Postcards from Panama

Part I

8/1/09
Dear Karen,
Remember when you made me promise that if neither of us were married by August 2009, we should just give up looking for someone else and marry each other I just happened to be near a calendar last night (at midnight) and realized that it is August 2009! Ive been travelling all summer, but I will be back in the U.S. in a few weeks, and I thought maybe we could get together to laugh about that silly little promise we made in eighth grade, and how funny it is that we both remember it. I hope all is well.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/4/09
Dear Karen,
Have you seen that YouTube video with the 4-year-old who plays the gong She plays very fast, with a great deal of confidence. The fact that she's so young makes it even more amazing. I know it has been a long time since weve talked, but I think I still know the kind of thing that you would find amazing.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/15/09
Dear Karen,
I haven't heard from you yet. What are you up to! This is a picture of passenger ship I rode down the infamousPanama Canaltoday. The Captain told me that A) The average toll to take a ship through thePanama Canalis $54,000, and B) The lane with the attendant is actually quicker than the lane where you throw change in the basket. I hope you don't mind that Ive been sending these postcards to your parents house, because I'm not 100% sure I know where you live right now.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/16/09
Dear Karen,
Did you know there is a psychiatric disease that is unique to Panamanians They call itAlmejaldulterio. (It is a masculine word even when a woman has the disease.) The afflicted person becomes convinced, despite reasonable evidence to the contrary, that a clam is wearing their clothes and aiming to replace them in the workplace and the wedding bed. Pilar told me about a movie (a thriller) in which a clam really is wearing this womans clothes, and nobody believes her because they think she hasAlmejalduterio. In case you were wondering, Pilar is a friend who I know because she works at the place I go to rent inner tubes.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/17/09
Dear Karen,
The natural beauty here is amazing. I have never seen so many trees packed in so tightly. Pilar drives aToyotapickup truck with flames painted on the back half of it. The flames make it look like the truck is backing up really fast. She needs a pickup truck for her job because she has to carry stacks of inner tubes upstream after people are done riding them. I am not telling you this to make you jealous. Interestingly, many people have commented to each other that she is quite attractive, but I just see her as a close friend. Please write me back and acknowledge that you received the ocarina I sent you. It is nothing special, except that it was very expensive because it was made out of something called vegetable ivory. Hope you 're doing well!!! Please write back.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/17/09
Dear Karen,
I still haven't heard from you, and I'm wondering if it is because youve had second thoughts about keeping that promise you made on the evening ofAugust 1, 1989. I'mpositive that we promised each other that we would get married exactly twenty years later, because I wrote it down at the time. Ive been thinking about how much youd lovePanama, especially because the people here are so vigilant about defending the rain forests. The objective is to minimize the impact on wildlife and their habitats. With that in mind, do you think we should just go ahead and have the wedding down here I don't care either way.
With warmest regards,
Michael
P.S. If you are already married to someone else, please let me know, because that would be totally fine with me. Just let me know.
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Part 2

12/21/09

Dear Karen,

Thank you so much for writing back! I read your letter a vast number of times, and I couldn't help but notice the part where you said that you are allergic to oats. That may be hard to explain at restaurants, especially down here in Panamaif you don't speak Spanish. I have decided to order you a custom T-shirtwith a smiling Quaker and a big red X over his face. The size of the shirt will bemedium. I realize that you could fit into a small, and I am in no way implying that you are in any wayfat, but I think that the Panamanian waiters may be embarrassed to look at your T-shirt if it is too tight (they are very polite), and might miss the message that you are not in favor of oats.

Speaking of T-shirts, I saw a great slogan that I believe in with all my heart: "Be living simply so that simple people can also live." It struck a chord with me, because I don't believe in unnecessary luxuries. If you are looking for a man who will invest in opulent frills like a giant round bed, you will need to look elsewhere! It's hard enough to find sheets for a giant round mattress, let alone plastic sheets if one still has a problem with bed-wetting. (I'm taking a class on self-hypnosis and by time we are married, I guarantee this will no longer be a dire issue.)

After reconsideration, I willorder custom-made round bedsheets, in case youconclude thatmy rectangular mattress is a "deal-breaker."

With warmest regards,

Michael

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12/23/09

Dear Karen,

I took a closer look at your letter, and I think you actually wrote that you're allergic to cats, not oats. Your handwriting is fine (it's actually really nice.) I was probably just reading the letter too fast or at the wrong angle. I'm guessing that you were mentioning your cat allergy because I informed you that my cat, Otis Redding,will live with us when we are married. Your letter makes more sense now, althoughI thought you were mentioning your oat allergy out of the blue as a "getting to know you" kind of thing.

I am going to go ahead and send you the medium-sized anti-Quaker shirt anyway, because I was already done designing it online by time I figured out the mistake. You shouldn't wear it to restaurants, because they will incorrectly deduce that you don't want lots of oats, but youcould still wear it to church, assuming that you do not go to a Quaker church.

Have you ever seen the comic strip where the Sarge says %$@! in one frame and *&@# in the next frameI'm notnaive... I know these are supposed to be swear words, but I have been trying to crack the code to figure out WHICH swear words. I think @ is a vowel or a very common consonant, because it seems to be in both words.

With warmest regards,

Michael

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12/27/09

Dear Karen,

When you move down here, be sure to vacuum before the movers come. Here's a cautionary tale that explains why: You probably remember my family moved away after 10th grade. (The science fair incident was a factor in that decision, but there were lots of other factors.) My dad had arthritis in his pelvis, so we hired some Mexican movers to pack and unpack for us. Three of the five of them were brothers. They were not very tall, but not a single one of them had joint aches or other joint-related problems like my dad.Here's the part that is amazing: The movers picked up stray pieces of shredded cheese that had fallen under the kitchen table, packed them in bubble wrap, boxed them up, and labeled the boxes "Kitchen." When we got to our new house in Carson City, they unpacked the shredded cheese underneath the kitchen tableagain. Doesn't that just make your jaw drop I was just in high school at the time, but I know we gave them an excellent tip.

My neighbor, Dignidad, is teaching me how to make paper. You'll never guess what the main ingredient is. It's paper! You actually put paper in a blender with water and a few other ingredients, and roll it out to make new sheets of paper. Apparently, this is how it is done the world over.

With warmest regards,

Michael

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12/29/09

Dear Karen,

I wanted you to know that I gave away my cat, Otis Redding, so you can safely move here any time that is convenient for you.Even if you weren't allergic to her, Iwas going to give her away anyway, because she needs more freedom than I can ever provide her. She will be living next door with my neighbor, Dignidad, and we can visither any time.I still have a small vial of her blood from when we were thinking about screening her for feline leukemia, but they wouldn't run the test because the vet couldn't accept personal checks. The vial is airtight, so you should be safe from the blood allergens, but I will put clear tape over the top of it, because you can never be too sure about these things!

Dignidad is a man, in case you were curious. His name means dignity. A lot of Panamanians name their children after virtues like tranquility, etiquette, good value, or loftiness. Dignidad's wife is named Cortesia Sobriedad, which means courtesy sobriety, and she has promisedthat Otis Redding will be well-caredfor. Unlike SOME cultures, the Panamanian people do not eat cats, so don't be worried.

With warmest regards,

Michael

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12/31/09

Dear Karen,

I went back and looked at your original letter again. Even though the letter was very short, I could tell that you are a great writer because you used a theme sentence at the beginning of the paragraph. I would certainly like to honor your request to "please stop writing," but before I do, I'm going to have to ask for a clarification. Do you want me to stop writing Please let me know exactly what you mean by this, preferably by sending me another letter with more details about your life and your feelings. Also, please include a return address, because I'm still writing to you at your parents' house! I certainly do not want to bug you if you find these letters annoying or not informative enough, so I will try to make them more informative. Did you know that the Panamanian tamborito is a Spanish dance blended with Native American rhythms, themes, and dance moves

I'm thinking about coming back to the United States at some point. There is simply too much grocery cart theft here, and I don't want our children to be exposed to that. Let me know how you are doing. What have you been up to

With warmest regards,

Michael

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Part 3

3/11/2011

Dear Karen,
I have great news. I hired a secretary to take dictations for me. He is bilingual and does secretarial work full-time for only $300 a month! I will have him sign his name after mine at the bottom so you can see how different our handwriting is.
I'm very excited about this, because now I can finally get some exercise while I write! As you know, there are three forms of exercise: strength training, toning and cardio. With my body type and long term goals, I have decided to focus 100% of my efforts on toning. I have a "toning diary," which is a piece of graph paper where I will log objective and subjective observations about my muscle tone.
With warmest regards,
Michael
y Hector
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3/13/2011
Dear Karen,
If you like archipelagos even a little bit, you will love it here. When you come down here for our wedding, the first thing you will note is that Panama has a rich and fascinating geological history that started 30 million years ago and continues to this very day.
I went to the librara and got the newest book by the fitness expert Amanda Mejia. She is a well-known juice model who I refer to as The Guru of Toning. One thing I like about her book is her use of practical tips and excellent schemata. The very first line of the introduction translates as follows: "You should obtain medical clearance from a doctor before starting any new exercise routine." This is disappointing, because I have not established care with a primary care doctor here. After some soul searching, I decided that muscle toning is really important to my long term goals, so I am going to go to the emergency room the day after tomorrow (Hector's day off.)
With warmest regards,
Michael
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3/14/2011
Dear Karen,
I haven't heard from you, but I'm sure you 're exceedingly busy. On an unrelated note, my neighbors have commented to each other that I do not look desperate or forlorn about anything.
Karen, most people would do anything to own a jet-pack, but I'm concerned that the exhaust would burn my calves. I will probably wear several layers of pants, just to be sure. The pair I care about the least would obviously be the outermost layer. Write back soon, and feel free to include schemata (I find them helpful.)
With warmest regards,
Michael
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3/15/2011
Dear Karen,
Hector seems concerned about his job security. I think he worries that I don't have enough work for a full time secretary, since I usually only dictate one postcard per day. He is probably right, so I am going to send you two postcards a day from tomorrow until the end of the month. Then I will fire him. He is finding this out now, because I am dictating to him, but he is not showing any emotion about it.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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3/16/2011
Dear Karen,
Iforgot to write about my trip to the ER! The health care system here is second to none. There was just a little bit of paperwork, and next thing you know I'm in line to see a doctor! They even had an American magazine in the waiting room. Have you ever heard of Soldier of Fortune The magazine was almost two years old, but the business reply card was still in it so I ordered you a subscription.
I read an article called, "Vladimir Putin: Dark Genius of Statecraft." I think you would find it fascinating, especially if you 're interested in statecraft. I also skimmed an editorial that recommended theSpringfield XD-M pistol for hunting big hogs with very bad attitudes. Use this information if you must, but after we are married, I will insist on buying you all the pork you want from the grocery store.

With warmest regards,
Michael
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3/16/2011
Dear Karen,
The doctor didn't have any problem with me starting a new exercise routine! I had him look at the schemata in the first chapter in the Amanda Mejia book, and he said I should be fine. I also told him that no one in my family has asthma or any muscle diseases.
Just between us, I do have a family history of acid reflux syndrome, but I promise that our children won't inherit it if you take mega-doses of folic acid during pregnancy.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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3/17/2011
Dear Karen,
Today, as a social experiment, I am asking Hector to dictate to me, and I am doing the writing. It feels weird! He's not saying anything (he's been sort of distant lately), so I'm just going to write whatever I feel like. This is fun! Okay, let's switch back. I'm need my arms to log some results in my toning diary.
What's up with you these days It would sure be great to hear from you on Tuesday or Wednesday, or whenever is good for you.. I am mailing you a two week supply of folic acid. It's no big deal except that it's the very expensive kind that prevents birth defectsand supports the health of your salivary system.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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Part 4

5/22/2012

Dear Karen,

I wanted to send your father something for Father's Day because when you and I marry, he will be my dad too! Isn't that weird I emailed my own parents and asked them if your dad has a career, and they wrote back that he is asome kind ofmedieval executive. What an intriguing job! This information has substantially helped me focus my gift search. I am now debating whether to get him a monogrammed chalice, tankard, goblet, or little glass potion bottle. Since you probably see him more often than I do (I haven't seen him in over 20 years), can you fill me in on the type of monogrammed medieval vessel that he would most like to store his fluids in at work

I will also need to know his middle initial.

Do you think he'd prefer to be calledPop or justKaren's Dad I will use whichever term is better for expressing the utmost respect.

With warmest regards,
Michael

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6/1/2012
Dear Karen,

I went back and reread the email from my folks, and I realized that they were calling your father a "mid level executive," not a medieval one. I'm embarrassed! Please don't tell him I'm dyslexic, because I'm not. I haven't seen a neuro-psychologist to verify this, but I'm pretty sure I just misread that one word. If you want me to see a neuro-psychologist, I will, but just for reassurance.

I have decided to proceed with sending your father the monogrammed chalice, tankard, goblet, and potion bottle for Father's Day, if that's okay. The way I see it, he will need to remain well-hydrated if wants to become anupper level executive!

I also bought him a monogrammedflagon.

Do you think Karen's Mom would like a monogrammed flagon, as well What is her middle initial Even if your parents don't work at the same office, they can both drink from their respective monogrammed flagons at a predetermined time and feel some kind of interesting marital connection. I know you and I will have that kind of connection! :)

With warmest regards,
Michael

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7/3/2012
Dear Karen,
There is a church a couple blocks from my apartment calledIglesia de Plcido Domingo ("Church of Calm Sunday.") They do weddings there, sometimes. I made an appointment with the local padre and recommended that he put up a sign, close to the street, with interchangeable letters. He didn't realize that all of the best churches in the U.S. have these. Once I saw a particularly pithy church sign that said, "To prevent'sinburn, useSonscreen." The padre didn't seem to understand why it was so pithy, even when I translated it into Spanish. Nonetheless, hewas clearly impressed when I told him that such a sign would increase his congregation by 10%.
I confess (to you, not him) that I made up that figure, but good news: when I got home that day, I went through the calculations, and it turns out that my estimate of 10% was almost exactly correct!
With warmest regards,
Michael
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7/16/2012


Dear Karen,

Do you wonder why I keep sending you dozens of post-cards instead of just sending you one or two really long emails Part of the reason is that I need to use up several sheets ofhammerhead shark-themed postage stamps I bought a few months ago. A percentage of the sale of these stamps is going to protect this misunderstood species from the poaching nets of vigilante fisherfolk.

Also, I don't have your email address! Please send it to me as soon as possibly convenient. Don't worry... you'll still be able to see scenic and historical images of Panama, because I plan to scan new postcard pictures and send them as attachments with each email! I don't know whether or not it's legal to scan postage stamps without canceling them first, but I'll find out. In the meantime, I've been practicing canceling them by hand, just in case that is what I'm supposed to do.

With warmest regards,
Michael

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7/19/2012
Dear Karen,

Thedwarf lanternshark is the smallest shark in the world. That is probably why it is featured on theone centisimo stamp.I bought several pages of dwarf lanternsharkone centisimo stamps just in case the postal rates go up, but they have not, so I've started putting a couple on each postcard as agratuity for the postal worker.Gracias! I admit that two centisimos is a modest gratuity, but postcards aren't very heavy.

I will start tipping more if you worry that I'm being stingy.

With warmest regards,

Michael

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7/23/2012
Dear Karen,

I tried to get an appointment with a neuro-psychologist to help prove I don't have dyslexia, but the person I called turned out to be a handwriting analyst. Her name is Seora Chen, DSSH. I didn't know if I could trust a stranger with a full handwriting sample, so I sent her a couple pages of lower casem's. She studied it closely and told me that I wasspirited,wary, andignoble. Impressive, right If you ever write me back, I would like your permission to have Seora Chen, DSSH analyze your handwriting, too. I'm not sure what the letters after her name stand for, but I think it is some kind of advanced degree that will qualify her to tell us that you and I are a good match for each other.

With warmest regards,
Michael

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7/27/2012
Dear Karen,

I've happened to notice that you haven't written me back. Probably this is because you would like for to send you a template. How is this

"Dear Michael, it's Karen here, hand writing a letter for easy analysis. I agree that postal workers should get a very small gratuity for each postcard, but that it will add up over time. Here's a funny word I heard. <____________> ! If you don't think it's funny, I guess you had to be there! I miss you and I'm sorry I haven't written in recent years. Here is the email address I use for personal communications: <___________>. I check it regularly. XOXO, Karen."

With warmest regards,
Michael

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Part 5

8/2/2013

Dear Karen,
Have I told you about my neighbor, Dignidad He believes in all kinds of mythological organisms. He is afraid ofchupacabras, and every time he sees a dead goat with all of its blood sucked out, he thinks it is proof thatchupacabras are real. He also believes inbeavers. As if the only explanation for a dam in the river is a mysterious flat-tailed beast with giant teeth and a superhuman work ethic! Why has no one ever seen one, Dignidad Why
He says it's because they are nocturnal. (How convenient...)
But Karen, if you believe in mythological organisms, I won't think you are nave like my neighbor. When we are married, you and I will stay up late discussing our beliefs about chupacabras and beavers, and quickly learn to respect each others viewpoints. We can also discuss politics, religious texts, and whether or not you believe in imps. (I do not.) Just let me know when you would like to begin this process.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/8/2013
Dear Karen,
I have a new goal. By the end of the month I'm going to SLEEP ON A BED OF NAILS. I will keep you updated on the latest developments.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/8/2013
Dear Karen,
I'm getting closer to my goal of sleeping on a bed of nails. In the twenty minutes since I wrote you the last postcard, Ive moved from thevisioning stage to theneeds assessment stage.
Karen, I know you are a modern independent woman who is not easily impressed by displays of machismo. That is why, when I am done sleeping on this incredibly dangerous bed, I will complain about how uncomfortable it was. I know we haven't talked in person since 1992, but I am certain you would like that. A modern independent woman prefers a lover who is capable of very macho deeds, but is emotionally present enough to whine about them like a whiny little girl.
To be fully honest with myself at this time, I have another reason for wanting to sleep on the bed of nails. As of yesterday, I still have issues with bed-wetting. The bed of nails will have excellent drainage, especially if I tilt the head of the bed up a few degrees.
Still, the bed-wetting might not be a dire issue for much longer, because I am up to 62% dry nights (+/- 2 standard deviations.) I don't think you can appreciate the significance of this accomplishment until you have the raw data in your hands, so I will mail you my dryness diary.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/18/2013
Dear Karen,
Once we are married, we will probably want to move out of my apartment and into anexecutive yurt. To ensure that we choose the best executive yurt, Ive been bookmarking the realty listings in a local free periodical calledPanama Vida. Unfortunately, these listings are often on the back cover, which is very hard to bookmark. How do other yurt enthusiasts deal with this problem Am I supposed to paperclip the bookmark to the back cover Maybe I should just rip an unwanted page out of the middle of periodical, affix it to the back cover along one edge, and slide the bookmark between them.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/21/2013
Dear Karen,
I took the commuter bus downtown today, hoping to find a licensedfakir who could sell me a bed of nails. I did not find a fakir who was willing to display his licensure, but I met a panhandler named Miguel Animosidad Del Pueblo ("Michael, Animosity of the People.") I am certain he was a panhandler, because he was actually handling a pan when I approached him.
Mr. Animosidad Del Pueblo astutely suggested that I make a D.I.Y. bed of nails, rather than purchasing one. I hadn't thought of that! He also recommended that if I need a large volume of nails, I purchase them at a wholesale store.
This fake fakir is ugly on the outside, but it is possible that he is beautiful on the inside. I do not know him well enough to comment. Nevertheless, he has my confidence, because our first names are the same in Spanish.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/22/2013
Dear Karen,
I should not have trusted that panhandler. His advice about going to a wholesale store was disingenuous. I guess I was beguiled by the way he manipulated that pan with his fingers. Now I know that he is ugly through and through.
The wholesale store was a great place to buy chicken thighs and pita bread in bulk (which I did) but the hardware section was disappointing. Long story short, Karen, they had no nails whatsoever. Nonetheless, the clerk in the hardware section was so helpful in telling me this, I felt obligated to buy something from her, so I purchased a crate of wing nuts.
I guess I'll just use those.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/24/2013
Dear Karen,
Yesterday, Dignidad helped me screw all of the wing nuts into a piece of particle board. It took us all afternoon. (We ate a whole bag of pita bread while we were working on it, so I have only nine bags left.) I was so exhausted by the end that I rolled right onto it and went to sleep immediately.
If I had to pick just a three adjectives to describe my experience of sleeping on a bed of wing nuts, I would say: humbling, emotionally present, and macho. I am feeling very refreshed and humbled today.
Did you know that REM stands for Rapid Eye Motions It is one of the five stages of normal sleep. Last night, while lying on my treacherous bed of wing nuts, I counted my sleep stages, and there were at least six! I wonder if this has ever been reported in the scientific journals In fact, I may have had even more sleep stages, but I stopped counting when I got to six, because it's hard to concentrate when you 're asleep.
With warmest regards,
Michael
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8/24/2013
Dear Karen,
I'm afraid I have to ask you to mail my dryness diary back to me. Without it, I don't have a good sense of how I am doing (+/- 2 standard deviations.)
One thing is clear, though: The drainage on a wing nut bed is not ideal. Do you think I should switch to hex nuts Please write back if it isn't a bother.
With warmest regards,
Michael

Part 6

8/1/14

Dear Karen,

I've been having a symptom. Since we are going to be married soon, I think it is important that we are open with each other about our symptoms, even the non-concerning ones. Mine is that I wake up in the middle of the night and my fingers are making "OK" signs. Most likely, this represents what doctors call a "completely normal variant." In other words, it may be even MORE normal than other positions that hands can be found in upon awakening.

It is also possible that I am dreaming about throwing darts.

Please write back and let me know what you think about the idea of discussing our symptoms with each other.

With warmest regards,

Michael

8/4/14

Dear Karen,

I have a longstanding belief (a firm one) that people must follow their dreams, no matter how dire the cost. I think my dreams are telling me to play darts, so on Thursday, I am going to a local carnival. The last time I attended a carnival, I got to throw darts at a wall full of colorful balloons. Had I successfully popped the white one, I would have won a giant plush hyena.

Would you like me to try to win you a life-sized plush hyena, or would you find that to be too threatening I haven's seen you since 1992, so it is possible that you have developed hyena-related PTSD in the meantime. Just in case, I will pop the white balloon, but only ask for a less-threatening, medium-sized plush hyena off the rack of inferior prizes.

With warmest regards,

Michael

8/8/14

Dear Karen,

The carnival was amazing! I will not pussyfoot about this... it exceeded my wildest hopes. When we are married, Karen, I will track down this particular carnival company and we will visit it together, many days in a row.

Here's the best part: Do you remember how someone, perhaps you, always said that I was probably ultra-talented, and that I just hadn't discovered my special power yet Karen, I have figured out my special talent:I can look at someone and guess how much weight they need to lose. I got the idea from one of the carnies who was doing something similar. On a whim, I tried it out on my neighbor, Dignidad, and his brother, Debilidad. Both of them need to lose 15.0 pounds. They were amazed that I was accurate to the tenth of a pound.

My neighbor's brother also needs to have a large mole removed, but it doesn't weigh enough to impact my calculations. (Yet.)

With warmest regards,

Michael

8/12/14

Dear Karen,

You haven't written back, so I assume you feel my description of the carnival was not comprehensive enough. Here are some additional details:

They had a balloon-popping game, but instead of throwing darts, I got to shoot a crossbow that was mounted on a table. The design is ingenious! It is impossible to shoot yourself accidentally unless you stand on the wrong side of the table. When we have children, I will insist that they only play with crossbows that are safely table-mounted.

With warmest regards,

Michael

8/13/14
Dear Karen,
Today was the last day the carnival was in town, so I went back and made an appointment with the manager to discuss job openings. I proposed that he hire me to travel with them from town to town and guess how overweight people are. I even brought my own contract for a flexible three-city tour that included a signing bonus and incentive pay. Haggling is an important part of Panamanian culture, so I expected him to try to bargain me down. (If you don't haggle, they think you are a foreign spy.)
Unfortunately, we couldn't agree to terms and he kicked me out of his office. It was weird, because I kept telling him that he needed to lose 30.4 pounds, and this really should have impressed him.
It's probably for the best, because carnival workers are notoriously cruel to exotic animals, and I simply can't condone that. What are your opinions about cruelty to exotic animals
With warmest regards,
Michael

8/15/14

Dear Karen,

The carnival was such an amazing experience, Karen. I can't think about anything else! I know it's not the same thing as being here together, but I ordered you a custom bumper sticker that says "I Heart Carnivals." It's not big deal, except that it is very expensive because the minimum order was 200 stickers.

You will probably want to put separate stickers on both your FRONT and REAR bumpers. This will facilitate conversations when you arrive somewhere. If you only put the sticker on your rear bumper, people won't know how you feel about carnivals until you are driving away and it is too late to discuss!

You can sell the remaining 198 bumper stickers to friends and neighbors. You should pick a price and stick to it, because NOT HAGGLING is an important part of Americans culture.

With warmest regards,

Michael

8/15/14

Dear Karen,

I meant to tell you that I ordered your custom bumper stickers from a local "madre and padre" store, not from an online mega-store. A lot of people in South America show their support for local businesses by buying things from Amazon. (The river, not the website.)

My neighbor Dignidad thinks that all of the bricks and mortar stores will collapse because of the sheer number of websites. I think that as long as we all continue to support local commerce, they will be fine. I am more worried about stores that are just bricks, and have no mortar. I think they are much more likely to collapse.

With warmest regards,
Michael
8/25/14
Dear Karen,

By the way, how are you Out of curiosity, do you have a husband or an active boyfriend right now If you do, that's okay. I was recently thinking about that one time on August 1, 1989 at 8pm when we promised each other we would get married 20 years later if we were both still single. If you have an active boyfriend right now, it is someone that you made a similar promise to, perhaps predating August 1, 1989 If so, I would completely understand. Just let me know!

With warmest regards,
Michael

Part 7

8/5/15
Dear Karen,

You will be pleased to know that I am a philanthropist now. I donated some of my hair to an organization called, Locks of Lust. They are a non-profit that provides used clumps of hair to very sick people. (Apparently, some of the sickest!) It's not a big deal, except that now I am getting to be known for my beneficence and my large bald spot.

With warmest regards,
Michael


8/9/15
Dear Karen,

Would you like me to send you a picture of my new comb over A growing number of people (mostly women our age or slightly younger) have commented to each other about how tasteful it is. I will send you some photos that showcase my comb over from different tasteful angles.

Unfortunately, there is only one place around here that develops film, and I don't trust the suspicious-looking boy who works there. What if he makes extra copies of my comb over pictures for his own purposes I know this photo is important to you, so I will risk it.

With warmest regards,
Michael



8/11/15 Dear Karen,

My neighbor, Dignidad, is in a support group for people who suffer from emotional eating. I sometimes eat when I am hungry. I assume hunger is an emotion, so perhaps I should join the group They meet on Thursday afternoons at one of the mall kiosks. It is next to the place that develops film, so I can excuse myself from the support group every few minutes to spy on the suspicious-looking film boy.

With warmest regards,
Michael



8/14/15
Dear Karen,

What a night! You would be amazed to learn about all the different emotions that can lead to binge eating! Obviously, sadness is the big one, but tonight I met people who stuff their faces when they feel all kinds of things... timid, detached, trusting, or even indignant.

As you may expect, there was much less diversity in the type of foods involved. Everyone in the support group overeats the same traditional diet of plantains, root vegetables, and tropical fruits.

With warmest regards,
Michael



8/15/15
Dear Karen,

The woman who mediates the emotional eating support group is named Nobleza Moralidad, which means Nobility Morality. She is a recovering emotional eater, and she has a Panamanian Unibrow. This is different from the unibrows you see in the United States, where the two eyebrows meet in the middle of the forehead. Nobleza Moralidads eyebrows extend outwards around the sides of the head and meet in the back. It is very unflattering, but I won't tell her that, because it might send her into a corkscrew of shame and cause her to relapse.

With warmest regards,
Michael



8/20/15
Dear Karen,

Nobleza Moralidad invited me to dinner at her favorite mid-scale restaurant, Chorizo on Skewers. I assumed she was vetting me to verify my status as a card-carrying emotional eater.

Over dinner, I mostly talked about you, and about how we agreed to get married after 20 years if both of us were still single. This made me a little emotional (4 on a 10 point scale), so I ate three chorizo skewers. I told her that you and I never got around to exchanging promise rings, but if we had, I wouldn't be able to wear one anymore because my fingers had become fat from all of the emotional eating. After that, I cried for fifteen minutes and ate ten more chorizo skewers. Mostly, I ate them with my mouth open, so I could keep crying.

As we were leaving the restaurant, she informed me that she had not been vetting me for the support group. It turns out that our dinner had been a date! Either way, I think it went pretty well.

With warmest regards,
Michael



8/22/15
Dear Karen,

Oh no! There was an old mestizo woman selling photos of my comb over at the Farmers Market today! I don't know how she got them, but I am positive that it has something to do with the suspicious-looking boy at the photo shop! The silver lining to this whole fiasco is that I was able to buy every copy she had, and I will send them all to you shortly. Would you prefer them in 12-panel frame or a more organic-looking photo collage

With warmest regards,
Michael

8/25/15
Dear Karen,

I broke up with Nobleza Moralidad this afternoon. I could tell she was angry, because she immediately turned around and started gorging herself with plantains and root vegetables. The other clue to her anger was the furrowed unibrow on the back of her head.

Karen, I know that you and I have been keeping it loose, but I think I'm finally ready to take it to the next level with you. Please write back and let me know your daytime phone number and how you are doing. Also, please include detailed information regarding whether you think that taking it to the next level is something we should do this very minute, or if we should wait a couple more weeks. I am willing to wait two weeks so your co-workers don't accuse you of being my rebound wife.

With warmest regards,
Michael

Part 8

7/2/17

Dear Karen,

I'm deeply sorry that I haven't sent you many postcards this calendar month. I expect that you think about me affectionately when you receive a postcard. I worry that on days that you do not receive a postcard, you think about me longingly. That must be very hard! I just wanted to wait until I had achieved financial security before finalizing our wedding plans. I am happy to report that I have a new investment approach which will allow both of us to feel comfortable proceeding. Stay tuned!

With warmest regards,

Michael

7/3/17

Dear Karen,

I heard a wedding can cost upwards of 20K. A different source, almost as reliable, told me that it may even cost 20G! In most human cultures, it is customary for the bride's family to pay for the wedding party. I haven't seen your parents in a large number of years, but I recall that they were similar to people who had a fondness for traditions. With that in mind, I will be happy to let them pay for our venue, catering, rentals, planner, photographer, entertainment, marriage counseling, and flowers. I would like to take responsibility for the invitations and party pumpers, even if that costs some of the K or G.

Since I haven't seen you in person in an equally large number of years, you may not know if I respect the dollar and have a well-balanced portfolio. I'm not offended by your curiosity. In fact, I'm proud of you for being mature enough to know how important those qualities are in a life-partner.

I reached out to a financial planning group called Frugalidad y Hijos (Frugality and Sons). I had an online chat with the third son, Felix, who recommended the following investment strategy:

30% Short-term large-cap investments

30% Medium-term any-cap investments

20% Tax evasion

20% Stem cells

10% Financial planner fees

5% Unexplained losses

I have been doing this since earlier this calendar month, and I will let you know when it is successful.

With warmest regards,

Michael

7/8/17

Dear Karen,

Is your father still working as a mid-level executive? When we were kids, I was always impressed at how consistently he went to work on weekdays. He was very methodical! I assume he has been postponing retirement because he hasn't found someone he trusts to turn over the middle management of his business to. Filling his shoes requires some very substantial feet!

I recommend my neighbor, Dignidad. He has been out of work for many years, and has very large feet for a man who is slightly shorter than me when we stand back to back.

With warmest regards,

Michael

7/13/17

Dear Karen,

How have you been getting along? I haven't heard back from you for a bit, so I was wondering if you are working on the wedding planning much. I'm happy to do all of it, but I wanted to check to make sure we weren't working on the identical things.

After consulting several women, some of whom might be attracted to me, I recommend that the centerpieces include bowls of clear glass beads. I'm flexible on the color, but I think clear will be a great match for just about any other decoration.

Please note: I did not mention the women to make you jealous! I just brought up that they might be attracted to me because I'm not sure if it affects the integrity of the recommendation for clear glass beads. On one hand, they may be trying to impress me with well-considered, honest advice. On the other hand, they may be passive-aggressively sabotaging our wedding. Maybe we should have no centerpieces, or just use an assortment of local mushrooms.

With warmest regards,

Michael

7/14/17

Dear Karen,

I took my accountant's advice, and invested heavily in stem cells! I ordered several test tubes of premium stem cells from a Tijuana-based online dealership, and got an amazing deal. These cells are going to be even more valuable in a few months because commerce between Mexico and the rest of Central America is about to be cut off. The man at the online dealership tells me that the president of Mexico has promised to build a wall between Mexico and Belize and make Belize pay for it.

I got my first shipment yesterday, and I am keeping them in a warm, moist environment, as directed. You can tell they are real Tijuana stem cells because they have the worm in them.

With warmest regards,

Michael

7/16/17

Dear Karen,

My neighbor Dignidad would like to know if he will be allowed to work remotely when he replaces your father. He is unwilling to be photographed for a work visa because of extreme shyness. I told him that this won't be a problem, because most businesses in the United States are legally required to be sensitive about different cultural issues. The good news is that Dignidad can still get a National Parks Passport without having his picture taken, so he can work from there. All of Panama's beautiful parks are world-class, but none of them have wi-fi, so your father should make sure the work he leaves for Dignidad can be done on paper and faxed over later.

I realize that speaking English is very important for mid-level managing a business in the United States. Rest assured that Dignidad speaks conversational English. He has mastered over three English conversations (ordering at a restaurant, baseball scores, and how someone is). This is a great start, but I told him to concentrate on fundamentals before learning more conversational English. We are going to focus on Middle English and perhaps ebonics.

With warmest regards,

Michael

7/17/17

Dear Karen,

Today, I practiced Shakespearean English with my neighbor, Dignidad. Did you know that Shakespeare rhymes words based on how they look, rather than how they are pronounced? At one point, he rhymes "fussy" with "pussy." I also think he rhymes "man-bun" with "Cancun," but I can't remember what play it is.

Anyway, Dignidad is such a quick learner! I assured him that your father's company would make him "Employee of the Week" as soon as he starts. This will boost his confidence and reward the hard work that he is planning to do from our beautiful national parks.

With warmest regards,

Michael

7/20/17

Dear Karen,

As you probably noticed, I have started sending these postcards through certified mail. The woman at the post office said she had never seen someone do that with a postcard before, but she admits that she has only been working there a few years.

Anyway, it was a fun, and I received my first return-receipt today! I'm so happy that you enjoyed my postcard from July 3, or at least received it! Another way for me to know if you receive my postcards would be if you wrote back to me, but just in case you prefer that I keep sending them all through certified mail, I will.

With warmest regards,

Michael

7/22/17

Dear Karen,

My stem cell investment is appreciating nicely, but some of the other investments have had mediocre returns. I worry that some of the Medium-Term Any-Cap companies are not keeping investors' best interests in mind, and I plan to write them a strongly-worded postcard.

The upshot is that I may have to ask your family to cover the cost of the party pumpers at the wedding. Your parents will probably be thrilled about this, because it is customary for the bride's family to pay for everything, and they are traditional people in some ways.

To ensure that they can afford this, it may be best if your father held off on retiring for a few more months. Dignidad is disappointed, but Panamanians are very patient (especially the large-footed ones.) He is willing to remain unemployed as long as it takes, so he can step into your father's job with very little notice after the wedding is paid off. He is a great neighbor, and I am confident that when the time comes, he will get excellent quarterly performance evaluations from your father's company.

With warmest regards,

Michael