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Vancouver Lilith Fair 1998: The FumbleRumble

Yes, pictures will make it here eventually. I have them back from the developer, but have yet to scan them.

This year's FumbleRumble was different than last year's: I treated it more like a vacation spent with a few Fumblers rather than the huge get-together we had last year. Not that something like that is bad; it's just that I had done it already last year, and I wanted something different. So intermingled here are two reports: one of my time spent in Vancouver, written on the plane back home, and one of my time in the Pacific Northwest United States, written the day after my return.

Vancouver Trip Report, August 28 - September 1, 1998

Written on a CP Flight out of Vancouver, 9:45 p.m. PST September 6, 1998.

 I hate to start with "where do I begin", so I won’t. I’ll start with "I’m very lucky to be on an airplane out of Vancouver at all". Yes indeed, some of you may know that I missed my 5 o’clock flight out of Vancouver today due to literally a mile-long lineup for customs and immigration at the border. But I’m getting ahead of myself, for that was today, and I got here a little over a week ago. As you can imagine, a lot has transpired since then.

It was last Friday that I arrived in Vancouver at 2 p.m. to gorgeous weather – something we didn’t have last year when I was here. This was to persist through the entire trip (nota bene: good karma point #1).

The first thing I did was to catch a bus downtown, stow my bags at the train station, and head over to Dr. Sun Yat Sen’s Classical Chinese Garden. I did this for two reasons – it was a cheap, nearby attraction, and secondly, because I was stressed from flying in, and the ridiculous insanity of the week before my trip, where I was attempting to wind down my summer job and do transition to a person who wasn’t even scheduled to start work until Sept.1. So I decided a nice peaceful garden with flowers, ceramic tiles, inlaid woodcarvings and running water would be nice and relaxing.

The classical garden was in fact very beautiful, with much attention to detail. For instance, special lava rocks (okay, boulders) were imported from China, and these rocks were carefully chosen so that, viewed from a distance, not only do they resemble certain things (e.g. a duck or a man meditating), but they appear to be entirely different things at other times of the day, depending on how the light strikes them. If you’re ever in Vancouver, this garden is highly recommended. And take the tour.

I grabbed a quick dinner at one of Vancouver’s famous won-ton noodle houses and then hopped a SkyTrain to Jason’s apartment in New Westminster. I severely underestimated how long it would take to get there, and I also assumed that the Emm show started later than it really did (I had not retrieved Jason’s e-mail about the starting time yet). By the time I arrived at his place, we were an hour late so we had to rush to the Emm Gryner show at 8:30.

It actually wasn’t an "Emm show" per se; she was the opening act for some monotonous guy named Bernard Butler, who used to play guitar for Suede and has "struck out" on his own, so to speak. <grin> Jason and I concluded that this fellow only really has two songs: Song A and Song B, where Song B is a faster version of Song A. We left after four songs.

But Emm was good. She’s still a little immature as a performer – she has decent stage presence but her set is a little rough in places. For instance, she does "This Mad" a capella, but she sings it as though there was instrumentation, with all the pauses where the guitar and piano goes. It’s very jarring and uncomfortable for the listener, particularly one who hasn’t heard the full version and can’t "fill in" the blanks. Nevertheless, she did put on a fairly good show (though I wish she’d done the Clash cover, instead of the Paul Weller one, dammit J )

After we walked out on Bernard Butler, Jason and I decided to try and hook up with his volleyball friends who were having drinks at a place called Culpepper’s. It turned out to be about a block and a half from the venue, luckily for us. (good karma #2) Jason’s volleyball friends are very friendly. One of them, Emily, is a real-life replica of Dee Hazelaar, who is (or was) on FTE. Around 1 a.m. I started to feel the effects of the time zone change, so we headed home to sleep. Jason’s sofa bed is very very comfy.

The next morning Jess Alvernaz’s flight was due in at noon, so we headed to the airport to meet her. The US arrivals area was insane – Jason said he had never seen it that busy. (We later found out that YVR had its busiest day ever that Saturday.) Quickly we hightailed it out of there and straight down to Nettwerk (eating could come later J ) En route to Nettwerk, Jason had made several sharp turns, one of which had caused me to spill coffee on myself and my shirt, so it was extremely convenient that I was planning to purchase another Sarah shirt anyway. Jess bought a great deal more merchandise than I did, but that’s ‘cause her dollar goes further than ours up here <grin>

After lunch at a very nice Greek restaurant called Simpatico (y’know, like the ISP, only with an "i") it was time to part ways for a little while, as Jason and Jess wanted to go to the beach and I wanted to see the Capilano Suspension Bridge. What a trip to get there, though. First a bus, next a SkyTrain, then the SeaBus, and finally another bus. Not only that, but I ended up at the Lynn Valley Suspension Bridge instead. J Well, how the heck was I supposed to know it was the other bus? I mean, I just got on the bus labelled "bridge" Maybe it’s a covert plan by the residents of Lynn Valley to get some of the Capilano tourists to go to their bridge instead. J

I crossed the precarious bridge and hiked around the trails for about an hour, ending up on the riverbed, where there was some fast-moving water – not very much of it – and lots of large boulders to lie on. I tried to do that until some macho meatheads started throwing rocks around, trying to impress their scantily-clad (would you expect any less?) girlfriends, so I took off. Walking further along the riverbed, I encountered lots of families congregating at the "Thirty Foot Pool", which is as it sounds. There were some kids hurtling themselves off cliffs that were about eight to ten stories high (no joke!) which just scared the crap out of me, because I was afraid that one of them was just going to smash his/her head open, so I got on the trail again and hiked up about a hundred stairs to get back on the main trail.

For some reason all this adventuring wasn’t particularly relaxing so I waited until everyone else had left the trail and I had the forest to myself, with dead silence surrounding me. No dice. Hmm…

Back in Vancouver, I had dinner at the Water St. Café in Gastown, across from the famous steam clock. I had a nice glass of wine and salmon fusilli. Great dinner, but I was still tense on account of the jarring steam clock sounding every fifteen minutes. Admittedly, I wasn’t quite as tense as the day before, so the famous Pacific Northwest Laid-Backness ™ was obviously having its effect J

I met up with Jason and Jess at his friend Megan’s apartment (one of his volleyball friends from the day before). Also making an appearance at the party was Heather Hanchett, who’d flown in from Houston that evening. Jess soon needed to crash, though, so we went home. (Megan has a really gorgeous place though; I suspect that there are many, many apartments with beautiful views in Vancouver.)

The next morning, Jess Thaler and Skeie showed up at Jason’s, bright and early, for our bungee jumping expedition. By sounding the "let me in" buzzer, they woke Heather and I up, so I wasn’t particularly conversational at that time – my apologies. I am barely functional in the morning (y’know, tripping over my own feet, having severe difficulties with the English language, etc.) so it took me a little while to get going.

Actually, with regard to the bungee jumping – I was having none of it, only being along for the ferry ride, which was gorgeous (in both directions). B.C. probably has some of the most beautiful scenery in Canada (Canadia?) and I believe it. I theorize that if Torontonians all knew how beautiful it is out there, nobody would want to live in Toronto anymore J

It was my first time on a ferry of such proportions (i.e. one which you can drive vehicles onto, although we walked on), and I suspect it was the case for many of the Fumblers present. So, we had to go to the front of the boat and do the Titanic thing ("I am the king of the world!" and other related nonsense J ) and take pictures. The front got very windy indeed and I do have pictures of Jess’s hair, Jason’s hair and so on (heh heh) They’ll make it on here eventually.

Incidentally, good karma #3: we just barely made it on the 12:30 sailing of the ferry after running on board. We arrived at the Bungy Zone at 2 p.m., and I don’t have much to say about that, since I was on photo duty most of the afternoon, but both Jesses and Jason (the three who jumped) said it was lots of fun. Jess Thaler and Jason also went on the giant swing, which swings out over the same canyon (Brian Wilson and Jason’s friend Denise have been on it, and in fact they are in the promotional video for the Bungy Zone!)

The ferry ride back was even better, as it was about 7 p.m. and hence the sun was just going down. I hope my photographs come out nicely for that. The rest of the day pretty much involved getting back to Jason’s and sleeping. One funny thing that happened on the way home is that we tried to stop at a restaurant near where Jason lives, called Anton’s. It had just closed, but who did we see inside but his beach volleyball friends who I had already encountered twice? Of all the restaurants we could have picked, we go to the one where his friends are J Weird.

That evening, Heather was staying at the hostel with the rest of the Fumbler Contingent so John and Jenn drove her back to fetch her bags from Jason’s. So, I got to see John again, for the first time in a year (and Jenn for the first time in, uh, about three weeks) It can now officially be stated to John, in public, that I did not break my promise to him in Vancouver’s Grand Central Station last year (which was, if anyone’s memory needs refreshing, that I would be back again this year.)

It’s hard to believe that the next day was Lilith Fair! It just kind of sneaked up on us. Well, some people from the hostel decided to line up really early but me, Jason and Jess decided to take our time. Jason had to work a few hours that morning, so Jess and I slept in and met Jason at the SkyTrain station. Near the venue, Jess and I got off the bus to have lunch, while Jason continued on to the media conference (he writes a music column for the North Vancouver Voice) When Jess and I actually got to the venue, finally, we just squeezed our way past a lot of people, where I met Lisa Rabey and her boyfriend, and saw Travis Leippi again – someone else who I haven’t seen in a year. Travis was with his friend Cathleen.

Looking around a bit, we found John and Brian (Bloo!) and all the rest of the gang. Not long after that, the gates opened, and the first thing I noticed was that the Lilith Fair programmes, formerly being sold for $5, were now going for free! There were boxes of them sitting around so I grabbed a few and I have mailed all my extras to people in need (e.g. Steph Fox, our beloved Alana, etc.)

I’m sure you all want to hear about Lilith Fair but quite honestly I didn’t spend that much time listening to the various sets, instead hanging out with Fumblers in the Village. I spent time with AJ, Travis, Greg Teltschik (who related to me his horrendous car fiasco), Gemma, and later Brian. I also talked to Cathy B. and Leanne a bit, because they weren’t so busy this time around, particularly between sets. Being in the Village while some of the artists were doing signings was also good, as I got both Dar and Lisa Loeb to sign my Lilith Fair programme.

The acts that I did see were Dar, Angelique Kidjo, a bit of Me’Shell Ndegeocello, Paula, and Sarah of course. Dar was very good – she did some songs I’ve never seen her do live before, such as "You’re Aging Well", which I love. She was very nervous though, which dampened her usually hilarious stories between songs (and also she only had a half-hour set). However, I ended up seeing her two more times before the end of the week so who’s complaining.

Angelique Kidjo was also fantastic. I really like her song "Oremi" off the Lilith Fair promo disc (thanks Gemma!) but her live performance was nothing like that. However, she is very energetic and enthusiastic, and was at ease with the crowd. She’s coming to Toronto in October, so I might go see her. (October 17 at Massey Hall, if Toronto-area Fumblers are interested)

Paula was okay – I mean, I’ve seen her enough times to know what she’s like (perhaps it could be said that this is a complaint of mine that she doesn’t vary her set very much). But, IIRC, she did a Bob Marley cover, which was superb. The most notable thing was that during Paula’s set, some drunk girl weaseled her way up to the front where were standing, and pushed Heather Hanchett out of the way. Skeie was about to scrap with her J Of course, "Throwing Stones" is definitely NOT a song that is conducive to reasoned discussion, so what can you expect. J )

Then there was Sarah. Fabulous as usual. The crowd was louder than I’ve ever heard. I’m glad this year we were weren’t crushed to death like last year – these GA shows can be absolutely brutal. Sarah and her band seemed like they were kind of tired, though – I mean, the show was great, but you could tell that her and her band were visibly tired. But after fifty-some shows, it’s to be expected. (Is it just me, or does Sarah sound like she’s picking up an American accent?)

It was hard to believe that after Sarah – that was it. Lilith Fair ’98 was officially over, and future Liliths, if they exist, may not continue to have her as the so-called headliner. I was a little shocked at this realization, since I’d been having such a relaxed time on this trip that I’d forgotten this was it for Lilith ’98. I was jarred out of my foolish philosophizing by about six Fumblers shouting at me that someone was looking for me, so I went over in their general direction. Some guy who is a regular visitor to my website wanted to meet me – I felt so famous! Too bad I was exhausted and incoherent – I kind of felt like Sarah, in the lyrics to Black & White: everybody loves you when you're easy / everybody hates when you're a bore / everyone is waiting for your entrance so / don't disappoint them – like I had to be nice and cheery when I was feeling like crap. So, to whomever it was that approached me, I owe you a big apology and a Fumblehug.

With that in mind, a bunch of us piled into the JessMobile (later the DarMobile…) and went to get something to eat at a restaurant called Armadillo’s? (Maybe I’m imagining the name) The pasta there was half price (well, two for one) and very delicious. After some of that, and COFFEE, I was ready to roll. We swung by the hostel to say goodbye to some of the Fumblers leaving early in the morning, like McPhile, Heather Hanchett, Brian, Gemma, AJ, etc. etc. Then Jess T. drove us back to Jason’s, where she also crashed for a few hours before driving back to Seattle and showing up, presumably bleary-eyed, at work.

The next morning, after hitting the local Starbucks for some coffee (and the store, for some cereal for Jason to replace that which I ate), I said goodbye to Jason and Jess Alvernaz, as they were spending the day downtown and I’d be gone (to Seattle) before they were to return. At noon, John and Jenn picked me up, and so ends my Vancouver report and begins my Seattle report.

Seattle-Portland, September 1-6, 1998

written Monday, September 7, 1998

Tuesday morning (Sept. 1 -- payday! but I left my cheque at home :-( ) John and Jenn picked me up at Jason's. We were all crammed into Jenn's rental car -- the other two occupants being Skeie and Catherine, John's sister. Who is cute. :)

It was decided to take the scenic route to Seattle, which eventually culminated in three ferry rides. :) We drove to Tsawassen from Vancouver, and caught a nice BC ferry to Vancouver Island. "Caught" is right.

Fumblers have THE BEST ferry karma. We were, literally, the last vehicle to be loaded onto the ferry. :-) Awwwwwwwwwwww yeah :) (good karma #4)

This ferry was even more luxurious than the one that took us to Nanaimo on Sunday for bungy jumping, but unbeknownst to me, the entire journey was made backwards. Therefore, when we got to Vancouver Island, it looked like the ferry was backing into the dock, which caused us to dash madly down to the car deck, thinking we were going to be the first ones unloading. Sadly no. :-(

Once on the island, we drove towards Victoria, and we thought we would go visit the Buchart Gardens. Unfortunately, the admission price was $16. Ummmmmm *NO*. <--- I've stolen this phrase from John, who stole it from Antknee :)

So instead we went to Victoria proper. We walked out onto the breakwater in Victoria -- it was beautiful out there, despite the choppy seas (which were to later hautn us) and then got dinner in Chinatown. The Cookie Nazi lady there didn't seem to like Catherine and made her buy 12 almond cookies when all she wanted was one, although she seemed to like Skeie just fine (Skeie managed to buy only one).

Then, after a bit of hassle at Immigration (I was the one who got hassled, being the only Canadian in a car full of Americans) we got on the Coho ferry to take us to Port Angeles. God what a rocky ride that was. I think Catherine was the only one still dashing around the boat when it was rocking back and forth ten degrees in either direction -- the rest of us were clutching our stomachs and I was regretting having stuffed my face with noodles a few hours earlier. :-( But eventually we all made it to Port Angeles without anyone ralphing. :)

 Drove for a bit more that night, and took a quick ferry across another body of water (Lake Washington? I have no idea) to get to Seattle itself. Dropped Catherine off at John's parents', and then headed home to sleep. I got to see John's nicely partially finished house, and John and I discussed the construction thereof, much to the chagrin of Jenn and Skeie. Fulfilling outdated cultural stereotypes, it's John and Julian :-P

 I slept on John's hard floor that evening, causing me to awaken the next morning with "We're assembling that FUCKING FUTON *TODAY*" :-P Actually the next night I just slept on the sofabed next to Jenn :)

 So Wednesday, Jenn and I made a road trip to Portland to visit Esther and do some touristy stuff. We went to see the Japanese Gardens, which were really beautiful (although I wish there were more flowers), and then went to Powell's Books, where Jenn had to be dragged away from the cash counter before she purchased more tomes. Then we tried calling John for the fifteenth time that day, because he was mediating dinner plans between us and Esther (we'd call him to get him to send an email to Esther because her phone was busy, and later call him back to get the low down on her replies :) ) and finally Esther's phone was unbusy. So we drove out to Reed and picked her up.

 Since Jenn and I had eaten lunch at 4 p.m. that day :) ("Jenn, why do you think the deli is so empty? <glances at watch> Oh, that's why" :-) ) we just went to a little outdoor cafe-type-place where they serve vegetarian stuff like pesto and white bean paste dip with pita bread, and such healthy things as that. One of the things we ordered came with an EXTREMELY hot pepper. Jenn and Esther both just *licked* the pepper and were sent scrambling for glasses of cold water. I said that we should bring it back as a "present" for John, but decided that would be too cruel. We already brought back a BLOOberry muffin :) that had been sitting in the car all day. John, I hope to God you didn't eat that thing (oh wait, I forgot to tell you where that had been. Whooopsie :) )

 Anyway, Esther is so cheery and happy that I was *really* unstressed by the time we dropped her off at her meeting at Reed. I mean, being on the West Coast is a great way to be unstressed as it is, 'cause everyone is so laid back (okay, maybe John, Jess and Brian aren't representative, but let's presume they are :) ) But seeing Esther just turns you into a totally unstressed pile of jelly. It's great <smile>

 Drove home, and found John passed out in bed -- he'd been helping his friend Paula move all day. So Jenn and I tried to make plans for the next day (visiting Anna, getting lunch, meeting up, etc.) but every time wethought we had the plans down pat, and all the interdependencies between people all worked out, and tried to go to bed, some other thing would occur to me or her that necessitated us jumping out of bed yet AGAIN, turning on all the lights, and reworking our plan. So needless to say we didn't get to bed real quick. Then once we did get to bed, I discovered that the "blanket" John had given me was about the size of a welcome mat. For whatever reason, at this late hour, Jenn found this to be The Most Hilarious Thing of All Time, and could not stop laughing. :-) I hope, John, that you weren't kept up by any of this :)

 The next day, we figured that Jenn couldn't return the car AND take the bus to meet Anna in time for lunch, seeing as how neither of us knew any of the bus routes (and actually, the bus ride was about an hour long, I kid you not), so she kindly drove me out to Anna's, met Anna, and then left to return the car. I had a very nice lunch with Anna at an Indian restaurant -- it was nice to see Anna again after a year of, well, not having seen her. (Duh :) ) Anna also showed me one of her recent colourings which was gorgeous. I'm sure she has a pretty good idea of how it looks, despite the fact that she cannot see, but if she *could* see, I'm sure she would be astounded herself. Wow.

 I caught a bus back downtown and spent over an hour, lost, in downtown Seattle, but I eventually was able to walk back to John's house. I tried calling him at work for navigational directions but he was nowhere to be found (at least this is what "Paul at Northwest Protective Services" had to say to me :) ) Coincidentally enough, the instant I arrived at John's door, Brian showed up to pick me up, since I was staying at his place that evening. Great timing Bloo :)

We drove to John's workplace and parked the car, then hopped into the Darmobile (i.e. Jess's Saturn) for yet another road trip, up to Vancouver to see Dar at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. As John mentioned, we made it there just in time to catch the tail end of the opening act, Anne Weiss. Dar was great, as she generally is in a small, intimate venue. She wasn't nervous like she had been at Lilith, and told some of her legendary hilarious stories to intro the songs. It was a great set and one of the encores, "February", was beautiful. <cry>

We also ran into Travis and Cathleen at the Dar show. Trav said that he KNEW Jess's head looked familiar. I guess it can be said that Jess has an unmistakeable head, what with that "arange" hair. <grin>

Then it was time to hop into the Darmobile and leave "Canadia" (as in "Canadia, I do believe I've failed you") and head back to Seattle. About halfway, Jess started to doze off so Brian drove the rest of the way, and John and I switched spots so I was in the copilot's seat. Finally Brian and I get to be Road Buddies <hug> Near Everett, I looked in the back seat, and it was so cute to see all three of them asleep: Jenn asleep on John's right shoulder, and Jess asleep on John's left shoulder. awwwwwwwwwwwwwww yeah. :)

Back at John's work, Brian and I bid adieu to the rest of the clan and headed over to Redmond. It was 2:30 in the morning but Brian gave me the quick tour of the Microsoft grounds, and we took the requisite photographs of me and the Microsoft signs. What's funny is that I was wearing my FreeBSD shirt that day :)

At Brian's, we did some computer stuff until about 4:30 in the morning, when Brian decided enough was enough as he had an interview at 10, so we went to bed. By the way, Brian has *the* comfiest couch known to man. Short of getting a couch that swallows you whole, this is about as good as it gets. Ahhhhhhh.

I slept until about 11 the next morning, and Brian woke me up on his return from Interview #1. Then, out of the blue (out of the Bloo?) Travis called, and said he'd driven down that morning from Vancouver, had been trying to find Brian's place for the last half-hour, and could Brian please provide directions? After a short while and some navigational advice, Travis arrived, had a shower, and we went to Piecora's for lunch.

They weren't *that* busy, but all the waitresses/waiters were grumpy. In particular the lady making the salads looked like she was going to commit hari-kiri after her shift. So we just ate our lunch, Brian went to interview #2, and Trav drove me back into town.

Not long after we arrived at John's, his sister Beth showed up, and proceeded to mistake the two of us as contractors working on the house. Ummm, *NO*. :)

Tried to get in touch with Jess T. by phone at her work, but we couldn't find her number, so Trav and I decided to just go down and surprise her at her work. Walked into the Seattle Times main building, asked for Jess Thaler in New Media, and the security guy said, "oh, this young man (one of the other guards) will show you the way". I thought, "wow! an official escort!" but all the "young man" did was to open the lobby and front doors and motion vaguely in the direction of a one storey building. Then he went inside again :)

We did find the New Media building and Jess gave us a quick tour, both of the nearby convenience store (where we bought ice cream popsicles, yum) and also of her office. I took a picture of Jess and her Spice Girl Shrine (I cannae believe she has that in her office :) ) and then we went outside to wait for Jenn in the park. Drove to John's office to say hi and to drop off Jenn, and Trav and I went to Bumbershoot, grabbing dinner at a nice Thai place on the way.

Before Dar, we stopped in at a short film festival, and saw two interesting films, one of which was entitled Suburban Monogamy. It's a USC production (waves to Xochitl :) ) and *very* hilarious. It's like a parody of the typical 60's lifestyle, with a deliberately cheesy narrator, who makes hilarious comments in the same cheesy voice.

We missed most of Dar's opening act, but I wasn't too worried. We made it in time for Dar! I think we're turning into (or are already) serious Dar groupies -- I mean, driving three hours in either direction to see Dar, knowing that we're going to see her the next day? Aiee. :) Dar was excellent, once again -- one little kid named Feather, who was sitting in the front row, was brave enough to shout a request at Dar, who promptly played "The Babysitter's Here" :) soooooo cute :)

Since I was staying at Brian's again that evening, I bid adieu to John and Jenn, and Trav drove to John's so I could grab my laundry out of John's dryer (and hide the housekey in John's flowerpot :) ) Drove to Brian's and hit the local Red Robin for some nourishment (with a waitress that was WAAAAAAY too cheery for that time of night) and then headed home. I decided that instead of getting up at some insane hour to catch my 7:45 Amtrak which I couldn't cancel without incurring a $30 fee (I mean, get real -- the ticket was only $27 to begin with), Travis and I would take it easy, and he would drive me to Vancouver, since he was headed that way anyway.

The next day, after lunch at a pancake place near Brian's (HUGE portions. Oh my God. Brian was NOT going to finish his chocolate pancakes without exploding of chocolate overload) Trav and I headed to Vancouver. Unfortunately, the customs line was about an hour and a half long and I ended up missing my flight at 5 p.m. Ok, BAD. It was the worst time for me to miss a flight -- Labour Day Weekend, Air Canada on strike. Fortunately since I was originally a Canadian Pacific passenger, I had priority over SOL Air Canada passengers, so I was lucky enough to get the 9:30 flight ouf of Vancouver. For a moment there, it looked like I was going to be stranded in Van. indefinitely.

So I got home at 7 a.m. this morning, and slept till noon. It's currently 3 a.m. so I should probably get to bed like right NOW. See John, look what you've done? You've made me tell everyone about what I did on my trip <smile>

 

Overall it was a great vacation, spent with some great people who were kind enough to help me when I needed a ride or a place to stay. I know, it's difficult to be philosophical at 3 in the morning, but I'll try my best -- as Jason said to me, it takes more to be a true Fumbler than to be subscribed to some mailing list on the Internet. To be a true Fumbler, I believe, requires you to be a kind, generous (lol! a natalie reference), caring and sensitive human being willing to open your arms and heart to other human beings. And I believe that everyone I spent any amount of time with this past week fits all of the above criteria.

 In particular, I want to thank John for being a real trooper. :-) Despite having to work all this week, every time Jenn or me called his workplace in panic because were were lost/couldn't reach somebody/needed a favour, he was cheery and helpful, despite only a few hours of sleep. Hell, come fo think of it, there was not ONE time I talked to John that he was not cheery. And I don't mean the annoying, Red-Robin-waitress-at-2-a.m. cheery, but the positive, subdued, helpful cheery. John, you rock. << hugs >>

 Thanks to everyone who made this a smashing trip for me, whether you offered a sofa / piece of bed / piece of floor to sleep upon, or drove somewhere (e.g. to see Dar -- Jess, you're forgiven for calling our country 'Canadia', since it makes an awesome song :) ) I had an excellent time this week and I hope you all did too.

 hugs and kisses,

- Julian, going to bed now

P.S. Thanks also to Travis who stayed with me at the airport until I was safely on board some kind of aircraft, heading somewhere in the direction of Toronto. You're a great guy :)

P.P.S. Hugs also to everyone who couldn't come, including but not limited to people like Traci, Xochitl, Mona, Alana, Lois, <insert your name here>, etc. etc.


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