"The Kindness Of Strangers-Houston" by Tracey Jackson


by Tracey Jackson

I just had a totally kick ass, rock em sock em good ole time in Houston, Texas. I’m sitting on the plane heading home, thinking when can I go back? But you know what blows my mind the most? You know what makes me stop, and just go I can’t believe this? It’s the fact that so many people have not only gone out of their way for me, but I mean GONE OUT OF THEIR WAY. They have arranged events, picked me up at airports, driven me to studios, given me parties, made sure people showed up and bought books, and on and on, but the kicker is, these are people who do not know me: Outside of online, they have never laid eyes on me. And they have nothing, nada, niente to gain by these random acts of kindness. This is the kindness of strangers on steroids. I would say it’s a southern thing, even when you think of who first said it. And without question Texas, and Georgia have been really amazing to me. But since writing this book and hitting the road, I have been on the receiving end of more generosity from people I don’t know than ever in my life. At the end of the adventure I will do a Hall Of Fame Blog on this topic, but for today let’s talk Houston!

OK – I love it there, it’s big, the buildings are big, the people have big hearts and big hair and many of the girls have giant boobs. But they will be the first to tell you, we love giant boobs and we’re going to have them. I love that even though I felt a little small in comparison. The stores are nice, the food was good, I made so many friends and I was only there two days.

But it all starts with someone who was a stranger to me, at one point, my friend Larry Enzer.  Larry was one of the first people to come through the door of my blog and into my life.
When the book came out Larry said to me, “Let’s do something in Houston.” I said “Sure, you know me, go anywhere, do anything, sign books Tracey.” He said you have to meet Shayna Melcher. Now Houstonians have a thing they do with Facebook, they not only introduce you to people they friend you up right away. They are the only ones I know who do this. Like you haven’t sent anything out or confirmed and you have a friend.
So Larry hooks me up with Shayna. Now, Shayna has never laid eyes on me, she knows nothing about me, and is a busy, working, married, spunky mother of two. But she gets right back to me and says, “Let’s do an event. Down here we do a lot of events hooked into charities I think we should do a luncheon for your book. Do you have any causes you like?” I said “Early detection of heart disease in women is a big deal with me.”

I swear to God, within 48 hours, the woman, had a restaurant reserved, Brazos, the big independent bookstore down there lined up to sell the books, she had St, Luke Episcopal Hospital’s Center for Women’s Heart and Vascular Health on board and she had a female cardiologist, Dr. Stephanie Coulter willing to speak about the real issues at stake. She had a great looking invitation made up and ready to send out. She did all this in 48 hours! I have never seen anything like it. And she said, “The place holds up to 90, we’ll fill it.’ And that was that. It was like she had done no more than made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I could not believe it. She out organized anyone I have ever seen. And she just did this all because she is one of the superist-duperist nicest people I have had ever not met.
And if that weren’t enough she got a piece in the Houston Chronicle, she was the liaison to getting me on FOX TV and she did everything with one email and or a phone call.
I think Obama, should call Shayna fly her to DC on Air Force One and have her help him sort out his health care mess. It would take her about three days and she could probably drive car pool while she was doing it.

AND, AND, AND, she picked me up at the airport. Nobody picks people up at the airport. But she was there, cute as button, big smile and off we went. I want to whip up I HEART SHAYNA buttons.

Shayna Melcher

We will get to the event in a minute, which was a huge success and too much fun.

But the first night she said, that “Marc, (her adorable husband Marc Melcher) and  I want to take you somewhere fun, so we’re going to a wine tasting.”
I got to my hotel, the hot Hotel ZaZa, Larry said it was the place to stay and while it was a ways from The Galleria, which Larry said is the most visited sight in Texas, I was glad I stayed there.
Though it seemed like everything I did was near The Galleria. Next trip I could probably just take a sleeping bag to The Galleria.
Of course as I went to unpack and I found out I had left out my good jeans and put in my cruddy ones, I didn’t have a wrap for the evening, and the one dress I could have worn I didn’t have the right shoes for. So I was in Houston for about an hour and I found myself at Gregory’s in the Galleria having a great time with Javina, who got me all squared away.

Shoes at Gergory's in The Galleria in Houston. Those girls can pull it off.

That took an hour and Marc and Shayna pulled up and off we went to Tango and Malbec an Argentinian restaurant. I was thrilled as I love Malbec and I thought it would be a Malbec tasting.

Shayna and I at the start of the evening.

It turned out to be something else entirely.

Marc Melcher

Robert Kamen of Kamen Vineyards

Robert Kamen a big time screenwriter, with such credits as Karate Kid, The Transporter Franchise and Taken and many others is also a wine maker. He was doing a tasting of his wines from Kamen Estate. Now this guy might be two blogs alone. But the crib notes are with his first check from selling the script Taps, he bought I think thirty or forty acres in Sonoma back when you could buy that for a couple hundred grand. This was thirty some odd years ago. And he grew grapes, but didn’t have his own label until ten years ago. Now he has an organic vineyard and some wonderful wines. MANY of which the Shayna, Marc and I drank for hours. Robert spent a hunk of the evening at our table and he had great stories to tell. We shared war stories about Hollywood and we drank four our five different wines. I know we ate two courses of meat, lamb and steak. I know Shayna and I did not eat the scallop carpaccio. I know I got into a cab around eleven. I know I did not blog that night. I know I woke up grateful for the fact I had brought eye drops and the first thing I did was email Shayna and say maybe when I have an event and a TV appearance I should not go to wine tasting, but it was so much FUN! Welcome to Houston!!!!!

I went back to the Galleria to get my hair blown out, at Ceron’s, the place in town, which of course cause she had nothing else to to Shayna had booked for me. She also picked me up when I was done and drove me to the event.

Where the luncheon was held.

Shayna set up a table in the front of the restaurant

Shayna made little bundles for everyone, they got a book, a lipgloss and inside a chart to tell you all the things you need to know about taking care of your heart

The event was great, packed, lovely women, so much fun. Eighty books sold! Eighty people turned up. I don’t know how the room holds 90 as it was bursting at 80. I was having so much fun I forgot I had responsibilities. I read my section on heart tests from the book, then Dr. Coulter really explained the issues of heart disease and women and the importance of early detection. I wish I had a photo of her, I was so busy listening I forgot to take one. But she is 45 and adorable, she was wearing a ruffle top, a taffeta skirt and high wedges and she was running a little late as she had just come from performing heart surgery. Welcome to Houston!!!!

Kristi Schiller

And then enter some more strangers.
Kristi Schiller is a Facebook friend. She is a real presence in the philanthropic, social and horse community of Houston. She also happens to be a raving beauty, smart and nice. She is the kind of person most women would want to hate, she just sort of has it all, but she is so sweet, all you can do is really like her. During the lunch she did that Houston thing and got me a Facebook friend while I was eating.
Kristi I only know because we have friends in common, but when I knew I was doing this I sent her a message,
“I don’t know you, but I’m coming down and doing this event and it would be great if you could attend” She sent me a message back. “I have that book! I will be there.” And not only did she come, she brought two people. She bought wine for the table and made me two new FB friends, and connected me to someone else in NY she thinks I would like. Welcome to Houston!

Shayna's Party

And then, then there is another really special person I had never met. There is a young man, 30, young to me, who has been an avid follower of the blog. And a daily commenter and while we had never met, the day my book came out he sent me flowers. His comments have always impressed me as they range from the deeply articulate and educated on many topics, to really empathic and observant on others. He always has something to say, his name is Chris Morrow. And he is one of those people I admire because he reaches out, he lives by the motto I like “the answer will always be no unless you ask.” He contacted me because he wants to write films in India. He took a chance and this started an online friendship.
I told him when I came down we would have coffee and I would hash over some of his ideas with him.

Chris Morrow

When I got to the event, I went around and introduced myself to everyone. Texas makes you want to do that. So I get to a man and say “Hi, I’m Tracey.” and he says, “Hi I’m Christopher” and introduces me to two women he brought. And I say what brings you here? And he says, “I follow your blog.” I yelled “You’re Chris!” We were meeting that afternoon, but he never told me he bought three tickets to the event. I mean come on. Welcome to Houston!
I was so happy to meet him. And then, then, then, after the event and Shayna and I went and got some vitamins and yogurt and she had to go back to her life. She would have driven me to FOX, but Chris said he would do it. He took off his afternoon, came over we talked shop for awhile and then he drove me to FOX stayed while I was there.
And then more nice people appeared on the scene.
I ended up staying at the station for two hours. I did a segment at five with Melinda Spaulding who is adorable and pregnant and she read the book the night before. And then all the guys on the set started talking to me, and we all just hung out and chatted between their having to go on air, I mean this does not happen at most stations. Welcome to Houston!
And then a woman came up to me and said, “I do all the consumer affairs segments and we are doing a few on inspiring women to take care of themselves would you mind if I taped you for that and it will run it next week?” Can you imagine asking me if I mind doing some more press.? Welcome to Houston!
And then we ended up talking and she is 56 with a great story, so I Flipped her, you will be seeing her soon. By the time Chris and I left I had everyone at the stations names, so I could send books to all, I had taped two segments, shot a 50@50 and made a bunch more friends. Welcome to Houston!

On the set at FOX at FIVE with Melinda Spaulding

Dinner was with Larry who like I said got this whole ball rolling, and TV producer and oil man Greg Davis ~ a relaxed night with two men, how much fun. Welcome to Houston!


Larry Enzer who started the whole thing.

And then, then this morning Chris insisted on driving me to the airport. I asked him if we could leave early and have a typical breakfast, no more TV, I wanted biscuits!
And I wanted to take some photos of the big signs they have everywhere. He drove me forty-five minutes to the airport, had breakfast with me, where we met, Gayle, well, she is fab, you will all meet her next week, a great 50@50.

Biscuits for Breakfast

And then, then, at the airport I had trouble with the automatic ticket machine. I hate those things! I ended up misplacing my drivers license. I could not find it anywhere. Ask anyone who knows me my purse is sink hole where everything disappears. I started to freak out, this nice woman who works at the airport (almost an oxymoron), comes up to me and says, “You look upset can I help you?”  I said
“I’ve lost my license, I will miss my plane or they wont’ let me on.”  She said, “No you didn’t lose it, let’s go through all your things slowly, here let me help you.” And she found it, it was in my wallet of course. I felt like the total nut job.
She stopped her job for ten minutes to help me find my license so I could make my plane.
Welcome to Houston!!!
I wish I had taken her name and number I would send her a book.

Thank you Houston. I’m coming back!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love Ya’ll!


PS – If you love Texas too, and were thinking of buying the book, you can click on the Brazo’s name and you can order if from them. They are a great bookstore. And we have to keep the independents going here! You can buy other books from them too. I have to say Tina Fey’s is pretty darn good! Oh and Please Look For Mom another great read.




Screenwriter/Director/and Author Tracey Jackson's new book:

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HOT PLACE-Why Fifty Is Not The New Thirty

is available now:http://tinyurl.com/42swzgu

Join me at: www.traceyjacksononline.com

Twitter: @TraceyJackson4

Facebook: Facebook.com/TraceyDJackson



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