October 24th, 2003


I just had a 0.5L Kristallweizen, with the mandatory lemon slice. Instead of trying to drink it while doing something else, however, I sat in a plastic chair in our driveway, looking at the stars -- while shielding my eyes from the neighbor's front-door lamp -- and making a special effort to slow down and feel the experience. I saw a shooting start and wished for the usual. And I took deep breaths, inhaling the smell of wheat beer and lemon that conjures up contentment for me like nothing else.

Although I'm exhausted, the conjuncture inspired me to spend a few minutes in my "archives."

One of the oddest things about my vast collection, and something I was only partially aware of before beginning this exercise, is that it contains lots of writing by me that was intended for someone, but never sent or published. I suppose this journal is penance for my past sins.

At any rate, today's treasures from the archives consists of two postcards I wrote to people I met in Germany, during my year as an exchange student, after high school and before college.

Since they are written in the same hand and, it appears, with the same pen, they must have been written at the same time.

Both are postcards from Yosemite National Park, showing different views from the valley floor.

Interestingly, they bear circular "Yosemite National Park" stamps, with the date of March 21, 1989.

That means that they were stamped during a Spring Break trip that Annalee, Christopher, and I made to his family home in Stockton -- actually between Stockton and Lodi, if memory serves -- with a long day trip to Yosemite as the highlight and raison d'etre. The day trip itself is a bit of a blur, but I recall sitting with Annalee and Chris listening to German tourists talk outside the main store complex in the Valley, not aware that we could understand them. And I remember the hike we took through the still snow-dappled Mariposa Grove of sequoias late in the afternoon, during which Chris walked really fast and disappeared ahead of Annalee and I, much to our mutual consternation. There was also a can of Cheese Whiz squirted onto crackers during the drive back to Stockton, undertaken in Chris's wondrous, forest green VW Cabriolet.

The first postcard was addressed to Philip Horn, the red-haired guy who lived near my host family in Bopfingen, was a year ahead of my host brother Markus and, therefore, me in school -- the equivalent of eleventh grade for him, then -- and is impressed on my mind as quiet, thoughtful, and far more mature than most of the guys I hung out with there. Markus seemed to enjoy Philip's company because it permitted him to be reflective and intense in an introverted way, rather than his usual ebullient tenth-grade self. Here it is:

Philip -
Ich hätte dir so eine Postkarte schon längst schicken sollen, aber ich habe Schwierigkeiten mit Post, d.h., ich schreibe Briefe u. Postkarten, ohne sie zu schicken. Blöd. Weiβ ich. Das Foto ist von Yosemite, wo Ansel Adams so gern fotografiert hat. Schreibt man "fotographieren" mit "ph" oder "f" oder "ph" und "f"? Da bin ich nicht so sicher. Wie ergeht es dir in deinem Abi-Jahr? Beschäftigst du dich immer noch mit der Chemie? Was ist mit deinem Fotografieren? Mir geht es okay. Ich muβ viel Arbiet nachholen, da ich während dieses Semesters faul gewesen bin. Doch ich bin glücklich, besonders wenn ich mit meiner Freundin Annalee zusammen bin. Da wir jetzt miteinander leben, bin ich oft sehr glücklich.
Tschüβle! - Charles

The second postcard was addressed to my host brother Markus Riethe himself. Markus taught me to "chill," never let me beat him at ping-pong, and generally acted as my older brother on matters related to girls, though he was actually a year younger than me:

Tagchen Markus -
Vor ein Paar Tagen waren wir in Yosemite, d.h. ich und die Annalee, mit unserem Auto-besitzendem Freund Christopher, einem sehr interessanten Typ. Der studiert Deutsch, d.h. Germanistik und wird nächstes Jahr in Tübingen verbringen. Ich weiβ nicht, ob er dir gefallen würde. Er ist ab und zu ziemlich ärgerlich und auch zurückhaltend -- aber aufgeweckt. Übrigens ist die Annalee von dem Doktoratprogram von Berkeley aufgenommen worden. Sie darf deswegen den zweiten Teil ihres Studiums hier verbringen. Wir freuen uns sehr, wie du dir gut vorstellen kannst. Ich schicke noch einen Brief. Tschüβle!

I'm almost certain that I never sent the letter I promised Markus. But I did reestablish contact with him since coming to Tucson. Or, more precisely, he found me. He married the girl, Andrea, he was dating at the time and now has two young daughters and works for the regional geographic council or some such.

I've promised him a DVD that is yet to be sent.
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(I almost started another entry with "It's funny")

Tim Harrington of Les Savy Fav is singing:
Are so passé
Are so passé
Cast away

J t'aime
J t'aime
J t'aime
kdotdammit remarked yesterday that, whereas she has always given me a hard time for being perpetually ironic, in this format it is she who comes off as the ironic one and me as the sincere one.

I'll have to do a better job of integrating my personalities in the future.

I will say, though, as the rush of beer and memory subsides, that -- isn't this obvious to everyone? -- the irony cage is always already a protective shell.

Thank god for music -- it's Vivaldi's Concerto in C major for 2 Trumpets now, since I'm in shuffle mode -- so I can have a space to unfold the extent of my feeling.

I do love you with painful intensity, my dear, even if I find it easier to quote a quirky indie rocker who attended Rhode Island School of Design, singing in French, than to just , you know, like, say it.
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