“The trick is to care about everyone without caring what they think.” ~ Unknown
Reinette Jones has a heart of pure gold and she can light up the darkest room even on a bad day. When Stacy hugged her, and I snapped the top pic, I said something about being at a bad angle causing me to shoot up Reinette’s nose. Well, that’s when the hilarity started. I’m pretty sure I speak for Stacy and a whole lot of other people when I say I got lucky the day I met Reinette Jones and she became my friend. Never a dull moment.
I had a great day and it wasn’t even my birthday. But it was Annie Bassoni’s birthday and she gathered a ton of friends at The Burl Arcade. The plan was hatched last week over Cards Against Humanity and today she pulled it off. Many of us arrived not long after they opened, and before long, the place was a sea of middle aged women playing vintage pinball and arcade games like Tetrus and Pac Man. My favorite of all, though, was the wall of TVs. If the rest of the place had been crap, which it wasn’t, I would have been thrilled with the TVs. They were also hooked up to vintage games (you can see the player near Reinette’s right hand). To top the day, Stacy, Reinette, Kathy, and I headed to Ranada’s Bistro + Bar, a relatively new restaurant where Wines on Vine used to be on Old Vine Street (Ranada was the original owner of Lexington Diner). There, I proceeded to have the best cheeseburger I’ve ever eaten in my life bar none. It’s called the Bourbon Bacon Burger (1/3 lb burger, Bulleit Bourbon BBQ, house made bacon jam, habanero jack, fried Shufflebean Coffee dusted onion straws, toasted brioche bun). I don’t like Bourbon (slightly sacrilege in Kentucky, but there you have it) or bacon on hamburgers, but it didn’t matter. This thing was good enough to make ya wanna slap yer granny three times over. So, for today, there was a lot of fun, a lot of laughs, a lot of talks, a lot of hugs, a lot of great food, and a whole lot of what the doctor ordered. There will be many more photos to come. A few might even include the birthday girl. Happy Birthday, Annie! You sure know how to throw a party.
Hands down, Reinette Jones brings the best people and projects into Special Collections. Meet Debra Faulk aka DD Rainbow, Comedy Empress. Reinette invited us to attend Debra’s rehearsal for her upcoming TEDx talk. Whenever it makes it online, you have to watch it. You will laugh and cry at the same time, and I say that just from the rehearsal. The final talk will be even better. There was a small group that lent our ears, hearts, and opinions to Debra, and I’m confident in saying that we all walked away feeling like we’d just been blessed by an extraordinary soul. Debra’s talk is called Praying For A Good Man. I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll just say this: it’s not about what you think it’s about, and her story is so powerful that you will be captivated for the entire talk. It doesn’t hurt that she’s utterly hilarious in a way that connects her with an audience like few speakers can do. She’s done stand-up comedy for years, so her sense of timing and story telling propels this talk into the stratosphere. That in itself is interesting because the topic is not funny, and yet, you will laugh because it really is funny. Have I piqued your interest yet? Debra Faulk is smart. She’s gifted. She’s compassionate. She’s hilarious. She’s a beautiful person and I’m so thankful to have met her.
I stepped outside the office to view the eclipse and ran into lots of people I know like Catherine Brereton (above) and Deirdre Scaggs and Reinette Jones (below). The first time I saw the sun through the eclipse glasses (thanks to Stacy Yelton) it was totally amazing. I mean totally amazing. With the naked eye, and with my phone’s camera (carefully shielded by the eclipse glasses), there’s still a lot of light even at 95% totality. So, the glasses were a crucial part of the experience. It didn’t get nearly as dark as I expected, and the temp also didn’t fall as much as I thought it would. But none of that matters because watching the moon blot out the sun was seriously incredible. I feel like this was my warm up for the next eclipse due in 2024 north of here. I am so taking the day off (or I’ll be retired by then), getting an eclipse filter for the camera, and taking a road trip to the path of totality. What a glorious experience to watch the heavens work.
I had a guest register available at the reception. I didn’t realize I’d forgotten it until I went to bed Friday night. I attended All Saints Day service this morning and picked it up afterward. Sixty people attended Friday’s reception. Sixty people took time out of their lives to come see my work. Some I’d never met before Friday. Some sneaked in and out without my seeing them though they were kind enough to leave their signature. Some drove nearly two hours to be there. Some took off work. Some were recovering from major surgery. Some couldn’t stay long, and others stayed the whole time. Someone pointed out how many segments of my life were assembled in that room: family, close friends, old friends, new friends, co-workers, writers, actors, artists, musicians, librarians, bankers, software developers, railroad men, professors, social workers, therapists, pathologists, nutritionists, the list goes on. They’re not all represented in this collage, but I couldn’t think of a better way to have a group hug in the outhouse. Sixty people. I may be speechless for a week I’m so overcome with gratitude.
At yesterday’s sesquicentennial soiree, the lunch ladies and I grabbed full plates and headed to the break room for some peace and quiet. Reinette Jones joined us. She was looking a little like a deer in the headlights. Apparently, she’d become a favorite of the school’s newspaper photographer. He’d followed her as she perused the exhibit for the soiree, snapping pictures all the way. She didn’t understand why he was so enthusiastic to photograph her. When I explained that it’s because she’s pretty, I could have sworn I saw her blush. And when she blew me off, the lunch ladies backed me 100%. Sure enough, she made it into today’s edition. She claims I’m the only person able to take a good picture of her. I think she doesn’t want to face the fact that she’s pretty, and photogenic, and gosh darn it, people like her.
I had the most interesting conversation/brainstorming session with co-workers Jaime Burton, Reinette Jones, and Stacie Williams. Between plentiful ideas for a grant proposal and an extensive examination of Hip Hop, I came away feeling a lot smarter than when I went in. Plus, the laughter was infectious. We have such potential in these women. All three are extraordinarily unique, but combined? They’re an intellectual force to be reckoned with. I was happy to be included, and happier still to share their laughter.
I woke up still in shock over Robin Williams’ death. And just like last night, today’s news feeds were nothing but R.I.P.’s. Why has this man’s death so affected the world? The first 10 minutes of the evening news was devoted to him, record floods and wars be damned. Why? I’ve thought about this all day. I’ve read many articles on his passing. I even watched Access Hollywood (God help me) to hear what they had to say. Why? I’m not entirely sure. Maybe it’s because he was at once so gifted, so compassionate, so tender hearted, and so hurt. In the end, the hurt outweighed everything else. It’s hard to wrap your mind around that. I’ve known people who’ve committed suicide. I know people who battle against suicide every day. Medication can help. Therapy can help. Good friends, a good job, a good boss can all help. Yet, all that help isn’t enough sometimes. It’s hard to wrap your mind around that, too. But Robin made us collectively happy. Few have the skills to do that for billions of people. I grew up with him. There was nobody else like him. Ever. It’s hard to say goodbye to someone who has given you hilarious happiness for decades. It’s harder still to do it this way because it leaves us with a kind of guilt. He helped us, why couldn’t we help him? If you suffer from depression and you feel yourself going to that dark place, please reach out to someone. And if you feel like you’ve got no one, call the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-TALK or go to http://www.afsp.org/ to learn more.
The word today is ‘green’. Reinette Jones was wearing green. Mom asked that I deliver to Reinette a jar of her homemade bread and butter pickles. I did, and lo, the pickles and the shirt were strikingly similar. Thankfully, I didn’t photograph her in front of a green screen. Just think of the photoshop fun I could have had with that. Anyway, Reinette wanted to know how much moonshine was in the pickles (I think the Mason jar reminded her of a moonshine jar). She is a pure nut, and I mean that in the best possible way. I think that’s why she and mom hit it off so well. They’re both hysterically funny women; never a dull moment.