Tell Me Something Real: David

A few days ago I threw out the challenge to share something real – something true – something unfiltered in light of Mental Health Awareness Month – a way to press pause a bit on the fairy tales we spin through social media – a way to show that our lives are real and not these flawless Rockwell-esque fictions – that we’re more akin to the characters from Shameless than This is Us.

A day later, my friend (and editor) David bravely took up that challenge by writing a very open and honest piece about his own mental health challenges:

Tell Me Something Real by David Farnell

Please take moment to read his words, and when you’re finished accept my new challenge to you:

  • Educate yourself on how to help a friend or family member in crisis
  • Do your part to help remove the stigma around seeking and receiving help for mental health issues
  • Support legislation to make mental health care both affordable and accessible
  • Listen more
  • Talk/try to fix less

… and if a friend/loved one is in crisis, recognize you don’t have to shoulder their burden, but be able to provide them with the information and resources to put them in contact with professionals who can.

Then plan to walk with me and my Jay Walkers team on Saturday, October 29th from wherever you are in this big ol’ world.

Let’s all work to be better – better people, better friends, better members of our global community.

I’ll see you in October.

Tell Me Something Real

Wielding language has never been my strength. So, I practice.

The way I express my thoughts is the way I speak. With each post, you catch the faint strains of the voice that whispers within and without.

To be honest, I’ve been continually surprised that I’ve had a following, especially outside of my family and friends. I’ve always felt that these posts capture doodled thoughts rather than convey a coherent story. Occasionally, I’ll litter the pages with an update or two for my family and friends as an attempt at a proof of life so they don’t worry. (Now that I think about it, a photo of my face by the current headlines might be simpler.) But on a more serious note, I just don’t post often enough or even well enough to garner a true following. (I’m way too lazy.) So, I guess I’m surprised that you all continue to come back.

I’m both humbled and flattered. Thank you.

When I reflect on previous posts, I recognize the ones that receive the most praise and comment are the ones where I’ve been open about my grief over the loss of Jay – where I talk about how I struggle – present tense. I’m told I’m brave. I’m told I’m strong.

The pain has definitely eased over time; however, it is ever-present.

Enough prologue.

I was crafting a new post – one where I planned to paint a picture of how I’m winning at life – you know the drill – that social media fluff we throw out to the universe to say, “Hey, look – my life is amazing – I’m a success – I’m fun, beautiful, creative – a winner by all accounts – better than!” The proclamation accompanied by a perfectly framed shot of my suntanned tootsies at sunset – a half-filled glass of some enviable drink close at hand as a way to support my claim.

A perfect life on display ready for your “likes”.

…just like everyone else’s lives.

And then I remembered it’s Mental Health Awareness Month.

What a disservice it would be if I let this moment go by. So, with that in mind, here are some of my thoughts – something that’s a bit more real and in keeping with what people tend to appreciate more on my blog – something that is more true than my pages filled with my wins.

Anxiety

Since Jay’s death, I have continued to struggle. Not every day, not all the time, but in flashes. I struggle to find purpose – my raison d’être. Since Jay’s death, I have anxiety attacks that begin to appear in May and last until the end of September. It’s carved out its own season in my life – backyard picnics, blockbusters, cool pools, big hats, sandals, mosquitos, and anxiety – gotta love anxiety season. October heralds my subconscious snow-birding its way back from wherever subconsciouses go – hey, even the subconscious needs a restorative break.

The attacks come out of nowhere – usually when I least expect them. I can be watching a comedy on TV and then every fiber of my body tells me something is desperately wrong.

I love October as much as I dread May.

It’s May.

I continue to struggle with being alone. It’s not that you aren’t all great, but you’re not my partner. You offer many important things, but not the whisper in the middle of the night or fingers lightly dancing across my back to lull me back to sleep. You cannot hold me or look at me in a way that makes me believe I’m all that matters.

I struggle with the idea that I will never be truly loved again.

After Jay’s death, several people felt they’d help by remarking, “At least you were loved.”

True.

What a truly awful thing to say.

That statement reverberates through my soul. I am the “once loved” – like a child’s discarded favorite toy.

Things to Work On

I have a laundry list of things I need to work on, but some days, as I stand at the crossroads of “Do you want to make it better or make it worse?” I choose “Make it worse.” I flip the proverbial coffee table. I rage at the world – a tempest – unrestrained.

Standing in the eye of my storms are my pillars – friends who batten down, listen quietly, and still stick around. They blink slowly, considering the volume of filth I’ve unleashed into the world, and ask quietly, “Are you finished?” Honestly, sometimes the answer is “No!” So, they wait until I’ve exhausted myself, and redirect me to something else.

The Words I Use

Each day I paint myself in words that are run a spectrum: abusive, bleak, encouraging, beautiful. Sometimes I use all of them, and sometimes none.

Today those words happen to be particularly brutal. Tomorrow they may be different. Tomorrow I may not use words to tear myself down. We’ll just have to see.

Tomorrow I plan to get up and start again.

I will work on my perspective – on my personal narrative.

Just An Idea

I wish there were a May Mental Health Awareness Challenge where we were encouraged (unafraid) to post something real – something unguarded – something that boldly proclaimed, “While I have had successes, I have also experienced epic failure/deep disappointment/profound sadness – I’ve had days where copious amounts of concealer and duck face at the perfect angle of a camera couldn’t fix – just like you.”

I’d like to see a challenge that gives everyone a safe space to be honest and open without judgment and without people feeling the need to rush in and “fix” the issue. (Something that often happens when we’ve broken away from the duck-faced herd.) A challenge where our raw truth is not only accepted but embraced – where we pull back the carpet and finally see that what we experience is normal/typical – that what’s abnormal is the fiction where we all live perfect and happy lives.

I’d like to see a challenge that shows it’s ok to feel sad at times. It’s ok to feel small.

I’m not suggesting we move into those moments, but that we acknowledge they happen.

I’d love a challenge that gave us all a small reprieve from the feelings of inadequacy many experience when comparing their lives to the social media-generated fictions shared by all of us – stories we carefully curate and run through our “gorgeous tootsies at sunset” lens.

Are you up for that challenge?

Can you be open? raw? exposed?

Can you listen to someone else’s truth without judgment? Without a need to gaslight? Without a need to rush in and fix it? To sit by quietly and accept?

(Points if you can do it while sharing a photo of unmanicured gnarly feet in tatty flip flops next to some Natty Light (Bud Light, Yuengling, Pabst).)

So, tell me something real.

My New Bestfriend, Justin K. and Other Stories

“How’s it going, cuz?”

I picked up my phone and typed back some version of “good, not much going on” – my default response. I’m always some version of fine, good, or “well” if I’m being more grammatically correct. (Although, I would argue that somedays I am indeed “doing good” so don’t assume I mean “well” when I’m throwing off my glasses and donning my cape.)

I’m just not the type who shares a lot in person. (We’re not going to count this blog. Ok? Ok. Good talk!)

I’m the type who’s more content to listen. And honestly, the uncomfortable truth is that when I’m speaking, my stories are actually quite awkward – they’re excruciating to my intended audience. I trip over my beginning, then I’ll blurt out something completely random at the worst moment. So, it’s a kindness that I simply state, “I’m doing good/well. How are you?” It makes it so much easier to simply bow out at the beginning to avoid the blank looks and stares of horror.

Now you understand why my presenting to a large group and receiving positive feedback turned into a bit of a brag. Me speaking successfully, even to just a couple of friends, is a always major victory worth posting about. GO ME!

Also, if I’m honest, a lot of what I do seems tremendously boring despite having friends who think the opposite – from singing improv, to my reverse quinceañeras, to archery, to being a moderately successful fundraiser – it all seems so hem haw – so mundane that it doesn’t seem story-worthy. Thus, I’m doing “good” or “well”.

However, I recognize that some people want to know, like my cousin who was enjoying a beer in a foreign state (aka any state that is not Texas).

This post is for my cousin. (I’m giving you an excuse to bow out now before gets awkward. If it does, feel free to post links to your horror selfies. Selfies of thumbs up are also welcome! )

How’s it Going, Cuz?

Let’s roll up the sleeves while I catch you up!

My Treacherous Foot

Well Cuz, for the last several months I’ve been building up to walk a half marathon. I’d actually been walking pretty steadily over the last year – my tank tops and capris slowly morphing into more wicking layers and fleece as the weeks passed. One weekend I walked 10 miles, then 11, then finally 12 (with a lot of interval walks throughout the week). Well, 12 was apparently too much. Overpronation with poor arch support FOR THE WIN! My ankle gave up the ghost. While it’s slowly gotten better, on Friday, a 10-minute walk set me a bit back. Of course, this is right after I optimistically proclaimed to my doctor, “I don’t need that appointment! It’s getting better!” Oh, Murphy’s Law, you’re the worst.

I foresee a podiatrist in the near future. This irritates me because I want to get back to walking. I like walking.

After My Triumphant Presentation

I went to the conference where I presented with a gigantic “ow” in my heart. I limped through each day, and while “making IT fun” as I spoke, my head was screaming “HEY!!! LADY!!! Why are you standing on us!! Don’t make us set your nerves on fire! Oh, that’s how it’s going to be? Enjoy this!” And they did so quite gladly. I made it home, iced up my ankle, and then headed off on a plane with a friend to visit her daughter.

I got in zero of the sightseeing in a city I desperately want to experience. Aside: a do-over is in the future.

I sat in our hotel room with an elevated foot and an ice pack mee maw style. The only good thing was that it forced us all to just relax and truly visit. There were so many good talks, so many fun games, and an amazing girl’s night filled with facials and poorly painted nails. I marveled at this young woman who was just a wee girl. Was that yesterday? I swear it was yesterday.

I’ve told her and her siblings that they’ve ruined other kids for me. I never cease to rock back on my heels and just marvel at the amazing people they’ve become. There were amazing kids who have grown into amazing humans.

My First Time to Use the Bathroom on a Plane

Of course, to visit her I had to hop on a couple of planes and I guess that morning, I really decided over-hydration would be my thing. My kidneys were excited. My bladder was not. So, there I was in the middle seat with the guy on the aisle fast asleep and I really needed him to wake up. He was that guy who’d snort himself awake, and I had to time my “excuse me, sir” for that right moment. Finally, post a resounding snort, I got this attention and was able to make it to the restroom.

Having never been in the restroom on a plane, I had two important thoughts:

  1. Can someone’s intestines really be sucked out? That’s urban myth, right? (By the way, when I flushed, I had a moment of “OMG! that’s so not a myth!! That sudden vacuum could kill someone!!! Do people check on these things? This is why you don’t overhydrate, Beth!!!!
  2. Remember that time on Dead Like Me when George died by being struck by a meteoric toilet seat falling from an airplane. I bet this is how it started.

Fact: I have really profound thoughts sometimes.

I returned to the seat prepared to face the same blank faces I was cursed with sitting next to the remainder of the flight. Great. I’d decided I’d just throw in the earbuds again and fire up the audiobook.

Something I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older is now I don’t mind chatting with a stranger on a flight as much, but these days, everyone has their heads bowed to their glowing new digital messiah.

So, I amble down the row and discover someone is missing from our row. The person walking behind me then tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could get into the row first. Ah, window guy! And that’s how I met my new best friend Justin K.

My New Best Friend, Justin K.

Justin popped down and the conversation started. One of those great conversations which lasted the entire flight and ended with an exchange of phone numbers. (He agreed to talk to a college student I mentor about a potential job since my new best friend Justin K. works in an industry this young man is interested in.) Throughout my trip, I managed to get a lot of mileage out of “my new best friend, Justin K” stories. Hey, we got a lot of talking in. He was an interesting guy! And I learned things, too. Like I now know not to blow my nose if my occipital bone is broken as well as how doctors handle your eye if it sinks to its respective occipital floor post said blowing. Arguably gross, but knowledge is power, right?

As an aside, almost everyone I know has a goofy honorific to help distinguish them when I tell a story. There’s Tank Commander, John; My Kiwi Doctor Friend, Julie; David the Professor in Japan (aka, my editor who again received no warning that I was about to write again and will perform the thankless task of cleaning this up – hopefully. Please, David???), and of course Jim, not that Jim, the other Jim, no not that Jim either (in hindsight, I need to work on the Jims). And thus, “My New Best Friend, Justin K.” was born.

For the record, Cuz, I’m known affectionately known as “the Texas Beth” to some.

My Mad(s) this Week

Now onto the less fun. The thing that almost became its own post/rant. It has to do with a friend and a mental health discussion. The long and short of it, to avoid a full-blown, “I’m going to lose my mind” rant is this: We were talking about how certain mental health issues, when untreated, can be very limiting and isolating and how some people see it a mental illness as “a choice” or “a weakness in constitution”. I stated that no one would willingly choose to be debilitated by depression or any number of mental health issues (albeit saying “no one” is a generalization, because you can always find that one exception). My major point was that when it comes to mental illness, it’s typically not a matter of people “not trying hard enough to be happy”. My friend’s response: they disagreed.

That kind of attitude, which unfortunately is not uncommon, is why it’s so very hard to get people proper mental health care. It contributes to why: 1) people won’t seek it out, because of the stigma attached – they just need to toughen up, and 2) why it’s so damned hard to get legislation that would make it more accessible. I’ll say it again and again and again: mental health should be treated like physical health and it should be easier for those suffering to have proper/easy access to doctors and medication.

The same person later went on a rant about how they couldn’t visit parts of the country because of their politics.

Fact: You can’t catch political cooties by stepping into a city where the majority of voters vote a particular way that’s different from the way you vote. You’re not going to wake up blue if you were red or red if you were blue. In fact, I’ve heard you can even go around and still enjoy the sights, restaurants, and other local offerings without anyone ever knowing which way you vote. The novelty!

Politics don’t affect how I enjoy the outdoors.

Cuz, I’m currently working on not blowing up at this person; it’s a challenge. Apparently, you can’t curb stomp the stupid out of someone. Also, you probably shouldn’t say “curb stomp” ever.

An Archery Competition

Well, Cuz, you’ve made it to the end. We’re almost through and I want to end more on a high than a low so here we go with archery stories!

In May I’ll be competing in my first archery competition. Until three weeks ago, I honestly didn’t realize I could shoot at 30m (the distance I need to shoot in order to compete), then someone said I could and I did. Words have power.

I’d post a photo, but I’m way too lazy to upload one. Just know my groupings were really decent.

The main point of competing at this point, according to Coach Nick, is for me to become socialized at competitions. I mean, did you know I can’t have my bow next to me on the line? Monsters!

I’m both nervous and excited.

That’s All Folks

That’s all I have for now, Cuz. I hope you’re doing both well and you’re doing some good, too.

I love you!

Beth

Comfort Zones

Seems like last year that I proclaimed, “hey folks, I’m gonna write more!!! gonna use my little writey brain and jot down my little writey thoughts about all the things a writey little writer can write about.” So funny story, I’m a liar. Yep, just straight-up lied for funsies – broke every branch on the tree of trust we’d been growing together for years. Thankfully, you’re the bigger person and you came back despite the betrayal. Go you!!

Writing is my comfort zone. I feel fairly comfortable spinning up a tale when I have a tale to tell. I’m solid at taking anecdotes and stretching them into stories. A Rumplestiltskin of words. Now, please note, I’m not assigning an adjective to the types of stories I tell – I’m not saying they’re good, or bad, or even middling – they’re just “stories”. As my reader, you can fill in the adjective, and I’m reckoning that if you’ve returned here again, the ones you have chosen are more on the positive side. I need to believe that you’re not actually a masochist, doing some karmic penance, or just here to witness another train wreck while you snack on popcorn.

I believe in you!

Well, this week I did something wholly out of my comfort zone, but I’m proud of it, soooo humble-not-so-humble brag incoming.

Please avert your eyes if you hate a humblebrag. You’ve been warned!

On Monday, I gave my first in-person presentation to a room full of people. First, let me lay some groundwork. I don’t present. Ever. It’s not something I’ve done. It’s not something in my toolbelt of skills. Me standing in front of a group of people and talking is actually a special level of Hell accurately described by Dante in his Inferno, where he accurately predicted a sass-filled Texan would ultimately land amid piles of Post-it easel pads that’d lost their stickiness, failing laser pointers, broken overhead projectors, milky transparencies, and an audience of demons who stare in silence as she stuttered, stammered, oh’ed, uh’ed, and cleared her throat through an uncomfortable rambling and, of course, eternal presentation. Dante was more than just an Italian poet; he was a prophet. Step back, Nostradamus.

At least this is what my pet demon likes to whisper along with, “Hey kid, let’s say that when you face plant later we go drown our sorrows in some ice cream? Jenn won’t mind. She’ll support your poor decisions after embarrassing yourself.” While the more angelic and supportive side hops in with, “ok, but hear me out now – what if you not only succeed, you actually crush it, and there are high fives?? THEN you could celebrate with victory ice cream. Jenn won’t mind!” (Jenn, I promise to work hard on this part of me when I return from vacation. Pinky swear.) So, I worked on imagining myself succeeding. It seemed like a better way to spend my energy. What would that look and feel like? I also acknowledged that if I had a case of the nerves, it would be ok; it was only 30 minutes out of the day. I can survive most things for 30 minutes.

So, I got up in front of the room and stepped away from the mic, because I can project like a champ (ask anyone who’s sat in a small room with me and had to remind me, “you’re right across the table from me, not across a stadium, Beth – I can hear you.”) I started talking and kept talking, running through the slides. I didn’t falter. I just peeked into that skill toolbelt and found helpful tips from friends and a few from improv.

I won’t bore you with specifics, but those tips/tricks were there when I needed them, and it turns out they’d been in there for a while. Who knew?

After the Q&A at the end, I realized I’d done it. I’d presented to a room full of folks. I hadn’t face planted! (Jenn – I also didn’t get ice cream. Baby steps? So, props to me??)

Then a more magical thing took place: several folks came up to me and thanked me for making IT (the subject I presented on) “fun,” and one woman actually apologized saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that when I asked you for directions to the conference room that you were famous.” (I’m not gonna lie – that may have been my favorite bit of praise. Oh, and for the record, I’m so not famous.)

Anyway, to wrap it up, it really felt great! I just wanted to share a story about stepping out of my comfort zone as a way to break the months’ long silence on the blog – my actual comfort zone. Bonus, I got to chat again to y’all.

So, thank you for still sticking around. I won’t promise to write more, but you never know.

The Great Sidewalk Attack of 2022

So, I was out walking, minding my own business (and by “minding my own business” I mean, “I was totally caught up with staring into this random family’s house because they had the same model, and I was wondering how they had their front area set up”) on a beautiful Saturday evening (and by “beautiful” I mean “overcast, blustery, and perfectly miserable” (for Texans, this is when temps dare to dip below 60)) WHEN out of nowhere, and completely unprovoked, this random family’s over-protective attack tree root, which had buckled the sidewalk, leapt out and knocked me to the ground. I laid there for a bit, because the last time I had a good fall, I permanently lost my ACL (I miss you ACL and our pro Tennis dreams – I’m sure we would have been seeded #1 in the geriatric leagues right after I developed an interest in playing and, I dunno, showed some undiscovered hand-eye coordination talents) and temporarily said goodbye to my MCL. The old lady checklist began as my taste buds politely (and a bit sarcastically, I might add) offered, “mmm… notes of iron with a distinctive split texture”:

  • Can you stand? Seem to.
  • That blood in your mouth, do you have all your teeth? Yep.
  • Loose teeth? Nope.
  • Can you move knees? wrists? Check. Check. (As I rotated, bent, flexed, and wiggled things.)
  • Inventory: what hurts? Chin. Teeth, Knee. Hands. Ego.
  • Do you need to go home and cry or can you finish the remaining two miles? Cry?
  • Is crying on the workout sheet for Saturday? No.
  • Is walking? Yes.
  • So, you’re going to keep walking? Yes??

That’s the spirit! You go little trooper!

I stood for a minute more wiping mud off my hands, shirt, and leggings while wondering, “How many cameras caught that? Am I going to find it online one day as a .gif – an endless loop of me losing a fight with concrete? Ugh, I shouldn’t have done that to that one guy. Karma. Am I right? (You probably think I’m kidding. Let’s go with that. I’m a nice person. 🙂 You can trust me.) Then I started walking – picking up my pace and this time paying more attention to the path ahead than the neighbors’ homes. Thankfully, I walked away with only a bruised/cut chin, a slightly busted inner lip (did I mention I kind of face planted? I sorta maybe fell on my face), a bruise along the side of my knee, and quite a nasty “boob-boo” (as a friend who is a GP referred to it – a medical term, I’m sure) – basically a huge bruise on my chest that I actually discovered two days after the Great Sidewalk Attack of 2022. In my defense, I don’t go around looking at my chest. It didn’t hurt, no need to look down, so imagine my surprise when I actually did see it. It was a mix of, “what the…???” combined with a need for further scientific study, “does it hurt when you go like this? how about this? Hey, watch it lady!”

Sooo… that’s me.

How’s your 2022 going?

A New Year’s Wish

For a while now, I begin each New Year by seeking out the words of Neil Gaiman; no one can express a New Year’s wish as well as he can. (This probably isn’t entirely true, or even partially true, but his words always resonate with me.) While on that hunt, I was inspired to send a New Year’s wish of my own to a friend, then I realized it’s something I wish for all of you. I hope Mr. Gaiman doesn’t mind that I borrowed from his style.

I hope your year is filled with so much laughter, your sides ache. 

With everything going on, it’s easy to be cynical and express those frustrations, but there’s so much out there that is genuinely good. I hope you find and embrace that goodness.

I hope you approach each day with child-like wonder; this world is a beautiful place with so much yet to discover.

I hope you explore more and in exploring, your passion for adventure is reignited.

I hope you’re inspired to create, dream, and learn new things. You are at your best when you are true to yourself and give yourself permission to do those things.

I hope you dance under a star-filled sky.

I hope your heart is filled with so much love you feel like you’ll burst.

… and I hope that you feel seen, and loved, and appreciated.

Cheers!

Beth

Thank You!

This is a long overdue thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk here in Austin, TX. Thanks to your support we had 29 walkers from around the globe and across the US and we were able to raise $7,362!!! Thus making this our most successful fundraiser to date. WOW!

We also tried something new; we offered up incentives – from bad portraits, digital art, tuneless original songs of gratitude, haikus, and bad movie recaps to “come play D&D with us”. (Although I’m not going to lie, I’m a little sad no one opted for “come throw axes with me” – maybe next year??) You made your donations, and you asked/suffered through the horrible incentives with a smile.

We had a tremendous amount of fun and we raised awareness while putting out some really unforgettable and unforgivable bad art. We’re sorry (not sorry) world!!

The above represents the list of people who signed up as walkers or personally gave to my part of the fundraiser and does not represent the entirety of the 91 people who gave a donation this year. WOW! Just WOW!

So thank you! Whether you walked, donated, or offered support with a kind word or a simple “like”. You’re helping to save lives.

Thank you for supporting us another year! Thank you for choosing to make a difference!

So, That Happened

I was at lunch today watching an episode of The Great British Baking Show when my regular pest control guy came by for the bi-monthly eviction of pests. Toodles ants! Not that what I was watching is particularly important to the story, it’s just a fun fact (you’re welcome). The contestants were busily creating Baked Alaskas (Alaskans?) a dessert I was only aware of thanks to the movie Mister Frost. (Isn’t that how everyone learns about desserts – movies where Jeff Goldblum is the devil? No?) More fun facts!

Anyway, he’s a nice enough fellow who manages to keep critters at bay, and I appreciate that in a person. Like the time April came by and relocated a face-hugging grasshopper or that time April came by and relocated a Kingsnake. (Seriously, I just learned that is one word – see, even MORE fun facts – you’re really benefitting from my wisdom today. Good thing you stopped by. You also learned that April has mad pest removal skills. She’s kind of great.) People who remove and or stomp things on my behalf are pretty up there in my hierarchy of cool people. Maslowe can have his needs. I have my cool. Pyramid to come. Watch this space.

Y’know how some folks have that one thing they can’t live without? Their “treat yo’selfs”? Well, for me, that’s pest control. True story for the Dirty Jobs fans: the only episode of Dirty Jobs that was too much – the pest control episode(s). (Why was there more than one?!?!? Why?!?!?) I’m not particularly squeamish, but let’s just say that on the night the first one aired Jay had to find another show for us to watch; it was just a little bit too dirty.

Anyway…

We chatted about the rude ants who’d stormed the walls not once but twice after a couple of storms a few weeks ago. He agreed they were out of line, which they were, especially since they decided biting might be fun. I didn’t agree, but rolling them into smushy balls for their afront to my person was. He asked me to come outside to look at a window he found concerning. “It’s broken. I just thought you’d like to know.” I moved to get a better angle and said, “no, you can see the clouds reflected in the spot you say is broken – that’s just an odd reflection of something.” He reached over and plucked a cat hair from my shirt, weird, don’t touch me, but ok. Then offered to look up in the attic just to confirm. He goes up, sees the window isn’t broken, comes back down, and swaps places with me so I can also confirm. As I headed up the attic ladder, “what does your tattoo say?” (I have two arrows crossed on my ankle with a set of coordinates. The arrows represent crossed paths, and the coordinates are a location where I met some of the most important people in my life.) The glass wasn’t broken. I climbed back down.

He then goes about spreading bait around the perimeter of my house.

I return to my show. Baked Alaskas/kans here I come! “I see you!” he hollers through my open living room window as he passes beneath. “Ok!” I sigh. I watch a bit more and then throw in the towel to move away from the window. Will Diane’s meringue be stiff enough and toasted perfectly? Who knows? I decide to wait to find out.

A text pops up on my phone “so and so has completed their service” – the same text I get at the end of every completed service, but this time his photo appears. “Hrmm… that’s new.” I ignore it and prepare to return to work. The doorbell rings. “I finished.” Okie dokie. Good job. I got the text. I didn’t really need another confirmation. I’m ready to shut the door. “I just have to take a risk.” Then he gestures to me, palm flat as he waves his arm about in the air, “I want all of that all over me.” I’m genuinely confused. Is there something on the house? On the porch? What could he possibly want all over him? I don’t see anything that could be spread. I furrow my brow, “What?” He says it again using the same gesture, “I want that all over me. Would that be something you’d be interested in?” Ew. “No.” “Oh, ok. I just had to take the risk. I hope you don’t mind.” I mind. He leaves.

Also, does that line work on someone? Anyone??? Is “Would you care to have dinner with me?” “Would you be interested in coffee some time?” out of style?? We now just go straight to, “I want that…” “that”??? the fuck you say as you’re gesturing to me???? I’m not a “that” “…all over me.”

Yeah… so that happened today.

I can’t get a date with a decent guy who finds me interesting or attractive, but hey I’m a pretty big damn deal to the creepy pest control guy thanks to my “that”. Yay?

If there’s a Heaven, and there better be, I get to punch Jay in the throat now four times before I say hello.

Call to Action: Burgers & Ice Cream

You, yeah you – my friends, my family, that person around the corner sitting near the coast, laptop flipped open or sitting in the comfort of your living room, even you, you know who you are – the one dangling precariously off the edge of a mountain – all y’all (real Texas phrase) – know that every September I come to you to ask for your support for Suicide Awareness. I talk to you about the devastating impact suicide has – the lives irrevocably damaged, and I talk to you about the importance of awareness – how you can make a real difference. Then, I invite you to walk with me or make a donation.

However, today I want to talk to you about burgers and ice cream…

…and of course, the aforementioned awareness and how you can make a difference, but hang on, no heavy sighing, this isn’t a bait and switch – go back to the start of that sentence where I said “burgers AND ice cream! I’m leaning heavy on that “and” there.

Here’s the Deal

AFSP is partnering with Phil’s Ice House and Amy’s Ice Cream located at 5620 & 5624 Burnet Rd., Austin, TX (y’know, places that get you to the burger and ice cream thing I was talking about)

What AFSP is saying about the event:

We’re partnering with Amy’s Ice Creams and Phil’s Ice House for the 5th year in a row! But there’s a catch. We only receive donations if we have at least 50 people check-in at both Amy’s AND Phil’s.
When you get there just simply mention the AFSP’s Out of the Darkness Austin Walk and you’ll be checked-in. But don’t forget to go to both Amy’s and Phil’s so we can qualify for the Party Time Donations. The dining room is open for those wanting to eat at the restaurant. But we also encourage you to use their curbside or home delivery services. While supporters will still be able to go inside the restaurants to order and check-in, we encourage supporters to order online and put “American Foundation for Suicide Prevention” in the chef’s notes. If ordering in person, when you get there just simply mention the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and you’ll be checked-in. But don’t forget to go to both Amy’s and Phil’s so we can qualify for the Party Time Donations. Want an extra incentive for you and your team? You got it. There is a chance to have all the donated money credited to your team! How to win the Party Time Funds:
Take a picture of you enjoying your burger and ice cream
Share your picture on social Media
1) Tag American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Central Texas
2) Tag Phil’s or Amy’s

The team with the most tagged selfie’s wins!

Pretty easy! So, just to sum it all up (part 2, because who doesn’t love a sequel?!?! Am I right?)

  1. Go to Phil’s Ice House & Amy’s Ice Cream on Burnet Rd. in Austin (address above) to dine in, pick it up, or have it delivered
  2. Order food from both Phil’s AND Amy’s and let them know it’s for the “AFSP Out of the Darkness Austin Walk” – you can indicate that in the chef’s notes if you’re choosing curbside or delivery.
  3. Take a selfie
  4. Have your friends/family take a selfie
  5. Post that selfie, you gorgeous do gooder who’s out there making a difference, to social media (want to participate but don’t have a social media account? First off, good on you! Second, just send your photo to me and I’ll post it – AFSPJayWalkers at the gmail)
  6. Tag the following:
    • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – Central Texas
    • Phil’s Ice House OR Amy’s Ice Cream
    • The Jay Walkers

Watching your girlish/boyish figure? Have it delivered to a friend or family member or those folks who are working hard throughout the day? (Just get them to take the photo and post to social media.)

Like AFSP said, they only get the money if there are at least 50 participants. So, come have a burger and some ice cream with me!

I’ll see you Monday, October 11th!

PS – Want to skip the clogged cholesterol but still support this cause? Please consider walking with our team (virtually) or making a donation.

A Confession, An Overreaction, and Some Lemonade

I’m taking a moment to confess to you something – something I’m rightly a bit embarrassed about…

Facebook

You all know the relationship we (FB & I) share is quite complicated. It’s about as unhealthy a co-dependent relationship as they come. In fact, Netflix has a whole documentary about us – The Social Dilemma. Sure, you think it’s about you or your friends and family, but it’s actually my autobiography. All of it.

Y’see, I’ve been living and dying (mostly dying) by reactions (or lack thereof) to my posts.

Normally, that’s ok. I’m not a regular poster. In fact, I’m 100% certain the FB algorithm unceremoniously dumps me at the bottom of everyone’s feed troughs because of that lack of participation,. But that said, I get enough attention to keep me happy and to keep me coming back.

Then I started posting for the annual fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and if you discount the link from the AFSP fundraiser page (which got a ton of attention – thank you, donors!!), I got no response. No really, none. I posted a link to my latest Big Blue Mess post about the cause and nothing. Over a three day period, only one reader came from FB when normally it’s the bulk of my readers. Weird, but ok. I marched on.

I thought, “maybe no one is responding because they’re completely over your sadness – over Jay – over talking about this subject year after year.” I was grasping at straws, trying in vain to fix something I couldn’t understand why it was broken. I decided to push the ridiculous incentives I picked to encourage people to donate hoping that might pick up some attention. Hey, they’re goofy! Who doesn’t like goofiness? “For $10 incentive you can receive a horrible watercolor portrait made by yours truly! A “disaster piece”!” I included samples of my dreadful paintings thinking I’d at least get a pity laugh or two. Nothing.

What the actual…?

My friend Anna stepped in after listening to several whine/rants (whants?) and reacted to those posts as did my friend Julie. Yay, two little reactions to each post. What the…?

I was taking it on the chin. Beyond wanting a reaction and wanting to raise funds for this cause, we’re talking still talking about a life-altering, devastating event, and we’re talking about Jay. My person. My FAVORITE person. The person I still like more than pretty much everyone else. The person for whom I would give up every thing I’ve gained these past 5 years – every friendship I’ve made – every adventure I’ve had – every opportunity I’ve been afforded to just have him walk through my door.

The lack of responses stung.

No one? Seriously??

The indignance of that question resonated through my core, and I chewed on it – really working up a solid mad.

…and that’s when I got a message from Anna this afternoon that basically went something like this. “Hey, I noticed when you’ve been posting that the notifications I receive say that you sent a message to me. I don’t know if this is it, but you might want to check to see who your audience is. I went back and looked – all of them were to Anna – not to “Public” or “Friends” or even “Friends; Except: (not that I would ever prevent someone on my feed from reading something, but y’know… ) I was embarrassed – so much energy spent on being upset over nothing. I thought about Occam’s Razor: Was it more likely that the usual FB suspects unexpectedly abandoned you because they suddenly didn’t want to hear about Jay OR that something went pear-shaped with your posts?

Ugh.

So, my feelings that live on my sleeve are now ironed back down – at least until my next irrational fit where I waste a lot of energy.

But hey, now that I’m sane again, have I mentioned that for $10 you can get an original disaster piece (or original haiku)?? All you have to do is donate that $10 to AFSP. Help make a difference!

Lemonade

Original Disaster-piece of My Sister-in-law – She’s a Florist! Get it?? There’s a flower!