattle, and Auntie Rose thought it would be
interesting for me. It most certainly was.

First, though, at about noon, we had a picnic lunch on the waterfront somewhere, from
which we could see the Seattle skyline in the distance, beyond Bainbridge Island, which itself
was somewhat distant from there. I had to take a couple pictures of that view, because it was so
cool. And I had been starving, and the many items of junk food, along with bread and fruit,
satisfied me quite well. It was a great spot to have a picnic, with that view, even though we used
an outdoor table that actually belonged to a nearby small deli. The guy even came out and wiped
the table off for us when he noticed Auntie Rose trying to wipe off bird doo with a napkin. It was
perhaps twenty minutes later when Uncle Imre made us official customers by going in and
getting some coffee. I myself never drank more than one swallow of any liquid at all during that
lunch, come to think of it--turns out that when Auntie Rose asked if I liked Root Beer and I told
her I love it, she failed to mention that it was diet (because of Uncle Imre’s diabetes). I gave it a
chance, thinking maybe diet Root Beer might be okay. It wasn’t.

From there we went to the aforementioned grave site of Chief Seattle, and it was very
interesting. His grave is in a fairly sizable graveyard, but his is the only one that stands out quite
a bit, with a totem-like structure built over it, which has two canoes stretched over the top of it.
What I found by far the coolest about it was that the Seattle skyline view that I mentioned
previously could be seen even better from up there at his grave site--even the Space Needle
could be seen, though only the restaurant part of it. Still, all of the other really tall buildings
could be seen as well.

The whole graveyard was interesting, though--lots of people who died when they were
really old. (One guy was 112.) Then, when Auntie Rose and I were looking at all the many
things set at Chief Sealth’s gravestone, including a cigarette pack, Uncle Imre came by and said,
“Do you two know what you’re doing?”

“Yes,” said Auntie Rose, “We’re standing on the grave, and that’s disrespectful.” She
then started to get off (as the grave is rather large, with a circular cement path running around it,
raising up above the rest of the ground level a foot or two) while she gave the excuse, “I wanted
to get close enough to see what had been set down here.”

Normally I would say that I don’t give a flying crap about standing on someone’s grave,
since it’s nothing but an empty shell of what a who used to use as a multi-use tool, as opposed to
the body being the person itself. However, I must admit that I found it strange that Auntie Rose
was standing on it, and when I got up there, I felt funny about the fact that I was doing it. Once
off, I never stood up there again.

Some guy just went on the intercom and asked someone with a specific car, and a
specific license plate, to come down and turn off his car alarm. He said, “Please come down and
turn it off, as the vibration of the ship will set it off again.” I found that slightly amusing.

So anyway, after the grave, we then went to a place called “Old Man House,” which is
where Chief Sealth actually lived for some time, apparently--also rather close by. It was really
interesting, although all that was actually there was an informational sign, since the house itself
apparently burned down sometime in the last century. I was still glad I got to see the spot,
though. (And by the way, the Seattle skyline could not be seen from that particular spot).

We came directly to the ferry terminal from there, so I don’t think I have much of
anything else to write for you at the moment. I did work a little bit on the newsletter for a little
while this morning, as well as some of another writing project, but I don’t really feel like
working on them at this very particular moment. I think I might just sit back and enjoy the rest of
this ferry ride.

Oh my god! I just looked up, and there’s Seattle--a wonderful view of it! So I’m going to
close, and then go drool over the wonderful sight of my own home town.


My package was ready for me to pick up the other day--finally--and I walked the eight
blocks or so to get it, on the tenth floor of what looked like a rather old, fourteen-story building
(which did have a thirteenth floor button--I don’t know if that’s just for hotels or what). Anyway,
this package that I bought, for a vertigo-inducing cheap price of $890 (for two, including hotel
accommodations, park tickets, and flight tickets--even airport shuttle), was unbelievable. Check
out the freebies it came with:

Most amazingly, there’s the free one-time use camera, with 24 pictures. Jennifer doesn’t
have a camera, so I’m just going to give it to her. In addition, there were two pre-paid calling
cards, each worth $25 (how many minutes that is, I have no idea). There was even some
complimentary sunblock included, as well as a couple of coupons, including free parking
(ooooh!). But still, I couldn’t believe all of this, even after I got the package for such a great
price (Dad had told me to be prepared to pay about $1500, though I think maybe he deliberately
gave me a high-end number).

Anyway, when I went to pick it up, I finally met this man with the accent I can’t place
(middle-East, I think) that I’ve been talking to on the phone off and on for the past three months.
I think he was more surprised to see me than I was him: with my hair tied back and no black
clothes on that particular day, I merely looked young--and, according to him, “a lot younger than
I expected.” He even smiled at me and extended his arms, looking almost like he was going to
give me a hug. I found that idea not necessarily repugnant, but at the very least completely
bizarre, since I had never even met the man in person before. So I just stood there and smiled at
him, and he ended up merely putting a hand on my shoulder for a moment. He showed me the
stuff that came with the packet, and I then took it, thanked him, and left.

Grandma told me the last time I saw her (last weekend, in Spokane, as a matter of fact),
that on the way home from the 1989 trip to California that she took her younger half of
grandkids on, which included Disneyland, I apparently told her then that some day I wanted to
go back to Disneyland with Jennifer. And now we’re doing just that, exactly one decade later,
which I think is just too cool for words. Jennifer doesn’t even have any spending money to bring,
but I don’t care. I told her I’ll go out to dinner and she can wait at the hotel.

Friday may twenty-first nineteen ninety-nine:

It’s ten thirty at night, and Jennifer is laying on my love seat reading a magazine. It’s
been kind of a long day, and I don’t have a lot of time in which to tell you about it. However,
many of today’s occurrences have been rather significant, so I need to at the very least give you
an abridged version.

Today was--thankfully--my last day working at Cleaning Consultant Services, Inc. I was
hoping Bill would stay true to his white-board schedule and be gone today. I was incredibly
disappointed to find his truck still there when I walked across the last railroad over to the
building--and then he was gone within about ten minutes, never having said a thing to me. I
don’t think he ever even saw me. Before he left, Chis apparently asked for a raise--which Bill
denied, citing his errors with writing down phone numbers (which, according to Chris, Bill does
a lot too--but to be perfectly honest, I don’t think Chris quite yet deserves a raise; he is too quick
to come up with pathetic excuses when something is done wrong . . . However, Bill is still a jerk:
he actually told Chris, trying to act like he was joking, that he wishes he could dock his workers

Anyway, the last time I myself had any association with the man was yesterday. Same
goes with Paul, the resident graphic artist, who always kind of gave me the creeps anyway.

Margie, the resident accountant, kept trying to convince me to stay, right up to today. She
acted all joking about it, but I think she really wanted me to. When she left at the end of the day,
no good-byes were said. The same is the case with Chris, who had some sort of appointment and
had to leave work rather early. He did, however, work with Jeff (the editor, with whom I have
lots of interesting conversations about writing and reading) to create a so-called “care package”
as my “going away present”: a finger-thing to aid in flipping through papers, a single paper clip,
a tiny stack of post-its, some kleenex, and a deck of cards that say “West Bend Mutual” on them.

The biggest sense of goodbye and seeing my off, though, came with Jeff--and by far. We
walked to the bus stop together after work, after engaging in a rather long conversation about
many different writers (and today is when I learned how Post Modern the vast majority of my
writing really is). I discovered for the first time that he just recently turned forty--I had no idea
he was that old. Anyway, he’s been really nice, volunteering his home phone and address
numbers so I can use him as a reference, and asking Margie to do the same and put it in the
self-addressed stamped envelope I put in her box for my last paycheck. When he got off the bus
at his stop, he said to me, “Take care of yourself,” and I said, “You too.” I really liked that guy,
and it’s too bad I probably won’t ever really have a chance to associate with him again the way I
once did at work. I thought about asking for his phone number, but I just tended to think that
would be a tad too weird.

When I got home, Jennifer had cleaned up much of my apartment for me: wiped off the
counters, swept, and being one of the many people who can’t figure out what’s wrong with my
vacuum cleaner, picked up all the fur balls on my carpets with her hands. Then she came with
me to my hair appointment, where probably the most significant thing of the day happened.

First of all, I kind of crossed a certain threshold today with Tiffany, my hairdresser,
when she mentioned that we have known each other long enough now that we could consider
ourselves--hesitantly, she says: “Sort of . . . friends . . .”

“Well, yeah!” I said, unflinchingly. That seemed to make her quite happy. And I now
have her e-mail address. But there are somewhat more complicated reasons as to why.

She took it upon herself to “set me up.” She keeps saying how it’s something she never
does, and she hates having it done to her--but she decided to take a chance. The boyfriend she is
seeing right now is someone she was set up with, I guess. But anyway, here’s the story:

A woman I never really noticed was talking to Tiffany for a few minutes the last time I
was in for an appointment. Turns out, she was the mother of this guy I now have a phone number
for (actually, I have two--including his cell phone number), and she stuck around so she could
get a look at me. I guess they discussed how “striking” and attractive I am, and they decided to
tell this Gregory (icky name, but oh well) guy about me. So then he came from Olympia (where
he is from, of all places--but he wants to go to an art school here in Seattle) to have a hair
appointment with Tiffany, just so he could talk to her about me. This I find a little strange. And
anyway, he decided to give her his phone number to give to me. And, after some struggle in
deciding, I decided to take it. I have to move on somehow, and this could prove to be one
effective way to do so. Time will tell if I ever have the guts to call him. (By the way, I lost the
number to that chick who handed me her number in LaConner). Tiffany keeps saying he’s really
cute--but every time she points to men on magazines and says, “How cute is he?”, I keep saying,
“Well, not very.” But none of them are terribly ugly either, so . . .

. . . So I guess I’ll call this guy one of these days. After my Disneyland trip. I certainly
don’t have time for it right now. I will call him and say that, for now, I am interested in
friendship. This is very important to me--to take things very slow. I’ve waited far too long for me
to just jump into a romantic relationship without being cautious in any way.

But, anyway, the e-mail thing was actually removed from this at first: she was all excited
that she had an e-mail address, and asked if I would e-mail her. I said of course I would--but at
the end of the appointment I said I wanted her address so I could discuss this whole thing with
Gregory before another four weeks from now. She’s getting me into this, and I’m not going to let
her just keep living her life without knowing what the hell is going on--whether it’s a success or
a bust.

So anyway, after that Jennifer and I walked over to Seattle Center for dinner, and we
went up the Needle. We didn’t stay up there for very long at all. You won’t believe this, though:
they stopped selling the annual pass. The last time I went up there, they had raised the price of
the annual pass from the $59 I paid for it to $79. Now, they just have something called “Frequent
Flyer” pass--which is nothing but twelve tickets for $79. With a regular adult cost of $9 a ticket,
that package saves you a grand total of $29. Big woop. I have used my pass more than ten times,
probably close to fifteen. Let’s say it was fifteen, then, and say I had an average of 1.2 guests
each time (I’m guessing, but that’s probably pretty close). That means that had I paid for each
ticket each time, I would have spent $162 on the Space Needle by now. Having my pass, that
would mean I have saved $103 already. And even if the pass had been $79, I still would have
saved $83. I’d say that’s a bit of a better deal.

I asked the young lady when I bought the tickets why they changed it, and she said she
didn’t know--”But I think they thought it was too good a deal,” she said. “Don’t tell anyone I
told you that.”

Well, in any case, my pass is still good until August. (By the way, that “Frequent Flyer”
thing is only valid to next March 31). Maybe they saw how very many times I have been up
there and decided they were losing too much money.

After that we came home and I packed, as I listened to the fantastic score to The Phantom
Menace. And here I’ve written far more than I was intending to. Let’s see if I’ll manage to do the
same tomorrow.

Saturday may twenty-second nineteen ninety-nine:

Well, people, these very words which you are reading at this very moment mark a
definite first in my life: I am writing this, on my computer, while I am in an airplane. I think
we’re flying over Oregon at the moment. I can see a medium-sized lake out the window at the
moment, but I have no idea what lake it is. It sure was awesome flying out of Seattle, though--we
had spectacular views of downtown Seattle and the Sound, and then both Mt. Rainier and Mt. St.
Helens at once.

I haven’t even brought my coat--just a sweat shirt--because it has been so warm in Seattle
today and yesterday. When we took off it was clear skies and quite sunny; quite warm as well.
Evidently it’s “the opposite” (according to our captain) in Los Angeles at the moment--mostly
cloudy and in the mid-sixties.

There really isn’t all that much for me to tell you about today so far, though. I just wanted
to actually write in my laptop while I was in an airplane. I just finished showing Jennifer all the
pictures I have scanned into this computer--well, most of them, anyway. I don’t know how long
we’ve been in the air, but probably a bit less than an hour. It seemed to take forever for us to get
off the ground. This plane isn’t full, either--it’s probably the most sparsely populated one I have
ever been on. I don’t mind, though--and I also don’t mind how much bigger it is than most
planes I am used to flying on.

I think we’re flying over some Cascades right now. I can see another lake, this one a little

This morning I took a taxi to take the cats up to Capitol Hill to be boarded while I am
gone. That will be a bill well over $100--perhaps even close to $150. Yippy. I feel bad about
boarding them--I bet they’re not having much fun. I sort of feel like I’m paying someone to
torture my cats while I go have fun. Hmm. Oh well.

I got up at 6:30 this morning so I could take the cats over there around 8:00. We left the
apartment at about 10:00, got on a bus for the airport at 10:30, got to the airport not long after
11:00, and boarded the plane at 12:11. The plane was supposed to take off at12:30. It must have
done so on time--we expect to get to LAX ahead of schedule.

That’s pretty much been the extent of my day so far, though; the highlight I suppose
being when a lady at Burger King (where they had tons for me to eat, of course) said to me,
“May I help you, ma’am?”

Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you: I walked in on someone in the bathroom after we got
into the air, and I later realized it was a flight attendant. We never actually saw each other,
though; I shut the door again as soon as I realized someone was in there--so the door was only
opened a tiny crack. I realized it was a flight attendant when she later came out. I had just been
told I could get up to go to the bathroom, but when she got out and I went up there, she told me
to sit down because the “fasten seat belts” sign was lit. Of all the nerve.

More snow-capped mountains out the window to the right. Jennifer just looked at some
circular patterns of farm land near those mountains and said, “Look, a bunch of space ships
landed there.”

Sunday may twenty-third nineteen ninety-nine:

It’s about 8:40 in the morning right now, and I could have been sleeping until now, but I
chose not to. I woke up and looked at the clock, seeing it was 7:30, and considered sleeping for
at least another half hour. But then I realized that I could write a bit in this letter before Ben and
Sandra got here, after my shower and all, and if that wasn’t incentive to get me out of bed, I
don’t know what is. So, I now have little more than an hour in which to try and tell you all about
my six-hour day at Disneyland yesterday.

Being Saturday, they closed at midnight. We got into the park at six (the other two days
we go, we will be there through all hours: 9 to 9; with one early entrance, at--I think it was 7:30).
Having six hours, we essentially got six things done, two of them being breaks for eating: the
other four were riding two rides (Space Mountain and Rocket Rods) and seeing two shows
(Fantasmic!--the one Dad insisted we go into the park on Saturday so we could see--and Honey,
I Shrunk the Audience!). We could have gotten more done, but to get a halfway decent seat at
Fantasmic! we had to get there and wait for an hour and a half; the Space Mountain ride had a
ninety minute wait, and the Rocket Rods right had a 105 minute wait.

It was all worth it, though. First thing we did when we got into the park was try and find
something to eat. No, actually, the very first thing I did was try and figure out where we were
going to need to go to see Fantasmic!. This was when the first evidence of how almost
disgustingly nice all of the employees of “The Happiest Place on Earth” are: we had maneuvered
our way through the sardine crowd, and were standing on a sort of brick walkway that stretches
around a little courtyard thing in the middle of Main Street right after you go in through the
entrance. (Speaking of the entrance--the lady that took our tickets called us “ladies,” then caught
herself and said, “I’m sorry”--and then said, “I love your eyes!”--these people and my eyes, what
the hell is their problem? Anyway . . .) I was quite blatantly looking at our brochure map we had
been given upon entering, and once I figured out that Fantasmic! was to be in Frontierland, I was
trying to figure out how to get there.

And in no time, out of the blue, this guy walked up and asked if he could help us with
anything. So I asked, and we were directed--Frontierland was actually rather close by. We
walked over there to see where the show would be at (it’s on something called The Rivers of
America), and then we saw a bunch of restaurants. Some restaurants: we walked past five or six,
and all of them had only seven or so items on their menu, none of which were vegetarian. What
a pain.

Then I said, “Well, you know, I probably can’t expect anything vegetarian in
Frontierland.” Jennifer replied, “No, they would all be rednecks.”

So we decided to check in some other “-land”, and we were standing by Main Street
again, looking at our brochure for any possible vegetarian locations. And once again, some guy
just manifested himself magically before our eyes, and asked if he could be of any assistance. I
had no problem asking him for some, and he directed us to a place in Tomorrowland called Pizza
Port. Off we went, with Jennifer telling me to stop standing and looking at the map, because
maybe then people would stop bugging us. Uh . . . huh? I quite appreciated it, myself. At that
point I was already wondering if a requirement for job applicants at this place is to suffer from
excessive happiness.

Tomorrowland was something I never got to discover when we were in Disneyland ten
years ago. Aside from Fantasmic!, it’s where we spent our entire time there yesterday. First we
ate at the Pizza Port, which had very good caesar salad (another bizarre encounter with a nice
employee: I asked if it was meatless, and the guy was overtly nice and eager to say, “The
dressing has anchovies in it, is that okay?”--I said it was) but their pizza tasted incredibly weird--
even Jennifer thought so. For that meal I bought some bottled water, two pieces of pizza, two
pops, and the caesar salad--nearly $24 for that. I couldn’t believe it. Oh well.

Anyway, once I had finally had something to eat (Jennifer only ate so that we wouldn’t
continue to be off-balance; I missed the food on the plane while I was in the bathroom), and we
went on our first ride. We had seen what Rocket Rods (though at the time we didn’t know what it
was called--we actually thought it was Space Mountain) looked like, and decided we wanted to
go on it. The cars we saw were running outside on an elevated track, all over that area of the
park. So we went and got in line to Space Mountain, even after reading the sign warning us of a
ninety minute wait. It was maybe forty-five minutes later when I realized this wasn’t what we
thought it was, but something better: something Dad and Sherri told me about and highly

The line was unbelievable. Every time we’d round a corner, we’d end up seeing yet
another long stretch of people waiting. Once we actually got inside the building, though, it was
pretty cool--like we were on the set of Star Wars or Alien. The only really cheesy thing about it
was that the ride was “brought to us” by Federal Express as a sponsor, and so the FedEx logo
was plastered everywhere. They had televisions in the inside walkway that had amusing
futuristic news shows from the future, though (“Vandals have placed a 30,000-mile long W on
the face of Venus!”), and it made the wait time go faster.

We were rather close to actually getting on the ride when the line stalled for a time far
longer than any of us would have preferred. For some reason they were unloading all the cars,
but not letting anyone on. I later thought maybe the spacing was getting off-kilter and they
needed to start over. Still, it was annoying to have to wait while we could see that no one was
actually getting on. Once they started loading again, the whole crowd--crammed into thin
walkways made out of bar rails like cattle, so there was little hope of escape for a claustrophobe
--burst out into thunderous applause.

The whole time we were waiting in line, there was sign after sign of “warning” to people
with back, neck, or heart problems. I was sort of like, Oh, great. Once I finally got to board, I
was rather nervous. I jokingly told Jennifer I was scared--”I think I’m gonna cry”--but I knew I
would be fine. I was still a little nervous, as I said, and my heart was pounding in all sorts of
anticipation. I really did expect to enjoy this ride, and in hindsight I think the facing of the
unknown about it made it particularly exciting. I still want to ride it again, though, so I can
actually pay attention to the spectacular lights that we passed through in the darkness of the
whole ride, instead of just screaming the whole way like I did.

Jennifer, on the other hand, did nothing but laugh . . . and laugh . . . and laugh. But there
were parts that freaked me out: it was always dark, and then I could barely see what looked like
metal rods or bars, probably part of the ride’s construction, and they looked way too close to my
head. But I survived, screams and all (I even screamed high-pitched like a girl a couple of times),
and was stunned when the incredibly short ride was over. I had to say that it was worth the ninety
minute wait.

It was after that when we went over to sit down for Fantasmic!, a live show that presents
“the imagination” (very emphatic) of Mickey Mouse’s dream, and then some evil force trying to
come and take over his imagination--consisting of the villains from countless Disney animated
motion pictures. I remembering saying to Jennifer, “That would be so cool if the evil side won
out!” At Disneyland? If that happened I would find it the most hilarious thing in the world. But
of course, it was truly predictable and the evil was squashed (by an amusing Mickey Mouse
coming out and saying, “You think you’re so powerful? This is my dream!”).

I have to say, though, that this show alone made the six-hour day at Disneyland worth it.
They had people standing on rafts that would come out and pass by on the water, dancing on
platforms. There were countless moments of cartoons being projected onto gigantic sprays of
fountain water, often being mixed in with actual fireworks around it, and people in costumes on
the stage the water surrounded sort of like a moat. There were elements from just about every
Disney movie film imaginable (except I now can’t recall anything from The Lion King or
Aladdin--or Pocahontas or Mulan, for that matter; but there was stuff from Peter Pan--on a
gigantic ship that floated by--Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Fantasia,
Dumbo, and Pinnochio, among others). I’m not doing it justice at all in my description, though.
It ended with a fireworks finale, and I was stunned with permagrin from beginning to end of that
show. It gave new meaning to the word spectacular. My god, it was awesome.

So then, after taking sufficient time to get the hell out of that crowd, this one really a
sardine one (I was tripped by a stroller stampede at one point), we went right back over to
Tomorrowland and went into the 105-minute line for Rocket Rods. That wait was pretty long as
well, but once again, once we got inside the building, it was an interesting wait.

I have to pause for a moment to tell you Jennifer just told me there’s a restaurant nearby
called El Pollo Loco--which means, The Crazy Chicken.

--Anyway, even waiting outside wasn’t so bad there, because it was dark, and a lot of the
trees had lights in them that made it look like they were sparkling, or there were fairies in them,
or something. It was really cool. Inside the Rocket Rods building, there were at first these mock-
blueprints of rockets, next to a screen that showed obviously really old animation showing what
the future of transportation might look like (Tomorrowland Mass Transit being the theme here),
with pictures of cars and trains everywhere from monorails stuck to the sides of mountains to--
this one by far the most amusingly unrealistic--underwater highways on the ocean floor.

There was also a window in that room that showed cars coming to the end of the ride,
passing by quickly in a flash of light. The next room was really cool: a 360-degree screen
theatre. It showed old pictures of Walt Disney himself (standing next to pictures and drawings on
a wall, one of which was of a bunch of freeways that commingled to make the picture of a dollar
sign) talking to the audience about his “vision” for the future of transit. The screens would show
things like really old eccentric ideas for transit, such as guys pedaling inside gigantic tires like
bicycles--and then all the screens would come together to make one cohesive, 360-degree
picture: you could feel like you were driving in a car down the street, look ahead and see the
street coming, focus on something like a tree, and then keep looking at it as it passes by on the
side until you can watch it diminish in the distance behind you. I had never seen anything like it.

The line was rather long even after that, going down stairs and then through a hallway
and then up stairs again until we were actually outside (I did get to hear Jungle Boogie playing
overhead at one point, though, so that was cool). We finally got on this ride, and it took us all
over the place, past all the rides in Tomorrowland. We’d pass by windows and see people
waiting in line at these futuristic rides, and it made them look exactly like the still drawings of
people waiting for futuristic transit in that animated screen we had looked at earlier. We also
passed next to the Matterhorn and the monorail, among other things. It went rather fast, and was
really fun zooming by outside in the night breeze

I must now pause again to tell you another thing Jennifer told me while looking at a map
of where all the other Howard Johnson’s hotels are at. Apparently there’s an Isla Margarita in
Venezuela--which means it’s called Margarita Island. (I’m sure you figured that one out, but I
felt like explaining anyway.)

So anyway, after that we went over to Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. It was really cool,
despite the cheesy acting and its continuation of an awful series of movies (which I must admit I
enjoy slightly--but still I never watch them; I tend to have better things to do). This thing does
more than show a 3-D movie--it also employs your sense of touch. That part I didn’t like so
much. You see, when the Duplicator invention inadvertently duplicates hundreds of mice, the
power goes out and someone says, “They’ve gone into the audience!”--these things come out of
the chairs in front of you and tickle your legs. It scared the crap out of me--and then it happened
again when a cat came out to chase them.

Then another machine accidentally shrinks the audience, and the screen serves as a hole
through which the gigantic characters look in at us (at one point a little boy picks us up, and the
entire auditorium shakes all over the place). Then, when the teenage son of the inventor has been
shrunk along with the rest of us, the snake he had around his neck did not, and it comes up to us.
At that point I pulled my legs up onto my seat, so nothing would touch me. Then, at the very end,
we find out the dog has been blown up, and it sneezes all over us--and we actually get mist
sprinkled on us. The whole thing was really cool. I just don’t like to be given a heart attack like
that. I won’t be too anxious to do it again soon. Besides, there’s stuff at Tomorrowland that we
still need to do--namely, Star Tours by George Lucas.

After that, it was pretty close to closing, and we stopped at a bakery on our way out. I
bought a Mickey Krispy Treat and hot chocolate for myself, and a lemon poundcake and some
other iced drink--all for nearly $10. $9.33, actually, according to Jennifer, not that you have any
reason to care--except I’m trying to demonstrate how expensive the food is there.

We left the park at closing, at midnight, when a guy over the intercom actually said that
Main Street would stay open yet another hour for shoppers. But we took our snacks and went
back to the hotel, getting there at about 12:30. We then both promptly went to bed.

Ben and Sandra should be here in about ten minute--no, the phone just rang, and it was
Ben. He started talking to me in this weird voice, and I thought it was Andy. Once I realized it
was Ben, though, he told us they were running a little late. Well--why shouldn’t they act like
McQuilkins? It’s what they are.

. . .

. . . Well, it’s evening now. I’d tell you about my day first, but I want to tell you about the
events right after our return to our hotel room this evening, they were so amusing. First of all,
both Jennifer and I noted that a maid finally got in to do her “housekeeping,” as she tried
walking in on us twice this morning, just to have the lock stop the door from opening more than
a crack--”Oops, sorry!” she said, both times. But this evening both of our beds were made, and
the strangest thing was that my stuff I had left on the table was all arranged neatly and in an
orderly fashion. I’m thinking that maid services would be a great outlet for true Obsessive
Compulsive patients to vent out their frustrations. Maybe that’s what they’re doing already.

Anyway, Jennifer was hungry, and I suggested we order pizza. There was a list of all
sorts of places in our “Guest Services Directory” that said they would deliver right to our hotel
room, so I chose Pizza Hut first. When the girl answered the phone, though, she first gave the
typical Pizza Hut greeting--before saying what I could have sworn was, “We’re sorry, but we
can’t sell anymore this evening because we’re out of duh.”

“You’re out of what?”

“We’re out of duh.”

This took me a minute. Then: “Oh. You’re out of dough?” Jennifer was overhearing this,
and she just busted up. When I got off the phone she said that’s like when she worked at KFC
and they kept running out of chicken.

So then I tried another pizza place--Round Table Pizza. The guy answered, and I asked if
it was possible to get a small pizza with half of it covered with mushrooms and the other half
with shrimp--and he said yes. He asked if I was going to pick it up. “Do you deliver?” I asked,
remembering that the Guest Services Directory said they did.

“Yes, but there’s a ten dollar minimum for delivery.”

Jennifer and I were laughing a bit at this point, and I was like, “These people have to be
so difficult!” But then I said to the guy, “Well, how much do I have so far?”

The guy couldn’t hear me very well, even though I could hear him crystal clear. I had to
repeat myself a few times. “How much do I have so far?”

I was told something between seven and eight dollars. So then I said, “Well, what if I got
a couple of drinks, would that make it work?”

He said it would.

I continued: “What kind of pop do you have?”


“What kind of pop do you have?”


Still thinking he just couldn’t hear me, I said again: “What kind of pop do you have?”

He replied, “I’m sorry--”

And then it donned on me: We’re in Southern California. “Oh!” I said. “Soda!”

Suddenly, the guy understood what I was talking about.

“I’m sorry, I’m from out of town,” I said. “Where I live, we call it pop.” When I asked
him, he said that it “wasn’t registering,” because no, he had never heard anyone call it that
before. Jennifer and I were both laughing quite a bit at this point--making him laugh a little too,
and he apologized for his misunderstanding. So then he told us what kind of soda they have, and
we ordered--barely making the minimum, at $10.75. I never thought that something as simple as
ordering a pizza would be such an amusing pain in the butt.

It’s supposed to take 35-40 minutes. It’s not here yet.

So anyway, about the rest of my day--Ben and Sandra showed us around Los Angeles
today, which I had asked for, because I have never been shown around the actual city itself.
Well, today I discovered why: despite their warning that not much of it was all that special, I said
I still wanted to see it--only to find a vast expanse of dingy land and buildings that looks like
someone just blew a bunch of dust all over it and then simply left it to erode (and, I must say,
much of it reminded me of Spokane--only flatter).

Ben and Sandra got to the hotel not long after ten this morning, and the first place they
took us to was a drive through downtown, where I took a bunch of pictures of the skyscrapers,
much of which are quite tall--though nowhere near the beauty of Seattle’s skyline. Ben kept
reminding me that we wouldn’t be getting out of the car, and I was fine with that. Los Angeles
skyscrapers look pretty dingy themselves--perhaps partly because of the smog, I suppose. There
are a few kind of good looking buildings, but most are rather boring. One three-story building I
took a picture of for Dad, at Ben’s suggestion: the Pacific Stock Exchange.

From there we went over to Hollywood, where we spent most of the afternoon, because I
had said I wanted to see the Hollywood sign--which I did. Hollywood itself, though, is just about
as dingy as anywhere else. I found it really interesting to stroll along the walk of fame (passing
by the Mann Chinese Theatre, I think it was called, where Star Wars is playing--we got to see a
sign longer than the eye could see), and I took pictures of the stars for both Robin Williams and
Lucille Ball. I could never find Madonna’s, though. That was a fairly long walk, but I found it
really interesting anyway.

After that we went to a place called City Walk (I think, if I remember right) to have lunch
at a restaurant in the middle of this--consisting of stores along an outdoor walkway, like a one-
level, outdoor Westlake Center. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant--oh, Jennifer says it
was called Gladstone’s. I was fully intending on paying for Jennifer and me, but before I could
even offer to say anything or realize what he was doing, Ben had all the money needed inside the
folded bill holder. That was nice, though--food in Disneyland costs a fortune, and I’d like to
make my money stretch as far as possible. Come to think of it, I think today I will have spent
(once the stupid pizza gets here) about $15 total, which isn’t too bad at all. The food at this
restaurant was pretty good, although Jennifer’s seafood salad made her stomach feel weird.
Perhaps it was those little squids that were in her plate, containing all of their body parts and
completely grossing me out, which Jennifer kept insisting on sticking in my face: “Are you sure
you don’t want to try it?”

We then walked around through some of the stores, and we went into a place called
Unique Candy, where I bought Jennifer some raspberry gummy candy, and I just got some
peanut m&m’s (pretty unique, huh?). We also went through a Suncoast and a Sam Goody store,
both of which I could have done at home, but I did it anyway.

After that they drove us through some of Beverly Hills, which actually looked halfway
decent, and we also drove along both Sunset Boulevard and Rodeo Drive--a street that was
featured in Pretty Woman when we watched the last half of it at Ben and Sandra’s house, which
was where we went next. We spent quite a bit of time playing Skip-Bo, which was fun. I also ate
too many of their doughnuts, which I still contend is Ben’s fault--he’s the one who insisted I take
the whole package over to the coffee table. But after I ate more than half of the chocolate ones, I
insisted that someone take it out of my reach.

Despite the way Ben kind of spoke patronizingly to Jennifer, obviously a result of not
being around her much, he and Sandra were incredibly gracious and kind to us today. Jennifer
didn’t get to talk all that much when we all visited, but that’s just because I have grown into this
person who simply does not know how to shut up. Ben and Sandra didn’t seem too bothered,
though--and he let me drink a glass of their orange juice three times over. I was afraid he would
think I was being a pig or something, but if he did, then he’s one hell of an actor--because he
never gave any indication of it.

After a few pleasant hours, Ben and Sandra drove us back here from their very nice and
inviting home in West Covina. They sure were nice to us today, and they didn’t really have any
reason to be to me-- though they would have more reason to be to Jennifer. It was a nice day,

I would write more about it, but I’m tired and I want to eat the pizza which is finally

Monday may twenty-fourth nineteen ninety-nine:

Disneyland was open today from nine to nine--but with our three-day pass we get one
early entrance, so today we were there from 7:30 this morning to nine this evening--actually just
a little bit after, because the shops on Main Street stay open for an hour later every day. We still
left the park not long after nine this evening, though; we were rather tired.

In any case, doing all we could find to do at Disneyland was all we did today. When we
got in through the gates this morning, we went straight to Star Tours, and got right on it. We
were glad we never waited an hour for that one in line, though, because it was kind of
disappointing. I mean, it was a simulator with a screen that made it seem very realistic that we
were in a space ship (run by a robot that talked too loud, who was apparently doing his maiden
flight). I could tell the whole thing actually moved forward instead of just up and down and back
and forth, because I could feel myself pressing into the seat whenever we went forward. Still,
there could have been far better special effects for that ride, and there wasn’t--and it didn’t last
very long either. So then we just went on over to Space Mountain and rode it again; we only had
to wait in line about ten minutes this time, and we both enjoyed it just as much.

So we finished going through everything in Tomorrowland, and then throughout the
course of the rest of the day ventured through the vast majority of New Orleans Square,
Adventureland, Frontierland, and Fantasyland.

The highlight of New Orleans Square was definitely the Pirates of the Caribbean, which
took a satisfyingly long amount of time to go through. It was very entertaining--as was the
Haunted Mansion, which also took a while to run through. This time I could figure out how
some of the things that had me baffled ten years ago were done, but there were far more other
things--newer things--that still left me baffled. There’s one thing too, that was still part of the
ride ten years ago, that was probably my favorite: the car you’re in passes in front of a bunch of
mirrors, and in your reflection you can see a ghost sitting in the center of your car--so, for us, it
was between Jennifer and me.

Adventureland had the Indiana Jones Adventure Ride, which was pretty cool, though the
wait for that one was too long (still far better than the lines on Saturday, this one being a half
hour--but the ride took around five minutes, I’m sure), and the Jungle Cruise. The Jungle Cruise
had us riverboating around this pseudo-safari, passing all sorts of animatronic African animals,
with our guide making jokes that were so stupid, I had to laugh at them (“It’s okay to look at the
elephants swimming--they have their trunks on”).

The one real major highlight of Frontierland was Thunder Mountain Railroad, a roller
coaster made to look like a train. It runs all around this desert-like mountain and through caves,
and it was pretty cool. I tossed three pennies into the pool while the train was moving.

We spent a lot of time in Fantasyland, which has a lot of attractions--like Pinnochio’s
Daring Journey, which has you in a car running through all sorts of illuminated drawings and
animatronic characters from the animated motion picture. There were many others that were
very similar that we went on: Alice in Wonderland, Snow White’s Scary Adventure, Mr. Toad’s
Wild Ride, and my favorite of them all: Peter Pan’s Flight, which has pirate boats you sit in.
They hang from a track, so it seems like you’re flying-- over all sorts of models, including a
wonderful model of the city of London. All of these rides are indoors and rather dark, so you feel
like you’re in the story.

Other rides we rode in Fantasyland included Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Fantasyland
Autopia (cars you can actually drive--though they do run on a track), the King Arthur Carousel,
Casey Jr. Circus Train--and a couple of the most famous in the park, Matterhorn Bobsleds (that
one was quite fun) and It’s a Small World. Jennifer and I dropped pennies into the water our
boats ran through as we watched all these puppets sing the song in many different languages, and
I made a wish for every penny I dropped. Of course I won’t tell you what I wished.

Now I’m trying to think of any amusing things that happened today. Jennifer and I did
laugh a lot, especially when we were eating at the Village Haus restaurant in Fantasyland, and
she slopped her pop all over the table and her lap because the cup’s lid seemed to be defective.
Not really paying any attention to what Jennifer’s problem was, I then tipped my own pop a tad
too far and did exactly the same thing. Jennifer thought that was rather funny.

Then, during that same meal, Jennifer said, “We need to find Sleeping Beauty,” and I
could have sworn (I think I need to get my hearing checked) she said, “We need to find sleeping
booty.” We laughed for probably a half hour over that one. I was like, “Hey, I’m game!”

Oh, and another example of the sickeningly nice employees there: I asked a guy for
guidance to another place I could get vegetarian food at, and he simply escorted me to the
Disneyland City Hall, where they helped me in a snap. The guy kept telling me that they love to
get feedback from people, “What they liked and what they didn’t like--”

“Well, I’m not unhappy,” I tried reassuring him.

“Of course you’re not!” he said cheerily, putting a hand on my shoulder. I think Walt
Disney wanted us to think all of his employees came from another planet.

There’s some guy out in the pool right now, and Jennifer and I can hear him acting like a
seal. And you know what else? I can still feel the motions of all the rides I’ve been on today,
right now. It’s kind of weird.

We also bought a bunch of post cards today (and I also bought an electric rose that lights
up for both Jennifer and me, and someone else’s birthday present), and I need to write in them. I
think I will close for the day then.

Tuesday may twenty-fifth nineteen ninety-nine:

Well, today was our third and final day in the Disneyland park. We put all of our post
cards into a mail box in the park today--it seems to me Dad and Sherri told me once that if you
do that, Disneyland themselves will cancel the stamp. I may be wrong, but I wanted to put them
into an in-park mail box anyway.

So, let’s see . . . what did we do today? Actually, we re-rode a lot of rides. I also pulled
Jennifer’s bra out in the open--twice. But I’ll get to that momentarily.

We saw Toontown and Critter Country first today, neither of which had a lot of rides in
them. The very first thing we did after going into the park this morning was walk straight to
Carnation Cafe for breakfast again. The hostess was the same young woman, and as we
approached the trellace entrance she said, “You decided you liked it here, huh?” I said yes, and
then I sat down to have what I believe is the best French Toast ever.

After that we went to Storybookland to finish what we had yet to do there, in that section
of Fantasyland--the Storybookland Canal Boats. It was a pleasant little make-believe canal boat
ride through outdoor scenes from just about every child’s story imaginable, except that our
narrator seemed rather uninterested in what she was saying, and she had an irritatingly nasal
voice. We also rode the King Arthur’s Carousel there twice today--once late this morning and
once this evening. I took some pictures of it with my night mode on the camera, because it
looked really cool.

It wasn’t long before we went over to Critter Country, where we rode Splash Mountain.
We liked it so much that we rode it again later. In Toon Town we rode the Go-Gadget Coaster,
which was brief but still cool, and after that Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin, which was a lot like
those storybook rides with cars going through cartoon walls--only this time we had a wheel with
which to spin the car the whole way through. I really enjoyed it.

We spent the rest of the day re-riding rides. We even rode Space Mountain twice today,
making a grand total of four times--can you tell which one was our favorite? We also re-rode
Indiana Jones Adventure again, as well as The Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion,
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Peter Pan’s Flight. I enjoyed them all as much as the first
time--some even more so.

Oh yeah, and about Jennifer’s bra. We were on those boats in Storybookland, and I was
trying to pull my camera out of my backpack. Jennifer had a white tank top in there with a white
bra, for the possibility of a need to change into something cooler (and she wouldn’t wear the
gray bra she went into the park with under the tank-top; she wore it then to match her gray long-
sleeved shirt). I didn’t realize that the white bra was stuck to my camera strap, and so when I
pulled the camera out the side zipper on my backpack, out came the bra as well--landing on top
of the backpack. “Oh my god!” I said, and I scrambled to shove it back into the backpack. I have
no idea whether or not anyone saw it, but if they did they probably thought that was pretty odd.

When it happened again later, it was after Jennifer had changed into the tank top because
it was too hot (but before, however, our second ride on Splash Mountain, which left us both
soaked). I was trying to pull my camera out again, and I jokingly said, “Should I pull your bra
out again?”

“Let’s not,” she said.

So then I pulled out the camera, not bothering to shove the gray fabric all the way back
onto the backpack as I did so--I thought it was her gray shirt. However, out came the gray bra in
its entirety, right after those two comments had been made. Oh my, that was funny. I did that
right in front of the carousel. It made its way back in my bag rather quickly, though, and being
dusk, I doubt if anyone who even saw the fabric come out realized that it was a bra. It was still
hilarious, though.

Hey, you know what else? In addition to the one meal and two or three souvenirs I
bought with my check card, I have now spent all of the $200 I took out of the bank on Friday for
food. We will eat at restaurants all day tomorrow, though, so I should be able to use my check
card from now on. Still, that’s pretty steep for food--over the course of about four days. Oh well;
I’ll still get home having spent less than $1500 for everything on this entire trip, and that sits
well with me.

I’m sort of nervous about going home. I really don’t know about calling this guy. What if
he looks like a malnourished horse or something? I find it odd that this guy expressed interest in
me after hearing only a physical description and the fact that I write a lot. If this relationship ever
goes anywhere, he has no idea what an impossible situation of a person he’s in for.

Seriously, though, not even Tiffany really knows what an impossible personality I have. I
just don’t see how I can even hope to expect much to come out of this. The guy and I have never
even met. Our first meeting will therefore not be a date.

I sure find it uncanny that he’s from Olympia, though. I wonder if he’s ever eaten at the
Shipwreck Cafe.

I think I’m just letting my brain run on overdrive. I really want to think this could turn
out to be something really meaningful, but then my addiction to rationality and reality takes
over, and I realize what chances there really are of such a thing.

Maybe I should just go to bed. Tomorrow is another day--as is the next one, and the next,
and the next. Some decisions will be mistakes, but at least I’ll learn something. There is indeed
great value in that.

Wednesday may twenty-sixth nineteen ninety-nine:

Well, I feel like the day has just begun--and it’s 11:15 a.m. I didn’t get out of bed until a
little after eight today, though, and didn’t get around to showering until after nine. It was
probably ten by the time we finally got around to walking over to Denny’s. I’m enjoying the
leisurely pace of this day, though, after dealing with the early rising of all the others. I was
telling Jennifer today about how I had a lot of fun, but I’m not anxious to do this again any time
soon. I’ve had enough fun for the next decade, I think, and maybe I’ll come back again when I’m
thirty-three. Perhaps Jennifer will have kids by then, though. As I also told Jennifer, I have now
experienced Disneyland as a kid myself, then on my own as an adult--and now I would probably
enjoy it most on a third visit only if I went with a kid who I could watch having their own fun. I
don’t expect to have a kid of my own by then, but hey--anything can happen.

Jennifer just called her mom, and even though she had been told a number of times, she
kind of flipped out when Jennifer told her she was in Southern California. “What are you doing
down there?” she said. What a twit. I’m trying to think of who I could maybe call with my own
calling card. I could call Dad and Sherri, but they are in Kentucky right now, as far as I
remember. Maybe I’ll call Danielle.

What I really need to do today is finish the newsletter. I can’t think of much else to tell
you at the moment . . . I did do a little bit of home video recording, for the first time on the trip. I
figured I should do some, since I actually brought that thing down with me. I didn’t see it as very
logical to bring it into the park, though now in hindsight I think I could have done it fairly easily
(I did see people recording with camcorders while on roller coasters in there). I’ll have to
remember that next time.

Thursday may twenty-seventh nineteen ninety-nine:

We have about two hours before we have to catch the airport bus to LAX. All we’ve done
so far is take our showers and go eat breakfast at the hotel restaurant. It’s called Coco’s, and I’m
glad I won’t even have the chance to eat there again any time soon. They were like a bad
imitation of Denny’s (and we all know how great Denny’s is), and their hash browns left an
aftertaste in my mouth like no other--which is why I can’t possibly describe it. Suffice it to say
that it was disgusting.

My guess is that you’re not really interested in what I have to tell you next, but I think I’ll
tell you anyway. I didn’t finish my writing yesterday, but I got at least some of it done. I finished
writing (finally) about my weekend in Pullman in the newsletter, and then I pasted portions of
letters to Barbara--including this one--about my trips to Port Townsend and Southern California
into the newsletter as well. What I have left to do, today and tomorrow, is edit through those
pasted sections so they work in the context of the newsletter.

We only left the hotel room four times yesterday, and only twice for food: breakfast at
Denny’s, lunch at Acapulco’s (which was so large that we brought leftovers and ate them in the
hotel room for dinner). The other two times we left were for a short walk down to the gift shop,
and also that really long trek we took to the pop machine across the hallway.

Jennifer found a Winnie the Pooh cartoon on the TV, and I want to watch it.

. . .

. . . Well, I’m back on a plane again, and I seem to be having a harder time of typing that
I was on the way down. This guy in front of me keeps moving his chair back, which really limits
the space I have for my laptop (which is indeed presently in my lap, since this time putting it on
the tray proved impossible). I also have my arms at weird angles for this typing because of my
lack of room--also partly because Jennifer has taken over the arm of the chairs between us, so
she can rest her head on her hand as she sleeps. She always tells me she can’t sleep sitting up,
but she seems to be doing it now.

I just managed to finally get up and go take a pee, because it took the damn pilot (who is
both chatty and dreadfully boring--such a wonderful combination) forever to turn off the seat
belt sign.

--Jennifer just leaned the other way, so my arm feels a tiny bit better. Not much though. It
sure is bright outside the windows today. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures while in flight; the
clouds out there have looked really cool. I took a couple when we were over the ocean, which
happened immediately after take-off. We took off facing the West, so we went out over the
water for a few moments, only to turn right and head over land again. I got what I think will be
some great aerial views of the coast line, though.

So, let’s see . . . what can I tell you? Hanging out at the LAX airport for four hours was a
hoot to end all hoots, I’ll tell you that much. It wasn’t too bad, though, actually--and their Burger
King actually had salads! I was very happy about that. We also moseyed through shops and
ended up buying a People magazine and some gummy bears to keep us occupied while we
waited. Our flight was delayed about fifteen minutes, and then the plane itself got sort of stuck in
a traffic jam when we were trying to take off. Our pilot said that even the air traffic controllers
were commenting on how busy it was out there today.

I think we’ve been in the air a while, though, and I suspect we’re over Oregon right now.
No, I guess we’re over Washington already--I can see Mt. St. Helens. Just took a picture of it. I
guess we’ll be landing in about a half hour, according to the pilot. This flight sure has gone by
quickly--but I spent much of it designing an envelope on my computer. I need to put this laptop
away, though, because I want to take more pictures of the mountains.

Friday may twenty-eighth nineteen ninety-nine:

Jennifer and I saw Star Wars today.

It was all right.

Saturday may twenty-ninth nineteen ninety-nine:

Now, on to far more significant topics, going through when I am jumping hurtles. I shall
let you know that I am about to paste e-mails in here, both to the same person (that is, Tiffany,
my hair dresser. I write about him to Tiffany first because she was the one who gave me his
phone number--seems logical, no? So here they are:

[sent 2:20 p.m. today:]

Hey Tiffany, just in case you're interested . . .

First of all, my e-mail address is .

Secondly, I just tried to call this Gregory guy. I assured you that you will read ALL about
whatever happens here, and since a single failed attempt at trying to call him has nearly made me
a basket case, I figured I would start early.

Not much to report, but it was still rather unpleasant having to deal with so much
adrenaline--I'm supposed to be too old by now to have to deal with such adolescent crap. But I
called his home phone number you gave me, and got the machine; I did not leave a message. I
figured the answering announcement was his voice, but when I called his cell phone and got a
message again, the voice sounds different. Again, I did not leave a message. Perhaps I should. I
did get up the nerve to dial the numbers sooner than I thought I would (I had just gotten off the
phone with a friend who told me his mother locked him in his room until he finally called a girl
he liked when he was in high school, and it took him "hours" to do it--I only sat there with the
phone in my hands, my heart pounding, for about five minutes . . . but then I realized I had more
important (or more engaging) things to do than sit there panicking over something that will more
than likely turn out to be not much of anything. I could be wrong--but then I'd have to be nervous
even more often, and who wants that? I told the aforementioned friend that I almost hope this
guy turns out to be an ugly moron, so it makes it easy for me to just not have anything to do with
him. If he's actually nice, then I might get sucked into making an actual relationship of some
sort, and then I'll have to deal with all that dating crap I already told you I'd prefer to do without.
But for SOME reason these things don't tend to just "happen" on their own . . . and that's a real

I didn't know what to say to him if I were to leave a message. Leave my phone number, I
suppose. Could have thought of that . . . but what if I call fully intending to leave a message, and
then he actually answers the phone? Will I be able to say anything more intelligent than, "Duh?"
Okay, probably. But still . . . I feel like I'm fifteen years old and I don't like it. Maybe I'll get
lucky and he'll have caller-ID on one of his phones, and he'll call ME back, saving me the
trouble. No, probably not--especially since I did not realize I had not yet turned off my phone
until after I uttered a loud groan at the fact that I got yet another answering machine. Would you
call back an anonymous caller who left you a message that consisted of, "Aaaaarrrgggghhhh!"? I
know I wouldn't.

In any case, though, I feel it very important to let you know that I actually dialed both
numbers just moments ago. Why? Because it's a sort of threshold for me--the first time ever I
have not only taken someone's number, but actually called it. Leave it to you to hear me say that
I'm outrageously shy when it comes to stuff like this, and then have you go and try setting me up
with someone I have never met. I should have asked you more questions about him than I did. I
hope he weighs less than five hundred pounds (well, a lot less, actually). What, exactly, does he
look like? And how detailed were you when you described me to him? Does he have a clue how
weird I am? Well. You're probably entertained as hell by all of this. Maybe I should quit while
I'm ahead.

For now.


everybody's favorite fruitcake

[sent 6:38 p.m. today:]

I'm too old for this, I'm too old for this, I'm too old for this.

I tried calling him again. Of course there was no answer. Instead of trying his cell-phone
again, I just left a message. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. This is pretty close to
all I said: "Hi, this is a message for Gregory. My name is Matthew, my hairdresser here in Seattle
gave me your phone number. My phone number is area code 206-728-7025; give me a call if you
want. Bye." And that was it. But it was five minutes ago, and I'm still shaking. I think I am in the
process of redefining the true meaning of the phrase "painfully shy." Because this really IS a
pain. This is only supposed to happen in high school, isn't it? For Christ’s sake, I haven't even
met the guy! Why should he make me so nervous? Perhaps it's fear of the unknown. In any case,
I'm jumping major hurtles here, I hope you understand this. I only sat with my heart pounding
and that phone in my hands five minutes again before finally calling--two years ago, it could
easily have taken hours. But that doesn't mean I'm having a fun time of this crap.

So that's why I've left the ball in his court. I don't have a clue when is the best time to
call, and I am NOT about to make myself go through that unwanted adrenaline rush ten times
over before finally getting a hold of him. Chances are much more likely that I would be home
when he tried to call ME, than the other way around. So now I can just wait. And that's all there
is to it.

And that once again brings you up to date--although chances are you read my previous
message right before reading this one.

your favorite fruitcake


. . . Now, back to this letter: I have calmed down a bit now. Of course, every time the
phone rings from now on, I’m going to be deathly afraid to look at the Caller-ID--and then
deathly afraid to pick up the telephone. This really is a pain. I was talking to Gabe on the phone
today (that “aforementioned friend” previously referred to) and telling him how I would prefer
that romantic involvement just happened--you know, as opposed to putting it on some sort of
agenda. I tried to point out that it really worked out that way for Gabe and Suzy, but all he did
was counter that with the fact of its special circumstances (“We lived together”), and how much
easier it is for such things to happen to straight people. He pointed out to me, “You’re gay.” Gee,
I hadn’t thought of that.

Sunday may thirtieth nineteen ninety-nine:

I got a letter from Jeff Warner yesterday, the guy who was the editor at Cleaning
Consultants. I was kind of surprised--though pleasantly. It was mostly poetry he wanted to share
with me, accompanied by a short letter. So today I spent quite a bit of time writing up responses
to his poetry, and also pasting in ten new poems of my own for him to read. After all was done,
the letter was 23 pages. It’s going out in the mail on Tuesday, and I included my phone number
as well as e-mail address; this I did because his letter also included his home phone. I took that
as a sort of gesture to mean he doesn’t really want me to just disappear from his life--but I won’t
call him just yet, because I don’t really know what I would say to him quite just yet. I figured
that writing would be the most logical route for now.

In any case, though, I now how three people who are at the very least prospects for new
friends, or local friends: Jeff, Tiffany, and Gregory--although Gregory lives in Olympia, which is
both annoying as well as convenient. The phone rang earlier this afternoon, and the caller ID
said it was anonymous. Nervous at the prospect of it being him, I took three rings to find the
phone--only to have whoever it was hang up after only that many rings. What if it was him, and
he is as nervous about this as I am? I sure hope he isn’t--because it we’re both painfully shy, then
we’re surely going to get nowhere fast.

More than anything I want Tiffany to write back. I check my e-mail every few hours in
hopes to have something from her--and I never do. I have sent her three e-mails (one right before
leaving town, consisting only of my web site address--let’s hope she didn’t go there and then
decide I was too weird after all). I won’t feel like my “progress reports” are really worth writing
for her unless she responds to them. And now I’m also getting antsy about the fact that Gregory
hasn’t called back. This is all a real pain--but I won’t try calling him again, dammit! That’s
much worse than waiting for him to call me--even if it takes weeks. If nothing else, I have my
next appointment with Tiffany on the 19th of June, and then we can catch up from there.

the writing history

Remind yourself that when you die, your “in” box won’t be empty.

I actually did submit those poems to both Seattle Magazine and The New Yorker. I have
not yet heard from the latter, but got my best rejection letter ever from the former:

Dear Matthew,

Thank you for submitting your poem OZ to Seattle Magazine. We do not, however,
publish poetry. I am returning your manuscript in the envelope provided.

Thanks for thinking of us here at Seattle. Best wishes to you and your efforts as a writer
and poet.


Lisa Wogan

Managing Editor

. . . It was the first rejection letter I ever received that was actually personalized, and so I
quite appreciated that.

Other than that, I am working on two separate projects at once, one a rather significant
one, both immediately and historically, for Gabe, which is far to complicated for me to take the
time to explain here. The other is something for Barbara, which will no doubt turn out to be my
second book-length work of fiction ever written. I hope to write a book at least once a year from
now on, which would indeed be in my best interests if I ever want to get one published.

As for publication more immediately, though, the fact that I have yet to hear from The
New Yorker is really all there is to tell at this point.

Normally I would share with you all one of my latest poems here, but this newsletter has
turned out so long that I am going to forgo it. I am exhausted from all this business and writing
about it, and am very happy to be ending this particular installment.

this has been presented 2 u by
matthew mcquilkin
on behalf of
fruitcake enterprises (5/31/1999)