12.25.01 we're walking out of here

a letter from my great-grandmother circa 1925.
edited for length; eccentricities are as they appear.
Dearest Nina -

I honestly don't know what I'd do without your lovely newsy letters. Your latest of the 13th of December came last night, as did Jennis' nice Christmas missive. I surely was sorry to hear that Mr. Galloway had had to go to the hospital. I s'pose poor Jennis doesn't know his head from a hole in the ground between his father, the new house and business.

Believe me - you're going to be 1st class - with showers built in tubs and pedal faucets. When I come to a bridge meeting at your house I shan't wash until I get there. As soon as possible do take a snap of the residence and send it on. I'm awfully interested and I'm about as pleased at your having a house as if twere mine.

Had an announcement from Margaret Requardt - I do hope this venture will turn out better than the other one. I was terribly surprised to hear about the Mill's girls - not as much Edith as Charlotte. Come to think of it - we're rather fortunate in the pair we picked out - even tho mine shoots off his mouth afore he thinks...and yours is Radio Mad.

Here's something to tell (Nanny) Mildred - we've been over the Chinese Frontier! Marjorie Knuckey - Fritz and I with an Indian driver - a Burmese servant - bedding for all - food for 6 days, started out on New Year's morning for Nham Khan. We sent the servant - Maung Po - by train to Lashio - (the end of the railroad in Burma) with the stores and with Tawpah driving - we reached Lashio at noon that day - had lunch there - picked up Maung Po - put him, the stores, and enough gasoline for the trip in another car - and drove on - the road was nothing but a mud track - over mountains and through virgin jungle - we made Kut Kai that night and stayed in the government rest house there. At Kut Kai we saw our first panther - just 150 feet from the bungalow - right then I started to be scared and kept up the good work - till we got back to Namtu - wishing every minute that I hadn't gone. Now of course - that we're back safely - I'm glad I was along. The next morning we started out again, sending the other car back to Lashio - and leaving Maung Po - some of the stores and the gasoline in Kut Kai - in order to lighten the load - as we had a climb of nearly 5000 feet ahead of us (the car was an Overland - nothing but that or a Ford could have stood the racket.) From then on we were beyond signs of humanity or civilization, and 130 miles from the railroad.


We arrived about 6 - found the rest house crawling with vermin and what not - decided we could not sleep there - so left for Lashio - it was pitch dark and we had thick jungle to go through - and very steep climbs - the fan belt was slipping - and the water in the radiator boiling - when we saw a tiger within ten feet. I never prayed so hard in my life - for the engine to hold out. Fritz says he expected his hair to take his hat clean off his head. The two guns were not loaded - and the ammunition was under the rear seat - on which I was sitting - I was too paralyzed to move - and anyway we'd have had to ask the tiger to wait while we loaded the rifle. Fortunately wild animals are terrified and fascinated by lights or fire of any sort - and old Mr. Tiger never moved. About 20 minutes after that we passed a panther so close on my side of the car that I could have patted his head - had I been so inclined. Every minute we expected the motor to give the last gasp. But somehow I think my prayers must have been answered - and we reached Lashio safely at about 9:30 P.M. We stayed at the rest house there - and collected several bedfellows of the crawling variety. The next morning we started on our last lap - to Namtu - a distance of 42 miles - which it took us over 8 hours to do as it had rained the night before (a most unusual occurrence for this time of the year) and the roads were so bad that Fritz and Maung Po had to lash the rear wheels with rope - having no chains - it wasn't mud - it was like thick axle grease. Marjorie and M.P. got out and walked up to their ankles for about 2 miles to lighten the car - but I stuck to Fritz as we were on the side of a cliff with a precipice on the left side - and I was determined to go over with him. Fritz admitted afterward that he didn't expect to make Namtu - ever. If we'd had an accident there'd have been no help and we'd have had to remain all night in the jungle with the tigers leopards and panthers. The rear wheels were skidding so bad that poor Fritz's arms were nearly pulled out of their sockets - and one time we missed going over into the river (about sixty feet below) by a margin of not more than six inches. This all sounds like a fairy story - but its not one bit exaggerated. I can't describe to you how full of thrills and interest the whole trip was. Oh yes - at one part of it Fritz and Maung Po had to cut down bamboos and fill in holes in the road in which you could have buried a cow. Fortunately he had taken Tawpah's big knife away from him when he got drunk (all the natives carry big knives) otherwise Fritz'd never have been able to cut anything to fill in the holes. I still thank God that we're back safely.


Isn't that like Virginia? She never seems to realize that acceptance of every invite entails some retaliation on her part. Goodness knows how many meals (informal) she's had at our house - and I've never once eaten at her house except t'was at a party or something of the sort - I can't imagine how elated you were over the cordial invite.


I had a card from Marguerite H. telling me she'd had a serious operation - what was it - ovaries removed? I would think Don ought to get operated on also.

Mother writes me that for Nov. Frederick was second in his class in everything and got 95 in arithmetic and in Dec. he was in the lead. Isn't that splendid - particularly when you consider how much time he lost last winter & spring.

Isn't Lawrence Baldwin younger than Marie Stack? He had a case on me at one time - I believe it was during my 4th year at W.H.S. - but that he was an awful "dumb brute" - maybe he's changed. Mother telles me that Bert is engaged to a Sally Boggs of D.C. All the old belle's are getting married - It's very sad!

Thanks a lot for your Christmas card. I can't remember whether or not I thanked you in my last letter which I wrote in Namtu - Xmas week.

Fritz is still expecting to answer Jennis' letter by this mail - altho he's been very busy with figures and information to send to the states - as he thinks his Namtu visit will result in a blast-furnace job for the D. C. Co. If it does will be quite a feather in his cap.

I am playing tennis every afternoon down here and there's some slight improvement - I don't think I'll ever be able to challenge Helen Willis.

My hand is becoming more numb with every word I write - so I'll have to quit before rigor mortis sets in.

Best Love to you and Jennis from Fritz
and yours as always

B.B.P. Co.
P.O. Box 449
Rangoon, Burma

12.24.01 bitter airport haiku

i'm unconvinced by the whole 'take a sip of your drink so we'll know you're not a terrorist' routine at the metal detectors. couldn't i float a plastic gun in my coffee or develop a resistance to my liquid weapon over time, a la cary elwes in the princess bride? the machine gun guy at the checkpoint mocked my pear-artichoke-broccoli smoothie. yeah, well you look like g.i. joe.

left work much earlier than i expected but didn't have much else to do, so i got to SFO at like 12:40. i have a 4:45 flight. i can feel my body decomposing, breaking into simple things. like artichoke.

on lauren / libra + joe / cancer, cosmo sez:
He is the original nice guy, but you need someone who can add spice to your life. He wants to keep you all to himself; you'll get irritated when he wants to have yet another mellow night. Love match meter: 1 [/10].

12.23.01 give paris one more chance

happiest holidays to all, dear digifolk! i was going to regale you with high school poetry, but i've been unable to find it. in its stead: snippets of ye olde amsterdam journals (04/99). and to all a good night.

painted walls urge them to assert themselves -
RECLAIM YOUR AUTONOMY - and their fingers
twitch and obey: adolescence is named again and again
in the steam of the highest windowpanes.

saw him at the counter and he asked if everything was okay and i said no and he said i thought so and i said i was changing and he said what? and i said my clothes and off i went. now he's not even here to be impressed. and i'm pretty impressive.

1331h thursday 8 april - delifrance on the damrak. met a nice punk from brandeis last night. took a picture of him with jeremy - think i'll blow it up and hang it in the room. bought a lily the size of a baby's head at a flower vendor yesterday - good fun to freak people out and lay around in the silver dress like a dead girl.

[henry rollins] "and anyone who thinks they're above it, like 'i never get depressed!' and you're like god - you're a liar, and you're boring."

and the moon shoulders through clouds in the last row of a miracle
like the man at the back of a sideshow crowd.

2.1: 'And in th'essential vesture of creation / Does tire the ingener.'
- spinning so fast that can't be seen w/naked eye
- you speak of me as yet unformed, and so it is

1340h 4/12 monday. costa, george st. i need to drag myself home like the silly family pet i am.

12.20.01 whatever happened to?

we actually had a storm alert tonight, as in the tv fuzzed out and an earnest young man warned us that there were golf ball hailstones in san jose. cut to a shot of someone's backyard 'hailman', cut back to frasier. supposedly there was a small tornado lurking about, but i think it shopped in union square for awhile and went back to stockton. we wondered if this would affect the delivery of our indian food and returned to the television. if it rains much today, i'll have three new rental movie synopses for posterity: i hydroplaned on the 73 during a storm a few years ago and wrapped my car around a steel divider, so weather and freeway driving tend to loosen the bowels a bit.

on that note - rental movies - not so sure about the house of yes. it was probably a very nice play, but the adaptation was very stagey. i could worry about whether or not this was intentional, but i'd be relatively unimpressed either way.

the post office informs me that my ted hughes shakespeare book is hiding on pine street: i've been looking for it for two years, but i actually sort of fear it. he's exceedingly long-winded, and i don't know that i can prep by reading the plays again. if douglas coupland cranked something out, see, i could throw that back in a day and feel very accomplished. i wish he'd consider my feelings.

12.18.01 when you tell me it's okay

per jen, the gift of the magi is the greatest love story of all time. i'm iffy, but i've never gone through the long hair thing. can't counter it with anything convincing: my short list is cyrano de bergerac, antigone and leonard cohen's "hallelujah", but the genres are all wrong. i bawl like a baby for "i'll be your mirror", but again. are we talking volume, originality, applicability? i bawled for digimon when one of the furry little guys sacrificed himself to a giant robot cockroach.

some guy dumped a newborn street puppy on us the other day, so we gave him a doll scarf, fed him lunch five times, and called him a christmas miracle. then a big christian/jewish smackdown broke out, it being hanukkah and all, so we named him latke. dr. johnsen fostered him and re-named him riley, then her terrier decided that he was her puppy. now we go to play with him and cricket looks at us like "you spay me and then give me a son and now you want to steal him for dress-up?". johnsen doesn't want to keep him, but there's no arguing with little dog.


12.17.01 no bigger than a nickel

today's health tips:

1. restaurant's name has no vowels? run.

2. feel poisoned, can't vomit? drink warm salt water and think about jazz.

baby jo's expecting her answer from stanford today, so i'm calling home every five minutes. no word yet, but mom did call to say that i have to go to the oakland airport again. woo.

3. beer consumption and bowling abilities: inversely proportional.

one lousy beer = 130 total in two games. i did get a pair of free socks from the shoe rental people, though.

the whole apartment is going to hell: the wiring in the hallway is out, jude mangled himself on a hanger or something, i puked all night. joe snored, but he always snores. to my great surprise, the fatty new goldfish are all still alive. hardy little guys.

cold weather gets at my goth nougat filling: i picked up an h.p. lovecraft anthology and an edward gorey gilded bat datebook thingy. the lovecraft is more convoluted than frightening, but this is okay. some camp counselor read me stephen king short stories like ten years ago and i still shut the closet before going to sleep.

lukas gifted me with dear moz's wistful, vaguely irc pen pal days. jake tells me of a foreign lad's labor of, um, love (visit him, he needs help). take this, brother, and use it well; i'll play sad songs on my gee-tar.

12.14.01 lift up the receiver, i'll make you a believer

we finally had a plumber put the tub out of its misery; potential house guests, it's safe to go back to the bathroom. this guy was more of an exorcist than a repair man, and he charged like $900 to summon water from the right places and banish it from the wrong places. that said, i felt that it would be unwise to anger someone who has the power to turn my toilet on and off.

took a page from jen's book and worked on my gift list as i babysat the plumber. bless you, internet! - for i'm finished shopping, provided that my loved ones are all spies.

mister coffee / hidden camera.
junk food / safe.
blow gun.
fighting fan.
the ability to control an army of bees (a little misleading, sure, but repelling moles with spearmint is kind of exciting).

won the video store guy's respect today when i rented window to paris at his insistence. it may be that he's kind because i'm at blockbuster all the time and don't appear to have any friends, but that's okay. we're bonding.

the holiday party at work - actually kind of fun. mostly a vegetarian potluck and playing with everyone's dogs, but it was kind of nice; dogs and babies are great, as long as you can give them back. my cider was a hit, yay.

saw jonathan richman again saturday: charming as always. saw ocean's eleven sunday: not bad for A Big Movie. finishing the master and margarita: i've finally gotten the nicknames straight, and it's exceedingly good. bulgakov may be cooler than gogol, and he's certainly friendlier than nabokov.
"Something's going to happen! It can't help but happen because why, in fact, have I been made to suffer for life? I admit that I've cheated and lied and lived a secret life hidden from everyone, but even that doesn't deserve such cruel punishment. Something is bound to happen because nothing lasts forever."


It amazed her that the front hall of an ordinary Moscow apartment could contain such an extraordinary, and invisible, but very palpable, endless staircase.

yojimbo, incidentally, stinks.

12.07.01 while they're dragging the lake

spent the afternoon volunteering with my doppelganger on market street. the society talks fancy stores into putting kittens in their windows at christmas, and we plebes shuck them out to unsuspecting shoppers. issues with talking pedestrians into twenty-year commitments aside, it can be a good thing - cat ladies are everywhere, and sometimes they bond with our older cats while hunting for cousin ralph's present. luckily, maybe, i had no ideological crunches - the coordinators oohed and aahed over the fact that we were hospital staff and then sent us to the sidewalk with collection jars and free stickers. my twin is a proactive little minx - we made fifty bucks and some guy gave us long-stemmed roses. a chick got burly on me when i tried to tell her guy about our cats and he asked for my number, but it was a relatively pleasant afternoon. look ma, i beg for money on the street.

made it through the craft at one go - so there, Kid Video. he was opening the store this morning when i snuck by to return my hoard.
guy: did you enjoy those?
me: yeah, i did.
guy: you've got to be careful what you watch.
on batman:

Could you pass this along to Lauren?

In her sept. 2 entry, she asks, "who's seen adam west lately?" I have. Like me, he's a Whitman graduate, and he came to speak there-- I think it was my freshman year (1995-1996). Unfortunately, since it was my freshman year, his talk was likely midway between pre-func and party, so I have only a very hazy memory of said talk, but I remember being amused.

Dirk Benedict, aka Faceman, is also a Whittie-- he visited sophomore year but only hung out with his brothers at Phi Delta Theta.

(cheers, colette)
12.06.01 slowly over wet sand

blockbuster guy makes me feel shabby: he looks damaged every time i rent something and it is revealed that i'm hoarding movies at home. today he seemed skeptical about my chances of getting though the craft in five days and told me a long story about watching all three hours of pearl harbor in one night "because it was the right thing to do". mum, in turn, is still bitter about the angry letters she got when i rented leprechaun 4 on her card. what do you people want from me?

happy birthday senor big ed! happy birthday metameat! exactly fifty years apart; coincidence?

courtesy of the latter,

dirty uncle paul.
yers trooly.
12.04.01 but you kept the queen is dead

i knew that my Vocation would tap me on the shoulder if i waited patiently. it has come to light that i am a paper-snowflake-making superstar. i mean it: people nearly wept at the office today. martha stewart, gird your loins.

mom left a big old box up here after thanksgiving. my favorite contents: a baby quilt (that i absolutely love and she has completely forgotten) and a trophy engraved with LAUREN, NO. 1 GIRL (to placate me when emily was born). many breakable tchotchkes that mom encouraged me to sink in the fish tank, but we've already filled it with plastic fishie bonsai. the pegasi are in the kitchen.

i used to hate "honey make something" holidays - father's day once ended in tempera block-printing my nose - but i'm warming to it. it's not poverty; i'm not afraid of credit card hell, not really. i should be crafty, with mum's genes and all. this can work.

i work the 24th and the 26th, so i'll be home long enough to pee, essentially - but i suppose that it feels nice to bust my ass. i have yet to develop free time as much more than NotHospital, but it's not for lack of time. there will be time.

12.01.01 me first and the gimme gimmes

armed with mulling spices, i am the rumpelstiltskin of the beverage world. give me your cheap, your stale, your purchased-because-the-label-was-funny -

joe and (jewlicious) jake came back from amoeba with the 2001 MUSIC WE LIKE! handbook. this year, as last year, it's compromised my music ego - i should have more vinyl, i should have nick cave, any nick cave, i should start a band and call it The Perfect Teeth - but i have recognized something important: on paper, amoeba people sound like my old co-workers from borders. given that, can i let them make me cry?