Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Steve



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

October 17, 2018





Dear Steve,


I’ve been picking up the cadence when it comes to letter-writing so I can clear the board for novel-formatting in November. There are actually only three people left in my list of 52 to write for Project Gratitude 2018 – you, my father, and God. As much as I’d like to say it was because I was putting all the women before old white men, that’s just not the case.

You were on my list from the beginning precisely because, over as many pints we’ve quaffed together over the last 6 years, you’ve probably come to understand better than any other unrelated human on Earth why the last two letters to the earthly and heavenly fathers will challenge me the most. I’ve only put off writing yours to give me something fun to look forward to all year . . . and maybe to make you squirm a little.

It started in the Dymales’ living room in early 2013 with what I like to call the smirk of understanding. I was masking sarcasm with Sunday School verbiage before our new home group when your eyes lit up and you cracked that wry grin. It happens when your bullshit detector gets triggered—and sometimes when you’re enduring the status quo for the sake of civility. I knew, right then, that a like-mind just read between the lines. You heard me loud and clear.

It would turn out that we had similar paths that lead us to think outside of the traditional, comfortable boxes with steeples that we grew up in. We were DINKS, then, with a shared affinity for good food and good beer. We lived within walking distance in West Seattle. It was the beginning of something beautiful. I remember you talking in the first months about how many hours people need to spend together to become true friends. I think we surpassed that in the first year and a half.

In the early years we would spend many a Thursday evening at Beverage Place when I was trying to stay up late and sleep in on Friday before starting my 12 hour night shift. From philosophy, to institutional hypocrisy, to our wives and childhoods—we covered a lot of personal ground. You would end up bouncing from West Seattle, to Columbia City, to Renton, while I went to Kirkland and back, finally settling on Vashon Island, but we’ve been within 20 miles for nearly 6 years. I can’t say that about any other best friend I’ve ever had.

We’ve been a lot of places and done a lot of things: Camping at Point Defiance, Beer Junction, Thanksgiving in Bellingham, Steve and Sandy’s, Rocco’s, brew days, Red Mill, Blue Angels from your backyard, bachelor parties, Talarico’s, weddings, Peel and Press, bike rides, Endolyne Joe’s, Beer Junction, running at Greenlake, Café Ladro, PCC Breakfasts, Clay and Paula’s, Beating the Blurch, Proletariat, home group, Marination, Combo sessions, Seattle Improv, Canon, Super Deli Mart, Belltown Pizza, All Souls, Elliot Bay, Fiddlehead, moving days, No Anchor, Marination, Rhein Haus, Schooner Exact, Matador, Elysian, SafeCo Field, and Prairie Home Companion.

But wait, there was Naked City, Portage Bay, Prost, Circa, Mission, Pyramid, smoked meat anywhere it’s served, Flying Lion, The Avett Brothers, Dick’s, Winter Brew Fests, Flatstick, fried chicken in sweltering heat at Ma’Ono, Milstead, pacing the Float-Dodger 5K, Brouwer’s, Fremont, Azuma, Full Tilt, the Beveranda, Beer Star, Li’l Woody’s, Snapdragon, Paggliacci, the bimonthly trifectal assembly, Holy Mountain, 7 Seas, The Pine Box, tailgating in our living rooms before Hawks games, McMenamins (2 of them,) Brewmaster’s Taproom, Crossfit (haha just kidding on that one) . . . . but so many other places I can’t remember the name of, or I’m just completely forgetting. . . . That’s a lot of communion.

I honestly don’t know that I would have purchased a home in the PNW if you didn’t bite first. The draw of relatively dirt-cheap living in Dallas, where I fly to work almost every week now, would have been much harder to resist if you’d settled too far away to meet up. But moving that far away from my partner in so much rich, gastronomic fellowship after you finally settled down in Renton was unthinkable.

Your amplified daddy-duties, my frequent flyer commute, and the ferry ride between us have all put a damper on quality time in the last year. I understand, but it still sucks. I miss you. . . . At least we have the perpetual Google Hangouts session—a daily fixture since Wednesday, April 23, 2014. I’m chatting with you as I write this. That’s how I know you’re standing in line to board a plane in San Francisco on your way to your brother’s wedding. I’m looking forward to the play-by-play as the weekend unfolds.

In summary, thank you for being the only man in my life that my wife has ever been justifiably jealous of. Thank you for sharing life with me for over half a decade. And thanks for settling close enough to keep me hopeful for a beer and decompression session with you almost any given week for years to come. Let’s pick up the cadence a little, shall we? J


Love,







Daniel

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Dear Reader (An Overdue Update)


Dear Reader,


I really buckled down on letters in October and November. I was even behind on posting them for a little while. Since catching up, I've been releasing them here, one each week, in the order they were written and mailed. I apologize if you've had to wait for weeks to find your letter here, and finally make sense of what I scrawled out by hand.

Finishing up on letters allowed me to buckle down on the novel. I completed the final in-depth editing and formatting pass, designed the cover, figured out all of the hullabaloo that comes with the copyright and ISBN info page, and racked my brain for way too long over all of the self publishing avenues and options available.

I ultimately chose Kindle Direct Publishing to get the paperback into tangible form, ordered two proofs, and it escaped the world of screens and drives. It's a real book! I must say, it feels really good. I added a few pictures to the novel's dedicated page so you can see the current cover design.

There is still a lot of work to do. With Jenn's help I'll be undergoing a read-through of the proofs, and make the final final edits before taking the book to market. I hope to have it available to download to E-readers, as well as old-school paperback. Then there's getting noticed. I've always been better at writing than marketing, but in today's market you have to be proficient at both in order to rise above the thatch.

Lastly, if you are one of the recipients who I haven't directly spoken to in years, and you haven't touched base since receiving your letter, I would greatly appreciate it if you could make contact, just to confirm that I have your correct address. I don't want to buy you a copy if I'm not sure it will find you. I'm sure you understand.

As always, thank you,








Daniel

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Susan W.





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October 17, 2018




Dear Susan,


It’s pretty ironic that the first time I ever saw a drag queen it was through the window of a church van that took a wrong turn and sputtered into Deep Ellum—150 miles from its rural home port in Marietta, TX. My jaw dropped a quarter-mile. Was that a man in a dress, or a woman with a beard? The van would break down a few blocks later and the youth were promptly armed with tire irons. The next 15 minutes of tension could have been a suspenseful pre-massacre scene from Night of the Living Dead. Of course we all lived to tell the tale.

Twenty-something years later, I live in the Seattle area and work in Dallas most weeks. I stay in AirBnBs instead of hotels, sometimes right in the heart of Deep Ellum. Hipsters abound in the artsy atmosphere. Their fashion sense can be quite prissy, but I don’t see many full-on bears in heels. I don’t know what’s changed more since the SBC inadvertently rolled a band of impressionable youth through what was then considered the coronary artery of the heart of darkness—Deep Ellum, or me. But that will always be a fun story in hindsight.

I’m writing to thank you, though, for another memory that has endured the test of time. Even before my family changed churches to attend Oakridge Baptist full-time, my sister and I would attend Vacation Bible School there, just down the street from our house, in the summers. The earliest, most vivid introduction to contagious joy that I can remember came from you, behind a keyboard, leading our little music sessions.

You can’t get to heaven on roller skates
Because you’ll roll right past those pearly gates.

You can’t get to heaven in a putt-putt car
‘Cause a putt-putt car don’t putt that far.

What couldn’t help me gain admission was more evident than how to acquire the golden ticket at that point. It would be a few years before Randy Fair showed up to put on that chalk-sketch revival. It wasn’t until then, at the age of 7, that the power of grace and the significance of the ultimate sacrifice sank in deep enough to motivate me to walk down the aisle and get dunked. But you were one of the first people I knew in whom the joy of the Lord was so evident that it made me want whatever it was in your heart that put such a smile on your face and sparkle in your eye. Thank you for sharing the love with me and the other kiddos during your time in Marietta.


Sincerely,








Daniel

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Mr. Rowe





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
October 16, 2018




Dear Mr. Rowe,


I won’t bore you with another rehash of my wonder years. They were detailed in my letter to Ms. DeJésus and that’s available on my blog to read at your leisure if interested. But I do want to personally thank you for your voluntary involvement in my life during my 7th - 8th grade stint at Thomas Jefferson School.

My memory may be failing me, but I don’t recall taking any of your classes. I took Latin under Mr. Colston and, if I’d stayed at TJ, your Greek would have been next. I’m ashamed to admit it, but the intimidation of learning a new alphabet on top of a new language might have played a minor role in my personal decision to high-tail it back to Texas for 9th grade. Spanish there was a breeze after Latin.

You weren’t my advisor, either, but something compelled you to reach out and do some shepherding during that period. I remember you taking me birding on a couple of occasions, offering a refreshing escape from my everyday world, which consisted of the TJ campus and weekend excursions to shopping malls. It was a chance to breathe and think about something other than school work. On top of that, your son introduced me to the peanut butter and American cheese sandwich. Quite a revelation!

I remember you as kind, patient, gentle, and firm at the same time. You had the perfect temperament for a teacher and mentor of youth. Thank you for your investments, large and small, in me and so many others over the course of your career.


Sincerely,









Daniel Loffer


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