Tag Archives: Kansas

Day 180: Jeri

Day 180-2

I normally don’t use Hallmark stationery – but I like this one.

On May 27th my friend Jeri posted this on Facebook:

“Exciting news today! I have been selected to attend the School of Advanced Military Studies program at Ft. Leavenworth. It is a one year program and means I am moving back to Kansas! I am sure no one ever thought they would hear those words from my mouth. Classes start June 29th…will depart DC on the 15th. Life is crazy sometimes!”

Life is crazy sometimes and we didn’t even manage to meet up before she left. Jeri started classes today – so I thought I would drop her a note in the mail.

Day 180

Dear Jeri,

Congratulations on being accepted into the Advanced Military Studies program at Ft. Leavenworth! I’m glad you have arrived safely in Kansas – I’m thinking this just might be the first handwritten letter that has welcomed you to your new home.

I’m sorry we didn’t get to meet up before you left. My schedule has been chaotic lately. Today I’m writing you from State College, PA.

Once you get settled in, maybe we can find some time to Skype or talk by phone and you can catch me up on this new adventure. You sounded pretty excited – it’s not everyone whose pulse quickens at the thought of going to Ft. Leavenworth! I hope that you enjoy it, I know you’ll love being closer to your family. And who knows, maybe I’ll show up there some day – you know I go to Lawrence from time to time. It appears to be less than an hour away.

Stay in touch,


Day 178: Downtown Dennis

Dennis Abbott, photo: thrillist.com

Dennis Abbott, photo: thrillist.com

If you’ve ever been to Lawrence, Kansas, there’s a chance you’ll recognize today’s recipient. He’s a familiar face on the main road that runs through the heart of this college town. His name is Dennis, but I’ve always referred to him as “Downtown Dennis.”

He’s a bit of a celebrity in Douglas County. And he’s equally popular online. In fact he has a Facebook following: Friends of Dennis which has almost 6,000 followers. He’s usually smiling and somehow always makes your day better when you see him.

The first time I saw Dennis was on Halloween in 2008. I was in a funky little coffee shop called The Mirth, which has since closed, when he came in dressed as a cat. He asked the staff if he could have the computer that was there for surfing the web. “I’ve already got the mouse,” he said with a long grin. Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to take the computer.

Anyway, today’s letter is for Dennis – a man I’ve never met, but who brings so much happiness to the Lawrence community I thought he deserved to know that people far and wide think so fondly of him. I don’t have an address for Dennis, but I’ve heard that he often eats lunch at Quinton’s Bar and Deli so I’m sending it there hoping that the good people of Quinton’s will make sure that Dennis receives this.

Day 178-2

I added an embossed arrow to this card and made an envelope liner out of some textured wrapping paper.

Dear Dennis,

I live in Washington, D.C., but I’ve been to Lawrence a handful of times. I have seen you every time I’ve been in town, unfortunately I’ve never had the chance to meet you.

Day 178Back here in D.C. when I meet someone familiar with Lawrence and want to prove my street cred, I mention “Downtown Dennis.” Inevitably everyone always says, “I love that guy!” or “He’s a legend in Lawrence.” I just thought you’d like to know that people all around the country remember and think highly of you.

Keep doing what you’re doing – creating smiles along Mass Ave.

See you next time I’m in Lawrence,

P.S. I know you like the ham sandwich at Quinton’s, but I hear they make a tasty Turkey, Avocado and Cream Cheese (TAC) sandwich…I’m not a fan of cream cheese, but maybe you’ll like it.

Day 99: Jami

Life is funny, isn’t it. For some reason I decided to write John Wilson yesterday. I had no idea that today was his wife’s birthday, but when I saw that this morning I knew I needed to drop her a letter today. After all, John gets plenty of attention, now it’s time to focus on Jami!

Day 99- Jami


Happy birthday Jami,

Day 99- Jami-2I woke up this morning and saw that it was your birthday and thought, today is Jami’s day. I thought it was incredibly coincidental that I decided to write John yesterday and then find out today was your birthday. It was meant to be. I miss you and Parker – OK, I miss John too. I enjoyed very much visiting with you when I was there in in 2012. I hope that we can all get together soon.

Have a great birthday.

P.S. I love the “attic lounge” – that space looks totally different!  

Day 98: John Wilson, State Representative from Kansas

Photo: Nick Krug/LJWorld.com

Photo: Nick Krug/LJWorld.com

I have little to no interest in politics. And while I know I should – I mean we all should care deeply about the choices that our government makes. But the way the system works leaves me with tremendous apathy. The bipartisan rhetoric in this country has escalated so high that I’m deaf to most of it.

There are the occasional bright spots though. My friend John Wilson is one of them. I met John seven years ago working for a nonprofit that works to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity in America and inspire young people to eat healthier, move more and be advocates for healthy change in their schools and communities.

He was probably no more than 24 or 25 at the time he decided to run for state representative of his home state. And while you’d be hard pressed to get me to make political phone calls or go knocking on doors, I flew out to Kansas and spent several days doing just that. He lost the election by about 600 votes and ran again four years later and I once again made the trek to Kansas and worked the phones and walked the neighborhoods. He was sworn into office in January of 2013.

John’s the kind of person you hope your elected official is. And that’s why I’ve done what I’ve done to support him. But John is immersed in a tough situation in Kansas. And without getting too partisan, the state is not in good shape right now. It takes the kind of determination that IRONMAN athletes have to show up to work at the state capitol in Topeka – that’s John. Hopefully this letter will brighten his day and remind him that he makes a difference in the lives of not only those who he represents but those who watch quietly from a distance and are inspired by his unselfish and unwavering character during these challenging times.

Day 98- john wilson


I’ve been meaning to write you for some time. First, congratulations on being sworn into office for your second term. Second, you were thoughtful enough to call me and wish me a happy birthday back in January and I have yet to call you back – so here’s an old fashioned letter instead.

Your state has been making lots of national news in the recent weeks – most seem to be budget related. I recall Gov. Brownback signing a bill a few years back that cut a bunch of corporate taxes that was supposed to get businesses to move to Kansas and fuel the economy.

Day 98- john wilson-2It seems it hasn’t worked out so well. I read about some of the massive cuts that are happening – retiree programs, education, job creation plans (ironic right!), Head Start, healthcare, etc.

I know this must make your job difficult, but you are exactly the kind of person that Kansas needs right now to bring people together and find solutions that have equitable outcomes for all Kansans. Hang in there – your leadership is needed now more than ever.

Social media keeps me somewhat up to date on Jami and Parker. He is looking like a little man these days. I just became an uncle for the second time – so while they’re not mine, I have an appreciation for how special Parker is for you and Jami. I miss you guys and hope that we can find time to get together this year.

Hugs to you and your entire family,