Sat. June 12, 2004
Conrad and his assistant Ryan pick me up at the SeaTac airport. He takes me to my new apartment in Renton, south of Bellevue. It is spacious, but the apartment is from the 1970s. The kitchen is small and filled with appliances from another age; however, the bathroom is of a decent size. Later, I discover the shower head leaks. And the apartment manager seems to think Conrad is my uncle.
The weather in Seattle area consists of a persistent, though gentle rain. No one wears a poncho or carries an umbrella; the real Washington natives let the rain fall on their Gore-tex jackets and wear shorts year round. Conrad asked me if I go to Church. I said usually no, but I will if invited. "Well, then you're invited tomorrow." The next morning, we attended service at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in the neighborhood. It was very Catholic.
My Jewish Father
At the campaign office, I meet an elderly gentleman who tells me he is the landlord to collect on our late rent payment. I am a little nervous. He then laughs and admits he is Howard Katz, one of Conrad's volunteers. Howard is a retired 3M manager who used to commute between Seattle and the SF bay area for business. He is now active with the senior citizens community and comes to the office on a regular basis to advise the candidate. He quickly adopts me and I now call him my "Jewish Father." This past week we made two visits to the neighboring Starbucks for a Mocha Frappaccino and sandwiches. "Oy vey!" he tells me. Or "Oy gevalt" or "oh my god" in Yiddish. He also bought me a Yiddish-English dictionary and promises to make me fluent by the end of the campaign. In time, maybe I'll even be able to find a nice Jewish girl, but definitely not a shiksa. (For you gentiles, that means a non-Jewish girl, usually a blonde)
We have three other campaign staff. Kyle is our resident 21-year old computer genius. Somewhat reserved, tall and lanky, Kyle's a junior at U of WA, manages our website and keeps our computers running. He's been to Hong Kong a few times.
Ryan is our 28 year old full-time volunteer. He usually visits us in the afternoons after he's done at the paint shop. Ryan spent four years in the navy right out of high school. He's now a "super senior" at the U of W, with only 10 credits left. He's trying to stretch his student career for another year. Ryan has a Chinese girlfriend.
Tasha, 21, and from Idaho, the Potato State, is our fundraiser. She is an attractive blonde with emerald eyes and fair skin. She has lots of event planning experience, but is doing fundraising for the first time. Her uncle and Conrad are good friends. Already, Bob Keene, the tax accountant at the end of the hall, has made daily visits to see her. When he first met her, he remarked, "There ought to be a law against women like you -- your beauty is too distracting."
We had a few candidate forums the first week. The Sheriff came off as polished, but lacking substance. As the only woman in the race, Diane Tebelius came off as articulate and fairly impressive. State Senator Luke Esser projected himself as the true-blue conservative, although a bit dull. However, Conrad emphasized how he is the living embodiment of the American Dream.
Sat. Juneteenth Dinner:
On Saturday, we attended a Juneteenth dinner in Seattle with the African American community to celebrate the freedom that Black Slaves enjoyed two years after the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. Although the event consisted of mostly Democrats, Conrad thought it would be a good photo op. One of the guest speakers was a Haitian author named Pierre Louis who talked about how US policies contributed to the end of President Aristide's rule. President Aristide was kidnapped. Although he was democratically elected, he was forced out of office, exclaimed Mr. Louis, in a scratchy, stilted speech. In his right hand was a bottle of water. In his left hand was the microphone. As he spoke, he looked down at the ground, as though he were reciting the speech.
At the dinner, we sat at the Republican table with Dino Rossi, the GOP candidate for Governor. Linda, one of the grassroots volunteers recommended that I go visit a Jon Seaton, the Bush Cheney Campaign Coordinator for WA State. I thought the name was a bit familiar since one of my Berkeley High School classmates was named Jonathan Seaton. I asked Linda if Jon was of the Jewish faith. "Yes."
"Is he skinny, and tall?" Yes.
"Does he have a prominent nose?" Yes
"Does he have a high-pitched voice?"Yes. I suspected that this Jon Seaton and my high school classmate were one and the same. When I visited the Bush Cheney office on Monday, I was greeted by a gorgeous young lady named Jennifer. "Had I known you were here, I would've visited much earlier," I said to her. She smiled and brought me back to Jon's office. Sure enough, it was Jon Seaton from Berkeley.
We are now working on our 6/30 fundraising dinner of several hundred people. To prepare adequately, I visited the restaurant last night with two of our staff. The restaurant owner, Mr. Lo Yu Sun is from Shanghai originally, but his family fled the Japanese and ventured Westward to Sichuan Province. After a few years, they fled again, this time from Chairman Mao. They escaped to Taipei, Taiwan and eventually settled in the Pacific Northwest. Mr. Sun has operated his current restaurant China Harbor for 12 years. He is a jovial man, perhaps in his 60s. His hair is neatly combed, and slicked back. In accented English, Mr. Sun asked the three of us if we had eaten dinner. We had not, but did not want to impose. "Well, you are at a restaurant, my restaurant. And you have not had dinner yet, so naturally you must eat!" With that, he called the waitress over and ordered some fried rice with shrimp and tofu and sweet and sour chicken. I noticed the Airport ID card around his neck. "I understand you just opened a new restaurant at the terminal."
"Yes. I was showing our new chef where to park and how to get through security. He does not speak much English," explained Mr. Sun, who owns a chain of restaurants in the Seattle area.
Tomorrow, we will attend a Veterans Parade in Seattle. Our candidate will ride in a convertible and speak to the masses. More later...
If you want to reach me by cell, call me: 425-802-3982. I should be free Sunday morning to early afternoon.
Meanwhile, please go visit our website: www.conradleeforcongress.org