July 5, 2018

Happy Fourth

Dateline: Columbia, South Carolina – Birmingham, Alabama-

Well, the trip has come to an end. I have a three day weekend to gear myself up for returning to work on Monday. Sorry that there was no update yesterday, but as it was a holiday (and I may have had one cocktail too many), I decided writing last night was probably not the wisest of ideas.

Yesterday, the 4th, I left Asheville after poking around downtown for a bit and made the easy drive to Columbia. I was invited for the 4th to my dear friend Frank Thompson‘s house where I spent time catching up with him and his wife, Laurel Posey. They had a barbecue potluck for the Columbia theater folk so I finally got to meet such people as Kathy Hartzog, Ripley Thames, Bill DeWitt and Bill Arvay whom I have heard about for years but had never actually met in the flesh. Much food was consumed, many drinks were had, and all of the problems of both Birmingham and Columbia theater were solved.

Today, after a leisurely morning, I made the last leg of the trip driving back to Birmingham which requires about seven hours of I-20 with all of the Atlanta traffic in the middle of it. It rained a bunch, but was otherwise uneventful. I got back about 7 pm to find the house intact, (Thank you Melissa Bailey), the kitties somewhat fussy (but only Anastasia seeming to have missed me in the least), and a large pile of mail which I will deal with tomorrow.

So, what have I learned from all this gallivanting around ?(11,500 miles and 28 states over the last few months…)
-People seem to like my writing
-My storytelling seems to be improving
-All of this current writing is becoming something, I just don’t know what yet.
-You can get a single ticket to pretty much anything in New York without much notice
-Hampton Inns are the same everywhere
-Hampton Inn breakfasts are the same everywhere
-Ken Follett does not write good sex scenes
-A Prius does well on back roads
-I’m going to miss Tommy like hell

I don’t know what sort of FB writing I’m going to do now that I’m setting back into routine. I probably won’t write every night as I have been. I may continue to post personal stories as I think of them. I will write when I travel. (Nothing in stone yet, but the tentative plans for the next six months include NYC again in October, Seattle for Thanksgiving, someplace for Christmas, the Caribbean in February).

Today’s story is a me and Steve story and as you read it, you’ll get why I thought of it over the last couple of days. When I was brand new faculty at UC Davis, I won a major award for ideas in Wellness sponsored by the insurance company, HealthNet. It came with some money, a book chapter, an award lecture etc. My topic was that disease prevention and health promotion were two very different things and should not be confused with each other and that more emphasis should be placed on the latter. It’s the kind of award usually won by senior faculty, not by those just starting out and it made me one of the fair haired rising stars of UCD school of medicine.

As the medical center was in Sacramento, just down from the capitol, all of the lobbyists and other pieces of the UC system that interacted with state government were headquartered there so UCD faculty were often trotted out for various legislators in their attempts to butter them up for additional state funds. Steve and I were invited to the chief lobbyist’s home for dinner a number of times. He lived in a very nice house, right on the river, with a huge entertaining space. I was invited initially due to my award and as spouses were included, Steve tagged along and put on his best manners and charm and we became regulars in the rotation. The second or third time we were asked for dinner, the hostess knew enough about to Steve to know he was from Los Angeles so she put us at a table with a state legislator from LA who represented the district that Steve had lived in before he moved north. He, of course, knew who she was, they discovered some friends in common, and they had a high old time together. The other tables kept looking around to see what was so funny at our table. Steve always got along incredibly well with African American women, a talent that was to serve him well in later years. The legislator in question was, of course, Maxine Waters, long before her rise to national prominence.

Some day I’ll have to tell the story of Steve and I and Chaka Khan…

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