While living by myself in a little cottage on Mount Bonnell outside Austin in the early nineties, I was without a significant other for the first extended period in my life. Fortunately (though I didn’t think so at the time) I had the solitude needed to turn my attention toward my own wants and needs rather than those of a mate. And I had the opportunity to become very clear about the attributes I wanted in my next relationship. The list I created during those five years was long and very specific, and around ten of the desired characteristics were non-negotiable—physically attractive, athletic, willing to be authentic and vulnerable, dedicated to spiritual/psychological growth, belief in equality for all, intelligent with sense of humor, among a few others. About the only quality I didn’t specify was age, which as you’ll discover, was probably fortunate.

Near the end of my five-year retreat at the age of fifty-two, I joined Austin Fit, a marathon training group, with three goals in mind: (1) complete a marathon; (2) find some running buddies; and (3) meet attractive, athletic women.

Austin Fit Green Group

Austin Fit Green Group

Between twenty to thirty runners in the intermediate-level Green Group met early each Saturday morning at Town Lake. It was summer, and as usual, hot as Hades in the capitol city of Texas—highs in the upper 90s to lower 100s. Of course, Austin runners (approximately ten percent of the city’s population at that time) were accustomed to being thoroughly sweat-soaked by the time they hit the quarter-mile mark during the summer. With the encouragement of our coaches, we ran increasingly long distances on the trails around the lake (ultimately up to twenty-plus miles) in preparation for the Austin Motorola Marathon that would take place on February 18, 1996.

After running together week after week for longer and longer distances, the size of our group dwindled to seven runners. My initial impression of the single remaining female member of our group was of a very attractive, assertive woman of indeterminate age who looked pretty damned good in running tights. Her name was Shonnie Lavender. (more…)

My recent letter to the editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times:

What is Buncombe County’s severe weather policy?

During the mid-February 2014 snowstorm, Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger, concerned for the safety of his seventeen staff members, allowed them to leave work early on February 12. At that time County Manager Wanda Greene took issue with Reisinger’s actions and stated:

Our policy is that we do not close, and no other offices have closed in the 20 years I have been with Buncombe County.

However, during the recent snowstorm of 2016, Greene evidently reversed her stance. In a January 22 email she wrote:

The weather is predicted to get much worse as they day goes on – with up to 15 inches of snow predicted. So, I want county facilities to close no later than 10 this morning. We need to make sure our employees get home safely.

So as a concerned Buncombe County citizen, I’m left wondering; what is the county’s severe weather policy?

Bruce Mulkey, Asheville

Below is my recent letter to the Asheville Citizen-Times backing Jasmine Beach-Ferrara for Buncombe County Commission.

BACKING BEACH-FERRARA FOR SEAT ON COMMISSION

When Amendment One passed in North Carolina in 2012, many pundits and politicians said it would take decades to change the discriminatory law and give LGBT people marriage equality in our state. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, however, did not accept this disheartening prediction. Jasmine and the organization she leads, the Campaign for Southern Equality, worked diligently with attorneys and plaintiffs to successfully strike down Amendment One in just two years.

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Jasmine Beach-Ferrara

Jasmine had a powerful vision: equality for all our citizens. And she possessed the leadership, organizational skills and courage to make that vision a reality. Now Jasmine is running for public office—the Buncombe County Commission in District 1.

I had an opportunity to work with Jasmine for a few weeks when the lawsuit opposing Amendment One was being filed. I found her to be bright, resourceful, upbeat, attentive and determined. When elected Jasmine will bring these attributes forward as a true public servant, beholden to no political clique, equally representing all the people of our county regardless of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, wealth, religion or political persuasion. If you live in District 1, I strongly urge you to cast your vote for Jasmine Beach-Ferrara in the County Commission race in the March 15 Democratic Primary.

Bruce Mulkey, Asheville

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