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This website is now published on my mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my responsibility.

The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.

Christmas 77 (2 letters)

Dear Friends:

Can it really be Christmas again? I don't feel 39, but my driver's license mercilessly states: December 3, 1938. So what did I do in this rapidly waning year? Pretty much the same things. I left TA training and had planned to work on a career in music. But after three months of hard practice and stomach trouble, I re-evaluated my life, and decided to stay in teaching for a while, maybe permanently.

I did my usual share of traveling this year. In the spring I went to Nashville for the philosophy of education national conference and got some southern home cooking while there. I was in Chicago for another conference in may and visited several old friends. I couldn't get in to see King Tut, though! My big thrill was spending a month in California in August and September. This time I visited Yosemite. I have never seen so much clear blue water rushing down rocky creek beds, pine scent everywhere, and mountains towering over you. I visited friends in Tahoe, Santa Clara, and Monterey, and then I drove down the California coast through Big Sur. Craggy, furrowed slopes plunge into the sea, which laps hungrily at shore rock piles and crescent beaches. Fog arms in from the ocean late every morning. Sage, rosmary, and anise grow wild along the cliff roads.

Towering granite mountains of Yosemite
Yosemite rocky stream in pines
Morning mists of Big Sur
Crescent coves of Big Sur

I then went to the LA area and stayed most of the time with old friend Mariam Edgar and her singer friend Sandy Hancock. she took me to Hollywood where I met actors, singers, musicians, and even a vantriloquist. When we weren't on the beach or up in the mountains at Lake Arrowhead, we were relaxing in Mariam's jaccuzi and swimming pool. I also visited Myra (Hausman) Kendall and her husband Walter and two boys. They live in Glendale with a nice house and backyard garden which is quite large. They showed me around and I played Myra's piano. On the way back I stopped in Phoenix and visited Beth Helm, an old friend from Decatur, Il. It was 107° when I was there. then in Gallup, New Mexico near the painted desert, I visited Mary (Bono) Raje and her husband Fred. We had a musical evening, and Mary and I played the piano and Fred sang.

Mariam's jacuzzi and swimming pool
Students of Thelma White
Jim at Big Bear Lake restaurant
Myra and Walter and their two boys
Beth Helm
Mary and Fred Raje

Back here in St. Louis I played my new Baldwin console piano, which I bought in May. I've been taking composition lessons from a composer in St. Louis who teaches at a conservatory there. My plants thrive, and I've taken to writing poetry. I'm also just completing a paper for next year's convention, and have generally "dropped into my life."

My family is still ok. Mom and dad have been in Florida now for a month. They have a brand new camper. Brother Tom and wife Dee are staying with grandmother, who keeps me up on the news. Dee is expecting a first child in March, and Tom is teaching in Marietta. Sister Vicki and husband Jerry and two boys Jeff and Joey live in a beautiful older home in Marietta. Jerry still coaches football and baseball for boys in his spare time, and Vicki has become a tennis bum. She also has a new piano, and Jeff may be a piano player like his Uncle Jim

Hoep this letter finds you well.

Your friend,
Jim Andris

-------------------------------------

Dear Gay Friend:

I've given up trying to be open about my life to all my friends. It doesn't work. So this year, the gay friends (and a few understanding straight friends) get two letters. Aren't you lucky? Don't answer that!

Well, I broke up with David (the second David) in February. On Valentine's Day. I took that rather hard, and suspect that it helped to aggravate my stomach trouble. But April found me digging again. I put two ads into the Advocate, one to meet people, and one for traveling to California.

As a result of the first ad, I met Gerard, originally from Morocco, who has been a good friend, and Mike. I'll tell you about Mike in a minute. Also I corresponded with Bill F. From New York, who stopped in St. Louis for a nice visit.

While I was in Chicago, I visited old friend Dan and Bill in a rustic setting in the Chicago suburbs. They showed me around gay Chicago—the gay theatre, bookstores, and bars.

Mike came into my life in July. What a comedy of errors! The only thing that was more intense than our love was our incompatibility. He moved here form Atlanta, got a job he hated, then moved away. Then moved back to a town near here. He was beautiful to me, but a blunt Sagittarius (me) and a fragile Pisces apparently can't get along, just like it says in the books. We broke up in October.

In the meantime, I had been dating John, a college teacher like myself. There is a great basis here for communicating and sharing. Needless to say, I'm not exactly rushing into another relationship, but I must say that John is as fine a person as I hope to meet. We'll see what happens.

New guys in my life
Jonathon David
John
Bill
Michael

My first love, Johathon, has set up in Dallas as an artists. I wish him luck. He taught me a lot.

While in California, I visited with Tom, who has quite his job of ten years and started his own food catering business. Last year he showed me all around the Bay Area. I did eat well. I also visited Ron, whose front yard tree was struck by lightning. Better stay away from those truck stops, Ron! And Bob, who lives on Monterey beach. I've met so many great guys in California. And on the way back too. I stopped in Springfield, Mo. and met Jim who took me to Silver Dollar City and hosted me in his fantastic old home he's remodeling.

My friends at MCC are important too. This summer and then again this Thanksgiving we had a big dinner at Brenda and Marilyn's lovely suburban home. The last one had 19 people, including Jim and Larry, whose Holy Union I was in last year, and the new minister of MCC and his spouse, Jim and Sandy.

Gay friends, if I left you out, it doesn't mean that I don't love you. Let me hear from you?

Love,
Jim