||[Dec. 28th, 2008|06:56 pm]
thank you for reading the following words
for the dishonest and reprehensible purpose of making things entertaining, i'm telling you that i spent my christmas with my uncle charley in seattle.|
charley is an interesting guy. he was only the seventeenth in the family to go to college, graduating from new york university with a degree in animal husbandry. after graduating, he analyzed risk for a major financial services firm, serving as a risk analyst in the firm's risk analysis division.
uncle charley got out of financial services during the second term of the clinton administration, and consequently, he owns a minority share in starbucks and boeing. he now lives in magnolia, four blocks away from the ballard locks. every morning, he performs tai chi on the shifting metal walkways of the locks, controlling the boats. as he tells it, stalled yachts always move at his slightest provocation. uncle charley "detests sedated boats," and he always makes this known to the family every christmas.
fortunately, my cousin harry (charley's son) was able to make it, too. harry was born in puyallup and now lives outside of olympia. over his lifetime, he has served in the coast guard, the national guard, the sheriff's department and the military. during the entirety of the grenada invasion - from october 1983 to december 1983 - harry ran a rest and relaxation outpost for gi's returning from the island. the rest stop, located in barrow, alaska, was once visited by laurence tureaud (then widely known as mr. t) and by first lady nancy reagan (at the advice of the nation's chief astrologer and the defense department).
soon afterward, in 1986, harry raised a conscientious objection to the bombing of libya, and was dishonorably discharged from the service. for the next ten years of his life, he taught portuguese to students at north seattle community college. in 1996, afraid that he couldn't support his family, he took a job as a software engineer at microsoft. he kept this job for eleven years, until the company found undocumented workers to do it for three quarters of his salary.
understandably, harry got a little bitter. however, he tried to keep his spirits up. when speaking with me, he blamed illegal immigrants not for taking his job, but for making it difficult to excel at pick-up games of soccer during his lengthy unemployment. then, after going six months without a job, harry came home early from the library on a monday evening and caught his wife sleeping with his best friend from college. instinctively, he kicked them out of bed so he could take a nap. it was serendipitous. on the following well-rested tuesday, he successfully landed a job as a captain of the bainbridge island ferry.
harry continues to play soccer, and he also plays women's basketball. he owns eight jerseys of his favorite wnba players and has season tickets for the seattle storm. privately, harry once told me that he wanted to play women's basketball professionally, despite his anatomical disadvantage. and sadly, until a few years ago, harry tried to live vicariously through his daughter stacey, hoping she would live out his own ambitions in the arena of women's athletics.
unfortunately for harry, stacey has other interests. always buried in blueprints, stacey currently studies civil engineering at the evergreen state college. last semester, she took a class called "reinforced concrete construction from a revolutionary perspective." her term paper related to suspension bridges, but on the advice of her writing partner, she finished her essay with the conclusion: "i think we should kill a bunch of people and start fresh." stacey's professor/group facilitator liked the essay so much, she suggested stacey read it at an open mike night in a downtown olympia coffee shop.
i really wish i could have gone. though it's almost embarrassing to say it, i really admire stacey's youthful enthusiasm. stacey always has her pulse on the zeitgeist, and she's probably my favorite cousin. for christmas this year, she gave me a bootleg spoken-word recording of governor christine gregoire performing live in front of a joint session of the washington state legislature. i was appreciative of the gift, and it seemed that she liked my gifts - a bright yellow scarf and an autographed poster of former weatherman bill ayres sitting on a park bench in downtown chicago.
but anyway, i'm home now and i have a lot of e-mail to catch up on. i flew home on lufthansa and was late into oakland because of a scenic detour through the wenatchee valley. i did get a little embarrassed a few hours ago at sea-tac, forgetting about the shoe screening at the airport. without thinking this morning, i picked out a pair of socks with embroidered rabbits on them, giving a hearty laugh to the homeland security officers. but anyway, like i said, i'm home now. i'm really sorry for being out of touch over the last few days, and i sincerely hope you enjoyed your holiday, too. and if i don't see you beforehand, happy new year!