Tag Archives: Texas

Greyhound Story #3 (Whatcha Reading?)

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I thought I wanted to move to Austin, TX. I’d never been there, but it sounded like a cool place. I decided before actually moving there, I should visit so I could make an informed decision.

A friend of a friend had a room in a co-op house in Austin. Since he was more or less living with his girlfriend, he said I could stay in his room while I visited the town.

I took the Greyhound to Austin. I don’t remember anything about the trip. I don’t remember arriving at the bus station to depart the land of my birth or how I got from the station in Austin to the co-op. I must have taken a city bus, because I’m not the type to take a taxi, or maybe the friend of the friend and his girlfriend picked me up in her SUV.

I remember the room I stayed in.  It had cinderblock walls and was very dark. It was tiny and made me think of a jail cell or a room in a mental hospital, although at that time in my life I’d never been in either. The friend of a friend had left it messy, and I didn’t find it very welcoming.

I don’t remember much about what I did in Austin. I know I walked The Strip, the stretch of Guadalupe Street passing next to the University of Texas campus. The co-op where I stayed was close to the University, so I could walk to The Strip easily. One night the friend of a friend and his girlfriend had me over to her apartment for spaghetti. I didn’t go out to listen to live music. I didn’t go out drinking in bars. I didn’t join the residents of the co-op viewing Star Wars after I was invited in the kitchen.

Sapphistry : The Book of Lesbian Sexuality
I did go to Half Price Books near the community health food store. I enjoyed myself there. I enjoyed walking among the thousands of inexpensive books on the closely spaced shelves. I found one to buy for myself as a souvenir of my trip Sapphistry: The Book of Lesbian Sexuality by Pat Califia.

I’d recently discovered Pat Califia when my housemate introduced to the book Public Sex, a collection of essays about sexuality in late 20th century America. From there, I discovered Califia’s collections of BDSM themed short stories, Macho Sluts and No Mercy and her dystopian novel Doc and Fluff.  I enjoyed Califia’s writing style, and the sex scenes were hot, although I realized eventually that I wasn’t into BDSM in real life.

Public Sex by Pat Califia (1-May-2001) Paperback

I’d never seen Sapphistry, so when I ran across it for a few bucks at Half Price Books, I scooped it up.

Compared to Califia’s other works, Sapphistry was more of a how-to book for lesbians. There were no BDSM stories, no hot sex scenes. I was a little disappointed with the content, but as a budding bisexual with precious little experience with women, I thought perhaps I could gain some knowledge from the book.

Other than Half Price Books, I didn’t like much about Austin. I barely gave it a chance, I realize now, but in less than a week, I decided I hated the place and didn’t want to live there.

I got back on the Greyhound and headed home.

I’m not a gregarious, outgoing person. I mostly keep to myself when I can, especially in public, especially on the ‘Hound, so when the loudly talking man boarded, I hunkered down in my seat. I thought if I stayed low, kept my nose in my copy of Sapphistry, and didn’t make eye contact, he’d ignore me.

Wrong!

He chose to sit in the seat behind me. He leaned over into my space and demanded, Whatcha reading?

A book, I replied coldly, thinking I could give him a social cue that I didn’t want to talk.

He didn’t have a clue about my cue.

I know it’s a book! he exclaimed impatiently.  What’s the topic?

There are moments in our lives when we must make split second decisions between telling lies and telling truths. I was living such a moment. If I told the man I was reading a book about lesbianism, would he think I was a full-fledged lesbian and therefore off limits or would I open myself up to homophobic abuse? There was no way to know what telling the truth might bring.

I’ve never been a very good liar. Instead of trying to make up something about the book in my lap, I just blurted out one word: Lesbians!

The man sputtered and stammered and sank into his seat.

I thought he might come at me later with some negativity, so I prepared myself by putting on my headphones and listening to Tool for the next couple of hours. The angry hate music prepared me for battle, but the man must have considered me off limits because he didn’t try to talk to me again.

Mexican Milkshake

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I was in Austin, TX, staying with friends (a married man and woman) I’d met in college. By staying with, I mean they’d given me their large, comfortable guest bedroom and bath, as well as access to WiFi, their HBO on Demand account, and all the movies and TV shows I wanted to watch on Netflix, Hula, and Amazon Prime. They also fed me anytime I was around and they were eating, and they let me borrow a car when I was between vans. I hung out with them and their siblings and nieces and nephews during family night on Fridays, and I celebrated the season premiere of Game of Thrones with them. (We celebrated by saying, Winter is coming a lot and by eating a most delicious chocolate cream pie baked by the Woman half of the duo.) In other words, they treated me like family.

As I eased into the routine of the household, I learned The Woman went to an afternoon movie most every week. She typically went to one of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas in South Austin (https://drafthouse.com/). The Man half of the duo said if I ever went there, I really needed to try an adult (meaning with alcohol) milkshake.

One day The Woman invited me to go to the theater with her. I wanted to go, but when I asked her what movie she was planning to see, she said Mud, starring  Matthew McConaughey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mud_%282012_film%29). It sounded like a possible downer. My mental health was rather fragile at the time, and I couldn’t risk a movie sending me into a tailspin of depression, so I politely declined.

A couple of days later The Woman said she’d changed her mind and had decided to see the original Jurassic Park–in 3D. Was I interested in seeing that movie? The Woman asked. Well hell yes I was! I’d never seen any of the Jurassic Park movies, so I was excited for this (belated, yes) cultural experience–and in 3D, no less.

The woman and I arrived at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema plenty early. We picked our spot and sank into the comfortable seats. Upon consulting the menu, I quickly found the adult milkshake I wanted to try. It was called a Mexican milkshake; added to the chocolate milkshake was tequila and cinnamon. Yes, please! The Woman encouraged me to order food too, so I asked the waiter for an order of green chile cheese fries.

When our food was delivered, I dug right in. The fries were cooked to perfection–crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft and moist on the inside–and the cheese was a lovely white cheddar. The green chiles added a perfect kick. So delicious! The milkshake was fantastic! I love me a chocolate milkshake (so cold! so creamy! so chocolately!) and the tequila added a kick of its own. I was in food heaven.

Before the movie started, a warming came on the screen. Basically, it said to turn off cell phones and no talking. It said the management would kick out people who talked during the movie. I was glad for the no-talking rule, but I knew I’d have to keep my tequila tipsy self in check.

Then the movie started and WOW–dinosaurs in 3D. I knew Jurassic Park was a thriller, but I never knew it also had environmental/don’t-fuck-with-Mother-Nature themes. I enjoyed the action and the dinosaurs practically coming out of the screen at me.  I managed to keep my shrieks of surprise (and my snarky comments about the 80s hair and clothing) to myself, so as not to get kicked out.

What a fun and yummy couple of hours. And what a good and generous friend The Woman was to treat me to all that fun and yumminess.

 

Lucinda Williams and an Angel Named Al

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I wrote the following in early 2013 while I was spending winter months with friends in Austin, Texas.

Last night I got a free ticket to see Lucinda Williams perform at The Paramount Theater. When I lived in Austin [in the summer of 2000] I would go to the Summer Movie Classics at the Paramount. It was so wonderful to go there after a long day in the heat and humidity and sit in the coolness, surrounded by such beauty and watch movies on the big screen. I saw Easy Rider there, and Yellow Submarine (when I left the theater after that one, I felt like I was trippin’ even though no drugs were involved), Harold and Maude, Fast Times at Ridgemont High (for the first time), The Princess Bride, and Altered States.

I look at Craigslist a lot these days. That’s how I got my house/dog sitting job that has evolved into a housecleaning and cooking job. I got my temp job giving free samples from a Craigslist ad. I got the study at the UT neuroscience lab from Craigslist.(And I have another study with another UT department lined up, this one related to emotions. I am the control subject, matched up to a depressed 42 year old white female.)

As of the first of the year, I had only looked at job ads and the ride share board. Then one night as I was coloring Shrinky Dinks, I watched a documentary on Netflix called Craigslist Joe. (In a strange and interesting aside, as I was watching the movie, my new friend D. came over. I did not mention that I was in the process of watching a movie. She said, “There’s this movie you should watch…It’s called Craigslist Joe…” I told her, “I am watching it RIGHT NOW!” She didn’t even believe me until I turned the computer around and showed her what was on the screen.)

In the documentary, Joe goes out into the world with only the clothes he is wearing, a cellphone (with no phone numbers of anyone he knows on it), a laptop, and his passport. He has no money in his pockets. His plan is to spend a month getting all of his needs met through Craigslist. He goes to free events, meets people, tells them what he’s doing, and strangers feed him and give him a place to sleep. He rides with people and helps them drive and goes from California (can’t remember if it’s San Fran or LA) all the way to NYC and BACK AGAIN all in a month! Of course, nothing in the movie really surprises me because I live a similar way of life, although in the past, I haven’t used Craigslist quite so extensively. But for someone who thinks Craigslist is full of nothing but murderers and scam artists, for people who don’t believe in the kindness of strangers, this movie could be eye opening and mind blowing.

In the movie, one of the guys Joe takes a class from talks about how he checks Craigslist repeatedly every day. He lists the order he looks at different postings. He mentions looking at Strictly Platonic. I didn’t even know that list existed, so I started looking at it.

(Don’t forget, this is all related to Lucinda Williams.)

So I was looking at the Strictly Platonic ads one day and saw this

“Lucinda Williams Concert wed night – m4w – 61 (N. Austin)
I have two tickets to the Lucinda Williams concert at The Paramount Theatre Wed Jan 16th @ 8pm, Looking for a Lucinda Williams fan and a music / concert fan in general to join me for the show. We can talk about where when to meet and exchange pictures in e-mails. My Name is Al 61 years old 5’8″ about 175 lbs.”

When I first got to Austin, Lou and I were flipping through The Chronicle and saw that Lucinda was doing this show. I mentioned that I had never seen her play and had always wanted to, then promptly forgot about it, as I knew I was not going to spend money on a show that wasn’t Furthur. Then a couple of days before the concert, I saw Al’s ad. I figured he’d probably gotten 400 responses and already had someone lined up, but I also figured what the hell, and sent him an email.

In the subject line I wrote, “I love Lucinda Williams!” and then said ,”Did you find someone to go to the Lucinda Williams show with? If not, let me know. I am interested. And I am a real person. My favorite Lucinda CD is Car Wheels on a Gravel Road. What a collection of songs of loss and longing.”

Well, guess who was chosen to be the recipient of the extra ticket? (You already know the answer.) Al told me he got a few other responses, but he chose me because I said right up front that I love Lucinda. I guess the other responders were lukewarm about Lucinda and that’s not the kind of person he wanted to spend the evening with. (If I’m anything, it’s not lukewarm.)

Al is a really nice guy. He told me about his long-haired hippie exploits before I was born. It was pretty cool. He’s from Michigan. He loves music, has seen Eric Clapton, George Harrison, just saw BB King at the Paramount. The list of musicians he’s seen is so long I can’t even remember most of them. I was pleased that I did get to impress him by telling about the time I won tickets to a Bo Diddly show in NOLA. (KJ was my companion that night, and if I remember correctly, we had a ball!)

The Kenneth Brian Band opened. They are from Alabama, and they are great.

There was an intermission after the opening act, then Lucinda took the stage. It was only her and her guitar player Doug Pettibone up there. No drummer, no keyboards, no bass. Doug is AWESOME, a really fantastic guitar guy. He played steel guitar and I think a mandolin too. He really impressed me.

They opened with “Lake Charles,” which is one of my favorites, but Lucinda sped it up a bit, and it sounded a little like she was just going through the motions. Then she ended the song in the middle of a line and I wondered if she were drunk.

She took a drink (of water?) and came back to the mic and admitted that was a weird place to end the song. “I had to cough,” she laughed, and my hope was renewed. She got better with each song she sang, her voice got stronger. By the time she did “Can’t Let Go,” (the third or fourth song of the set), it was ON! By the time she did “Drunken Angel,” she was on fire! I love her voice, so strong and raspy, just like the old broad singing the country blues that she is. Did her voice make her life or did her life make her voice? Before almost every song, she told a little bit of its story, when she wrote it, some little piece of information. I liked that part a lot too. And the fans were awesome, shouting “we love you, Lucinda” and similar sentiments between songs. It was nice to be in a venue small enough to really hear fan reactions and know she heard them too.

Last night was such a blessing. Thank you, universe, for sending me an angel named Al.

He said/I said

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Yesterday I shared a post about an ad I put up in the “strictly platonic” section of the Austin, Texas Craigslist a couple of years ago. In my ad, I sought guys to buy me ice cream in exchange for conversation.

One of the first men to respond was R. He immediately wanted to IM, but had very little to say. (What he did have to say was poorly written.) He also wanted to exchange photos right away. We set a time to meet, but he kept initiating contact before our meeting. The following exchange occurred the day after our initial contact and about two days before we were supposed to meet. (I copied his side of the exchange directly from his emails, so all mistakes are his.)

He said: i had a stoke 5 yrs ago im good now no peranent damage

I said: I am glad the stroke left you with no permanent damage. That must have been scary!

He: after stroke … i know u dont want , dont let it affect us, not sure if my dick gets hard now. could you give a hand just to ck.hand in pants is all. dont hate me now . you seem nice i can talk to you dont just ignore mew now

Me: No, I don’t hate you now, but I am kind of surprised that you asked me this…

Haven’t you tried masturbating or looking at porn? Does it get hard when you look at porn?

I hope you are being sincere and not just trying to bait me into talking sex with you. Because if I find out you are just playing me to get me to talk about sex, I am going to be really pissed.

He: no never did i stopped masterbating thats what worries me
no im not trying to bait you promise there are plenty girls out there willing. just like i saidi dont want sex

Me: You know, I am nice, but not nice enough to stick my hands down a stranger’s pants just to see if his dick works, especially after posting on strictly platonic AND telling you that I’m not looking for sex. But I am nice enough to give you some advice so you next time you meet a woman on Craigslist you don’t creep her out within less than 24 hours.

Get to know a woman before you start talking about your dick and worrying that it might not work, especially if you meet her through a strictly platonic ad. Strictly platonic means not interested in sex. So if a woman posts an ad on strictly platonic, don’t mention your dick at all. If you meet in person and she seems interested in your dick, then you can tell her that it may not work. She’ll let you know if she wants to stick her hand down your pants to see if she can get you hard.

In the meantime, try masturbating. Look at some porn. You obviously have a computer and internet access. There’s plenty of porn out there. Find something you like and see if you can get your dick to work. If porn doesn’t do it, I’m probably not going to get you going.

And you know what? I am not meeting you for ice cream on Thursday. You are already off my calendar. If you are more concerned about your dick than you are about the boundaries I set in place, I really don’t want to hang out with you. I understand being concerned about whether or not your dick works, but you just asked for too much too soon.

He: sorry really

Ice Cream and Conversation

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In the winter of 2012/2013 I was staying with friends in Austin, Texas. I was spending a good portion of time on Craigslist, looking for jobs. After watching a documentary called Craigslist Joe, I started checking the “strictly platonic” listings.

I came across an ad from a guy wanting to have drinks with a woman after work. I responded to his ad. He responded to my response. We decided to meet after work (meaning after his work). I picked a bar close to where I was staying so I could walk and not be concerned with driving after drinking or getting into a car with a stranger. I put on cute clothes and fluffed up my hair and met him at the bar.

I had a beer. I don’t remember what he had–a beer or a cocktail. We ordered an appetizer sampler platter. He was pleasant, a businessman of some kind dressed for casual Friday. We chatted. He wasn’t someone I would have spent time with normally, but we were getting along well.

Then he mentioned his wife. I must have looked at him strangely. I didn’t realize I was having Friday afternoon drinks with some woman’s husband.

Then he clarified. He was talking about his late wife. He was a widower with two small boys. He loved his wife; I could tell. That’s probably why he posted his ad under “strictly platonic.” He probably wasn’t ready to get involved with anyone or even have a one night stand. He was probably tired of hanging out with the guys in the office and just wanted to have a drink with a nice woman.

We never saw each other again. We talked about seeing each other on another Friday afternoon, but we never did.

However, his ad gave me an idea. Would strangers buy ice cream for me in exchange for my company?

I wrote the following ad and posted it in “strictly platonic” section:

Ice Cream and Conversation

I’m a mostly broke traveling lady with a young spirit who likes meeting new people, laughing a lot, and having fun. Why don’t we meet at Amy’s Ice Cream? I’ll wear something cute and you can buy me an ice cream cone. We’ll talk about whatever is important to you, or if you’re the shy type, I’ll regale you with stories from the road. We’ll depart new friends with a fun Craigslist story to tell our old friends.

I’m not looking for sex or a romantic relationship. I’m just looking to spend a fun hour or so with a nice person who wants to buy me ice cream (although I might be open to lunch or dinner too). I don’t care what you look like or how old you are, as long as you are NICE. My life if too short to hang out with jerks!

I’m only in town for three weeks, so this offer is limited.

I started receiving responses almost immediately.

The first guy I was supposed to meet stood me up. Straight up stood me up. No call. No email. No apology. It was not a nice game he was playing.

Most guys did not stand me up, although I did not meet every man who sent me an email. Some behaved inappropriately and found themselves cut from the ice cream list. Some just couldn’t sync their schedules with mine.  (I did have a life–and obligations–outside of eating ice cream with strangers.)

A couple of fellows took me out for meal. An older Latino gentleman treated me at one of those upper-scale burger joints. He seemed so lonely and somewhat frail. Another fellow took me to breakfast at Kirby Lane. He and I hung out a couple times after our initial meeting and are still in-touch through email.

Several of the guys were from out of town, visiting Austin for business. I guess they wanted to get out of their hotel rooms and do something other than go to a bar or eat dinner alone. I didn’t have much in common with most of them, but I was pleasant, and they were pleasant, and the ice cream was always delicious.

One of the guys visiting Austin was from San Francisco. He was Asian and seemed like a grown-up surfer with long hair and a laid-back attitude. He told me all about Burning Man and encouraged me to get a reduced price ticket to attend. (I looked into it, and the process to get such a ticket wasn’t as easy as he’d made it seem.)

When I told the Lady of the House about putting up an ad to meet people who bought me ice cream, she said it was one of the saddest things she’d ever heard. (I’ll admit, that stung a little.) She thinks it’s sad that there are people so lonely they’ll shell out dollars to talk to a stranger.

But I thought the whole situation was fun and kind of sweet. It wasn’t just about the free treats for me. I enjoyed meeting people who seemed very different from me and trying to find common ground. I enjoyed hearing about other people’s lives and learning what they were passionate about.

And the ice cream was always delicious.

Of Trash and Cookies

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Image result for potbelly sandwich shop cookies      Image result for image dumpster

I was walking down the The Drag in Austin, Texas. (If you haven’t been to Austin, here’s a note on The Drag: it’s the strip of Guadalupe Street adjacent to the UT campus.)

I decided to walk through the alley instead of walking on Guadalupe because all the dumpsters are in the alley. As I walked down the ally, I checked the dumpsters for anything that looked promising.

I found a big sack of big cookies from Potbelly Sandwich Shop in one of the dumpters. I am not even entirely sure how I found those cookies.The big paper sack full of cookies was in a black plastic trash bag, not something I would usually open.  Some intuition made me rip open the trash bag and shake the paper bag I found inside. The paper bag was really heavy, which was kind of strange. It didn’t feel like it had trash in it. So I pulled the paper bag out of the garbage bag and looked inside.

It was full of individually wrapped cookies. Big cookies. Big chocolate brownie cookies and sugar cookies and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I thought maybe the cookies were really old and not any good. I pulled one out of the bag, opened the packaging, and started eating it. Delicious. No problem. Maybe the cookies had been baked the day before and instead of selling them at half price or giving then away, they had been dumped in the garbage. SIN!

I started walking down the alley with my paper sack of cookies. I hadn’t taken ten steps when I saw a bunch of traveler kids hanging out on a side street, just barely around the corner from the alley. I walked over and started handing out cookies. It made me so happy! (I think those kids were pretty happy too!) I felt so good sharing those cookies.