Coffee or Tea? A Ridiculous Dating Update

I’m going to take a moment to horrify my friends.  Guys, I don’t love coffee. I’m sorry. I know. I’ve been pretending for you for years in order to be accepted, but there it is – a simple truth.  Don’t get me wrong, not loving it doesn’t mean I hate coffee, it’s just… well, we’re frien-emy’s. Coffee is ok with our relationship. Coffee understands that for us to get along, it has to be dressed up before we go out together. Mind you, not quite Gingerbread Latte dressed up, because I’m not that fancy, but definitely a little cream or milk will be joining us.

Unfortunately, “would you like to grab coffee?” seems to be the current online go-to choice for those who want to meet for the first time. Where is Mr. Microphone to break the ice? And while my response is usually, “yes,” the between the lines is, “no, not really – I’d much rather sit around in my fleecey pants, my favorite t-shirt and Homer Simpson slippers while catching up on Star Trek Discovery and sipping iced tea,” but no one ever asks if that’s what I’d like to do. Weird. I’d also be game for almost anything else – like a walk around Town Lake would be great – something that doesn’t seem like the world’s worst interview where we’re across a table grilling each other about hobbies and political tastes. I’m not sure what I’ve written in my bio, but it draws people who get incredibly nervous when speaking to me, and I’m just thinking coffee is not going to help calm the nerves. Perhaps a nice chamomile? Warm milk?

I did get to hit the Steeping Room this last go around by claiming I couldn’t think of a single coffee place nearby.  This put me more at ease thanks to a lovely Moroccan gun powder mint tea. Thank you, Jers for introducing us decades ago. And once again I found I made another human being a bit twitchy. He should have found his own zen calm by placing an order for his favorite hot drink, too. The only downside to this meeting was I’d honestly managed to forget his name multiple times during the day. “What’s the guy’s name you’re meeting?” “Ummm… yeah… I should check that before going.” I’m kind of going through a phase where I think all online dates are named, “Todd.” It’s embarrassing but true. I did double-check before exiting my car. I felt a little terrible about that.  Anyway, he was smart, a server developer/designer, and another runner. The only real notable thing that stood out from our conversation was me trying to convince him that people on the opposite political side could actually be intelligent. We parted with the mutual understanding that it was ok that the other existed in the world. My aunt will not have to send him a note suggesting we be friends.

Speaking of, I did send the other runner a note in an attempt to convince him we should at least be friends. I figured I’d take the burden off my very willing aunt. The last time I tried to convince a stranger to be my friend was in 3rd grade at my day care center where I had a habit of walking up to new kids and declaring, “I’m Beth!” then following with a subtle, “Want to be friends?” This almost always worked, since I was somewhat obnoxious, and they quickly realized they’d be stuck with me every day after school for a year. Might as well give in! It turns out I’ve lost that skill set along with the advantage of having another person locked in the same space. In my sad attempt to convince him I tried a cocktail of, “I think you’re great” added with an, “I think you should allow yourself to be swept into a new group,” and finally, after he’d said no one had ever described him in a particular way,  “I’m neither family nor friend. I’m not obligated to flatter you or build you up – this is how I see you – this is why you should believe me. Plus, I’m not actually this nice to strangers.” Ok fine, I realize I did not miss my calling in sales or debate, but personally I wanted to be MY friend after hitting send. 🙂 Apparently, I was very much alone in this. A good friend tried to convince me it’s ok that the runner will not be added into my menagerie. I suppose.

What’s next? Well, I’ve discovered that on this dating journey, I’ve gotten more blunt – as in the “be my friend” example above. So, while I had the potential to meet up with a musician/librarian (librarian???) this week, and tell even more ridiculous stories, I may have insulted him. He’d sent a note about how his band is auditioning a singer. I asked some questions and wished his band luck, to which his response was, “Yeah. This will work. Are you free next week?” And yours truly may have responded, “Did you just type out your thought bubble?” I haven’t heard back from him. Weird.

Finally, I am supposed to chat with another tech guy/musician this week.

I’m sure I’ll have more stories. You’re welcome Tori.

Please let it not actually be over coffee.

A Simple Wish

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. –Neil Gaiman

At the beginning of 2017 I was given a box that held 260 colorful envelopes filled with notes/quotes/questions/advice from my friends and family. These lunchbox notes were to accompany me each day of work and were to be opened at lunch (thus, the name).  There were instructions directing me to open one first, and it ended up containing the quote above.  These, in turn, became the things I wanted to achieve – a list of what I wanted to accomplish throughout the year – a road map – a bucket list.

So, I wrote a little more. Maybe not sketches, as I’d planned. It turns out that in this political climate my attempts at satire have too sharp an edge to them. I started turning off NPR more (sorry guys, I still love you) and sang more, replacing the news with singing – each time I got into the car.  I even made it out to karaoke, something I hadn’t done in years, and belted out a little Lady Gaga, ABBA, and Kansas. I now have a baby stereo system in the house where I repeat the show daily. (To the delight of my neighbors, Elle King’s America’s Sweetheart is my current go-to.) I made some art, and sent cards off to friends and family. To surprise myself, I entered the Warrior Dash, and I can say I was in fact surprised in the end. This one set me back a bit, causing all of the things to stop, and me to momentarily forget the list.

As I grew stronger, I was able to dive back in – writing, singing, reading, laughing, and creating.  The only one left to tackle was “kiss someone who thinks [I’m] wonderful.” So, a month ago I decided “screw it” and I re-entered the online dating world to give it a more serious try.  I went on three dates over five days. André, of the infamous meltdown, was the first. See below for a recap.

The second was Todd. I have to admit that over the past three weeks I became a 16 year-old girl when it came to all things Todd – a distracted girly mess. One of my male friends joked, “hell, I’m starting to have a crush on Todd” thanks to all of my incessant Todd talk, usually followed by, “do you want to see his picture?” It was terrible, and kind of fun, and it reminded me of staying on the phone for hours in high school, of passing notes, of having my girlfriends spend the night, of listening to music in the darkness of my room, and of daydreaming. He was a reminder that I was still alive, and still able to be reduced to a blushy, giddy little girl mess.

I met Todd a day or two after the André-no-I-don’t-want-to-drive-to-Costco-for-the-great-gas-don’t-put-your-face-near-my-face incident. I went to his place, knowing my adopted big brothers would not be pleased for safety reasons, and watched him put together a doll house for his granddaughter. He was just as beautiful in person, and also very simple in ways I won’t be able to quite convey here.

A few highlights from that evening: He told me, “I’d totally mack with you, but I’ve had a lot of coffee, and I don’t like to kiss with coffee breath.” Wow, umm… I don’t think anyone has ever said they’d “mack” with me. I’m not sure I’ve “macked” with anyone. Maybe I’m not a macker? If we “macked” would this count towards my “…kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful?” Gaiman didn’t say anything about “macking with someone.” Then Todd professed his love of the phrase “that’s what she said” and probably used it 15-20 different times. Apparently, she says a lot. Todd expressed with certainty that a whole comedy routine based on that line would quite possibly be the best stand-up comedy routine ever.  I’m not so sure. I threw in a few “that’s what she said” lines to make him happy, and he giggled gleefully (alliteration also makes him happy) while continuing to work on this dollhouse (a bit of a structural mess, but it also made him happy). I then turned the conversation to why he loved the town we’re in, because frankly it’s a sea of HOA’s to me, and I hoped he might have some insight that would make me see it differently. His response: “I’m near three strip clubs.” Oh… “Yeah, I love strip clubs and I would totally pay for you to get a lap dance.” At this I had to say, “That actually wouldn’t do anything for me, but thank you.” He smiled and offered up, “well, it would do something for me.” Ohhhh kay… (For any of you thinking a strip club birthday gift card might make the perfect gift, you should give that to someone else.) I got a tour of his apartment and the multiple 8″x10″ prom pictures proudly displayed on the walls. I have to confess, my prom pictures are still in the “vintage” envelope they came in. (Sorry David! I did put one in a photo album and used it for a #TBT thing on FB.)

We ended with a side hug, and I sighed… so pretty. There goes my 16 year old girl, and a 49 year old woman drove home – music blaring, while singing at the top of her lungs.

Two days later, I had coffee with the runner post my half marathon (where I did surprise myself). He was absolutely brilliant. Smart, engaging, a fantastic storyteller (and we all know how I love good stories), and I was none of those things in return. And while I recognize I’m not his type physically, he’s the kind of person who absolutely should be one of my friends. I was lamenting this to my aunt yesterday, and she kindly offered to call him up and explain how great I was.  “You know if you want me to, I’d do it,” which made me laugh. All I could picture was a call that might sound like, “Hi, this is Beth’s aunt. She’s really great; you’d really like her. I’m so proud of her. Anyway, she thinks you’re really neat. She has a lot of really neat friends, so if she thinks you’re neat, then there’s probably something special about you. You should really be her friend. I’m going to have a get together at Easter, and she knows she’s always welcome. You could come, too.” While I loved this idea, and it made my heart smile, I can only imagine how that would sound to a stranger. “Please reconsider being my niece’s friend. We love her.” I love my aunt, and I love that she was serious. Also, a side note to my friends: she really does think you guys are neat. Also, damnit, he was really cool.

So Neil, I failed a little when it came to living up to your New Year’s wishes.

While the year continued to hold a few more hardship, it was also one that was filled with magic, and dreams, and good madness. I read some fine books. I made some art – I wrote, I drew a little, I sang loudly and often, I laughed, and I surprised myself (half marathon!!).  I was surrounded with the best people. Old friends, new friends, and family… and though there were tears, there was more joy.

I plan to do more of that next year.  And maybe… just maybe… I’ll “mack” with someone who thinks I’m wonderful.

Dedication: This was for Tori who suggested I had another blog piece in me before the end of the year. Hears to you, kid!

Turning 50

I’m torn between two stories – two equally half-baked ideas, and neither of them quite fit to warrant a blog entry, but here I am.  That’s right, this month you get not one, not two, but three blog pieces, or two official ones plus this one where I spew words to fill up space and technically call it an additional blog piece. I can do that. I’m the author.

The two stories: I turned 50! I feel the exclamation point here is a bit much on the one hand, but on the other, the period seems a little too little. Maybe just the pipe thing is a better choice? I turned 50| – hrmm… clearly a punctuation work in progress.

I heralded the day by going to the movies, where two of my friends immediately fell asleep, and then in a show of solidarity, I promptly went home myself and took a three hour nap.  This might be a bad sign considering that I worked in a couple of extra naps today. 50 makes me a tad sleepy.

To help celebrate this auspicious occasion of being half a century old I decided to take this week off. I haven’t had a week off since right before Jay died – not even when I wrecked my knee; I’m a little trooper! (A little trooper who had a great boss who let them telework for a week. Otherwise, I really would have taken the week, because ow… knee.)  I started this vacation off strong with the aforementioned three hour birthday nap on day #1, and now on day #2 (today) I’m officially stir crazy to the point that I felt compelled to text a friend pleading that they get me out of the house tomorrow before I end up watching all the sad movies, or listening to every piece of moody music I own, while downing the one wine cooler. Yes, I’m kicking it old school with my drink options… err option. I guess I do actually have tequila, but I haven’t quite reached the “sad drunk” phase of my life, yet. We won’t mention the very dry red wine that’s currently “aging.”

But this song y’all…

(This really met both my movie AND song criteria. And who wouldn’t want to play it 20 times in a day? Am I right? At least I limited myself to 20.)

Ok, in all fairness I did also purchase the following, and have played it nearly as much as the above (like 5 times, which we all know is exactly like 20):

I’ve also managed to watch Once; Sex, Lies & Videotape; and Me Before You over the past two daysWithout intervention, I see Sense and Sensibility in my Day #3 future.

So, there’s that story… the other half-baked story is that over the month of December I’ve devolved into an overly dramatic 16 year old girl again (see music above). I suspect my girlfriends are either going to stage an intervention or murder me if I continue, but I don’t see an end in sight to this. Sorry guys! I know it’s absolutely absurd. I really need a parent to come in to tell me to shut it down or for Julie to magically appear from New Zealand and we go on a long walk around Town Lake.  But boys y’all… that’s all I’ve got to say. Ok, maybe I’d add some words about my ego, and some other words about how I’m an awkward goon. This is where it’s a shame I don’t have any long rows coming up, I could use one. (I think tomorrow I’ll end up rowing 9 minutes tops, and walking approximately 16 minutes if I am guesstimating my workout calendar correctly – hardly enough to shut down a brain for any significant amount of time.)

So there you have it.  Two near-stories that show I’m not only 50, but am still 16 – all in one goofy package that’s unable to land a date. Woo! Go me!

I think I’ll go take another nap.

A Date

I went on a date.  Ok sure, it wasn’t necessarily the person I wanted to go out with, but hey I figured what the hell.  That guy isn’t free, I had some free time, and should the other date actually happen, maybe I won’t act like a new born fawn in some perverse Benny Hill sketch. Maybe, if it happened, I could pass as cool?  Ok fine, this from the girl who once kept dropping cow bells repeatedly every time she walked past a work crush when I was in my early 20’s. (No seriously, I dropped them at least three times – COW BELLS – it’s not like that goes unnoticed. He’d smile, my eyes would get big, and those ridiculous things would fall out of my hands – MULTIPLE TIMES. No amount of, “play it cool, Beth” could make up for the loud clanging on the concrete floor as I blushed profusely, trying to grab them up, then I’d go back for more and repeat that whole scene, because apparently I don’t learn. I may have mentioned I live in a long running I Love Lucy episode. It’s horrifying.) Maybe I should just go ahead give up on this idea that I could ever come off as cool.

We met for coffee, and let me just say here: Starbucks’ Gingerbread Latte is an appalling abomination. No amount of toothpaste or breath mints can rid you of the taste or aftertaste or after-after taste.  This is a public service announcement. You’re welcome. Me being me – I went to the wrong place, because whoopsy, who pays attention? Especially, when given landmarks like “near Walgreens and Wal-Mart”. That’s all my town is. I think I can find three nearby Starbucks that meet that criteria. It took me about 10 minutes to get to the right spot, and my goof was greeted by chastising and a whole lot of words that really amounted to 1) huge control freak, and 2) EJECT!  If he had been the least bit empathetic, we would have seen this goof from my side, which was that while he was momentarily inconvenienced by having to loiter a bit, I had to actually double-back AND update several people who would reign hell fire on him in the event I texted them with “911”. They too had to mentally re-map their routes, dude – not like it was just you who were inconvenienced; it created a small logistical issue. So, self-centered.

We drank coffee, and chatted, which was fine. My only real observations here were: 1) How can so many words fall out of one face? SO MANY MANY WORDS. For the love of all things Holy, please stop making them. No seriously, I need your face to stop moving. 2) Why are you so concerned about where I live? (I made a mental note to ask the security guys how to install cameras) If I changed the subject away from my neighborhood, he’d get back to “no, where do you live. You haven’t answered me. I’ve asked you now a few times.” Will Robinson didn’t even need a robot to be warned – anyone with half a brain cell would have been concerned, and 3) Personal space, observe it.

There’s a running joke about me and hugs, and the fact is that a lot of people can actually hug me. A lot of people can’t. I just keep everyone on their toes by never updating the people who formerly couldn’t that their hug status has been upgraded. And there’s some people I’ve met for the first time that they better hug me, which also surprises older friends who still are in the “no hug” zone. I’m complicated. 🙂 So, back to the date: This guy tried to kiss me, and I presented him with my forehead, because NOPE. Do not get your face near my face, thank you. He made a joke that he kissed my forehead for good luck while I was internally blaspheming up such a storm that I was in danger of multiple lightning strikes. Simultaneously, I tried to work out how to get a whole ton of lye, and pondered whether it might be caustic enough to clean my forehead properly. In hindsight, I’m actually surprised he stopped speaking long enough to attempt such an action, but there you go.

He then invited me to get gas with him at Costco. I have no words. Not that the gas isn’t fine there; it’s just approximately 12-15 miles from where we were. No, I’m not getting in your car. No, I don’t think gas is so amazeballs at Costco that I’d ever be willing to pass 15 other gas stations along the way for your special gas run. And with that I waved good bye, and actually closely watched the cars behind me as I headed home. One followed me into the neighborhood, so I drove a more circuitous route until they were no longer in my site. He’s THAT guy – the kind that gives you that vibe.

We broke up the next day. Well… at least that’s what the texts tell me. I was busy at work, then later ran out with friends to dinner only to find this really long one-sided text conversation which amounted to “Do you like me? Yes? or No? Well, clearly you don’t. You realize I’m quite a great catch. Why don’t you like me? Could you send me a note so I can improve? You’re missing out.” This conversation apparently went on over some period of time. (I should mention, I’m bad with phones and really bad about answering or responding.) So, by the time I got home our relationship had run some course and it was over. YAY!!!!! When I read the entire thing late last night, I nearly burst out laughing. So much drama. You know, someone needs to create a “Do you like me?” app. There could be a push notification, you could decide then and there, and if it’s “no” then the app should go in and delete/block that person. Maybe an obnoxious slamming sound with the word “NO!” could appear on their screen in return.  Whereas, a “yes” could generate date options or some such. This is a work in progress.

All of this to say that I did go on a date. It was meh and drama filled (granted, one-sided drama – which, by the way ladies, he’s free AND he claims to be quite the catch should you all want to have your shot.)

And while this wasn’t particularly great, it added a few new stories to my repertoire. And let’s face it, I’m not dating anyone I don’t think Jay would approve of (and he would definitely not have approved), nor will I date anyone that I feel needs the protective pack of men in my life to explain to him why it would be in his interest to never think of me again. (Thanks guys!)

But hey, date. There will be another this Sunday with a runner who seems much more my speed (well, not running speed – a ton faster there, I strongly suspect).

The things I do for you guys. You’re welcome.

I’m Still a Mess

I started the Whole30, and yesterday was day 4.  I mention this only to add some context, and for you to know that day 4 without certain foods left me a tad lethargic (among other things). I compounded that with a poor night’s sleep (I woke up at 10pm, and thought I needed to get ready for the day, then followed that by my brain deciding to continue that cycle every couple of hours), a tiny hormonal imbalance, and a poor performance at the gym (yes, yes, I know… they said that would happen), and I found myself in the gym parking lot deciding today would be a great day to take full inventory of my life. You know, like you do sometimes. Of course the inventory had the header, “Things That are Unfair to Beth” then I listed them in my head (again, like you do in the gym parking lot). “It’s unfair everyone else gets to have a complete meltdown, and I have to be stoic. Stupid upbringing! Stupid stoicism! Stupid genes!” “Who’s the person who’s going to hold me? Tell me it’s ok? Oh yeah, I remember now. NO ONE! Stupid death!” “It’s unfair that a person suggested I was over Jay, and that by contrast she would never be over losing her husband, but go me. Witness the tempest that whirls around in my mind EVERY SINGLE FRIGGIN’ DAY, LADY!” “It’s unfair I’ll die alone.” “Watch PS I Love You, lady… one speech beautifully captures where I still am.”   “Don’t mourn enough? Too functional? And guess what, lady? I don’t get Jeffrey Dean Morgan in the end OR get to move to Ireland!!!” “Speaking of, it’s UNFAIR I don’t get to move to Ireland!” “It’s unfair that Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s character isn’t a real person who coincidentally is a chubby chaser!” “Where’s MY meltdown? WHERE?!?” Deciding “meltdowns” equaled falling apart and blubbering dramatically over friends, family, and colleagues who would doubtlessly watch in shocked horror. And that’s when I burst into inconsolable tears… for like two to three delightfully self-indulgent minutes.

They started out pretty swell, and then I realized I was just making noise – like the kid trying to get attention through crying, but not 100% committed, and I had to ask myself, “are you done? You had your moment? Can we drive the car now?” FINE. So, I drove to work, tears drying on my cheeks as I headed into the building, but thankful it was still dark outside.  I got in, and my lunch was immediately torpedoed. Now “torpedoed” on Whole30 meant I had to rearrange what I had for breakfast and try to figure out how to make that stretch into two meals.  Having forgotten my lunch on Day 1 of Whole30 gave me a neat window into “I don’t want to ever do that again!!!” That’s when I declared I couldn’t be around people. Ok, so I didn’t wave a flag around and really shout it out to anyone, I told a couple of people. I also explained to those couple of folks that said meltdown was occurring because of X, Y, and Z – lack of sleep, diet change, hormones. You see, on a very rational level I understood the “why” of it all, but that it didn’t take away my strong desire to flip all of the coffee tables.

Enter my friend John – the office mate you all should have.  My other bestie office mate wasn’t quite able to run over to my building. Although, she did show me that I was officially at the Whole30 stage of “Kill all the things!” (FYI, “kill all the things” is based on science. Mmm hmm. It starts on Day 4. I’ve seen the graph. It’s on my phone; therefore, it is fact.) And another who was busily cracking the “I’m a moody little princess” shell with some “guten fruiten thutens Thursdays!” (I can’t possibly explain that, it’s “German,” please don’t ask. You’re clearly not bilingual.)  Although, poor John got to be the one at ground zero.

Now here’s what I like about John. He’ll listen patiently (without outwardly judging – I suspect there’s some judgment behind the “mostly” placid face), and he won’t throw out ideas to fix whatever it is you think you’re currently suffering from, that likely you aren’t. I think he truly realizes “kill all the things” isn’t a cute euphemism for “please give me a sea of suggestions that I will definitely hear and appreciate while I’m mid rage, and rampaging about like an out of control penguin” (look elephants? bulls? so passé – also, I learned in Behind the Scenes at Sea World that penguins can be little tuxedoed jerks, so this analogy is really working for me). John is more action, so when he got out of me that my world had worked out so I could have lunch, he basically said, “you need to go away from here for a bit; I know a place that works with your Whole30.”

With that one action I got out into the sun, got to hear new stories, discovered a great place to eat (Salata), and breathed just a little bit better.

So, everyone (including me) owes a huge thanks to these people for putting up with my shenanigans, getting me back on the rails, and for weathering the mess that was Beth yesterday (and all the other days).

Also, while things still aren’t “fair” (are they ever?), I do believe I am actually owed one gigantic, ugly meltdown where someone will have to pat my head. I’m just sayin’. Hey, the title of this is “I’m Still a Mess,” you didn’t really expect some epiphany here, did you?

Book Ends

It started with a picture, and a kind note, and I was reminded of a drawing, tucked away in a box, sleeping in its frame. “Don’t forget the note.” A 15 year old version of me repeated.  When I’d framed the drawing  – one of a young woman resting contentedly in the arms of her lover – I had worried that I would forget the dedication on the back. “Don’t forget the note.”

I had forgotten the note along with the picture decades ago. I suppose it was a form of self-defense – a way of flipping the coffee tables within my mind, and storming off to help push down the memories.

If you knew me well in high school, you knew I was a quiet but horribly sarcastic nerd. You probably knew that I was the president of our orchestra, I was reasonably smart, my best friend was Julie, and that I was completely obsessed with a guy named John. This guy was beautiful, vibrant, funny, completely aware of who he was, and was able to see through the layers upon layers of walls I’d built up to protect myself from people seeing any shadow of the real me. (I build a great wall. It’s the best wall. Just saying.) He consumed my thoughts almost every waking minute from 15-18, and probably a couple of years beyond. Being around him was like dancing too close to a bonfire, but I could never quite resist that flame (much to the chagrin of my best friend, who had to tend to each tear-filled wound every time I was scorched); I made for a beautiful and perfect moth.

John was my first kiss. I was a freshman, and it was minutes before my final exam in Mr. Casarez’s Algebra 2 class while we stood in the drama hall.  I was so giddy, I could barely focus the rest of the day, and it’s a small wonder I actually passed that final. It’s also a small wonder I didn’t jump up and down, clap, or do an interpretive dance. My heart sang with such tremendous joy that I can only imagine how obnoxious I was for the days, weeks (and years to follow – sorry, Ju).  Thus began my personal angsty teen girl saga.

As a teen, adults (not in my close circle) viewed me as polite, smart, and reserved, and they usually felt that my parents had won a sort of teen lottery, because I did not have any noticeable streaks of rebellion. I was a rules follower, I was quite studious, and I was seemingly above all the typical teen drama.  In truth, when it came to John, I was your average teenage girl. I could waver from super dramatic highs to super dramatic lows, and sometimes those occurred within hours of each other.

When I think of him, I remember silly things like him riding his bike from Wm. Cannon to Barton Springs (roughly seven miles), then we’d walk down to Zilker to go swimming or watch the kid’s train wind around the park while singing When Doves Cry. I remember his best friend, Carlos, the worst teen driver in the history of teen drivers whom I was forbidden to ride with, so of course I got in his car all the time. I remember John carrying me on his shoulders across Wm. Cannon while I held a gallon of milk and just laughing. Now, when I imagine how that would look, the daydream ends with two people in traction (and a smile). I remember the song he dedicated to me, Duran Duran’s The Chauffeur (which when I’ve listened to it as an adult, it has given me a tad bit of pause – though I find I’m still drawn to it).  I remember him saying the movie Purple Rain was very “him” and me agreeing. (Watch that as an adult, and see if that wouldn’t make you want to put your teen daughter in an convent or move the family to another town.) I remember the notes passed in the hallway,  the cards (all of which I do still have), and of course the crushing heartbreak when he and a close friend destroyed my teen heart. So much aftermath – thoughts and feelings that ripple into today and form the tapestry of my soul, affecting how I feel about certain people in my life – creating its rough template of who I tend to fall for. John was my foundation.

We stopped speaking sometime in college.  Encounters with him, though pleasant, would leave me temporarily wrecked and withdrawn, and at some point I had to cry “uncle.” And then I received a picture, with words meant for the back, and remembered another picture from a long time ago with a note I was never supposed to forget.

I went looking for him, willing to risk the flame, only to find that he had gone.  The 17 year old that lives in my heart fell apart, and then the one friend who remembers my 17 year old, and accepts that’s sometimes who I am,  stepped in like she always did to remind 17 year old me that she was ok. That dealing with death is challenging.

John 11/7/1966 – 12/25/2014

John

He had passed away on my birthday a few years ago. I read his tributes, since I really never knew him as an adult, and he was loved dearly by his friends; I’d expect no less. He had grown into quite a beautiful human being who pursued his passions.

Two things I learned from him: 1) Live passionately. 2) Don’t rely as much on words, as on what your heart and senses tell you is right. People will say things to protect themselves, but your heart knows the truth if you’ll listen. You just have to have faith in what it’s telling you.

And now the bookends of my life… my first and last love have left, and I sit a little more broken.

John Kelso

Yesterday, my phone lit up with messages – John Kelso, an Austin icon, had passed away.  If you in any way claim to be a true Austinite, separating yourself from the throngs who appear adding condos along Town Lake and driving up real estate prices, then you love a few things: Barton Springs, Zilker hillside musicals, Chuy’s  jalapeño ranch, ACL, and of course John Kelso.

I could recount some of my favorite articles, but y’all have Google and a curious mind, so I’ll let you enjoy the thrill of discovery.  That said, the time he shamed the city into re-thinking their stance on a goat’s living situation near “So-Co” (don’t get me started; I was here before South Congress started putting on airs) made me proud. Hey, sometimes gentrifiers need friendly reminders. (Chin up, guys you’ll eventually drive the goat family out thanks to increased property taxes. Every cloud, right?)

I was going to link to a blog piece where I’d written about my encounters with Kelso, but I did a search and discovered I kind of love talking about him. You see, he’s the kind of guy that one story would never do.  I can tell you that my adoration started when he joined my high school for a week posing as an 11th grade student named Clarence Frick (my year), then proceeded to write a series of articles about his experience. That led me to eventually inviting him to our 20 year reunion at Opal Divine’s where he accepted, showed up, and kept our school elite entertained.

Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to have my writing style compared to his. It even once inspired me to contact him, and see if he might have some advice for the likes of me. He encouraged me to give him a call, which took me a few weeks to muster up the courage to do. I mean, I write like me, not like him, and it seemed a bit uppity on my part to say “hello sir, people say I’m like you, how do I get better – how do I become you? What brands do you buy? Would you call your hair shade salt and pepper? How much salt to pepper would you say?” (I would have left off descriptions of said friends – their questionable tastes, their TBIs, etc.) When I finally did call, I got his voice mail, and didn’t hear anything back. I can’t attest to what my message said, but I suspect it was a bit rambly, and full of fan girl blithering.  The kind of stuff that sets off warning bells, and causes one to invest in a personal bodyguard or five.) He’s always had a lot going on, as one of Austin’s patron saints, so I suspect he was busy (contacting the APD).  Still, I held onto hope he’d one day share some pearls of writing wisdom.  Sorry guys, without those pearls this is what you get. Hey, you decided to follow this blog. That’s on you.

All of that to say, we will miss him and his humor – the way he influenced all of us to laugh a bit, and to inspire us. I hope he’s somewhere now having a beer with Molly Ivins, and Ann Richards, and that Leslie pops by to offer a lick of his “knob” (a story for another day, and not what you think so get your mind out of the gutter).

RIP John Kelso, and my favorite classmate, Clarence Frick.