Because my parents were divorced…

My Mother moved us to Austin when I was in 2nd grade.

And because she moved us to Austin when I was in second grade,

A little boy named Ernie was paired up with me on my first day of school.  His assignment was to make sure I got around ok and boarded the right bus at day’s end.  He didn’t realize it was a lifetime commitment.

He then grew up to mistake me for furniture (or maybe it was retaliation, since he’d been tricked).

When your friends become family.

And because a little boy named Ernie showed me around school,

I got a job at PBS.

And because I got a job at PBS,

I met a girl named April.

And because I met a girl named April,

I took an improv class.

Steve Rogers Photography

And because I took an improv class,

I took more improv classes.

Singing Improv!

And because I took more improv classes

I heard about sketch classes,

And because I heard about sketch classes, I wrote some sketches that we eventually turned into some short films.

And I also helped write a sketch show that had a sold out run three weekends in a row.

And because I did all of that, I met more people,

And because I met those people

I will be part of this year’s 48 Hour Film Project in Austin, which we’ll start on August 16th, finish on August 18th and have screened the following week at the Scottish Rite Theater.

48 Hour Filmmaker: Austin 2013

Thanks to my parents getting a divorce, I’m helping make a film!  Thanks, guys!

SHAMELESS PLUG: Interested in helping out, interested in acting or just merely want to keep track of what’s going on?  Follow Uncle Bob’s Dangerous Pants  (team name!) on FB for the latest details.

The Day We Met

Have you ever tried to recall the first time you met a friend?  Maybe I’m alone in this, but sometimes when traffic is moving along slowly and the radio isn’t engaging me I start thinking about various people in my life and I try to remember that first time we met.  Some people just always seem to have been in my life, while there are a handful of folks where I remember the moment.

Like my friend DeAnne (or HRH DeAnne, her preferred title).  The first time I remember meeting her was when she walked by and dropped her business card on my desk – a lavender thing with a border that I want to say had maybe a floral pattern (I may be misremembering that bit).  What caught my eye was what it said in bold type: “DeAnne X” followed by “Queen of Everything” (err, the X is obviously not her last name, but I don’t think she wants you dropping by her house and genuflecting, which you would feel compelled to do).  How could I possibly NOT like someone who had a card like that?

But for the most part, the rest of my friends are just blurs of early images.  Anna coming back to the dorm early during the Christmas holidays and flinging her stuff on the TV room floor – Jonathan being briefed on our first RA assignment at the dorm where we were supposed to keep the rabble from tossing kegs on the passing UT football parade (the annual parade had been re-routed in previous years because of keg tossing issues from our dorm) – quiet April (so you know the memory is very old) – escaping from a goofy Jr. High slumber party with Julie in the middle of the night – Seth showing up in English where they announced he was from the exotic land of Canada (look, I hadn’t traveled out of Texas at that point and Canada seemed really cool – Canadian friends, I mean “Canada IS very cool” *cough*), but then there’s my friend Ernie.  I remember the day we met quite vividly.

Mom and I had just moved from Dallas (remember Dallas > Houston) and it was the last few weeks of second grade.  Ernie was assigned to be my guide that day.  He showed me around the school, took me to my class and then waited for me after school to make sure I got on the right day care shuttle.  Ern failed to get through my head that there were two shuttle pick-ups, so when he went off in the first one, I had a panic attack where I sat against the wall, freaked out and hoped everything would work out.

Poor Ernie, after that I followed him everywhere to the point that the day care staff would try to put a foot down and declare.  “No, Beth. You may not follow Ernie to the bathroom.”  (I just wanted to sit outside and continue to blather at him and haha to them, I did win that battle.  Lucky Ern! No escape!) If there was Ern, there was me close on his heels gabbing away.  (I used to be more gregarious.)  I made him play all of my stupid made up games.  I made him dig elaborate tunnels for army men in the sandbox and I probably even made him listen to show tunes when we were allowed to bring records to day care.  (I can be somewhat relentless and somewhat overwhelming when I like someone.)  The guy really had no peace.

It’s funny.  I’ve listened to Ern tell stories about what he was like as a kid.  He’ll talk about being apart from the other kids – somewhat aloof and very studious, which is all very true.  But I remind him of playing “Bonnie and Clyde” or our amazing bus scraps which usually involved someone drawing blood and he’ll smile and say, “you brought out the worst in me”.  I like to think that’s called “grounding” someone.

Do you remember the day we met?

The Laborious Birth of a Tribute

Post the family’s Thanksgiving get together, I was driving down Mopac listening to KGSR wrapped in the afterglow of all the well wishes, good conversation and great food.  I had 40 minutes of music and in-my-head time and I started thinking about how great my friends and family are. While under the influence of a lethal combination of L-Tryptophan and sugar, I started composing a blog entry.  I do this all the time while driving, but few rarely make it to the website because I either don’t jot down the idea or it floundered before I could commit it to virtual paper.

Bringing Out the Worst in Ern

As I drove, I composed the entry which basically talked about how completely in awe I am of my friends and their talents.  I wrote about how gifted each and every one of them are.  At this point in the thought process, I mention a story I wrote in an expository writing class at UT called “The Aluminum Rose” – a story specifically about one of my oldest friends, Angie, that reflected on how beautiful and unique she was by comparing her to a foil rose her father crafted for her many years ago.  I backspace over this bit, recalling the day the professor took that story, threw it up on the overhead and an entire class picked it apart (nothing beats the humiliation of having a classroom full of uppity upper level English students holding a microscope to your writing).  This particular class nearly ended in a brawl due to a disagreement over whether I had proven that Angie was either a unique or a beautiful person.  What I took away from the whole experience was that while you can make certain claims in writing there’s a limit to what you can expect your audience to accept wholesale.   I ponder this for a bit – if I say that my friends are awe inspiring and gifted, I will need examples.

I mentally start writing examples starting with Ernie, my oldest friend – the kid who was responsible for me my first day of school in Austin, Texas.  I talk about Ernie the concert quality pianist (after only a couple of years playing), Ernie teaching in China, Ernie the guy that tried to sneak into a forbidden part of China and didn’t get arrested, Ernie, the Germans and the Crazy Knife Wielding Chef – so many stories.  I even tease him a bit in this unwritten blog over his perception of himself as a young boy.  (I’ve known him since he was seven and he remembers himself as a bit aloof and overly studious – not particularly a playful kid.)  I recall that I once had to remind him of our various 3rd grade adventures, to which he replied something along the lines of how I brought that out in him.  (It was actually a less flattering recollection – I think it had to do with me being kind of a spastic mess and being so irritating he had to sink to my level.  I love my friends.)

No Doors Were Harmed - Jers NYCI write about Jerry, my college roommate who really came into his own in New York.  I recount some of his adventures like with the tribe in Ghana or the private tour of the Roman Baths in Malta by one of the archaeologists. I write about his work with psychiatric patients and the homeless and I take a moment to be blown away.  I make a mental note to send an “I love you, guys’ note to both he and another old roommate, Jim.  I truly love them both. Recently, through Facebook, the two of them had made me laugh over a tiny clash with someone who doesn’t know me.  I think about how perceptions of me vary wildly between the older friends and the newer, but decide not to mention it in the blog piece because it’s not very relevant.

I think about the rest of my amazing friends, but before I decide on who to write about next and what I’m going to say, I begin to wonder why it is that these incredible people go slumming with the likes of me.  There’s an Ernie speech that immediately pops into my head, but I don’t let it play out.  Suffice it to say that Ernie is right. I can’t decide whether to include this bit, because no one wants to read some sad little self-deprecating analysis.  Plus, some might think I either need a serious pep talk or I’m trying to manipulate them into throwing praise my way.  I decide to leave this out.

At this point, I’m well down the road and a story pops into my head from my PBS days.  It’s where I thanked the universe for helping out after a pledge drive.  I was cautioned not to name names in the future to avoid accidentally forgetting someone and the inevitable hurt feelings that would follow.  I think I may be heading down that road where I heavily praise some and forget others.  I see the drama unfold.

I mentally crumple up the pages and chuck them into the bin.  I’m working myself up into getting mad over a blog entry that doesn’t exist.  The post-Thanksgiving moment has left and I’m neither feeling warm nor cuddly.

Now it’s Sunday and I’m kind of having a grand “fuck it” moment, mostly because I haven’t poked the blog in awhile.  So, I’ve decided to write what I intended in a rather round-about fashion and give a blanket thanks to all of my friends (and one beautiful parent of a friend who has always inspired me) – you are all truly amazing and gifted people who I am constantly completely blown away by – from your stories, your writing, your photographs, your sculptures, your beauty,  your achievements with your patients, your clients, your students and your kids – your adventures, your unique views of the world and how you choose to share/express those – for all the laughs and smiles throughout the years and the fact you all choose to slum with the likes of me.  I kind of love you guys.

… and to those who are hurt that I didn’t name them specifically, know that it’s only because I happen to love Ernie, Jerry, Jim and Angie more or you owe me an email.