[Author's Note: The Nordstrom's section was taken 
from e-mail to Gabe, 8/22.]
vol. 1          issue #11           August 1998
As they say, it takes two to tango, we just dance together more often.
					-- Barbara Burnett
	I could probably keep this from you all if I chose, since I doubt that any of you
actually meet together to compare different envelope designs, but I'm going to admit it
anyway: this month they aren't different! I have begun to mass produce envelope designs
for all who receive my newsletter. Why? Because I'm EVIL! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA HA HA HA!
	Oh, and it saves time and none of you deserve it anyway. The whole point of this
newsletter is punishment, remember? You don't write, you get a newsletter--a long,
drawn out catalogue of all the useless things that happen in this life of mine that only I
can delusionally elevate to celestial importance and significance. If you're bored, GOOD!
That's the point.
	Of course, this plan of mine long ago backfired and people seem to love it--I've
had certain people tell me not to ever cut them off. So now what? I've even had people
who write to me regularly ask for it (well, okay, one person) and people who have never
been a part of any correspondence with me before ask for it as well (well, okay . . . one
person). In fact, one of the aforementioned people has apparently vocalized an inquiry
about why I write about all this stuff, and that sometimes I'm "boring." Well, dink,
mission accomplished! I'm not trying to entertain--though in some cases that just seems
to come naturally, I can't help it if my writing is great even when I try to make it bad. 
	On second though, maybe I should try harder. One can achieve absolutely
anything as long as they put their mind to it. Observe:
	Matthew see eat fruit's. Artichoke spleen me honknose eye rainy and londgeray. 
	. . . Well, crap. Writing badly is too hard and takes too much effort. I'm far too
lazy for that. That one line of bad text took me as long as it would normally take me to
write a whole paragraph. So I'll just write well, because it's easy! Consider yourselves
lucky. All of you! Some punishment this is, right? Well, if it will make any of you feel
better, I will offer individual spankings the next time I see each and every one of you . . .
well, as long as you're not related to me, anyway. Maybe I should find a way to really
punish you all. Ah! I know. I'll shoot you all with images and soundbites of the Spice
Girls (I will, of course, we wearing protective goggles and steel earplugs). I don't have the
necessary ammunition in my own home because it's too dangerous--but I know potential
dealers. Watch out! The out of season holiday dessert is on the rampage. 
	Maybe I'm reaching too far here. Maybe I'm entertaining myself more than anyone
else. But hey, wait a minute. So what! This thing wasn't created to please all of you
people anyway--I made it to please me! I'm saving time and effort and am having one hell
of a great time doing it. So there! I'll do what I want! Because I'm EVIL! HA HA HA!
	Oh yeah, I forgot. I covered that already.
	So hey--why not take a look at the twitmeisters of this month?
	1. Angel Benson (I'm tempted to say that you're excused from writing because you
had a baby that I've been told is beautiful, but then I thought . . . Nah. You wouldn't be
writing whether you had a baby or not, you schmuck. Am I being offensive? Huh? Wanna
fight? Write me and let me know!)
	2. Darcy Hartley (Are you still catching dreams? Perhaps one day you'll want to
catch some of mine, but these days our paths never seem to cross . . .)
	3. Dawn Addams (Hey, I just wanted to tell you that on that day nearly ten years
ago when I was licking ice cream off one of your plates, I really thought you weren't
	4. Gina Yarbrough (I don't know if you will ever get up here to visit me--because
by the time David is back in school, there's a very good chance that I will be working.)
	5. Jenniger Miga (What ever happened to that letter you were going to write to
me, Missy? Am I even sending this to the right address?)
	6. Kim (aka "Dad") and Sherri (I am very much looking forward to October 4, for
multiple reasons . . .)
	7. Paul McQuilkin (Just remember that canceling your subscription is always an
option . . .)
	8. Raenae Lanning (I'm here to give you your monthly dosage of fruit . . .)
	9. Rick Benson (This is getting tired . . . who were you again?)
	10. Shane McQuilkin (Hope you're doing better . . .)
	. . . As usual, the people who actually write to me continue to be Barbara (by
far--she has written to me in the past two years probably more than all other people
combined), Grandma McQuilkin, and Auntie Rose. I do get regular e-mails from my
friend Lynn and lately from her boyfriend's teenage daughter, but even there that's about
it. Just how much to I have to push and poke and annoy and provoke you people to write
to me? Huh? Do I need to offer a grand prize, or something? What? WHAT? WHAT?
	All I can think of at the moment is to say PPPPPPPPPPPPPPPBBBBBBBBBTH.
a month in the life of a fruitcake
Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don't criticize what you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one if you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'
						-- Bob Dylan
	. . . So I try to stand in place amongst the whirlwinds around me. I try to navigate
the darkened tunnels with my own hands that guide me. I know how to walk yet I know
not exactly what is ahead. I skirt the devices reflecting the dead. I believe in me, and I
would not be able to live without that very thing. These are the pervasive themes of
August 1998. But I'm going to be fine. Faith creates truth.
	Why not take the advice of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music and start at the
very beginning, because that's a very good place to start.
	Very soon after my last newsletter went out in the mail, Jennifer McQuilkin came
up to see me for a day, spending one night--I paid for her bus ticket to come up on
Greyhound from Olympia. Of course I did nothing in reference to my job search while
she was here; we recorded a talk-tape and I took her to the movies. We saw Saving
Private Ryan, which is undeniably the best film of the year. From there we walked right
across the hallway to the FAO Schwarz toy store that I had yet to explore, and I
discovered that it is absolutely wonderful--it was the perfect remedy for coming out of
such a depressing movie. While there I bought some small gifts for Gabe and Suzy. 
	The Seafair parade was on August 1. I watched most of it from the roof of my
own apartment building, since it came down Fourth Avenue. I could just see the
intersection of Fourth and Blanchard, and I had the wonderful opportunity to see a drug
deal occur merely feet away from that intersection. The people thought they were hidden,
sitting in between a rental car and the wall it was parked in front of, but they obviously
did not think of anyone watching from above . . . me. I almost thought of calling the
police, but I wasn't sure if it was something that would be taken seriously (though I must
say I couldn't believe this was happening with four policemen standing together on the
other side of Fourth Avenue, simply watching the parade), and then I decided it wasn't
worth my time and effort. These things happen, right?
	I didn't watch the whole parade because I soon got bored. 
	The next day I saw the film Ever After, which is "a Cinderella story"--and the best
version I have ever seen of it at that. This film has a lead woman character who has
already saved herself when the man tries to come to the rescue. She's smart, industrious
and brave--nothing like the "damsel in distress" of other fairy tales that are waiting
around for some guy to sweep them off their feet. In this film the woman gets everything
done on her own, is not afraid to be both vulnerable and strong, and I have great respect
for the makers of this film because of that.
	August 5 was my father's birthday, which was also the day in which he received
my gift in the mail: he and Sherri and I will all be seeing the play Rent here in Seattle on
October 4. In addition, it will be in the Moore Theatre, which is only five blocks away
from my home. 
	The entire week of August 3 through 7 was by far the crappiest one I have
experienced since I moved. This was when I spent the vast majority of my time preparing
for my "launch"--that is, when I was to send out 450 resumes in the mail, all at once. I
spent a full, 40-hour week doing nothing but printing out the same cover letter 415 times
(I scratched off about 35 of them from the list because I thought they were too far away),
but with one difference each time: changing the name and address of the company I was
sending to, which was printed on the upper left hand corner of the page, and also the
hiring authority name printed after the word "dear," beginning the text of the letters.
When I wasn't doing that I was addressing, stamping, and sealing envelopes after folding
the cover letters and resumes together. Just these things took me forty hours for the
duration of a week--I refused to do more than eight hours of that crap in a given day. It
was horrible, and I hope I never have to do it again. 
	The "launch" date turned out to be Saturday, August 8, 1998--only a week and a
half after the original date I had planned, which I didn't think was bad at all. Not making
it by the 24th of July was completely out of my control, and the 8th of August was really
the earliest I could have done it--so, in a sense, I made it on time. 
	On the ninth my friend Lynn, her boyfriend, his two children and one of their
friends came to see me for about an hour, on their way home from Shelton. It was
decided then that they would come and spend a day with me sometime relatively soon. At
present it looks like it might be on the first weekend in September--not far away.
	August 10 was the first weekday to come after my "launch." They said at CIG that
we needed to wait two to three mail days before starting follow-up calls, so I wasn't going
to start that until at least the next day. Still, that Monday I got five rejections in less than
ten minutes time, all between 1:00 and 1:10 or so that afternoon. I had just checked my
e-mail (the address of which I had printed on my cover letters), and there were two
messages from companies telling me that they had nothing available. The schmucks at
CIG would no doubt tell me to call them up and press them for an interview anyway, but
I refused to be a jerk to these people--they didn't do anything to me to deserve it. So, with
each rejection I got, I discarded that company from my list. 
	Anyway, as soon as I had finished reading that last message, the phone rang. It
was the first of three messages I got within about five minutes, telling me over the phone
that they were not looking for anyone to work for them right now. Then, that night at
about six o'clock, I got a call from a guy at one of the libraries, telling me that all hiring
goes through the centralized system based at the main library--which is the same for both
the county and the city library systems. It was not long before I realized that I had no
hope at all of getting a job at any of the many libraries I sent resumes to--they only accept
applications for positions that are open and posted, none of which am I qualified for. 
	I ended up, however, being given the number of the woman who takes care of all
the library publications--but then I was told the next day that she has to do it all herself,
and would not be able to have me hired doing any help for her. So: absolutely all libraries
were out. 
	I spent a great deal of time over the majority of the next week making attempted
follow-up calls, only occasionally actually getting through to the specific people I needed
to talk to, and in those cases, almost without fail, being told there was nothing available.
It got a little discouraging, to say the least. I did get a few sort of "breaks," but not
necessarily anything that I could make a living off of--and things that will be discussed in
the next section.
	On August 12, a Friday, Gabe and Suzy came to see me--they had just returned
from nearly a week visiting in San Francisco. They brought me back a number of gifts
that a number of you would probably rather not hear about, and told me all about the
great time they had. Gabe's mom had just picked him and Suzy up at the airport, and had
simply driven them up here from there, bringing his little brother with them. 
	They had to leave soon though, and my apartment was left with just the three of
us. We decided to go to the 100% vegetarian Chinese restaurant called Bamboo Gardens
for dinner. On the way over there we decided we would go up the Space Needle even
though we were already planning on going with the rest of his family the next night--but
Gabe wanted to see the night view, and we waited until after we ate dinner.
	It was then that I realized that going up there is not exiting me quite so much
anymore, now that I've gone up four or five times in the two months since I moved here. I
would still be happy to take someone else up there for free, because I enjoy doing the
favor and it's always fun to do something with someone else who does not have a chance
to do it often (or ever), whether or not I have done it tons of times. However, I have no
reason whatsoever to go up there by myself at this point. Gabe himself had never been up
there, though, even though he lived his entire life in Federal Way. 
	After that we ended up just walking back downtown, where we ended up at Planet
Hollywood, which I had not yet gone into. That's a pretty cool place, though overtly
over-priced--there are lots of movie memorabilia all over the place, and according to
Gabe and Suzy, who had been there before, a lot of things had been changed--it seems
they rotate stuff between all the locations across the country. One of the most interesting
things I got to see was an actual prop of one of the underwater aliens in the film The
Abyss, one of my favorite movies. There were also screens on the walls all over the place,
showing sort of video portfolios of certain actors and actresses, with clips from all their
different movies, as well as full movie trailers to films that are either out now or are soon
to come. 
	We had dessert while we were there, and I had bread pudding for the first time in
my life--with vanilla ice cream on top. The thing cost as much as an entree at a regular
family restaurant, but it was delicious--I couldn't eat the whole thing, and when I told
Gabe and Suzy they could take as many bites as they wanted, they practically vacuumed
the entire thing while I wasn't looking (because most of the time I was staring at the
movie screens). 
	The next day the morning was spent sleeping, and much of the afternoon we spent
on the waterfront. We ended up eating lunch at a Red Robin on one of the piers, and Suzy
finally tried a Gardenburger for the first time in her life. She didn't like it. 
	That night was when I was originally planning to take them up the Space Needle,
but not only were there already five people going (I can take four people counting
myself), in addition Gabe's other brother and his girlfriend wanted to come too. So, I paid
for four of us, and Gabe's mom paid for the other three--still, when the jaunt was over,
every one of them was thanking me, which I found kind of odd. They all seemed to enjoy
themselves, though--Gabe's mom had not been up there in some fifteen or twenty
years--possibly even since before the new restaurant was added in 1982.
	That same day I got a rather long letter from my Uncle Jim, who was the executor
of my grandfather's will and was also his younger brother. He had sent me a short letter in
May asking for some vital information, and I wrote him back a regular letter, with more
than just the vital information enclosed. I wanted to write something of substance to him,
since he is a relative of mine, and I was interested in learning more about the family that
I never really knew. He did write me back fairly promptly back then, and of course I
wrote to him again--making it perfectly clear that no letter sent to me ever goes
	But then he never wrote back to me, and I wasn't sure if I should try writing to
him again. It was not long ago when I got a letter from Grandma McQuilkin, asking me if
I was still writing to him. I told her I was not, and wasn't sure about writing again,
because I didn't know if he really wanted to keep up correspondence or not. Grandma
wrote back telling me that I should write to him again, because perhaps he thought I was
just writing during the time in which he was still heavily involved in the goings-on
dealing with the will, and had no interest in writing thereafter.
	I took Grandma's advice, because I wanted to make purely clear that I was indeed
interested in writing thereafter, and so I wrote Uncle Jim a letter again. I got his response
on the Friday that Gabe and Suzy spent with me. I did not have time to read it until the
next day, though, and I read it while eating lunch on the waterfront.
	I learned some very interesting things about my family line. First of all, I had told
him I was interested in hearing about anything having to do with family history, and so he
sent me this thirty-one page account of memories from his childhood all the way up until
he wrote this account, which he wrote for his own children just a couple of years ago. I
found out that although my own grandfather was involved in World War II (which I had
known for some time), Grandpa never went overseas. Uncle Jim never actually fought on
the front lines, but he was in London when it was under German missile attacks--a few
people around him actually died from things like blown up parts if buildings crushing
them. It was very interesting to read about.
	What was by far the most interesting to read about, though, was to know that his
very own ancestors were among the people to come over to this continent even before we
officially became a country, and he is a direct descendant of people who fought in the
American Revolutionary War. I found this out because a woman who would perhaps be
my great great great great grandmother was the secretary to the very first chapter of the
Daughters of the American Revolution, an organization which currently has around two
hundred thousand members. It was established around 1890, and the basis for
membership was that you had to be in a direct line of descent from someone who
participated in the Revolutionary War. In the text of this letter, Uncle Jim wrote directly
to his daughter Ann, telling her that she would probably qualify to become a member.
	I found this incredibly fascinating, and wanted to find out more specifics about
the membership rules--would Becca (my brother's daughter, for those of you who don't
know) one day be eligible? I knew that there was a possible complication with that,
because my mother was adopted and therefore any descendant of her is not within the
bloodline of my maternal grandparents.
	I went somewhat out of my way to get the information I needed about this. First I
looked up DAR in my CD rom encyclopedia, and still there was not specific enough
information about membership requirements. I called my brother to see if he would get
onto the internet to research it a little for me, which he never did. So, just a couple of
weeks ago, I reserved time on a personal computer at the downtown public library (I had
a few other things I needed to do this for anyway) so I could get on the internet. One of
the things I did was look up DAR--and that was when I discovered that membership
requirements include a direct bloodline descent, so neither my mother nor Becca would
be eligible--and neither would I be eligible for the Sons of the American Revolution--not
that I really care, since I'm not patriotic enough to join an organization created for the
purpose of fostering patriotism. However, there is great value in keeping alive our
country's history, all of the good as well as the bad of it. 
	So, I still think it's incredibly cool that my grandparents were in a direct line of
descent from people who actually fought in the Revolutionary War. In addition, I now
have sufficient family history information on both sides of my family--a good portion of
my paternal grandfather's lineage from a book the entire family was given copies of a few
years back, a bit of similar information about my paternal grandmother's lineage that I
got from my grandmother's sister, and now this information about my maternal
grandfather. If I tried hard enough I could probably find similar information about my
maternal grandmother, as well as perhaps my maternal genetic grandparents--though that
latter part is probably stretching it a bit. However, I don't have the time nor the energy for
that kind of research that I won't be paid to do, but perhaps one day I'll actually do it. In
any case, even if "only" by adoption, I still have a connection to the very people who
paved the way for the creation of this very country we live in, and I think that's great.
	On Sunday, August 16 (which was a rather significant date: my friend Danielle's
22nd birthday, Madonna's 40th birthday, and the 21rst anniversary of the day Elvis
Presley died . . . not that any of you have any idea to care about any of that, but I decided
to mention it anyway) I saw a film called How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Despite the
rather corny title, I rather enjoyed it--and it was the first film I ever saw that made me cry
with a happy ending.
	Most of that day, though, I spent making a birthday card for my Auntie Rose, who
I had dinner with at the top of the Hilton hotel the following day--Monday the 17th. I had
walked over there a few days beforehand just to get a good look at the building, and it
was really dwarfed by the other, much taller buildings around it. I really wondered if the
view would be that great.
	Well, I discovered that the view was spectacular--the building has 29 floors, and
we were on the top one. All the windows, one of which we got to sit next to, were on the
North side of the building, actually giving us a strictly Northwest view--but the Space
Needle was directly ahead in the distance, seeming to be rather small so far beyond the
rest of the downtown tall buildings. The restaurant itself was very nice, quite nicer than
the Space Needle restaurant in fact, but slightly less expensive. 
	Now, when I met Auntie Rose, I had told her that I needed to see her by the
20th--because if I had said the 26th, which was her birthday, it would have been too
obvious and my purposes would be clearly given away. I just plucked that date out of the
air, and an unexpected perk to this situation occurred as a result: she came thinking I had
news to tell her about myself having to do with the twentieth! I quite enjoyed being able
to tell her that nothing at all was to happen on the twentieth, and I was there to give her a
birthday present.
	She opened the card first, for which I made a homemade envelope as well, on
which I had written a poem for her. She liked both the poem and the card, and then she
opened the gift, which was a necklace with a rose pendant on it. Actually, the pendant is
a glass-like 3-D image of a yellow rose, surrounded by smaller, silver roses that make the
faint shape of a heart. I wasn't sure if she would like it because the pendant was kind of
big, but evidently she loved it--and she put it on immediately. Actually it took her a while
to put it on, even once trying to put it over her head without disconnecting it--which
clearly wasn't going to work. She eventually got it, though, and she wore it for the rest of
the evening. I do believe she was rather pleased with the whole thing.
	The dinner, for which we went Dutch, was delicious. The caesar salad I had with
it was one of the most bizarre ones I ever had though--there must have been only four
pieces (chunks, more like it) of lettuce in it, all of them gigantic.
	Just a few days later, I got a letter from Grandma McQuilkin, saying that I could
take her name off the unofficial list if I was going to use the same font as I used last
month for this newsletter. She was not at all the first person to complain about it ("Bigger
fonts for us old folks!" said Sherri, who is middle-aged at most). Well, I do aim to
please--even when I am supposedly punishing, as a matter of fact, so here you see that we
are back to the original font. I was simply trying to be more creative last month, and I
guess it was just a little too creative for some of you (legend has it that my grandfather
took five hours to read it last month). In any case, under slight protest, we're back to the
readable print for the geezers. Oh, and you're welcome.
	On Thursday, August 20 (the 13-year anniversary of when I first moved to
Spokane), I had my first real interview--that is, for a possible steady job. I actually rode
the bus for about an hour all the way out to Redmond for this, for an interview I
understood to be for a company that makes brochures for other businesses. I nearly got
lost in the complex before I found the right suite, which was hidden in the back, and
when I got in the first thing that was said to me by the woman who was to interview me
was, "I bet you've been lost."
	I said yes, and soon enough I was following her down a hallway to what appeared
to be a conference room, with a table that made three quarters of a square around the
room. I was able to tell as soon as I walked in, though, that this was not going to be a
place at which I would be working--there were cubicles and people walking around in
ties and Dockers. I was much more "presentable" than what most of you people know to
be normal for me--but I was still wearing jeans and had no tie affixed to the button-up
shirt I was wearing. I didn't have a briefcase either--I carry around the Matthew version,
which is a backpack. Still, I had nothing to lose, and I followed the old lady to the
conferece room.
	We sat kitty-corner to each other at the joining ends of one of the table's corners.
She asked me a few simple questions, and I ended up telling her I had no idea what time
it was while we discussed how difficult it was for me to find the place. I could tell she
thought I was a schmuck for not owning a watch, which would not have made any
difference anyway--knowing what time it is doesn't help you when you're lost. She knew
my lateness would be a possibility anyway. Still, even though I hate having to wear one, I
know that I should really buy a watch here pretty soon. 
	Soon enough, though, she was asking me if I had brought any writing samples. I
had, in fact--a few carefully selected opinions columns. Even Auntie Rose had told me it
might be a good idea to have some of my more controversial columns on hand, but I
decided to bring five different columns, ranging from the controversial to the more
objective. I could have shown her a much tamer column to begin with if I had been a bit
more on top of things, but fate would have it that the first column she saw had the
headline, Gay marriages should be legal. I don't think she even read any of the text; as
soon as she looked at that, she immediately told me that they were not looking for the
kind of writing that I do and were probably going to consider someone else.
	I immediately tried telling her that even though opinions columns are all that I
have done for publication so far, it's certainly not all I am capable of--"But obviously this
is your bent," she said. She said it twice, actually: Obviously this is your bent. And all she
had to make this judgment was that one headline. She told me they were looking for
someone with actual experience in corporate writing, and I should look at local
newspapers (I had only sent out resumes to every damn newspaper within twenty miles of
the furthest ends of this city, duh). So where do I get experience when no one will hire
unless you have experience?
	I work somewhere else, and for free. Yay!
	In any case, I have no proof, but I am convinced that it was that one headline that
really brought the interview to a halt--it literally lasted less than five minutes. Granted, I
never would have gotten that job anyway, but the whole thing still bugged me. My
personal opinions have no reflection on how good of a worker I am. Opinions just
happened to be my job at the WSU newspaper. And this five-minute interview was
something I traveled for an hour out there for, and then more than an hour back because
that time I had to transfer at the downtown Bellevue bus station.
	On the plus side, there was a Future Shop right across the street from this place I
had the interview at, and I finally found a color image scanner for my printer. Back on
the negative side, the stupid thing won't work on my computer until I get the CD rom
software for Windows 95, which I don't have because the program was sent to me copied
on a floppy disc. And then that night more than 200 messages I had saved in my e-mail
program, which I like to keep and are very valuable to me, simply disappeared with no
explanation for their absence. That was just not a very good day.
	The highlight of that day was when I was at the Bellevue downtown transfer
station, where this weird Iranian guy tried talking to me. He asked where I was from, if I
play sports, and if I have a girlfriend, and then he told me I was a gentleman. I was glad
he did not follow me onto my bus. Some highlight, huh?
	The next day was a little bit better, though. Well, it got better in the second half,
	At eleven o'clock in the morning on Friday, August 21, I had an appointment for
an informational interview at a place called Pacific Maritime Magazine. I ended up
missing my bus because I waited on Third Avenue instead of Fourth, where the bus ran,
and so I had to call the guy up and tell him I would be a half hour late--he seemed
unfazed. Still, by the time I finally got there and was talking to him, he told me I could
have walked. I do believe this place was nearly three miles from my home, though, and
by the time I realized I had missed my bus, I would have been much later than I already
was if I had tried walking--besides, I had no idea how long it would take me to walk.
	It was when I was there that I realized this was a trade journal--they write about
all sorts of boats, many of them cruise liners, that type of thing. I have no expertise
what-soever to write for such a publication, but I couldn't help unknowingly sending
resumes to trade journals--I never had the time to familiarize myself with every single
publication I sent information on myself to. The man I spoke to still gave me a copy of
the magazine, wrapped in a slick transparent plastic cover, and then he spoke to me
generally of the idea of writing for a living.
	The outlook he gave me seemed rather grim. As far as the idea of editing is
concerned, I would have to have plenty of experience writing first. And when it comes to
writing, I would have to start off writing for many publications for little to no money, just
to get my byline exposed and out there on the market. I would sort of have to wait for my
experience to accrue enough for me to gather a portfolio with which I could impress
people, or perhaps former editors I once wrote for could make personal career moves and
find ways to offer me jobs that way--but that would all be in the future.
	"In the meantime," he said to me, "you'll have to do something else. Work in a
book store or something."
	This was not what I wanted to hear. To graduate from college only to work at a
place I could work at with just a high school diploma? I know I'm just conceited and
picky (you've all learned to deal with it so far, so keep it up), but such things seem rather,
say, less than attractive to me. The very idea left me rather down and somewhat
depressed about my immediate future--what does this mean, exactly?
	The one overwhelmingly positive thing about this kind of planning is that the
experience I could get right now without making an actual living off of it will nearly
guarantee me a fulfilling writing career in the long-run. I have no worries about that
whatsoever--it's not exactly difficult for me to be prolific (sometimes I wonder if I will
die a world record holder, having written more journal entries and correspondence than
anyone else has in one lifetime in history). What worried me was what the hell I was
going to do in the meantime.
	I had an actual job interview later that same afternoon, and I went out to it on the
bus thinking it was the least promising lead I had come across so far. The guy who had
called me to set up the interview the day before was not a native English speaker--I think
he is Indian (that is, from India) but I'm not sure. In any case, there were some
communication problems while I spoke to him over the phone, and I went out to this
place not knowing exactly what I would be interviewing for.
	As it turned out, I happened to come across the most promising lead I had come
across thus far, and I was very excited about the idea of working this job. It was at a place
called Professional Copy N Print, which is almost identical to Kinko's--the services of
which I use on at least a monthly basis (monthly because of this very newsletter, which I
could conceivably print up for free if I worked at such a place). To my surprise after
discovering what type of business it was, though, they were actually considering me for a
writing position.
	You see, what I would be doing if I was hired at this place is a number of things.
If hired full time they would not be able to give me writing assignments the whole time,
so I would otherwise be manning the cash register or working with the print and copy
machines--which is the second-most popular filler of my time anyway (the first being, of
course, writing). As for the writing, I think these people need someone like me mainly
because they are not native English speakers--I would be either re-writing or doing the
preliminary writing for the text on things like their company fliers and brochures. 
	In fact, I was asked to work for an hour for them as part of the interview, and I
was given a sort of prototype for a brochure, with texts and photos pasted here and there
to show both the layout and what would be said. What was asked of me was a re-writing
of the text, something in between simple proofreading and all-out re-writing. The man I
spoke to wanted it to flow more, "be more attractive." And believe me, the text on this
brochure certainly needed it. No professional would take them seriously with brochures
featuring plural words written with apostrophes--that's a horrible and disgusting English
no-no. I didn't say that to them, though; I just changed it while I was re-writing.
	I finished and printed it out, giving it to the man who interviewed me. He said he
would show it to the boss and then we would see what might happen from there. So I
went home.
	It was about that time when I realized how much I wanted to work at this
place--to be paid for doing the two things I completely fill my own free time with
anyway! I was even able to show this guy a copy of my graduation announcement while I
was in the interview, so he could see what I was capable of. And I also realized another
thing that made it completely ideal--I have no car, but I can get on a bus four blocks from
my home and it's an express route that gets right onto the freeway, the very first stop
being right at the offramp that is on the very corner at which this company is located--it
would take me between ten and fifteen minutes to get to work. Relying on public transit,
that's a near miracle.
	In addition, I then realized what the guy at Pacific Maritime Magazine failed to
mention--his theory was that I would not be able to make a living at writing if it was
strictly for publication. But there are all kinds of writing positions out there, and all I care
about is to be able to make a living doing that--writing, plain and simple--at least at this
point in my life. Besides, no matter where I end up, I will still be doing the freelance jobs
here and there, perhaps quite a few of them. So the day ended with a much brighter
outlook of both the distant and the near future. Maybe I'm delusional or something,
perhaps I'm cracking up--but I just can't get rid of this nagging sensation that I am going
to be perfectly fine, and I have nothing serious to worry about.
	It's an attitude that will either help me to skyrocket or kill me. I guess we'll just
have to wait and see, won't we?
	On August 22 I saw the film Wrongfully Accused, which was generally worth the
four bucks I paid to see it--at least I was able to go out. On the same day, though, I made
the large mistake of going into the new Nordstrom's. It was an accident, I swear to God. I
was completely powerless, out of control, there was no way to stop it. I didn't really want
to go in there . . . you believe me, don't you?
	There's stuff going on all over the place these days. Evidently this is the place to
be. And the exit to the monorail is right across the street, and there were so many people
that I ended up just herded in, right across the road and into the front doors . . . I was
sucked in against my will! I swear it!
	Well, once inside, I discovered that Nordstrom's is nothing but another Bon
Marche, two blocks away. Another five floors, and filled with more people than you'll
find on the streets downtown at five on a Friday evening. They did have nice marble
floors . . . 
	I thought, hey, maybe I could find a belt. And then, I kid you not, I entered the
twilight zone. You walk into the front doors, and suddenly you feel light headed because
of the right hook you got from the stench of perfume that customers get hurled at them as
they come in. Look to the right: there's a woman who looks like she just had a Satan's
Sister make-over while trying to pass the time when she was waiting in purgatory. She
has a nice golden halo-like thing strapped around her head like all the other employees
doing customer's make-up. 
	The crowds in this place made me feel like I was in a Public Market created in
hell. What on Earth was I doing in here? I was going to have an anxiety attack just like
the one I had in the Bon. 
	So naturally I went up the escalators. I might find a belt, remember.
	Here comes the most bizarre part: at each and every entrance or exit to any of the
up or down escalators stood one employee, with a name tag that was also labeled
"Information Host." What, exactly, does that mean? I had to fight the urge to ask one of
them if they were there just in case someone wanted to make sure this escalator actually
goes up. How much do these people get paid? Instead of "human dummy," they get the
prestigious title of "Information Host." I'm sure it's hard work.
	I went up some number of floors, quite close to those ballooned legs and shoes
that hang off the roof of the building--but there were never any windows to look out of;
they must have been beyond offices. I think I went up four floors, actually, passing
nothing but three floors of women's wear and then, on the top floor, part women's wear,
part kid's wear, and part cafe. Some of this big city stuff is still going to take some getting
used to. Well, not necessarily--I won't ever return to this store if I can help it.
	I could not find any men's wear. So I went back down four flights of escalators,
passing twice as many "information hosts". Once on the ground floor I realized that there
was a basement, and that's where the men's wear was. I finally located the belts among a
bunch of stiff dress shirts and boring shoes--and the first black belt I came up to was $54.
I nearly messed my pants. Why the hell don't they make a six-story downtown Kmart?
The cheapest belt I could find was $45. I headed right back to the escalator, actually
laughing out loud. 
	I'm not sure I've even ever been in Nordstrom's before. The feel of a store like this
is just too far "above" the sensibility that I feel today. What a stiff, artificial, contrived
and smelly place that was. I got back up to the ground floor and refused to follow the
ropes over to the left, where there was actually a guy playing the piano for a group of
people that had gathered to listen. I was far out of my own territory in this place. I would
have felt better about myself if I had been a couple of miles away chewing a whore's
leftover bubble gum. (Not that I have actually done that, now, don't misunderstand me.)
	I had to get out of there--and so I just stepped right over the red rope, which was
not much more than a foot above the floor anyway, and went out the door through which
I came in--which meant I had to brave the rapids of perfume again. I realized then that
there were even "Information Hosts" manning the exits. I noticed one of the women had a
speaker in her ear, with a tiny chord leading down to some netherregion. What is this, the
secret service? I really felt that if I did not get out of there, I would have developed a
sudden massive brain tumor.
	Just outside the front doors, a heavy set woman was getting her picture taken as
she held about seven Nordstrom bags. That was when I considered it confirmed (it's
official!)--I really was in the Twilight Zone. There's simply no other explanation for it.
	I walked back to the safety and comfort and privacy of my own home. Perhaps
one day I'll find some clothing stores that are actually cool. I still need to do a lot of
exploring--I didn't even discover the underground hallway from Rainier Square to 2
Union Square (covering some four blocks) until just last week. I need to stop going to the
same places all the time. And when I run into other versions of Nordstrom's, I'll no where
I do not want to return.
	On the 24th of August the most exciting thing that happened to me was when I
was spoken to by an obviously drunk pedestrian up in the Wallingford neighborhood
area. I just came out of a building, looking at my bus schedule, and the guy started to
speak to me as I crossed the street. I think he was trying to point, but he sort of made the
sign of Spock instead. He said, "If you're looking for a bus stop there's one right over
	Not yet realizing anything, I gave him a rather chipper "Thanks!" 
	Then he said, in a rather slurred voice, "Any time you want!" Then, somewhat
lower in tone, "You're beautiful!" He said that a couple of times, actually, while I kept on
walking. I was not in my usual mode of full-androgyny at the time--I had just gotten out
of an interview of sorts, and my hair was back, my nails clipped, no heavy make-up. I
even spoke to him, and my voice does not sound like a woman's. So I concluded that the
man must have been really drunk.
	He later came down walking past my bus stop, nearly tripping over himself and
bordering on screaming about something indecipherable that he was clearly not pleased
with. I was afraid he would speak to me again but he didn't. Ah, the highlights of my 
days . . .
	Something wonderfully interesting happened on Wednesday the 26th--I received a
completely unexpected check in the mail, apparently the very last portion of my
inheritance. A rather small fraction of the entire sum, but a healthy chunk in and of itself,
that's for sure. I didn't want to do more follow-up calls at the moment and Sherri has been
bugging me to sort of splurge a little--so I almost immediately went shopping. I still spent
less than most people would have in my position, though--the most significant thing I
bought being a fairly nice black bathrobe, which I had been looking for all over the place
for months anyway. I bought just a few other smaller things--a belt, some socks, that kind
of stuff.
	I decided I would use this money to finally get a new computer. I made plans with
my friend Josh to assist me in purchasing the best kind of laptop for me to use--which is
to happen tomorrow, as a matter of fact (a few days before most of you will actually read
	. . . As for the definite future, only one thing I can say for sure: my weekends for
the next six weeks, every one of them, are almost overbooked. This very weekend, being
the last one in August, I am to be visited by my friend Josh, who is going to assist me in
my decision to purchase my laptop. The weekend after that I am to be visited by my
friend Lynn and possibly my friend Danielle (just to give her a place to stay so she can go
to Bumpershoot, if she can make it anyway)--but definitely my bother and his family,
who will stay at one of the two hotels across the street from my building. They will be
staying from Thursday to Monday, though, so I'll have plenty of time to see them. The
following weekend is a definite visit from Danielle, when we will see a Tori Amos
concert together and also have dinner at the Space Needle. The weekend after that I am
flying direct from SeaTac to Pullman, and the weekend after that I will have another visit
from Barbara. Then, one week later, the first weekend of October, I will be taking my
father to see the play Rent.
	In any case, I have a lot of wonderful things to look forward to, and that's very
comforting, no matter what my job turns out to be.
the writing history
Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be.
Because sooner or later, if you are posing,
you will forget the pose, and then where are you?
						-- Fanny Brice
	I have actually left a few things out of the last section because they were better
suited to this one. Here I will tell you about my writing history, my writing present, and
my nearly guaranteed publishing future.
	Well, it all began during the first week after I sent out my 415 resumes--when I
fist realized that I was inadvertently becoming a freelance writer. This was something I
originally thought I would be consciously avoiding, because I was always under the
assumption that to dive head-first into attempting to make a living at nothing more than
freelance writing would leave me broke and on the verge of homelessness. In any case, I
thought it was an unrealistic expectation. 
	Regardless, that is exactly what I am becoming--at least, so far, on a part-time
basis. Ideally I would get a regular job in addition to all of these freelance jobs, but
getting to that point has yet to happen. Still, freelance jobs that I do have so far are the
perfect starting points for a long-term writing career. 
	The first such call I got was on Wednesday, August 12 from a man at the local
monthly newspaper InSite Magazine. It's a paper that covers opinions of both local and
national aspects of pop culture--music, movies, books, etc. What was finally decided,
after a few incarnations of how I wanted to plan this (I will have a rather wide range of
freedom with this, it sounds like), was that I would be reviewing movies to be released on
video. It's perfect that I rarely rent videos, because this way I could review movies I have
already seen at the theatre, but before they are released on video. For September, though,
the issue comes out on the 16th, and my deadline is the 6th. I think I will write something
about the release of Titanic on video on the 1rst. I think it will focus on the idea of its
present position as the all-time box office champ, and I might compare it to other movies
that have been in that position--all the way back to The Sound of Music, which was
outdone by The Godfather, and then Jaws, then Star Wars, then E.T., then Jurassic Park.
(I will of course note that three of the above movies are by Steven Spielberg, undeniably
one of the most brilliant filmmakers in the history of movies.) I haven't made a clear
focus on this stuff I'm just thinking about, though--I do have until the 6th, and that's a
sinch. I could very well have the whole article finished by the time any of you actually
read this, come to think of it . . .
	Then, also on Wednesday the 12th, something rather interesting happened. I sat
down to call the owner of Seattle Gay News, and was completely surprised to hear for the
very first time, "Oh, I'm glad you called." He then told me they had been looking for
some new writers, and would I like to go with him to see Candice Gingrich speak that
very night, and perhaps write about it too.
	I have been kind of out of it, and I had no idea who Candice Gingrich was (she's
Newt Gingrich's younger lesbian half-sister), but once I found out I was very intrigued. I
literally had to hang up the phone and shoot through my apartment door, so I could walk
over to Capitol Hill to meet up with this guy.
	So I rode with George Bakan (the owner of SGN) down to Auburn to this
backyard barbecue picnic-type thing, a small sort of pit-stop for the Human Rights
Campaign Foundation, which currently has Candice Gingrich as their spokesperson. Most
of the evening was spent with everyone but me socializing (I just sort of wandered about)
in this absolutely beautiful multiple acres of gardens that serve as the "yard" of this home.
The home was owned by a gay male couple of schoolteachers, and they apparently
consistently donate their grounds for political functions like this, which I thought was
rather nice of them. I met them both, and they were very nice.
	Most significantly, though, I ended up being able to speak with Candice Gingrich
myself, for just a few minutes. She was extremely nice as well.
	On the way back to town, I discussed with George Bakan what I would be writing
for his publications--he said he also recently bought the South End News, a monthly
newspaper. First I was going to write an personal account of what I experienced at this
picnic, what it was like being an outsider who didn't know much about it and being sort
of thrust right in there. I really liked this idea, and wrote the piece that very night.
	Once I got a hold of George Bakan again to discuss it, he told me it was a really
good piece and that it would definitely be published in the South End News on September
1. He told me he was even thinking of publishing it in the SGN, though I'm not sure if
that will actually happen. 
	We also discussed other things I could write about, though, and I have a feeling
that I will be writing movie reviews for them as well--this time for movies out in the
theatres. I might eventually also write book reviews and movie reviews for them as well,
in any case I'll probably do more of that type of thing than anything else.
	If I can get a hold of a copy of the South End News, though, I will probably
enclose copies of the article in next month's newsletter.
	The very next day, on August 13, I got a call from a woman at Diversity News. I
got a little shaken when she asked me, "What are your rates?" I had no idea what my rates
are--I still don't. I always thought I just took what people offered me. I'm going to have to
figure out what my rates are, I guess--I'm just afraid of either asking for way too much or
inadvertently asking for less than they would have been otherwise willing to give me (and
we certainly don't want that). She said she was very impressed with my resume, though,
and she said that although her monthly publication is pretty much booked with writers
over the next couple of months, she will probably call me in a few months with an
assignment for her paper.
	Apparently this particular publication focuses on small businesses, and one
example she gave was a story they ran on a woman who moved over from Africa and
started a business of her own. That type of story sounded very intriguing to me, and I am
very much looking forward to writing for that publication. 
	The woman who called in regards to this said she looked forward to meeting with
me sometime.
	So, for some time, I was set for at least eventual writing gigs with four different
publications: Seattle Gay News, The South End News, InSite Magazine, and Diversity
News. It wasn't until August 24 that the fourth one came along.
	This one was at a biweekly community newspaper called The Seattle Press. I was
told during my meeting with the editor that writing for them would be completely
objective, reporting of news stories. I decided, why not? Even if it's not the most
interesting exercise in the world (which could possibly prove to be otherwise anyway), it
will still giving experience at different kinds of writing that I have not yet had published.
It would be a wonderful thing to have under my belt, in any case.
	I was rather surprised when the man told me that for a given printed article I
could be paid an amount anywhere between $55 to $120. That was much more than I
would ever have expected--and then he told me, "That's really not very much. You could
spend as much as three days on just one article." He did tell me, though, that even though
it's a lot of hard work, I could actually "scrape together a living" with nothing but
freelance writing, if I went about it aggressively enough. This completely contradicted
what the man at Pacific Maritime Magazine told me, and I chose to believe the man at
The Seattle Press. Now, if I was paid $55 for three days of work, that's horrible pay--but
if I was paid $120 for one day of work (which I think I could do--I'm a very quick and
prolific writer), that's wonderful pay. So these things are all relative, and depend on how
good you are at doing very specific things in certain amounts of time. Once again, only
time will tell.
	In any case, I left that interview thinking that perhaps there was hope after all for
the idea of just doing freelance writing. Maybe sending out those 415 resumes wasn't a
great idea after all--who knows? 
	The next day I got a little outside of my normal mode of late, and am now
seriously considering the route of trying to write for publication only. I could feasibly try
it out for a little while, in any case, because I have the security to back myself up if the
whole thing backfires. But doing this is much closer to my dreams anyway--and why not
continue to follow the path of my dreams? It's the only road to happiness.
	That's what I had been thinking, anyway--but certainly not decisively. I still had
that call to make to Professional Copy N Print, and if they wanted me, I was going to
work there. I called him, though, and he said he would call me back later that day--I
haven't heard from him since.
	Not too long ago, though, when I was getting more interested into the idea of
sticking to freelancing, I went out for a walk, and I picked up all the different issues of
newspapers I could find, thinking perhaps I could find some to possibly send articles to.
Within just a three-block radius from around my home, I came back with around two
dozen publications. I have even found one that I might send some of my poetry to. It
won't pay me anything for poetry, but exposure is what I need most. Besides, I already
have paid jobs in the works at this very moment.
	Last night I got two new assignments from the man who owns South End News; I
will try to get information on both a tavern that is not closing, contrary to the rumors that
my article will be printed to dispel, and I will also hopefully be interviewing a woman
over the phone about her trip to Washington D.C. to the Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
	This morning I went back up to Seattle Press, where I got yet another two
assignments--and next week I will be working on both of them. One is a story on
homeless people living at Cowan Park, and the other will be about the success (or rather,
the lack thereof) of the fishing season up in Alaska--I'll be talking to the fishermen just
getting back because the season is ending.
	Rather soon I will be needing to write my first piece for InSite Magazine--within
the next two weeks at least--and I will be writing a piece on the video release of Titanic. I
also plan to write movie reviews, and at least one book review in September, for SGN.
	In any case, I am busy with writing assignments for the moment--and that's how
the month ends. I only made it to two different "real job" interviews, but suddenly I don't
care. Many people in my life have thought that I am nowhere near spontaneous
enough--well, just within the past couple of days, I have decided to just stick with
freelance writing for the moment. As my friend Josh says, if I just keep writing and
writing and writing and writing, sooner or later I could very well run across a "big break"
of some sort. And besides, the more writing I get out there, the better chance there will be
that more people will catch notice of the talent and skill that I have at it.
	So, I entered this month with hopeful visions of a steady job, and I leave it now an
official freelance writer. I always believe in going with my instincts, and my gut is very
settled at the moment. So I'm going for it.

[Author's note: Portions of this newsletter were taken
from the following letter: Barbar61 (currently the longest
single letter Matthew McQuilkin ever wrote: 75 pages)]
vol. 1          issue #10          July 1998
If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.
-   -   -
For you, life is a great and bold adventure.
	T   he most common question I have been
asked lately is whether or not I have yet sent out my
450 resumes. Well, the answer to that is no. The
projected date that I originally came up with for that to
happen was July 26--which, of course, has come and
gone--but the time needed for me to have my resume
professionally written caused a postponement of that
date. They will be "launched" very soon, though, and if
all goes well, much of August will be spent doing
	I was a little off, I should say, in my prediction
that I would possibly have a job by the end of July. 
One of these days I am going to realize that
expectations are only those and nothing more--if there
is nothing else learned from the past, it's the fact that
not all plans are set in stone. One postpone-ment was
my own doing: I wanted my friend Barbara to be able
to come and visit me before I got a job, or was even
too deep into the job search process, and so I did
what it took to make that a reality.
	Still, I am presently in a state of flux. This is a
very fluid, mutable, and transitional time in my life.
Certainly nothing is set in stone, and sometimes I wish
I had more stones in which to set things. That's just
not where I am at right now, though, and I can live
with that. My career will come when it is time for such
things to happen. I am very lucky that I have the
freedom to have this point of view.
	Thinking about these kinds of things, I have
often thought about where I've been, and what I have
gone through to get here. Every single experience in
my entire life has contributed to the creation of the
Fruitcake in existence 
today. I am very happy with who am I now, and
although most of the first twenty years of my life I
would not in a million years want to experience over
again, I would not want to change anything either.
Otherwise I would be a much different person today,
and I have no desire to change myself.
	As most of you know, I was born into a very
fundamentalist Baptist church. I have spent many
years resenting the experiences I have had there--and
there were many, to say the least. However, what
perhaps none of you know is that I am thankful now to
have been brought up the way I was the very first few
years of my life. I was in a private school which,
despite their crazymaking religious antics, educated
me at a much higher level than I would have gotten in
pubic school. I learned to read when I was in
kindergarten, and today I see kids in the third grade at
public schools who still don't know how to read. It's
sickening, really. You see, no matter what you're
going through, there is always a bright side to
everything, and there is always, always a silver lining,
no matter how thin. It's just a matter of finding it.
	Many of the aspects of my parents' divorce
actually shaped the strong values I have now for long
lasting and meaningful relationships. If there is no
chance of anything that might last, it's not worth
wasting my time. These are the kinds of things I want
to avoid. Living in the gargantuan garbage dump
known as Spokane for more than nine years only
fueled my desire to move to Seattle, and now I am
where I want to be. 
	Thus far, however, and more than anything,
simply going away to college proved to be one big
chemical reaction. I went in one person and left a
completely different one. But change is good, and I
have the same type of thing to look forward to living
here. It's very possible that the chemical reaction here
will be much more concentrated, and I will change
more in the next year than I did in the past four. 
	I am completely comfortable with this. Life is
nothing but a series of changes, an evolutionary
process. Some say that people never change, but the
clarification there is simply that some things about
some people never change. The truth is that everyone
changes. Some do it at greater extremes than others,
some take longer. I may not be so much into black
once another five years go by, and there's a chance
that I might. So what? I'll deal with being twenty-seven
when I get there, and the same goes for thirty, and
forty, and fifty. This is who I am right now, and that's
really all that matters for the time being.
	Who I am now is changing at a rather steady
rate, I think. I have felt myself change as a person just
within the last month. It's kind of an exhilarating
experience. I have found that there is one hell of a lot
of value in living in the moment, staying in "the now"
rather than holding onto the past or worrying too much
about the future. It really is possible to just let go, and
let life simply take you where it may. 
	It was said by someone in my presence
recently that "things don't just happen. People make
them happen." Well, what about me, then? My life is a
mixture of will and luck. However, I simply take
advantage of wonderful opportunities that cross my
path--I have no control over those opportun-ities. I did
not make myself receive an inheritance. I did not
make myself a business associate of Dan Burr, my
current financial advisor. And I did not make him refer
me to Career Improvement, which is guiding me
toward a very hopeful career future. I didn't even
make this absolutely wonderful apartment I have
available for me to rent--it just happened to be here.
And I didn't make this such a beautiful city to live in
	I did not make my life happen. The reasoning
for my very existence has very little to do with me as a
complex human being. All I have done is take
advantage of my existence, and then guide it a little,
as best I can. But I have a very deep feeling, way
down in my gut, that I am going places. I'm not just
some average schmo, and I don't really care how
arrogant that might make me sound. I have all my life
had this feeling that there was some sort of
significance waiting in the shadows of my destiny--and
a good sort at that. And in the end, it's an attitude like
that that helps people get ahead. It may take a while,
it may not. I don't really care. But, for really the first
time in my life, I am extremely happy to just be alive.
This is the first true peak I have ever experienced.
	I'm going to make things happen whenever life
provides me with the opportunities to do so. I grew up
with never-ending grim pictures of the future. Now I
look ahead with a smile, with anxious anticipation of
new and hopeful beginnings, and a fulfilling life ahead.
Why? Because I'm a stubborn little twerp, and I simply
won't stand for not being fulfilled. I'm not into settling,
it's not going to happen.
	Life has been too great in recent times, why
would I want to stop the trend? I have been blessed
with an over-whelmingly wonderful family, and my
friends are so great that I really have a second family.
The items I value the most are my journals, my
photos, my letters--all references to the many people
that I care very much about. I grew up thinking too
much that I was getting the shaft, never knowing that I
was actually born privileged from the very beginning.
The world owes me nothing, and I owe the world
everything. It is very important to me that I make a
very significant and positive contribution. That is,
really, my ultimate goal. 
	I am at a point now that even when I look back
to the crappy times, I tend to focus on the good things.
My entire attitude towards life is changing, and it's not
just because of money--this change has been
occurring long before that. All I need to make it is
confidence, tenacity and dedication. I've got more
than enough of all of the above.
	And so I keep on deliberately boring the hell out
of all these people I am dedicated to but who still cop
out of writing to me:
	1. Angel Benson (Hope you're doing all right . .
. we never seem to be able to stay in touch very often
anymore . . .)
	2. Darcy Hartley (One day, I swear, I really will
come and visit you again . . . I will probably be in town
at least a little more often from now on . . .)
	3. Dawn Addams (Are you still in school? Do
you have sufficient shelter? Have you won the lottery?
Are you getting married? I have no idea because you
and I are so out of touch now . . .)
	4. Gina Yarbrough (Is Enchanted Village still
going to happen sometime?)
	5. Jennifer Miga (You still haven't written that
letter you promised . . . and now everyone knows
about it!!)
	6. Kim (Dad) and Sherri McQuilkin (Looking
forward to your next visit, whenever that will be . . .)
	7. Paul McQuilkin (How are the sheep?)
	8. Raenae Lanning (How's the cat?)
	9. Rick Benson (How's it?)
	10. Shane McQuilkin (How.)
	. . . If any of you would like to know about
recent role models, I will now let you know that
Danielle has written to me twice Once right after my
last newsletter, and she even responded to my
response! You see, this is how it works, people: I write
to you, then you write back! It's kind of simple,
actually. Grandma McQuilkin, Barbara, and Auntie
Rose all understand this, and I know the rest of you
are just as smart as them!
	Then again, perhaps not. I guess all I can say
now is
a month in the life of a fruitcake
We take the Desert Storm approach to job hunting.
					-- Cynthia Graham
	W here to begin? 
	Well, I suppose the end of June is a nice start.
On the twenty-seventh I received in the mail the first
letter from my Korean pen-pal, Hye-Jin, in two full
years. It was quite a pleasant surprise. She even gave
me an e-mail address in the letter, and that was what I
used to try and get back to her. She took some time to
get back to me, but she did, finally--just about three
days ago. So, for the first time in two years, I am in
common contact with my Korean pen-pal once again. I
think it's rather nice.
	That is not by any means the most significant
news of the month, however, so I'll move on.
	On June twenty-eighth I went to the gay pride
parade. There's quite a story here, so let's start:
	The parade, overall, was really cool. One thing
I can safely note here is that at one point a bunch of
people walked by representing some book store, and
one man held a sign that read, "The only perversion is
corporate bookstores."
	A lot of the passers-by themselves, though,
were more interesting. It was just as fun to
people-watch as it was to watch the parade. 	 
	There were policemen all over the place, and
too many people wearing matching outfits. There were
also people who walked around asking for signatures
on a petition to get legalization of medical marijuana
on the ballot. I signed it eventually, but beforehand I
got to see this woman I am fairly certain was drunk
refuse to give back one of the petitioners his pen. 
	Once the parade was over, I went into a QFC
grocery store about two blocks down the street. I
thought I was going to get some Paul Mitchell
products on Broadway, the street on which the parade
took place, but the address to the salon I thought I
was going to was 216, and I discovered I was on the
1700 block. I did not want to walk that far, so I thought
I would just stop at QFC before heading back home to
see if I could find a quick bite to eat.
	As soon as I was inside, this skinny black guy
with wretched teeth--and I had only a slight suspicion
he was not a native of this country--turned and said hi
to me. Perhaps it was my mistake to say hi back to
him, but I did. I went over to the salad display to see if
they had any caesars, and the guy followed me. He
asked me my name. "My name is Matthew," I told him.
He gave me bad vibes immediately, and so I walked
steadily back out the door. I could feel him following
me, though.
	I was walking down the street back toward
down-town, and I looked to my left, to see behind me
in the reflection of the windows I was passing by.
There he was.
	He caught up with me and asked what the
parade was all about. "It was the gay pride parade," I
	"It's the gay pride parade."
	Then he asked me if I was from around here. I
said no.
	"Are you just visiting then?" he asked.
	"Well I live in town," I said. "I'm just not from
around here."
	"Are you going home?"
	"Oh," he said. I thought I heard disappointment
in his voice, maybe this would finally get him to leave
me alone--but I think now that was just wishful
	Then he said something I could not decipher.
	"I like you, Matt," he repeated. 
	"That's nice," I said. I usually think that people
will take the hint that I am not interested in talking to
them if I do everything within my power to convey that
without actually coming out and saying it. This is fast
proving to be a naive approach. The man continued to
walk with me.
	"So, what do you say?" I knew instantly what
he was getting at, but I didn't want him to know that.
	"What do I say to what?" I asked. I think it was
about this time that we stopped walking, and we were
just looking at each other on the sidewalk.
	"I want to make love to you," he said, rather
softly, but I certainly heard this comment.
	I declined his offer.
	I declined again.
	"Please? Just touch?"
	Another decline.
	"I will pay you," he said, "one hundred dollars."
	I refused. I said no a number of times; you
wouldn't believe how many times he said "Please."
This guy was really giving me the creeps. I actually
wondered if he was going to try and use any kind of
force on me. I didn't want to keep going the way I was
going, I was too afraid of leaving areas of dense
pedestrian population and having this guy try to follow
me home.
	So I said one final "No!," not screaming but still
very stern, and I turned around and went back the
way from which I came. He finally did not follow me
this time, and I can tell you I looked behind me
sporadically the entire time I walked home. 
	On June thirtieth I went to my first individual
consultation at Career Improvement Group (labeled
"CIG" on all of the papers I have collected from them,
which always makes me think of cigarettes). I was
presented with all of the options they had to offer me,
and then I got into a discussion with this woman (Jane
Meyers-Bowen, who I was referred to by Dan Burr, my
financial advisor) that ended up kind of rubbing me the
wrong way. The people at this place have raised
euphemistic condescention to a true art form. The
message she seemed to be trying to convey to me on
this day was that I am just out to piss people off with
my writing, but in a good way--that's my own
interpretation of the situation, anyway. I knew that I
could benefit from a lot of their services, so I just
figured that the next individual consultation would be
with the other woman who runs this business,
seemingly sort of as a partner. Jane just rubbed me
the wrong way, and maybe it was just an individual
	It was decided at the end of that consultation
that I would take "Phase I," which included the classes
"Know Your Market," and "CHOICE," as well as one
individual consultation. The former class mentioned
was about resources to use when looking for
companies to apply at, and the latter was about
narrowing down job titles.
	I went to that "Know Your Market" class two
days later, and was a bit overwhelmed by all of the
work involved. However, I organized and paced
myself and got pretty much everything done in no
time. I was taught that I could find all the resources I
would need at the library, and was actually given more
than a dozen options for mere collections of company
names along with the names of people who would be
in the position to hire. I have only used one, very
reliable source for this very purpose: a very handy
book called Inside Prospects, that will list up to five
hiring authority names, depending on the size of the
company. There is an SIC ("Standard Industrial
Classifica-tion" code) section I can use--basically
using numbers to list companies in categories by the
type of business that they do. I know the SIC code for
newspaper, magazine, book and even greeting card
companies, and I have also utilized SIC codes for
libraries and printing companies. In addition, I have
used the code 8999, which is for companies "not
elsewhere classified"--which is where I found some
general writing service companies. Over the space of
a total of about seven days, I have systematically
collected a list of 450 companies to send resumes to.
Each one is a company name written on its own 3x5
card, with its own vital information: SIC code,
business type (single location, franchise, head office,
etc), number of employees, address, phone number,
and hiring authority names. I had to buy four packs of
3x5 cards to cover it.
	I am supposed to call each and every one of
these numbers to confirm that the rest of the
information is up to date (most importantly the hiring
authority names), but I haven't gotten around to that
stage yet. You'll know momentarily the reason for this.
	There was a lot of other homework associated
with that particular class too, such as narrowing down
a reasonably low number of SIC codes to work from,
and other sort of interest exercises. I worked on both
those things as well as getting my 450 companies
written down over the next week and a half or so. One
thing about this whole conglomerate exercise I find
interesting is how similar the work is to two of the jobs
I have had: a did data entry at school for work study,
doing not much more than entering into a computer
dates and people's names and such--this was just like
that, only by hand instead of typing into a computer. In
addition, once I get into that information confirmation
mode, it will be much like the telephone interviewing
job that I had--only this time the people will generally
be nicer (as opposed to the people I called from CCI
while they were eating dinner, the people I will speak
to over the phone will be people speaking to me
because it's their job and they have to pretend they
enjoy it).
	Some other things were experienced before I
was through with all of that though--such as a viewing
of "Armageddon" on its opening day. The plot is
amazingly idiotic, but if you're looking for a lot of
humor interspersed into non-stop riveting action, this
is where to find it.
	July third was when Danielle arrived for a visit
through the 4th of July weekend. She brought her
boyfriend and her fifteen year-old sister, and I learned
quickly that I don't ever want to take in three guests at
once again.
	Still, I had a great time. That Friday, the fourth,
we all went to Enchanted Village, where Danielle and
her sister Shannon had never been before. This was
the first time I had been there since 1995, and the one
new ride there was an incredibly thrilling roller coaster.
This was the first time in my entire life I ever rode a
roller coaster that went upside down (and this went
upside-down three times). I am very glad I have done
it--there are few things I have ever experienced that
gave me a rush like that. It made me want to do it
over and over again--but by the time we had finally
made it to that ride the park was closing and we had
to leave.
	We were all trying to agree on a movie to see
that night--but, between the four of us, no agreement
could be made: Shannon wanted to see Dr. Doolittle,
which I did not want to see much. Danielle wanted to
see either Armageddon, which I had just recently seen
and did not particularly want to pay full price to see a
second time when I paid for a matinee the first time
around, or The Truman Show, which I had already
seen before and actually would have seen again.
Shannon has already seen that, though, and she
dubbed it "stupid." Seth, Danielle's boyfriend, did not
have much of an opinion as usual. I was the one who
wanted to see an obscure Native American film called
Smoke Signals, which of course no one else wanted
to see simply because they had never heard anything
about it.
	Suddenly, the idea was brought up that we go
to the observation deck of the Space Needle. I knew
that for one adult to go up there was $9, which a lot of
people consider pretty steep--however, it seems
necessary because even at that price it can get
crowded up there, and otherwise that thing would get
overcrowded with a hell of a lot more people who
could afford it. The way I looked at it, a movie at night
would have cost me $7--and only $2 more than that to
go up the Space Needle was more than worth it to
me. I thought it was a great idea and was all for it, and
so that's what we did.
	This was the first time I had ever been up there
at night, and it was one of the most spectacular views
I had ever seen (although a major exception would be
in 1992 when I had the very rare opportunity to eat
lunch at the top of the 76-story Columbia Tower,
which is more than a third taller than the Space
Needle--but then, I didn't get to see that view at night).
I was just standing out there, not really minding the
very chilly wind, thinking about how great it would be if
I could just go up there whenever I wanted, just to
ponder while gazing at this magnificent view.
	Then it hit me. Maybe they sell season passes!
	I spoke to Danielle and Seth about this, and
Seth told me that he had seen a sign for prices to a
pass when we came in, he just couldn't remember
what the price was. So we went down to the bottom a
half hour before the Needle closed (about 11:30), and
that was when I found out all the vital information from
the vendor: it's an annual pass that costs only $59.
With it I can go up to the Space Needle observation
deck for free, at least once a day, 363 days a year
(the only exceptions being July 4 and December 31).
In addition--here's the really great part--I can bring up
to three guests with me each time I go, and they are
all free too! If I paid the $9 adult price for four people
to go up there on each of those 363 days, I would
spend $13,068. Indeed, I start saving money as soon
as I have taken at least four people up there with me
(if I took them all separately)--also as early as my
second visit up there (two times with four people
counting myself would be $72). 
	But wait, there's more! I can use my pass to get
one free dessert for myself and each of my guests any
time I eat at the Space Needle. In addition, I get a
10% discount on all the merchandise in the gift shop.
As Sherri said, it's surprising not everyone in this city
has one of these passes, it's such a great deal! You
can bet I'll get more than my money's worth.
	And the guy from whom I purchased the pass
helped me get a head start on my saving money,
since I had just gotten down from a visit--he refunded
all of our tickets for us, because I had just bought the
pass! That was outrageously nice of him, I thought.
	On July 4 we all went to Pike Place Market,
which of course is just a little walk from my place. It
was there that I found a wonderful necklace with a
rose pendant that I plan on giving to Auntie Rose for
her birthday next month (in August, for those of you
who receive this after the 31rst because of the post
office being so unreliable for me lately . . .). We also
took a ferry to Bainbridge Island, which instantly
became one of my favorite things to do. The ferry ride
is really fun and the view is spectacular. However,
there's not much of anything of any real significance
actually on that island, so next time I think I'll just ride
there and ride back, if I don't just go to Bremerton
	That night we watched the Ivar's fireworks
show on the waterfront, which of course was really
	My friend Jennifer Miga turned 24 on the sixth
of July, and I sent her a funny birthday card (with a
message just a little too raunchy for the likes of the
conglomerate audience here) as well as a package
with a really cute little stuffed dog in it. I had never
actually sent her a gift before, but had always wanted
	That was also the day that I made very sudden
plans to have Barbara come and visit me, about three
weeks later. I was just sitting in my living room,
thinking about how very reasonably priced the
airplane ticket was for Danielle to go home after she
helped me move. So, I called up the airline and asked
what a round-trip ticket would cost--only $84! A
Greyhound bus ticket would have been less than only
25% less that amount, for a trip that took six times as
	So I called up Barbara, and asked her if she
liked the idea, especially since I said I would pay for
half of the ticket--making her cost actually less than it
would have cost her to get a Greyhound bus ticket. I
had decided that I did not want to wait until I had a job
before I had her come visit, and I wanted a
guaranteed amount of time in which I could spend with
her. So I suggested the weekend of the twenty-fifth to
her, and she said she could take four days off for the
trip, which she was very excited about and very much
looking forward to.
	July ninth was when I went to the "CHOICE"
class (I have no idea why they always wrote that in all
capital letters, but they did). It was six hours of
chatting somewhat pointlessly and perhaps one hour
filled with pertinent information (it lasted a total of
seven hours). I did not at all believe this class made
the $325 I paid for "Phase I" worth that much, and I
already decided I would not go for their all-inclusive
"cap" program, which would cost me a total of ten
bucks less than two thousand. I did not believe that
what they offered was worth what I had to pay--I
learned a lot of valuable information, but at these
prices I would expect something better than what I
got. I was already turned off to the idea of actually
reading off of scripts when I was speaking to hiring
authorities on the phone anyway--I'd much rather be
more genuine than that, and I don't care if that in itself
means I will take longer to find a job. I'm not interested
in playing people to get ahead.
	Anyway, "CHOICE" was full of a lot of things
like figuring out personality types--I am apparently a
"DC" personality (I scored really high on the
"dominance" and "conscientious" charts, and rather
low on the "influence" and "steadiness" charts, though
of course there were some aspects of all four that
were parts of my very individual personality . . .). We
then spent time matching personality types with job
types, and the consensus was that writing was,
indeed, perfect for me (whoodathunkit?). 
	One interesting thing to note: Cynthia, the
teacher of this class, wanted to prove that you can
usually read people fairly easily just by looking at
them, and know what their personality type is. She
predicted that I am "definitely an IS," and she
predicted the one other guy in that class (it was an
unusually small class that day) was a DC. The truth
turned out to be the opposite. So, of course, this
whole exercise seemed really worth my time . . .
	I was also getting sick of each of my classes
running one full hour over the scheduled time it was
supposed to take. I don't think I ever went to anything
there that was over on time, and once it really bit into
my busy schedule. 
	Anyway, there was again a bunch of homework
to do, more narrowing down of possible job titles and
stuff like that--and the included individual consultation
was actually the "CHOICE follow-up." After that class
the soonest I was able to make the follow-up
appointment was for the following Wednesday, the
	I went to see two movies the weekend before
that, though: "Lethal Weapon 4" and "Small Soldiers."
I thought the former was okay, and the latter rather
enjoyable, even if Siskle & Ebert thought it was overly
violent. Through most of the following week I spend
most of my time compiling that company list generated
from taking the "Know Your Market" course.
	By the time I was through with "CHOICE,"
though, I had already decided what more I wanted
from CIG: I wanted to take "Get the Job," which they
were billing as the most important class they offer, and
I also wanted to have my resume professionally
written. I first made the appointment for "Get the Job,"
which happened to be right after my CHOICE
follow-up appointment the following Wednesday. 
	At the follow-up appointment, we inevitably got
to discussing my employability regarding my
appearance. Now, mind you, the weirdest thing on me
that day was my long nails--neck hairs were shaved,
hair was tied back, and no eyeliner. Still, even though
I made it perfectly clear that I understood what
changes I needed to make for interview purposes,
Cynthia still wanted to talk to me in ways that
suggested I just need to "grow up" and "mature." She,
of course, did not know about the many people who
have often said I have acted like I was forty since I
was fourteen--and it got to the point where I felt like I
was actually paying this woman to insult me. So: both
women had rubbed me the wrong way. Great news.
	I was not able to get into that appointment until
ten after the hour, and we were cut short before we
were able to finish because I had to go across the hall
for the class I was going to attend. She sad she
wanted "to do this right," so she had me schedule
another appointment at no additional cost. I did think
that was nice of her--and then I went across the hall to
be taught how to "get the job" by Jane Meyers-Bowen.
	This was a class that was supposed to last four
hours, and ended up lasting five--cutting into the time I
needed to go and pick up my new printer from Sears.
That kind of pissed me off, and I made a note of it in
the class evaluation that was passed out at the end.
And again, I did not think that the class was worth the
money I paid. All I really wanted to know was how
long I should wait after sending off resumes to make
follow-up calls--but when I tried to ask that in "Know
Your Market," Cynthia said to me simply, "You need to
take Get the Job, they'll tell you in there." That
question was indeed answered, and it was perhaps
the only real valuable thing I thought I learned in those
five hours--I spent that time and nearly $150 just to
have that one question answered.
	I was given a lot of other information too, of
course--some of which I really didn't want: pages and
pages of scripts for the follow-up calls, one script for
every possible conversation scenario you can think of,
counter-responses for every response you can think
of. I thought they were too pushy, with text that would
make me sound very aggressive in getting hired, even
if it was made perfectly clear that the company is not
interested in having me. The basic gist here is to more
or less say "I'm going to do whatever it takes to make
damn sure you know how much you need me at your
company!" I'm not interested in those kinds of tactics,
and I would much rather be more friendly about it.
They are actually encouraging us to accept all of the
multiple job offers we are supposed to get--only to turn
down all but one of them later. In essence, bold-face
lie to just about all of them. That's something I
absolutely refuse to do.
	I left that class very thankful that I had made
the decision to stop doing any more classes. All I had
left was the rest of the CHOICE follow-up, and a
preliminary appointment for the resume writing.
However, the one-on-one appointments were much
easier for me to handle than those stupid and way too
time-consuming classes.
	At the end of the CHOICE follow-up the
following Friday (the seventeenth), Cynthia Graham
told me, "You know you really should be in our cap
program, so you can have all the support you need." I
promised her I would think about it, knowing full well
what my decision would still be once I stopped
thinking about it.
	Right before that appointment that Friday, I had
my resume preliminary appointment with Jane. This
was where a comment was made that was like a slap
across the face: "You are a career just waiting to
happen," she said. It was a strange thing to hear after
being treated like such an ignorant, immature and
overly idealistic kid. It made me feel emotionally jerked
around, but if I am to get these opposing viewpoints
thrown at me, I might as well have the overwhelmingly
positive one come last.	
	A resume plan was decided, and this will cost
more than I want to pay as well--but this time I do
believe it will be worth it. I refuse to take their two
different cover letter classes, though, and I don't care
how many times they say "It's not a writing class, it's
about marketing." I know the basic gist of what I need
to do there, and it's bad enough I'm having someone
else do my resume. If I am applying for a writing
position, then I figure I should hand people something
that is a completely genuine example of the way I tend
to do prose writing. It was to be one hundred percent
and completely me somewhere, so I have decided to
skip those classes.
	--Among quite a few others, actually. In the
"Get the Job" class, the message was modified "We
bill this as the second most important thing we offer,"
Jane said. What they say is the most important is
something called "Group Progress," where we can
come in for support every week while we are in the
middle of the job search--something that is no doubt
outrageously priced as well. Actually, a lot of these
prices would be much more worth it if their classes
were simply shortened.
	Cynthia said in the CHOICE class, "You know,
we find that the most exciting people to work with are
the ones with no back doors. You know, the single
mother with two kids and no job, who is at the end of
her rope." In other words--people who will do just
about anything to get a job that makes them happy
and not miserable. They seem to actually look down
on people like me, who have a cushion to fall back on,
which tends to lessen motivation and drive. I do know,
however, that I will get the right job eventually--and I
tend to think it is better for me to be able to do this at
my own pace and stress-free.
	Cynthia said over and over again that "We here
at CIG take the Desert Storm approach to job
hunting." It always makes me want to point out to her
how something new comes out every year about
secret screw-ups that occurred with that war, which
wasn't nearly as wonderfully safe and efficient as it
was painted out to be. Why would I want to find a job
the same way? Do things the wrong way and keep it
secret for some four years? I don't think so.
	I was not able to make my appointment for a
con-sultation with the resume writer until the following
Thursday, one day before my friend Barbara was to
arrive, as well as one day before the lunch date I
made with Dan Burr.
	I believe it was the next day that there was a
small riot at Seattle Center. It was all over the news,
which of course made it seem much worse than it
really was--and apparently some of the "chaos" was
spreading out to the streets of downtown, and they
actually had police in large numbers standing around
in full riot gear. The "spread" would explain, I suppose,
the six or seven people who got off of a bus right
outside my window, engaged in quite the yelling
match. The bus was coming down Fifth Avenue away
from Seattle Center, so that must have been where
they were coming from.
	The people on the news said, "The best advice
right now is to stay away from Seattle Center and the
downtown area." I actually spoke to the television set:
"Yeah, sure, okay!" Everything really died down rather
quickly, but they sure were still making a big deal
about it on the eleven o'clock news that night, playing
two different tapes they had of the supposed "chaos"
three times each. I thought it was kind of dumb. 
	On the following Monday I went to see "There's
Something About Mary," which is hilarious if you like
to see a movie with a lot of really raunchy jokes in it. I
nearly busted a gut over it . . .
	The following Wednesday, Danielle came over
four the fourth time this summer--though this time for
only one night, so she and her boyfriend could go to a
Pearl Jam concert at Seattle Center. Before they went
off to that concert, though, we all went out to lunch
that day--at a place called "Bamboo Garden," which is
a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. 
	All this time I thought I hated Chinese food, but
now that I am capable of opening my mind to so many
new things, I have found that more often than not the
new things I try are delicious. This restaurant had all
the meat Chinese dishes as well, only with vegetable
protein meat substitutes. I had Imperial
Somthingorother (I already forgot the second word--it
was a noodle dish) with veggie chicken in it. It was
absolutely delicious. I was served so much, though,
that I could not eat but half of it--so I had just as much
for dinner later that night while Danielle and Seth were
at their concert, and it was just as yummy too. 
	The next day I had two appointments: my lunch
date with Dan Burr, and my consultation with the CIG
resume writer. Lunch was first, with Dan at 1:00. I met
him up at the Dain Rauscher offices (which I
discovered also take up the entire 26th floor in
addition to floor 25, when I accidentally went to the
wrong floor; I don't know if any more of the floors in
that building are used by that company). Dan told me
about some bonds he was going to sell, which I
okay'ed, and we walked to the waterfront for lunch.
	We went to the indoor Ivar's restaurant, which
is rather nice. And, in quite large lettering, across the
wall in the waiting area, instead of the words "Keep
Calm," the  message "Keep Clam" was written. Cute .
. .
	I had a very nice time visiting with Dan Burr,
and as usual we talked about a wide variety of
things--that's precisely why I invited him to lunch,
because we have such great conversations. However,
even though I was the one who did the inviting, the
tab was picked up by the Dain Rauscher company. I
talked with him for perhaps two hours.
	Then I rode the bus back up to CIG, where I
met with their resume writer. She seemed quite nice,
and I think she will be able to write up a more than
decent resume for me--one better than I could do,
anyway, because I do prose writing, not these kinds of
marketing documents that they are experienced in
doing. My appointment to see her again and look over
the proofs is not until Thursday--which is probably
come and gone for all my readers, but is two days
away from the day in which I am writing this.
	Friday the twenty-fourth was Barbara's arrival. I
rode the King County public transit down to the
airport, which took about an hour. I was probably on
the bus just barely before Barbara boarded her plane
in Spokane. Once I had gotten off the bus at the
airport and had found the gate from which she was to
deboard, her plane was already here, and she was
walking up the ramp within five minutes. She came up
to give me a hug, and then accident-ally tripped over
herself, so she fell right into me.  She thought that was
pretty funny.
	So we rode the bus home, and I soon enough
found out she had yet to receive the letter I had sent
her--even though I had put it in a public mail box six
days before. I don't know if it's the Seattle post office
or Spokane's, but one of them is really pissing me off
lately. Barbara should have gotten that letter long
before she saw me--I had told her all I had planned in
it, and had told her many stories I was counting on her
already knowing about once she saw me. Instead I
spent most of my time on that bus ride filling her in on
a lot that she still didn't know about. At least it helped
distract us from the length of the bus trip, which lasted
longer than Barbara's flight.
	We got back to my apartment building, and I
showed her my apartment as well as the roof, from
which of course one can see the Space Needle to the
North, the Seattle skyline to the South, and the bay to
the West. That was the only tine we were up there
though. All weekend we never even got around to
going dancing because we were too busy doing other
	Since she had arrived in the morning, we had
pretty much that entire Friday to do things. In fact, I
have the feeling that that one was her favorite day
here--we spent just about all of our time at Seattle
Center. First I took her to Westlake Center, where we
looked in a store called "Natural Wonders" that I knew
she would find interesting, and then from that mall we
took the monorail, which she had never once been on
before. She thought it was really cool.
	At Seattle Center we rode a bunch of the rides
at their pseudo-amusement park, which has quite a
few more rides than it used to. We spent quite a bit of
money on tickets, the cost for which we pretty much
split. We went on a log ride two different times, just
because it cooled us off (we have been having
near-record temperatures over here, and humid
degrees into the lower to mid 90s is not at all fun, I
don't care what anyone says). We also went on a
roller coaster that thrilled me nearly to death--I found it
even more thrilling than the one at Enchanted Village,
even though it never went completely upside down
(just almost, consistently making you think you're
about to and then jerking you around). We then went
on a ride the name for which I know not, but it was
sort of a like a scrambler that tilted the seats out on
their sides. I was kind of scared of it, but once I got on
it it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be, even
though it made me more queasy than any other, just
because it spun me around from side to side so much.
	The last ride was something rather hard to
explain. I have seen it running as I just passed it many
times while walking through the park, and I always
thought it looked scary as hell. It is constructed of two
long rows of seats, sort of like bleachers. The entire
bleacher section is hooked up to a lever on each side
so that you can be twirled around forward and
backwards in very large circles. In addition, however,
the bleachers themselves twirl in their own backwards
and forwards circles, so you are being twirled in two
different ways at once. On this ride you are
upside-down perhaps half the time, and it scared the
living daylights out of me. While we were waiting in
line for the ride we rode previously, we were talking
about going on this one, and this woman told us it was
too scary and we shouldn't do it--"I went on it two
weeks ago," she said, "and I'm talking about it like it
just happened!"
	"Sounds great!" Barbara said. So we went on
it, and she laughed and screamed her lungs off the
whole time. 
	Later we went to the Pacific Science Center,
where they are currently holding a very interesting
alien exhibit. It isn't anything like a bunch of little green
men either--they have a lot of signs up that say things
like "Most scientists believe there is alien life on other
planets. Very few believe any of them have visited
Earth." Just to prove how unlikely is is, they have
things like a box of hay in which we are to try and find
a needle. They also have a bunch of exhibits of
possible types of aliens designed to be adapted to the
environments of certain planets. The exhibit has much
more than that too, and is more than worth a visit, 
	That night we had dinner at the Space Needle.
Earlier in the day we did go up to just the observation
deck, in hopes that she would be able to see the day
view with the beautiful, majestic Mt. Rainier in the
background (and of course they insisted on taking our
picture before we went up)--but there were too many
clouds and the mountain could not be seen. The view
was still wonderful, though, and Barbara enjoyed it.
	They even insisted on taking our picture on our
way up to the restaurant that night, though. Since we
figured we would not get the pictures, Barbara posed
as though she was sort of presenting the Space
Needle in the picture, grinning and holding her hands
up toward it. I'm just standing there smiling at her, like
a dork. When I saw the picture, though, I loved it so
much I had to buy it. The package even included a
keychain with the photo in it, which I have hanging
from my hanging lamp chain right now. 
	As for dinner itself, it cost a few bucks, that's
for sure--but it was all worth it. I timed the reservations
absolutely perfectly, getting up there just before the
sunset started and leaving right after it got dark. Just
about all of dinner was surrounded by a panoramic
360-degree view of the sunset. Barbara had the
salmon and I had the nost delicious thick crab legs I
have ever had.
	And, of course, with my pass I got us both free
dessert. Barbara had plain cheesecake and I had a
sundae. I had no idea my sundae was going to scare
me, but it did--it was served in a metal bowl set atop a
large wine glass filled with dry ice, so it smoked all
over the place. It was by far the most bizarre dessert I
had ever eaten, although it certainly was delicious.
After I was done, though, the dry ice started to bubble
and pop, and I nearly jumped out of my chair.
	On Saturday we went over to Pike Place
Market, where we didn't stay for very long, because
Barbara didn't seem to be very much into that kind of
shopping. So we went over to Steamer's for a seafood
lunch that was more than yummy. 
	From there we went back to Seattle Center,
where I was to give Barbara her only surprise (I had
told her the plans for everything except for this, merely
telling her she had one surprise). While we were
waiting to be seated for dinner at the Space Needle
the night before, somehow musicals had come up in
conversation, and I considered this a perfect chance
to manipulate the conversation without her knowing
what I was doing. She ended up telling me she hated
The Sound of Music, and my first thought was "Oh,
great"--since her surprise was to go see a live
production of The Pirates of Penzance. I named off a
bunch of other musicals, Annie and Mary Poppins and
more, and she considers all such music "lame." I was
really afraid that she was going to hate her surprise.
	Well, once we were actually walking toward the
theatre, I had her guessing what we were going to,
and I had already told her that I was now afraid she
might not like it. I had already bought the tickets,
though, and so I was going to take her anyway. She
finally guessed we were going to a play, though, and
then she said, "A musical!"
	She asked which one, and I told her--and then
she said, "I love Gilbert and Sullivan! They have such
a great sense of humor." So, apparently, I was taking
her to see something she was expecting to enjoy after
all. She likes the music in this play a lot because it's
not the same as any typical musical--the music in this
play is much more operatic. 
	The play finished and Barbara actually said,
"Well that was a wonderful surprise." She absolutely
loved it--as well did I. That is by far my favorite
musical, and the music is superb in my opinion. I don't
even like to call it opera, it's just more like opera than,
say, My Fair Lady is. A lot of the music reminds me
quite a bit of my favorite Christmas music--the old
carols sung by choirs. And the plot to this play is so
ridiculous, it's just hilarious. I have for a little while now
owned the movie, and if any of you ever have the
chance to see either the film or a live theatre
production, I highly recommend it.
	That evening we took the ferry ride to
Bremerton. We did not get there until about nine,
though, and that crap pile of a town was almost
completely closed up by the time we got there. We
could only find one place to eat, and we were very
hungry--a Chinese restaurant about two or three
blocks from the ferry terminal. However, that alone
almost made the trip to Bremerton worth it: I had
shrimp egg foo young for the first time in my life, and it
was more than delicious. We had to leave quickly
though, to catch the ferry, and we both ate the last
half of our meals in to-go containers on the ferry.
	I got a lot of great pictures of the downtown
skyline at night on our way back. That view is
	Once we got back, we both wanted to watch
the film version of Prates of Penzance that I own, and
so we did. I had also bought the soundtrack earlier
that day. I never get sick of the music in that play--and
perhaps 90% of the dialogue in that play is all sung.
	The next day we did the zoo--Seattle's
Woodland Park Zoo, that is. I had a coupon for $2 off,
and I also got a discount for being a King County
resident. All I had to do was tell them what my zip
code was and I got the discount. So, what would have
cost $16 for someone out of town to pay for two
people, it only cost me $10. I thought that was rather
	Dad told me recently that the last time he went
to Woodland Park Zoo it was "really run down," but he
obviously hadn't been there in a very long time. That
zoo was quite nice, I thought--between that and the
other zoos I have been to (Spokane's now out of
business dump of a zoo once called Walk in the Wild,
as well as zoos in Tacoma, Phoenix, and Honolulu), I
do believe I enjoyed this one the most. They have a
wonderful rain forest exhibit, and a place where you
can go into nearly complete darkness to see nocturnal
animals (one thing I did not like about that one,
though, were the parents with screaming kids who
could not read the "no talking" sign outside). Their
African Savannah exhibit is just as nice as Honolulu's
(almost identical, I thought), and they have a really
cool temporary exhibit there right now called
Butterflies and Blooms. I got some home video of that
as well as kangaroos that did nothing but lay in the
	One rather thought-provoking thing we saw at
the zoo was this electronic board that counted how
many square miles of rain forest are being slashed
and burned, and how often people are born. For
example, it would say, "Number of people in the
world," and show the more than 5.6 billion people on
the planet (more than twice as many as there were
only fifty years ago)--right down to the one number for
a single individual being born, of which there are
apparently two being born in the world every second.
It appeared as though one square mile of rain forest is
lost ever second. The whole display gave us both the
	The zoo closes at six in the evening, and so we
went to the movies that night--saw Mafia! Barbara
thought it was great, I thought it was all right. Not quite
worth the price I paid, but oh well.
	On Monday the twenty-seventh, the most
notable thing Barbara and I did was record a talk-tape,
called "Grandmother Spider / Batty as Yew or Eye." I
think it turned out rather amusing. 
	I then rode with her on the bus down to the
airport, and I waited with her until she boarded her
plane. I had been figuring how much money I had
spent this weekend--quite a chunk of change--and
then I said, "It was certainly worth it though." Barbara
said, "I enjoyed the hell out of it!" She thanked me a
number of times, and no doubt will again the next time
she writes, which is bound to be quite soon (hint hint). 
	I think that about does it for this month, though.
There are some days left in it, of course, but I like to
try and make sure people receive this before the
month is out. Jennifer will be visiting for me a day here
in a couple of days, and tonight I am going to have
dinner with Gabe's mom, Janine, and some
co-workers of hers--including a guy who wants to
meet me. I have my resume proofing appointment in
two days, and after that I will finally getting back into
the swing of things with my job search. I still need to
confirm all the company information I have, write a
cover letter, and then copy off 450 of those as well as
just as many resumes, which will probably (hopefully,
anyway) go out in the mail sometime next week. 
	All I can say about expectations for next month
is that I hope to be doing interviews. That and I will be
seeing Gabe and Suzy, Auntie Rose, probably my
friend Josh, and hopefully Dad and Sherri. 
the writing history
You're a career just waiting to happen. 
				-- Jane Meyers-Bowen
	O n the sixth of July, I got my second
rejection in the mail: "Dear Matthew," it read. "While
we've decided to pass on your stories, we thank you
for considering us. Best Wishes, Press."
	I was so touched by this very personal letter
(on full-sized paper!) that I almost cried.
	Just as Grandma McQuilkin keeps telling me to
do, though, I will simply try, try again. If at first (or
second or third or tenth or thirtieth or five hundredth),
that's what has to be done. Try again. I have my
whole life ahead of me anyway. I don't have to get
published immediately--that would be an incredibly
unrealistic goal anyway. 
	Thing is, even though I would like to work on a
new novel here pretty soon, I can never seem to
convince myself that I have the time for it. Dad said to
me, "What are you going to do when you actually
have a job?" I don't know, I'm sure I'll think of
something. Perhaps some of my letter writing will have
to suffer. Besides, right now I am still in a new
environment and still adjusting and settling and getting
used to everything, and these things can take up a lot
of a person's time. 
	That's not to say that I never write, of
course--just with this newsletter, I have cranked out
nearly forty pages since I moved. That's nothing
compared to the last letter I wrote to Barbara, though:
seventy-five pages is a tad more than just a few, I
should say. It's a good thing I know she loves to read
my writing just as much as I love to write 
. . . otherwise I would not have written that much to
	It's quite a step in the history of Fruitcake
Writing (or even Fruitcake Enterprises), though.
Before this, the record was a letter I wrote to Jennifer
Miga by hand (!) that was fifty-two pages. That was in
1996, I believe--although it's very possible that my
Hawaii newsletter was, in terms of number of words,
longer than that. I think it will take more than two
years before I beat the new record, though. I worked
on that letter to Barbara for about three weeks, and
always had plenty to write about and
overanalyze--most notably all of my visits to Career
Improvement, which were written in much greater
detail in her letter than they were in here. Barbara is
currently my most significant correspondent, though,
and thus I thought it very fitting that she be the subject
of the new record.
	So, I guess the point is that when it comes to
the writing history (and not the publishing history,
because there isn't one as of yet--but there will be one
day, I swear it!), over the past month it has all really
come down to my letter-writing, where some
unprecedented events took place. I did write some
four new poems this month as well, and that's quite a
bit more often than normal for me. I'm thinking of
starting to include some of them in the newsletter, but
I think I would rather wait to get some feedback on
that idea before I go there. 
	In any case, if I get the kind of job that I really
want, then perhaps this very section will end up being
consistently the longest, or at any rate much longer
than it was before. If I am writing in some form or
another for a living, anything having to do with
work--which will be the most pervasive force in my life,
of course--will be written about in this section.
	Okay, so maybe it's not happening as quickly
as some of us would prefer. But all things come in due
time, and so will this. On my way back on the bus
from the airport last night, I saw a guy who spent most
of his time drawing sketches of people sitting on the
bus (he never drew me). Some guy who obviously had
perhaps a tenth of a brain started to talk to him, and I
was struck to see the ease with which the sketch artist
spoke to him, and answered the questions posed to
him about what he does for a living.
	The guy said he was a writer, someone who
spends all of his time at work at a computer, working
for a television show at which he is "trapped." He did
not seem to speak about his profession with much
affection. It was strange for me to hear. I think I would
be ecstatic in a job like that. It was the first time,
though, that I just happened to overhear someone
speaking about a career of that sort, and it made me
realize that perhaps it is more common than I
	I believe the perfect job is out there waiting for
me somewhere. It's now only a matter of finding it. It
doesn't matter how advanced our technology
becomes, writers will always be needed for
	Such a fact renders someone like myself a
necessity in this world. And, for some reason, I can
only see positive progress for my life in the future.
Maybe I'm completely delusional . . . but, you know, at
least I'm happy!
	That is ultimately all I want for myself and
absolutely everyone else.
			This has been presented to you
by Matthew McQuilkin
				for Fruitcake
P.S. Donations accepted.
vol. 1          issue #9          June 1998
The place where I come from
is a small town
They think so small
they use small words
--but not me
I'm smarter than that
I worked it out
I've been stretching my mouth
to let those big words come right out
I've had enough, I'm getting out
to the big city, the big bit city . . .
				-- Peter Gabriel
Let your freak flag fly!
				-- Kate Pierson
	. . . And here I sit, at my desk in my Downtown Seattle studio apartment. It is five
hundred and fifty square feet, and that doesn't sound like much, but it's much more than I
need right now. I have plenty of space in here, on this brand new light-colored carpet. I
have my own washer and dryer. I have a dish washer, the first time I actually lived with
such a thing in my entire life. I have a self-cleaning oven with a digital readout of the
temperature. I have a garbage disposal. I have a smoke alarm that when tested proves to
render me deaf for two hours. I have plenty of closet space (the stackable washer and
dryer, in fact, is in a closet of its own). I have a frost-free refrigerator and freezer--the
latter of which came with ice trays complete with ready-made ice. I have cupboard room
to spare, and plenty of it at that. I have a balcony that goes about a foot and a half away
from the building (standing room only), and not much of a view but that's okay. The
monorail passes by right in front of my building, which I get to hear every fifteen minutes
all day when my windows are open. I don't mind that either, and neither do I mind the
buses that go by making even more noise. My bed is right next to the sliding glass door,
and when the windows are shut I can sleep just fine. I have a nice bathroom with a very
nice cabinet-like closet in it. The people here still haven't fixed the fan in there, though,
which is all taken apart right now; I have this big hole in the ceiling in there and I still
need to talk to the apartment manager about that.
	I have access to the roof of this six-story building until ten in the evening, from
which there is a spectacular view of the rest of the downtown skyline to the south, the
water to the west, and the Space Needle to the north. My building is exactly four blocks
away from Westlake Center (the mall where the monorail stops). I am about seven blocks
or so from Pike Place Market, and maybe four blocks from the waterfront. I am six
blocks from the Greyhound bus station. I am less than a mile from Seattle Center, where
the Space Needle is at. And I am within walking distance of Capital Hill (three miles or
so, I would guess--a healthy walk, but still not too far). I am within walking distance of
four different movie theatres, soon to be five--which combined will always have all the
movies that I want to see. I am seven blocks from Washington Mutual Tower (the third
tallest building in town), which is not only where my Auntie Rose works, but is also
where the investment services company whose services I inherited is located, four floors
below her. I have almost everything I could possibly need right at my fingertips, merely
blocks away in every direction.
	I have never been so happy in my entire life. I love living by myself (so far,
anyway) and I love this town more than any other I have ever lived in (Spokane being at
the bottom of the list--I have lived in Olympia, Spokane, Pullman, and now Seattle).
Seattle is everything I dreamed it would be and then some. This is by far, most certainly
the best place for me. It's the place to be, plain and simple.
	In the couple weeks I have been here, Auntie Rose, Dad and Sherri have visited. I
have gotten letters from Barbara, Grandma McQuilkin, Jennifer McQuilkin, Suzy, and
even a post card from Danielle. This, of course, is more than I can say for the rest of you
	1. Angel Benson (Heard you were thinking of ways to scam me . . . this is
something I would not recommend, Missy . . .)
	2. Darcy Hartley (Maybe I should talk to Mom and see if she ever got any more
feedback of any sort from you since the November Incident . . . I just like to keep people
informed, you know . . . I'm just not sure you want to be, but here it is and here I am
nevertheless . . .)
	3. Dawn Addams (Are you even alive?)
	4. Gina Yarbrough (Congratulations on becoming a vegetarian!!--even if you eat
chicken abortions, but so do I. Now all we need to do is band together and recruit!!
Recruit!! You tell me so often that I'm brilliant, what do you think of the notion of us
banding together and taking over the world?)
	5. Jennifer Miga (I have called you since I last sent out the newsletter, but I did
tell you I would call again. I'm just waiting to get my long distance hooked up. I have to
wait for something to get to me in the mail from Missouri--but then I will only be
charged nine cents a minute, so I tend to think that's worth it.)
	6. Kim and Sherri McQuilkin (Sure enjoyed your visit last week, and can't wait
until you can come again . . . even though you write e-mail, I still won't cut you off, as
promised . . .)
	7. Paul McQuilkin (Heard some rocks got in your way, or something. Hope all is
well . . .)
	8. Raenae Lanning (I just talked to you over the phone the other day, so I don't
have much left to say right now . . . um . . . hmm . . . hi!)
	9. Rick Benson (If you were kidnapped and had been missing for the past week I
would have no idea . . . I'm not so sure this is a good thing . . .)
	10. Shane McQuilkin (Read what I wrote next to Rick. You might learn
	. . . Danielle is not on the list this month because she sent me a post card. Besides,
she has done so much for me that she deserves no disrespect at all. All hail the mightily
wonderful Danielle!
	Of course all I have to say to the rest of you is PPPPPPPPPPBBBBBTTHH!!!!
a month in the life of a fruitcake
One might argue that humans, as creatures of reason,
should be willing to subjugate sensibility into logic,
but we are, just as much, creatures of feeling.
						-- Stephen Jay Gould
What are you?
				                                        -- passers-by on the sidewalk next to my
	. . . Well, some of the limbo has gone, and some of the limbo remains. I lot has
gone down since I last sent out a newsletter, and I expect this to be lengthy. I have made
a very clear decision, though, not to take daily notes like I did in Hawaii, and not to paste
parts of other letters into here like I did last time either [okay, now that I am
proofreading, I guess I lied--one portion of this newsletter, about the fire alarm, has been
pasted from an e-mail to Gabe . . . I'll just assume you all can handle it]. I figure if I write
it all [or the vast majority of it] just from memory, I might be able to make the length a
little shorter than it would be otherwise. But of course, if this turns out to be longer than
any of you would prefer, that's tough twinkies. That's what you get for never writing.
	I don't recall anything of any real importance happening in the short amount of
time remaining in May after I sent the last newsletter. So I won't bother with it and I'm
sure you won't mind.
	June became significant rather early on. My mother turned forty-six on the second
and became yet another reminder of the fact that my parents are aging, which is a weird
thing to observe. I always thought of them all as rather young. This doesn't seem so much
to be the case anymore. If we rounded that age it would now go up to 50, instead of down
to 40. I bet I'm making a lot of you just feel really great right now . . . fifty is not really
old, but it's certainly not young either. And I'll be there myself before I know it (that
would be 
. . . let's see . . . 2026; the oldest of you on my list would turn 78 that year, that's not too
bad . . .).
	Anyway, enough of that; I'm liable to ignite a counter attack (hey, guess what!
The collective age of my three parents is 135!). It was around Mom's birthday that I
found out how much my rather healthy inheritance was. It seems I inherited an
investment services company along with the money, so I can easily have multiple times
my original amount in a number of years as long as I keep it in there. I knew I would
need a good portion of it to move, though, so I had them send me $5000 of it--and even
that was only about a sixteenth of my total amount, so I'm not spending too much. The
check reached me in the mail one day before I was to leave with Danielle for the
weekend to look for apartments here in Seattle, and it just barely went through at the
bank in time for me to pay for certain things (like Danielle's gas) on time. 
	We were in Seattle from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. The only actual
apartment searching took place during one 24-hour period, from Saturday to Sunday.
That Friday I stayed with Gabe at his mother's house in Federal Way (he rode over with
us, as he wanted to come and visit Suzy while she was house sitting in Issaquah).
Danielle offered to make a lot of phone calls for me that Friday night, giving me a chance
to spend some time with Suzy, who would not later get home from Issaquah until one day
before I was to move. Danielle left some sixteen messages, apparently. She got a couple
of numbers to call from her aunt, who also lives in Issaquah and works in real estate. She
became yet another person to warn us about the record lows in vacancy rates in this town
right now. We plugged along anyway, and Danielle did a lot for me while I went with
Gabe and Suzy to see "The Truman Show" in Federal Way. If any of you have not seen
that film, a demand that you all go and see it now! It was one of the best mainstream
films I had seen in a very, very long time. 
	I spent Saturday with Danielle and her boyfriend, Seth (who used to live in
Seattle) trying to look at apartments. Only one person ever got back to the many
messages Danielle left for people. That whole day we were only able to get inside one
complex, called the Debonaire apartments. They didn't look overwhelmingly suave to
me, but they were nice enough. They had a one-bedroom for the same price as the studio
I am in now, but with none of the extra conveniences I now have. I had yet to see the
place I have now, though, and I took a credit check application from the manager.
	We ended up just looking at the outside of the building on the corner of Fifth and
Blanchard (where I ended up), and never actually got inside that Saturday, because the
manager was never able to get back to us. Danielle was very aggressive in her message
leaving, and once she left three of them I refused to leave any more. Once I got a look at
the outside, though, I just knew I needed to look inside. And if this one didn't work out, I
would just take the other one we looked at. 
	I spent the rest of that Saturday night sort of tagging along with them so Seth
could meet with his brother from Issaquah for the first time in five years. It was a very
emotional thing, and here I was this out of place freak in the background. Oh well. We
had lunch at the Billy McHale's restaurant in Federal Way for lunch that day (after
Danielle came to pick me up from Gabe's mother's house) and dinner at the Billy
McHale's in Kirkland that evening. That was where we met with his brother, in Kirkland,
and when Seth's brother suggested that restaurant he simply didn't argue. Between the
two visits I had the only two things on the menu I could possibly have: a caesar salad and
a gardenburger. They were both quite good, though.
	That night I stayed in the Best Western hotel room, both nights there being on my
bill, even though I stayed with Gabe the first night. We did not get to bed that evening
until around two o'clock in the morning.
	We got up the next day, and Danielle finally got a hold of the apartment manager
at the place on Fifth and Blanchard. The appointment to show the apartment at ten
o'clock was made. We got there two minutes early, and Donna, the apartment manager,
was outside spraying off the sidewalk. 
	We were shown the place, along with the roof, and I immediately fell in love with
it. I couldn't believe all of the conveniences that came along with it, and I definitely knew
that this was what I wanted. So I filled out the credit-check application and gave it back
to her, and she said to come back in a few hours and she should have the credit check
	We went out to brunch, at this wonderful place on the waterfront that had a
dungeoness crab, shrimp and tuna melt that made me feel like I was in heaven. Then we
went back to the Lee Court apartments.
	At first it was kind of weird, because I had this brief conversation through the
intercom with Donna. "Well, I don't know," she said. "Your credit's not very good, you
have all these school loans." I couldn't believe she was saying this, knowing how much
money I had. I mentioned how I planned on paying those all off (a tactic which has
changed now, because it would be stupid of me to take that much money, all at once, out
of my investments), and she just said, "It's too bad you didn't pay them off before coming
over," or something like that. It really started to look like she wasn't going to give it to
	Now, I had been saying before that if it became necessary I would offer six
months' worth of rent up front in order to get what I wanted. By coincidence, the lease
here is for six months. Danielle suddenly thought of this, and told me to try that. So I told
Donna, "If I have to I'll even pay the whole six months' rent up front."
	I think this is what turned her mind around. "Well, I don't think that's really
necessary," she said. "Come on up and we'll talk about it." So she opened the door for us,
and up I went--Danielle close behind. 
	We went up to her apartment #409, and early on she was not too amused by the
fact that I did not have a job. I kept assuring her, though, that I certainly had the money
(and as long as I have the money, what the hell difference does anything else make?). She
also asked me if I partied, and I laughed and said no, even telling her how irritated I am
with neighbors who listen to loud music with a lot of base (which I now get from
downstairs every now and then, despite Donna's assurance that "This is a quiet
building"--though the base never lasts long and isn't too bad anyway). I assured her that I
planned on getting a job and that the rent and keeping quiet would not be a problem. 
	After some careful consideration, she finally said, "Well, I like to give young
people a chance . . ." and I pretty much knew I had the place. She said she was getting
tired, though, of giving people a chance and having nothing good come of it: apparently
she has given two different people this place before me, and both of them ended up
pulling out because they realized they couldn't afford it. At least she made $600 out of
their combined non-refundable security deposits.
	She wanted my $300 deposit then, and I had to go down the street to a Versateller
to get it and bring it back in cash real quick like. She then needed the first and last
month's rent. I had told her that I had recently run out of checks and would be getting
new ones with my new address and phone number on them, but I did have the very first
book of checks I had gotten when I created my Seafirst account back in 1994 (says so
right on all of my checks: "Valued customer since 1994"). I went down to Danielle's car
to find it, and it did not appear to be there. I just about panicked over that, thinking it
would make Donna think I was a loser after all, but she was fine with having Danielle
write her a check for then and I would pay Danielle back later--Donna did know that I
did indeed have the money in the bank. 
	Donna gave me the keys, and I went and grabbed the cam-corder to bring back
and record everything so I could show everyone at home what my new home would look
like. It is very easy to see how excited I am on that video, walking all over the empty
apartment and around the roof, checking out the wonderful views. You can only see part
of the bay from up there, but it's still really cool. Besides, since I've lived here I've
discovered that I live so close to the water that the view doesn't make much difference
	It was right after that that we drove from Seattle to Spokane, from which I
planned on taking a bus back to Pullman the following Sunday. But first, though, I
wanted to see everyone in Spokane one last time before leaving, in the two days in
between. I stayed at Danielle's apartment the nights that I was there. The first night I was
in town Danielle took me to my friend Lynn's where I had dinner with her and another
friend of hers that I sporadically write e-mail to. Lynn took me home later herself. It may
be a very, very long time before I actually see Lynn again. 
	On Monday I saw Barbara, and visited with her for pretty much the entire day. I
went out with her and a couple of her friends that night to see a brilliant Irish film called
"The Butcher Boy." We went out to lunch that day at the downtown Olive Garden,
walked around Riverfont Park, and it was all quite pleasant, especially for a city as
dreadfully dreary as Spokane. One of these days Barbara will come to visit me here in
Seattle, but I have no idea when.
	The next day I was supposed to meet with Christopher at his house so we could
record a talk-tape. Danielle had just had a harsh dentist appointment that morning, and
she was not all up to the idea of driving me to the north side from all the way out in
Spokane Valley; what she needed to do was take some medication and pass out on her
bed so she wouldn't have to feel pain anymore. I tried repeatedly to get a hold of my
brother, and consistently got no answer besides his lengthy voice messaging
announcement, with which he positions everyone in his family in Winnie the Pooh roles
(and, come to think of it, having a bear marry a rabbit connotes at least a little kinkiness).
I thought the announcement was mildly cute at the beginning, but I've heard it so many
times now that it just makes me want to punch holes in the wall. 
	I had to go, and it was decided that if I wanted a ride to at least the valley transit
station, I had to go now, whether or not I had yet gotten a hold of Christopher. So
Danielle gave me a ride to the transit station, and I rode the bus from there to downtown
	Now is a good time, I think, to say--you know, to Spokane's credit, at least the
heart of downtown on a sunny late spring day can be somewhat pleasant. I discovered
that both on this day and on the day before, when I was with Barbara. But it was a lot
easier to think this now that I wasn't living in that cesspool of wannabe decrepit asylum
inmates. And besides, on this second day I was irritated beyond belief when I finally left
a message on Christopher's voice mail: "This is Matthew and I was just wondering, where
the [*cen-sored*] are you? I am hanging out downtown right now, and I will call you
back in a little while." So I hung up the thirty-five cents I wasted and went to find some
	After that I finally went back to the downtown transit station and called
Christopher one more time. "It's me again," I said. "Since you're not there, I'm just going
to take the bus up to Mom's house, even though I know she's not there." I had called Mom
earlier and told her I would see her later that day, and she said she had a physical therapy
appointment and would be gone from about noon to three o'clock that afternoon. At this
time, it was about one o'clock or so. 
	I took the #1 bus up to Mom's house, reminding me of those "good old" days
when I worked at CCI, the telecommunications firm that nearly drove me to homicide
when I worked there. I got to Mom's house, and of course she wasn't there--and neither
was Bill, who was "at school," in classes learning how to be a computer customer service
representative. At first I just walked up to the front door and, once I made sure the door
was locked, sat down on the bench on their front porch. No sooner had my butt reached
contact with the bench than Rich the Weirdo from down the street came walking right on
over. He told me when Mom should be expected back and then he told me very detailed
accounts of his personal car troubles. 
	I decided to look in the back of the house, and that seemed to be Rich's cue to go
away. I found the back window, to the dining room, unlocked (because the lock has been
busted and therefore there is no way to lock it). I opened it up and crawled right on in,
just as I had last month.
	I had a bit less than an hour before Mom was to come home, and I decided to
hook up my cam-corder to her VCR so she could see what my apartment looked like. I
even watched some of it to kill time. I also called Christopher one more time: "It's
Matthew and I'm at Mom's, just in case you're wondering." He came by a few minutes
later, telling me he had been out doing errands all day--which was nice of him since we
had planned weeks beforehand that this would be the day for me to come to his place and
record a talk-tape with him. 
	I said, "So I guess this means we can't do the tape."
	"Pretty much," he said. He then said he had to leave again, and would come back
later to see my video. So I lugged a tape recorder all this way, along with my cam-corder,
for nothing.
	Mom came home soon enough, and I opened the front door just as she was trying
to put her key in the knob. She said once again, "How did you get in here?" Hmmm . . .
	I just visited with her for a while. Bill came home a little later, thinking he looked
like a yuppie because of his slacks and un-tucked button-up shirt. He changed rather
quickly after getting home, and I just visited with them until Christopher came back with
the kids. I never did see Katina. 
	I showed them all my apartment on the video, and they all seemed rather
impressed. After that I did some video taping there, getting a bit of the sort of living room
firearms fair they were having on tape (this didn't occur on tape, but Christopher bought a
pistol from Bill--one of many that he has--for two hundred bucks). On video I have
Christopher handling the gun that is kept hidden--but loaded--merely feet away from the
front door, "for protection." Seems odd to me, since they lock the font door, but that
window in the back is not even able to be locked. The whole thing kind of perplexed me.
I don't see the use in having eight or nine guns in the house, many of them loaded. But, of
course, these are individual choices--and guns are simply not for me.
	Then I convinced Christopher to give me a ride back out to Danielle's apartment
in the valley (it was the least he could do, as far as I was concerned). I spent the rest of
that evening by myself in her apartment, and when Danielle got back from wherever she
had gone to she was still in pain.
	The next day Seth gave Danielle a ride to Spokane Community College so she
could take an entrance exam, and then he took me to the Greyhound bus station. I slept
most of the way back to the paradise known as Pullman, where I had to call a cab to take
me home. (I called Gabe the night before to see if he would pick me up, and he said he
would be working--an answer I wasn't too impressed with, because my bus would have
been arriving at the very moment he was supposed to start work, and just one week
before he told me he was going to be late for work just because he felt like it and he was
sick of his irritating boss. Then he told me he had physics class at that time, and Bob was
working, so I was SOL.)
	The man who drove the cab was one of the scummiest people I had ever seen in
my life. I'm telling you, this was beyond description. When I paid for the trip I told him to
keep the change--meaning he got an extra forty cents. 
	I spent the next two days packing everything in my room and the few things in the
kitchen that I could claim as my own (Gabe was saddened by the departure of the
teflon-coated pots and pans, but ask me if I cared). Most of the boxes I used were ones
that Gabe got for me from his work, where tons of boxes otherwise just get sort of thrown
away. I filled up a lot more boxes than I thought I would, possibly because I'm such a
pack rat and don't throw anything away as long as I think it can be filed somehow. 
	I also got certain things taken care of that week, from Pullman: my utilities, a
phone hook-up, and cable. I still need to get long distance, though, and am currently
waiting for the forms I need to sign to arrive from Missouri. Once hooked up, I will be
charged only nine cents a minute twenty-four hours a day. What I have to use until then is
a "10-10-636" thing that charges only ten cents a minute, but a twenty cent surcharge per
call (so if I'm on the phone only one minute, I am still charged twenty cents--I have to be
on the phone for a while before it's really even almost worthwhile).
	Anyway, Gabe was the only one at home with me until the following Friday; Bob
moved out about a week before, having found his own studio apartment--the best thing
for him to do, as far as I was concerned. Gabe and I did not do all that much, probably
because I spent so much of my very limited amount of time packing.
	It was decided that Danielle would come down with a U-Haul from Spokane
(filled somewhat with certain things I got from my deceased grandparents, which was
just being stored in my mother's garage) on the same day that Suzy returned from her
house sitting stint in Issaquah. Danielle wanted to fill up the truck that night, and I would
be leaving the next day. She did not get into town very early that day, though--in fact
Suzy made it back before Danielle got there--and once she arrived the four of the rest of
us (including Bob) had just been waiting for her so we could go out to dinner. Since it
had already been decided that I would pay for all of Danielle's meals that weekend, I
didn't figure she would mind. We went to a Mexican restaurant that I probably won't ever
miss much.
	One thing I almost forgot to mention--the very nice television stand with the
swivel top that I was going to have from my grandparents got smashed up beyond repair
in the U-Haul just going through Spokane. This was because it was not tied down
properly (left up on its wheels, no less), and I was very saddened to see it get destroyed: it
would have been by far my nicest piece of furniture. I also got, though (what survived), a
cabinet with shelves in it, a couple of lamps, an end table, and a very old color television
set that actually gets crystal clear reception with cable. 
	Once we got back from that, Danielle was too tired and she went to bed. Gabe
and Suzy and I decided then to be the first people in my talk-tape history to turn a
talk-tape into a talk-video, and we took my cam-corder all over town in the car without
ever turning it off. We went from home to the grocery store to Scott Hall (where the three
of us actually met each other) to Orton Hall (where I first lived in Pullman) to Sunnyside
Park (a place more fun in the dark--but we stayed under a street lamp so the camera
would pick up the images). The last place we went to was a water tank in our own
neighborhood that we consistently called the Tacomadome, because it looks like a
miniature model of that. We used to sit on top of that at all different times of the day and
night. It was there, though, that the cam-corder ran out of battery power, because I had it
on continuously. And in fact, when I played it back, none of what I thought I recorded at
the Tacomadome was actually on there; it ended in the parking lot of Sunnyside Park. 
	We went home and I decided it was too late and I needed to go to bed. Even
though I knew I would see them in the morning, they decided to give me their good-byes
then: Suzy gave me a hug, and that made me start to cry. I do believe that was the second
real hug she and I had ever had. And then, much to my surprise, Gabe actually gave me a
hug, and that kind of put a strain on my emotions, because this was something I always
thought would never happen, for relatively obvious reasons. "Have fun in Seattle," he
	This is making me cry again, even as I write it. It's strange, the different ways
people deal with good-byes and endings of this kind. Gabe had been for weeks blabbing
endlessly about how much it was going to suck that I would be gone. I never really
believed him, because he always thought I was such a pain in the ass (and I am,
obviously), and I think he was kind of irritated by that. Maybe that's even an
understate-ment. But all of this time I was always looking forward to finally getting out
of that living situation. It was time for a change and I knew it. I also knew that I would
not be able to handle another year there. The three years I had living with him was about
as close to perfection (and there was a bit of distance there, to say the least) as we could
get. I knew that further time would make things go in the downward direction; absence
makes the heart grow fonder. I knew we would get along much better when not living
together--now was the time to go. 
	But when they said their good-byes, this was when it finally hit me: the end. The
end of the closeness of what was in fact the most stable group I had ever been a part of,
which I had been a very decisive part of for some three years. The end of the closeness I
had with the one person who thus far has given me more life than anyone I have ever
known. Before Gabe, I had never been able to not only make friends, but even really talk
to people I didn't know. These things are relatively easy for me now. I now have a very
eclectic group of friends from a wide array of backgrounds, and I don't believe it would
have happened nearly this soon if I had never met Gabe. I was in a very large and a very
hard shell before him, and that's why his overwhelmingly flamboyant personality (which
most of you can now attest to yourselves) was exactly what I needed. Gabe was, in
essence, the very first key to the door to a successful future for me. I even wished him a
happy Father's Day, since he has given me so much life on his own. It's a somewhat
discombobulatingly odd scenario to create, I know (especially since he is a year younger
than I am), but it seemed right to me. All he said on the phone the next time we talked
was, "You said a lot of good things about me, which was . . .weird."
	But, you see, until I was nineteen, I had no idea what it was like to have good
friends. Now I know what it's like to consider my friends to actually be a part of my
family, and it's an overwhelmingly powerful feeling to have. In essence you could say
that Gabe was the grandfather of my group of friends. I would die for him in an instant,
without thinking. And because of that, the same goes for any one of my other friends.
	And, of course, there's Suzy, who I have actually known only eight months less
than I have known Gabe. It's like she's simply a part of him, and he would not be the
same without her, and I don't believe I would be either. We never really were a group of
more than just the three of us, hard as that was on me the many times that they wanted to
be just the two of them and I had to drift off by myself--but I do know that I was as much
an intrinsic part of their lives for those three years as they were a part of mine. Suzy and I
used to sit down and have very long, engaging talks, and that is one thing that I do miss,
come to think of it (I'm crying again . . . and I can't see the damned screen now). 
	Of course, there can always be too much of a good thing. And, like I said, it was
time for a change. I miss them both immensely as individuals, but I do not miss living
with them. I miss the easy access to local social things I could do with them, and their
ongoing presence was usually reassuring. But I have to say that I am very happy here, and
I know I made the right decisions in getting here at this time. 
	No matter what, though, it's always hard to say good-bye. For every one of the
(many) things I hated about that living situation, there are many more great times to
remember. And I had never had friends like Gabe and Suzy in my entire life, and they
will never, ever go forgotten, no matter what happens to any of us, no matter where any
of us go. 
	Danielle got me up excruciatingly early the next day to load up the U-Haul--I
think it was six a.m., when I had just gone to bed at two. For a while just she and I loaded
stuff, and soon enough Suzy got up and helped a bit. When Danielle needed a boy scout
knot maker, though, she nearly demanded that Suzy wake Gabe up and have him help
her. Gabe is such an unreliable waker-upper, though, that by the time he got up Danielle
had the rope all taken care of. But, since he was up now, he helped the rest of us load
things until he and Suzy had to get ready for work.
	I was about halfway through loading the truck with Danielle when they had to
leave--this time for good (I have not seen them since, in fact). They both gave me hugs
again, and got me crying again. I tried hard to fight it back, though, so I could keep
helping Danielle load the truck. 
	But then Danielle suddenly gave me a hug of her own. We were standing in the
beam of sunlight coming in through the sliding glass door in my bedroom, I remember.
Because I knew it would make me start bawling again, my first reaction was to say "What
are you doing?" as I started to choke up (like I'm doing right now, as I write this--I never
dreamed I would ever have such overwhelmingly wonderful friends). I find hugs during a
state of emotion an alarmingly effective faucet handle--and the tears flow freely. There's
an oddly singular component to the very simplest of a genuinely sincere hug that tugs at
the deepest of your emotional core. I do believe it to be one of the most special places in
the world. For Danielle to take me there suddenly at that very moment was possibly one
of the most precisely wonderfully timed things she has ever done for me--and there have
been many.
	We were locked in each other's arms for a matter of moments, and she said, "I just
thought you looked like you needed it." If there was any one thing that her parents did
together that was worthwhile, it was the time they spent creating her. 
	We finished loading the truck, and for now we left Batty at the house--we wanted
to go out for breakfast. We did that, and then she took me to Safeway to do some
heavy-duty shopping (almost none of it perishable foods--making it very expensive). We
went from there to Shopko, where I bought just a few things (including a scale, which I
do not like so much anymore). From there we went back to the house and picked up
Batty, who whined about his confinement halfway across the state in the cat carrier I had
recently bought for him. I left Gabe and Suzy a brief note on the kitchen wipe-away
board, giving them one last good-bye and telling them what a great experience it was
having them as friends. I ended it with, "I love you muchly."
	So then we were finally off, and I documented much of the trip with my
cam-corder, this being the most significant trip of my life so far. After some thirteen
years, I was finally going back to the side of the mountains from which I originally came,
the side I have long considered to be where I was simply meant to be. Just outside of
Pullman Danielle stopped for some coffee, and I got a video picture of a sign that I found
rather fitting.
	"Take a break from it all," it read.
	So we drove along, and far away.
	We were about one hundred miles outside of Pullman when Danielle said she was
getting too tired and needed to stop at a rest stop and take a thirty minute nap. When we
stopped, I thought I would take Batty out of the carrier (I had him in a harness--one made
for small dogs because he's so fat--and a leash) so maybe he would go to the bathroom. I
think he was too stressed and scared, though. I just let him sort of hang out by a tree.
	By this tree, however, was a ton of dirt and dirt hills, and the winds were very
high that day (I even have Danielle on video nearly losing control of the truck just before
the bridge the crosses the Columbia River over to Vantage). There was a gigantic gust of
wind, and naturally my contacts launched a double-attack--but most notably my right
one. Like the stupid idiotic moron that I am, I took it out and moistened it with my
tongue right then and there. Danielle came up to me, and I asked her rather urgently to
take a hold of Batty's leash. I had the contact in my left (and opened, smart one there)
palm, and there was another gust of wind. My contact decided to do an impression of
Superman. It didn't go very far, but Danielle and I both knew better than to try and look
for it for too long in a jumble of dirt and twigs and other debris. 
	I can't see very well with only one contact in anyway, and so I got into the back of
the truck to look for my glasses. I found the bag I believed my glasses to be in, but could
not find them. So we went on down the road without having found either my contact or
my glasses, and I took my other contact out before it gave me a splitting headache like it
did the last time I lost one (March 1997, when I swallowed it--also the right one).
Danielle kept saying things like, "Look at that up there!" She consistently forgot that I
could not see a thing that was not six inches away from my eyes.
	We stopped in Ellensberg, and I called the two eye doctor places I could find in
their pathetic phone book. Being Saturday, neither of them were open. Danielle looked in
that bag one more time for me, though, and found my glasses for me. To say I was
thankful for that would be an understatement. We got back on the road, this time with my
three years-outdated prescription glasses.
	We actually got to my apartment complex in Seattle at about eight o'clock in the
evening on Saturday, June 13. The first thing I did was take Batty up to the apartment on
the second floor, conveniently located right across the hallway from the elevator, and
locked him in the bathroom. We spent nearly two hours unloading the truck, sort of doing
it in shifts. First we crammed as much as we could into the lobby, and then we would
each take turns holding the elevator door open so the other could bring things in to take
up. At one point an almost-elderly Asian woman who spoke only broken English held the
door open for us on the second floor so we could both work on getting my things into the
	The lady kept trying to ask us something, but she consistently used some word in
her Asian language that neither Danielle nor I could understand. She just repeated the
word over and over. Finally she said, "Excuse me," and walked into my apartment,
apparently to look around and see whatever it was she wanted to know. Finally she
smiled and said the word again, and then returned to the elevator. Danielle tried still to
understand her, and ended up asking, "How long have you been speaking English?"
	The woman said something like "Seven years."
	Then she went on up to her own apartment on some unknown floor above me,
and Danielle and I finished bringing in all that we had gotten into the lobby. She told me
she was too tired, though, and her hands were too sore to bring in the last few things left
in the truck--including my desk, the cabinet of shelves, and my four-drawer filing cabinet
(one of these days I'm going to get a new one of those). 
	Sherri later asked me if I could sleep the first night I was here, thinking I would
be too excited. Truth is, I was absolutely exhausted, being one of only two people doing
all of this, and I fell asleep in an instant that night. The buses that go by outside my
window, and the monorail passing by the front of the building every fifteen minutes until
eleven at night never, ever broke my sleep and haven't since. 
	Before I went to bed that night, though, I was very adamant about finding a place
to park where none of my things would get stolen--those trucks do not have locks on their
back doors. We looked all over the place until we finally realized there is a public
parking lot right across the street. I guided Danielle to back up as close as she could to
the wall of a building, and ended up getting her to stop with probably less than an inch
between the trailer hook-up ball thing (what is that thing called, anyway?) and the wall,
rendering it absolutely impossible for anyone to take anything out of the back of there.
	We got up relatively early the next morning, and packed the rest of the things
in--cleaning some grime off the bottom of my filing cabinet first. It didn't take too long.
Before we knew it, Danielle's other aunt, Diane, who lives near the airport and came up
to drive Danielle there, came to get her. We were to first drop off the U-Haul and then go
out to breakfast, though. We ended up running so late, however, that we just grabbed a
quick bite to eat at Subway. The cashier looked at me really funny when I ordered a
veggie delight and then asked for only bread, cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise, and mustard.
Oh well.
	Danielle later commented to me that her aunt sure made our good-bye easy by
pulling up to the curb and just dropping me off. Danielle and I just gave each other a
quick hug, and I was walking back to my own place all on my own for the first time in
my life. I did have with me, though, a What's Happening newspaper, some classified ads,
and a "Seattle in Your Pocket" brochure, all of which Diane gave to me. For a woman I
had never met before, she sure did a lot of nice things for me. She even called me later,
to give me her phone number (which my caller-ID had already done for me) so I would
have at least one resource for finding places, getting around, that type of thing. She was
one of the coolest, nicest ladies I had ever met.
	I spent the rest of that night unpacking, and most of the next day and a half doing
the same. I had nothing better to do, and I decided that I didn't want to get involved in
anything that would cause me to have to go long periods of time with only half my things
unpacked. So I very dedicatedly got that done.
	I did take breaks here and there, though, and I would just go outside and sort of
explore. Just to go outside, and see where I am and what a wonderful and beautiful city
this is always makes me very happy. That's one very significant thing I have noticed since
living here: I am not nearly so caustic anymore. I have nothing to be cynical about right
now. It's a nice feeling. I feel liberated, happy, and all around wonderful. 
	By that time I had spoken to a number of people on the phone already: Jennifer
McQuilkin, Danielle (who calls me often), Mom, Dad and Sherri, Gabe and Suzy. It was
nice to be able to prove Gabe wrong in all his predictions, that I would never find an
apartment very easily in a vacancy rate lower than ever before in history, that I would end
up finding Seattle to not be all I thought it was cracked up to be. I have, in fact, found it
to be that and then some. I could not possibly ask for a better apartment in a better
location, not with my present life situation and budget. 
	Dad and Sherri came up to see me on Tuesday the sixteenth, getting here at about
one in the afternoon. Sherri looked at me and told me I looked weird in glasses now.
They brought me a set of dishes that I ate off of as a kid, which I thought was pretty cool.
I also got a basket of fake flowers, which I still have on my dining room table (even
though I don't have a dining room). In addition, I bought a nearly new and very nice
(nicer than I have ever had, anyway) vacuum cleaner from my Grandma Rhoda for $50.
The next time Dad and Sherri come up they might bring me a love seat. 
	We all went over to Westlake Center for lunch, and even this was already
something I could take Dad and Sherri to that they had never been in. Whenever they
used the monorail before, they just went to shops on surrounding streets, and never went
into the mall the station is connected to! Can you believe that? Then we ate at an
overwhelm-ingly unimpressive Italian place where we were served by a guy who looked
like he hadn't had any sleep since 1994. We left there and Sherri said, "Well, I think I'll
scratch that place off my list." I thought I would do the same.
	Dad has long been joking about how he wanted to come up and "watch me work,"
because now it's "his turn." Sherri told me soon after lunch that day that they had actually
talked about coming up and just sitting in lawn chairs on the sidewalk while Danielle and
I busted our buns. I was asked what I would have done if they had actually done that, and
I think I effectively avoided having to provide a clear answer to that one. I told Danielle
about it, though, and she said, "I would have made them help, or else I would have just
pulled up a chair next to them. They don't understand the way I am, Matthew, I make
people help. If they're your family or supposedly your friends [and they're right there],
then they should help. I've been in this position too many times--you saw how I made
Gabe help me."
	Now, I never felt that either Dad or Sherri were obligated to help, and it was
never anything I expected at all. I don't believe they would actually have done what they
kept suggesting, but in the highly unlikely event of it actually happening, there would
have been a very different family dynamic from then on for a long time, I know I can say
that for sure. I'm sure all this is known, and that's why it never happened, and it remained
a joke that after a while got a little tired--there's no point in wasting all that travel time
just to sit in a lawn chair for two hours. I never even asked Gabe to help me, that was
Danielle--I saw all of this as completely my own responsibility, and I just happened to be
overwhelm-ingly fortunate and lucky to have a friend like Danielle, who would do so
much more than I could ever expect from anyone in the world--and volunteer those
services, no less. And I would say that, just between the two of us, we handled the whole
thing rather well. We did get certain kinds of help from Gabe, Suzy, and Seth, and I am
very grateful for that. But the overwhelming bulk of everything was done by Danielle and
myself, and we could have pulled off the rest too if it became really necessary. Once we
were out of Pullman for good, we did do it all ourselves, and we did it quite well. 
	I could never have done it without Danielle, though--two heads are always better
than one. For this I owe her an indecipherably bottomless pit of gratitude. I could never
accurately relate how thankful I am for the very existence of that young woman. There
will always be a very singular place in my heart for her. 
	Dad and Sherri stayed in town that day for three hours. They watched my home
video of the graduation and the trip, and then they had to leave, which was a bummer. I
spent a good portion of the rest of that day hanging pictures up on my walls. I have the
black and white clock that Suzy gave me for my birthday in such a perfect position that
my Auntie Rose thought it came with the apartment. In the entry hallways are two of my
framed collage pictures: "True Friends the College Years" (Gabe, Suzy, Jennifer
McQuilkin, Jennifer Miga, Lynn, and Barbara) and "Members of Dad's side of the Family
Most Notable to My Life" (Grandma and Grandpa McQuilkin; Dad and Sherri; Auntie
Rose; Grandma Rhoda; Angel, Gina and their collectively four children; Jennifer and
Heidi; Christopher, Katina and their two children; all of Dad's siblings, including Aunt
Raenae and Uncle Paul from the list; and even Dad and Sherri's late cat, Winkin'). On
another wall I have a collage picture of the people on Mom's side most notable to my life:
Mom, of course, is in the center; my late grandparents; Christopher and Katina and their
children, Dawn, and even pets past and present. I really like having all these pictures up,
to constantly remind me of the people who are consistently the most important to me.
	Well, Heidi kind of removed herself from the picture--but I'll always care about
her as much as I always did, no matter what she thinks of me. 
	On another wall I have a mirror, and on another a hanging lamp that Danielle
gave me as a housewarming present. I have my furniture set up so that my bed is nestled
between the sliding glass door and my shelving cabinet, desk and filing cabinet placed all
in a row--this is so that people coming in don't have to stare at my bed. On the backs of
these pieces of furniture, though, I have hung pictures, including a Seattle map and only
one picture of Madonna (can you believe that?--well, I consider posters to be more of a
bedroom decoration, and since almost my entire place is like a living room, I didn't put
them up). In any case, I have a lot of bare wall space, but enough decoration to make the
place look lived-in. 
	So, by Tuesday the sixteenth, in the evening, I had pretty much everything in its
place. All, that is, except for my own placement in a job--which has not yet happened and
which I will discuss later.
	It was on Wednesday the seventeenth that I not only got my replacement contact,
but in addition I went to meet with my financial advisor for the first time, and Auntie
Rose took me out to dinner. By sheer coincidence, they both work in the same
building--the beautifully structured Washington Mutual Tower, third tallest in Seattle
(actually, the receptionist I spoke to on the phone told me it was second, but I knew
better--and I deemed it too early in our relationship for me to put her in her place). It is
merely nine blocks from where I live, and I just walked over there for my one o'clock
	I found the place kind of intimidating, it was so posh and polished in there, from
the lobby to the twenty-fifth floor where Dain Rauscher (the investment company) is
located. The company takes up the entire floor--which is, essentially, the width of a city
block. The elevator doors open, and the first thing you see is "Dain Rauscher," mounted
on the wall above the other five elevators, placed next to the waiting room filled with
cushy brown leather booth-like seats. In the middle of this is the receptionist, in her own
island-like circular cubicle and counter-desk. The phone rang constantly, but in an oddly
soothing tone that did not sound like a telephone ring at all. 
	I waited for just a few moments, and finally Paula Ronning (sales assistant to
Dan Burr) came out. She ushered me back to the office of Dan Burr, who not only
handles my account and my brother's, but handled that of my grandparents for more than
ten years and was a long running friend of the family. He had a great view from his
25th-story window in his office.
	I sat down in his office, and we talked for fifteen minutes short of three hours.
The time really got away from me, and I couldn't believe it had been that long. We talked
about innumerable things, from Seattle to my own family--but, of course, most notably,
my inheritance and my account. According to the "rule of 72" and going by the average
amount of interest made per year (23%, roughly but wonderfully), he told me my money,
if left alone and unspent, could double every three and a half years or so. I hope I don't
sound like I'm bragging, but this is a newsletter and this was perhaps the most significant
piece of news I came across this entire month: at that rate (depending, of course, on the
national economy and my own spending habits), I could relatively easily have more than
a million dollars in less than twenty years. Of course I have but a small fraction of that
right now, but when you get into mathematics with exponents, things get bigger much
more quickly. And, also of course, a million dollars won't be nearly as much money in
twenty years as it is right now. But--it's still one hell of a nice pillow to sleep on, there's
no debating that.
	The man, Dan Burr, was very nice and I am confident that he is trustworthy. I do
want, however, to learn more about these things so that I am not just blindly letting him
do whatever with my money (as I said to him as I was leaving, "Well, it's my money, and
I can do what I want with it"). Dad has been a good help in getting me to understand a lot
of these things. Dan himself prepared a portfolio for me, to explain how they do things at
his company, where they consistently beat the Dow Jones Industrial average (er . . . or
something; I've still got a lot to learn).
	When I got home from that appointment, Auntie Rose had called me three times.
I just had three "unavailables" on my caller ID, but I knew it was her, so I called her work
number and left her a message. She called back almost immediately. She walked to my
place from Washington Mutual, just as I had just done. 
	When she got here, though, she made the same mistake Dad and Sherri did.
Maybe I should do some explaining here, just in case any of the rest of you happen to
come and visit me at some time: the notice by the intercom downstairs tells you to press
the number next to the apartment number in order to let them know you're here. Now,
next to my apartment number (#202) is the number 25. This does not mean you need to
press 2 and then 5. It means you need to find the button with the two-digit number 25 on
it. Auntie Rose came up telling me that she pressed my number some ten times, but
actually what she did was press the numbers for two other people's apartments
(whichever coincided with #2, and same for #5), probably confusing the daylights out of
them in the process. Just look a little further down, and you will find two-digit buttons. 
	In any case, that is another added bonus to this building: secured entry. The only
major flaw is that this is a new building, and they did not leave any room for recycle bins
by the garbage. I now plan to use the bins behind the apartment complex across the
street--I can't handle throwing away recyclables, especially in a place like this. 
	Anyway, Auntie Rose took me out to a surprisingly hip place called The
Blowfish, which serves Asian cuisine. If this were even one year ago, I would have
balked at everything on their menu simply because I had never had any of it before.
However, becoming a vegetarian kind of forces someone like me to broaden my horizons
a bit, and try new things (I even bought a vegetable pizza!--hey, 17 grams of protein per
serving is not at all bad). I had something with a name I can't recall at all, but it was a
jumble of thin spaghetti-like noodles, scrambled eggs, and Asian vegetables I had never
had before. It was absolutely delicious.
	The waitress told me that their dishes were large and designed for sharing, but
Auntie Rose and I had separate dishes anyway. She had something with teriyaki sauce on
it, so I didn't like it even after all the chicken was picked out of it. I did have to take most
of my own home, though, because I had no more room--though I had some room for the
delicious three-flavored sorbet dessert we had. I had never had sorbet before, but now
that I have, it makes sherbet seem like the poor white trash trailer park version of it. 
	From there we walked to the hotel she was staying at (for those of you who don't
know, she now lives in Port Townsend but commutes, staying at a hotel two nights a
week). We just sat in her hotel room and talked for quite a while, and it was a very
pleasant visit. She also told me about Northgate Mall, and which bus I should take to get
me straight there, so I could find a suitable place to find an answering machine. 
	That's where I went the next day, I believe. I had forgotten to bring my shopping
list with me, so I ended up only getting three things while I was up there in North Seattle:
a silverware tray, a two-holed phone adapter, and an answering machine. I thought a
digital one would be cool because it doesn't need tapes, but it kind of distorts the sound
of people's voices, and that's irritating. That whole trip took pretty much my whole day,
	Something rather interesting happened the next day--on Friday the nineteenth. I
had just gotten back from my second trip to Northgate Mall (when I actually did bring my
shopping list). The shopping took me so long that when I got back, and just barely made
it over to the movie theater on time to see "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas"--I was only
able to see the last half of the last preview before the film started. 
	The movie finally started, though, and I quite liked how it began. It was when the
movie was less than five minutes into it that things kind of started to get weird. Not just
in the movie, but for real too. I was being amused by Johnny Depp swatting at imaginary
bats when, suddenly, flashing blue and white lights went on in the room. I came
dangerously close to thinking about a cop car, but then I realized I was indoors. Then, the
first thought I actually had was, "What the hell? Is this movie interactive and Gabe just
didn't tell me?"
	Then the siren began to sound, and still it took me a moment to realize what it
was, because it was a type of noise I was not used to hearing in these situations--it
sounded amazingly like a police siren. I actually snapped out of this idiotic stupor rather
quickly, and looked at the wall to realize the fire alarm was sounding. This guy with long
hair (I have to tell you, there were a lot of people who went to see this movie who look
just like the way you would imagine the characters in the movie to look) said, "I don't
[*censored*]ing believe it!"--and we all got up to leave the theatre.
	I guess all those years of basic fire alarm training in public school paid off for all
of us: we all just walked passively out of the building, more irritated and/or amused than
anything else. We were told, "Take the escalator, single file." So we sifted out of the
building, and packed the corners of all sides of the intersection on which this theatre
building is located. People passing by must have thought that one hell of a lot of people
were leaving whatever movie just ended, and why on earth aren't they going home?
	I considered that, but I decided against it--I'm not going to waste the four bucks I
spent on the last matinee of the day. So I hung out with the rest of the people on the
sidewalk in front of the building--I didn't cross the street until we were all told that we
had to. My first movie in Seattle, and someone pulls the fire alarm! I must have been out
there waiting for twenty minutes or more. When we were told to cross the street the
crowd did not want to pay any attention to the "don't walk" sign, and there were a lot of
honks over that one. I just walked along with them (there I go, just following the crowd),
watching the guy in the middle of the crowd flipping everyone off. I wondered how long
it would now take to finish the movie, I don't think any of us were concerned that there
was actually a fire.
	The fire truck came and went, with some difficulty because of traffic, and their
siren sounded exactly the same way the fire alarm did. We were finally let back inside,
and I decided the wait was well worth it when I found out we were all given a free ticket
to any one movie any time we wanted to come and see it--they handed the slips out to
everyone getting back into the theatres. 
	They ran both the escalators up when they let us back in, and everyone made it
back inside with amazing swiftness and ease. I don't think anyone's ticket stub was
checked, so anyone outside who knew what was going on could really have taken
advantage of this: saw a free movie now, gotten a ticket for a free movie later. I doubt
anyone managed that though.
	Anyway, I finally got to see the rest of the movie, though I did think about how
interesting it was that this happened while I was watching this of all movies! I had just in
the first few minutes given myself over to their fictional drug world so much that I at first
thought the fire alarm was a part of it! The rest of the movie was rather good, I thought.
Not for anyone expecting any kind of normalcy.
	Anyway, that was one of the most interesting experiences I had since I have been
here. Probably the most significant thing I did on the next day, Saturday, was finally
going down to the waterfront. I walked around Pike Place Market--which is about seven
or eight blocks from here--for just a few moments. Then I got a delicious prawns and
chips lunch, with the best oreo milkshake I had ever had, from Ivar's cafe. I ate it at a
picnic table on the dock at the waterfront, simply in a state of bliss: eating my favorite
food at my favorite location in my favorite city, watching the ferries go by. The only
thing that could possibly have made it better would have been to have some company. I
did not at all mind being alone, though. Right now I feel like some alone time is good for
	The next day I thought I was going to watch the gay pride parade, but ended up
finding out I was a week early. On the way up there I had a unique experience:  a bug
decided to die in my eye. I was walking up Denny Way to Broadway when this thing just
flew right into my eye, and no matter how many times I re-inserted my contact the
excruciating pain never went away. I knew that what I needed was a mirror, but I had to
take some time in looking for a place with a bathroom I could plausibly use. My first
choice was a gas station on Broadway, and even though the sign on the door said
"vacant," the cashier said to me, "There's someone in there, man." It was very noticeable
how easily I blended in over there on Capital Hill; no one ever stared at me like the do
everywhere else (comparatively, I looked "normal" over there). Anyway, I walked down
the street a block to a Bartell Drug and bought some eye drops. Then I went down the isle
where they were selling mirrors, and I checked my eye: I pulled down the bottom lip of
my eye, and there was this little dead bug. My eye was more bloodshot than I have ever
seen it, it was scary. I scraped the bug out of there, and bought the eye drops, which were
a godsend.
	I took some comfort in knowing I wasn't the weirdest looking person in the store:
there was a guy with make-up, a woman's suit jacket, very short shorts, long dangly
earrings, and a white top hat in there. The cashier there stared at him and not at me. That
was different.
	The pride festival did start that day, though, so I didn't walk all the way over to
Capital Hill for nothing (a healthy walk from downtown). I put three dollars in their
donations box, and scoped out the booths, none of which really appealed to my interests,
though I was half tempted to have my palm read, just for kicks (and it didn't look like the
woman was getting any business--perhaps everyone, like me, ultimately decided they'd
rather just watch the music performers). I watched one music act and a part of another,
and they were fairly good, though not spectacular. Then it got to the point where the next
act was running late, and I was left to just stand there in the hot sun with no
entertainment (they said this was the first year in three or four it hadn't rained on the first
day of the festival--Sunday was the hottest day since I have been in town). I needed to
move, find some way to cool myself down at least a little.
	I then walked from Capital Hill to Seattle Center, where I had some lunch. I
walked from there to the Uptown theatre, which is perhaps a mile further. I used my free
movie ticket there because it was owned by the same company, and I saw "The Last Days
of Disco," a very intelligent and engaging film with incredibly fresh dialogue throughout.
After that I walked from there back to my place downtown, so I did more than a healthy
amount of walking that day. 
	It was the next day, Monday, when I was harassed for the first time since I have
been here, though it wasn't really that big of a deal. I was passing these teenagers and one
of them asked me, "What are you?" Then they made cracks that they knew I could hear as
long as I was in their eyesight, until I rounded the corner to the front of my building. I got
a little depressed about it for a little while, but quickly got over it. I can't be me and live
anywhere and not expect to have to deal with crap like that from time to time. 
	Tuesday the 23rd was when I took advantage of a number that Dan Burr gave to
me when I told him about looking for a job. When I told Auntie Rose this she
misunderstood what I was talking about, and said, "You'll probably find that networking
can be very important." Well, the number was to Career Improvement Group, not an
employment agency but a company that helps people find jobs "using an educational
model." I went to a workshop, for free, at this place that Tuesday, and actually learned a
lot of very valuable information--most notably that networking is dead and it doesn't
work at all anymore, and neither do the classified ads. They say that only 6% of
employed people found their jobs through classified ads, which most of the time are
positions already filled by the time anyone looks at the ad. 
	The woman heading the workshop was pretty smooth in telling us all for four full
hours what it is we need to do in order to find a job, without telling us how to do it--that's
the part we pay them for. The next step, though, is to have an individual consultation,
which is also free, and is designed to decide exactly what I need. My next appointment is
not until the very last day of this month, days after this newsletter will go out in the
mail--so further news will have to wait for either the grapevine or the next newsletter. At
this point, it looks like there's a slight chance I may have a suitable job by the time I write
the July newsletter, but it seems doubtful, or at least 50-50 at best. However, I should
have one by the end of August. Keep your fingers crossed for me, or pray, or whatever it
is you do. 
	They say that their programs are designed to help us find a way to generate
multiple offers so we can decide on the position best for us, rather than groveling for
whatever we can get. I do like that idea. I don't know that I will take all the classes they
offer, but I think I may take one or two at least. It has a price tag, of course, but I think
that finding a comfortable job that makes me happy, actually starting a career before
having to sift through other crap, will make it well worth it. I'd rather not have to sort of
go door to door and hope for the best. I know these people can teach me how to get
around that.
	My appointment next week is with Jane Myers-Bowen, who has known Dan Burr
for ten years herself. Ironically, I have basically used networking to get to this point. And
everything else has come to me so smoothly lately that I can't help but think that I will
find a fine job soon enough. Maybe that's naive, but it works for now.
	Certain readers may find this interesting: for this workshop, I did alter my
appearance somewhat. I did not give up, but compromised: I took off the nail polish, but
left the nails long. I took off the eyeliner, but kept the mascara (I hate having blond
eyelashes with black hair--it just doesn't work for me). I was not displeased with the look
this generated anyway. Some things just aren't really that important, and I don't consider
this any kind of selling out. I have to find a smoother path inside, and then I can claw my
way out. I believe myself to be strong enough for this; I'm not worried about it.
	I was invited to go to Enchanted Village with Gina on the following Thursday,
but I could not give her any kind of answer until I went to that workshop and knew what
my schedule would then be afterwards. Right now I'm kind of living by the week, and it
will be nice when I can stop that and start planning in the distant future again. I might as
well call summer 1998 my Summer of Limbo. 
	Anyway, the trip to the amusement park was canceled when I found out about the
very unfortunate and unnecessary loss of my sisters' father. This month has actually
ended with tragedy in the family, and I am overwhelmingly concerned for Angel and
Gina, and even Sherri. I told Danielle about it, and it even upset her, she felt so bad--and
told me to offer her condolences, even though she doesn't even know them. I don't know
if offering my deepest sympathies in writing and publicly makes any difference, but I am
doing it anyway. It makes me feel like a schmuck for having things go so well. It's too
bad I can't pass on any of my abounding luck. 
	--Because I have to admit that a lot of these things, good and bad, are subject
merely to chance. What were the chances, anyway, of me finding such a great place in
such a great location in such a great city, at such a hard time for finding homes in such
places? Probably pretty slim. What are the chances that any average person suddenly
finds out that the will has been changed, and now they get 25% of the estate? Even
slimmer, I would imagine. 
	I recognize the fact that I did not literally earn this money, and it turns out that I
was born privileged and never really realized it. But my grandparents were not born
privileged, neither one of them, and they both worked damn hard to make sure their
descendants could be. I would like to offer my immeasurable gratitude for that to my
maternal grandparents, wherever they may be right now. Even if they are actually
nowhere, I think it makes a huge difference that I say that. It is imperative to me that it is
understood in all corners of my world, and in all corners in every adjoining world, that I
understand the delicacy and the near unrealism of my situation. I work hard every day to
keep my head out of the clouds, to make sure I am responsible and reasonable about it.
To have this kind of opportunity just land in my lap, I would be doing my grandparents a
great disservice if I just let it all piddle out of my pockets. I would never in a million
years want to do a disservice to any of my relatives, late ones in particular. 
	I have had numerous people tell me what certain very expensive things I should
buy, things I don't really need right now--and I am always resistant to it. The more money
I spend right now, the more exponentially higher amounts I could have had in the future I
lose. My only option is to be cautious, and hopefully not be too cocky about it (but of
course, I wouldn't be me if I was never cocky at all about anything . . .).
	I must admit, however, that I do spend a little money here and there to entertain
myself: you have already read about movies I have taken myself to, and I also bought two
movies--the letterbox edition of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (and letterbox
edition makes such a big difference--it was like seeing this film I had seen a number of
times already, for the first time all over again), and a regular version of the
overwhelmingly charming musical The Pirates of Penzance, my only regret being that I
didn't special-order that one in letterbox, which I may do one of these days anyway. I
hate not being able to see the whole picture, and once I can, the difference is amazing.
	The most expensive thing I purchased in the last week, however, was rather
practical: a July bus pass, which will provide me with unlimited access to even places
outside of city limits (which is why it was $63, but I still saved a lot of money buying the
pass--each bus ride alone costs between $1 and $1.75). Just today I went to see The X
Files, which I found to be sufficiently entertaining, and consistently worried about
messing my pants. 
	So what's in store, then? Well, Sunday the 28th I will go to the pride parade for
real. Tomorrow my most exciting trek will be to find a place with Paul Mitchell hair
products, a line I am very dedicated to--only sold in salons, it is difficult to figure out
where to find it. I called more than ten downtown locations and no one had it. I ended up
having to call Aunt Raenae down in Shelton at work in her own salon, because I knew
her place carried the product. She gave me the numbers to the Miller beauty supply stores
in town, and I called them to find out where in town the product is located. It looks like I
will have to walk all the way over to Capital Hill to get it. It's also at a place on Queen
Anne, which is just a bit closer to here in another direction, but I have other reasons to go
to Capital Hill anyway. 
	Strange that such a product would be so easy to find in every small town I have
been in, but once in Seattle I am forced to embark on a crusade for it. Conveniently, the
pride parade will be on Capital Hill anyway.
	Anyway, after then is the following Tuesday, when I have my individual
consultation at Career Improvement. After that I have no idea what is in store for me,
though I suspect July will be concerned mostly with classes at Career Improvement and
the developments those cause in my life. I should also get my rejection from Press next
month . . .
the writing history
I'll be a big noise with all the big boys
There's so much stuff I will own . . .
. . . Big time 
I'm on my way I'm making it . . .
					-- Peter Gabriel
The rich. You know why they're so odd? 
Because they can afford to be.
					          -- Alexander Knocks
	We appreciate the opportunity to consider your work. We regret having to return it, but thank
you for sending it to us.
	. . . That was the notice I got in the mail, just a few days before I moved, from
the Cincinnati-based publication Story, the first place I ever submitted any stories for
publication. The writer's guidelines I had gotten in the mail a few months earlier said that
they would generally take about a month to get back to people who have sent in
submissions, and at this point it had been almost a full month since I had sent my two
submissions out in the mail. 
	I had sent out for the writer's guidelines to two different publications: Story, and
the New York City-based Press. Although the guidelines from Press  were the first ones I
received and were made out very professional looking and polished, it said that they paid
a "minimum" of $100 per accepted story. The big difference when I got the guidelines
from Story was that, although their guidelines seemed rather cheaply made (like a xerox
of something written with a typewriter), it said that they pay $1000 per accepted story.
That's ten times as much, so which one do you think I decided to go for first? 
	Well, as could obviously be expected, they rejected me. They had sent this
adver-tisement with their guidelines that listed all these famous people who had first
been published in their publication--the likes of D.J. Salinger and Normal Mailer, among
others. I had these stupid visions of some day having my name added to that list, knowing
full well how unlikely that was. Of course, it also said that "It's where Faulkner and
Cheever submitted their early work." This does not indicate whether or not these people
were actually published in Story. So maybe one day their brochure will say "It's where
Matthew McQuilkin submitted his early work!" Then I'll put a preface in one of my
books telling people that Story never published me and they should boycott the
publication for manipulative advertising.
	"And now it's where today's most exciting new writers come to show you their
talent." Well, that's what I did--but, judging by the flawlessness of the pages when they
were sent back to me, no one there even touched the stories. If they had I think there
would at least have been a crease of some sort by the staple, something like that. I don't
think they were even read at all, and granted, that could be because of a large backlog of
stories to look through. In any case, I just got a brief form letter rejection, which is what
you read above.
	I'm not sure I'll ever forget the feeling I had when I was about to open that
envelope when it came to me in the mail. I knew that there was a larger chance of my
winning the lottery (and I don't even play) than there was of me finding an acceptance
letter in there. Still, some strange pang of hope went through my body, and then I was
afraid to open the thing. I knew what was really in there, and I just didn't want to have to
see it, this visual confirmation of what I already knew. My heart was beating very fast. 
	I finally opened the envelope, though, and found what I knew was in there (and it
wasn't anything that said, "And the winner is . . . !"). There really wasn't any reason to get
nervous about it, not rationally, but it's still perfectly natural to have overwhelming hope
in the unlikeliest of situations. The nervousness washed away from my body in a flood,
but not really of disappointment. Almost immediately I was able to say, "Oh well." Now
I'll just try again. This is what writers have to do. It could be decades before I get even
one thing published, but I'll die before I quit trying. That in itself makes me believe I'll
make it one day.
	My mom sent me an e-mail she thought I might find interesting. It was a little
story written by Alex Haley, the author of the immensely successful Roots. It chronicled
the many years he struggled as a writer, and how Roots was what gave him his "big
break" after a full seventeen years. He discussed the difference between dreaming of
being a "writer" and actually writing. 
	I wrote back to Mom and psychoanalyzed practically everything he said, relating
it to my own experience, position, and prospects. The way I see it, I am now way ahead
of where he was at the beginning. I have been much luckier, and I have different choices
made (and yet to make) and an all around different situation. He dedicated himself to
being a full-time freelance writer after getting out of school. My career counselor at
WSU encouraged me to do that, but if Alex Haley is any indication--I don't want to have
to say that all I have to show for myself after fifteen or more years is a jumble of " two
corroded sardine cans, a nickel, a dime and three pennies." This happened to him because
of how much of a struggle it always is to be a freelance writer before getting anything to
be successful. 
	I am not ready to dedicate my life to freelance. I would end up having to spend a
good portion of my inheritance, and, as I said before, the more I spend the more
exponentially larger future amounts I am losing. I need to do my own personal writing
sort of "on the side" while I find some other job to sustain me. Granted, I am looking for
a job that involves writing, but that's different from submitting my own things for
publication. In addition, it's because of the inheritance that I am in a comfortable position
to make these choices. 
	I am already "a writer"--I write every day, and I tell people I am a writer on a
regular basis. And, okay, it may take me even longer than seventeen years before I can
even possibly have a success comparable to that of Roots. It could be sooner too, but it's
doubtful that it will be any time soon after now. So I've got to structure my life in other
ways, and I don't mind that. It never matters what I am doing, I always find time to write;
it's something I simply can't function as a human being without. That in itself is one thing
I consider to have going for me: the mere dedicated passion I have for the form. 
	But I won't be struggling through all those years the way Alex Haley was. My
grandparents made sure of that, and my appreciation for it is beyond measure. So, even
though I don't believe I will have any "big breaks" any time soon, I'm not at all worried
about it. Stress and worry do nothing at all but physically break down the body, and that
is never necessary. So I don't do it. I'll just let life take me wherever I need to go, and few
people truly know where their final destination is anyway. There is a lot of poignancy to
the saying, "You want to make God laugh? Tell Him your plans."
	I won't tell anyone my plans, because I don't have too many. Granted, I planned
for years on moving to Seattle, and here I am--but life could easily have taken me to an
infinity of other places against my will. I just lucked out in one of those rare moments
where plans and destiny were on the same wavelength. But everything else surrounding
this move his been absolutely unpredictable, and I know not at this point where I will be
even next month. This gives me an odd mix of liberation and profound annoyance, but I
am confident that everything will come together at some point.
	My whole life is ahead of me, and it does not scare me.
	So, what do I do, then? I have already gotten onto my second attempt: I have sent
my two stories out in the mail to Press in Manhattan. My chances there are probably even
lower, but so what? You can't win if you don't play. And the way my mind works, I either
play or I die.
	I'd rather live.
							this has been presented to you by
								matthew mcquilkin
								fruitcake enterprises
P.S. In case any of you people who never write to me were bothered by any lengthy and
seemingly pointless portions of this newsletter, I just wanted to take this opportunity to
tell you that you deserved it. 
	I don't write this for nothing, you know.
P.P.S. Donations accepted.

[Author's note: This issue's "a month in the life of a fruitcake" section
contains portions of the following previously released letters:
e-mail to Christopher (5/1/1998), barbar55 (5/2/1998), and rose15 (5/12/1998).]
vol. 1          issue #8          May 1998
Set your foot firmly upon the path of all that you wish to be,
for in reality your aspirations are but a memory
of that which you already are.
				-- Unidentified
	So, here I am, nearing the end of the month in which one of the very most
significant occurrences of my entire life took place. At present, my life has no real
structure. I do plan to change that, but my life for the moment is in a sort of limbo that I
can't really get out of. I am not in school and I do not presently have a job. I plan on
changing at least one of those standings within the next month. A certain delivery I am
expected to get in a matter of short weeks is certainly not hurting anything here.
	I still manage to keep myself busy. The difference now is that, while before I was
too busy to get everything done, now I have to make the effort to fill up my time. It's not
that hard, but it might start to get hard once I get everything done. Then again, I have
more than five novel ideas in the back of my head, so I don't think I'll ever actually be
hurting for anything to do. I look forward to living a writer's life. I don't care what my day
job is. On my own time I plan to be a writer. As far as I'm concerned that is what I have
been for over a decade.
	And, lo and behold, what is it exactly that I am doing right now, at this very
moment? Writing! In addition, this very activity is one more in a long line of indication
of the fact that the only constant is that everything changes: I once said I would never
write newsletters. Too impersonal. They suck [fill in vulgar expletive here] and I myself
can't stand to read them (unless, of course, I was the one who wrote them). I don't even
like reading the newsletters of people I like. Why should I bother? I'd rather feel more
special than to just be another person on a mailing list.
	And thus the Fruitcake Newsletter was born: what a perfect punishment for all the
people who refuse to ever write to me! And then it backfires: people seem to love reading
them, and I love writing them. Even people I have written to have still asked me to send
them the newsletter (well, two at least, anyway). I suppose Barbara was on the right track
when she said she was glad I decided to continue my newsletter, because it will provide
me with further opportunity to explore my creativity. Maybe one day I'll actually have the
software to put decorations on the pages of these things. For now, though, that Hawaii
issue is about the best you're going to get.
	In any case, it's now over seven months into my time doing the newsletter, and it
has become a very significant fixture in my writing life. And--it helps me stay busy with
things to do during this post-graduation time of limbo. I think this month's issue will
probably be relatively long--but aren't they always, anymore? I should put stupid stuff in
here and not tell you any of the real news, just to give all you people a true punishment
for never writing to me--but no, I'm just too wonderful for that. Instead, the people I tried
punishing consistently get the most detailed accounts of the news of my life over the past
month. Those people include:
	1. Angel Benson (It was very nice seeing you at graduation, which I did not think
until very recently beforehand that you would even be able to make it to. I had a lot of
fun with all of you, though I didn't have enough time at all with anyone specific. I should
see you again within the next few months, though, I would imagine.)
	2. Danielle Hunt (You have been calling me so much lately--and I'm not
complain-ing, mind you--that this issue you may actually find boring. You were here
through most of what I have described, and I probably told you everything else over the
phone. If this displeases you then, I suppose you can call me up and cancel your
subscription. I doubt you will, though, just because I'm such a great guy--or something
relatively close to it, anyway . . .)
	3. Darcy Hartley (I'm running out of things to say to you specifically, you know. I
really should come and see you the next time I'm in Olympia. Having not seen each other
in over two years, we would have a lot to catch up on.)
	4. Dawn Addams (I notice that the more time goes by, the more of a stranger you
become . . . what was your name again?)
	5. Gina Yarbrough (My roommates thought both you and Angel were pretty cool,
by the way. Gabe kept referring to "the pretty one," but we never did settle which one of
you he was talking about--"They're both pretty," I would say. It was because of you all,
though, that Gabe decided to tell me he was talking about my other family members
when he said many times that my family was totally screwed up. I guess you guys
surprised him with apparent normalcy. Weird, huh?)
	6. Jennifer Miga (I swear, when I get my money, or soon afterwards, I am going
to call you. It might be from Seattle. It's been way too long since we talked. I don't want
you to fade into the background of my life, you know. You mean more than that to me.)
	7. Kim (aka "Dad") and Sherri McQuilkin (Was happy to hear how well Mother's
Day went for your restaurant. I always had faith that you two would do well, and I still
think you will continue to do better. You're one of the few people in the world who really
know what the hell they're doing.)
	8. Paul McQuilkin (I hear you're doing a lot of research on our family history. I
would be very interested in seeing some of it one day, you know. I have often thought of
writing my own version of a non-fiction book-like account of the history of this branch of
the family. I'm not sure about it, though, because I'd have to put in objectionable material
for it to be very interesting, which no one wants, or else it will have to be dreadfully
boring, which no one wants. Maybe I'll just wait until you're all dead and write it then . .
	9. Rick Benson (I can't help but wonder if you even still want me to send you my
newsletter, as a matter of fact. Do you really give a crap about my life? Am I really that
interesting? Well, okay, I suppose probably . . . (I've always been modest, don't let it
surprise you . . .))
	10. Shane McQuilkin (I heard third-hand that my letter to Heidi did not make her
mad. Well, she still hasn't written to me. Oh well. And then there's you--I wonder if I'll
see you again before we have a family reunion when we're all in our fifties and our
parents are either spending their lives planting daisies or already pushing them up. Time
will tell, I guess . . .)
	I do believe I must now personally and publicly apologize to Gina for forgetting
to put her on the list last month--even though I try to make it so people will rejoice in not
being on the list. But then again, it was a bad mistake on my part, simply overlooking her
and not realizing I had done it until all the newsletters had already gone out in the mail.
So, Gina, I am truly and sincerely sorry for that. We wouldn't want the others to think you
had actually written to me, would we?
	There is, in fact, a different omission from this month's list. And who might that
be? Aunt Raenae (whose name, by the way, Gabe tried to tell me was misspelled when he
was reading a letter from Grandma McQuilkin--the person who named her). This is
because she sent me a graduation card, on which she actually wrote! This is about as
close to earth-shattering as you can get. Granted, she wrote about six or seven sentences,
but that was plenty for me to write back to her and get her name off the dreaded list. At
least for this month, anyway. I would bet a thousand bucks that she won't write again
within the next month. 
	I won't bet, though, because then Aunt Raenae would probably write to me, just
for the sole purpose of collecting the loot: "Dear Mathew, cough it up." (She would, of
course and as usual, misspell my name because she must not read the Bible enough.)
	In any case, KUDOS to Aunt Raenae, who is perhaps the most unlikely person on
the planet for me to connect with in any way but for some reason we seem to anyway.
There are always hidden avenues between places that are worlds apart. And, of course,
Barbara, Grandma, and Auntie Rose are all writing to me regularly still--and even Lynn is
now writing to me over e-mail. So, as for the rest of you, I have only one thing to say:
a month in the life of a fruitcake
I could just remember how my father used to say that
the reason for living was to get ready to stay dead a long time.
					                -- Addie Bundren in William Faulker's As I Lay
	Naturally, the first thing I would talk about in this section is the most important
date of the year: the one and only Fruitcake Birthday. I turned twenty-two on April 30,
1998. If I die at 66, then my life is now 33.3% over. Isn't that fascinating? But, of course,
since I plan to live to be at least 150, my life is only 14.6% over, and that makes me feel
better. I'm still a spring chicken then. It's nice being in a position where I've got my whole
life ahead of me. The problem with that is that it's over rather quickly, and suddenly life
is all behind me.
	Might as well live in the moment.
	Anyway, I got some interesting things for my birthday. The first person I got a
card from was Grandma McQuilkin. Second was Auntie Rose, and third was my friend
Danielle, on the inside of which she wrote something rather amusing: 			
	I thought the acronym was pretty funny, although I had to look up what "Hessian"
meant. It wasn't in my dictionary, so I looked it up in my CD ROM encyclopedia, ending
up with two entries. One was a "Hessian fly" (the most damaging of all pests on U. S.
crops) and the other was "Hessian Troupes" (the accompanying article in its entirety:
"German mercenaries hired by the British to serve against the colonials in the American
Revolution"). I wrote back to Danielle and asked if she was trying to suggest that I am a
Nazi-esque Anti-American pest.
	I also got cards from a number of other people, including Dad and Sherri, and
most of my friends. I didn't get one from my mom, who called me up the night before my
birthday to tell me so. Calling me then was a smart strategy, though, since I got four calls
on my actual birthday--from Danielle, Dad, Gina, and my friend Josh. I never spent so
much time on the phone in one day in my life.
	As for gifts, the first one I got was from Danielle, which her card was sent with: a
framed picture of her and me. I thought it was very cool, and it's standing on a table in
the living room at this very moment.
	In regards to what I got from Gabe and Suzy, you might want to brace yourselves. 
From Suzy I got a pack of studded condoms (which expire in 2002, so I'll probably never
get to use them . . .), some name tags ("so you know who you are," she wrote on the little
card), an analogue clock (white background, framed in black) for my new place this
summer, and a really cool natural color relief map (meaning that where there are
mountains, there are bumps in the map) of Washington State. Suzy felt bad that she didn't
know what to get me, so she got me a few sort of gag-gifts (though I could certainly make
use of all of them if I so chose). They know that I have a ton of maps, so they thought I
might think the relief map was cool, and I did.
	Gabe got me two books, which he wrapped in the most putrid looking bathrobe I
had ever seen, knowing full well I would hate it (the thing zips up the front, in between
two thick, even lighter puke-green stripes, has short sleeves, and would reach down to
mid-thigh; the zipper has a light green ball hanging from it that really looks like a vomit
chunk). Gabe actually tried to get me to put it on and I refused. Maybe some day on
Halloween, though. There's always the Christmas card idea.
	One of the books was the last Far Side collection, called "Last Chapter and
Worse," which of course is hilarious. The other book is very thick, called "The Boomer
Bible," which is a parody of the actual Bible in its entirety (and, in this one, it begins with
the big bang instead of God creating the Earth in seven days--which in itself is actually
described, only in the Book of Lies). The major leader in this book is not Jesus but a man
named Harry who likes to drink a lot. It is written exactly the same way as the Bible (just
a glance at the pages would make someone think I was actually reading the original
Bible). It really works best to just flip through the pages too--also just like the real Bible.
It's just got different, satirical and hilarious material in it. Even an open-minded Christian
could look at it and think it was funny. It's satire of Western culture more than anything,
and if there is anything worthy of satire, it's Western culture.
	The other thing Gabe got me was, for now, a receipt to show he pre-ordered Tori
Amos's From the Choir Girl Hotel CD for me, which was to be released the following
Tuesday. The receipt was hidden in the pages of the Boomer Bible. He sure went all-out
for my birthday, perhaps spending even more than the $45 I spent on him for Christmas.
All I got for his birthday was a $20 ouja board that he didn't use for over a month. We're
all convinced those stupid things only work psychologically, but we wanted to try it
anyway--Gabe and Bob mostly, anyway. We all played with it, and I never once believed
I was speaking to demons. It told me my mother was going to die within the year. Since I
think they're psychological, rather than supernatural, what exactly does that say about my
subliminal desires?
	Jennifer got me a keychain with dice that reads "cake," with banana beads on
either side of them. She said she looked for other fruits but couldn't find any. From my
parents I got a check.
	Jennifer came over for dinner on my birthday, when Gabe made me some very
yummy shrimp fettucini. I didn't open my gifts from Gabe and Suzy until after midnight
that night, though, because I wanted to wait until Suzy got home from work. Being in the
middle of dead week (as usual), everyone was very busy with final assignments for the
	The following week was finals week, and I think I did all right on the four
different take-home essays I had to do. I had only two in-class finals to take, neither of
which took more than twenty minutes. My last final was on that Friday, though, one day
before graduation and one day after the arrival of my family from Olympia: Dad, Sherri,
Angel and Gina. I have finally gotten my final grades--two A's, on A-minus, one B-minus,
and one C-plus. For my semester GPA I have a 3.34; now, upon graduation, my
cumulative GPA (which spans all of my semesters at college) is a 3.16. Not spectacular,
but not at all bad either--a solid B average. I could have done a lot better if I had tried
much harder, but I didn't feel like it. I'd rather have a life.
	My Olympia family all arrived in their white van that Thursday night. They had to
get down to Clarkston to find a hotel room, but they stayed at my place for an hour or so.
Sherri handed me my graduation gift just after getting out of the van, right there in the
back yard (where Dad looked at the overgrown lawn and said, "Who's in charge of
mowing the lawn? Matthew, I bet") before even coming inside. It was in a fairly small
box (for what it was, anyway) and in a paper sack. While I was pulling the box out of the
bag, not yet realizing what it was, Angel handed me a pack of cassette tapes that I
immediately assumed were audio, because they were relatively the same size. Gina
started yelling at her because she thought Angel was ruining the surprise, and that's when
I finally realized what was inside the box: a brand-new, light-weight cam-corder.
	At least some of you can truly imagine how excited I must have been over that. I
was completely blown away, nearly speechless. I took it inside and opened it
immediately, trying to find the battery so I could start charging it. Sherri said she was
giving it to me early so I could charge the battery in time for dinner the next night. Then
they spent the majority of the rest of their time here that night listening to Gabe babble on
about his reptile pets.
	Once they were all leaving and on their way to Clarkston, I thanked them again
for the gift--and Sherri actually said it "wasn't much," just because "pretty soon you'll be
able to buy a hundred of them." I repeated, "not much?"--kind of flabbergasted over that
one. I probably wouldn't have bought one of these for myself for a while, because I'm
really paranoid about spending my money wisely. I don't want to blow it all. Besides,
there's something to be said for the thought of something, the sheer generosity in the act
of giving. I do not believe I value the gift any less just because I have an onslaught of
money on the way. That's entirely irrelevant. There have been few things I have wanted
more than a cam-corder ever since I was sixteen years old.
	Not only that, but this one is much better than Grandma's, which is now broken
and outdated anyway (she gave it to me a while back, because it wasn't working). This
has a color screen that shows the image without you having to put your eye against it,
which is quite nice. It also has a plethora of special features, my favorite being letterbox
format. It takes smaller cassettes that can be played on TV through a VCR as well as
dubbed onto a VHS cassette. The thing even came with a remote control, which doesn't
seem all that practical but is pretty cool anyway. I spent a lot of time that evening playing
with it, getting Gabe in the middle of buzzing almost all of his hair off.
	The next morning, when Dad and the gang all got back into town, earlier than
planned, the first thing we did once I was ready to leave was go to the post office,
because I had been left a notice in the mail the day before that I had something there
waiting for me. I had to be present to receive it because it was insured, or something. I
already knew that it was from Auntie Rose, though. I ended up getting this gigantic
package, took it out to the van, and succumbed to pressures to open it right then and
	At first I didn't even know what it was. I had never seen a certificate of share in
stock before this one. Everyone else realized what it was immediately, and got
overwhelmingly excited for me before I even had a chance to (and so they misinterpreted
my reaction as lack of excitement). Gina and Angel both said things like "That is so
cool!" a number of times.
	I, however, wanted someone to explain to me just exactly what is involved in
these things. I don't know anything about them, and I wanted someone to tell me. What I
have gathered is that whatever this is worth will probably go up in value, and . . . well,
that's about all I know. I certainly don't plan to sell it (and besides, whoever framed this
seems to have it permanently sealed anyway), but I was kind of curious to know how
much it was worth. Sherri guessed around $150 or so. I checked the newspaper and it
looks like it's worth around $116. Sherri mentioned something about "splitting," which
would make it turn into two shares, each worth half of $116, or something--I don't really
know. It sure looks cool, though, and you can bet it will be hung on one of my walls once
I move to Seattle. It has a photo of Walt Disney on the front, surrounded by many of his
cartoon characters. 
	I noticed that the whole certificate is very . . . blue. I wondered if they are all like
that. It's like oversized, blue money with Disney characters on it. I doubt this thing will
be worthless any time soon; I don't think the Disney company is exactly on its way to
	This was by far the most original gift I got (the cam-corder was probably the
"biggest" one, but I don't see how it could exactly be deemed original) and was much
more than I ever expected. I was very flattered by it, actually. I couldn't think of any
better reactive word than "wow."
	I spent the rest of that Friday giving my family a tour of campus. During that time
both Angel and Gina gave me cards (I didn't even realize Dad had left a card, which of
course was very nice, in my room until after they all left for the rest of the weekend). We
went to the Fine Arts Building, where Suzy had a beautiful painting of a polar bear and
bird hanging in the lobby, which they all complimented for Suzy at dinner that night,
despite her insistence that she hated it. We also went in and looked at the current exhibit
in the actual museum of art in that building, and I found a painting I would have loved to
have. It was huge--perhaps as tall as the ceiling in my bedroom--and of Seattle, only with
the skyscrapers made up of many of my all-time favorite books: Brave New World by
Aldous Huxley (by far my favorite book ever), George Orwell's 1984, Margaret Atwood's
The Handmaid's Tale, among others. One of the books was the Bible. In the middle of
them all was a drawing of the Space Needle, with a Starbucks coffee cup replacing the
top restaurant, surrounded by four flying paper airplanes. The background was a beautiful
blue, with a barely distinguishable whale taking up almost the entire space of the
painting. There was also a plant in the lower left corner, the name of which I forget but I
think it had something to do with flying. In any case, it was perhaps the coolest painting I
had ever seen.
	I asked the monitor if he knew how much it was, and he said it was $2500. My
interest waned rather quickly, I should say, despite the fact that, surprisingly, the only
person who wasn't telling me they think I should buy it was Dad. Even Sherri was
pushing this, and got the guy to give me his number and address so I could think about it.
Sherri said that I have to spend frivolously on something, and I should get it out of my
system--might as well be this.
	I ultimately decided that I would rather spend that kind of money on dental
	Angel and Gina both were convinced that the monitor (who, by the way, was also
the artist who painted this painting) was hitting on me. I, however, don't think they had
any idea what they were talking about. Suzy knows who the guy is. And he was at least
fifteen years older than me. This is strange, how getting this money is making others
around me think irrationally about it, while I tend to think I have remained fairly
grounded about it. I really don't want to do something stupid with it. 
	Christopher, apparently, wants to use his share to buy a house. In his position,
most people don't think that's a bad idea. I have been told I should do the same, but my
position is not conducive to such things, I don't think. If I buy a house I plan on living
there a long time. I don't want to go over to Seattle and wind up stuck in a place I realize
I didn't want to live in after all. I want to remain flexible. This should be a pretty flexible
time for me anyway.
	I have been looking for career opportunities on the internet, and not finding much.
I think I'm ultimately going to have to wait until I'm actually over there before I find
something. If I have to I'll just work at a library while I focus on getting published. I sent
out two stories to try and get published a couple weeks ago. The place I sent them to, if
they get published (which, admittedly, is doubtful), will pay me $1000 per published
story. I know I'm not exactly hurting for money, but every cent counts, now doesn't it?
	Gabe keeps saying, foolishly, that I have a "rich family"--referring to both sides,
actually. He says this of my mother's side because that is where the inheritance is coming
from. He said it of Dad's side simply because of the cam-corder: I have him on video
saying, "Isn't he a bastard? People with rich families are jerks." He's joking, but there is a
definite underlying resentment there. He does not have any relatives who can provide
these kinds of things for him, so, by comparison, he thinks of my families as rich. Far
from it, as far as I'm concerned. But I should keep in mind that I am in a pretty
comfortable position from which I make these judgments.
	In fact, I now have more things than I ever dreamed possible to fall back on. In
addition to the inheritance, I now own both stocks and bonds (okay, so I have one of
each, but still . . .). I own stock in Disney, and still have the $1000 bond Dad got me for
high school graduation, which matures to be worth that amount in 2001. I even still have
the coins Grandma gave me for high school graduation, which I would like to put in some
sort of display case here one of these days. As I told Grandma, those are in the deep
confines of my closet floor, resting next to my bond. 
	Anyway, I kind of got sidetracked here. After the tour of campus, my family went
and looked around the student book store while I went and took my last final ever. I
probably did horrible on it, but I didn't care. The last school day of an entire college
career does not exactly bring out the studiousness in a lot of students.
	There are people who have to work a lot harder than I do to get the grades I get
for half the effort, and the same could be said of me in comparison of those who get
much better grades than mine. I maintained an average of 3.1 or 3.2 or so, I think, and
that would have been higher only if I had sacrificed the other things that have been too
important to me to do away with: friends for the first time in my life, my consistent letter
writing, other types of writing in general. I won't deny that I had a lot of conflicting
interests. I just didn't think it was the most important thing in the world to pull off a 4.0.
Ten years from now I'm not going to care about it and neither is anyone else.
	My main reason for going to college was not to just impress people. It's certainly
nice that I'm the first person in the entire McQuilkin family to graduate from college, but
that was more coincidence than anything else. My main motivation for college was for
personal fulfillment. Okay, so I kept in mind that jobs would be much easier with a
college degree (and, ultimately, I'd do even better with a masters), but that wasn't the
driving force. The driving force was that I wanted to be here, and I learned a lot. Not only
that, but (as Suzy put it) coming to college has helped me learn to learn in ways that no
other experience would be able to do. I feel I am a much more well-rounded person
simply because I came to college. I always took my classes seriously--very seriously, in
fact; I simply didn't stress over it if I wasn't the grade-A star of each class. Who needs
that anyway? I got enough A's to get me through. 
	It looks like the next person to make it will be Jennifer, who will probably not do
as well as I did. I would love to see Toni Marie go to college, and I see a lot of potential
in her to be the most successful as far as grades are concerned. Some may look at her
now and disagree with that, but she is very young and has a lot of time to find herself. I
don't see much of the rest of the family going to college, though. Christopher wants to,
but he has spent a lot of his life wanting to do things and never getting around to them.
He decided to have a family first, and that kind of thing tends to set things back a bit.
	I still don't seem to have any doubt that I will be successful in life--successful
enough, anyway. That seems strange to me, though, as though I'm simply naive with so
much faith in myself. I don't even know what job I'm going to get. I'm very driven when it
comes to eventually getting published, though. I don't care how long it takes, I'll never
stop trying when it comes to that. I always plan to do whatever I can to get where I want
to be. I think that in itself gives me a lot more hope than a lot of other people seem to
have. I'm not exactly an average schmo either. I think I can work that to my advantage. I
just often feel like a schmuck because I can't give a better answer to the question "What
are you going to be?" than "writer."
	I sure felt valued during the weekend of graduation, though. The most difficult
part of the weekend, which in itself really wasn't difficult at all, was the dinner we all had
on Friday night. In addition to Jennifer and Gabe and Suzy, two of my friends from
Spokane came down. Danielle is my age and looks "normal" (though she consistently
deems "normal" nothing more than "a cycle on a washing machine"), but Barbara is a bit
different. She is as old as both my mom and Sherri, and the only person I have ever
known who was a true child at heart. She also has really bad teeth, which I knew Dad and
Sherri would notice and probably not be much impressed by. Most significantly, though,
she recently dyed her hair blue. She sat right next to Gina, and I don't think Gina was very
comfortable with her--despite Barbara's success at getting Gina to try some parsley (I
think that's what it's called, anyway--that green stuff that supposedly freshens your
breath). Barbara ate all of it that had come on my plate. 
	I decided, ultimately, that I should have sat between Barbara and Gina. That
would have given me the opportunity to talk to Dad and Sherri, who would have been on
the opposite side of the table, next to Jennifer, Barbara (had she switched places with
me) and Danielle, with Gabe and Suzy on my right and Angel and Gina on my left. That
would have worked out so much better--instead, I sat opposite Barbara, but with Jennifer
on my right and Danielle on my left; Dad and Sherri were on the other side of Jennifer.
Angel and Gina were to the right of Barbara and Gabe and Suzy were to the left of her
(am I confusing you?). I could talk easily to all of my friends, but Jennifer created a
barrier between myself and Sherri and especially Dad, and Angel and Gina were both too
far away to engage in a lot of conversation with. That was kind of disappointing, not
being able to talk much with my family. And all because I picked a poor place to sit.
	The family went straight from dinner back to the hotel in Clarkston. I got just a
few minutes of the dinner on camera. Barbara just sat there with a goofy grin every time I
got her; both Danielle and Jennifer covered their faces. Sherri stuck her nostrils up to the
camera lens, and Gina said, simply, "You can move it now." Gabe and Suzy both
deliberately acted weird for it, though briefly. I did not get more than a total of twenty
minutes' worth of footage the entire weekend, because I seem to be the only person on
the planet with a true tolerance for cam-corders. What's my problem? That's probably
what most people I know want to know. This would have been a wonderful thing to have
in Hawaii.
	I should have taken it with me for the tour on campus, too--but I kept thinking I
wanted to save battery time. Stupid me. I went home that afternoon to wait for the arrival
of Barbara and Danielle, both of whom also gave me cards--Danielle's had beautiful blue
butterflies all over it. Barbara made hers for me herself, actually sewing the words on the
front into the paper: "Sew some dreams," it reads, in cursive lettering. On the inside she
wrote, with a pen, ". . . with a Space Needle!" It was one of the coolest cards I have ever
gotten. Barbara also gave be both a birthday present (a little book called Questioning the
Millennium by Stephen Jay Gould, wrapped in black cloth) and some graduation presents
(an inflatable blue crescent moon, a gray shirt with the original design of the "Batman"
logo on it, two pins which read "You're just lucky I'm VISIBLE today" and "This is My
Lousy Job get your own"). She wrapped it in wrapping she made herself, with a bee hive
and a bee leaving it carrying a suitcase labeled "Seattle." 
	Friday night my friends and I all played Trivial Pursuit. Suzy and I actually won,
although she answered most of the questions. Danielle slept on the floor in my bedroom
because she was too tired to stay up past 9:00 (she works nights, which discombobulates
her sleeping habits). Barbara slept in the living room. 
	I got up at 6:00 the morning of graduation, and got a ride to the coliseum by Dad
and Sherri. I let Sherri handle the cam-corder for the morning, and she has me on tape
running my fingers through my wet hair as I put on my gown, which Gina (who flashed
her slip on camera) kept calling a dress. We also picked up Jennifer, who overslept and is
caught on tape saying that she still needs to brush her teeth. I then went to my line and
the rest of them went inside to sit down, never to find either Barbara and Danielle or
Gabe and Suzy.
	All of my friends were the first to find me, though, and Barbara and Danielle
were the only ones to see me before I walked. They waved at me from a sizable distance,
and I waved back. The majority of the three-hour ceremony was just graduates walking in
front of a camera, where the image of them getting their diploma was projected onto
giant screens so everyone in the coliseum could see (no one saw me on screen; they were
all looking at the real me). I saw Sherri just before I walked, waving and pointing the
cam-corder at me. I got my diploma case, and then shook more hands than I have shaken
in the past four years put together. I got some hugs from some English teachers as well,
about three of them--including the really nice lady who is the head of the English
	I never heard anyone cheering for me when I was walking, although apparently
everyone who was there for me did. Gabe and Suzy listened for cheers from my family so
they could estimate where they were sitting, and apparently their guess turned out pretty
	As soon as I was back and sitting down again, Gabe and Suzy actually surprised
me by coming down and giving me a bouquet of flowers with a card and candy bar inside
it. This was the first time I had ever been given flowers, and I was very touched by it,
having to wipe away a few tears. It was much more than I ever expected from them. The
card was predictably bizarre, with Minnie Mouse on the front and things written on the
inside like "Congratulations you effeminate stud!" Everything in it made me laugh.
	Dad and Sherri and the gang all went outside as soon as I walked, and Sherri
made a pit-stop to videotape me for a few minutes from the stairway isle. Soon
afterwards both Danielle and Barbara came down and sat with me until the end of the
ceremony, which I thought I should be obliged to stick out until the end. It finished with
everyone singing a stupid alma mater song which I don't think I had ever actually heard
	After the ceremony, Suzy and Jennifer both had to go straight to work. Gabe and
Barbara and Danielle all went back to the house on their own. I walked outside and found
Dad and Sherri (Angel and Gina were too cold and went to the van). Sherri insisted on
walking out with me arm in arm, so everyone would know that I was her son.  I then had
some pictures taken of me in front of a tree, holding my flowers and diploma case (the
diploma will be mailed to me later). Sherri videotaped some of that as well, and asked
me if I had anything to say.
	"I'm glad it's over," I said.
	"Over?" said Sherri. "Everything is just beginning!"
	"I'm glad the beginning's over," I said.
	Then we all went to the house. Dad and the gang wanted to eat, as they were all
famished, but I didn't want to leave my friends hanging and opted to stay at home.
	It was a few moments after that when Christopher and his family first got into
town. They pulled into the back of the house and he got out of the car, saying, "I could
give you a bunch of excuses, but I won't." Then he offered me the excuse: they all
overslept. They did not even leave Spokane until the ceremony itself was half over. I was
rather disappointed, but deemed it pointless to get irate about it. I was glad that at least
he came down anyway. They stayed for perhaps an hour and a half, and let their kids get
into whatever they wanted in the house. I still wish they could have stayed longer, but
apparently Katina had homework to do.
	We all tried to meet Dad and his gang at the restaurant I recommended to them,
but the line was too long and they weren't in there. Christopher said after we left that he
didn't have the money to get anything to eat anyway, and so we all went back home to
wait for the rest of the family to return. They did, and for a while there were thirteen
people (including two kids) in the house. Danielle asked to have a picture of my entire
family together, and more than one camera ended up being used once we were all
assembled in the living room.
	Soon afterwards Dad and Sherri and Angel and Gina had to leave. Dad gave me a
hug and then shook Christopher's hand, something I tend to find unforgettable. Other than
that, though, hugs were had all around, and that half of the family left. Christopher and
his family were not here for much longer. That left Danielle and Barbara, who stayed
around for much longer than I thought they were going to. We went out to a few stores in
town with them, but ultimately they had to go too--even Danielle needed to be back in
town for Mother's Day. 
	Not much in the way of excitement has occurred since then. The following week
was my last week of work for my work study job, for which I worked six hours a week. I
did not find a summer job in Pullman, but that is just as well since I recently found out I
should have my inheritance money by the beginning of June, and therefore will be able to
get out of this town once and for all by that month's halfway point. I am having many a
problem with my roommates, which seems to get more abundant and more serious by the
day, and I am more than ready to simply get away from it all for once. As I say often, I
know that many a problem awaits me in Seattle, but at least they'll be different. There's
something to be said for variety.
	I actually "trained" my replacement for the job I did a few days before I left. I
never thought such a thing would be possible for the easiest job in the world. My last day
was Friday the 15th, after which I will be jobless until I find something in Seattle--unless
the possible selling of stories counts for anything at all.
	In retrospect of the whole graduation thing, I am certainly proud of being the first
McQuilkin to graduate from college. I am rather famous (or rather, infamous, depending
on the perspective) in the family already, but I do think that this is one thing I can be
proud of and that much of the family is proud of me for. It was too bad that Mom couldn't
make it, but I was able to deal with it (what else could I do?). At one point all the
"Cougar Moms" were asked to stand up, and Angel and Gina practically had to force
Sherri to stand up, apparently (I was looking for her, but in a coliseum finding her was
kind of impossible). Had Mom been there she probably would have said she couldn't
stand up because of her apparent pinched nerve. Ironically, though, I know that if Mom
and Sherri had been sitting close to each other, Mom herself would have made Sherri
stand up, even if Mom was standing too. To her credit, Mom has always acknowledged
Sherri's very significant contribution to my life.
	As for where I will end up in Seattle, I don't know much there yet. Gabe says that
Capitol Hill is part of downtown. I have my doubts there, but would be glad to hear that it
was close at least. Gabe acts too often like he is the Seattle authority for me to consult,
and I get kind of tired of it. He thinks I have a "Disneyland vision" of Seattle, as if I'm
going to inadvertently wind up in some horrible neighborhood and end up shot or
something. Danielle has a friend who will come with us when we look over there, who
knows a lot about Seattle and would have a lot less biased perception of what would be
best for me there than Gabe would, I think. I know a lot of gay people live in Capitol
Hill--that's the primary reason so many people recommend it to me. Gabe has a pretty
stereotypical view of Seattle sections, though, dubbing Capitol Hill as a place with a lot
of drug activity. That can be found anywhere, though, and I don't really believe it will be
that difficult for me to avoid, almost no matter where I end up living. I just want a secure
building that allows pets and hopefully has easy access to laundry services. A relatively
safe neighborhood would be nice.
	Until this last weekend, I was thinking that the excitement of the month of May
kind of ended at the mid-point. Gabe, Suzy and Bob were all going to go on a hiking trip
in Oregon for Memorial Day weekend, and, although I was invited, I opted to stay out.
Hiking is not my thing, and I figured it would cost too much to rent all the necessary
equipment anyway. (I don't own camping gear; that would be like Bill Gates owning a
circus clown outfit, or the Pope entering an international Dungeons and Dragons
	However, the weather here has seemingly decided that Seattle clouds are trendy
after all, and we have had rain nearly every day for about two weeks now. When it was
forecasted that the place they planned on hiking through would get rained on, they
decided to change plans--and thus open opportunity for me to come along on whatever
they did. I wasn't exactly looking forward to spending an entire weekend all by myself
anyway. Gabe kept saying he could handle hiking through rain, and so could Suzy, but
neither of them wanted to make Bob's first-ever hiking trip to be such a bummer. So
plans changed.
	Many options were thought through--including a trip to Spokane, which none of
us really wanted. (In my case, all I have to do up in the City of Gloom is visit family and
the friends that seem to be the only bright spots in that vast town of depression, but
clearly none of the others were interested in going along on such a ride.) What we finally
settled on was a trip to the Kootenai National Wildlife Preserve, in North Idaho just
below the Canadian border. It didn't sound overwhelmingly exciting to me, but it sounded
better than spending two days amusing myself by doing laundry. 
	We left town in the late afternoon on Sunday the 24th--my mom and Bill's
one-year wedding anniversary--on our way to Bonner's Fairy, Idaho. It took roughly three
hours to get up there, to the hotel that we barely managed to get a one-bedroom room at
(two of us slept there secretly; the room was only paid for for the two other people), with
a few stops along the way. We found the wildlife preserve first, and Gabe kept saying
that the best time to see wildlife was at dusk and dawn. Still, when we pulled up to the
closed visitor center to the park, a few hours before dusk, Gabe spotted a moose in the
marsh lands in the distance. He pointed it out to me through his binoculars, and I said,
"Well even through this the thing is just a little black spot. This is boring."
	Everyone just laughed at me, in a mixture of exasperation and amusement. It's
what I thrive on, you know.
	From there, though, we all decided to go on a mini-hike up one of the trails to see
the waterfalls of the nearby river. It was the only place I took any pictures with my
camera the whole weekend. It was a very pretty walk, though, and a rather nice view of
the falls once we got a little altitude going on the trail. We didn't spend much time there,
though, because the general desire seemed to be to go up to Canada, where the drinking
age is only 18. This way the still twenty-year-old Suzy could get drunk "legally." I wasn't
too excited about this trek, but didn't want to go out of my way to ruin anything for
everyone else. I just went along for the ride. 
	Some "punk kids" (as Bob called them) said that there was a town "right across
the border" called Creston where we could find a bar, so we went to do that. It was
perhaps 10:30 p.m. when we got to the border patrol check-point, and they asked if we
were all Americans, had firearms (do they really think anyone's going to say, "Oh, yeah.
There's a semi-automatic machine gun in the back. Is that okay?"), or had any fruits or
vegetables. The guy asked what the purpose of our trip was, and Bob told him it was "to
go out to eat." The guy seemed satisfied with that. We went on and I proposed that one
day I actually smuggle and orange across the border, just so I can feel like I'm living in
the fast lane.
	As it turned out, Creston was 45 miles past the Canadian border, but we all
decided that since we've come this far, we might as well stick it out. As it turned out, we
drove nearly sixty miles for the soul purpose of spending about the same amount of
minutes in a small-town pub in which Suzy could publicly drink legally. I did not have
anything to drink (I simply didn't feel like it, even though a drink Gabe had tasted okay)
and the most exciting part about the whole trip was playing darts. Now there's a
thoroughly Canadian experience if I ever heard of one.
	I was glad I never bought anything, though. They give you Canadian change and
none of us understood the value of any of it. They have weird looking two-dollar coins up
there, and some coin called a "loony" (that's apparently how much the condoms in the
men's room cost). Those people could really rip off Americans and we would never have
any idea. 
	Suzy got drunk, which made me think that maybe this trip was a bad idea for me
to be a part of after all. She was much more well-behaved than usual this time, though,
not nearly as drunk as she usually gets, and I ultimately decided that I was very glad to
have gone on this trip as a whole.
	It was probably near two o'clock in the morning when we all got back to the hotel
in Bonner's Fairy, and still everyone expected to get up literally at the crack of dawn to
go out and look at wildlife. The next morning, though, Gabe simply did his predictably
notorious act of sleeping through the alarm clock every time it went off: he or Suzy
would simply get up, press snooze, and fall back to sleep. I had gotten to bed so late that I
thought I would just sleep through the morning. However, everyone got up and seven,
and they were so bent on getting me to go with them that they let the alarm clock go off
until I got up.
	With no showers yet to be taken, we all went to the wildlife preserve. We walked
through wet grass and light rain (fun, fun!) to a wooden observation box out in the middle
of the marsh lands. Gabe and I crawled inside of it, ultimately to find that the only thing
around to be observed was a spider hanging down the middle of the doorway. We all
walked back to Bob's truck--mistakenly accepting Gabe's brilliant suggestion to "see" if
there was a trail in the middle of this very tall grass, all of which was wet--and ultimately
drove the truck through the car-tour that goes around the park.
	I have to admit that that was at least half-way interesting, and would think that, if
they were relatively close by some day and had the chance to go there, my dad and Sherri
might actually enjoy this place. We saw wild moose five or six times. Granted they were
always relatively far away, but you can't expect a moose to care much about vehicles.
Bob told us that he had been there before, though, and saw a moose cow with a calf about
fifty feet from his car. On that same trip some coyote pups came out onto the road and
surrounded his truck, so sometimes people can get lucky. We saw a coyote too, and Suzy
saw a beaver, but they were always pretty far away.
	More than anything, there were birds, many of them at least somewhat interesting
even to someone as generally disinterested in such things as me--which is why I think
that at least my dad might find it interesting there. The general scenery there was also
	We left the park and went to eat breakfast. We found a restaurant, and the first
thing we saw when we walked in the front door was a sign mounted in front of the cash
register, in large stenciled lettering, "WE SUPPORT THE TIMBER INDUSTRY."
Sounded like the perfect place for three vegetarians, so we all sat down. As soon as our
waitress had come and gone and I had gotten a good look at her face, I asked my friends
if they thought I should shave off my eyebrows and draw them back on.
	None of them ever really gave me an answer, come to think of it.
	Then Suzy half-jokingly said she wasn't going to order anything because she didn't
want to support the timber industry. The rest of us mistakenly took this so much to heart
that, the more we urged her to just order something, the more stubborn she was about it.
She never did order anything, despite our mentionings of the wooden house she lives in,
the paper she writes on, etc. She later said she was going to the bathroom and I had to ask
if she planned on wiping her ass. She kept saying obviously moronic things like, "I
should just order a two-by-four, with a dead spotted owl nailed to it." I don't believe she
was ever really serious, but the rest of us were so taken aback by the whole thing that she
enjoyed just being stubborn about it.
	My breakfast--meatless, of course--was quite good. 
	We all went back to the hotel after that, had our showers, and made it out of there
merely ten minutes before we would have been charged for another night. We drove back
down the Idaho panhandle, and stopped at Sandpoint to look through a bunch of very
interesting shops. They have a mall-like building that runs across the river that runs
through the town.
	From there we drove to Spokane, where we had lunch at the downtown Olive
Garden. It was then that I finally realized why I dislike that city anymore: every time I go
there, I just get this sense of impending gloom. It's perhaps the most cheerless city I have
ever been in (though Tacoma comes close). I was telling Bob, "You know how there is
always this part of town in big cities, with nothing but old, run-down, nearly deserted
buildings that no one ever really wants to go near? Spokane is like one big city of just
that part of town." He understood perfectly, and apparently always feels the same way
whenever he goes there himself. 
	The Olive Garden was nice, though, and I nearly made myself vomit with their
delicious desert of chocolate chocolate chip brownies topped with ice cream topped with
chocolate and caramel. Yummy. After that we all went to the IMAX theatre in Riverfront
Park and saw "Everest," which was incredibly interesting.
	We were leaving there when Gabe suggested we surprise my mother with a visit;
he was interested in meeting this notorious character named Bill. Bob wasn't that
interested in doing this, and I don't think Suzy was either, but we did anyway; I wanted to
finally find out what my grades were. We got up to the house, and no one was there. I had
not planned on coming to the house and so I had left my keychain in Pullman; so I found
an unlocked window and decided I would climb in through it.
	That was when an old neighbor, Rich (who is around the same age as Mom, I
think) was seen in the front yard, obviously wondering what the hell was going on. I
decided it would be best to talk to the guy, even though he gave me the creeps as long as
he lived on the block, so he wouldn't think I was just breaking in. I asked him if he
remembered me, and he said no. "I'm Jeanni Rogers's son," I said. "I used to live here,
and I used to have blond hair." He muttered half-hearted words of recognition, but I could
tell he had no idea who the hell I was. I told him, though, that I was going to climb in
through the window and leave a note for my mom. He was just sort of like, "Okay," and I
went about my business. 
	I had to clear a bunch of junk off the dining room table to get into the house, but I
did all right. I unlocked the back door and let everyone else in--both Bob and Suzy were
back out the front door in a jiffy. Gabe helped me find my grades, which he found in
plain view on Mom and Bill's bed in their room. He went to the bathroom and I left a
note in the living room, written on a 1996 newspaper I found on the front porch:
	"Mom," I wrote. "You weren't saving this for a special occasion, were you? Hope
not, because I'm defacing it. Just stopped by to wish you guys a happy anniversary. I also
took my grades. Hope you don't mind. Gabe wanted to meet Bill, but you weren't here!" I
think I wrote a little more, but I don't remember what it was. I left it on the couch where I
knew Mom likes to sit.
	Rich tried talking to us more before we all tried to leave ("There's too many
[censored]ing weirdos around here anymore," he said), and Bob had to turn on the engine
to help him get the hint. We drove back to Pullman from there, and when I called Mom
and finally caught her at home, I found out Rich never really believed my story, and had
actually written down Bob's license plate number for her.  
	. . . In other news, there's not that much to tell. That's okay, though: there's always
tomorrow. To think about staying dead a long time only makes one want to make the
very most out of life now, before the end of it all. Endings last a hell of a lot longer than
beginnings, and the best thing to do is to take advantage of impermanence.
	I seem to have started a correspondence of letters to my great uncle, who is the
executor of my grandparents' will. I'm not trying to suck up or anything just because he's
the one in control of the money either. Uncle Jim wrote me a very interesting letter full of
Minor (my mother's maiden name) family history that I never knew before. I really like
the idea of staying connected with extended Minor family members.
	As far as the inheritance goes, though, I will be faxing information to someone in
Seattle today (which I have to walk to Kinko's to do, so I will make the copies of this
newsletter while I'm there as well). I should have the money by the end of next week.
	In reference to my job hunting the last half of this month, I have asked two people
to write me letters of recommendation--one was my work study boss, and the other my
poetry teacher. Both of them told me that I could ask for one if I needed it, and I suddenly
figured that having them certainly wouldn't hurt anything. I have heard from my former
boss, who of course said yes, and have yet to hear from my poetry teacher, who I had to
write to because I had no other way to get a hold of her. I imagine she will say yes too
	Once I get the two references, I am going to send them with a resume and cover
letter to every book publishing company in Seattle that I could find the addresses to on
the internet. Out of fifty-six, maybe one of them will have something open for me. I don't
care if it's just a clerical job, simply being in that kind of environment is bound to teach
me a few things about the business.
	As far as my moving goes, the tentative plan is for me to get my inheritance the
first week of June. My friend Danielle will then drive me over to Seattle the following
weekend to look for a place to live. In the great hopes that I find something in just one
weekend (and I will certainly be looking at on-line classifieds before leaving), I will then
actually move the following weekend, of June 13. (Danielle is also going to drive a
U-Haul for me, and we have split the cost of a plane ticket for her to fly back to
Spokane.) Danielle will spend one night with me there before going back home. She is
really a great friend and going to amazingly great lengths to help me with all of this. 
	Tomorrow night Suzy herself will be going to Issaqua to house-sit for her parents
for a week and a half, so I actually have a total of two or three more days of actually
seeing her before I move. Gabe is going to catch a ride with Danielle and me the first
weekend we go over there, so he can visit Suzy for a weekend. I plan on spending a
couple of days in Spokane after that weekend, then I will spend the rest of the week
packing everything I own.
	It is a near certainty that I will be in Seattle when I write the next issue of the
Fruitcake Newsletter.
	That's all in the future, though. As for now, I've just been finding different things
to keep me busy--the most significant being a month-belated birthday gift to Gabe, which
was a taped collection of all the best moments from his weekly radio show over the past
school year. I had to go through some sixteen other tapes to get it finished, and it took
quite a bit of time and effort. I never had the time during school to work on it,
though--and that's why I bought him a ouja board instead at the time.
	Now that I have finished that, I have job searching to do, and in my spare time I
am in the middle of four different books (one of which is by Jack Karouac, called On the
Road, which a co-worker gave me as a going away gift on my last day at work). 
	And, of course, there's always research to do, for expansion on my novel ideas. I
plan to eventually get through them all. And to get something published. Mark my words.
No telling how long it will take--
	--But it will happen. 
the columns/writing history
Homo sum:  humani nihil a me alienum puto.
						-- Terence
	Dear Matthew McQuilken [sic],
		I thought you could use these [a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a textbook on art]--a real
	columnist might study them to avoid writing the hypocritical piece of garbage you published
		Not only was your piece poorly written (I suppose you can't be blamed for a genetically
	inferior intellect), but it was based on fictitious assumptions rather than well researched fact.
		There are three levels of criticism, Mr. McQuilken [sic]:
	(1) Hating something without knowing why you hate it - usually from birth to middle school.
	(2) Believing that all forms of expression are equal in significance and artistic value - sometime 
	during the first couple years of high school.
	(3) Being armed with enough experience in a particular field to accurately judge artistic worth -
	obvious you're nowhere near this stage.
	-- you fall under category #2, you need to grow up.
		I have been at the Evergreen since my Freshman year. Insulting me in your article was
	not only out-of-line, it was disrespectful to a would-be-colleague. In your defense, [opinions editor]
	Isamu [Jordan] was also completely unprofessional in printing your irrational soliloquy. You're
	he denied my request for retort--the piece I have written would send you back to English 101
	you belong.
		The Evergreen has printed a lot of poorly written articles. However, I've never before seen 
	one that made me feel embarrassed to be associated with this newspaper. Tour elementary
	horrible grammar and obtuse sentence structure would be forgivable only if English was not your 
	native language. 
		I don't believe that to be the case. Your cobweb grip on the English language is a result of
	ignorance rather than social circumstance. Ignorance would also be the factor I say weighed most 
	heavily on your decision to write this article.
		Give up your feeble attempts at becoming a "witty columnist" and stick to your English
	papers.  If you can't play with the big boys--don't come outside.
	I feel sorry for you-- educate yourself, then we'll talk.
	Patrick Sheehan
	ps: -Enjoy the books. . . maybe someone will read them to you
	. . . In all the time that I wrote for the Evergreen (February 1996 - April 1998),
Patrick Sheehan was the first person to let me know personally that I genuinely pissed
him off with one of my columns. He was a fellow columnist, writing to me in response to
an admittedly regrettable column I wrote (I've had a few of those) in the spring of 1996. It
happened to have been my third column printed ever, and I never really wanted it in print
to begin with. I had only submitted it because deadlines have always been of the highest
priority to me and I could not think of anything better to write that week.
	I made the foolish decision of letting another person's column inspire what I was
to write about. Patrick Sheehan had printed a column that really irritated me, about how
he went to the faculty art exhibit and felt that he was of enough authority to deem each
and every piece there "just crap." I thought this was an incredibly arrogant stance to take,
and decided to write about how critics of just about any genre can be like that. I wrote a
column (headlined Who are you to judge?) that discussed critics of movies, music,
books, and art. When I got to the art part I never did mention Patrick Sheehan by name,
which means that probably none of my readers knew I was referring to him when I put
"just crap" in quotes. Patrick Sheehan, obviously, would be able to tell very easily what I
was getting at.
	I came into the evergreen one day to find a package in my mail box, wrapped in
brown paper and with the misspelled "Matthew McQuilken" written across the front in
uneven, stenciled lettering. I opened it to find within an art textbook, a dictionary, a
thesaurus (the latter two of which I already had copies), and the letter you see written
above. Patrick Sheehan became officially the first person to send me anything in response
to a column--and he delivered it personally.
	I was kind of hurt at first, but I realized relatively quickly that if I want to live as a
writer, I simply have to get used to crap like this (and I certainly did). Besides, the guy
was obviously a moron, who was even more ignorant and immature than he felt fit to
accuse me of being. I ultimately chose not to dignify that atrocious letter with any sort of
response whatsoever. I ignored it. (However, if I ever get famous and write an
autobiography, I think I'll print that in there and attach his name to it, just because I'm a
vindictively vengeful little bastard.)
	He was certainly not the last person to send me anything, though, for as long as I
wrote for the paper (and, by the way, I think he graduated the following year, in 1997). I
have had countless people send letters in to the editor in response to my columns, the
most ridiculously interesting one actually accusing me of being a "heterophobic
hatemonger." I had a column printed once about my problem with using Christianity in
our country's law-making, and someone from Oregon actually mailed me the book of
John, with a bunch of things underlined in it. (I do still have it.) I have had people call the
Evergreen to leave messages about what a stupid and idiotic moron I am. I have had a
few compliments on that answering machine, though, and I even had a local old lady
("Age 61," she wrote) write to tell me first how offended she was that I would insult
Pullman so much, and then write again a matter of days later to tell me she discovered I
can write well after all (in response to a column about changing cigarette advertising so
it's not aimed at children). I wrote her back a three-page letter, and she wrote a note a
couple of months later to thank me for it. I still have that next to my computer for when I
decide to write to her again. She said she might write again later, so that's what I was
waiting for, but it looks like I will just have to beat her to it.
	So, in any case, my column writing "career" has certainly gotten mixed reviews.
Still, for every person who wrote in to call me names, there was another person who
would stop me on campus to tell me how much they enjoyed my columns. Despite the
certain fact that there are more people in this town who wish I would just go away than
there are people who like me, there are more than enough people who enjoy my writing
to make me think that it was all, always, through the good and the bad, worth it.
	The Patrick Sheehans of the world notwithstanding.
	As you can all see, there are no new columns to be sent out this month. My last
published column was about not executing Children in Texas, which is a rather
anticlimactic way to go out, I think. Oh well. I have a better way planned here, for you
people who are more important to me than the general population of a crappy town like
Pullman. I wrote another column during dead week, and for reasons completely
unbeknownst to me, it was never printed. I, however, have chosen to print it here for you
all. I even decided to give it my own headline: 
		Exploitation is a part of Western Culture
		If it's not sex, it's race. If it's not race, it's sexual orientation. If not sexuality, then class,
	economic standing. If not this, then that: oppression and discrimination can easily move into the
	realms of body weight, hair and eye color, even measures of height. All of this has gone above and
	beyond, only leaving infinite numbers of other trivialities to wait in line. 
		None of us are the same, and we should be proud of that. Where people seem to get
confused 	is when others are so completely different it seems to get discombobulating, and instead of
just getting 	used to it we want it eliminated. Hypocrisy is not just the American Way, but the way of
the Western 	World. The entire globe is being tilted toward the West, and it's a sad spectacle.
		Some of us try to stop it, but "some" is little compared to "bulk." The bulk of the
population 	still makes the world go round. And here in the United States, the place we consistently
want to think 	of as the ultimate role model for the rest of the world (which is naturally seen as primitive
by 	comparison), we only make up the bulk of what the world sees the most. Too often it's the same
old 	thing.
		Native Americans, African Americans, Latin and Asian Americans, even gays and lesbians
	to a lesser extent--all these peoples have come a long way. Leaps and bounds. One day all of them
will 	live in peace and harmony, finally assimilated into a mass population that has simply found someone
	new to exploit.
		Right now, in this country, a number of cases have been revealed of homeless people
being 	hired to unknowingly work at illegal and unsafe asbestos removal. It goes on across the
country--from 	Alaska to Seattle to New Hampshire to Miami. This is all in the interest of profit for the
employer, 	and blatant disregard for the health and well-being of those who are looked down upon.
These people 	weren't doing anything useful to begin with, right? No one will miss them if they die of
cancer 	anyway, right?
		And how many people even know that things like this are still happening? How many
	believe it to be just another little thing? 
		Black, white, red, yellow, gay, straight, dirty, clean, employed or jobless, human beings
are 	still human beings. Things like this are startling indications of the true nature of what it is to be just
	that: when privileged, it's easy to pretend you don't know what you're stepping on, even if you're
	actually looking down on what gets smashed. And maybe someone looks down on you too, and
you'll 	get smashed, and your smasher too, and on up to the rest of the above and beyond. Blanket
	generalizations of inferiority are not difficult to make when you see only what you want to. Most
	human beings work that way.
		But how far can this go? In spite of oppressive Christianity, most other religions can
practice 	with no fear of harassment, at least in the American world. Race, sex and sexuality all have a long
	way to go, but most of them can only see improvements in the future. Perhaps even the poor and
the 	homeless will get a little more respect, or at least general credit than they get now, one of these
days. 	And once that happens, something new will come up to fill the void. Life seems empty without
	something to shun. But, again, how far can it go? Will we one day live in a world where people
with 	inproportionate toe lengths are outcast? Simple human impulses make such a seeming absurdity not
	much of a stretch.
		If not make it stop, can we at least make the effort to put a little ease on the process? If
not 	change everyone's mind, then can't we find slivers of hope among the masses? If there is any shred
of 	hope then we need to prove that giving up on it is not the answer. If not the law, then education. If
not 	now, then when?
	. . . I had originally planned on writing a sort of "farewell" column, which a lot of
columnists do when they're about to leave for good. I was going to discuss the span of my
writing time for the Evergreen, including a lot of what I wrote above. I planned on
writing it after the above column was printed. When the above column didn't end up in
print, though, I decided, okay, that's all right. I thought maybe my column was just being
held over until finals week, and it would have made a much nicer way to end. Much more
subtle, less grandstanding, and a smooth exit topic. 
	That's what I thought, anyway. Apparently my editor did not. The above column
was never printed, and I never even wrote that farewell column. As a result I exit the
arena talking about the uselessness of executing children. But, hey, you know, [*beep*]
	So what does this all leave me with, now? It means I no longer have a column
history that is still ongoing: it's now all just that--history. From now on it will have to be
the "writing history," or, if by some miracle I get published somewhere, the "publishing
history." Just because the columns are done certainly does not mean I am finished
	I have sent two stories to a Cincinnati-based publication called Story, which pays
$1000 per accepted story. They say they get back to people within a month. I guess that
means I should be getting my rejection slip here pretty soon now . . .
	. . . As for now, it looks like all I can do is wait. 
	I don't mind. Life isn't so bad right now. I'm happy to be content.
							this has been presented to you by
								matthew mcquilkin
								for fruitcake enterprises
P.S. Donations accepted.
vol. 1          issue #7          April 1998
I also think it's great that you plan on continuing your newsletter,
mainly because it's a great chance to experiment 
with your creativity.
					-- Barbara Burnett
	Boy, do I have a lot to say this month. And I haven't even reached my birthday
yet! (I'll have to cover that in the May issue, which is bound to be long as well). That
said, I suppose I should make an effort not to waste too much space in this section. I
would like to say that the only people who write to me continue to be Auntie Rose (who
has written to me once in the past month), Grandma McQuilkin (who has written twice,
both voluminous packages of her daily food catalogues, among other surprisingly
interesting things), and my friend Barbara (who is on quite a kick, having thus far written
five times in the past month). I don't know, maybe none of you think my personalized
letters are more interesting or something--although that wouldn't make much sense to me.
All but one of the original people are still on the list, but there is one new addition, taking
it back to the original number of ten:
	1. Angel Benson (I just recently found out you are coming to my graduation, and I
wanted to tell you myself that that makes me very, very happy--to have all of my siblings
together for the first time since I can't even remember will be very memorable to me, and
up until now I thought you weren't coming. I very much look forward to seeing you.)
	2. Danielle Hunt (Did you notice anything, say, unusual about my last envelope to
you? I hope you got it, anyway--because if you did, then I'm perhaps the first person in
history to get away with that . . .)
	3. Darcy Hartley (You know, it's been way too long since I've seen you. By the
time I even have a chance to see you again, I'll probably be living in Seattle.)
	4. Dawn Addams (I still don't even know if you're coming to graduation. It seems
to me unlikely, though it would be nice . . .)
	5. Dad and Sherri McQuilkin (I apologize once again, Sherri, for missing your
birthday. I deserve to be spit on my the entire population of Shelton. Dad, I'll promise
right now that I won't forget yours, which sets that in stone because I never go back on a
promise. I'm certain I won't forget anyone else's either.)
	6. Jennifer Miga (Hey, I've been thinking of calling you . . . but I never get around
to it because every time I think of doing it, I realize how little money I have right now. I
need to keep my bills down to a minimum for right now. Maybe I'll call you sometime in
May or June.)
	7. Paul McQuilkin (I was talking to Jennifer just yesterday, when we she and I
had gone out to dinner, and you came up in conversation. She said that you had told her
you wanted to get my newsletter, and she told you that you have to write me a letter.
Actually, she's got it backwards: if you write letters to me, then you don't need the
newsletter. The only thing that separates you from the rest on this list is that you have
never written to me, but that's okay. I decided to send this to you simply because I like
the idea of being the most known-about member of the family. I don't really see what real
interest you would have in this, but Jennifer says you like weird things, so I just thought I
would oblige you.)
	8. Raenae Lanning (Are you looking forward to spitting on me? How about
	9. Rick Benson (How's life? I don't know if you realize this, but you're quickly
becoming a mere phantom of the past. I think that kind of sucks.)
	10. Shane McQuilkin (Do you see Heidi much? I'd ask what you've been doing
lately, but that's an obviously pointless exercise, knowing I won't get much of an
	That about does it for this section, I guess, except for the inevitable ode to all of
a month in the life of a fruitcake
Perhaps all storytelling, all our myths, come this way. An act or event 
is observed, and then the observation is developed--exaggerated--
into a story. All writers exaggerate. We can't resist the impulse to make
the story better than it is, to make our lives richer than they are.
							-- (writer) John Jerome
	I was sitting at a table in Todd Hall, reading a book about the writing process.
This young woman with shoulder-length dark hair and a white tank-top came over and
asked if I minded if she sat at that table with me. There were people sitting at the three
other tables in the hallway, so I did not find this request odd at all; in fact it is fairly
common. What wasn't common was how much she kept looking at me as she sat on the
other side of the table.
	I told her no, I didn't mind; she sat down. I thought nothing of it and continued to
read. In hindsight, I think the reason I kept looking up is because subconsciously I could
feel her looking at me. At one point I looked up, and I noticed she had a bracelet-type
thing around her upper arm, between her shoulder and her elbow. It was a gold-colored
metal ring that was in the shape of a thin snake. I found it somewhat intriguing, and then
noticed for certain that she was looking at me.
	At first I just looked back at my book, thinking maybe she was wondering why I
was staring at her or something--and it was just because of the snake ring. But I could
still feel the presence of her stare, and I noticed her looking at me a couple more times.
When I started packing my things up to go--which I don't normally do when I'm waiting
right outside my next class, but today I wanted to go and grab a newspaper from in front
of the
library before they were all gone--she looked at me quite obviously: I was drinking the
rest of my orange juice, and while I did, we ended up making eye contact for perhaps five
seconds. That doesn't sound like a long time, but when you don't know a person at all it's
a lot longer than normal. She let out a short sigh, and now looking back on it, I think
perhaps she was in the throes of debating whether or not she was going to approach me.
	I got up and threw away my garbage from lunch, and she looked at me the entire
time I did it. I chucked my stuff in the garbage can, and then quickly walked down the
hall and out of the building. 
	I got my newspaper, then came back and stood against the wall outside the same
classroom. The young woman was still at the same table, and she glanced at me when I
got back. I think, anyway. In any case, I had just been reading the newspaper, and as soon
as I lowered it, she was just standing right there in front of me.
	"Hi," she said. "Going under the assumption that you're heterosexual and
single--can I have your number?" Actually, she said something before "heterosexual," but
for the life of me I can't remember what it was.
	It took a moment for me to process what was just said to me, and then I stood
there for another moment, stunned. Then I just kind of blurted out, "Okay . . ."
	She handed me a post-it sticker and her pen. As I wrote my name and number on
the little yellow piece of paper, using the wall, I said, "This has never happened to me
before," making it a little obvious that this was putting me into a bit of a daze. Then I
realized that Julie Frank, who I talk to in class every once in a while, was standing right
next to me.
	"Well," said the woman who asked for my number, "I specialize in public
awkwardness." I chuckled, almost under my breath.
	As I gave her the paper and pen back, I said, "I think I should tell you . . . I'm only
partly heterosexual."
	"That's okay," she said, taking the pen. "You're not alone." There was the briefest
pause, then she said, "Nice nails"--and as soon as I thanked her she was trotting down the
	I found myself wondering what Julie thought of this. After that, I just stood there
in a daze.
	I told Jennifer the basic gist of what happened first: simply that a woman had
asked for my number and I gave it to her. She was working at the Bookie at the time, and
while I was leaving she started chanting, "Matthew's got a girlfriend!"
	Suzy was the first person I told about this in detail, and she didn't seem to
understand why I gave the number to the woman, as though there's no point because I'm
so much more attracted to men. I told her I don't want to limit myself. I later told Gabe
about it, who said, "Wow!"--and when their friend Bob heard he said, "Good job!" He
seems to want to encourage me to be plain heterosexual, though: when Gabe made a
nearly profane crack about my hypothetical future conjugal relations with a woman, Bob
said that was the way it's supposed to be. He later said that I might have an experience
with this woman and learn something I never knew, changing my entire outlook on
women in general.
	I think he's employing some sort of wishful thinking.
	At best, this could have turned into a friendship. I'm open to more, but it was still
doubtful. I decided I would be bluntly honest about where I stand on all issues; I knew
anyone in this woman's position would deserve that. Of course, I had only given her my
number and that's all that had happened, really; I didn't even know if she'd actually call
me. Maybe she was under cover and was going to hand my number on to some prayer
group or something.
	What Gabe and Bob seem to think was so impressive about this, though, was that
"This just doesn't happen"--Gabe kept telling me I was a stud. I guess neither Bob nor
Gabe have had anything like this happen to them. I find it interesting that this woman
was interested in me, fairly obviously, because of my looks. This when I was just
beginning to think I'm getting uglier (and fatter).
 	A few days later, I got a call from someone asking me to donate money for the
idiotic senior class gift, and she weedled $5 out of me. That's not too much, though, even
for something I think is really dumb: an obelisk commemorating our going to the Rose
	"Just think," said the woman, "When you're taking your kids to a football game
ten years from now, you can tell them you were a part of this!"
	"I probably won't ever have children and I hate football."
	This kind of took the woman by surprise. "Oh. Why not?"
	I thought, Should I tell her? I said, "Because I don't like children," and left it at
that. I have come to realize that being open to certain things does not guarantee that they
will last. I didn't feel the need to explain all of this to a perfect stranger, though (not that I
have any reason to think she was perfect).
	She sure was eager to get me to donate, though. I got the notice for it in the mail
not long afterwards, looked at it, and decided that they could do without my $5. I think
the gift is dumb anyway. I threw it in the garbage.
	The mystery woman saw me at a thing I went to on the following Saturday night,
to see this woman perform a bunch of Indian (that is, from India) dances--she scared the
crap out of me by leaning forward from her seat that happened to be right behind mine
and saying, "Would now be a bad time to apologize for never calling you?"
	"I'm sorry."
	"That's okay."
	And at that very moment, the lights went down and the show was to start. She
never spoke to me again after the show, so then I could only assume that she would not
be calling me. And I was right: she first approached me on the 31rst of March, and ever
since her apology, I have seen her on campus three or four times. Each time we simply
give each other these very brief, knowing glances, but otherwise completely ignore each
other. It's really strange. Kind of irritating, too, to come across someone as completely
ambiguous as I am. 
	Somewhere in the middle of all that was April Fool's Day, which was uneventful,
with two minor exceptions: I was sleeping that morning when Gabe pretended to collapse
on the bathroom floor (the thump of his massive 6'3" body startled me), where he stayed
until Suzy came in and kneeled next to him, obviously worried. Then he laughed at her.
	Later that day, Gabe told me that a third Jurassic Park movie was going to be
made, which I have known since before I eagerly saw the second one. Then he said that
Madonna was going to star in it, and I immediately knew it was an April Fool's joke.
	The next most exciting thing to happen all month was Easter, which I spent most
of doing something that was pretty far removed from Easter activities. I did hunt Easter
eggs that morning, though, that we all colored the night before (a grand total of eleven)
and Gabe hid for Suzy and me. Most of you probably know that I am anything but
competitive, and I found about four of the eggs because I never did much more than
mosey to look. I found one, however, that Gabe hid under the fat rolls of my 23-lb. cat,
Batty, who simply let me roll him over so I could retrieve it. All but one of those eggs
(which was the last of my share) were gone by the middle of last week, and at that time
Gabe and I got into a stupid fight over it, so I smashed it just to piss him off, and it
	(If there is anyone out there who thinks I'm always a perfectly nice, wonderful
human being, they obviously don't know me at all.)
	What I did for the rest of the day, though, was all the designing, drawing, and
creating that went into making my graduation announcements. I apologize for the fact
that the Pullman map on the back is so completely unreadable--blame Kinko's--but I
figure everyone who is actually coming already knows the way anyway. Dad asked me
where I found the envelopes, and the truth is I found them in my box of typing paper (I
made them myself). The only supplies I needed for the envelopes were paper, scissors,
glue and a pen. About half of them were stuck together with rubber cement and the other
half with glue stick, though, and I don't know if one worked better than the other. If half
of you got envelopes in the mail that were falling apart, I'm truly sorry. 
	In case anyone wants to know what the hell "The man on the side of Holland has
turned to the Preface" means, then I will now explain it to you. The main library here is
called Holland Library, and on the South wall of the building is mounted a gigantic statue
of a man looking into an open book. I'll never forget when I spent my very first week here
at college, and I took a campus tour. The tour guide pointed to the statue and said, "They
say that every time a virgin graduates from WSU, he turns a page. They also say that he's
still in the table of contents."
	The very idea of making my own announcements is actually credited to my friend
Danielle Hunt, who suggested I do this when I was complaining about graduation costs. I
thought at the time it was a brilliant idea, and decided to surprise everyone with it. I sent
out about 25 of them (only one of which--to Aunt Penny--has been returned, because the
address was outdated) and I have gotten comparatively few reactions to it, though the
majority of them have been very positive (Barbara wrote me a whole letter in response to
it). I kind of put my foot and then my entire leg in my mouth with Sherri, though, because
I made the outrageous mistake of forgetting her birthday, but inadvertently having my
graduation announcement get to her on that very day. What kind of message is that? Who
cares about your birthday, all I care about is me! I made and sent her a belated birthday
card a week later and even had flowers sent to her at work, which according to her were
beautiful, although I wouldn't have the faintest idea. She took pictures of them while she
was on the phone with me. 
	I sent announcements to Jennifer and even Gabe and Suzy through the mail as
well. I just thought it would be amusing, but Gabe and Suzy seemed to think it was
incredibly dumb and wasteful. Oh well. 
	It was the weekend after Easter that Gabe was in a play called Lisastrata, which
was very good and hilarious, and it was also Mom's weekend, and also Gabe's 21rst
birthday on the 19th (and Sherri's birthday on the 17th, though I didn't realize that until
the 18th). He had a bunch of family come over to see his play, and after they all left on
his birthday Suzy and I spent the day with him, first going down to the dunes (a
beach-like place on a large river a few miles south of here) and then taking him out to
dinner. After diner Suzy had to go to campus to get some artwork done that was due the
next day, so Gabe and I went to see L.A. Confidential (which was very good) and then I
went with him to a bar, because he wanted to do this thing he had never before been able
to do.
	We went to a place called Shermer's, and because it was his 21rst birthday he got
what was called a "Shermerita," which was basically any kind of drink he wanted, but in
a glass large enough to be a miniature punch bowl. Now, I had recently gotten over a very
bad cold that had me drinking NyQuil so much that after a while it stopped tasting so bad
(it was never delicious either, but I could suddenly stand it). I wondered if that meant I
could have an alcoholic beverage and stand it, and so I had a drink of my own: a
strawberry daiquiri. That was what Gabe had as well, although his drink was about four
times as big as mine.
	I was surprised to find that my daiquiri was actually quite good. I took just as long
to drink mine as Gabe did his (and his included two shots as well, one of which he tried
to get me to buy for him but I refused--I don't want to be a part of someone else getting
drunk; they can do it themselves). I never had any more, though, and found myself
wondering what the point was, really. So what if it tasted all right? I would have enjoyed
a strawberry julius just as much, with no alcohol and for half the price. Why bother
having alcohol unless I plan to get drunk? I really don't plan on getting drunk.
	It was rather ironic, though, that I had my first-ever alcoholic beverage on Gabe's
21rst birthday, when I myself was on the verge of becoming 22. I told Sherri about this
and she couldn't believe it: "Next thing you'll be smoking."
	I don't think so.
	A few days later, Gabe and Suzy were having wine with their dinner. I asked to
have a drink, to see if that tasted any better than the last time I had tried it--and no, it
certainly didn't. I immediately had to take a drink of my milk, which I had to drink a lot
of before I got rid of that retched alcohol taste. It was hard to drink the milk, though,
because Gabe had decided that since their were drinking pink stuff, mine should be
colored too, and he dumped way too much blue food coloring into my glass. I kept
feeling like I was drinking paint.
	Perhaps a day after that, I got my most recent letter from Grandma McQuilkin in
the mail. Something that struck me as odd was written in it: because I told Grandma
about seeing The Godfather for my film class, she told me that Uncle Paul went out with
a woman who claimed to be Al Pacino's sister (claimed is the part that I'm stuck on). Not
only that, but she drew him a big picture--of a shoe. (I'm thinking: this would only happen
with Uncle Paul.) But hey, I can still say that Al Pacino might be my dad's brother's
ex-girlfriend's sister. Think my friends will be impressed?
	In other news, school is keeping me busy. I have actually been able to write a
term paper about Madonna for one of my classes. Other than that I don't expect my
grades this semester to be horrible or wonderful, somewhere in between. I could have
made an effort to change that, but there's a difference between getting the education I
need and presenting mere letters of the alphabet, which will have little relevance to my
life ten or even five years from now. Everyone knows that experience is what gets a job,
not grades. I'm into this education for personal fulfillment more than anything else,
though it's certainly going to help with other things.
	I will soon be sending out two stories to a fiction publication, in an attempt at
getting published. I have yet to decide whether to send them to Press or to Story, and will
ask my creative writing teacher's advice about it tomorrow. Only time will tell how that
pans out. 
	I have applied for a clerical job on campus which, after graduation, would give
me 40 hours a week at $7 an hour (not bad, I don't think). I had called them twice and
then stopped once they told me both positions I applied for had been filled, but they
never knew who was calling. I came home on Friday and found out the woman to whom I
had given a resume had called me, but it was too late to call her back, so I was going to
have to wait until Monday to find out if either I was being hired or they were being
uncharacteristically polite and telling me they didn't need me, instead of just leaving me
	I called her this morning, and she told me that the positions had been filled (that
is, not by me). She did tell me, though that she was going to send my resume over to
"cooperative extension," which would in turn give my resume to another place that needs
clerical help. I thanked her for that.
	That about brings everything up to date, I think.
the columns history
Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues,
and this is mine:
I am one of the few honest people I have ever known.
					        -- Nick Carroway in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great
We select from our experience to tell our stories, 
and the process of selection is ego-driven: trying to explain,
to demonstrate, that we are superior by virtue
of the intelligence of our selection.
								-- John Jerome
	I noticed recently at work that there were two more of my columns mounted up
on the walls, in addition to the three that had already been up there (the ones about
Pullman being boring, the unnecessary money allotted to ex-presidents, and irradiated
beef). The two new ones mounted were my valentine's day column (beneath which
someone had mounted a quote, something about a message to women about how nice
guys get jacked) and the one titled Inconsistent public schools ban 'lesser gods' . As for
comments about the rest of them:
	People are their own salvation: This one is rather hard to explain, and it's not one
of my best-written columns either. I still like the concept I was going for (that, ultimately,
man and god are one and the same: just a theory), but I knew that I would need much
more than 800 words (which, here, was cut down even further by my editor) to fully
expand on the subject. Gabe told me the only part of it that he liked was the second
fourth of it; the beginning was too much of me "grandstanding" (and I only did that to see
if I could get away with saying the antichrist--which I did) and the rest of it was just too
confusing. He really didn't get how any of it had to do with telemedicine. The whole
point of that comparison was to show how electronically interconnected we all are, and
how much control we are getting (or think we are getting) over ourselves.
	There are a lot of references in this column that only a few people would actually
catch. Wardell Connerly is a black man--a Republican, I think--who a black columnist
had once said was the antichrist--in fact, it was that columnist's article that gave me the
idea for this one. "Thank you for not arguing" is actually a quote from the movie
Parenthood. 	"The Machine Stops" is the name of a fascinating short story, the
author of which I don't recall, about a society in which every single one of us lives our
entire lives in just one room of "the machine," which stretches over the globe and is
constructed like a bee hive--a very apt comparison to the vast interconnectedness of the
internet. In this society everything one needs can be sent with the simple push of a
button, and people rarely go outside. By the end of the story, of course, "the machine" has
malfunctioned and thus everyone in the society is quickly doomed. 
	"Aim above morality" is a quote from a great, atypical movie from the 70s called
Harold and Maude, and is said by an 80 year old woman who says next, "Otherwise you
cheat yourself out of too much life." I don't see this as an encouragement for people to
commit something like murder either. The whole point is to not let others decide for you
what your morals should be.
	The day before this column was printed, a guy in my creative writing class told
me he was the new opinions editor. This made me very happy because it meant I no
longer had to deal with that Christina Bottomly ditz. He asked me to come in later to pick
up a packet that went over the opinions page policies, and it was rather strict. I decided
that was a good thing, though, because it gives me incentive to write better stuff. With
Christina, she would just print anything and everything, no matter how bad it was--and I
would still get paid. Now I was being told that if I did this or this or this or this, then I
wouldn't get printed. All the things he mentioned were things the paper was better off
without anyway. As a result, ever since then I have had almost all of my columns spring
from something I read about in the Spokesman-Review, stuff actually going on around the
	What confused me about all this, though, was that although I turned in my People
are their own salvation column before I read the new guidelines, the guidelines were still
written before I submitted it. One of the things he said he didn't want was a bunch of
philosophical stuff ("This is not a philosophy class," he wrote). Well, he still printed this
column, and it was one of the most philosophical I have ever submitted. It seemed kind
of strange to me, but I never questioned him about it, especially after he told me that I
have given him the least trouble out of all the writers (because I know that what he is
doing needs to be done, and all the other writers think they're being treated unfairly).
	The day after this column was printed, a lady in one of my classes asked me if
people really call me the antichrist. Well, some junior high kids have yelled "Satan!" at
me before, but I told her that no, "not explicitly" had anyone ever called me that. It's just
been hinted at in many different ways at many different times.
	Drug leads to long overdue sex research: I didn't get much of a reaction to this,
although a friend wrote and said it was "particularly well written." I don't consider it
anything earth shattering, and it probably didn't inspire much of anyone (but then, how
much of my writing actually does?). 
	Milli Vanilli and deer hunter joined at the mouth: It was a few days after the
publication of this column that some young woman approached me in a hallway and said
simply, "I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your columns." I thanked her and she
went on her way.
	I thought Gabe might like this one in particular, but he said it was just okay. The
same lady who asked me about being called the antichrist complimented me on this one,
and said she liked the joke about camouflage tights. 
	I got a couple letters to the editor in response to this, one of which said that I
sounded like I was a member of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. He said
that he knows all animals are stupid because he's seen cattle try to escape through a tiny
hole in a fence right next to an open gate. The guy said it was obvious that I had never
gone hunting, and he was right about that and nothing else, as far as I was concerned.
Some people think that no animal deserves to be treated kindly, and I just don't happen to
belong to their group. So what? The ignorant bastard actually ended his letter with,
"McQuilkin, don't you eat steak?"
	Uh, no. In fact, I didn't eat that crap when I was still eating meat. It was like
chew-ing flavorless gum. 
	Executing children not the answer: I decided I had to write about this because I
just couldn't believe it when I read about it in the newspaper. I never got even the
slightest inkling of a response to it, though.
	I have two more columns to publish before the end of the semester, and after that
I'm through with them forever. In fact I just wrote one of them today, and I rather like it.
You'll have to wait until the end of May to read it, though.
	So here I am, on page nine. I had this finished yesterday, actually, but today felt
the need to go through and add some things. Now, however, I have to prepare for a
presentation I have to give in class tomorrow, on the paper I wrote about Madonna. That's
the news you get for this month, at any rate . . .
						this has been presented to you by
									matthew mcquilkin
P.S. Donations accepted. Help fight antifruitcakes! Power to the freaks!

vol. 1          issue #6          March 1998
Keep doing this. Consider cutting wordiness throughout.
						--Buddy Levy
	Hey now, I'm not making any promises. I keep thinking that this issue will be on
the shorter side, at least comparatively speaking, but you know me--I can sometimes just
get on a roll with no prior warning, not even to myself. I don't feel at this point like this
month has been particularly eventful, but events themselves are not always necessary for
a runaway narrative. 
	Hawaii seems like eons ago now, regardless of how vividly I remember it. I don't
think many people want another issue that lengthy. Even my last issue was on the longer
side, though microscopic compared with the former one . . . but, you know: whatever. I'm
not feeling very focused at this particular moment, although I can think of a few things I
want to put in here. I'm kind of riding high on a rash of compliments I got in a forty-five
minute period today. I think Gabe needs to come home and start condescending as usual,
just so that I can come down from my high. I'm not really anything special. I sure feel
like it, though. 
	That's not the issue at hand in this section; already I am jumping ahead of myself.
I need to get the dreaded list out of the way. "The list," as Grandma McQuilkin so
euphemistically puts it, leaving that vital swear word out of there--maybe that's what this
should be referred to. The List. You can fill in the blank yourselves. 
	No one wants to write to me anymore. Maybe everyone finally heard it through
the grapevine that I'm an asshole: I have received a grand total of five letters this entire
month (once upon a time I got an average of that amount a week), from four different
	--Whoa, wait a minute! I can't believe I almost forgot. Gina, of all people, actually
wrote me a letter. It was relatively short and written on tiny notebook paper from her
glove compartment while she was riding in a car, but I'll still give her an E for effort.
This is a once-in-a-decade type of thing, here. I really appreciated it. No list inclusion for
her . . .
	1. Angel Benson (I had a dream about you the other night. Maybe it was a week
or two ago. It was very profound. So much so that I seem to have forgotten what
happened in it . . .)
	2. Danielle Hunt (It was certainly nice to see you a couple weeks ago. It did not,
however, count as a letter . . .)
	3. Darcy Hartley (I hear you were in a car accident, or something. Mom was
writing to me over e-mail about it, in passing, as if it was just common knowledge with
everyone who even knows who you are. Well, I hear it happened quite a while ago. That's
about all I know. I suppose that's your excuse . . . Mom told me you saw me over
Christmas break. Are you sure? I wouldn't expect you to recognize me if I was just
walking down the street and you were passing by in a car, my appearance has changed so
drastically since the last time you have actually seen me . . . sometime in 1996 . . .)
	4. Dawn Addams (Busy, busy, busy . . . what else is new . . .)
	5. Dad and Sherri (Yep, you're still on this list. Well, you said you wanted to keep
getting this anyway . . . and e-mail seems to have lost its novelty . . .)
	6. Jennifer Miga (I kept thinking you might write again within a month . . . how
very foolish of me! . . . Oh well, tomorrow is another day . . .)
	7. Raenae Lanning (I sure was proud of my last envelope design to you . . . and
apparently this one shows that the other took all the energy out of me, it sucks so much
	8. Rick Benson (Are you still alive? Hello? Is there anybody out there? Is there
anybody there? Fuh-fuh-fuh-foooolin' . . . )
	9. Shane McQuilkin (How's life in the middle of . . . uh, whatever you have over
there . . .?)
	My friend Lynn, well, I'm undergoing extensive study to decide whether or not
she needs to start getting this. She's had such a good record in the past, though, I hate to
taint it. . . . Barbara hasn't even written to me in almost a month, but I think that can
easily be chalked up to her depression over the loss of a cat. Either that or she just doesn't
want to write anymore, but I'm confident that she will. I have gotten a letter from Auntie
Rose this month, and two this month from Grandma McQuilkin (she's the one to look up
to here, you see). 
	All I have to say to the rest of you is
a month in the life of a fruitcake
. . . yeah, it was pretty phat . . .
	Gabe came into my room one day, and noticed a copy of my issue #5 (the last
one, February) lying on my bed. He asked if he could read it, and I reluctantly said he
could. I knew he wouldn't have anything good to say about it, but I decided to appease
him anyway. 
	He finished it and went on to tell me how corny it was, and how I will probably
put that in my next newsletter (now, would I want to disappoint him?). He said that, after
reading what I wrote about Heidi, no one from now on will probably want to tell me not
to send them any newsletters, for fear of my trashing and ranking them in succeeding
newsletters. As if anyone else would actually send me a letter calling me an asshole as
many times as Heidi did--apparently he doesn't know that different people have different
levels of tact.
	(The letter I got from Grandma today said that she was told from trustworthy
authority--a woman by the name of Gloria--that what Heidi was probably most mad about
was the fact that I used one wrong letter in her last name. That obviously warrants a letter
like the one I got, don't you think?)
	Gabe obviously looked down upon the fact that I was treating this newsletter "like
it's a magazine or something, with issues and volumes, as if you expect to be doing it for
years." He thinks I'm taking it too seriously, which is serious indication that he wasn't
looking close enough. I take it seriously on some levels, not seriously at all on others. It's
not like I think this thing is the light in everyone's life or anything, but I'm going to
continue writing it as long as I feel like people enjoy reading it. I have had
overwhelmingly positive responses, and that's reason enough for me. Not reason enough
for others, but in the context of this one little world, the others mean little. 
	All of you mean much more. And besides, as long as you're not writing to me, this
is the closest you're going to get to receiving letters from me; I have no time for any
alternatives. Gabe told me once that if I ever send him a newsletter he won't even read it.
He should never have said that, because now I've got a master plan in the works . . . 
	His reading issue #5 was about the most eventful thing to happen prior to Spring
Break, which gives a bit of a clue as to how exciting the life I lead is. 
	A lot of people seemed kind of confused as to why I just stayed in Pullman over
the break. Well, first of all, I can't afford to go anywhere anyway, not really. I will be
getting a rather healthy inheritance between May and June (and some would consider
"healthy" a gross understatement: it's going to be a lot of money), but that does little for
me now. I still need to save as much as I can. 
	The biggest reason, though, was the simple fact that it was my last break before
graduation, and I wanted it for myself. I didn't want any extensive traveling or any plans
to make me busy in any way. It was nice to have a break in which I could just sort of
relax, do whatever. It may be hard to believe, but I liked not having any concrete plans.
Of course, that meant the most exciting thing I did was go to Moscow, but the lack of
anything hectic was a very welcome change. 
	My friend Danielle did come down and visit me the first weekend of that break,
though. She rode down with her friend Mike, who gave us a tour of all the trees he
planted on campus. Danielle and I went to the park and swung. We decided to go to
Moscow to see a movie and so she crawled into a hotel bed and went to sleep. We went
out to breakfast the next morning and then they were off again. It was very nice to see
her, as always, but not much in the way of noteworthiness happened. She was certainly
welcome company, though, since Gabe and Suzy were giving a friend a tour of Seattle
that weekend and I was otherwise home alone. I suppose I should get used to the idea of
living alone, however.
	For the rest of the week, the most exciting thing I did was watch a bunch of
movies. I read half a novel, which I just finished today, a welcome change to the typically
stale school books. I figure I'll take this opportunity to recommend it to any of you who
have not read it; it's called The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood. It's an excellent
	Since spring break ended, life has just gone back to business as usual. I've been
trying to get on the internet as often as possible, and ending up being a victim of
circumstance (since this is the '90s, I figure I should be a victim of something). I find the
internet more annoying with each minute I'm on it, because I can never find what I want
on the stupid thing. Maybe I'm just more computer illiterate than I thought, I don't know.
Tomorrow is always another day, of course, and I can always try alternate routes. Thus
far, though, I have only found one very vague possibility for a job in addition to the one
at Amazon, which I am also almost guaranteed not to get.
	One of my professors actually suggested that I just find a job at a library. "You
never have to take your work home," she said. "You'll have plenty of free time to write,
and there are lots of interesting people who work at libraries, who could give you plenty
of material." She's got me thinking about that as a possibility, in any case.
	Gabe has been pushing as hard as he can, as has Suzy to a lesser extent, for me to
move to Seattle as early as possible, even if it means paying for rent over here for two
months while I'm over there, something I can't get out of because of my lease. Long
before I knew I was to be getting any inheritance at all, I planned on just working a
summer job over here until my lease ran out, then using the money I saved from that to
move to Seattle. 
	The component of my future have changed since then, obviously, and now I know
that the total cost of my move, even with down payments and van rentals and other
similar things, will amount to mere pocket change in comparison to the total amount of
money I am about to get. I'm not trying to brag here, although it might seem like it: I'm
merely trying to explain my situation. I have no worries as far as finances in reference to
my move.
	The worry is when I will get the money, and it's something Gabe in particular
doesn't seem to want to pay any attention to. I can't move until I have that money, and I
don't know yet exactly when I will get it. It's making it difficult to decide if I should still
look for a summer job here in Pullman or if I should just wait for the money to come so I
can split as soon as I can, which Gabe keeps trying to advise me to do. His biggest
support for this apparent need of mine is an article he read in the newspaper, which said
that Seattle vacancy rates are presently lower than ever before in history--really great
news for me. He also says that I need to get a jump on the rush of people who will be
looking for employment in the early summer (although I think he considers himself too
much of an authority when it comes to this in particular; he's never been right about what
he's said to me in reference to my employment searches in the past), as well as the rush of
people who will be looking for housing. The vacancy rate is apparently down to
1.5%--something like that, anyway; astronomically small. 
	Gabe's younger brother recently decided to spontaneously join the army, leaving
their mother without the child support needed to pay rent for her place in Federal Way.
Janine, Gabe's mother, doesn't want to tell the other son about this because I guess she
thinks he'll feel too guilty about it, this thing he can't get out of now. She doesn't want to
move, and apparently it looks like she'll have to--unless she can rent out the other son's
room to someone for $300 a month. She actually offered this to me. I don't know how
serious she is, and I think the woman is great and one of the coolest moms I have ever
seen, but this is just not something I want to consider. Federal Way is not Seattle. It's
more like the mythical land of Suburbia in Denial, by the sound and looks of things. I
don't want to be a part of that. Even then my rent would be going up $60 a month from
what I pay here, for me to move to a place I would enjoy living at even less.
	I understand that my rent is going to go up no matter what, but I might as well
look for a place that I think will make the raise worth it. Almost ironically, Pullman's
vacancy rates seem to have skyrocketed, and Gabe and Suzy's rent is bound to go down
dramatically for wherever they live over the next year. 
	Danielle keeps telling me I should move to Capitol Hill. My cousin Valerie told
me once that it was "very nice;" Gabe calls it, literally, "slums." I don't know who to
believe more, though the former person actually lives in this city itself. It's a
consideration, in any case. Once I finally get over there to look for a place I will look and
see what I think. I just wish I knew when I'll have the financial capability to do all of this.
I don't want to sit here thinking I can just wait for the money and then split, and then wait
for two months for it, doing nothing when I could have gotten a job here. Mom seems to
think I'll have the money by the end of May, but I don't know that she's a great authority
on this issue. My brother has actually contacted the executor of the will, and though I
know I'm in store for one hell of a security blanket, I'm not sure I'll actually get it as soon
as I'd hoped. 
	It's been a while since I've seen my career counselor, and I have made another
appointment with her, so she can give me advice about whether it would heighten my
chances of finding a job if I moved in mid- to late May, ass opposed to waiting until the
end of July.
	In other news . . . 
	I had a story workshopped in my creative writing class recently, and I never got so
many compliments in such a short span of time in my life. Putting the few technical
complains aside (such as my excessive wordiness, and I just don't know what they're
talking about), people in general seemed to love my writing. One woman said she read
the story at the library and was laughing so hard she had tears running down her face. It
sure was cool for me to hear something like that (too bad I can't make this funny this
time; I seem to be a bit stale today). I was also struck by the fact that virtually everyone
seemed to have the same favorite parts. 
	Not long ago, I bought a collage picture frame for only $5. I only want to mention
this here because what I ended up with it seems to cool to me: it's a collage of all the true
friends I've had during my college years (I even labeled it: True Friends--the college
years). It features photos of Lynn, Jennifer Miga, Jennifer McQuilkin, Barbara, Danielle,
Gabe, and Suzy. The only people to be featured in it twice are Gabe and Suzy, since they
really are the most significant people to my personal college history, with two individual
photos and one of the two of them together. I really love how it looks, and want to buy
another one for family members. It's leaving empty spaces in my photo albums, but I
think they look nicer this way, and I tend to look at the pictures more often.
	One last thing I want to write about in this section (well, actually there were to be
two more, but I just now decided that we can do without one of them): a couple days ago
I bought a new CD, called Legacy: a tribute to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. This is
something I just had to buy, since I consider that original album by Fleetwood Mac to be
the best in the history of recording music. This tribute CD is rather . . . interesting.
	(Interesting he says . . . something people tend to say when they want to sound
completely neutral, to get off the hook. I have a passionate loathing for the word when
people use it to describe my creative writing.)
	Of course, none of these renditions are anywhere near as good as the original
songs--and, by the way, this is a collection of covers of all songs from the album,
arranged in the same order. Half of the singers and bands here I've never heard of, but
that's okay.
	Tonic's version of "Second Hand News" is all right, pleasant enough to listen to,
although there's too much focus on the vocals, as opposed to Lindsey Buckingham's
version, which seems to focus more on the music. The Corrs' version of "Dreams" is
nothing near the caliber of how Stevie Nicks sings it, but it's still rather good, with
interesting musical liberties taken by the band. It almost sounds more mystical than the
original, and that's the kind of thing Stevie Nicks has always been about.
	The cover of "Never Going Back Again" is by Matchbox 20, which is the reason
why I expected it to be dreadful. That band is one of the biggest pieces of camel ca-ca on
the market today, their songs all sound the same and they sound rather annoying.
However, this song gave me quite a pleasant surprise with its at least somewhat
innovative liberties in terms of the music to the song, which adds a lot more than just the
acoustics of Lindsey Buckingham's original version. By comparison, Lindsey still makes
this band sound like crap; when taken by itself, though, Matchbox 20's version isn't half
bad. I quite like it, actually.
	The cover of "Don't Stop" is by Elton John, and I really don't like it much. He
incorporates guitar sounds that seem like they come off of some sort of Fisher Price
synthesizer, and it sounds much too computer-automated. Doing it this way completely
strips the song of its substance, and Elton John's singing to it doesn't add much either.
There's none of the energy there that Lindsey Buckingham brings to the song, not at all.
	The Cranberries, one of my favorite bands, do the cover of "Go Your Own Way."
Now, I love the Cranberries, but they have their own very distinctive style, and it's quite
far removed from that of Fleetwood Mac. Replacing Lindsey Buckingham's voice with
that of a woman with a thick Irish accent just doesn't do it for me, especially since this
band does not change the original music arrangement at all, giving no innovation to it
whatsoever. I can handle hearing it, but I'd rather hear Lindsey sing this song and I'd
rather the Cranberries kept to their own stuff.
	Some nut-freak named Duncan Sheik does the cover of Christine McVie's
"Songbird," and it's retched. Christine's voice set to piano is seamlessly beautiful,
comforting, pleasant; this guy switches piano to strings that are too severe for me, and
sings the lyrics in an even more severe, deep voice. This one is so far removed that it
doesn't work, with the same amount of annoyance that the Cranberries' song doesn't work
for being too close to the original.
	Shawn Colvin covers "The Chain," and it's all right. The reasons for its being less
than the original is another understatement of the music, and then an understatement of
lyric delivery. The original of this song has a bunch of back-up singing that doesn't make
it to this version, and Shawn Colvin's singing is kind of jerky. It just doesn't flow as well,
although I still kind of like listening to it. 
	Perhaps my favorite cover on this album is Jewel's cover of "You Make Loving
Fun," the song which has long been my favorite song on the album (although that
switches every few years: "Second Hand News" was originally my favorite, then "The
Chain," then "You Make Loving Fun," and now it's probably "Gold Dust Woman"). Jewel
does a great job of mixing the original feel of Christine McVie's version of the song with
her own very singular singing style, and she seems to add a lot to the song, which is a
perfect choice for her; it kind of correlates with her own style of song writing. This does
not sound too much like the original, nor does it sound too far removed from it; it's the
one cover on the album that seems to have found a comfortable medium here.
	"I Don't Want to Know" is covered by the Goo Goo Dolls, who seem to make it
sound just like any of their other music or any of the rest of today's bland popular music
by similar bands. The cover is completely uninspired, and slaughters the original song.
	Tallulah's version of "Oh Daddy," on the other hand, contributes to the song the
same way as the cover of "Dreams," making it seem somewhat more mystical, with nice
piano music as back-up. It's not a bad rendition, in any case. 
	Sister Hazel was a name that made me think that "Gold Dust Woman" would be
sung by a woman--but it's sung by a man. It's got to be the worst song on this album, it
slaughters Stevie Nicks's masterpiece so much. I don't even want to describe it, it might
give you nightmares. I'd almost rather hear Hole's version of this song, and Hole is a band
that I would expect to hear for eternity in hell. I am not fond of Sister Hazel's rendition.
	The compilation as a whole, though, is better than I might have expected--worth
fourteen bucks, in any case. It's sort of like getting a remix package of all the songs from
my favorite album of all time. None of the songs, as I said, are anywhere near as good as
the originals, but it's still interesting to hear this new variety twenty-one years after the
original album was released. With all the knowledge I have of the goings-on behind the
scenes of Rumours, it's kind of strange to think of all these people re-working the rich
personal narratives of this band that are portrayed in all of the lyrics of these songs.
Change is a positive thing, though. 
	Well, there are a few days left of this month as I write this, and yet over half of
you won't receive it in the mail until just after the month has ended. I suppose you can
deal with it. I don't expect anything all that exciting to happen over the next few days
	Knock on plastic.
the columns history
Where do you get off saying this?
						--Joshua McKarcher
	The first thing I would like to mention here is my last column mentioned last
time, the one about gay marriage, the one and only column in all the time I've written
them that has generated by far the most response. The day after I mailed the last
newsletter, two more letters to the editor were printed in the Evergreen, although neither
of them referred to me directly: instead, they referred to previous letters that had been
printed in reference to my columns. These two actually defended my positions, though.
What made this so cool, though, was that since they have a cap on a subject discussed by
letter writers after one week (a very good idea), this means that my position actually got
the last word in. I was rather happy about that.
	I sent a copy of the column, as well as all of the letters written in response to it, to
a guy I send e-mail to in Spokane who happens to be gay (not someone I'm interested in
romantically--he's ugly and a pompous ass, the only things he and I have in common). He
wrote back and said that I had "some valid points." I wrote back and thanked him for the
detailed analysis.
	U.S. celebrities need less style, more control: I was fairly displeased with this
headline. The reason for this would be that, under what I myself consider to be "style,"
that is a good thing--and I was not trying to say that our athletes (another change I didn't
like; I was referring to athletes as opposed to all celebrities in general, but Gabe just tried
to tell me that all our athletes are celebrities) needed less of a good thing. I was trying to
say, simply, that they needed to stop acting like mentally ill children with no concept of
responsibility. On the other hand, "control" is a pretty apt word. That is certainly
something that these people needed.
	The only direct reaction I got to this column in particular was from Gabe, and
only because I asked him for one. He said he thought it was good, "written the way
columns should be"--as if most of the ones I write aren't. This really isn't one of my
favorites, though I don't see any major fault with it. I tend to like my columns better when
they're more philosophical. 
	Most hands stuck in the cookie jar: This, on the other hand, was a headline that I
quite liked. It amused me. What did not amuse me was the editing that was used for this
column. After the sentence, "No one wants to believe that our own kind are just as
capable of outrageous atrocities," I had originally included a colon, followed by, "U.S.
soldiers have been known to throw babies up in the air and catch them with their
bayonets." This is something I learned about the notoriously inconsistent and hypocritical
Vietnam   War in high school. 
	However, I had no actual documentation to back it up when Josh called me up to
ask where I get off saying that, proving to me that he believed it inconceivable that
Americans would ever do such a thing (the very point of view that I was trying to point
out with my column). I told him that my history teacher in high school told us this, and
he said that I then should have that written in the column. I said that stating that would
detract from the point I was getting at, but he refused to let me print it otherwise.
	I told him, though, that I didn't want to just leave it out, because I wanted to back
up the claim with an example. He said he understood that, and settled for changing it to
pointing out the fact that Americans once mutilated Native American babies--something I
could find documentation to back it up with in an instant. I heard him typing it in over
the phone. He had actually called me twice on this day to clarify things, and I was quite
impressed by that, thinking that for once people actually cared about the drastic changes
they were considering making with my columns.
	Well, I grabbed a paper when this got printed, and found that there was nothing
there: the example was simply cut out altogether, and I no longer understand why he even
called me at all. I haven't spoken to Josh much since, not just because of this in
particular, but because I'm tired of him simply pretending to be my friend when he isn't
really--this gets into lots of other issues. This thing with the column, though, and how he
imposes his editing position to his advantage, has kind of become one of the last straws. 
	Inconsistent U.S. public schools ban "lesser gods": Both this column as well as
the previous one were actually suggested to me by the opinions editor, Christina
Bottomly. For the previous column she had told me there was an article in the
Spokesman-Review about "honesty," which has always been among my strongest
convictions, being completely honest. That made it sound very intriguing to me, and I
was somewhat disappointed when I actually read the article and discovered that Christina
had skewed it with her own terminology; what it was really about was a bit more
specific, with temptation. I decided to try and go with it anyway, and the only thing Gabe
said about it was that it was an interesting question I raised, though "convoluted".
Convoluted much more because of editing than because of what I originally wrote--quite
a bit was cut.
	Anyway, with this column, Christina called me and told me about this article
describing people suggesting that the Bible be banned, and it was clear she chose me to
suggest this to only because I'm not religious. I decided to surprise her by actually saying
that I would be quite angry if the Bible were banned from schools; it has no more need
for banishment than any other book, and I don't care who reads it as long as they don't
take it and bash me over the head with it, or disrupt anything else in any other way.
	In any case, this column is not written very outstandingly, and I have not gotten a
single response to it--not even from Gabe or Suzy, which probably means that Gabe
thought it was dumb and Suzy hasn't even read it.
	Cigarette tax hike beneficial: A completely uninspired headline for an
underwhelming column. I was fairly pleased with a lot of the ways in which I put things
in this column, giving me the feel of pretty good writing, but I never felt like this column
was very focused. I don't really think it's dreadful, and I think I make some valid points,
but there are certain lengthy sections of this column that could probably be done without
(thank you for not arguing). I have not gotten any reactions to this column either.
	. . . Well, it looks like that's about it, and it also looks like I gave sufficient
foreshadowing: my excessive wordiness, particularly with my review of the tribute CD,
has pushed this issue up to nine pages. I was thinking of finding a way to go back and
edit down to just eight pages, and then I realized I still had a conclusion to write. I'm not
sure if I can comfortably edit that much. That's the news for this month, in any case . . . 
					this has been presented to you by 
									matthew mcquilkin
P.S. Donations still accepted. There's rarely such a thing as too much . . . 
vol. 1           issue #5           February 1998
we who have lived know full well that it is not the haunted soul 
but the hungry body that makes an outcast
					--Joseph Conrad, from Lord Jim
	. . . First of all, I would like to assure everyone that this newsletter will not be
forty pages long--it won't be even a fifth that, to my knowledge at this point (although, to
be honest, what is bound to be my longest-to-date columns history section might bump
that length up to about a quarter the length of the last newsletter). My Hawaii newsletter
got mixed reviews, I should say: my dad said it was "very interesting," although it took
him two days to read it. When Gina found out how long it was going to be, she told me
that it would take her the next month to read it--for all I know she still hasn't finished it.
Danielle told me simply, "it was long," in a tone of voice that sort of suggested I might
try to back off a little in the future. Barbara had a similar reaction (she is not on the
official list but I sent it to her anyway, thinking she would find it interesting): "That was
very detailed, wasn't it?" was her reaction. Dawn told me that she reads it in front of
people at school and they think she's weird when she cracks up laughing. Christopher,
who I sent the newsletter to over e-mail (as I did to both Auntie Rose and my mother),
took so long to read it that he lost it when he screwed up the e-mail service on his
computer for the second time. Grandma McQuilkin quite enjoyed the edited version I
sent to her, and Grandpa found it somewhat "insulting" (Grandma wrote and told me she
said to him that I simply told it like it was--very true). Some friends of theirs read it and
decided that I must not like old people.
	That depends highly on the old person in question.
	The one horrible reaction I got to the last newsletter was pretty far removed from
my mother (I wonder who it will be this month?)--Heidi. This cousin of mine apparently
does not believe that I have the right to exist on the planet Earth because I misspelled her
last name--but I'll get to that later.
	In any case, the last newsletter, overall, did not cause nearly as big a rucus as the
previous one did; however, it also did not seem to impress as many people as much as the
previous two issues did, simply because it was so long. But, I can assure you all, that is
not expected to be a common length in any way, shape, or form. It's not every day that
someone goes to Hawaii, and I wanted to be able to tell everyone all about it. I sure did
that, didn't I?
	As for the original purpose of this newsletter, the recipients are slipping a bit
here. The one person to write to me again since the last newsletter was Jennifer Miga, my
friend from New York. The two who previously had been taken off the official
list--Danielle and Shane--are going to have to be added again. Sorry; that's the rules!
Heidi, on the other hand, will be permanently removed from the list, which now goes as
	1. Angel Benson (Do you miss me? I certainly do . . .)
	2. Danielle Hunt (I know, this sucks, doesn't it? And to think I would do this when
you just called me! Oh well; telephones and pieces of paper are very different things, and
this way you're still be up to date on my oh-so-important life so be thankful for what
you've got! . . .)
	3. Darcy Hartley (Can you believe this? I finally found out your last name! It's a
miracle! What is it with you and "Harts" anyway . . .?)
	4. Dawn Addams (I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally for
not wanting to kill me for my outrageous mistake in perception a little over a month ago .
. . sometimes I think I need to update my perception prescription . . .)
	5. Regina Yarbrough (It was nice chatting with you the other day, although it
would be cheaper to do it over e-mail, this revolutionary thing that I'm not sure you
realize is on your computer . . .)
	6. Kim (Dad) and Sherri McQuilkin (Thanks so much for writing to me over
e-mail . . . keep it up and you won't need to get this newsletter anymore . . .)
	7. Raenae Lanning (You know, I always put Toni's name on the envelopes, but
never in this here list . . . I'm such a chump . . .)
	8. Rick Benson (I don't know what to say here anymore . . . uh, how are the
cucumbers doing?)
	9. Shane McQuilkin (I suppose I'll just assume that I won't get another letter from
you until the millennium runs out anyway . . .)
	My friend Lynn is teetering on the edge of getting her first newsletter from me,
but that's still doubtful because I am confident that she will write to me eventually--just
as I know Auntie Rose and Barbara and Grandma McQuilkin will. You see, those people
are respectable letter writers . . . as for the rest of you, I don't believe I have anything left
a month in the life of a fruitcake
. . . I think that it is f[censored]in' stupid everybody puts you up on a 
pedistool [sic] for being the 1rst one to go to college, but all you are 
to me us a punk that knows nothing but critize [sic] . . .
								--Heidi McQuilkin
Profound people are often profound bores.
								--Judson Jerome (poet)
	First of all, let me start off with what is bound to be by far the most shocking,
controversial, and baffling thing to be mentioned in this issue of the newsletter: I,
Matthew McQuilkin, have become a vegetarian. I have not eaten a single bit of
meat--with the exception of shrimp, which I refuse to live without--since January 31. 
	Now, before you all choke on your own spit and have a heart attack in response to
this, or before you refuse to believe that someone as picky as I am can possibly pull off
something like this, set aside your misgivings for just one moment. I still today, even
after a month of going without meat, hesitate to call myself technically a "vegetarian." I
don't believe that only one month is quite long enough. How much is long enough, I'm
not quite sure--but I don't think I'm quite there yet. Although I am presently a "practicing
vegetar-ian," I prefer to think of myself as a sort of vegetarian in training. I do, however,
find myself in positions of intense temptation, but I never give in. Twice now I have
actually pulled the ham strips off of the salads I bought, and that was really hard to do.
Both times I had to rush my tray to the nearest trash can so that I would not give in and
fail myself. I must have self control! 
	This has been one of the biggest challenges I have ever had. 
	I had for months been thinking that I would eventually end up trying to be a
vegetarian, because my position was that I had every reason to become one (protest to
cruelty to animals, environmental reasons, and most important to me personally, health
reasons) but I never did because I was selfish and wanted this stuff that tasted good. It
just tastes so good! Who cares what's in it that really shouldn't be in there (growth
hormones, pesticides, saturated fat that I really don't need)? If it tasted wonderful I
figured I would eat it for that very reason.
	But then I had to ask myself, if I suddenly found out that human excrement
gen-uinely tasted like chocolate, would I then want to eat it? This is highly doubtful.
Besides, I was tired of gaining weight anyway, and so I cut meat from my diet. 
	As I said, this has been quite difficult to deal with. When I was actually eating
meat, it was a toss-up between Jennifer and me as to who in the extended McQuilkin
family was the pickiest eater. Now that I won't eat meat, I don't think there's any contest: I
take the cake (which is okay because there's no meat in it). I must be somewhere in the
top ten of the Pickiest Eaters in the World. I wonder if I should call Guinness: Vegetarian
who can only stand to eat three different vegetables! Admittedly, though, this diet is
forcing me first-hand to broaden my horizons (although it will be a while before I can
stand the biggest vegetarian staple: beans). Just this morning I had a breakfast I never had
before (eggs and cheese between buttered oat bagels), and it was one of the most
delicious things I had had in recent memory. Even picky eaters can to learn how to be
more creative.
	Thing is, I'm not sure what the hell I'm going to eat at Dad's house from now on. I
guess at the house I'll have to live on Spaghettio's and at the cafe I'll have to live on
Caesar Salad (although that wouldn't be so bad) and grilled cheese sandwiches. Can you
believe that I, of all people, am making an effort to give up hamburgers? Thinking about
it almost makes even me feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone--but here we are, nonetheless.
Most things are not quite as impossible as they seem anyway. Besides, I just ate a
veggie-chicken sandwich, and it tasted exactly the same--no joke. I can really live with
	Now, there is one very important thing that I really feel the need to address here:
the inevitable perception that Gabe and Suzy turned me into a vegetarian. This notion
could not be further from the truth. If it was to actually happen that way, it would have
happened a lot sooner than this. I did all of the decision making myself, after literally
months of thinking it all over. I simply finally decided that it was never going to happen
until I made a real effort to make it so--and so that's what I did. This decision was wholly
my own. Gabe and Suzy had certain influences, to be sure--but only to show me how to
properly educate myself on these issues. I did make the decision myself.
	As for the rest of the news in my life over the past month and a week (since the
last newsletter was finished with a week of January left to go), there are just a few more
things to tell. First of all, I dyed my very long roots back to black again. Why? Because I
finally woke up and realized how stupid I looked. The effect I had been going for with
that never actually came about because my blond is darker than I realized, and so I
decided to get it all back to one color, without having to cut any length off because I am
trying to grow my hair back out again. I believe I dyed it that last week of January, which
would be the only thing of any significance that I did that entire week: I was otherwise
very busy with schoolwork.
	Not long after that, Gabe and Suzy decided to buy a car--a 1978 VW rabbit (are
you proud of me for that one, Sherri? It's a very light tan!) with a hood that has to be
pulled shut with a bunjee cord. It gets diesel fuel and apparently has amazing gas
mileage, and the significance to me here is that it is a new opportunity for my own
transportation, though a very indirect one. If they ever drive it to the West side of the
state, there's a fairly good chance that I would come with them and that would make trips
much easier for me. So far the longest trip I have taken in this car myself is one to
Moscow, Idaho. How very exciting.
	As you all know (but for some odd reason I'm going to tell you regardless), this
month contained that holiday so wonderful to us single people: Valentine's Day. Gabe's
mom sent me the only Valentine's gift I got: a package of about eight rolls of Life Savers,
and a "Grow-A-Date" (just add water!)--which is growing in a bowl on my living room at
this very moment. I'm not all that impressed with him, though, because he's turning out to
be nothing more than a big slimeball. 
	My Valentine's Day this year did not turn out to be so bad after all: since Gabe
and Suzy had to make their plans for a day later because they were too late to beat
everyone else getting reservations, I ended up spending the latter half of that day with
them (I spent the former half with Jennifer, but all she and I did was eat lunch and watch
a movie). The three of us drove over to Moscow to visit quite a few places, including the
mall where I got a new pair of silver earrings, which I thought would look better with the
necklace I now wear with the pendant that Barbara got me for Christmas. We also went
to see "Amistad," which made me cry like a baby but was incredibly profound and I
cannot believe at all that it was not even nominated for best picture.
	Oh, and I almost forgot! I got a letter from Heidi! This was a letter that shocked
me beyond belief, because its one and only purpose was to tell me what an asshole I am,
motivated by what looked to be my mistake of spelling her last name with an E (Peno)
instead of an I (the correct spelling: Pino). I actually thought of printing the entire letter
in this newsletter, then decided that would be a bit too much (I am really pushing the
envelope with the one quote above alone--which, by the way, was the tamest of all things
she wrote in the letter). The problem with not printing the entire thing is that now you
have only my biased perspective, and you have no context from which to compare--but, I
assure you (I'm doing that a lot these days, aren't I?), the quote above conveys the tone of
the entire letter. I may be an asshole, but I still don't believe I deserved that. 
	However, she did comply with what I originally asked for, technically: she wrote
to me (although she did say that "I'm too busy to write to your ass"). I had promised that
if anyone on the official list wrote to me, they would finally get a personalized letter--and
that is what I gave her. I responded to her letter sentence-by-sentence, and Jennifer told
me after I read my response to her that Heidi probably won't understand most of it
because I used too many big words. Oh well. I did not insult her back or anything, only
conveyed my confusion as to why she was treating me this way. I took her off the official
list--I can take a hint--permanently. From this day forth, the only way she will get me to
write to her (which she does not seem to want much anyway) is if she writes to me again. 
	It seems that all my newsletters these days are pissing people off for one reason or
another. Apparently Heidi did not notice the disclaimer at the top of issue #3-4. It is
never my intention to piss people off. If I make them think--okay, fine. But I am not
deliberately attacking anyone in particular. I have tried to take that letter in stride. It did
not have nearly the same amount of potentially dangerous implications as did the
controversy surrounding issue #2 (in which I insulted my mother's husband). 
	As for the rest of my month, school has been going fine and work is just as much
of a drone as ever. Speaking of work, though, I have finally seen my career counselor for
the last time, having perfected my resume and cover letter after some seven drafts. I
currently have one resume out in the mail to a hopeful employer for an after-college
career: an internet bookstore based in Seattle called Amazon.com. I am applying for a
"writer /editor" position that has to do with music--whether it involves writing
advertisements or reviews I'm not quite sure. I have sent a resume, cover letter, and two
writing samples (columns, of course, for the purposes here I chose my long-ago Tickle
Me Elmo column and last semester's column about how far women have not come,
exemplified by SPIN magazine). My career counselor sure liked my cover letter in its
final form, and she seems to think that it should at least get me an interview. Apparently
this company is not overtly concerned at all with corporate image, which is good news to
	I told my mother that I was applying at this place, and she nearly had a conniption
fit: "That's so cool! That's my bookstore!" Evidently she is familiar with this company.
	Now what I need to do is get back on the internet and start looking for other job
openings that are posted. I will start that within the next week; I have had Kinko's laser
print 20 copies of my resume so that it will look more professional than they would off of
my prehistoric printer. Damn things cost me 50 cents a copy though. I sure hope things
like that are ultimately worth the price ($14 for 20 copies just seemed a little steep to
	If all goes the way I really want it to go (which is rarely how things turn out,
admittedly), then I will find a full-time job to work from mid-May to the end of July,
when my lease runs out. Hopefully I will have found both a job in Seattle and a place to
live in by then, and by that time I will simply move on over and get on with the rest of my
	My graduation ceremony is on May 9, Saturday, at eight o'clock in the morning,
which everyone is just thrilled about. The way it looks at this moment in time, there will
be potentially 16 people there for me: Dad and Sherri, Mom and Bill, Christopher and
Katina, their daughters Nikki and Becca, Gina, Dawn, Jennifer, and my other friends
Gabe, Suzy, Barbara, Danielle, and possibly Josh. I still need to look into how the hell I
am supposed to get things like graduation caps and gowns, announcements, things like
that. Judging by how early and meticulously I am preparing for this thing, it seems as
though college graduation is going to thus far be the most significant threshold of my life. 
	I believe that's all the news I've got for this month.
the columns history
Freedom itself is a meaningless and empty concept. 
We may think we have freedom on a modern dance floor,
but the popularity of discotheque styles is channeling
that freedom in directions of new restraint.
									--Judson Jerome
This feeling is something ... of liberation that, ironically, discipline brings.
									--Anne Lamott (writer)
	In case any of you were wondering (probably not, but I'm going to mention it
anyway), I am as of yet not any more impressed with my opinions editor for this
semester, Christina Bottomly. She has now on more than one occasion completely
ransacked my columns and turned them into what I see as monstrosities on the printed
page. Of course, none of the readers ever know how much better the original versions
were, and I have gotten more than one compliment on a so-called "monstrosity."
Nevertheless, I don't think this editor has any concept of what editing is really supposed
to entail. She is not at all personable and speaks less than I think I ever did even when I
was a generally quiet person. If it's true that profound people are often profound bores,
than this young woman must be one of the most profound people I know . . .
	Animals more human than people realize: This idea was actually part of a short
backlog of ideas I had for future columns, which soon got pretty well used up. I just
loved the story of the pigs, which Gabe originally brought to my attention, and he and I
both immediately saw the connection with Richard Adams's novel Watership Down,
which is one of the most profound books I have ever read (it ranks right up there with
Aldous Huxley's Brave New World for me). I thought it was a pretty cool idea for a
column, and so I went for it. It was Barbara's favorite out of the batch of columns it was
included with when I sent my next letter to her, and Gabe told me he liked it as well.
	Josh, my friend who is also now a copy-editor at the Daily Evergreen, told me
that he and everyone else at the newspaper that evening were calling it "Pigs In Space!" 
	Mars mission will sink as a "Titanic" mess: Perhaps the most significant thing to
mention about this was Gabe's assessment: "I think it's funny," he told me, "how you
write columns lately where you say 'Everyone's dumb, I'm dumb too, so let's just deal
with it.'" He seemed fairly amused by that; my basic point is that at least I can recognize
when I am being cheesy or liking obviously cheesy things--I am an American, whether I
like it or not. It may be good to note here that I have now seen "Titanic" a second time. I
liked it just as much, although I didn't cry the second time because all of the junior high
school-aged kids in the audience were too distracting ("You can't sit next to Tara, I am!").
Quite a bit of this column was edited out before it was printed, which I would prefer to
not have happened, but I did learn to live with it.
	The day that this column was printed, when I came home, Christina Bottomly left
a message on my machine saying that someone called the Evergreen wanting to know
where I got my information. Immediately I figured it was some guy who wanted to tell
me how stupid I am or how much I deserved to be shot--but then I decided I shouldn't
jump to conclusions; all I knew at that point was that he wanted to know where I got my
information, and that was certainly a legitimate question.
	So, for the first time in my life, I actually called the number that was left. I asked
the guy by name and he said, "This is him."
	"This is Matthew McQuilkin," I said, and immediately he simply went into his
question for me. I thought it was pretty cool to be able to elicit such an interested
response merely my mentioning my name; it gave me a certain sense of power that I kind
of liked. 
	He simply wanted to know where I got the information on NASA going to
Mars--SPIN magazine--because apparently he spends a lot of time on the NASA web site
and he had not heard or seen anything about this mission, which I must say quite
surprised me. I told him the issue of the magazine and that was that.
	I did not actually read it until the day the column was printed, but Josh sent me an
e-mail the night before that said, "Your column for tomorrow is great!  We were all
laughing a lot -- very clever and witty!  Good comparisons with Titanic -- appropriately
bizarre and yet within reach for the average reader.  Good job."
	The next day, in my poetry class, a guy who sits in the row ahead of me said to
me, "I really enjoy your articles, by the way. I like to read what you have to say." I simply
thanked him.
	Sex or no sex, as told by two proud virgins: Now, this is the one that really pissed
me off, despite the wonderfully marvelous headline (and, by the way, this here is what
Josh looks like, and the column is a very accurate indication of his general outlook on
life--not just on sex). When I first saw this paper I was highly amused by the idea of
"dialogue" between his and my predictably different opinions, and I thought the headline
was one of the best I ever had.
	And then I re-read my column. I submitted this as approximately 600 words, and
over 100 of them were cut, for no good reason at all as far as I'm concerned (and I didn't
like how it caused a dwarfing effect in comparison to Josh's much longer column, either).
Not only were so many words cut, but my original version had a ton of exclamation
points ("Let loose! Have fun! Have sex! Get infected!") which were used to deliberately
point out my sarcastic tone--much of which is lost once Christina changed them to
periods, making them seem much more serious than they really were. It irritated me to no
	That day, Josh actually saw me at lunch and sat at my table to ask me, "Isn't it
great?" Apparently he wrote his column with no knowledge whatsoever of mine, and then
saw it slated to be printed on Thursday. He asked them to save mine for Friday so that his
and mine could run next to each other, because it was such a perfect inadvertent pairing.
As copy editor, though, he does not know what changes have been made by my editor--he
only sees what is hoped to be the final product, and makes changes of any errors that
might have been overlooked (he never saw my column in its original form). 
	I told him all about how irritated I was by it, and he told me that he agreed that
Christina is an incompetent editor. If it doesn't make sense to her, she'll just delete it. As
for the exclamation points, Josh said, "She doesn't like them. She thinks the words should
stand on their own." Evidently she does not realize that such punctuation is indeed part of
the English language, and punctuation can be used to convey very effective subtleties,
which she very effectively nullified by changing mine around. The way she made it, the
words look the way most people would expect to see them from me. Had they been left
alone, I would have been able to somewhat surprise people with something a little new
and different, which ultimately, I thought for a while at least, became impossible. And I
hate having columns that short printed--I don't know why, but I prefer them to be at least
600 words. What got printed was around 500.
	However, later that day, Gabe actually thanked me for writing this column, he
thought it was so funny that apparently he laughed out loud. It would have been even
more effective had it been printed the way I wrote it, but I did feel better knowing that it
still worked, after being ransacked. When I was waiting for "Psycho" to start that day, for
my film class, a young woman at the front of the room stood up and said to me, "I never
realized until I saw in your column that this movie was being shown on Valentine's Day
weekend . . ."
	I just smiled at her.
	Gay marriages should be legal: This was one of the most important columns to
me personally out of all those I have ever written, and I did not want Christina screwing
this one up. To try to prevent that, my usual explanatory sentence or two was this time a
huge paragraph long, defending every possible thing I thought she might idiotically feel
the need to change or edit out--right down to the one exclamation point I used, which did
not get changed for the printed product. I asked that they try to keep editing of this one to
a minimum, given the radical changes of my previous column, and I even suggested a
headline: Gays should be allowed to marry as return favor. The suggestion was obviously
not considered, in favor of a much more typical and boring headline, but that's okay.
	I was very satisfied with how this turned out in print, although my best crack was
edited out (the only obvious thing cut out completely). After the sentence, "Just for a
moment, let's set aside how unrealistic, not to mention dreadfully boring, such a notion
is," I had originally added, "What if a religion was established that called for same-sex
sexual activity in order to call on the gods to bring adoption papers? Given our country's
'freedom of religion,' would that work [to prove that the sex was for procreative
purposes]?" After seeing the column with that portion cut, though, I appreciated why it
was not included--indeed, it does kind of push the envelope a bit too far. Besides, even
though the entire paragraph's meaning there changes without these two sentences, I
realized that the new meaning was much more powerful anyway. Whoever made this
particular change really knew what they were doing (Christina must have been out sick
that day). Other than that, though, the only changes were small grammatical things, and I
was quite happy with it.
	I asked for Gabe's opinion of this column, and he said that when he first saw the
headline he did not think it would be good, because he thinks that I tend to write about
laws that I don't know enough about. This, however, was a part of his typical way of
cutting me down as a means of complimenting me: he was pleasantly surprised by how
"intelligent and smart" this column was. He actually thought it was really good. I
personally consider it one of my best ever. 
	One thing I must mention, though: at the bottom of the first portion, it reads, "See
Gay Page 6." What a wonderful way to put it. Quick! Turn to page six so we can see
what the freak looks like!
	This column was printed on a Friday, and on the following Monday, two firsts
were accomplished: not only were there four letters to the editor that referred to a column
written by me--the most I've ever gotten in one publication of the newspaper--but there
were also letters in references to two different columns of mine in the same newspaper,
which also has never happened before. 
	One letter was written in response to the "sex or no sex" columns by Josh and me,
headed Virginity column gave unwanted details. The guy stated that he did not want to
know that Josh and I were both virgins--something he doesn't feel he needs to know--but
spent the bulk of the letter complaining about Josh's Biblical references, which he did not
feel were necessary.
	The other three letters were all in response to my gay marriage column, the first
one outraged because of an erroneous perception that I advocated shooting all the
legislatures (I quite clearly did not; that sentence in my column was a sarcastic assuming
of the legislature's perception regarding homosexuals). This outrageous mistake in the
perception of my column merely made me laugh. The heading was Arguments for
same-sex marriages offensive.
	The second letter was devoted to telling me that homosexuality is both unnatural
and immoral, using scripture--printed on the same page as the letter that complains to
Josh for using too much scripture for his arguments. It was headed Gay, lesbian
marriages go against God. The best quote in this letter is when the person says, "If you
believe in God (I know, Matthew, that you don't, as you stated once, 'what do I care, God
is dead') then you believe in God's word (the Bible) . . ." I laughed out loud at this, along
with quite a few other portions of the letter.
	His inaccurate quote was a reference to my column of months back, Leave people
who don't believe alone. In it I refer to Jesus--much more specific than "God"--and say,
simply, "He's dead." Jesus, the man, is indeed dead, and I never said God is dead (there is
a difference). I do not deny the existence of God, although I also do not say that I know
for a fact that he exists (apparently the writer of this letter is not familiar with the concept
of agnosticism).
	The third letter in response to my column was by far the most intelligent, which
said simply that my "anger" was misplaced and that I should instead have advocated the
total "elimination [gay or straight] of marriage as a state institution," because it's not the
government's business who we marry even if we're heterosexual. Its heading was Gay,
lesbian marriage not a state concern, although the point included more than just
homosexuals. This is an ideal but wholly unrealistic notion, as far as I'm concerned (what
this person advocates is never going to happen), so my position is that we need to work
with what we've got. 
	Two days later, there were two more letters printed in reference to me, making
yet another first: six letters in the space of three days. However, one letter on this day,
headed Virginity is something to brag about, obviously had Josh and me confused. The
guy was writing in response to the first letter saying that our virginity is not something
that people need to know, and he said that it is, indeed "something to brag about." The
reason I know he has Josh and me confused, though, is that although he mentions my
name and not Josh's, he uses a bunch of scripture to defend me in ways that are obviously
awkward for someone with a general credo like mine. 
	The other letter was headed Columnist clueless on sex, marriage, and as far as I'm
concerned was incredibly unintelligent in its arguments. This guy says in his letter that
marriage in general is a privilege, but conveniently does not mention that fact that it is
still an opportunity that is not open to all peoples, and he even asks if I think there should
be marriage between different species (where the hell did that come from?). Then he
closes the letter in an attempt to accuse me of writing under "false authority" in my
arguments for setting aside the notion of exclusively procreative sex, because he thinks
that as long as I am a virgin I cannot speak on the issue. I don't think I have to lose my
virginity to imagine what sex is like--and I can assure everyone that just about all the
sexually active people I know would prefer not to live without it. My point? Let's get
	I did not write this column, though, merely to cause this predictable
controversy--I do hope you understand that. It is simply something I felt something very
strongly about, and I don't think that knowing it will cause a controversy is in itself a
good reason not to write something either. I am very glad this column got printed,
although there will poten-tially be even more letters within the next week . . .
	. . . So here I am, on page ten, now the second-longest newsletter I've written. But
ten is better than thirty-nine, isn't it? I hope you found it interesting, in any case. As for
now, I need to get this printed out so I can make the copies and send it out in the mail.
Got to keep my readers informed on my oh-so-important life!

 DISCLAIMER: Nothing--and I mean nothing--in the following work of prose non-fiction
is to be taken offensively by any person who reads this, nor by any persons who may be
shown what is written therein. All opinions expressed by the author are opinions and
nothing more, most of the time (but not necessarily always) meant only to be taken
lightly, and are not necessarily the reflection of his true, constant attitude toward any one
particular given person. The author does not subscribe to any person disliking any other
person; he merely states what is on his own mind. That is all there really is to it--
thank you for your understanding.
vol 1         special double-issue #3-4         December 1997-January 1998
“I don't know how to put it but, I think your newsletter is a good idea.”
	. . . The lack of hope evident in the last issue of the newsletter notwithstanding, it
seems that my initial purpose for writing this thing is actually starting to work--since I
last sent one out, I have had three people write to me: Shane, Danielle, and Jennifer
Miga, none of whom had written to me in a very long time. It looks as though the official
list is shrinking at an alarming rate. On the other hand, I am nevertheless almost finding
myself stuck permanently into this whole newsletter business.
	Why is that, you ask? Well, even though I think they are generally cheesy and I
hate getting them from other people on most occasions, I am still having fun with it. And,
with one huge and one minor exception (the minor one being that Sherri expressed
dissatisfaction with my calling everyone--including her--"dorkbutts" in the last issue), this
newsletter has been getting an overwhelmingly positive response. This is due to the fact
that I went to Olympia for Christmas, which is roughly where about half of the people
who read this live. Rick made it a point to tell me how much he liked it,
and--surprisingly--so did Aunt Raenae. She was the one who really surprised me; I
thought I was pushing it by writing the word "asshole" in my last newsletter (just wait
until you get through with this one--and not for reasons you might initially think). She
actually told me that the newsletters really crack her up. Then there is Danielle, Shane
(quoted above), Jennifer Miga--all of whom have told me they enjoy the newsletters. 
	So now I'm in a state of indecision. At first I was planning on letting the Fruitcake
Newsletter slowly extinguish itself, especially after the huge controversy the last one
caused (we'll get to that later), by selecting one person a month to simply not send it to
anymore. Some of the people I send this to have not even tried to get a hold of me in any
way, shape or form in ages, and I no longer see the point in wasting my time with them.
However, since three people have written to me and thus will not be sent this issue, the
rest of you lucky doofuses will still get to look over it this month. And who will be cut in
February? That depends on whether or not anyone writes to me (and, by the way, if
someone wants to write to me and get copies of the newsletter, meaning that I would
write them both personalized letters as well as the newsletter, they will have to write and
request it). 
	As for the ones I know for a fact like it, though, I guess I will continue to write
this as long as I can. Maybe one day I'll be famous and you can tell all your friends that
you were the original, unwilling and unsuspecting subscribers. As for now, though, I
think I should go through the obligatory list of exactly who is receiving the newsletter
this month:
	1. Angel Benson (In spite of everything, maybe reading some wonderful thing by
your brother will make you feel better anyway . . .)
	2. Darcy (Of course, I have yet to have any idea what your last name is . . . and I
never got a Christmas newsletter either . . . am I on your bad side now?)
	3. Dawn Addams (I would like to take this opportunity to thank you personally for
single-handedly making my life such a wonderful experience the first couple weeks of
December. A two-faced, back-stabbing gossip monger who will not be respected or
trusted by anyone never forgets. And perhaps there is misunderstanding involved . . . you
may ask yourself just exactly what I will reduce myself to in order to inspire someone to
actually write)
	4. Regina Yarbrough (I take it you got an icon that leads to e-mail on your
computer simply to make it look prettier?)
	5. Heidi (I still can't recall your last name . . . Jennifer told me once. Peno? Is that
right? I don't know why I bother asking, you won't be answering, quite obviously. By the
way, Hawaii was a blast.)
	6. Dad and Sherri (I would tell you that everyone except for you is a dorkbutt . . .
but, you know, that wouldn't be fair.)
	7. Raenae Lanning (By the way, I learned only weeks ago that when you were
born --sometime around the invention of the locomotive--your name was spelled
extremely unconventionally. I honestly think that's really cool. Something like that
becomes a quaint addition to the many things that make a person special and unique)
	8. Rick Benson (I didn't see you much during my last visit . . . but you did give me
a compliment so of course that makes it all worthwhile)
	I don't believe I have gotten a letter from my friend Lynn since the last newsletter,
but I just recently got one from Auntie Rose and I still have faith that Lynn will write
eventually--I can always count on them. Barbara and Grandma McQuilkin  have written
plenty of course (if anyone wants to know what June McQuilkin had for lunch on
December 6, let me know). I will be sending a portion of this newsletter, probably at least
slightly edited, to Grandma and Grandpa, so they can see how I related my visit with
them to everyone. So these people I am still happy with.
	As for the rest of you (how could I possibly forget?):
two months in the life of a fruitcake
“. . . she seemed a little disgruntled about it. She had asked me if it bothered 
me that 11 people in the state of Wa & one in the state of N.Y. knew that I
smoked pot. I told her no cause I have nothing to hide I am who I am and I
do what I do. I would never lie to anyone about that. Oh wait a minute . . .”
	. . . Oh my. Two months. Where to start? Well, I guess I'll take the logical course
of picking up where the last issue leaves off: the afternoon of November 30 was when I
finished it. It was that very evening that I got the call from my mother, telling me that my
maternal grandmother had passed away. I was concerned about how Mom was taking it,
and asked her about it: "It'll hit," she said, in response to my saying that she sounded all
right, all things considered. I'd say that it did, later, but for different reasons that are
irrelevant to a newsletter about my life. The call did, however, make me wonder about
my own reaction: I have not once cried over this the second death in my family (that
happened in the actual memory-time of my life). I sometimes ask myself if I should have;
I know I would have if there had been a memorial service to go to--but there wasn't. In a
sense I feel relieved for my grandmother, and see this as more of a good than a bad
thing--and not just because I will get 25% of her and her late husband's estate. That will
be nice, to be sure, but if I had to choose between 25% or the intrinsic happiness of a
loved one, I would certainly choose the latter. I really believe my grandmother is better
off now.
	When I was in Olympia, Sherri gave me an obituary she had found in the
		Alice Martha Minor, 82, a former 36-year resident of Olympia, died of a stroke Sunday,
	Nov. 30, 1997, at Emerald Heights Retirement Community, Redmond. 
		She was born Dec. 9, 1914, to Queenie Mae and Robert Skinner in Webb, Saskatchewan,
		She married Carl E. Minor on June 13, 1942. He preceded her in death in 1996 [May].
		Mrs. Minor enjoyed painting and playing cards. She was a member of a bridge club in
		She is survived by a son, David, South Australia; a daughter, Jeanni Rogers, Spokane;
	two grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
		At Mrs. Minor's request, there will be no service.
		Interment will be in Olympic Memorial Gardens, Tumwater.
		The family suggests memorial donations be made to a favorite charity.
		Arrangements are by Olympic Memorial Gardens, Tumwater.
	As you can see, my grandparents were fairly old--my grandfather was a year older
than Grandma. As far as growing up and remembering goes, I can actually remember
Grandma skinner--just barely (I remember peanuts and watching Popeye; that's about it).
Grandma Minor used to have an organ in her living room that I enjoyed playing around
with, in the days when her arthritis wasn't so bad that she couldn't play it herself. I
remember all her paintings vividly as well; there are many of family pets from when
Mom was a child. 
	I was a bit more affected when Grandpa passed away, because I had just within
the previous two years or so developed my own relationship with him. This happened
because I took Sherri's suggestion that I start writing to him, and he was thrilled
(naturally) by it. He wrote to me every once in a while, elated to be able to tell me all
about the days in the 1930s when he himself went to WSU and only one student had a car
and he worked in a cafeteria for 32 cents an hour. He had just recently become quite
special to me just before he died.
	This is not to say that Grandma wasn't special either--but I wasn't able to achieve
the same kind of relationship with her. Her arthritis was much too bad for her to ever be
able to write to me. Nevertheless I still designed envelopes and sent letters to her until
she passed away too--it was eerie for me to come across the envelope I had poised and
ready to go out to her, and realize that it would never go. Still, I am convinced that she is
happier now. That makes me happy for her. Her life without her husband of over fifty
years could not have been pleasant in any way.
	So: there is my personal take on the experience. No tears. I don't really believe
them to be necessary.
	. . . Then came the first week of December, which I spent most of actually
wondering whether or not my mother even considered me her son anymore. Why is that?
It seems that issue #2 found a way to drift into her hands. Life is nothing but a 76-year
(on average) learning process, and it was at this point that I learned a VERY big lesson.
Well, the latest very big lesson, anyway.
	Suffice it to say that Mom was not happy with me. Bill, on the other hand, did not
seem to take it so badly--which truly amazed me. Yes, it's true: the man amazes me. 
	Bill knows all that I said about him--in fact, Mom read the whole newsletter to
him, word for word. And what became of this? I realized that Bill is not intrinsically a
bad person in any way. Anyone in the world can do things that people can't handle--but
that doesn't mean they are bad people; so don't get me wrong here. Much of what I have
said about the man would still be my opinion today--not that my opinion matters at all in
the context of his or my mother's life, but I tend to state opinions anyway. 
	I was struck by the fact that he was not all that perturbed by it. He is starting to
strike me as one of the most laid-back and care-free people I have ever known, the
embodiment of Hawaiian doctrine, with one minor change: "Just hang loose North
	If anyone is wondering if this is my idea of a public apology, I guess if that's what
you want to think of this that's fine. I won't apologize for how I feel or have felt about
Bill or anyone else that I know. I will say that, in certain respects at least, I was initially
wrong about the man. He's just not my type of person. I don't have an overwhelming
interest in getting to know him. But this has no bearing whatsoever on how I think others
should react to him--he's very nice, very forgiving, and if I am lucky he will continue to
supply pleasant surprises. 
	In any case, the controversy is over, and I am perhaps more thankful for that than
anything else in the world. My mother reassured me that I am still her son, so I suppose
that's a good sign.
	The following week of December was what we at WSU call "dead week"--the
week that immediately precedes finals week. "Dead," because the university policy states
that during this week there are to be no exams, no quizzes, and no new material
presented; it is supposed to be devoted to review only--a rule that is almost universally
ignored on this campus.
	I happened to luck out last semester. Only one of my classes had a scheduled
in-class final exam--Human Sexuality. However, that class was the easiest A I ever got
(and I'm a virgin!), and as long as we were getting an A, then we were exempt from the
final. My Senior seminar class and my creative writing class had no finals at all, and the
supposed "final" for Spanish was simply the last assignment of the semester, due the first
day of finals week. Lesbian and Gay Studies had a take-home final which was also due
the first day of finals week, so those were the only two things I had to worry about. Once
I had finished with scrambling to get one 12-page research paper and another final draft
of a 16-page research paper done the previous week, I found I had a lot of spare time
during dead week. I took advantage of that time and was finished with both the Spanish
assignment as well as the Lesbian & Gay Studies take-home final (just a five-page essay
about my vision of the future of Lesbian & Gay politics) by the Thursday of dead week,
rendering my "finals week" virtually nonexistent. The standard semester break is three
weeks long but, although I didn't leave town until a week into it, mine was actually a full
four weeks. It was quite nice.
	So what did I do over finals week? Well, for the weekend immediately preceding
it, my 45 year-old friend Barbara came down by bus from Spokane to visit me for the
second time. I had a very nice time with her, and she being the very kind and generous
soul that she is brought not only a Christmas gift for me, but for both Gabe and Suzy as
well. Gabe decided to open his immediately--a very thin, perhaps five-inch tall statue that
was black and weird and obviously reflected Barbara's interest in Buddhism. He loved it;
Suzy and I both decided to wait to open ours--Suzy because she enjoys keeping an air of
mystery about her gifts, and me because I wanted to have more to open once I opened my
gifts a week later. 
	 As for the end of that week, I was to get a ride with Jennifer and her roommate
Jodi to Olympia, but not until later. Two more people were getting a ride too. The
original plan was to leave Thursday, but then one of the pending passengers said he had a
final at 3 in the afternoon Friday. He tried to get another ride but couldn't. Jodi refused to
cross the pass at night, postponing the departure until Saturday morning. I was actually
thankful for this extra time, so I could finish with all I planned for Gabe and Suzy's
Christmas presents, which I wanted to give to them before I left.
	I had already bought a gift for both of them over Thanksgiving break while I was
in Spokane (for Gabe: three Monty Python movies--which he worships--"The Holy
Grail," "The Meaning of Life," and, my personal favorite, "Life of Brian"; for Suzy: her
favorite movie ever that she thought was no longer sold on the market but I proved her
wrong, "Harold and Maude," and a book about and by her favorite photographer Ansel
Adams--which was by far the most expensive single thing I got for anyone), but I had
also wanted to write a new story for them as a gift. The last thing I had written for them,
a 175-page book (that would be more than twice as long in a standard-bound book) called
Gabe & Suzy: A Prequel that I gave them early last summer featured some chapters that
were parodies of the Alien movies, only my stories were Pickle, Pickles, Pickle3, and
Pickle Resurrection--all of which were written before I knew anything about the
upcoming film Alien Resurrection except what it was going to be called, so that chapter
wasn't really much of a parody.
	However, we had all just recently gone to see Alien Resurrection, and after seeing
it the potential was just too wonderful; I couldn't resist making another parody. I wrote
Pickle Re-Resurrection, with Suzy as the heroine once again. I finished it one day before
I planned on giving it to them.
	We could not exchange gifts early in the week because, unlike myself, both Gabe
and Suzy were busy with tons of finals until the week was over. We could not exchange
anything at all until Friday. I had all of their presents wrapped and stuck under the
makeshift Christmas tree that Gabe created and put on the coffee table that buckled
under my brilliant weight over a year and a half ago--made out of a small branch that was
jabbed into a small pumpkin that was used as a base. I put one ornament on it and so did
Suzy; I stuck a couple star stickers at its top. It looked like a scene from some sort of
Charlie Brown Christmas nightmare. The pumpkin with the "tree" sticking out of it
actually rested on top of my stack of gifts. 
	Finally the day came, and Gabe and Suzy finished with their preparations. If
memory serves me correctly, Gabe was the first to give something--to me. But first I have
to tell you a story.
	Gabe had long been having trouble figuring out what the hell to get me for
Christmas--and constantly telling me all about it. One day we were in the living room and
he asked me what I wanted for Christmas, which I was getting sick of being asked. In
true Matthew form, I decided to be sarcastic.
	"A house," I said.
	"No, what do you really want?"
	"A car."
	"Really, Matthew. What do you want for Christmas?"
	"A fortune."
	And he just kept asking me. And I just kept being sarcastic: "A man. Some Junior
Mints. An ear. Rice-A-Roni." I never once suspected at all that he might be writing all of
this down.
	So he gives me my gifts, after telling me that he was giving me more than seven
gifts. That had boggled my mind when he first told it to me, and it took me a while to
finally understand. He came out of his room holding a white paper sack, chanting "It's a
grab bag! It's a grab bag!" and jumping up and down. He had me reach into the bag
without looking.
	House & Garden magazine. Um . . . what? Gabe laughed and told me to reach in
	Fortune magazine. I gave it a funny look and set it on the floor, still not
understanding. He had me reach in again.
	A black Hot Wheels car. This was the one that made me at least start to
understand. He had me reach in again.
	Chicken flavored Rice-A-Roni. This one baffled me; I did not remember the
above-mentioned conversation at this time, so most of this made no sense to me because
I had no idea what the significance was. I kept reaching in.
	A box of Junior Mints.
	A box with a guy's picture on the front, which read at the bottom "Dr. Dave" and
at the top "Boyfriend in a Box." It came with phony note-pad messages, two wallet-sized
photos as well as an 8x7, a phony Greeting Card to send myself to "impress coworkers,"
and even a user's manual. Gabe's answer to my asking for a man for Christmas. There
was one thing left.
	An ear. Yep, that's right. An ear of corn--but an ear nonetheless. He had wrapped
it in brown construction paper. I still have it. It's in the chest in my closet at this very
moment. For those of you who think I am just so weird--you have no idea.
	This is going to sound weird--but somehow boxer shorts came up in conversation,
and I cannot for the life of me remember how that happened (with these friends of mine,
nothing--and I mean nothing--remains un-talked about). But Gabe kind of said "Oh!" and
reached behind him as if to say "speaking of which"--and pulled something out of his
pants. It was a slip of paper that he gave me: a cut-out of the title to an Entertainment
Weekly, which I loyally read whenever he steals issues from his work and takes them
home. He told me he got me a subscription to this magazine. 
	I was stunned. I never expecting anything on that kind of scale from him, and all I
could mutter was "Thanks," with a bemused look on my face.
	"Fine!" Gabe said, and stomped off to his room to mock-sulk, although he knew
that I had no problem with the gift. He did not realize, however, that my reaction was not
to say Why the hell did you get me this?--but to say that I couldn't believe he got me
something so cool on such a grand scale. He said it was expensive, but I have no idea
how much so (he does know that I made a bigger deal and paid by far more money for
their Christmas gifts than I have for anyone ever before). It was a great gift.
	I had Gabe open his gift, which was one package with all three movies in it. He
removed the padding paper to reveal the three movies one by one, squealing with delight
each time. This with his Star Wars trilogy, according to him, makes his the coolest movie
collection in the world.
	Then I opened my presents from Suzy: first was a really cool candle holder, which
holds the candle behind the silhouette of a black cat. The candle she provided was
scented, but with what scent I don't remember (this is for Sherri: it was orange!). The
other gift she gave me was the 1998 Guiness Book of World Records. She covered it with
black construction paper and wrote on the front, A Really Cool Black Book. She provided
two pages of her own that she created:
	"World Record Holder . . . since 1987 . . . Best & Most Prolific Envelope
Designer: *[This asterict represents a star with a circle around it that she drew]Matthew
Michael McQuilkin of Spokane, WA . . . This amazing man has designed over 2.7 billion
envelopes by the age of 21. For an example of some of the crazy stickers he uses, turn the
page--[the opposite side of the page was affixed to a bunch of sticker-packets featuring
insects that if I remember to do so should be featured on all of your envelopes] . . . Bonus
Free Sample of McQuilkin stickers with Purchase of A Really Cool Black Book!!! Buy
	She inserted that page into the section on Microbes & Fungi. The latter word is
even labeled on the top of her homemade page.
	The other page: "Heaviest (Living!) Creature . . . The Domestic Shorthair Feline 
"Batman" [this is the full name of my 23-lb. black cat, Batty] weighs in at 23 tons after 2
years of dieting [the diet part is actually true--you can ask my vet]! AMAZING!" Next to
this she drew a hilarious picture labeled "Aerial Photo," which shows a black blob that
takes up probably four fifths of the frame, and a head that is perhaps one thirtieth the size
of the body. In the upper left corner are some tiny circles about a third the size of the
head, labeled "Hawaiian Islands." I laughed and laughed.
	She inserted this page into the section on bowling.
	I spent a considerable amount of time looking through that book, I thought it was
so cool. Then I had Suzy open the gifts I got for her. She squealed and shrieked at both of
them. She wanted to know where I found the movie, which she has spent a considerable
amount of time looking for in her past. I got it at a movie store called "Suncoast" at
Northtown Mall in Spokane. I even found a Suncoast in Honolulu when I was there, and
they carried the movie as well.
	Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you what Barbara gave me for Christmas.
	. . . Well, I don't really know what it is.
	I think it's really cool. It's sphere-shaped, about the size of a soft ball, made of
some sort of tannish marble, with a slight flat spot on the bottom to keep it from rolling
around. It is very heavy. (I could hurt someone real bad with it.) Whether it is supposed
to be a paper weight or simply a sort of decorative ball, I don't know. I'll have to ask
Barbara the next time she writes to me. Included in the packaging was a box that she
made herself, with pieces of pictures and magazine pages wrapped around it, one with a
message that I can't repeat here without leaving a few people sort of, say, disgruntled. I
myself found it hilarious, and she knew I would. It also had a string tied around it, with a
pendant hooked into it--a yin/yang symbol with two metal feathers hanging from it. With
no necklace to hang it on, I just had to set it aside for the moment.
	That being done, I had only the people in Olympia left to give gifts to. I had
already sent the ones to Spokane in the mail: an angel candle holder and vanilla candle
for Mom and Bill; a book called "Who In Hell" for Barbara, giving hilarious facetious
descriptions of every real and mythological figure in history--from Cain to Jeffery
Dahmer--who is expected to be in hell; for Danielle a package of classical music, which
she recently told me was the best gift anyone got her for Christmas. Boy it's exhausting
being wonderful (and I am particularly talented, because I can be both wonderful and an
asshole at the same time!).
	I don't remember for sure what we did for the rest of that evening. I think we
watched some movies we rented. Oh yes, we did. Movies that bored me to the point of
just going to bed. I got up the next morning and was picked up by Jodi at around 10:00.
Olympia bound, Hawaii bound.
“Matthew's gonna put this in his newsletter.”
	First I stayed a week and a half in Olympia, which for the most part was
uneventful. I found out some interesting things that cannot at this point be discussed in
the newsletter, some very serious and some not so serious. The visit had its ups and
downs. Suddenly I have a line from a song in the Walt Disney version of Robin Hood
coming into my head: Every town . . . has its ups and downs . . . sometimes ups . . .
outnumber the downs . . . but not in Nottingham. Well, I think it is safe to say that during
this visit in Olympia--a far cry from Nottingham--the ups did indeed outnumber the
downs, and I prefer to remember the ups instead anyway.
	I rode in a car with Jennifer, Jodi, some guy, and some other guy, to Olympia on
Saturday December 20. The some other guy who rode on the other side of Jennifer in the
back seat never said a single word to me the whole trip--and perhaps a total of three or
four to everyone else combined--and his attire suggested that, although his outward
appearance matches mine in severity (something I do not come across every day), he
seemed to come from a completely different planet than I did. But then, I'm the one who
has a problem with pants that look like they have been soiled with something made out of
lead. I got over it, and ignored him as much as he did me.
	The some guy who rode up front next to Jodi actually made an effort to talk to me
and get into almost deep conversation. The more we talked, though, the more we
discovered what we didn't have in common. He asked me a lot about musical interests,
always telling me who he likes before I tell him I hate that particular artist. His reaction
to my revulsion toward Hootie and the Blowfish, for example: "Have you ever listened to
their words?"
	"Yes," I said, "and that's when I realized how completely idiotic they are."
Observe: Sometimes I wonder . . . if it'll ever end . . . you get so mad at me when I go out
with my friends . . . I only wanna be with you-oo-oh . . . Harmless? Perhaps. Intellectually
stimulating--especially for intellectual snobs? Hardly. A diverse range of themes and
musical representation? About as much the Spice Girls.
	That trip wasn't so bad, except for the fact that so many people were in the car
with so much luggage. I was glad to finally get there.
	Very early in my visit, Sherri decided to pull herself out of the dark recesses of
the 19th century and actually buy herself a computer. She said she felt better doing it
while I was there, so I could help her with setting it up and getting around on it. I for the
most part set it up for her, and once it was running I did help her here and there, but I
think she got around on her own all right. Until she figured out how to run a program
applicable to the business they own, she kept saying she had bought a $3000 solitaire
game. She did seem partial to those. It is my understanding that the computer is now in
her office at the Shipwreck Cafe. I liked her version of Microsoft Works much better
than my own--which I use to write letters--and so I copied the file to a disk in the hopes
of transferring it to my computer. It didn't work. In the context of how quickly new stuff
comes out in the world of computers these days, my own computer was probably
obsolete before it even reached me in the mail. For now, though, it works, and that's all
that really matters.
	. . . Now we come to Christmas Eve, which was, indeed, interesting. There were
four guests other than myself--Uncle Paul, Aunt Raenae, Toni Marie, Grandma Rhoda.
Dinner wasn't so bad, although the main course was salmon that I didn't care for (I had a
tiny bit of it and still it was the only thing I tasted every time I belched through the rest of
the evening). I also got to eat some delicious caesar salad--my new favorite--and some
nearly solidified fetuccini alfredo. (If anyone is wondering why I am cataloguing
everything I ate, my only excuse is that I have spent too much time with my grandma
McQuilkin lately.) There was lots of other disgusting crap that I wouldn't touch, as usual.
	As for the company, I got to hear a charming story about lies and deception by
none other than Aunt Raenae, which I found vastly entertaining. Then the house went
into a sort of confessional mode, and I got to find out how much certain members of my
family weigh--which was when Toni Marie mentioned that I was going to put all this in
the newsletter, which made everyone laugh.
	Now, would I do that?
	The high point of the evening came at my expense. I was discussing the gift that
Jennifer was to give me for Christmas, which I had already seen wrapped. I did not know
what it was, and Uncle Paul suggested that it was a blow-up doll.
	Thinking only about the small size of the package, I said, "A really small one?"
	I was then asked if that was the size I needed, and the house went wild. Through
the roof. Uncle Paul literally rolled on the floor. I never understand that gesture; it's never
happened to me that I thought something was that funny; maybe I should upgrade my
sense of humor. I couldn't help but laugh in spite of myself in this instance, though.
	Just to set the record straight, I have never had and don't plan to ever have a
relationship with any sort of blow-up doll. I've never even met one, although I did meet a
real weird guy when I was a college Sophomore who had a brother who kept one in his
	We were all up until 1:30 or so that night. Aunt Raenae went home saying she
would be back by noon the next day, and nobody believed her.
	So Christmas came upon us, and yet again Christmas at Dad and Sherri's this year
was a reflection of the house being used as some sort of transfer station. For dinner, the
guests were Wendy (Sherri's sister), Steve (her husband), Brad (their child), Grandma
Rhoda, Uncle Paul, Jennifer, Aunt Raenae, Toni Marie, and Angel. Included among the
guests who stopped by to get their goodies were Rick, his new girlfriend Tammy who I
think looks eerily like Angel although she seems nice enough, Tammy's two children,
Ricky, Britni, and Brandi (who wore a dress that looked as though it was made for
someone about a foot shorter than her, but I thought her shoes were the coolest things I
had ever seen her wear), Gina, and David. 
	Before Gina left I gave her my gift to her, a canned Raccoon (a very cute stuffed
animal sold in a sealed can). She gave he a gift as well: a blank computer disk for the file
I wanted from Sherri's computer, some rubber bands, paper clips, a book of matches, and
a penny. 
	Dinner went well, all things that I can't go into in detail considered. I ate some
ham that Sherri cooked to practically melt in my mouth, it was so good. I also had a roll,
mashed potatoes, jell-o and some of Sherri's Famous Salad. She keeps saying she doesn't
know why so many people like her salad. Maybe it's because it tastes good--I don't know,
that's just my guess.
	As for other gifts, I got a Paul Mitchel package from Aunt Raenae--perhaps the
most practical gift I got from anyone (oh, you say, but what about the ear of corn?). From
Wendy I got a note pad, which I filled up nicely with notes for this very newsletter while
I was in Hawaii; I did not want to forget anything. I bought Dad and Sherri some pencils
made out of recycled money and the latest Enya best-of collection on C.D.; they gave me
a blanket with Disney Characters on it. Gabe and Suzy will probably laugh at me when I
use it--no doubt as a direct result of Gabe's refusal to keep the entire house warm,
suggesting sweaters so he can save money--but I don't care; it's fairly heavy and I know it
will keep me warm. For Jennifer I got a toy that shows a cartoon of a face with a chain
instead of the line that goes from the forehead to the chin, so one can shake it and make
all sorts of hilarious faces. I also got her a packet of funny post cards, and a magnet with
a picture of a baby that is flipping off the camera. She got me a photo album and a mug
(the latter being the thing that was almost mistaken for a blow-up doll) with a picture of
Dogbert on it, yelling "Out! Out! You demons of stupidity!" I got Angel a canned beaver.
I figured she would appreciate the double meaning there.
	Everyone was gone on Christmas Day by seven in the evening; Dad had to get up
at four in the morning the next day for work. 
	After Christmas Dad and Sherri and I tried to go see "Titanic," but when we got
there for the 5:00 show, it was sold out for the rest of the evening. We went home and
rented "Sling Blade" instead. That movie is a perfect exempla of a wonderful exception
to Hollywood cheese. It's very sad but extremely good; I highly recommend it.
	By the 27th of December--the sixth anniversary of the last time I vomited; a new
personal record--I decided I was going to see "Titanic," whether I had to go by myself or
not. So I rode the bus out and made it to the noon showing. That movie is very long--over
three hours--and the love story is so clichéd that one can't help but laugh at it when others
wonder what the hell is so funny. Nevertheless, it was one of the coolest movies I have
ever seen. I am not above admitting that many times Hollywood cheese indeed does
attract me, and I always like wonderful eye candy (the stupendous "Fifth Element" is a
perfect example). This movie does not leave anyone disappointed. I laughed, I cried, and
I stayed on the edge of my seat the whole time the ship sank. (I am suddenly reminded of
a cartoon I saw in Newsweek magazine. A man in line to this movie says "I hear the
scenes of the ship sinking are spectacular!" One of the two children standing behind him
says, "The ship sinks? Thanks for ruining it for us!") Not since "Jurassic Park" have I
seen such impressive special effects.
	Gabe recently gave me a huge monologue about the hypocrisy of people throwing
a hissy fit over the tens of millions spent on the mission to Mars, when the money could
have been much better spent--and yet these same people have no problem with marveling
over three hours of entertainment that cost $200 million. He has a point. But I liked the
movie anyway--and while I plan on owning a copy of the movie, I don't plan on ever
owning a documentary on the Mars mission; not even Mars rocks. 
	I am so very different yet so much the same.
	December 29 was the day Jennifer and I left for Hawaii. The plane left at eight in
the morning; we had to be there at least an hour and a half early; it takes me at least an
hour and a half to be ready to leave the house. I got up at 3:30, because Uncle Paul just
had to arrive much earlier than I considered necessary--but it later proved to be so. I
learned while riding in Uncle Paul's truck on the way to the airport that no, actually, he
was not going to be able to come and pick us up when we get back at six in the morning
on January 9--we were going to have to figure something else now. I was thankful for
Jennifer's decision to wait until this extremely opportune time to let me know of this--oh
yes, very much so.
	We did get to the airport quite early, and this was the first time I learned that in
order to fly over seas--something I had never done before--we have to ride a subway out
to some distant wing of the airport. Sitting in that subway car, with the automated voices
telling us all about each stop in both English and Asian languages, I felt like I was in the
movie "Total Recall"--all that was missing was the spaced television monitor. Then the
subway broke down and we got stuck on it for a few minutes, but we had plenty of time
to waste. Once we were to our gate and I had finally gotten some money from a
Versateller so I could buy a pack of gum (airplanes always do quite a number to my ears),
Uncle Paul left.
	The flight took six hours, reduced to four once we turned our clocks back two
hours in Hawaii. Two movies were shown, the first being "George of the Jungle," which I
had absolutely zero interest in. I chose not to purchase the headset, and got to sit and
watch silent images of a genuine doof act like an ape--badly. After eating a surprisingly
delicious breakfast (no one ever told me that Yopliat yogurt was so good it's like eating a
dessert), Jennifer and I slept through most of it. She sat next to the window, saying that I
could on the way back, and spent most of the time with the shield closed. There was
never anything but clouds to be seen in the window anyway.
	A second movie began--"My Best Friend's Wedding," which on a scale of 1 to 10
of interest, I was maybe a 2, but that was good enough for me to cure utter boredom.
After telling me they were sold out, a flight attendant sold me a headset about ten
minutes into the movie. It wasn't that great, but it wasn't painful to watch, either--not the
way "George of the Jungle" would have been, anyway. Censors edited the few spots of
bad language with overdubs that looked really dumb.
	Landing in Honolulu at about noon, still thinking of the images of Hawaiian
mountains poking up through the clouds, we finally got far enough under clouds for me
to be able to see the water. It was beautiful, blue and clear. It makes the ocean in
Washington look like a sewer, and that's not by any means any exaggeration. Both
Jennifer and I could feel the heat coming through the window. I was not going to be
putting on my coat again for another week and a half. Welcome to paradise, the place we
stole from other people who had it first. I had a great time taking advantage of that. 
	Landing is what always messes up my ears--especially my right one--and they
were plugged for hours. Jennifer and I deboarded the plane and were immediately lei'd by
our grandparents--these ones made out of real, lavender flowers. "Welcome to Hawaii"
we were told. 
	It was hot.
	We got our luggage and tried to get the rental car Jennifer got two free days for,
and no one had enough credit on any of their cards. Grandma decided to wait until a
payment came in and see if she could use it for the last two days we were there. We rode
the bus from the airport to their apartment--it took over forty-five minutes.
	My grandparents apartment, where they are living from October 1997 to October
1998, is in a complex on the corner of two very busy streets, less than a block from the
zoo and about a block and a half from the beach. They keep their windows open all day
and all night, so that the ubiquitous city busses passing by tended to keep me up at night.
Soot from their exhaust fumes coat their kitchen daily. The first thing I walked up to
when I got through their door was their eternally running fan. Grandpa laughed and said
he figured that would be the first thing I'd do. 
	As soon as we had settled, Grandma and Jennifer and I walked down to the beach
to watch the sunset. It was beautiful, despite the clouds, and I took quite a few pictures of
it. Sherri told me that I was going to forget to take pictures, but I ended up having to buy
a third roll of 36-exposure film while I was there, and I now have a total of 97 pictures
that I took in Hawaii. I was in a state of bliss while I was there, continually having to
remind myself unbelievingly of where I was. Two years ago I would have told anyone I
would never make it here before the age of 30. And here I was at the age of 21. How
many people in my same economic level come across such an opportunity? 
	The first day we were there we discovered the ABC store--something a tour guide
later told us stands for "All Blocks Covered," and he was not joking; many blocks have
two or three of these stores. They are all basically identical, but geared for the clientele in
Waikiki where my grandparents live, which might as well be called Touristtown. They
have a lot of postcards for Hawaii with naked people on them. I almost decided to send
someone a post card with a bunch of women in a line mooning the viewer and the
caption "Guess which one is me!"--but I decided against it. Those cost 45 cents each and
I could get five of another kind for a dollar, so that's what I got. I ended up sending post
cards to Dad and Sherri, Mom, Christopher, Barbara, and Gabe and Suzy.
	Jennifer and I both went to bed early that night, as 10:00 to Hawaiians was like
midnight to us, and we had gotten up very early that morning. Jennifer slept on the same
bed as Grandma, and I had to sleep out in the living room on a fold-out chair/bed thing,
where Grandpa stayed up doing his typical thing of watching late-night idiotic television
for hours on end. I did not sleep soundly at all until he finally went to sleep. Then he
insisted on snoring, sounding like he had heavy machinery caught in his throat.
	Tuesday, December 30: 
	I woke up at about 6:30 in the morning, which felt like 8:30 to me but even that is
really early for me to get out of bed these days, at least if I'm not in a rush to get
anywhere on any particular time. Still, I couldn't sleep any longer and so I got up, as did
Jennifer soon afterwards. We had a fairly late breakfast, and once again I'm going to pull
a June and tell exactly what I had to eat: yummy sausage, eggs, toast, and really weird
stuff called potato patties. The potato patties were like mashed potatoes, only made like
hash browns. In other words, it was like someone chewed up all my hash browns and
then spit them all back out onto my plate. They tasted all right though.
	The day before this, Grandma was beginning to tell us that Tuesday was to be one
of our free days when I told her I was interested in seeing Pearl Harbor--so she changed
the plans and took us there on this day. She originally didn't think either of us would want
to do that, and I don't think Jennifer ever did really, but that place is one of the most
significant parts of the history of our country. How the hell could I possibly go to Hawaii
and not see that? So we went.
	The visitor center had a sort of program to go through, the first part of which was
going into a theater and watching a short film on the bombing. It featured a lot of footage
I had never seen before. After that, everyone in our group holding ticket number 19
exited the theater through a door different from those through which we entered, coming
upon a medium-sized boat. We were all carried out to the memorial that was constructed
over the USS Arizona, the loudspeakers on the boat spewing out information that I had
already either heard or read about at least three times that day.
	The memorial itself was really cool. It stretches across the midsection of the
Arizona from side to side, many elements of its structure symbolizing a bunch of really
cool things that I don't remember, except for the lower mid-section of the roof of the
memorial structure symbolized initial defeat, and the rising ends represent our eventual
victory--something like that, anyway. There are no windows in the structure (I have never
been in a state so devoid of such things), just lots of rectangular openings through which
one can look and see the surface of the ship, which had sunk in relatively shallow
waters--so shallow, in fact, that certain pieces of the ship stick out of the water. Oil is
still seeping out of it, fifty-six years later. 
	All of the men who died on that ship are still inside it. I was told that this troubled
Aunt Penny when she and my cousin Tammy visited the week directly preceding the time
Jennifer and I spent there; she does not like to walk on people's graves, and to go on this
memorial is to in effect do exactly that. I do not care about walking over graves in
conventional graveyards (I have even climbed on the gravestones in the middle of the
night)--I don't believe it matters, since all that is under the ground is an empty shell of
what used to be a person's being. They're not really there anymore anyway, so who cares?
Thus, the memorial did not bother me in the slightest. I found it very interesting and very
	It took us an hour and a half to ride the bus home.
	At that point Jennifer and I were going to go to the beach, but daylight was fast
running out and we decided to just walk the streets of Waikiki and check out all the
stores for the tourists instead. Jennifer ended up spending all the money she had, and at
that point I didn't have any spending money at all with me. Jennifer being the wonderful
person she is, she ran across a bracelet made of a bunch of silver alien heads that she
thought was perfect for me and so she paid the $2.50 for it--I have worn it every day
	Once we had walked a ways and decided we needed to get back home, Jennifer
ended up telling me that we were going the right way, although in reality we were
walking directly away from Grandma and Grandpa's apartment complex. I kept telling
her that I had a feeling we were going the wrong way, and she told me over and over that
she was positive we were going the right way--even when we finally found Kuhio, the
street that they live on. 
	She was finally proven wrong, though, when we reached the other end of the
street, where it merges into another. We had clearly gone the wrong way.
	Something fairly interesting happened while we were going this wrong way,
though. We were following this group of people on the sidewalk, and this very tall, blond
guy turned around and seemed to notice me for some reason. I thought nothing of it until
he suddenly turned around and pointed at me. "You were in my human sexuality class!"
he spouted.
	I was barely beginning to recognize him from the class I had last semester, but I
was still fairly caught off guard. How often does something like this happen thousands of
miles away from home? "Was I?" I asked. Both Jennifer and I stopped walking without
realizing it. 
	All of this guy's friends seemed to think he was being as weird as both Jennifer
and I thought, and the guy must have sensed it. He put his hand on my shoulder and
apologized to me, smiling, and I said it was all right as he ran to catch up with his
friends. He apologized to them too, but he couldn't help it because the chances of
something like this happening were so slim. Grandma has told people that I ran into
someone I knew, but that's not exactly accurate: all that happened is that I saw someone
from one of my classes last semester, who I had never even spoken one word to until this
	Anyway, we got to the end of Kuhio and Jennifer finally had to swallow her pride
and turn around--although later she acted like she realized something that meant she
actually had us going the right way, which was wrong. We passed a loser on the sidewalk
who actually asked Jennifer, "Hey can you spare any change? I'm on the run from the law
in New Jersey." New Jersey? Someone who comes up with a line like that cannot
possibly be very bright. Jennifer gave him the change she had in her pocket, something
she always tries to do when people ask for change, which I never understand. I'm sure I
want my money more than they do.
	We walked the entire length of Kuhio avenue--which was probably what I would
estimate to be between one and a half to two miles in length--and were a full hour late for
dinner. We had told Grandma we would be back by seven, and we started walking back
at around that time--problem was we walked the wrong way. 
	I actually got to sleep in Grandma and Grandpa's room that night, because
Grandma let me drag in that bed-thing to lay out in what little floor space they had in
there. I slept on that, Grandma and Jennifer slept on the bed, and Grandpa stayed up all
night in the living room watching crappy television shows. This was how it happened
every night the rest of the time we stayed there.
	Wednesday, December 31: 
	This morning I got up at 7:30, an hour later than the previous day. I just ate some
cereal and waited for Jennifer, and then she and I went to the beach in our bathing suits
without taking our showers. I got into the water for the first time, and at this time of day I
felt the water was too cold for me to go out any further than up to my stomach. After that
I just lay on the beach with Jennifer, and I wore nothing at all besides my shorts. For
anyone who knows me very well at all, that should be an extremely shocking fact (most
people have no idea what I look like without being dressed from neck to toe--and they
should actually be fairly thankful for that). 
	After that Jennifer and I went back to the apartment to take our showers, after
which we simply went back out to look at shops again. I finally decided to actually take
out some money from the bank, and all I wanted was $5 for now--but absolutely every
bank machine demanded that I take out a minimum of $20. I kept looking for a bank
machine that was actually connected to a bank, thinking that maybe then I would be able
to take out only $5--but once I found one, the minimum was still $20. I took that much
out and walked back to the international market.
	I had been gone about ten minutes when I realized I had forgotten my bank card
in the machine. I hoofed it back there, only to find that the bank had just closed, about
five minutes ago. I asked a man who was cleaning the sidewalk right there if he had seen
anyone grab a bank card out of the machine; he told me yes he had--there had been a
security guard who found it and took it with him inside the bank just before it closed, five
minutes before I got back there. He said the security guard had said that the card was no
longer going to be valid in Hawaii. I immediately found a pay-phone and canceled the
card anyway. The lady I spoke to on the phone told me it would take eight to ten work
days for the new card to reach my Pullman address: perfect. I soon realized that this was
to be a blessing in disguise, as this was going to prevent me from wasting any more of the
money I was originally going to use for rent (although it was all easily replaced this
semester)--and the new card would simply be waiting for me when I got home.
	I went back into the international market, and bought a necklace for a dollar. All I
wanted it for was probably not even worth that much, because I was going to get rid of
the pendant that came with the necklace I bought and instead hang the one that Barbara
got me for Christmas on it. Thinking of a way that I could still put the pendant to use, I
bought a necklace with a really pretty blue butterfly pendant on it, which I plan to send to
Mom in the mail one of these days because she kind of likes butterflies.
	The evening if this day was spent at "Germaine's Luau," which proved to
ultimately be the coolest thing we did our entire visit. Why? The biggest reason would be
the wonderful seats we had. This place was made up of a stage and the vast majority of
the audience was sat in picnic tables--the only ones who were not were in the very front
"row", which had people sitting at tables with no real seats, so they had to sit on the floor.
The whole audience was soon to find out that some men's sports team from Harvard (one
member of which wore a hula skirt and a coconut bra) was sitting at one of those tables.
	As for the actual picnic tables, though, we had reserved seats in the front row.
Why is this, you ask? When Grandma and Grandpa took Aunt Penny and Tammy to this
same luau the previous week, it is my understanding that the employees of this place
realized that Santa and Mrs. Claus were there (for those of you who don't know this, that
is exactly what my paternal grandparents look like). Grandpa was called up on stage as
"Santa Claus," and whatever else happened that week I don't know the details about; I
just know that the place gave them two complimentary tickets for the next time they
came, as well as reserved seating for them and the two more grandchildren they planned
to bring with them--Jennifer and me. Consequently they saved a lot of money.
	So we had these reserved seats, and I don't think I could have possibly asked for a
much better view of just about everything that went on during the entire show.
	--But that was not the very first place we went. First of all, there is the tour bus,
which picked us up at a hotel less than a block from the apartment. The guide sort of
goofed off the whole way there--Cousin K, he said his name was--and every so often he
would say that we would get there in "fifteen more minutes," which, in Hawaiian time,
apparently means "when we get there." He told us all sorts of interesting and useless
information about Hawaiian things that the typical tourists would be interested in, and on
the way back he actually taught us all a Hawaiian "Hang Loose Song," which the
women's swimming team from some Minnesota university learned very quickly and sang
quite loudly:
	“Just hang loose
	Just have fun
	Sippin' on a drink and lyin' in the sun
	Don't try ta fight it 'cause it ain't no use
	When you're in Hawaii you should just--hang--loose”
	Jennifer and I from that point on burst out into this song together whenever we
got even vaguely close to having it become mildly possible that we might get bored.  
	When we first got there, the tour guide--Cousin K--put shell lei's on us, and
obviously misunderstood the situation when he tried to get Jennifer and I to kiss. Then
we all had our pictures taken, which Grandma paid for both Jennifer and I to have a copy
of. It just shows the four of us from about the waist up, with a beautiful sunset in the
background. Grandma had a fit because she thought her picture was horrible and that she
had her eyes closed, but the fact was that she didn't have her glasses on and was thus too
blind to realize that her eyes were merely squinting a little--she looked fine.
	Then we went to sit on some bleachers and watch a bunch of people in cultural
costume (something I always enjoyed looking at) pull a cooked pig out of a hole in the
ground. They twirled it around to let people see, and I took a picture of it even though it
didn't really look that interesting. I guess my camera showed me: that particular picture
never turned out.
	After that we all got in line to eat at the buffet, and it was time for us to try what
all the tour guides pretend to rave about, although I'm convinced that they know it's
disgusting and they just enjoy torturing the tourists: poi. Oh, it was gross. I took one taste
of it and never touched it again. I did have quite a few other things once we sat down at
our table reserved for McQuilkins, though, and most of it was quite good. 
	Then the actual show on the stage started, which consisted mostly of more people
in cultural dress that represented different Polynesian countries doing their cultural
dances--my favorite was consistently the women from New Zealand, who twirled around
these white things at the ends of rope they kept tied at their waists, which I believe were
called "poi balls"--although I don't believe they were made of the same thing as the poi
dip. They did all sorts of tricks with those balls, twirling around two at a time and
seeming to intertwine them without them getting entangled, and at one point they all
glowed under a black light. It was really cool. There was also a guy who came out and
did all sorts of tricks with fire at the end of sticks.
	There were two hosts--an obnoxious woman who was fairly heavy-set and a man,
about as middle-aged as the woman I would guess, who was very heavy-set. They both
acted like a couple of gigantic cheese balls in a Las Vegas lounge show, but I found
myself entertained all the same. The swim team from Minnesota caught wind of the
sports team from Harvard, and the hostess took careful advantage of that, ultimately
having the men from Harvard line up so that the women from Minnesota could go down
the line and honi honi with them--something Hawaiian that very closely resembles a kiss,
except this time the belief is that the spirit is being breathed in through the
cheek--something like that, anyway.
	That's not half of the interesting things that happened that night, though. First of
all, Jennifer and I had been told that at one point we might be picked to come up on stage
and learn to hula, as they have a bunch of employees go out into the crowd and pick a ton
of people. This was a possibility that both Jennifer and I dreaded.
	Then, just when we were finally getting comfortable, attention from the stage was
directed our way anyway. They had learned that Santa was back, you see, and the hostess
with her stupid oversized flower on the side of her head began to explain that Santa had
had a very busy year and was now vacationing: "Santa's here . . . and he's wearing a
cowboy hat!" she said (a cowboy hat which, by the way, he wears so much and so tight
that when he takes it off he has a deep red line around his head, line some sort of bruise
crown). She called him up on the stage, and spoke to him for quite a few minutes, me
taking pictures the whole time. They did the honi honi thing--which I also got a picture of
(it's not very clear but you can certainly tell what they're doing)--and for a while Grandma
acted like she was jealous. 
	Not long afterwards, the hostess said that she wanted to do a prayer, and she
wanted all of the children in the audience to come up onto the stage with her. Then she
said, "Santa and Mrs. Claus you come too, and bring your grandchildren with you."
	"Oh my god," I said. "Don't do this to me." Very reluctantly, Jennifer and I walked
up onto the stage with Grandma and Grandpa. The hostess lined all the children across
the stage, and had Grandma and Grandpa come to stand in the middle of them all.
Grandma hollered for Jennifer and me to follow, and I think the audience noticed when I
rolled my eyes, because I heard quite a few chuckles when I did it. 
	We went to the center of the stage, and the hostess started on the far right of the
line to have everyone say their name and where they were from, that sort of thing. This
woman was of the sort who was so chipper all the time that I wanted to slap her ("Oh I
just love my job!" she said, about four times), and she gave absolutely everyone a
compliment each time she spoke to them. She got to me and ended up grabbing my chin
and saying, "Oh you have such pretty eyes!"--something she probably would not have
said had I not been wearing make-up, which was probably subconscious with her because
I doubt she wasn't too wrapped up in being happy to notice such a thing. She got to
Jennifer next to me and told her she was beautiful, of course. Lots of people do that to
her, (Grandma Rhoda, every time she sees Jennifer, says, "I like her!"), and some seem
afraid that one of these days it's going to get to her head.
	We finally got to get off the stage after the prayer, and I was very thankful. We
went back to our table, and someone around there told us that we were good sports (I
imagine he just felt like humoring us). 
	Now comes the part that Jennifer to this day says was the funniest (and thus
perhaps the best) thing that happened the entire time we were in Hawaii. The hostess told
every man at every picnic table to stand up and go around to every woman at the table, so
they can do that quaint little honi honi thing. Grandpa was sitting to my left, and neither
he nor I got up to do that. However, with Grandpa and his Santa beard it's pretty easy to
tell, but many people have been confused about my sexual identity. Being outside at
night with very limited lighting did not help things here, and presumably no one could
really tell that under my androgynous haircut I actually had quite a bit of facial hair. 
	A very old man with white hair came around, grabbed my head, and kissed my
cheek. "Aloha," he said, and moved on. He did not even feel my facial hair on his lips
because he more or less kissed my fairly lengthy hair that was hanging over it. I had tried
to lean forward and hoped that he would pass over me, but he did not.
	When he had moved on, Jennifer was nearly choking on her own spit, she thought
this was so damned funny. Even I couldn't help but to laugh a little, but Jennifer nearly
had a heart attack about this. I swear she laughed for half an hour. She said that was her
favorite thing that had happened the entire time we were in Hawaii.
	Not long afterwards, the time came to teach audience members the hula dance. I
figured that the chances that someone would try to drag me up there were slim to none by
now, since I had already had to go up onto the stage once. However, a young woman
came by and grabbed my shoulder.
	I immediately turned around and argued my case. "No. No. No. Please. I can't.
No. I'm sorry. No. No," I said. She finally gave up good-heartedly and left me the hell
alone. Cousin K later asked me when I was boarding the bus to leave why I didn't go up. I
told him I had already been up on the stage once, and that was enough.
	The stage show ended with a few mild fireworks. We boarded what we were told
was bus number ten, and Cousin K told us we would be home in fifteen more minutes.
He talked to us the entire way home, telling us jokes about tourists on mopeds, even
when we passed by a huge hill in the distance that seemed to have a bunch of trees on fire
in a straight line for maybe a mile and a half--presumably as the result of some accident
with fireworks. 
	Cousin K also had us playing with other tour busses that we passed, doing all
sorts of weird things: having us all jump up and down in our seats, having us all turn
around so it looked like we thought we were going the wrong way, having us all duck
down so the bus looked empty. Another bus had their people put their butts up against
their windows. 
	As soon as we got home, we simply grabbed all the stuff we needed and went
straight down to the beach to wait for 1998 to come upon us. We took pop and cheese
and crackers, then sat down on some rocks in the beach. 
	Thursday, January 1:
	Once the vital seconds finally counted down, the masses of people that had
gathered on the streets and the beaches went wild. Soon enough there was a fireworks
show, one that I was seeing for the first time over the horizon of the ocean. Regardless of
how relatively brief it was, it was the coolest fireworks show I had ever seen. I took one
picture of it, which of course did not turn out. Quite a few people on the beach had their
own fireworks, and some people near us would occasionally throw something that glows
and spins into the ocean, and it would actually work--just below the surface. The
resulting glow was really cool. Once all the fireworks were over, the entire city was
engulfed in a light cloud of smoke that made all the buildings glow as though we were in
some sort of mythical land--the same way it had happened when I was in Seattle for the
Fourth of July. 
	As for the first of January itself, this was Grandpa's 69th birthday. He was born at
12:02 a.m. Washington time, though, so he was actually 69 at 10:02 p.m. December 31
Hawaii time.
	The first thing we did after this fireworks show that Grandma thought would last
much longer (it lasted maybe fifteen minutes) was go to Denny's for breakfast. I did not
feel that nearly enough time had passed since I had last eaten, though, so I just had an
oreo sundae--which, by the way, looked like a toxic experiment gone wrong compared to
the picture they showed on the menu. It still tasted good, though. Grandma, Grandpa, and
Jennifer all actually had a meal to eat--although Jennifer could only eat half of hers. 
	After that we all went home and went to bed.
	I got up the next morning at about 9:00, and by eleven Grandma and Jennifer and
I had walked over to Jack in the Box to have "breakfast" (I had a bacon burger, because
the one and only thing from their breakfast menu that they were still serving did not
interest me--and the ketchup did not help my newly acquired canchor sore much at all).
As for the rest of this day, Grandma told Jennifer and me that we had it to ourselves. The
next thing I did was go on a long walk because I got bored, and Jennifer didn't feel like
going with me. After that, though, she went with me down to the beach, and this time I
actually stayed in the water for a while. 
	The only thing that Grandma said she would do on this day was cook Grandpa's
favorite foods for dinner for his birthday, and she invited two of their neighbors over for
it. A while before they showed up, though, Grandma opened the refrigerator door and just
about acted like she was going to have a heart attack--because her jell-o didn't set. (This
is, by the way, a story I got to hear her tell some three times--although I was right there
when it originally happened.) She had put fresh pineapple in it without realizing that it
would hinder the setting process ("Fifty years I've been making jell-o," she would say,
"fifty years I have never put fresh pineapple in it!).
	She was ranting about what she was going to do with it, and my brainiac
grandfather actually suggested that we all just drink it. Grandma kind of went off on him
for that one, to say the least ("God you're stupid!"), and told him how idiotic an idea it
was to serve liquid jell-o to guests. She was satisfied with compensating with this by
simply straining the liquid jell-o out and making a fairly bizarre form of fruit salad with
	The guests seemed somewhat indifferent toward it.
	One of those guests came back later, on another day, and gave both Jennifer and
me a few Hawaiian trinkets: I got a couple key chains, one of which was a hand in the
"hang loose" sign, and also a necklace with a hook-shaped whale bone on it. 
	After dinner, it was Grandma's idea that Jennifer and I walk over and see a movie
at the IMAX theatre. Jennifer and I were mildly interested enough just to do that, and
Grandma gave us a two-for-one coupon and we left. He saw a film called "Hidden
Hawaii" that was mildly interesting. Afterwards we walked around quite a bit more,
looking in many more stores as well as a ton of ones we had already been in. At one point
we were standing at a corner waiting for a light to change and some guy who obviously
could not see us very well decided to be a tad facetious and yell out something to the
both of us as he zoomed by in his car:
	Jennifer and I laughed.
	Friday, January 2:
	Grandma's idea for this day was for Jennifer to come with me to downtown to go
up a bunch of the skyscrapers, just to see the view through the highest windows we could
actually get ourselves relatively close to--just as I had done with my Auntie Rose back in
1992. However, what Grandma and I did not seem to see the same way was the fact that
back in 1992 was a little bit different of a situation, and then I did not look quite as much
like a tourist. I did not think that very many total strangers in downtown Honolulu would
appreciate a couple dork tourists going through downtown to joyride all the elevators
they could find.
	It was very hot that day, and neither Jennifer and I felt much like walking anyway.
Grandma and Grandpa did some grocery shopping while they thought we would be
building-hopping, but instead Jennifer and I just found a shaded bench where we could
sit for a while. We were supposed to meet our grandparents at the capitol building a
couple of hours later, but Jennifer and I hung out either there or close to there just about
the entire time, waiting for our grandparents to return. We took it upon ourselves to take
the elevator up to the top of this very unconventional capitol building (this was nothing
like the other office buildings--every level had hallways that were actually outdoors, and
the roof was virtually nothing but an observation deck). It was four floors high, and we
went up to look at downtown from the top, where I took a bunch of pictures to make a
panoramic view of the entire expanse of downtown Honolulu. 
	Then we went back down to the bottom, where we waited for Grandma and
Grandpa on benches next to the shallow water that surrounds almost the entire building,
almost like a moat to a castle. Grandma and Grandpa eventually got off of a bus across
the street from where we were waiting, and she came up asking if I had gone to see all
the buildings.
	"Why not?"
	I told her we didn't feel like walking--which we didn't. Then Grandma led us all
up to about the fourth floor to meet someone she consistently calls Uncle Joe (who, come
to find out, is called such because there are about eight Joe's that work there--including
some females). 
	Uncle Joe gave us all a tour of the capitol building. The guy gave me a very
slightly weird feeling, but for the most part he was very nice, and full of very detailed
information, about this the "most symbolic capitol in the country." I found most
everything he told me about this building extremely interesting, as just about everything
that went into its architecture was representative of some aspect of Hawaiian culture or
ancestry--right down to the different shades of grey in the tiles of the outside walls. 
	I don't want to give too much away about it here, as two of my readers will be in
Hawaii come March and they will be taking this tour; I don't want to ruin it for them. One
thing I just can't help but mention, though, was the fact that the rooms for the house of
representatives and the senate are on opposite sides of the building, and they are
constructed in circular form, wider at the base and closer together near the tops, to
symbolize  the cylinder shape of volcanoes. We had the privilege of going inside one of
these rooms--I don't recall which of the two it was--and I saw the chairs in which the
government officials sit, which were the only ones down on the lowest level of floor.
Anyone who wants to come in to see proceedings come into sit in curved benches that are
placed at higher levels, so they can look down at all of the officials. This is to symbolize
looking down into the crater of a volcano.
	I told Uncle Joe right then that I found this a very amusing metaphor, since the
government officials sitting down there were like the lava of the volcano, and once they
cause trouble they upset everyone up at the mouth of the crater. In essence, the
government is the troublemaker. I told him that I am a writer and consequently it is easy
for me to quickly grasp the ideas of metaphor and symbolism here.
	Jennifer was bored stiff during the entire tour.
	We were also taken to see the offices of both the governor and the lieutenant
governor, both of which are quite lavish. The lieutenant governor was not in at the time,
and Uncle Joe nearly insisted that I sit down in her desk and act like I was signing a
paper so I could get a picture taken--Grandma took it. Then Jennifer sat down to do the
same, and I took the picture this time, taking care to get the huge window in the frame of
the photo, through which we could see much of the downtown highrises. 
	After that tour, Grandma told me that Uncle Joe was obviously impressed with
my enthusiastic interest in all that he said, because he showed us and told us about a lot
more things than she and Grandpa had gotten on the previous couple of tours they had
been on with him. The man seemed to enjoy his job quite a bit, which always helps. 
	After the tour of the capitol building, we all walked deeper into downtown and
closer to the water, to the Aloha Tower market place. Grandma figured I would have
liked to take the elevator up to the top of this ten-story clock tower--and I would
have--but we got there to find that it had just closed about a half hour before. Grandma
and Grandpa sat at a picnic table on the second level of the market place to wait for the
sun to set on the water, and Jennifer and I went through all of the stores. Grandma gave
me the money to fulfill her promise to buy me a new pair of swim shorts. I found a store
that had a perfect picture of Waikiki with which I could show people exactly where
Grandma and Grandpa live, and I bought it. 
	I don't remember exactly what day this happened on, but Grandma eventually
gave us each $25 of spending money--in addition to the bus money she had given us.
	Jennifer and I barely made it to see the sunset with them, and then we all went to
another end of the market place, still on the second level, to eat at the most authentic
Chinese restaurant I had ever been in. We were certainly the only cuacasians who were
eating there, definitely the only ones using forks (which, I told Grandma later, probably
had everyone else their secretly pointing and whispering, "Look at those dorks!"--but I am
completely inept at using chop sticks), and probably even the only Americans eating
there. Our waiter could obviously speak only limited English, as he never understood
whenever Grandma made a joke (either that or he pretended not to, but we would never
have known). 
	It was here that one of the most amusing things that happened occurred. While
Jennifer and I were eating our very un-American (go figure) shrimp plates, full of stuff
besides shrimp that I would not touch, she and Grandpa got into an argument about when
Jennifer and I had been walking the wrong way on Kuhio avenue. The argument
essentially ended, Jennifer knew that we had been going the wrong way, and yet Grandpa
seemed to think that he still needed to prove to her that she had been going the wrong
way. There was no point in talking about it anymore, and Grandpa refused to shut up.
	Then, when Grandma started talking about the possibility of Christopher and
Katina coming to visit them, she mentioned Nikki and Becca, referring to them as "the
girls." Grandpa, being the incredibly perceptive person that he is, asked if we were
talking about Angel and Gina.
	"Christopher and Katina have two girls of their own, you know," I told him.
	Grandpa looked at me and said, "The hell they do!" Me being the incredibly
perceptive person that I am, I thought he was actually serious. So I responded with my
own misplaced sarcasm. 
	"Let's start from the beginning," I said. I then proceeded to remind him that he had
produced five children, figuring I needed to go back that far. He knew I was being
somewhat harshly facetious, and then he did something that has amazed me more than
anything else I have ever seen that man do in my presence.
	My sixty-nine year old grandfather actually stuck his fingers in his ears while I
was trying to speak to him. Thus he reduced himself to a five year-old. I was so surprised
and amazed that I couldn't help but laugh, it was so hard for me to believe.
	Pretty soon Grandma started to yell at him, and then she said something that made
me laugh even harder: "You take him to a nice restaurant and he has to act like an
asshole." To hear our grandmother speak with such language, Jennifer and I both nearly
busted a gut. Neither of us could believe it. 
	Once we left the wonderful experience of the Chinese restaurant, we rode the bus
out to a shopping center so we could find Grandma a travel clock. She scampered all over
the place, "irritated to no end" that she could not find the right help. Jennifer and I were
looking forward to getting back home.
	Once we got home, I happened to make the mistake of paying attention to
Grandpa while he talked to the television, which is when the most eloquent material
comes out of his mouth. I asked him if he always talks to the TV, and he said to me,
"Yep. We's the only ones who get along."
	Later Jennifer told me, "I know why Grandpa and the TV get along so well. It's
the only one that can't leave."
	I spent the rest of the evening laughing at Jennifer, who had heard someone on the
TV say to someone else, "You nut bar!"--and so she called someone that every chance
she got until we all finally went to bed.
	Saturday, January 3: 
	By this day I was getting up at 7:00 again, which is equivalent to 9:00 at
home--just barely a bit earlier than I would tend to get up on a day I had nowhere to go
while at home. We were told we were going to leave at 11:00 for Sea Life Park, but I
think I figured out where Aunt Raenae's void concept of punctuality came from--we did
not get out of there until well after noon. This was almost directly the result of Grandpa,
who takes so long to get ready in the morning he makes me look like some sort of Cheeta
cross-breed (he takes literally five minutes or more, just to wash his hands in the
sink--Jennifer watched him doing this one day and asked him if he had
obsessive-compulsive disorder, which he of course ignored). We got to the bus stop,
though, and Grandma realized she had to go back to the apartment to get her
entertainment coupon--which gave Grandpa a perfect opportunity to put the blame of our
lateness on her.
	The city bus took us on an hour-plus trip along the coastline, often showing
beautiful views of the ocean, which came right up to the side of this highway. We got to
the park and Grandma managed to get a fairly good deal on prices, which involved a
season pass for the two of them (giving them quite an incentive to bring all the rest of
their visitors here over the next year).
	We spent some time just looking around at the sea animals at this park on our
own time, but not much. We saw huge turtles that Jennifer seemed eager to get to talk to
her, a bunch of boring stuff like starfish that don't move, including what they hope to
have become the clam that makes the largest pearl in the world while in captivity, as well
as ducks, penguins, things like that. 
	Most of the day, however, was spent watching different animal performance
shows. The first one was a dolphin show, which featured very impressive tricks that I got
quite a few pictures of, as well as the Famous Penguin Hoop Jump (the lady had the
animals waddle through the hoop while she rested it on the floor). I told Gabe and Suzy
about the penguins and their animal-rights antennas went up; they were upset that such
cold-climate animals were being kept in such a warm place (penguins, in a natural
environment, live very close to or in Antarctica and nowhere else--having never had
anything whatsoever to do with polar bears, contrary to popular belief). I didn't really
care; they seemed fine to me and I was amused by the "trick."
	Next we saw a sea lion show, and I learned about all the differences between
seals and sea lions--there are quite a few (not that any of this information will ever be all
that useful to me, unless I write a story about sea lions). It was trained to do all sorts of
dog-like tricks, including catching hoops around its neck, jumping out of the water quite
high, and waiting to eat a fish placed right next to its nose until its trainer clapped his
hands--not even flinching when the entire audience clapped their hands. It was also asked
to do an impression of a seal, at which point it gave up all use of its flippers and tail, just
sort of slithering like a slug, which was quite amusing. The animal reminded me of a
cross between a seal and a man. Who knows? Perhaps the sea lion is the missing
evolutionary link.
	We later saw another dolphin show, that involved incredibly cheesy pirate bits
acted out by the human trainers, who performed an entire skit out of it. The skit was
idiotic but the dolphins' tricks were very impressive. I took many pictures of it.
	After that the same trainers gave a diving show, which also involved pirate bits,
but these ones were much more amusing. I did not get any pictures of these. Later
Jennifer saw one of the divers walking down the street at Waikiki.
	Not long after that we took the bus back, and Jennifer and I just walked around
Waikiki some more--me wearing both my new shorts and some Hawaii sandals I bought
because I was sick of my feet being so hot. This outfit, to most people, would seem the
antithesis of what I would normally wear. Here I didn't care, though--I could reveal my
horrible body because I wouldn't be seeing any of these people again, and Jennifer didn't
matter. She kept me amused anyway, with her absolutely perfect impressions of Grandma
yelling at either us or Grandpa--she once did it in front of Grandpa, and he got quite a
kick out of it. Jennifer sounded just like her, and that's quite a feat with a woman like
June McQuilkin.
	We returned for dinner, and Grandpa had actually picked up the portable grocery
cart they had gotten some days before Jennifer and I arrived, to glue the tire back on
around one of the wheels. He picked the most wonderful time to do it, of course--just
when Grandma was calling us all over to the dinner table, which gave him a wonderful
excuse to complain that once he finally does anything around here, he's called away from
it. He did not leave it, though; he ignored Grandma as usual and kept at his squirting glue
onto the carpet.
	Grandma began to pray for dinner, and at the very same time that she started
thanking God for Grandpa doing this work on the wheel, and for his patience, Grandpa
blurted out a barely audible "Shit!" Jennifer and I couldn't help but to crack up at this,
say, unconventional addition to a prayer.
	Sunday, January 4:
	Jennifer and I got up around 8:00, and then immediately went swimming. Jennifer
did not come out far in the water, and I ended up staying out while she laid on the beach.
I did some actual swimming this time, as it was warm enough for me to go out to
significant depths, and I quite enjoyed myself. The one exception would be the one and
only time I made the mistake of putting my head all the way under water--the taste of sea
water is so disgusting it's indescribable.
	Jennifer and I returned to the apartment to take our showers, and I had to wait
quite a while, first for Jennifer and then for Grandpa when he shot right in after
her--although he said I could take a shower while he was in there, "If you got the same
plumbing I do" (my grandfather has always had a singular way with words). I ended up
just undressing in the shower stall while he was in there, taking forever to do whatever it
is he does (like I should talk, right?), and he told me that he would just shut the door
when I wanted to come out. I told him I did not want to come out at all until he was gone,
and he seemed to find this so baffling that it warranted not shutting the hell up about it.
	He even used Tammy as justification his perception of my apparent irrationality:
it seems that when she was there--and she is 23 years old at the youngest--she came into
the bathroom and dropped her pants to sit on the toilet while he was in there too. Now it
was my turn to be incredibly baffled. My first thought: What? According to Grandpa,
Tammy said, "You seen one, you seen them all." He found this a perfectly logical
argument. Grandma tended to take my side: "Different people have different feelings."
	. . . Some more different than others.
	Later, while I was putting on make-up, Grandpa and Jennifer were watching
television--I wouldn't say together, but more along the lines of at the same time,
coincidentally at the same box. Whichever show it was had been showing a series of clips
of art, some of which showed same-sex couples kissing. Grandpa said, "No wonder
there's so many queers in the world. It's all over the TV so they think it's okay."
	"Whatever, Grandpa," Jennifer said.
	Grandpa looked at her and decided he had an opportunity to grab. "I suppose
you're going that way too?"
	"Figured as much."
	She then left to talk to me because he was annoying her. She told me that
sometime earlier in our visit, when I was either gone or out of earshot, Grandpa was
telling her that I have "a screw loose." Within the next couple of years they plan on
taking me to visit San Francisco--"with all the other screw looses," Grandpa said.
Grandma told Jennifer that when she told Sherri about taking me to San Francisco, Sherri
told her, "He might never come back!" Nope, nope: Washington is my home, and I'm too
much in love with Seattle.
	Once we were all ready, we all walked to the zoo--which, as I said, was less than
half a block away (most nights we can hear the monkeys over there yakking away).
Jennifer and I only stayed there for about two hours or so, though, because this was
probably the hottest day that we spent in Hawaii and it was not an especially good one in
which to do a lot of walking around. Jennifer and I scoped out the zoo on our own, and
here are the highlights:
	We skimmed over the birds, which I found fairly boring but that I would imagine
both Gabe and my father would enjoy quite a bit. I swear they took up an entire third of
the park.
	We walked through a section called "African safari," and saw all sorts of African
animals: ostrich, zebra, rhinoceros, giraffe, lion. A family with a ton of annoying little
loud children was just ahead of us at the window through which could be seen two
hippos, merely lying side-by side, probably sleeping just beneath the water. One of the
adults actually said, "They're mating!"--and I had to wonder if the woman had been given
the proper number of chromosomes at birth.
	It's no secret that it is not difficult to tell when animals (at least ones with legs, a
head and a tail) are mating, and I discovered this myself when we got to the pen with the
big turtles in it. The male turtle, with each and every thrust, made a very bizarre, scratchy
honking noise. I am tempted to say that it was very bizarre, but then I find myself
wondering what household pets think when they hear their owners: What the hell is that
noise? Is someone dying? I tried to take a picture of the turtles--the sick and perverted
primitive side of me coming out--but could not get a very good angle until the male
	What we saw the most of were different species of monkeys, but we spent the
most time looking at the spider monkeys, which were incredibly cute whenever they
weren't walking around in their own piles of urine, which grossed me out to no end. One
of them had a baby on its back, though, and I got a picture of that as well as another one
of them hanging on the chain-link wall right in front of my face. These pictures turned
out quite nice. 
	Grandma packed a lunch for us that day, and the chicken was especially good.
After the meal they were not finished looking at the park (this was their third visit and
they still hadn't seen the entire park, which is probably not any bigger than Point
Defiance in Tacoma), but Jennifer and I were exhausted from the heat and decided we
wanted to get back to the beach. We left and did exactly that, and just being next to the
water was mercifully cool. Both Jennifer and I ended up snoozing on the beach for a
	After that Jennifer went with me when I went to blow the rest of the $25 spending
money that Grandma gave me, in addition to the $15 or so that I had recently
rediscovered in my coat pocket, which I had forgotten after putting the coat away in the
closet (hence the sandals, as well as a calendar and some new sunblock, which I used
religiously). I bought the one thing I found in Hawaii that I could not possibly live
without: a black shirt with a gold-print message on the front: "That's Mr. Asshole to
You." Everyone I know who has seen it--including my dad--has said that it's perfect for
me, and I couldn't agree more.
	Monday, January 5:
	I was up at 7:30 and ready by 9:00, as we had to leave relatively early this day.
First we ate breakfast, which was a strange blueberry french toast concoction that
Grandma made, a recipe of Auntie Rose's that had been sent her in the mail. Jennifer
refused to eat it until Grandma told her what the white stuff in it was--and Grandma only
used half of what was called for, as far as the white stuff was concerned. All Grandma
would tell her was, "It's something you like." Jennifer wouldn't eat it, though, until
Grandma told her it was cream cheese, which she was afraid would make me refuse to
eat it once I found out (not true; I hate cottage cheese and that's in lasagna, but I still eat
it and it's my favorite meal on the planet). I told her I didn't care that there was cream
cheese in it and I would try it anyway--although Grandma told Jennifer to "keep your
mouth shut next time" and just eat it, which irritated Jennifer more than a little. We both
ate it and it tasted fine, although I would still prefer french toast that did not look like
someone took a meat tenderizer to it. The blueberry sauce was delicious.
	We left on the bus at 11:30, when I had almost forgotten both sunblock and
deodorant--and forgetting the latter would have certainly been disastrous, had this
actually been an incredibly sunny day, which it was not. I had no idea it would turn out
this way, however, and ended up applying sunblock on the tourbus. I ended up holding
the bottle of sunblock in my hand along with my camera the entire day.
	 The driver who took us out to the Polynesian Culture Center spoke to us the
entire way out there, but he was nothing like Cousin K; he spoke in a monotone and the
squishing of the saliva in his mouth was always clearly audible over the intercom, which
always made me feel like ripping my hair out. This in itself seemed to amuse Jennifer.
Then the guy was telling us all about how delicious poi is, and I wanted him to shut his
stupid ignorant mouth.
	At the actual park of the Polynesian Culture Center, the first thing that happened
when we walked through the entrance was a guy who tried to get us all to stand together
and get our picture taken--a common trick at all tourist places, I soon realized. Grandma
swiftly avoided this one by saying she had to go to the bathroom, and we all waited for
	The park is comprised of a bunch of separate "islands," separated by man-made
canals through which one can ride a canoe boat all over the park--Marquesas, Tahiti,
Tonga, Samoa, Hawaii, Fiji, New Zealand; all parts of Polynesia. At different times of
the day there were cultural presentations for each of these islands for us to go see--it was
much like the luau, just much more detailed (but, as I said, I enjoyed the luau more
because our seats were so great). 
	The first thing we saw was New Zealand, and that's when I realized what country
the really cool women with the poi balls came from. They also demonstrated a game that
is played by tossing a couple of sticks between couples, never knowing which stick will
be thrown at which hand, and a couple of times some sticks were dropped. The narrator
to this presentation, presumably also the choreographer, was noticeably annoyed by this
("The object of the game is not to drop the sticks," he said irritably, in his New Zealander
accent). The performers looked guilty for it as well.
	The second thing we saw was the canoe pageant at one of the canals, which
involved performances from all of the islands, on rectangular canoe boats that had flat
surfaces. It was at this point that Jennifer and I nearly got in a fight, the details of which I
don't remember except that at one point I asked her, "Do you have a problem?" and she
said yes. She said that I had been deliberately annoying her all day and she was sick of it.
	I knew that this had stemmed from as early as when we had been waiting for the
tour bus. Another tour bus had stopped by the curve, and a bunch of Asian people filed
out of it. Jennifer had said, pointlessly, "They're Asian," and my first thought was a very
sarcastic Oh, really? (Actually it was a bit more of a profane version of that). Instead of
voicing those exact words I said to her, "You're very perceptive." She told me to stop
being a smart-ass. I told her I'm always a smart-ass and I would have figured she'd be
used to it by now. 
	Now, at the canoe pageant, I told her it wasn't my fault that she was annoyed with
me, as it is completely within her power to change the fact that she is irritated, no matter
what she is irritated with. This really pissed her off, and I think she thought I was just
looking for some cop-out (she obviously hasn't read Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, a
novel that both disappointed me and at one point granted me an epiphany--and if she had
read it she probably would understand better what I was talking about). Granted, I was
being annoying; however, she's the one who chose to let it get to her and she was not
appreciating me trying to explain this to her in the slightest. 
	I finally stopped talking to her and simply looked out into the canal, calm as can
be. I knew she would get over it. She later told me she only got over it so quickly because
she was stuck with me for the rest of the week and she needed someone to hang out with.
The canoe pageant was quite good (and so were a lot of the costumes). 
	After that, Grandpa gave us some money to get some sort of snack to eat, and
Grandpa later found out what his prediction that we would get a couple root beer floats
proved to be true. It was there that we separated again, though, and while Grandma and
Grandpa went to do the canoe ride, Jennifer and I went to see the Samoa show.
	The Samoa show featured one man through virtually the entire thing, who was
very funny and quite the ham (every time people started to take pictures he deliberately
posed; he constantly looked straight into the camcorder that was in the front row directly
in front of him; he would clap his own hands whenever he wanted some applause; when
the old lady, who was one of the three to have him place a head-lei on them, was trying
to get off the stage, he actually picked her up and carried her down). His last trick was to
climb up a palm tree and knock down some coconuts.
	Jennifer and I were going to go to the canoe ride next, but it started to rain in such
a downpoor that we had no choice but to find some shelter. We chose to take advantage
of the complimentary IMAX movie that was on our ticket, and we saw a mildly
interesting flick called "Hidden Polynesia." 
	After that we managed to get on over and catch the show by Tahiti, which proved
to be the last one we were able to see (leaving four of them unseen by the two of us; if I
ever return to Hawaii I am going back there to see everything else). Jennifer and I
promptly left as soon as the performers began to go out into the crowd in search of
people to teach the hula on the stage.
	Next was dinner, a buffet that was much more delicious than I had expected
(probably because they served some American foods--but even then I ate a lot of stuff I
don't usually eat, and the fish they had was possibly the best I had ever eaten). There was
also yummy chicken, yummy salad, and mediocre dessert.
	After dinner Jennifer and I finally went on the canoe ride, which began just afer it
got dark. A guy with a thick Australian accent guided the boat, and at one point said "Up
here we have one of the most popular and frequently visited parts of our park"--as we
passed the rest rooms. The old lady who was at the Samoa show happened to be on the
boat, and we found out she had been born in 1926 and she was traveling alone. "There's
an old lady on board," she said, "so watch it!" A few of the different "islands," as we
passed them, had two to four people give short little performances for us as we passed.
	The next thing Jennifer and I did was a complimentary tour of a visitor center at a
temple. We had just gotten off the canoe ride and came up to a tram with "Laie Tour"
written on the side of it. We realized that it was in reference to the bottom of our ticket,
which until now we had not been able to figure out what it was. We asked a guy standing
by what was involved here, and he said we would be taken out by some gardens and to a
temple. Thinking more along the lines of ancient ruins of some sort (quite naively), we
got on, thinking this sounded interesting.
	By the time we got to our destination, everything began to fall into place. We
learned that this entire park was founded in 1963 by the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, to help preserve Polynesian culture. About 90% of its employees go to
BYU--the university founded by the same religious denomination, which was located
practically next door. The temple we went to was actually a Mormon temple, which we
did not actually go into because only Mormons are allowed in such buildings.
	None of this was mentioned on our ticket, which simply read, "FREE 35 minute
LAIE TOUR to the Hawaii Temple, Gardens and BYU-H Campus." Once we got to the
temple and were led into the visitor center, the fact that we overheard the tour guides
talking about their experience as missionaries began to make sense. 
	We were all taken in through the doors of the visitor center, which was far enough
away from the temple itself to make it look almost majestic in the distance, and we found
ourselves in a very large room with a gigantic marble statue of Jesus in it. I was fairly
indifferent toward the statue itself, but was in awe over the painting on the large, curved
wall behind it. It was very blue, with stars and planets here and there. Just to the right of
the statue was a break in some clouds with the sun managing to get some beams through
it, to create the illusion that the sun was shining on the statue. It was like a panoramic
view of the universe, and it was one of the coolest things I had ever seen.
	I tried to get Jennifer to bow down and act like she was praying to the statue so I
could take a picture, but she wouldn't do it. I don't suppose the guides would have
appreciated it much anyway . . .
	Next thing that happened, we were all being divided up by languages--"Chinese
speaking go with so-and-so; Japanese with so-and-so; English with me . . ."--and Jennifer
and I were beginning to wonder what we had gotten ourselves into. We the
English-Speaking People were taken into a fairly small theater screening room. Soon
afterwards a French interpreter came in, saying that the French could come with her, and
one family left.
	Then our annoyingly happy host began to tell us all how wonderful God is,
mentioning that over 90% of the people in the world believe in a higher being of some
sort and then going on as if it should be just taken for granted that the Christian god is the
only possible real one. I wondered if she ever got a very close look at me and found
herself wondering if Satan himself had come along for the tour. I felt somewhat awkward
there, but I was not worried about it. Most Christians I know have sufficient amounts of
tact, as do I, usually. She struck me as some ditz who was ignorant to the horrors of the
world anyway ("Oh, life is wonderful!"--I'm sure you know the type). I had a better
feeling about the apparently Asian, brunet woman--but she spoke Japanese. Perhaps we
should have gone in with her, just to see what it would have been like.
	Soon enough Blondie had shut up and the curtains were pulled; we had the rare
privilege of seeing a film about how wonderful God is. It lasted somewhere between ten
and fifteen minutes. My favorite line: "Some people don't know if there is a God. But I
know He's real and He loves me."--some variation of that, anyway. Thoroughly
	Once the flick was over, we were all filed back into the tram and taken back to
the park, only passing by the campus and never having anyone even mention any gardens.
Essentially, this was a tour to a visitor center theater constructed with the purpose of
telling people from the all over the world how wonderful our God is. 
	In any case, we killed time.
	The next thing we saw was the final show, which was held in a large
amphitheatre and features people from all of the islands. Our reserved seats (port 5,
section 4, row R, seat 106) were relatively far away, however, and I ended up more
entertained by the scoop of watermelon sherbet inside a hallowed-out half of a pineapple
with all sorts of fruits at the bottom, which Grandma paid $1 for so I could afford it with
the $3 I had left. I left it under my seat. 
	After that we rode the bus and, curiously enough, Jennifer and I got along
famously, laughing until we nearly busted our guts--about things that a good number of
you probably don't want to read about (this issue of the newsletter is a tad overdone
already anyway).
	Tuesday, January 6:
	The original plan was for us to go see the free hula show sponsored by Kodak at
9:00 this morning, but at 8:00 Grandma said from her position on the bed, to Jennifer and
me, who were both still in bed as well: "Do you want to go or do you want to do it on
Friday instead, and stay in bed now?" We decided to stay in bed, although I got up a
matter of minutes later.
	I had cold cereal for breakfast, which Jennifer doesn't like (people think I am
picky--this woman not only doesn't like an American staple like spaghetti, but she doesn't
even care for milk!). Grandma offered her some leftover blueberry french toast, which
Jennifer didn't really want but accepted because she didn't want to upset her.
	This was to be Jennifer's and my "free day," and we spent it by taking the bus out
to the entrance to Diamond Head, which is a cliff that overlooks Waikiki from way up. It
involved quite a  bit of hiking, which Grandma was sure would take us some four hours
to do but it only took us half that. I quite enjoyed myself doing this, even though there
were a hell of a lot of very steep, very narrow and very long cement staircases that led to
tunnels that we needed a flash light to get through. Once we got to the top, though, the
view made it worth it--and I took quite a few pictures, including one of Jennifer and me
together, with our sunglasses on and the wind blowing through our hair, the ocean in the
far distance behind us.
	I was listening to some guy talk about everything we could see when a gust of
wind blew a bunch of dust into my face, and my contacts launched a double attack on
both of my eyes. I had to take them both out and re-moisten them with my tongue, and
decided I'd better cut this visit to the top short if I wanted to continue being able to see.
The view up there was breathtaking--and we could see Grandma and Grandpa's street
from up there--but it could only last so long.
	We hiked back and caught the bus back to the apartment. Grandma said, "You're
back already?" She couldn't believe it. So then we left on the bus again, out to the Aloha
Tower that had been closed the first time we went to it. This time it was open, and we got
to the top of it, where I took a bunch of pictures. 
 	It wasn't long before we got home again. Then I had leftover spaghetti for dinner.
	After that we all took the forty-five minute bus ride out to the airport, to pick up
the rental car that Grandma could now get because a payment on her credit card had been
finally received. Driving back, Jennifer and I nearly died laughing at our grandparents,
who did nothing but bicker comically the entire time; Grandma was extremely paranoid
that we would get lost, and Grandpa ran a red light. From then on Grandma insistently
told him whenever he was approaching a red light, and he was insistently sarcastic about
it: "No! I thought it was a red space ship up there in the sky!" 
	I think Grandma got annoyed with now much Jennifer and I kept laughing.
	We got home and ate some ice cream.
	Wednesday, January 7:
	We were to leave, in our rental car, for North Shore on this day around 11:00, and
I happened to wake up at 7:30. I had nothing better to do, so I just sat around and
watched TV for a couple of hours--probably the longest continuous amount of time I
have just sat and watched television without stopping in over two years. We left soon
enough, though.
	The first place we went to was a lookout that had a spectacular view of some
completely unpronounceable town as well as the ocean and extremely mountainous, lush
green hills surrounding it--according to the plaque, Mark Twain once called it the most
spectacular view in the world (apparently he had never been to Yakima). I walked around
a bit with Grandma down an old road, and Jennifer went to wait in the car because she
was cold--and this was not the first time she had been this way; Grandpa often said she
must be dead to be cold in a place like Hawaii, and I have found it all difficult to
understand myself. Grandma and I passed a neatly set bundle of flowers on the side of the
road just under a cliff, and she really wanted to know why they had been put there. I
suggested that perhaps some rocks had fallen and smashed someone to death there. We
were not at this stop for very long.
	After some more driving around, we reached our destination: 7-eleven. We got
some Hawaiian food there, called "manapua," and mine had chicken inside of it. It was
sort of like a big ball of bread with the chicken in an inside pocket, which was covered
with green goo. It was all right, but I would not go out of my way to eat it again.
Grandma told me that at least I had a genuinely Hawaiian meal, but I don't think the
ancient Hawaiians shopped at a lot of 7-elevens.
	We ate at a covered picnic table across the street, next to a cement wall through
which there were three or four stairs down to just a few rocks that the ocean moved up
against. The waves were quite a bit larger than those at Waikiki, out here at North
Shore--which, by the way, I found to be a misleading name; we were merely on some
portion of the southwest corner of the island of Oahu; perhaps they call it "North Shore"
just because it happens to be a tad further north than Honolulu.
	While we were eating there, I ended up asking Grandma and Grandpa all sorts of
questions about their parents, none of which can I really remember now, let alone the
actual answers to them. We ended up moving on to middle names, and Grandma let me
know that Grandpa's mother gave him the middle name of Ashley: "She really wanted to
call him Asshole," she said. Jennifer and I nearly fell off of our bench. Grandma later told
me that she has been saying that about his middle name for years.
	We then went just a bit further up the road, and stopped to walk along the beach.
Grandma and Jennifer and I walked over to an outcropping of rock that became a sort of
low-lying cliff to look at the ocean from, and then we all took off our sandals and walked
along the beach, letting the waves run over our calves. The waves here were much
stronger, and thus I enjoyed this beach quite a bit more than I did those of Waikiki.
Waikiki beaches have barriers to keep out sharks and things like that (which, of course,
I'm not afraid of--I'll kick their butts!) and so there are no real waves when we go
swimming, just a sort of mild lolling. Out here at North Shore, there were real waves that
crashed up against you, and that's what I like the best. When we went to go, I really
wanted to stay.
	We walked down to the other end of this particular beach, and I got a pretty funny
picture of Jennifer kicking around a coconut--if you didn't realize there was a coconut
between her feet, you'd think she was doubled over, about to vomit. Her arms are crossed
in the picture, though, because of course she was chilly. We found some swings hanging
from some trees and played on them a bit; later I even got a picture of Grandma in one of
	We took an alternate way back, as Grandma wanted to see this new
highway--much of it cuts straight through the middle of one of the mountains, which was
in itself fairly impressive. Once we got back into Honolulu, Jennifer and I could not help
but to crack up over and over again at Grandma and Grandpa's constant bickering. 
	Grandpa had been keeping himself entertained by comparing this rental car to the
last one they had had: he said, "The other car didn't have a . . . whatchacallit."
	Jennifer said, "No, but this one has a dealy-bob!"
	I'm not so sure Grandpa appreciated that one all that much. A few moments later
he was griping about something else, and Jennifer said to him, "Just keep your eyes on
the whatchacallit." By this time my side was nearly split wide open.
	Then Grandma said, "You know, kids, one day you'll have grandchildren and
they'll make fun of you." 
	I couldn't bring myself to tell her that the chances are that it will be physically
impossible for me to have grandchildren, in terms of what I am actually looking for.
Instead I told her I'll probably never have children. Besides, even if I did have them and
they did make fun of me, I don't think I would care. Grandma and Grandpa simply come
from a time when people were expected to be polite. That's history.
	Thursday, January 8: 
	I actually woke up this day at 6:30, but just sort of waited in bed until 7:00. We
got up and got ready for the Kodak show, which Grandpa never made it on time for, so
we just left him. Grandma was noticeably irritated with him, and so she said that if he's
not ready to leave when we come back we're going out to eat without him too--"And I'm
not bringing you back any lunch, either," she said. "Don't think I will!"
	The Kodak show was all right. It would have been better had it been the first
thing we saw, but at this point we weren't seeing anything new, and being a free show it
wasn't that extravagant. It was entertaining, though, and I'm glad Grandma picked a shady
spot for us to sit in on the bleachers. We left that show and Grandma bought Jennifer and
me some souvenir lei's made out of synthetic flowers--mine is white, and is presently
hanging on my closet doorknob along with the whale-bone necklace, hiding my high
school graduation tassel.
	When we got back, by some miracle, Grandpa was ready to go--except he refused
to leave until he found out whether some woman on The Price is Right was going to win
the car--"I don't think she will," he said. She didn't, and we left.
	We went to lunch at a Space Needle-esque restaurant that revolves and is set on
top of about twenty-two stories. It is about half as high as the Space Needle, but the view
was absolutely spectacular, all the way around. I ordered a pizza burger for the first time
in my life, and the bottom piece of bread was completely waterlogged. 
	We went back home again, and saw for the last time the homeless lady with
curiously perfect fingernails that hangs out around the apartment complex. Grandma calls
her their "mascot," for the apartment complex. We went inside, and I just kind of hung
out, doing the usual--tuning Grandpa's incessant babbling out of my mind. Then,
suddenly, I happened to hear one of the things he said: "That's all right. People think I'm
just talking to myself anyway." I chuckled to myself.
	Not long after that, Jennifer and I went down to the beach for one last time, and
Grandma went with us. We all stood out in the water, and we got to talking about lots of
things. Lots of family members came up in conversation, and I wound up finding out that
one of my relatives has only one testicle (!--Hang on that string for a while!). I couldn't
believe it. Then we all went back to the apartment and I rinsed myself off in the
shower.	After that we had nothing to do but wait until we headed out to the airport
in our rental car, and once we got close, we got lost. Grandma had Grandpa driving all
over the place, asking directions every two blocks--and I'm certain that we were within
two blocks of that stupid airport the entire time. Grandma got herself into a nearly
panic-stricken state, and, although she never technically screamed, her voice acquired
that unique edge of hers that makes you wish for once in your life that you actually were
deaf. We finally found the place to drop off the rental car, and Grandma calmed down. 
	We got onto the shuttle bus with one other couple and their baby, with a ton of
luggage. Grandma asked us if we felt sorry for them and we said no; Jennifer said they
were the idiots who brought so much crap.
	We waited in the airport for quite a while, walking through halls that are actually
open to the outside, something I never ceased to marvel at. There were rooms here and
there to wait in--used for the purpose of cooling off; I doubt that there is a single heater
in that entire state. They sure get slap-happy with the air conditioning over there, though. 
	Grandma just sat and engaged herself in conversation with us for a while, and
after a little over an hour they left, once Jennifer and I actually boarded the plane. We
waited a while for it to take off, and it did pretty much on time, around 10:00 p.m.
	Friday, January 9:
	I have no idea how long it took, or where we were over the Pacific Ocean, when it
actually became midnight. I do know that it was not long after our take-off. The flight
back was about a half-hour shorter than the flight over, as the Earth turning towards the
West was helping us make good time. The trip was still five and a half hours long.
	The movie they showed was one I had long really wanted to see--"In & Out"--but
I had no money left to get a set of headphones, and when I tried to cheat with those
Jennifer uses for her walkman they wouldn't work. So we both just waited for our
snack--which actually had a lot to eat in it, to my surprise (is this a reflection of the
airline?)--and then we fell asleep.
	Sort of.
	It's not that easy to sleep overnight in an airplane seat. Oh sure, the seat goes back
some four inches--practically horizontal there. The entire trip, I got a total of about three
hours sleep. That was hardly satisfying, and when I woke up again my contacts were
crusted into set positions on my eyes (contacts are supposed to float on the iris). I did get
to sit next to the window this time, though, and although I kept thinking that the fact that
it was night would ruin that, I ended up glad I got that seat on the way back. The city of
Honolulu was gorgeous from the airplane, and when I woke up again sometime very
early in the morning--give or take an hour, depending on what time zone we were in--I
got to see the moon set behind the clouds. I had never seen such a thing before and
probably never will again. It was really cool.
	We got to the airport at around 6:00, on schedule, and Sherri actually met us
coming down the escalators as we were about to go up them. I told her we had had three
hours of sleep; she told me she had had four. She took us down to Olympia, demanding
that we stay awake so she didn't fall asleep herself. 
	Once in Olympia, Jennifer called her mom in Shelton. I waited for her to come
and get her, and then I went to bed and slept for another five hours. 
. . .
	“We have the most interesting grandparents in the world, even if they are
. . . 
	So that's my trip to Hawaii. My first visit to the 50th state, the coolest New Year's
I ever had, the most cram-packed act of tourism I have ever embarked on, by far the most
elaborate vacation I have ever had. Further from home than ever before, more fun than I
had ever before had in just the space of a week and a half. The most comfortable weather
I could possibly have asked for. And the most "interesting" (as Jennifer put it), wonderful
grandparents a person could possibly dream of. 
	Grandma, at one point during the visit, heard me mention that my maternal
grandparents customarily sent me $100 checks for Christmas and my birthday every year,
and she said that Christopher and I must have thought that they were really cheap.
	No, no, no, no, no. no. No. No!
	The very idea! Preposterous! This trip to Hawaii, the eighth state I have ever been
in and the sixth state that I can actually remember being in, between travel and spending
money, took from my own pocket a total of about $415. Now, is that a deal, or is that a
deal? Grandma probably spent quite a bit more than that on entertaining me alone, let
alone Jennifer, Penny, Tammy, and the rest of the people intending to come and visit.
They are among the most generous people I have ever known, and I owe them an
absolutely immeasurable debt of gratitude.
	My maternal grandparents, of course, were wonderful people--they were
wonderful to me, anyway. But not any more or less than my paternal grandparents; it was
just done in different ways. I will always live the rest of my life with wonderfully fond
memories of times and traditions with my Grandma and Grandpa McQuilkin--from
camping to Christmas Eve to kite flying to Father's Day at Enchanted Village, among
many other things. Disneyland, the superbly successful 50th wedding anniversary party,
	Of course, everyone has their faults. But people like my grandparents--and,
especially, Grandma McQuilkin--prove that some people have good qualities that shine
so bright that, most of the time, the faults become too dim to notice much.
	I recently received a thank-you card from Grandma. At first I was confused,
before reading it, thinking it was for my coming to visit her, which wouldn't make that
much sense. Turns out she was thanking me for the tape I gave her for Christmas, the
talk-tape I recorded at their 50th wedding anniversary party. 
	Jennifer sent them a thank-you card that said they had great taste in guests. I have
not sent them a card; I have not yet even written. I wanted to wait until this newsletter
was done, and then send them a copy of the portion I wrote about Hawaii (as I said,
slightly edited), so they could get a sense of how much I really appreciated it. I don't care
all that much for sending obligatory pieces of thin cardboard anyway; I think something
like this means more.	
	I spent the rest of that Friday being bored, awaiting the next day with
apprehension: the very day after a six-hour flight, Jennifer and I took an 11-hour bus trip.
It went from Olympia to Seattle, then from Seattle to Spokane, then from Spokane to
Pullman. We got back into town at around 8:30 the night of January 10. Jennifer was
trying to call a taxi cab when she happened to see a couple of her friends walk by, and
they were kind enough to give us both a ride home.
	The next day was the schedule and statement handout. I got through it with no
problems, as usual, and the following week was the beginning of my last semester in
	I am taking five classes (listed in the order in which I go to them, first two on
MWF and the other three on T-Th): 20th Century Novel, Topics in Film, Creative
Writing: Poetry, Women Studies Seminar: Queer Theory, Creative Writing: Prose. The
first two classes are taught by the same man, who is very strict but I tend to like that in a
professor. For this semester's poetry class I have Linda Kittle, the same woman who
taught my prose creative writing class last semester. My Queer Theory professor has an
amazingly vast amount of information at the fingertips of her mind. My new prose
professor has a really cool sense of humor, and in this class I will be taught how to
actually get stuff published. 
	Speaking of writing, and, thus, my prospective future career, I have seen a career
counselor twice now. I saw her for the first time in December, and she told me herself
that I do not necessarily have to change my appearance at all in order to get exactly what
I want in a job. She said that I shouldn't be worried about it, anyway; any place that
would have a problem with how I look would be a place I would hate working at anyway. 
	The first time I went to see her was at an appointment at 3:00 or so in the
afternoon; I must have been her last appointment because I ended up staying there for
about an hour and a half. That first visit was more introductory than anything else, and
we spent almost the entire time just chatting--all about me, of course, and my personal
interests. She was very enthusiastic about encouraging me to pursue a writing career,
above anything else; but she agreed that I should also find something else to do while I
am pursuing that. 
	I also told her about my once telling Gabe that I have always felt that I am
destined for something at the very least significant--which he constantly revises to mean
"destined for greatness," though that could very well be too--and how he completely shot
that down and to this day continues to have the attitude that it's an utterly moronic feeling
for me to have. The counselor reacted to this with utter disbelief, and did just about
everything within her power to make sure that I keep this attitude (besides, if I believe I
will never make it, then I most assuredly never will). She gave me some first steps to do:
make an appointment to come in and see her again next semester, with a resume for her
to look over, and go to the job listings on the WSU web page.
	I simply took the very brief resume in with me the second time I went in, which
was just last week, but she never got around to looking at it. The night before, I tried to
get on the internet and look at that job list, and got lost. When I went back in to see the
career counselor again, I had to be there at 9:00 in the morning, and we talked for another
hour. She had pulled just one thing of the internet for me--positions open for
writer/editors of a national internet bookstore called Amazon, which is partly based in
Seattle. I made yet another appointment to come in again the following week, so she can
actually get to looking at my resume, telling me how to improve it, and teaching me how
to write a good cover letter.
	This service is free for me--sort of, anyway. The cost in the entire service is
included in my tuition costs, which made me very glad that I took advantage of it--and I
am going to get my money's worth.
	As for the first weekend of the semester, which was a three-day weekend, I spent
almost the entire first two days of it working on a 15-page story called The Obstructive
Wall, a sequel to a story I wrote last semester called The Open Door. The first story was
written from the point of view of my cat, and in the story he realizes that he is
anthropo-morphic and therefore not real; I wrote it for Creative Writing class, and it has
been by far the most well-received story I have ever written. A total of eight people have
read it (the entire class didn't read this one because we were divided into groups for this
story), and not a single one of them have said a single bad thing about it. 
	I wrote the sequel in the point of view of Jonny, Suzy's cat--and I wrote it for Suzy
as a birthday present, as she turned 20 on the day of our observing Martin Luther King,
Jr. It was the first time I wrote something just for Suzy, as opposed to both her and Gabe
together, and she loved it--of course liking it even better than the first (which, at the time,
was apparently her favorite story of mine) because this time the narrator was her cat. 
	The actual people characters that are in The Open Door are so far removed from
the center of the plot that I am planning on using this as the first story I actually try to get
published. It is doubtful that I will actually get anywhere with it, but I am going to try
	For Suzy's birthday, I treated her to breakfast at her favorite breakfast restaurant.
Then Gabe's friend Bob took us all in his truck to what was going to be Suzy's birthday
surprise: a visit to a national park with apparently huge waterfalls. We drove to a turn-off
in Idaho that went to a street no snow plows had gone through; the road was utterly
invisible, under about two feet of snow. So we went back to Pullman and went bowling
instead. Suzy won. Then we stayed and played some pool; Suzy and I were on a team and
we won both times we played: Suzy kept chanting that "Testosterone sucks!" After that
we went home and had Suzy open her presents--Gabe got her piano lessons, which she
has not done in three years or so but what she had been doing at the time since the age of
	Gabe treated her to dinner, and at the restaurant we went to (Pete's Bar & Grill,
for those of you who may be visiting come May) I had by far the best caesar salad I had
ever had. It's pricey there, but the food was almost overwhelmingly delicious.
	A week later, something happened that doesn't have much to do with my own
personal life but that I find exciting enough to write about anyway. Gabe went and
auditioned for a play, hoping as hard as he could for at least a really small part; any sort
of lead did not even cross his mind, as he believed the people wouldn't think he was that
good. Well, he went to find out if he got a part, and found out that he got the lead role.
He will be in a play a couple months from now called "Lysistrata," which is a comedy
with potentially controversial content that is really old--but, for our purposes, changed to
the setting of the Civil War. I will probably be seeing this one multiple times.
	And now it is a week before the end of January, and I'm afraid that I will have to
include any newsworthy things from the following week for the February issue. Yes, I am
in fact cutting this newsletter short (can we say overkill?). I told Gina that this newsletter
is forty pages and she said that it is going to take her a month just to read it. I just have to
get around to finishing this, though. So:
the columns history
	“Everyone there (all of whom I get along with famously) thinks she's a brat (she
        and unfriendly (she is). It's really too bad because she could be much more effective
       and successful (and happier, I presume) if she'd just smile and not act like such a
-itch (you can say the word so I don't have to type it).”
. . .
“I know you are filled with your "intellectual" pursuits being a big college senior 
and all and you think you have the answers to all of the world's ills but before you
pursue your career in writing you may want to become cognizant of a few terms
such as "Invasion of privacy," "Slander" and "Libel."  ...  You may think you have
the First Amendment right to free speech but any right must be tempered with
responsibility.  ...  Maybe you can . . . move to Seattle and get a job at a 
tabloid newspaper . . .”
	. . . I have two months-worth of columns to comment on this time around. I'm
going to jump ahead a bit, though, and mention that, as of this semester, I have a new
editor--Christina Bottomly, who I met for the first time just a couple weeks ago. When I
got into town again there was a days-old message from her, asking me to call her when I
could to tell her if I could have a couple columns in by the end of the week--the week she
was referring to had already ended by the time I got the message. I went in to see her a
couple of days later, during the first week of school, and my first impression of her was
not that positive. She seems nice enough, but she seemed too reserved to me, for
someone in the position of an editor. In any case, she's who I have to deal with now.
	Plastic surgery cuts away at one's image:  This one was printed on December 3,
which is now too long ago for me to remember much about without having taken notes
about it. I do remember, though, that I was thoroughly dissatisfied with the column in
itself; I thought it was one big huge piece of crap. I just re-read it, though, and I don't
think it was that bad (that tends to happen once I get some distance between myself and
the thing I wrote which I thought was crap). It could have been better, and the editing
could certainly have been improved, but at the very least it's not quite crap. I could have
simply thought of something better to write about . . .
	Irradiated beef--it's what's for dinner: This was a column that I was actually
happy with, despite the later letter to the editor that voiced concern about whether or not
I was actually being sarcastic here (duh?). I was also quite happy with the headline it was
given; it's almost identical to what I probably would have chosen myself, had I actually
had such power. One of my co-workers liked it so much that she hung it up on the wall
out in the hallway, right next to the one about Pullman having too few people (which, by
the way, is still hanging out there). Gabe and Suzy both liked it too; I don't think I got any
other reactions. In any case, this was a decided improvement from many of my more
recent columns of last fall. 
	One annoying addition that the editor made: "Where's the soy vegetarian meat
substitute?" I did not actually write the word substitute in there, and I think injecting it
like that makes it sound stupid and it weakens the punch of the sentence. 
	Every cloud has its silver lining, however thin it might be:  I found this headline
in particular somewhat uninspired. I would have liked something closer to the last line of
the column: "I'm happy, dammit!" (Speaking of which, that line originally read, "I'm
happy, god dammit!"--but, predictably, my editor cut out the "god" part; I just like to test
and see what I can get away with.)
	I was at the CUB getting some breakfast a few days after this column was printed,
and as I was reaching in for a doughnut this short, heavy-set blond lady came up to me
and said, "Okay I really liked your column. It was very whimsical."
	"Thanks," I said, and went to buy my breakfast. I had been thinking of why she
prefaced that with Okay--was it to connote that she was admitting that she liked one of
my columns for once, or was this a way that she prefaced everything she said to
everyone? I was thinking of this when I was handing the cashier my money, and then that
same blond lady came up and said something to the cashier, totally unrelated to me--but
she prefaced it with Okay. 
	So then I sat down thinking about the word whimsical. If it had anything to do
with being on a whim, she was really off-base--I had been planning this column for some
time; I simply wanted it to be the last one I had printed that semester (I already know
what my last-ever column for the Evergreen will be about). I think perhaps she thought it
was whimsical because the content was so unexpected--Negative Boy actually says what
he's happy about. But that was the whole point; I wanted to sort of give people whiplash
with this one: it was all part of the plan. Can something that was part of a plan be
whimsical? I looked up the word in a multitude of dictionaries and was never able to
connect what I kept being told was the meaning with the actual reasons behind my
writing that column.
	Holiday happiness feeds on media portrayals of misery: This has turned out to be
among my worst columns ever, as far as I'm concerned, and the headline itself seems
fairly convoluted to me. It has become by far the most heavily edited column I have ever
submitted, so much so that my recognizable voice in the writing is virtually lost--but I
must admit that I was asking for it, quite directly. I just got way too much of what I was
asking for. 
	I submitted this column with a fairly lengthy explanatory paragraph, and I made
the huge mistake of actually encouraging heavy editing, because I knew that a lot of what
I had written seemed fairly vague. What ended up happening was that perhaps 25% of
what I wrote was thrown out altogether, and as a result the basic jist of what I was getting
at with the column as a whole became slanted, if not completely changed. I wanted to go
more towards satire of smiling at the misfortune of others, and most of all I wanted to
portray the message of "necessary evil"--that is, we need bad things in order to know how
to appreciate the good ones. Most of this message was lost in the heavy editing.
	What irritated me the most was the subtle changes of punctuation, which did not
change the meaning of the sentences but completely changed the feel and flow of the
writing. Changes in punctuation completely changes the connotations of what I am trying
to portray or get across, and suddenly it's not really my message anymore. It becomes that
of some "brat" (see above quote) who assumes too much power in mettling with my
	--Which, of course, I asked for.
	I have to tell you that it was around the time that this column was published that I
found out my friend Josh is not only also writing columns for the Evergreen now, but is
also copy-editing for the newspaper. When I found out about this, I became extremely
paranoid that he was the one who made all these changes. I almost expected it, because
he is much more arrogant than I am (if you can believe that) and he always takes on a
demeanor of superiority, particularly when discussing my writing. That, of course and
naturally, is something I tend to loathe. I later found out, however, that copy-editing has
nothing to do with changing content, and he told me specifically that he did not change
the examples of punctuation that I gave him. I can now only assume that it was Christina
Bottomly, the new opinions editor.
	In any case, even if it had no direction before editing, I thought it was much better
before any editor touched it. After being completely ransacked, this is, as I said, among
my worst-ever printed columns.
	Two more things to mention, that are only indirectly connected to this column:
	The day I submitted this column, I was standing in line at the campus versateller,
and a guy was trying to get the guy in front of me to hurry up. He said something like,
"You got a star journalist waiting and freezing here." I found this somewhat odd, because
this guy was also standing next to another guy--Ed Prince, I think his name is--who is
fairly well-known on campus himself. He has been involved in a lot of campus politics,
and ran for ASWSU president one year--and lost.
	The day the column was printed, I went to one of the stacks of Evergreens and
picked up about 23 of them, as I do every week so I can send copies of the column out to
everyone. I put the stack in my backpack, closed it, stood up--and there was this old man,
staring at me.
	"Hello," he said.
	"Hello," I said.
	"You must be a real heavy reader."
	I smiled at him and walked away.
	Ex-presidential allowances unnecessary:  I tend to think this column is rather
mediocre. Granted, this time I actually took something that had to so with current events
as well as politics and wrote commentary on it--which is very unusual for me--but I don't
think there's really anything special about this one.
	It was over this one, though, that Christina Bottomly proved to me what a doof
she is. Yesterday she called me twice about it while she was editing. One sentence
originally read, 
	"In the light of much more recent news, what sticks out the most is these
'allowances' given to all of the former presidents--Bush, Ford, Carter, and Reagan
(although some of the medical bills for Reagan might be understandable). It looks as
though Nixon was once a former president at the same time as all of these people,
making it the highest number since the Civil War."  
	Christina called me up to ask what "highest number" I was talking about, and
when I explained it to her (duh?) she changed it to what you now see in print. The
problem with this change is that I know that having five living ex-presidents is the highest
number since the Civil War; the way it's changed, it is presented that four is the highest
number, when clearly it isn't, if Nixon once made it five! Does my new editor have a
brain at all?
	The other time she called she just wanted to know what the date was when the
other article I was referring to was printed.
	I got an e-mail from Josh himself that commended me for this column. This is
what he wrote:
	"As for your president column...inconsequential?  Maybe not that but certainly a
different topic for you!  I don't whether to say congratulations or 'do you have a fever?' 
HA HA HA!!  I thought it was just fine...by no means earth shattering but certainly the
topic merits concern for attentive citizens.  I'm glad to ventured into political
criticism...you did nicely!"
	I wrote back and thanked him profusely for his approval. Then I wrote, "I don't
whether to say very much myself either . . ."
	. . . Well, without further ado, I will finally shut up: how does that sound?
P.S. Donations accepted (send check or money order payable to Matthew McQuilkin--not 
	any of this "charity"-in-my-name crap).
vol. 1     issue #2     November 1997
	Well, well, well, what a surprise: I go and send off eleven newsletters to all the
dorkbutts who consistently refuse to write back to me, and just exactly how many of
them are there a month later who still have yet to write? Eleven! What a coinkydink! 
	So here it is November 30 and I have sat down to write the second issue, for
November, regardless of how completely crappy I am feeling because my body is still
hanging onto the worst cold I can ever remember having. Nevertheless, I am sticking to
the plan, braving the rapids (of mucus, you might say), going through with it just as I said
I would. At the very least I don't have to write down all this stuff eleven times over
anymore. I would rather suffer that way, though, you know. I want to send you all
personalized letters, I really do! But you all make it impossible!
	I sure hope you're proud of yourselves. You must be, because I don't think my
guilt trip is working. So, instead, I think I'm going to make a tradition of listing all the
twits who have to receive this newsletter, in each introduction I write. Here goes:
	1. Angel Benson (Did you like that last envelope I sent you? I thought it was one
of the coolest envelopes I ever made. Too bad you couldn't write back to tell me how
much you liked it . . .)
	2. Danielle Hunt (All right, so maybe you call every once in a while--but that's no
excuse. The news about your grandmother is certainly sufficient excuse, however, and I
am truly sorry about that. I hope you can find a healthy way to grieve. In addition, I need
to thank you very much for hosting my entire Thanksgiving week, and let you know that I
had a great time--Saturday evening notwithstanding--and I really do appreciate it.)
	3. Darcy (I still don't know what your last name is now. Maybe when you send me
your Christmas newsletter I'll finally find out what the hell it is.)
	4. Dawn Addams (It's too bad you couldn't stop by Christopher's house on
Thanksgiving, little Miss I'mbetterthaneverybody. It would have been kind of nice to see
	5. Regina Yarbrough (This may be the last newsletter I send you, as a matter of
fact, since you have given me your e-mail address--but you never responded to my
response (how surprising!)--did you ever get it?)
	6. Heidi (I forget your last name as well. Yet again, sometimes I wonder why I
ever even bother here.)
	7. Dad and Sherri (Sorry I have to lump you two as one person, but this stuff
happens when you're married.)
	8. Jennifer Miga (And I quote: "I'll send out a letter to you next week." How long
ago did you say that? A month and a half? Didn't I tell you that I'd heard that line before?)
	9. Raenae Lanning (I stopped expecting you to write dozens of months ago, so,
you know, don't feel bad or anything.)
	10. Rick Benson (I don't even know if you're alive. Why don't you write back and
tell me if I should care?)
	11. Shane McQuilkin (You should be really thankful for these newsletters, as a
matter of fact.)
	My friends Barbara and Lynn from Spokane, as well as Grandma McQuilkin and
Auntie Rose, still send me letters in the mail at fairly acceptable frequencies. Just about
all the people I e-mail are really starting to wane in their own frequencies, however; I
guess they've decided to lower themselves to your guys's levels. 
	Oh, and I can't forget my last introductory note to you all: PPPPPPPBBBBTH!!!!
A month in the life of a fruitcake
	So, this is supposed to be a summary of Fruitcake's November, but since the last
newsletter was written before the end of Halloween, I'll start there. 
	I quite enjoyed my costume; I got a letter from Grandma McQuilkin today saying
that maybe sometime in the future I'll look like that normally, and then dress of the "me"
of today for Halloween--"time will tell," she says. She's got that much right, at least. I
kept the costume on until well after midnight, and when I took the baseball cap off my
hair was completely indescribable. "Flat" doesn't quite do it.
	I probably mentioned last month that we had planned to have a bunch of people
over from midnight on to watch stupid horror movies. The first person to call and cancel
actually happened to end up being the one and only person who showed up at all, and
with him (his name is Bob, a good friend of Gabe's) we watched only two movies.
Neither were all that exciting. Gabe much more enjoyed the movie we watched the next
day: "Child's Play 2," which is so completely idiotic that it should be sold in the comedy
	Jennifer McQuilkin couldn't make it that night because she had some friends from
Shelton come over to visit that weekend, and they didn't get in until really late that night.
	Up until Thanksgiving break, not much that was all that exciting happened in my
life, outside of school. My classes are going all right; I got a C- on the "rough draft"
(worth 20% of the final paper grade) of a fifteen-page research paper I wrote about
Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and for that same class the Tuesday before break I had to do
a twenty-minute presentation on a sixteenth-century antitheatrical tract. I was really
afraid of being able to pull off pushing that presentation to twenty minutes, but I had
completely forgotten about what a big mouth our professor has: she talked so much
during the presentation, it took almost an hour.
	Also during that week before break, I was finally able to catch my Human
Sexuality professor during the one time of the week that my schedule allows for me to
see her during office hours: Wednesday morning. It was the fifth time in a row that I tried
to catch her during that time, and I finally made it. The biggest purpose of this was to get
five points extra credit, for which all we had to do was catch her during office hours--but
I spoke with her for a few minutes. She was quite impressed, apparently, with the reviews
to the chapters in one of our textbooks that I have written for the class. I think I finally
found a professor who seems to think of me as one of her favorites.
	My creative writing professor might be kind of the same, though. The last story
we had to turn into that class was the creative nonfiction piece, and it seemed to affect
the other members of the class more than any other story turned in for this particular
assignment. It was about a sort-of friend of my mother's, who, back in 1991, told my
mom and me the story of her attempting to kill her sixteen year-old Chihuahua when she
was five, finally succeeding on the third attempt. The problem with it that my professor
had was that she either wanted the person who told the story to actually tell it in my story
(in which I would have to quote her, telling the entire story), or she wanted me to include
why the story has stuck with me for so long. 
	First of all, it was far too long ago for me to remember many of the specific things
she said, making it impossible for me to quote her telling the story. People also wanted to
know a lot of details about her as a person, which at the time I had no access to. As for
why the story has stuck for me so long, the professor doesn't seem very satisfied with this
answer, but I don't believe that's the kind of story anyone is very likely to forget--not very
quickly, anyway. 
	For our final assignment in that class, we have to turn in a portfolio: all three
original stories with the professor's comments on them, and one of the stories
significantly revised. I spoke to the professor about this, stating that Puppydog Eyes (the
story about the dog) was the only story I felt needed revision, but I could not possibly
write a very good revision within the next few weeks. She said that, "For your purposes,"
I could simply turn in one of the other stories that I don't believe really need any more
work, with just some simple editing here and there, for the revised story. She told me that
I'm a lot more careful with my writing than a lot of other people in that class. So, she
expects most of them to significantly revise one of their crappy stories, but I don't
necessarily have to do more than a little bit of editing.
	But we'll get back to this momentarily. First I need to tell all about my
Thanksgiving week.
	Saturday through Monday, Gabe and Suzy and I all just sort of hung around the
house for a while, doing whatever. The original plan was for me to spend these days with
Gabe at his mother's house in Federal Way, but the only options Gabe and Suzy had for
getting a ride was either to leave Saturday morning at ten or leave on Tuesday. None of
us liked the idea of rushing out so quickly, and we all liked the idea of being able to just
stay home for a few days with nothing pressing to do anyway. We spent a fair amount of
Monday cleaning the house top to bottom for Bob, who came to house-sit while we were
all gone. Gabe and Suzy left Tuesday morning, and I left on the bus Tuesday afternoon. I
had to walk my backpack and suitcase a mile to the bus stop first. 
	But I didn't complain. Maybe you don't believe that, but it's true.
	I stayed the entire week with Danielle, the first time I went home to Spokane and
did not stay with any family members. My mother's house is much too dirty and I'm not
comfortable yet with her recently-acquired oversized (and overstuffed) Nerf Ball of a
husband. Last time I was in town I stayed with my brother, but I had to sleep on his living
room couch and experience his daughter's weird mouth noises next to my ear as an alarm
clock (which, by the way, went off much earlier than I would have preferred). At
Danielle's place, I had an actual bed to sleep on, and no little children to annoy me. And I
got to spend quite a bit of quality time with a very good, long-time friend.
	Tuesday evening I had Danielle drop me off at my mother's for a while, as that
was my only chance to see her. I called her up to ask if she wanted to see me, and she
warned me that the house was a mess, as if I wasn't to expect that. I suppose she might
have cleaned it if we had actually stuck to the original plan of me coming over for a
spaghetti feed on Thanksgiving (which she actually called me in Pullman to sort of ask
permission for, because she said she couldn't afford a traditional Thanksgiving dinner,
what with her operations and going bankrupt and supporting a man and all--but I usually
like spaghetti better than turkey anyway). However, plans changed when my maternal
grandmother had a stroke that left her with extremely limited use of the right side of her
body, and just as her living will stipulates will happen, she will not take any liquids or
artificial means to keep her alive. She is completely expected to dehydrate and pass away
within the next month.
	Mom and I did not talk a lot about that on Tuesday night, though we spoke about
it a little. Mostly we just engaged in sort of obligatory small-talk, and I finally
experienced Bill's company long enough to decide that though he's quite obviously a nice
guy, I do not like him at all. I have always gotten creepy vibes from him and now the
vibes are still bad, but now they just have to do with him and me having absolutely no
common ground whatsoever. 
	Mom and Bill, of course, had rented movies, one of which was Men in Black,
which I watched with them before having Danielle come back to pick me up.
	Wednesday Danielle took me to Northtown Mall, where I went Christmas
shopping and spend much more money than I really should have (the phone bill that
greeted me when I got home told me so, I swear it). I spend more on Gabe and Suzy than
I probably thought I ever would . . . but I suppose that's okay. I'm not going to say what I
got, in the very slight off-chance that they might find a copy of this newsletter and look at
it. I also got Jennifer McQuilkin's Christmas present, though. In any case, I was able to
get some pretty cool stuff--and for Suzy I got something that she always thought she
would never be able to get.
	After shopping that day, Danielle dropped me off at my friend Barbara's
apartment, in downtown Spokane. I just had that evening with her, and she and another
friend of hers and I went to the movies. We saw Boogie Nights, which is a very
well-made movie (Barbara, a recovered alcoholic who has also had a lot of drug use in
her forty-five year past--although this January will be her sixth "birthday"--said that the
portrayal of drug use was very accurate and it was painful for her to watch). However, it
was also a very long movie, and the sex, though never explicit, still got a little
	After the movie we went out for coffee (although I had hot chocolate and some
apple pie). My slight sore throat from the beginning of the week, as usual, had progressed
into one hell of a cold, and by this particular moment it was so bad that it was actually
affecting my balance. I almost fell down more than once because of it. The pie was good,
though. It's too bad I couldn't hear much of the table conversation very well.
	Thursday, of course, was Thanksgiving. I spent that day with my brother at his
house. For dinner I had mashed potatoes, fruit salad, two green beans, and a glass of
really disgustingly generic eggnog. I skipped the turkey. I no longer feel obligated
(gobbligated?) to eat that crap just because it happens to be Thanksgiving. Besides, I was
sick with a cold and wasn't really at all hungry anyway. I could actually feel fluid
swishing in my ear if I moved my head just right.
	Because I was not feeling well, I was not my usual complete smart-ass self, and
Christopher actually offered to shake my hand because I had actually managed not to be
an asshole for one day. That made me feel really good. I did not shake his hand, and for
some reason he didn't take it personally.
	Instead he rented movies, two that I had already seen: Mars Attacks! and Men in
Black. The former is one of my all-time favorites, and so I sat there and watched it for the
fourth time in the space of one year. I did not stick around for the latter, for I had just
watched it a second time at Mom's house on Tuesday.
	For the rest of the evening, I read a really long article in Rolling Stone in
Danielle's mother's living room, as Danielle had gone to bed at seven. (Working
graveyard makes a person go to bed kind of early on their off-days.)
	I spent Friday visiting again with Barbara, for quite some time. It was on that day
that I got my Christmas gifts for Jennifer McQuilkin, really weird stuff from a store
called Boo Radley's in downtown Spokane. She and I also walked through Riverfront
Park, occasionally marveling at how completely warm this fall has been, and I took some
pictures. Later that evening we watched the ceremonial "lighting of the tree" (although,
according to another friend of hers, the tree had already been lit some days earlier). The
ceremony took much longer than either Barbara or I would have preferred, but at least we
finally got to have our candles lit and we got to see the Singing Nuns perform, which was
actually kind of cool. The first "act," though, was the Ferris High School band--and they
were beyond dreadful.
	Danielle spent most of Friday moving all of her stuff to her new apartment out in
the valley, so when she took me back to her mother's place that evening, almost all of her
stuff was gone. I still slept in her sister's bed, and she slept on the living room floor.
	Saturday morning I went out with Danielle to her new apartment, where we
recorded the sixth talk-tape I have ever recorded with her: "Crazy Kids / Give Thanks."
She is a very special person in the world of all of my talk-tapes, as she was the very first
person I ever recorded one with, in February of 1989--when she and I were both only 12
years old. We had a good time recording it, I think, and it's one of the better ones I have
recorded with her.
	That afternoon Danielle drove me over to my other friend Lynn's house, who I
hadn't seen since July of 1996. It was quite nice to finally see her once again, and I also
got to meet the guy she had given my e-mail address to so we had been conversing
through e-mail for some months.
	I don't think I like him. 
	And, judging by his e-mail messages, I kind of figured it would be that way.
However, he is a nice guy, and I will still write to him as long as he wants to write to me.
	I was at Lynn's for a few hours, and then Danielle came to get me when she had
gotten fairly sick with her own cold--which for some odd reason she thinks is all my fault.
I just don't know what her problem is.
	We went to rent some movies, and then went back to her apartment, with her
current boyfriend. Within moments she was receiving news on the telephone that earlier
that day her grandmother had been killed in a car accident while visiting someone in
Texas. The movies, of course, ended up forgotten.
	Danielle's sister Alisha came over so they could give each other support (and pass
around a bong, which I didn't even have to politely decline because Danielle knew I won't
do it--and for some reason Danielle didn't even take any). Soon enough someone was
talking about the inevitable funeral, and Danielle said, "My psycho aunt's gonna be
there"--and suddenly I realized that I could get a lot of information about Pam, the
woman who killed a dog when she was five, who was also Danielle and Alisha's aunt. 
	Immediately I was grilling them both with questions about the woman, which was
really inappropriate but I just couldn't control myself (besides, Danielle even told me that
I could call her if I wanted to know anything else). There's no doubt about it now, though:
Puppydog Eyes absolutely will be the story I revise for the portfolio, as I have gotten so
much completely unbelievable information on this woman, out of this one visit. If any of
you want to know about this story that is way beyond soap opera storylines, you'll just
have to WRITE and ask me to send you a copy of the next draft of the story.
	Danielle and I stayed up fairly late last night (as this was yesterday), talking about
everything from her grandmother to the past histories of our families, to even my own
grandmother. I think Danielle was glad I was there (I suppose her telling me so was a
pretty good indication). I think I'm glad I was able to be there, and for more reasons than
just being able to get all that juicy information about Pam--which, by the way, is going to
blow my creative writing teacher out of her chair when she reads it. I'm also glad to have
been able to be there for Danielle. Isn't that what friends are for?
	This past week has been wonderful sign of my progress with friends, and horribly
sad commentary on the state of my family: the low point of the week were when I was
visiting with family members (did I really want to see my stepfather's dirty underwear in
the middle of the living room floor? I think not). The week was very focused on my
seeing friends--something I never used to have at all. That, at the very least, is a very
good thing. I think my friends were happier to see me than my family was anyway.
	. . . And that brings us to today. My balance has come back, but the cold has not
left. I slept the entire bus ride here this morning, and I walked all my stuff the mile back
to my house from the bus station. I put all my stuff away, did my laundry, then went out
to buy myself some lunch (I figured I probably should, since I hadn't felt like eating since
lunch yesterday). Gabe and Suzy are going to come home any minute now, expecting me
not only to listen to every detail about their own breaks, but for me to repeat yet again
absolutely everything that I just wrote about the week.
	At least my semester break will be more exciting than theirs: I'm going to
The columns history
	I only have two columns to comment on this month; the first one I submitted
never got published, and the last week of the month was Thanksgiving vacation, leaving
only two weeks for columns to be run. In any case, I hope you enjoy what actually did get
squeezed into this issue . . .
	People should sin and be happy: I have to say that this is far and away the best
headline I have ever been given by an editor, and I have to wonder if that isn't a reflection
of the fact that the opinions page recently got a new one. This title totally and completely
reflects the entire satirical tone of the column, and it really cracked me up. That's one
thing you must all remember, though: this column is entirely satirical, and is not to be
taken seriously (something you will see someone by the name of Kevin Matthews made
the mistake of doing). I do not at all believe everything that is written in this column. It
was merely written as a sort of commentary on the people who really think like this ("Be
free and die happy regardless of consequence") and by doing it this way I hoped to point
out how ridiculous such an attitude is. 
	Other than the later letter to the editor, I got no real reactions to this column from
anyone. I kind of liked it myself, but it seems I was one of few who actually got the real
point of it.
	Thanksgiving is a dull holiday: Gabe wanted to read this one while it was still on
my computer the night before I submitted it, and I didn't want him to. I did not think it
was among my best, as I wrote it on a night when I had a ton of other homework to do
that left me with little to think about in terms of column subjects. The whole thing was a
last-minute job, just spewing out all the thoughts in my head about this particular holiday.
I thought it completely pointless but couldn't think of anything else to write about--not for
the life of me, and not that wouldn't have taken too much time for me to prepare for. I
had no time and needed something that could be done quickly, so I guess quality
	But then Gabe read it, the guy who is by far my harshest critic (usually because he
has problems with how I present certain facts), and he laughed a great deal and told me it
was really cool. I couldn't believe it. It was the same thing when I wrote another similarly
pointless column last summer, Lack of people makes Pullman simply boring. I told him it
was pointless and he agreed, but said he liked it anyway. 
	It was printed the day after I submitted it, and I got two different stories about it
from Gabe. First, some guy in one of his classes looked at the column and asked Gabe
why I have to "ruin all the holidays" (I'm sure you'll recall some of my other columns
having to do with similar issues). I just found the column amusing.
	Then he told me that some fraternity guys in one of Suzy's class were looking at
my column within her eye- and ear-shot, and they were completely trashing me, talking
about how I have such problems with everything in the world and all my columns are
completely pointless. One of the guys actually said, "I wish he would die," and that was
when Suzy chose to tell them that I am her roommate. The guy stumbled over himself to
try and tell her that he was just kidding.
	I would disagree with the perception that all of my columns are pointless, but this
is one that gets pretty close, I must admit. I must also admit, though, that I still happen to
think it's at least somewhat amusing to read, and certainly the people who actually do like
my column (and there are quite a few, in fact--just not as many as those who hate them)
will probably like it regardless of its pointlessness.
	I think now is the time for me to wait in the misery of my cold for Suzy and Gabe
to get here. Maybe I'll make some juice. My mouth keeps drying out . . .
					hisheryour wonderfulfavorite fruitcake,
								matthew mcquilkin
P.S. Donations accepted.
vol.1       issue #1       October 1997
	First of all, everybody, let me explain. For most of my life I vowed never to write
something like this, so bland, so impersonal. I always thought it was a horrible idea. This
is precisely why I'm sending such a thing to all you people. Why? Because you all
deserve to be punished.
	For many years I kept up writing to everyone at least once a month if I was not
written back to within that amount of time. It has now become impossible for me to have
the time to keep up such a system, and as a result I have been only writing back to the
people who actually write to me. Out of some sixteen people that I should ideally be
writing to regularly (the other four being pen-pals through e-mail, they no longer have
much of anything to do with "snail mail"), only about four write back to me even
occasionally, and only two actually write to me regularly. Okay, so lack of time happens
to the best of us. That doesn't mean I still have to be nice. I'm just not very good at that . .
	So, for those of you who don't ever write to me, this is what you get. If any of you
happen to perform the miracle of actually writing once again, then you will get a
personalized letter again--but only as long as you are writing to me. As of right now,
there are eleven of you on the list for receiving this newsletter: Angel (hey, at least you're
getting something), Danielle (by the way, Mrs. "WhydontIcomevisit," I should come up
with some further punishment for lying), Darcy (you write to me so seldom that I don't
even know what your last name is anymore), Dawn (you'd better become a lawyer, you're
gonna need it when I'm through with you), Gina (Fleetwood Mac was . . . interesting, but
you still don't deserve a personalized letter yet), Heidi (sometimes I wonder why I ever
bother here), Dad and Sherri (you two do occasionally get the rare privilege of a
personalized letter, but this way you'll get updates on a more regular basis), Jennifer
Miga (I know you'd rather have this hand-written, but I just can't be wonderful forever . . .
here's an idea: write me a letter!), Aunt Raenae (I always enjoy writing to you, regardless
of your never-ending lack of response, but I can't be giving you preferential treatment . . .
Dawn might put me away for discrimination), Rick (Howlonghasitbeen?), and Shane
(now the letters will be longer than three sentences!). If any of you know anyone who
would like to apply for a subscription, you have my permission to give them my address. 
	Just so you all can understand who to look up to as letter-writing role models, I
would like to give some brownie points to my dear friends from Spokane, Barbara (who
writes on average 3 times a month) and Lynn (perhaps once a month). I should give at
least some brownie batter points to Grandma McQuilkin (every 1-2 months) and Auntie
Rose (every 2-3 months). These are all very good people who get personalized letters
from me often. The only two people who never write to me but still get personalized
letters are two of my grandmothers, who are both wholly incapable of writing to me. As
for the rest of you, PPPPPPPBBBBTH!
	I will do my best to make this as respectable a newsletter with as little
raunchiness as possible. If any of you are disappointed with this, you can blame Aunt
A month in the life of a fruitcake
	I'm going to assume that y'all are interested in knowing how my life has been
going, even though some of you might wish that I would just stop writing altogether (if
this is the case, write and tell me so!). My summer went all right, but I don't want to
spend my time writing all about that ancient history, especially since most of you don't
deserve it anyway. I'll just go with telling you how October went. 
	Well, for those of you who don't know, I cut most of my hair off in the beginning
of September. Over the past month it has grown out a bit, and I now have very long blond
roots. I don't plan on cutting it this short again any time in the foreseeable future, though.
It's just long enough / just short enough to be continually in my way but incapable of
being tied back. I won't cut it even shorter, because that will just leave me with dealing
with this crap again when it grows again (and I just don't do short hair). So I plan to grow
it out again, and time will tell how long it will take.
	The highlight of this month was definitely the Fleetwood Mac concert, a story
which I will edit here for the sake of both the innocent and the guilty--whatever that
means. It was the best concert I ever saw, and between gas money and buying a shirt, the
concert itself only cost me about $35, because my Sister Saint, Gina Yarbrough, bought
tickets for all of us who went--Gina, Dave, Angel, and myself. 
	The whole say was pretty interesting, actually, starting with the arrival of Gina
and Angel at Dad and Sherri's house. I got to hear a bunch of reminiscing about teenage
drunken parties and how they got caught where and when and how they didn't get caught
where and when--all about what my sisters did at an age when I spent all my time
listening to music in my basement bedroom with my cat and my homework. Then we
actually got into the car to get out of town, and I needed to get some money out of a cash
machine. Dave drove into one of the empty handicapped parking spaces, and Gina very
convincingly went into Convulsion of the Retard to help the oddly parked car look more
authentic. I still don't know if it was the alcohol in her that made her so convincing, or if
she was genuinely talented in this employment. I enjoyed it, in any case.
	Much of the time before the concert was spent standing around waiting for people
to go to the bathroom. I was given the rare privilege of being the token ID possessor, for
a guy who didn't even ask me for one. The concert finally began, and I no longer lived in
the world as I usually knew it. I was not drinking (blech), I was not doing drugs (gag), but
this was Fleetwood Mac. I don't know if any of you understand this. This is a group of
five geniuses who are together on tour not only for the first time in fifteen years, but for
the first time sober (which certainly made a difference; I could tell). For over two years I
lived in the land of Songbirds, Tusks and Gypsies. I was actually in a place in time I
always believed would be just an impossible dream--and then Stevie Nicks reversed her
famous question and sold me one. I was like a child waiting to see Santa Claus. My
physiological state was never normal during the course of all this familiar music made so
much more vivid, I was in a locked state of excitement. I actually jumped up and down. I
clapped until my arms and hands actually hurt. I never wanted to sit down (and neither
did Angel or Dave or Gina), and so really pissed off the people behind us. One guy
actually pinched my side to get me to "sit the [censored] down!" It didn't phase me. I was
living a conscious dream. A lot went on that night that in other situations could have
really upset me, but Fleetwood Mac always made it all better. I didn't even mind when
the middle-aged hippie lady in front of me actually had the gall to turn around and asked
if I knew what it meant when she held up the peace sign with her fingers. She was either
incredibly drunk or incredibly stupid, not that I think there's much of a difference.
	And I owe it all to Gina.
	The band had four encores--one of which, of course, was the obligatory Songbird.
The band went away, the lights went up, and as we all just sort of sat there in a daze,
Angel suddenly told me she thought my eyes were pretty. I guess that shows what she
knows. She told me to look on the ground for change as we went out of the
Tacomadome, and I found none. I almost became a designated driver, but I couldn't
remember what to do first--put the car in drive or turn the ignition. Dave drove, and he
actually drove much better than I ever would have. He talked to someone on his
cell-phone the whole way home, trying to get some guy to meet them somewhere so he
and Angel could meet, and I decided I want to go home. Angel told me later the guy was
fat and ugly.
	The very next day I rode home with my cousin and three of her friends, and
mercifully didn't have to listen to hip-hop the whole way this time. The weekend of
October 11 is one that will probably stay in my memory for life. 
	Other than that, though . . . there's not much to tell. I wrote a 15-page research
paper on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and got a C- on the "rough draft" that is worth 20%
of the final grade in that class. A classmate of mine turned it in late, meaning she'll get a
half-grade lower than she would have if she'd turned it in on time, and she was convinced
she flunked it. She got a B-/C+. I knew that mine would get a bad grade, though, because
I didn't even proofread it--I wanted to go to bed. So this is what happens when you
procrastinate too much. That was the longest paper I ever wrote for a class, though, and
hopefully I'll be able to perfect it for the final draft that's due in a couple months. Right
now, I seem to be busy doing things like writing newsletters. 
	I'm doing the best in my Creative Writing class, for which I've been able to write
fairly high-quality stories. My latest, The Open Door, about my own cat suddenly gaining
consciousness and knowing that this has happened, has become the one and only story I
have ever written that no one has had a single negative thing to say about. It's far from my
own personal favorite, though. I'm doing all right in all my other classes as well.
	The social life is nothing like I thought it would be once Jennifer moved here. I
am so busy that she calls me all the time and all I can ever tell her is that I'm too busy to
talk. She'll be coming over tonight, though, along with a bunch of other people: today is
	I went to campus in my costume. For Halloween this year I am "normal," or, more
specifically, "AntiMatthew," for those of you who want me to define normal, which I
understand to be literally nonexistent. I wore blue pleated pants, an all-white dress shirt
(the second time I have ever worn it, the fist and only other time being for high school
graduation, exactly three and a half years ago) and a retched gray and brown vest with
one of Gabe's ties. I have on no make-up or nail polish or even earrings, my nails are cut
back, and I even took off my alien ring that Suzy gave me. To solve the problem of my
impossible-to-make-"normal" hair, I simply stuffed it under a baseball cap that I am
borrowing from Gabe and wearing backwards. I look like some sort of fraternity punk. I
went to turn in my time-card at the Evergreen and the lady who usually takes them from
me and gives me a new one almost didn't recognize me. I told her I was in my Halloween
costume and she started to laugh; then the young lady standing to my right at the counter
did a sort of double-take and said, "Oh my god!" I have no idea who she was, but most
people on campus know who I am. She told me it was the best Halloween costume she
had ever seen. Another woman from one of my classes who I talked to today said exactly
the same thing.
	I walked out of the Evergreen, then, and happened to see Jennifer walking by on
her way to Biology, not having any idea that I was standing there and walking toward her.
It wasn't until I was about a foot away from her that she realized who I was, and
proceeded to bust a gut over it. I plan to take a picture of it, because I do not look the way
I feel I should look on any day other than one like Halloween. It's a nice reversal of the
common conception of the typical Halloween costume, though.
	Tonight Gabe and Suzy are going to go "party-hopping" until Midnight or so; I'm
not sure yet if I will go or not, since if I don't then none of our candy will get passed out
and then it will have to make me fat, which I don't really want. But, at midnight, a bunch
of friends are coming over to watch a bunch of cheesy horror movies that we rented just
so we could laugh at how dumb they are: Creepshow, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday
the 13th part 2, Night of the Living Dead (1986; there are three versions), Friday the 13th
part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, and Child's Play 2. We probably won't get half of
them watched. That's what Jennifer is coming over for later, though, and she'll be
bringing her friend Shawna who is visiting from Shelton. 
	I think that about does it for October.
The columns history
	This section actually originated in letters that I usually send to Aunt Raenae, who
told me she found it very interesting to read and so I continued writing this way in the
hopes of holding her interest. That is, I give any additional comments I feel is necessary
for each of the columns I have had printed since I last wrote, whether it's my personal
feelings about it or something to do with other people's reactions--so this newsletter is
more like an extended version of the usual letter to Aunt Raenae, actually. Some of you
will have columns in your envelopes that won't be commented on--perhaps most of
you--but I'm sure you can find some way to handle it.
	Excitment over year 2000 unreasonable: It was not until my friend Barbara wrote
and told me that I realized that my editors put such a blatant typo right there in the
headline itself. The Daily Evergreen is not exactly noted for being particularly thorough
(which would also explain why some of my crappier columns have been printed). I
thought this was a pretty good column, though, and I got the idea from the "Millennium
Notebook"--my favorite page of Newsweek magazine. I found it very intriguing to find
that we'll all be celebrating the turn of the millennium just a few years later than when it
actually changed--which has actually already happened. I did not get much in the way of
responses to this, though, which is common with my more abstract columns.
	San Francisco protest inspires columnist: This is called "Author couldn't think of
anything better," much like the October 1996 column Columnist mistaken for vampire,
although I still kind of like that one. This one is what I consider to be my worst so far this
semester. It happens.
	Diana's death not ordinary only because of royal title: This has been my most
controversial so far this semester--even more so than any of those I have written on
religion--mostly because people tended to misinterpret it. I do not think that Diana was a
bad woman. I just don't think she deserved so much attention before or after her death,
and I wanted to make it clear that I thought it was because of the idiotic infatuation with
her that she died (which not everyone understood clearly either). Most of all, I was sick
of Princess Diana just as much after her death as I was before, and I was tired of hearing
about her. It also bothered me that Mother Theresa died the same week and,
comparatively speaking, no one seemed to care until a week later. I found these priorities
to be odd, especially for a country full of people who consider themselves to have such
respect for "holy" or "moral" religious leaders. Gabe got really offended by the closing
statement of this column, calling it "crass." My friend Lynn wrote to me and said, "For
once I disagree with one of your columns. Princess Diana was not just another person . .
." I was basically told how insensitive I was more times than I can count, and my whole
point was that it was sad how insensitive people in general were in reference to both of
these deaths, and in reference to the people who did just as many good things as Diana in
their lives but were not as recognized at death simply because they weren't as famous. I
never wanted to make people think I thought Diana was a bad person . . . per se.
	Identity an individual issue: Gabe did not say anything about this column until I
told him that I wasn't sure if a woman in my lesbian & Gay Studies class was a lesbian,
but I thought she probably was. This was when he shoved this column into my face and
called me a hypocrite (although: he who is without hypocrisy may cast the first
accusation) . . . I saw his point. I do believe what I wrote to be the ideal, and I got the
idea from many class discussions in that very Lesbian & Gay Studies class, about what
sexuality we should say people are based on their experiences. But I kept thinking, who
are we to decide this for them? (And, of course, who am I to say that woman is a lesbian?
It was an obviously stupid mistake.) One of the women from that class actually
approached me on campus to tell me how much she liked the column. Gabe, on the other
hand, was quite clearly annoyed by it. I told Suzy that I thought it was still the way I think
things should work, and she told me that readers are going to assume that if I say such
things, I should adhere to such rules myself. I think Gabe's attitude stemmed from some
other only vaguely related issues at the time, though. In any case, I do make an effort to
be as close to the ideal I portray in this column as possible.
	Make Mother Theresa a saint: As I say in the column, I am not Catholic--pretty
far from it, to be sure--but, from the context of Catholicism, I don't see any reason why
the woman shouldn't be considered a saint. My academic advisor (actually, one of the
head-honcho ladies at the English department, who I always go to because I've never
even met the person who is technically supposed to be my advisor) told me she is
Catholic and started going through reasons for waiting periods, although she clearly
understood how my non-Catholic point of view could come about. I wasn't all that proud
of this column anyway. Mercifully, my columns have been much better since this one,
and there's no telling how long the trend will last.
	Better protection doesn't mean end of safe sex practice: This should really read,
"Better protection shouldn't mean end of safe sex practice," as there are people who think
that the reverse is actually the case, and as long as people think that, then indeed safe-sex
practices could get closer to ending. I got this idea from Newsweek as well. The whole
thing just blew me away. This is probably the one column I have been most blatant with
in discussing my own sexuality, as the question I was asked clearly indicates what kind of
sex I might be having--but then I make it clear that I am a virgin, and, surprisingly, Suzy
was told by a guy that he couldn't believe I had admitted I was a virgin, without any
mention of the obvious attention I draw to my sexuality. I have actually mentioned my
virginity some three or four times in columns before. I don't think of there being any risk
at all involved in admitting such a thing. At this point, I considered this to be the best
column I had printed all semester. I got hardly any response to it.
	Magazine shows women have not come a long way: Suzy told me she thought this
was the best one I have had printed, ever. Gabe said I had a lot of "awesome" points that
he had never thought of before. I actually sent a very brief e-mail letter to SPIN
magazine: "In regards to your 'Girl Issue,' were there no women available for comment?"
Gabe thought the question was vague; I thought he was being a little dense at the time. I
thought the entire issue of the magazine was horribly degrading to women, and it was an
issue that tried to point out how far women had come! It really pissed me off. That was
an easy column to write because of my anger about it. One woman in one of my classes
was particularly happy with it: she turned around and put a little bag of Hershey's kisses
on my desk, with a little note attached: "Matthew, Thanks for the article! I HATE when
woman are called girls. Peace J."
	Leave people who don't believe alone: This one is bound to be a common favorite
in the family . . . I got one fairly lengthy letter to the editor about this one, telling me why
people try to force Christianity on me and quoting scripture in every third or fourth
sentence, then telling me about a hallway full of doors with the correct interpretation of
Jesus behind only one of them, and the people who can help us figure out which door to
find him behind. The letter meant nothing of consequence to me, and in the process of
saying that she understood what I was saying, the author still did exactly what I was
asking people to once and for all stop doing to me. At least this time I didn't get someone
from Oregon sending me the Book of John, though.
	This column is actually the third incarnation of a column that kept not getting
printed. First I wrote about this guy who came up to me on campus and tried to force his
book on Buddhism on me. I told the whole story of how I declined his offer in the
column, and when it didn't get printed, I finally realized why: I need to stop singling
people out. Later I went to campus and this family of four--Mom, Dad, son,
daughter--were in the middle of campus, screaming damnation at everyone and holding
huge, two-story signs with Biblical drawings and quotes all over them. I couldn't resist
writing about it--and turned in my column on the very day that two other columns, in a
"dialogue" format, were printed on the very same subject. I knew that my column would
not be printed.
	But then, a few weeks later, some people actually came to our front door, to give
us this Christian pamphlet that read on the front, "Will people ever love one another?"--or
something like that, anyway. I couldn't resist trying one more time, and I brought up both
the other columns on my computer. I found a way to meld the two together, edit here and
there, and add a few new things to make it more up-to-date and much less focused on
either the Buddhist guy or the people with skyscraping signs. Gabe actually quite liked
this one himself, and apparently nearly fell over himself laughing when I said simply of
Jesus, "He's dead," because he knew how many people would get erked by that. I only got
one letter, though, and actually got a phone message at the Evergreen that apparently said
how good it was (I never actually got to hear the message). A guy in one of my classes
also complimented me on it. 
	Animal lovers are hypocritical: Here's another example of stupid editors. This
headline connotes the completely wrong thing, for vegetarian animal lovers are not
hypocritical. Gabe and Suzy, both vegetarians, loved the column, although they wondered
how many people would take me too seriously with this. I was quite blatantly trying to be
ironic and sarcastic about the whole thing, but if cornered I would have to say that indeed
this is my official stance on the issue: I can't say that animals mean much if I'm willing to
support their cruel suffering by buying packaged meat at the supermarket. Thus, animals
are to be perceived as beneath humans and not worthy of any kind of special treatment.
Not until I become a vegetarian, anyway, which no longer seems completely
inconceivable to me, in the context of the almost distant future. One correction needs to
be made here: I should have said "nervous systems" instead of "immune systems" in
reference to the shrimp. This was supposed to be a reference to Gabe's excuse for eating
shrimp, which is because they don't have nervous systems and thus cannot feel pain (I
obviously got the terms confused). With the mistake I made, the argument then becomes
that it's okay for vegetarians to eat shrimp because they can't catch cold. What?
	Suzy is cooking pumpkin pie and I can't stand the wait any longer. I must go. I
shall return in one month, if all goes well.
					hisheryour wonderfulfavorite fruitcake,
								matthew mcquilkin