November 1998

[Author’s note: portions of this text were taken as excerpts from the following
letters: jen46, sherrichat06, barbar67, e-mail to Josh 11151998, e-mail to Josh
11161998, and rose24.

The Fruitcake Newsletter

vol. 2----issue #2----November 1998


Quitters never win, winners never quit,

but those who never win and never quit are idiots.

The trick is to keep an open mind,

without it being so open that your brain falls out.

How surpassingly lovely it is to have such a knack, this uncommon talent I
have, for pissing people off. With my newsletter alone, I have now upset (on a wide
range of severity, from mild disconcertion to all-out pissed off) five people. Certain
portions of other writings I have done in the past have upset people as well; for example,
as far back as 1989, I upset a friend of my mother’s for killing her off in one of my
stories (for some reason she got her nose all bent out of joint over it). However, not since
I began this newsletter have I had such a concentrated record of putting people off. It’s a
lot like the people who wrote letters to the editor at The Daily Evergreen, only people tell
me over the phone or e-mail now, instead of the comparatively anonymous safety of
writing to an editor.
It’s no secret that opinions are like butt holes (I know that’s crude, but hey--the
more common usage of the term I decided to forgo here because I’m being nice).
“Everyone has one, and everybody thinks everyone else’s stinks.” Well, I don’t think
everyone else’s opinion stinks, but there is a very large percentage of the population,
whether related to me or not, who thinks my opinions stink to high heaven. This is where
I get into trouble, because I consistently write about how I feel about just about
everything, always chancing the consequences. The point of a newsletter may be
“drivel,” but with nothing written in that indicated about how I felt about anything, this
newsletter would be horribly pointless, not worth a single sentence--and certainly not
worth thirty-two cents a copy.
Occasionally I consider discontinuing this newsletter, but that would very
possibly upset more people than I do when I actually distribute it. What to do, what to
Well, I can’t lie to any of you. I’m still a cocky little twerp snob, and this is my
response to the criticism: I will say once again that taking me too seriously is most often
a very dangerous thing. Now, of course, there is a happy medium here--I would not say
that absolutely everything I write in here should be taken as a joke. However, most of my
readers know what a smartass I am, and any cracks I might make are never meant as an
insult to any particular reader (maybe people who I know won’t read it, but with my
newsletter posted online, that would not include many people). I never intend to sound
like I have any sort of personal vendetta against anyone of my friends or family at all, and
I pray that one day everyone will finally understand that fact. I was never out to “slander”
or “libel” anyone, in any single letter from issue #1 back in October of 1997 to this very
This newsletter is not USA Today, nor is it The National Inquirer--it was never
intended to be on the extremes of seriousness (or lack thereof) of either of those
publications. I have no intention of reporting only the day-to-day occurrences with no
filler to augment my creative writing skills, and neither do I intend to write it just to
report “dirt” on people. The point here is to tell about my life and the things that
happened in it, along with my personal reactions to it. It all comes from my brain and my
brain only, and naturally that means I’ll say things other people don’t agree with. This is
not propaganda, however, and I am not here to change anyone’s mind about anything, or
to make anyone look any worse or better than they make themselves look in my eyes.
In any case, no matter what the intention is of the writer, the text itself is always
open to interpretation, and the reader can take it how he or she feels. The writer,
however, cannot be blamed for every misinterpretation. This is only my life and
comparatively insignificant things related to it, reported from my own perspective. That
in itself is hardly profound, and for that reason profound reactions to it are hardly
sensible. I will say once again (I don’t know how many times I will have to say it before
people actually start believing it) that no matter what I may write, I have no more or less
love for any one person who I write this newsletter for than any other person who reads
it. Okay, so I can get irritated with people, and so I vent it through writing. It really
doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
Anyway, that said, I suppose I’ll move on to this month’s list. The following are
all the people who have not written to me a true letter in more months than I have the
energy to count:
1. Angel Benson (last letter received 9-6-1996; it’s been a little while, but at least
I get to see you every so often, as well as your adorable baby . . . )
2. Danielle Hunt (last letter received 7-15-1998; not a bad record, at least
compared to the rest of the people on this list . . . still, it’s been more than four months,
and even though we talk every so often, you’re still on the list again . . . if you get bored
with this you can always just throw it away, I’ll never know . . . )
3. Darcy Hartsell (last letter received 12-28-1995; even that was just a newsletter,
but hey--better than nothing. I am ashamed to admit that I was in Olympia and had the
chance to come and visit you, and did not even realize that fact until after I was already
on my way home. I hear about you so seldom anymore that I forget about my chances
when they come up--I’ll make more of an effort to think about it in future visits to
Olympia, it’s just been too long since I have seen you . . . )
4. Dawn Adams (last letter received 6-12-1997; I know you have a pen and paper
somewhere . . . oh, and I hope you had a great birthday, since I wrote this on the day of
your birthday and you will not read this until a week later . . . )
5. Gina Yarbrough (last letter received 3-6-1998; only nine months ago! You
should write while you’re waiting in your car more often . . . )
6. Jennifer Miga (last letter received 2-8-1998; only three more months and it will
have been more than a whole year since you last wrote . . . do you really want to do that
to poor little old me?)
7. Kim and Sherri McQuilkin (last letter received 10-28-1996; though your e-mail
picks up some of the slack there . . . can’t wait till Christmas!)
8. Paul McQuilkin (last letter received 9-16-1998; I should really answer that
letter here one of these days . . . it’s the only letter I have ever left unanswered for so
long. I never break my word, though, so I will promise you now that I will answer it
within the end of the year, and that way I trap myself into getting it done . . . )
9. Raenae Lanning (last letter received 2-29-1996; actually, you did write about
two paragraphs in the graduation card you gave me in May, but that’s more like a note... )
10. Rick Benson (last letter received never; some things you can always count on,
so, you know, that’s nice . . . )
11. Shane McQuilkin (last letter received 7-18-1998; you have actually written to
me more recently than anyone else on this list, so you should be proud of yourself . . . I
guess . . . say hi to Heidi for me, tell her I’m blissfully happy . . . )
As for the people who still continue to write to me on a regular basis, there is now
a new person who is an official common correspondent! In addition to Grandma
McQuilkin, who achieves the impossible by writing to me even more than I write to her,
Auntie Rose, Jennifer McQuilkin, and Barbara, my great Uncle Jim (maternal
grandfather’s brother) now writes to me plenty. So now, for the first time in literally
years, there is an equal chance I could get a letter in the snail mail from one of five
different people on any given day. There was once a time when that number would be
fifteen instead of five, ah, those were the good old days--but hey, these are the harsh
realities of the present, in which not even people who write by e-mail do so very often.
And what, then do I have to say to the rest of you people? Are you hovering on the edges
of your seats?

a month in the life of a fruitcake

The one thing that we yearn for in our living days,

that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds,

is the remembrance of some lost bliss

that was probably experienced in the womb

and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death.

But who wants to die?

--Jack Kerouac, from On the Road (1955)

Every dark cloud has a silver lining,

but the lightning kills hundreds of people each year

who are trying to find it.

Isuppose the logical place to start here would be Halloween. Hey, why not?
Last year, if the bulk of you will recall, I went strolling around the WSU campus
in my “normal boy” costume. This time I wanted to do something just as extreme, but
very different from that. I opted for the one other way to go around as the antithesis of
Matthew--that is, dressed in as stark a white outfit as my normally stark black outfits.
Instead of black hair, nails, make-up, and clothes, it would all be white. This was perfect
for the costume that Sherri suggested for me--an angel. I really wanted to come up with
something on my own instead of taking suggestions (which is why I rejected the
admittedly brilliant suggestion of Danielle’s the I go as the stain on Monica Lewinsky’s
dress)--I wanted it to be my own creativity. However, when Sherri suggested I be an
angel, it was just too perfect.
First of all, I did not cut out sleeve holes in the white cape I bought, as I had
originally thought I would, but rather only cut slits for the wing straps to fit through,
which are completely hidden when the wings are worn. I wore a white wig with hair
longer than the average man’s hair but far shorter than mine-- which was bunched up
under the wig, and got rather hot by the time late evening rolled around. I found white
pants and white slippers (women’s size 6, rather small for me but they served their
purpose) with the white socks and white dress shirt I already had--which I wore
untucked. I wore the hooded cape as well, which helped to hide the black hairs that stuck
out from the bottom of the wig in the back of my head.
As for the make-up, I discovered on Halloween morning that somehow or
another, the white eyeliner that Jennifer had given me did not make it into my backpack.
I was not sure how I was going to remedy this situation, until I found that while I applied
white eyeliner, it was rather easy to color the eyelashes with it as well. I also colored in
my black eyebrows as best I could with it--which would have been much more effective
had I used the mascara for that, and I was later told my eyebrows actually looked blue.
Still, they were close enough to the stark white of everything else I was wearing, right
down to the nail polish.
I was, in fact, the one and only person who came by the house that day who
dressed up in such detail. Dad and Sherri both had rather simple costumes--Sherri was a
lumberjack and Dad was a Hawaiian tourist. Gina only wore the Herman Munster T-shirt
and jean jacket she won over the radio, and Angel did not dress up at all. Sherri told me I
should have had Angel go as a devil, which I thought was a brilliant idea, but it was
obviously too late. Still, I had both my still picture and video picture taken standing next
to her--an angel next to Angel.
As usual, Halloween was an open house at Dad and Sherri’s--whoever wants to
drop by can; this is the only holiday not limited to family and the occasional really close
friend. The only icky person to come over this time was the husband of an employee of
the restaurant--a man who was obviously very drunk, and a bit obnoxious. I was very glad
when he left; he made us all uncomfortable. Sherri told me later that he came up to her at
one point during the evening and said, “I just have to ask you about that guy in the
“That’s my son, what about him?” she asked, in a deliberately innocent manner.
Then he backed off.
My wings kept on jamming in doorways and bumping into people. My cousin
Toni told me I kept hitting her with them, so I said, “Well, watch where you’re going!”
Everyone who actually knew me thought the costume was great--and Angel later
told me she thought I could have won a contest with it. It was certainly the most “made
up” I had ever been in my life. To be referred to as “the guy in the white”--there’s a bit of
a stark contrast there, wouldn’t you say? Aunt Raenae and Grandma McQuilkin both
exclaimed that my costume was “cute,” and Grandpa only looked at me and said,
“You’re not an angel”--and then he promptly went down to his usual spot in front of the
television, presumably to take a nap.
Anyway, Halloween weekend was a rather nice visit, even though I obviously
bummed my grandma out when she discovered I was not going to come out and visit her
at the campground she was staying at. I happened to get a very nice one-on-one visit with
Gina, though, of a very rare kind, and the original intent here was visiting Olympia
anyway (as opposed to Mother Nature’s Acres)--so I decided to stay put, and all was fine
as far as I was concerned. I later decided to drive it home with Grandma that the only
reason I will be in Olympia for Christmas instead of Thanksgiving is because she is going
to be there (my being there because of her is, indeed, of highest importance to me). After
making definite point to point this out, she did not complain again.
On the actual day of Halloween, Dad and Sherri had to work, and they did not get
home until rather late afternoon. However, I put myself in costume straight out of the
shower, and ended up walking around the house by myself in full costume--wings
included--for hours and hours. I finally took the wings off and then Gina arrived before I
knew it, to watch the rest of the home video I had taken up to that point, and I put the
wings on again for her. I then kept them on until almost all of the visitors had left that
At one point I went along with Dad, Gina, her ex-husband Dave, and their little
kid David trick or treating, because I was in such full costume. David was rather odd, I
thought, in having such desires to go home after covering only about three blocks--saying
he thought he had enough candy now. A few kids we passed liked my costume, though,
and one of them said, “The tooth fairy! Hey, I lost a tooth last week!” I did not have a
penny to throw at his feet.
The cape I was wearing was really cool, and rose and fell in a wonderfully
graceful manner. I could spin and it would swirl around in waves. Gina told me while we
were out that it reminded her of Stevie Nicks, so I started walking down the street belting
out Stevie Nicks songs until Gina finally said, “Okay, you can stop now.”
I didn’t really eat lots of candy, though--at least not as much as I have in years
past. I discovered Nutrageous for the first time, though, and I have a serious addiction,
which isn’t helping my attempt at losing weight. So I go out and buy doughnuts to keep
my mind off of the candy bars. It’s just way too easy to find cheap junk food in this
town . . .
In other news, the first two weeks of November I was put under house arrest--by
my cat. Yes, that’s right. Right at the beginning of the month, my 23-pound cat blocked
my way out the front door and yelled at me, “You can’t go anywhere until you finish
giving me useless antibiotics for a full two weeks! You have to shove white liquid down
my throat two times a day and I’ll hate you for it! Then, only two days before the
treatment is finished, I will pee on your carpet AGAIN, thus proving that medication as
an attempt to get me to stop peeing outside the litter box was a complete waste of time
and money for both of us!” Then he tilted his head back and let out a maniacal laugh:
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HA!!”
Batty has me wrapped around his finger (er, paw), and so I just stayed home and
resented him for those two weeks. Nothing seems to be clinically wrong with him here,
and sure enough, two days before I was to take him to his follow-up visit at the vet, he
walked right over to my closet door and started scratching at it. I was just waking up, as it
was morning. “Wake up!” he yelped. “I just peed and there’s nothing you can do about
it! Neener neener neener!” I got up and gave him a good whack, and then I cleaned it up.
He peed near the front door later that day--and, inexplicably, has not peed outside of the
litter box since. I think he’s a vindictive little jerk who likes to torture me. As soon as I
remove the blanket from the front door, he will probably pee there again. There’s a
double purpose for that blanket now, though, because it keeps cold air from coming in
through the front door.
In more recent weeks it’s been Peng who has been irritating me the most. “Let’s
play let’s play let’s play let’s play!” he loves to squeal, even when I am trying to sleep.
“Hey, what’s under the blanket? Hey, what’s this thing sticking out of your ear? Can I eat
it? Hey, what are these, blinds? Oh, I can remedy that--you’ll be able to see through them
real quick! Hey, are these speaker wires for me? You shouldn’t have! Oh my god! Toilet
paper! Let’s make a trail that goes all the way across the apartment!”
Just last week Peng actually killed a mouse in my apartment. Yep, that’s right . . .
and I can’t use it for my old computer anymore. Thank god for keyboard commands!
Peng also has a particular affection for me only while I am sitting on the toilet.
This I have never understood. For some reason, if he even hears me pulling down my
pants and sitting on the toilet, he will actually bolt into the bathroom, jump onto my lap
(not always getting the right grip, which makes my legs feel great!), and say, “Pet me pet
me pet me!!”
I’m living with a couple of retards. At any rate, they are now perfectly healthy
retards, and I suppose that’s the most important thing.
The next notable thing to happen this month, which was during my house arrest,
was when I made a break for it and had my hair done. That was not the notable thing,
though. This would be better represented by showing you what I wrote about it on the
very day it happened, in during an online chat:

Mfruitcake: I was indirectly asked out on a date about an hour ago.
[chat correspondent]: tell me more
Mfruitcake: I turned it down. I was having my hair done
[chat correspondent]: who was it
Mfruitcake: and suddenly the lady who colors my hair started saying, "I don't
know if this is appropriate but . . ."
Mfruitcake: She said someone there had there eye on me.
[chat correspondent]: who???
Mfruitcake: "Oh, really?" I said. I actually thought it was a guy, because so many
people assume that I'm gay anyway.
Mfruitcake: I never found out who it was. I just found out it was a she
[chat correspondent]: why did you turn it down
Mfruitcake: I told her that I wasn't really interested in women, though I do like to
keep an open mind--in a sort of backwards way. I never even found out who it was, that's
why. I found the situation odd. She said, "At least it's flattering"--that's for damned sure.
[chat correspondent]: will you ask next time who it was
Mfruitcake: I tried to ask who it was, and she seemed uncomfortable with the idea
of revealing that.
[chat correspondent]: maybe it was your hairdresser
Mfruitcake: Well, I suspect the woman might have been in the room at the time,
and I find that kind of intimidating. I thought of that, that it might be the hairdresser
herself, and then she told me about her boyfriend--so it can't be her.
[chat correspondent]: maybe a cover up
Mfruitcake: She told me it's my eyes--"She's like oh my god he has such beautiful
eyes!" she said. I don't think it was a cover-up, I think I would have sensed that. I trust
[chat correspondent]: what else has been going on
Mfruitcake: Apparently whoever had their "eye" on me is going to a cocktail party
on Saturday and doesn’t have a date.
[chat correspondent]: it might have been fun to go
Mfruitcake: I've never even been to a cocktail party, let alone a date, I wouldn't
even know what to do or how to act. I thought about it, briefly . . . I told her I'm really
shy about these kinds of things.
[chat correspondent]: just be your self and drink soda
Mfruitcake: I tried calling back when I got home to see if she would tell me
whether or not the woman was in the room while we talked about it, but she was with a
client. Had I gotten a hold of her, I might have told her she could give the woman my
number. Now it seems too late. I don't mind though, because the whole thing was scaring
me. I don't know why. The unknown I guess. "Undiscovered country," if you will.
[chat correspondent]: what did you have done today at the solon. Once you do it
it's not unknown any more
Mfruitcake: She seemed to get nervous when I asked if she would tell me who it
was, which makes me suspect the girl might have been there. I had my roots done and a
[chat correspondent]: I'll bet it was her
Mfruitcake: I was told the other girl doesn't have natural hair color either. But it's
obvious that every single one of those girls have dyed hair. I don't think it was her. And
if anyone wants to have a boyfriend and go out with me they can forget it.

This was a very strange incident for me. I’m just having my hair done, and
suddenly Tiffany (my hairdresser) starts thinking aloud about whether or not what she is
about to tell me is going to be appropriate. The next thing she said was that someone
there had their eye on me, and the first person to pop into my mind was the guy who
comes down from the phase 4 section of the salon to take my payment whenever I am
done--I have a feeling he is gay, and he’s rather attractive. I had simply assumed that
Tiffany figured I was gay, and I was rather taken aback when she said it was a “she” who
had this eye for me. I was thinking about this while I walked home, though, and realized
that I am more impressed by this than I am surprised. Trendy light-headed blond that she
is, it proves that she does not judge someone by their mere appearance--a trait that is
extremely uncommon (even I am immensely guilty of it). I have a mind to tell her of my
being impressed with it when I next get the chance.
I keep wondering if I should have accepted the offer. Then I think once again
about the weird situation--why would I agree to go out on a date with a woman I had
never even really met? It would, essentially, be a blind date, and I don’t know that it’s
such a good idea for my first-ever technical “date” to be a blind one.
Tiffany apologized a number of times for putting me on the spot. I really don’t
think she was referring to herself, though I certainly thought it might be when she
wouldn’t reveal who the girl was, and said, uncomfortably, “Unless you want me to . . .”
However, I did not want to turn around and put her on the spot, and this was something
she obviously did not want to say. This made me suspect it might be her, but then the way
she referred to having lunch with her boyfriend just a few weeks ago in a restaurant
downtown (she mentioned it because we were discussing downtown beggars; apparently
she was eating in a downtown court, and she was so irritated with a scummy guy who
came up and asked for change that she actually yelled at him, “Get out of here!”) just
gave me the feeling that she was telling the truth. There was also the way she referred to
this mystery woman’s obsession with my eyes, quoting what she said about them. Tiffany
did tell me herself that I have beautiful eyes and that even with the make-up it looks
really natural on me (thing is, she has never seen me without make-up on), but I still
don’t think it was her.
And if I found out that it was her, I’m not sure I would be that comfortable with
Tiffany as a person anymore. I mean, how weird is that--come on. It’s flattering to think
someone would be that nervous about it, to refer to themselves as “a friend,” but it’s a
situation that just doesn’t sit well with me. Regardless of the situation, deliberate
deception kind of bothers me, you know, just a little bit.
Not long after that incident, I almost got myself into something terribly stupid.
Let me explain: I was passing by this wonderful 23-story residential tower, located one
block west of the Paramount Theater. They have studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom
apartments available for rent. It is either my incredible misfortune or an incredibly
wonderful coincidence that the apartments are available on the exact date that my lease
here runs out--December 1. I wrote down the number on their sign, came home, and
called it. I was half-hoping I would hear something right off the bat that would make the
move impossible, so that my chances of falling in love with the place would be crushed
and I would just move on while living here. However, this studio apartment is just too
tiny and I'm sick of it. I have gotten two new large pieces of furniture since I moved in--a
love seat and a new four-drawer filing cabinet--and to say it's getting cramped in here
would be an understatement. Anyway, as luck would have it, I did not hear much at all
over the phone that I found discouraging.
My first question was of the issue of highest importance: "Do you take pets?"
To my complete surprise, they do. "We take anything under twenty
pounds," she said.
"Oh," I said, sounding mildly disappointed. "Well, I've been trying to get him to
lose weight, but my cat weighs 23 pounds."
She kind of laughed and said they would take a big cat. I told her I had a kitten as
well, she said that was fine for their two-cat limit. So then I asked about the rent. This
varies depending on the size of the apartment as well as the view. There is one apartment
on the 14th floor--certainly high enough--for $1200 a month, and another (both one-
bedrooms) on the 23rd floor, which I believe is the top floor. This one goes for $1650 a
month. In both cases, there is 5% off every month for a six month lease, and a 10%
discount for the first six months on a twelve-month lease. The one on the 14th floor has a
view to the southwest, which means that if it is strictly southwest, then I would see
directly down Pine Street, and at that height the farmer's market sign would be included
in that view. The one on the 23rd floor is a northwest direction, basically in the exact
opposite direction--only towards Capitol Hill.
Utilities are included in the rent, except for a quarterly $70 surcharge (if I heard
her right, though I must say that at what I pay monthly for utilities here would still
amount to less than that over a year). I forgot to ask about laundry, but in a building like
that there must be laundry facilities readily available. It looks as though they have a
manned front desk in the lobby.
Even though I love to go as high as possible, I also would love a view of both the
skyline and the water, which the cheaper, lower one would give me and the other would
not. At $1200 a month, it's nearly twice as much as rent I pay here, but it's still something
I could afford to pay for at least a month, even if I didn't have a job--and I hope to get one
here soon anyway. I'll get to that momentarily.
I admitted to the lady that I have an inexplicable fascination with high-rise
buildings, and that was when she said, "Just wait until we get our decorations up! This
year there's gonna be a tree on top of the building!"
That was absolutely not doing anything to discourage me.
It may have been my biggest mistake to actually go over there and look at the
apartments sometime during the following week, but I never did. I called my dad, and he
did indeed give me the right advice--mostly because of his own declaration that he
himself is too practical. Regardless of the fact that I really could afford to live there for a
year, I really shouldn't because it just plain isn't practical. I could find much better ways
to spend that extra $425 a month (which is the difference between my current rent and
the $1050 I would pay a month there with a 10% discount on a one-year lease). He did
tell me, though, that I definitely should go and look at the place(s), just so I could see
exactly what I would be getting for that amount of money. I thought about it, but never
got the guts to do so, and now it’s too late--the sign is no longer out.
I have now come to a pretty clear decision. As Dad and I agreed on, there is
another way to go about this, a compromise that would give me what I need most--extra
floor space--without giving me all that I want. However, it would get a tich closer to what
I want, at least. This is it--the next time a one-bedroom becomes available in this
building I am already in, I will move into it. The last time there was one available, it was
for $775 a month--only $150 more a month than what I pay here, and that's a hell of a lot
less than the other place. Not only that, but my dad reminded me of the fact that the
manager told me when I moved in here that I could move into a one-bedroom as soon as
one became available, even before my six-month lease ran out. She had a couple one-
bedrooms available a few weeks ago, and so a couple of weeks ago I went down to the
lobby to see if the sign outside still said "vacancy"--and it did. However, when I called
her machine the next day, it said that there are no vacancies at this time.
I called the manager later, though, and got a hold of her. I am now on a waiting
list for the next available one-bedroom in the building I am already living in. That sign
switches between "vacancy" and "no vacancy" at a rather steady rate, and I was told that
another one-bedroom may be available by the first of the year, which I’m sure I can
handle waiting for.
I was thinking about the layout and location of this building, and I have come to
the conclusion that it is only the studios that have no view to speak of, other than the
building across the street. On every floor, however, all the other apartments would have
views I would like. On the east side of the building, for example, apartments on all floors
have a view of the Space Needle either through a window or from a balcony--or both. In
one such apartment, I could watch the Space Needle New Year's fireworks show from my
own home. In addition, those same apartments would have at least access to a view in the
opposite direction, seeing much of the skyline to the south. On the West side of the
building, all of the apartments would have a view of a good portion of the skyline to the
west and the south, and all the apartments from the third to fifth floors would have a view
of at least some of the water.
One would think that all apartments in between would only have views of the
building across the street, like I do now--but those middle apartments also have windows
opening to the south, which I do not have. Granted, they also open up to the walkway
where people would be walking by all the time, but it would still have a good enough
view of the skyline to the south.
What I have decided is that the best option is an apartment on the northeast
corner, which would have a spectacular view of the Space Needle, and apparently is the
most spacious of the one-bedrooms in the building. In any case, I have come to the
conclusion that absolutely any apartment in this building besides the other studios would
be better than what I've got, and it would only be $150 more a month. In addition, it
would probably be the easiest move I ever made in my life. So, I'm just going to wait
until another one becomes available and see if I can't get that one. It's the best way for me
to solve my problem of lack of space.
As far as working goes, I am now in contact with an employment agency. This is
the case after a brief inquiry with Kinko’s, the last possible thing to actually come out of
that 415-resume “launch” that I did back in August. I must have sent a resume to every
Kinko’s in the greater Seattle area at the time, only to have a little card arrive in the mail
about two months later, which gave me the number of their “career connection” to call
and find out when their open interview hours were. At the time I just discarded it with the
vaguest intention of calling them one day. Then one day--about a month after that--I
found it again while cleaning my apartment, and decided to call for the schedule. After a
failed attempt at making it to the open interview hours in town that week (failed because
my cat also had a vet appointment duringt he same hours), I went down to the Kinko’s in
Tukwila, where they were having the open interview hours the next day.
It was not long before I had mixed feelings about this whole Kinko’s thing. The
giant scope of size in this company I find intimidating. In addition, my interview
experience there has made me very aware of how dependent the world has really come to
depend on superficialities, most notably making decisions based on automated
evaluations. I find it creepy, actually. I know this kind of thing has been around for ages
now, but it’s the first time I have had such close experience with it, and I am realizing
how increasingly common it’s becoming.
I don’t suppose I should complain, though, and should just be thankful if I happen
to land a job somewhere. In terms of part time work, I can’t expect anything more than
your average customer service job anyway, I don’t suppose. Still, the one meeting I had
there meant little overall; it was nothing but the first stage of the “screening process”--
which actually involved not only a quiz on paper, including both mathematical problems
and situational questions asking for solutions (both of which rather insulted my
intelligence), but a phone quiz that lasted five minutes, and was fully automated. I had to
answer yes or no questions by pressing either the one or two buttons. My response time
was even monitored; I found the whole thing kind of odd.
I got a good vibe from the woman with whom I spoke--Karen Foote, her name
was--and I even got the feeling that she got a good vibe from me. However, all her job
seems to be is part of the “weeding process,” and it’s simply up to her to refer me to
branch location managers to see if they want to speak with me. In the context of wanting
part-time work for now, I had a chance at either the new branch opening on Third and
Marion, the branch on Capitol Hill, or the branch in Tukwila that I went to for that one
meeting, which takes forty minutes to ride the bus to but I would have to leave an hour
early in order to be there on time. I would have preferred the downtown branch, except
that apparently the most part-time hours I could have gotten there were sixteen, and it
sounded like I might have been able to get more on Capitol Hill.
Of course, all that is possibly available to me is entry-level, and if I were offered
this job then it would really mean that my whole “launch” back in August was complete-
ly for nothing--actually I already know that to be true. In any case, my professionally
written resume has yet to do me a single favor in all of this. Sometimes I wish I were
older, because I am very aware of how young I am and how naiveté comes with the
territory. I’m getting tired of that. On the other hand, I really have no desire to wish my
life away either. I refuse to force myself to live unhappily, and quite frankly I don’t care
about how naive that may be at my age--I don’t believe anyone should do that to
themselves, no matter what their age happens to be.
Anyway, the only way I could work my way up any sort of ladder is through timed
evaluations--three months, six months, a year, at which times there would be other things
I could become eligible to interview for. I was told that how many hours I work a week
does not change the timing of evaluations, but at working part-time people do not tend to
have the necessary capacity for promotion because of the lesser amount of time of
experience using the equipment. To tell you the truth, I think I would, even if I were only
working part time--because I am very familiar with a lot of their machinery already, and I
learn about these things quickly.
The lady made it sound to me like it didn’t matter who I was, starting salary is
between $6.50 and $7.50 an hour--a window of one dollar in which the branch manager
has the discretion to decide. Taking the average of that possibility predicts about $7 an
hour, which means I would make $560 a month at twenty hours a week, and that’s before
taxes. I would probably decide to go to full time by the beginning of next year, though,
which would mean I could be making $1120 a month at forty hours a week--again, before
taxes. Even without taxes, though, that would indeed cover my rent, and even if I had to
occasionally dip into my inheritance money, it is doubtful that I would very often have to
dip into the principal.
If I were to decide to pursue a job there, then I would have to go full-time for a
week for training--”typically nine to five,” and I was not told whether or not it would be
paid. When I went through training at CCI in Spokane it was paid, but that was only two
days and it was in the same location as where I actually worked. In this case, whoever
would be my boss would by wholly separated from the branch in which I trained--the
week of November 30, which is when I would train if I ended up being let in, the training
is apparently to be at the branch location in Tukwila, where I went for that meeting. This
means that for a full week I would have to be gone ten hours a day--eight for training,
and two for bus travel. I have never undergone anything like that before, but I am sure I
would live through it.
I was told that if I am was not called by the end of the week, I should call her
back again. She gave me her card, I finished filling out my last form, and I left to catch
the bus.
I did not, however, ever call her back. I met with my Auntie Rose for lunch the
following Wednesday, and when I told her that I was thinking of working for Kinko’s,
she seemed a bit befuddled by it. During that visit with her, she said something that really
stuck to me. She had asked a friend of hers, who is a successful ghost writer of novels, if
she had any advice for her writer grandnephew, and the lady told her to tell me, “Follow
your heart.”
“Oh, do you make a living at it?” Auntie Rose asked her.
“Well, yes, actually I do,” said the lady.
This made a very big impression on me, and it made me realize very quickly that
my heart was most definitely not in working at Kinko’s--in fact, it really gave me a
similar vibe to what I got when I did phone surveys in Spokane, and that made me
deathly unhappy. In addition, I also referred to something my dad once told me just a few
weeks back, which I don’t believe I will ever forget for as long as I live: “If you can’t
decide whether you want to do something, then that means you don’t want to. If you
really want to do it, then you know.”
I had been agonizing over whether or not I wanted to work at Kinko’s, and these
words of my father’s made me realize that it obviously meant I did not want to work
there. He had also told me that an employment agency might charge me up to 30% of my
salary as a fee, but then I figured, even if an employment agency found me a job I liked
better than Kinko’s and paid me at least $10 an hour, even after a 30% decrease I would
not have been any worse off financially than I would have been at Kinko’s--and I would
be happier. So I decided to call an employment agency.
I looked through the yellow pages, and found a full-page ad for a place called
Business Careers, which professed to be the oldest employment agency in town. They
had a web site, so I looked that up on the internet first--where I found some job listings,
one of which was an administrative assistant position that involved writing and producing
a company newsletter. That was the kind of thing I would be very much interested in, and
even though I never had a chance at getting that particular job (which paid a $30,000
salary to start), it was the precise reason why I called the number.
I went in and met with a young woman, who seemed impressed with me in many
more ways than I expected, even telling me on the spot that I’m “obviously very
articulate.” I took some tests again, only these I did not mind taking--a data entry test and
a typing test on their computer (to my surprise, she actually said “That’s fantastic!” when
she saw that I was tested at 52 words per minute, on a keyboard I was not used to using
and therefore I was typing slower than I normally do). I also filled out some forms, and I
was let go and I would be called later.
I almost forgot to mention the best part about them, though--I went in there
expecting to have to pay for this, and found out I don’t have to pay a cent. It’s the hiring
companies who pay these people, which I considered very, very good news.
I did tell her, though, about my slight disappointment in learning that they are
strictly a full-time, permanent placement agency--no part time and no temporary. I told
her that the only way I would consider working full time is if the position needed the use
of my writing skills on at least a minor level. I got a hold of her today, and she said there
is nothing of that nature available right now, but she will still keep my file active. I am
now thinking of waiting a month or so for my very specific wants, and then perhaps
refining my qualifications so that I can find work more quickly (because, as she hinted to
me, if I wasn’t so stingy about the writing thing, she would be able to get me work right
away). So once again I am in a state of decision making limbo. Oh well . . . I’m getting
used to it.
My financial advisor, Dan Burr, actually suggested to me a couple of weeks ago
that I re-write my resume and start the whole “launch” thing all over again. He was also,
however, the dink who suggested I go to Career Improvement Group in the first place,
and I do not want to go through all of that again. So maybe there’s a price for
convenience--I’m willing to pay it. Once was enough for that particular route, and now I
am exploring other options.
I am, however, still re-working my resume, though I have an easy form to follow--
for the Business Careers people. This is the third version of a resume I have had in the
past four months--yay! I think next week (actually, this week, from the perspective of you
readers) I will call the lady at Business Careers and just see what there is available--no
harm in that, now is there?
One other trivial but interesting tidbit: I recently bought the 1999 World Almanac
and Book of Facts, the most wonderful collection of both useful and useless information
in the world today. There was a page in there that said what the most common names of
baby boys was during each decade over the past ten years. As it turns out, during the
seventies, during which both my brother and I were born, the most common name was
Michael--my middle name, the second most common name was Christopher (my
brother), and the seventh most common was Matthew. Michael and Christopher were #1
and #2 during both the eighties and nineties as well, and during both those decades
Matthew was actually third most common.
I guess I never really realized how common I am.
. . . And last but certainly not least, I still have more to write about the holidays!
In fact, yesterday was Thanksgiving, and as I sit here finishing this newsletter, I just got
back from the Spokane airport earlier this afternoon. I had quite a nice holiday, actually. I
got to see Christopher and Katina’s new house, which is quite large and could indeed use
some rebuilding here and there. In any case, it is a very spacious place and feels very
I stayed the night over there two nights, not realizing I forgot to leave food out for
my cats until it was too late. I felt really, really bad about that. While I was there, I
figured I might as well forget about things I had no control over, and so I bugged
everyone with both my cassette tape recorder microphones and my cam-corder, just as I
do every year. I was even able to get a copy of both my brother’s and my mother’s
weddings for myself.
Thanksgiving itself was the first time that all of us (meaning Mom, Christopher,
Katina, their kids, me, and now Bill) have been together at one time since Mom’s
wedding in May of 1997. Dinner was very nice (even though I didn’t eat any yucky
turkey--I passed the plate saying, “Poor thing,” just to see who I would irritate), and I got
plenty to eat. (And, unfortunately, they had egg nog, so naturally I gorged myself with
that.) We even had a pumpkin pie that was one of many my friend Danielle baked from
scratch, and brought over to us the night before. I had two pieces of it.
Mom brought me all of the letters that I wrote to my maternal grandparents before
they passed away, which they saved. I found it very interesting to look at all the old
envelope designs I had sent them--and I realized in a very big way that my peak of
envelope design creativity seems to have come and gone long ago. Well, maybe one day
I’ll make a come-back. I haven’t read any of the letters yet, I’m not sure how I will react.
It might be almost creepy . . . but we’ll see, I guess.
Anyway, I got plenty good fun both on tape and off, and it was one of the finest
family get-togethers of recent memory (the only one in recent memory, come to think of
it . . .). Hopefully we can make such visits a yearly tradition from now on. Much as the
holidays seem to bring out the worst in so many people, this holiday was spent with nary
a scream, and no flying food particles. I quite enjoyed myself.
Today, as soon as I got home and fed my cats, I promptly put up my artificial
Christmas tree, which is now standing and lit with chasing lights in one of the corners in
this puny apartment. I also have chasing lights around my two windows, and outdoor
lights lining the railing to the balcony outside. It looked fairly nice when I went outside to
look at it, I thought.
I’m feeling very Christmasy this year. Looking forward to the holiday.

the writing history

Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished.

If you’re alive, it isn’t.

-- Richard Bach

If we don’t take care of the customer,

maybe they’ll stop bugging us.

. . . Well, as many of you have probably predicted, I did not get anything
published this month. I did, however, take a suggestion of Barbara’s and enter
one of my stories into a contest. I mailed a copy of The Open Door (currently
posted on my web page) to the Spokane-based newspaper The Inlander. The rules
said only how many words the stories could have, and that they had to be set in
the Inland Northwest. Well, the story was set in Pullman, so that worked--and I
sent it in.
If, by some miracle, I was to win, I would get a $100 gift certificate to
Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane, my story printed in The Inlander, and I would
give a reading over there as well. Barbara said in her letter, “You have a real
chance of winning,” but I must say that I will be rather surprised if I do.
As for actual fresh writing, the only thing I have done is a new poem since I
wrote Shepherd, which you all read last month. I thought I would share the new
poem with you, which is called Time 2 b u.

Who r u 2 tell me
It’s time 2 shed my idealism
Time 2 grow up
Who r u 2 tell me
Instantaneous exorcism
Is not quite enough
Change is on the way
But it’s got 2 b my way
There’s an individual place 4 all these things
There’s a time and place 4 all u bring

Change can b strange
But it’s the only thing
Time will always bring
And taking time is a crime
When instant gratification
Is the only satisfaction
A grin is a sin
When u love the wrong thing
U’re only happy when your heart is breaking
But the globe only spins
At the very same rate
Manufacturing dates

We have only one life 2 live
Through the days of our lives
Is this all u have 2 give
Or can u tap in2 your element of surprise?

Who am I 2 tell u
It’s time 2 shed the superficial
Time 2 love your inner child
Who am I 2 tell u
U have only your initials
Use them 4 what they’re worth and run 4 miles
Change is on the way
But it’s got 2 b your way
U have your own pace 4 all these things
There’s a time and place 4 all we bring

Change can b strange
But it’s the only thing
Space will always bring
And taking space is a case
When that instant development
Is the only envelopment
A smile is so vile
When u’re amused by simple trends
And it’s something u violently defend
But the world goes around
To the very same sounds
--But only 4 a little while

We have one life 2 live
Until the nights of our deaths
We have so much more 2 give
B4 issuing that very last breath
It’s time--
I became me so long ago
Now it’s time 4 u 2 b u
It will take some work I know
But if I can have faith in me
Then I can have faith in u

It’s time
It’s time 2 b u

(“copywrite” 1:00 pm sunday november 15 1998)

. . . That is about it. Other than all of the above, I am only looking forward to the
things to happen in the future. Hopefully I will get a job here soon. I will be going to
Spokane a second time on the weekend of the 11th; to Olympia again for two days over
Christmas; Danielle may come to visit me for New Year’s. All is well and wonderful,
and now I must close so I can figure out the rest of my Christmas shopping, which I will
no doubt write all about next month.
I do wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

this has been presented 2 u by matthew
on behalf of fruitcake enterprises

P.S. Donations accepted.