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John Kelly's Washington: Dealing with loss

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John Kelly
Friday, June 11, 2010; 12:00 PM

Post Metro columnist John Kelly chats about Washington's offbeat stories and the people, places and things that don't get on the front pages.<br><br>Today: Dealing with loss. Chat with John about things you've lost -- and whether you ever found them again.<br><br>

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John Kelly: Have you ever lost it, big time? I ask because of my column earlier this week on a Georgia family who had just moved to our area and then mistakenly "donated" their computer--and all the photos and data that was on it. It wound up at a thrift store and was quickly purchased. They desperately hope they might get it back, but I think the odds are slim.Losing something leaves an obvious physical hole in your life--the bare spot on your wrist where your watch used to be, the empty pocket where your wallet used to be--but it leaves an emotional hole too. Not long ago my wife gave our younger daughter a bracelet covered with charms the two of them had collected. Beatrice took it on a school trip to New York City. You can guess what happened.My heart when out to Bea. Yes, part of me was angry: You must take better care of your things! But mainly I was sad for her. She'd lost something she'd loved.So, share your tales of items lost. And items found too, if you have a happy ending. Fortune tellers can ply their trade in MoCo? (Should idiots be protected from themselves?) Is Arlington the Walter Reed of the veterans cemetery world? Can Stephen Strasburg walk on water?I may be off to a late start with the chat today. I'm delivering a high school commencement address and will have to hustle to be in my seat by noon. If I'm tardy, talk amongst yourselves.

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John Kelly: Here I am!

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From the article about Van der Sloot: ... after Van der Sloot contacted John Kelly, a New York lawyer for Holloway's mother, Beth Twitty, in April, according to an affidavit. ===== Are you living a double life as a reporter in D.C. and a lawyer in N.Y.? Wow! I'm impressed.

John Kelly: Isn't that wild? I keep track of all the John Kellies in the world. There are tons. Look inside the Beatle's Magical Mystery Tour booklet. The photographer? John Kelly. The Marine general formerly in Iraq? John Kelly. The president of Alaska Airlines? John Kelly. Gold-medal winning Olympic skier? Jean-Claude Killy.

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Dealing with loss: I lost a library book downstairs, searched for it a few days, and then found it upstairs. I went through Denial (I returned it) and Anger (The library lost it), but never got to Bargaining (Can you remove the fine?), Depression (I have too many books checked out), or Acceptance (I guess if I have to pay a fine, it might as well go to the library).

John Kelly: What I want to know is how did your library book managed to walk up the stairs? What was the title of the book? "The Magic Elevator"?By the way, speaking of the stages of grief, I recommend Ron Rosenbaum's masterful take-down of Kubler-Ross and her mortal mumbo jumbo. It appeared in Harper's I believe.

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Atlas District?: I've lived in D.C. and the surrounding area for the past 15 years and I've never heard of the Atlas District. I've seen it mentioned frequently by some of the Washington Post writers. Tom Sietsema mentioned it in his discussion on Wednesday, referring to a restaurant near 4th and H, NE - just a couple of blocks from Union Station. "Atlas District" doesn't appear on any maps I've seen, unlike all of the other neighborhood names. Is this new? Why Atlas - is this the map-making section of the city or did someone shrug?

John Kelly: According to Wikipedia, which is never wrong, the name "is not historical." I suppose the area is what we might formerly have called H Street Northeast. The Atlas District does have a ring to it, but, like Haagen-Daz, it doesn't mean anything. I think of Atlas vanlines. And wasn't there a gay bar called Atlas? Not that there's anything wrong with it.

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Jean-Claude Killy: That doesn't count!

John Kelly: You probably think Gene Kelly doesn't count either.

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Typical Chatter: Hi John,For those new to your chat, I thought I'd offer a template for everyone to use, to save time:What's with kids/metro/dogs/parents these days? When I was a kid, we played outside all day/the metro worked really well/dogs were well behaved/parents were strict. Now, the kids are inside playing video games/metro is horrible and unsafe and I hate it/dogs are undisciplined/parents think everyone is as charmed by little johnny as they are. I hate to sound like a curmudgeon, but I fear for our future!That about sum it up? What did I miss?

John Kelly: You missed "I invented a perpetual motion machine and all I need is some venture capital and I'll make us all rich, rich I say!"Erm, actually, feel free to suggest a different topic of discourse. YOU make the call!

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Metro!: Hey John,One morning last week I had a new experience at Gallery Place. I transfer to the Red Line here to go to the Dupont Circle station. The six car trains they run here are almost always packed. But this one day the driver closed the doors before the train was full! Why? It was so frustrating. Have you heard of this sort of thing before?

John Kelly: Yes and I was actually thinking about it the other day, because I noticed that I hadn't seen it in a while. But the only reason it came to mind was because I did see it. I forget which station, possible Gallery Place. The driver kept the doors open for just what seemed a split second, slammed them shut, separating parties that were trying to board together. Then, presumably because our doors are so lousy and they never shut right, he opened them and people leapt on. The train was not full.As I said, I used to see this more frequently. Then it stopped. Could it be because they have to keep to a schedule?

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John Kelly: But I can top that Metro experience, or rather, a friend of mine can. He was on the Red Line from Forest Glen one morning recently when a woman got on. She looked a little rough, probably homeless, but not obviously so. She was sitting near one of the doors when she got up and announced to the fairly fully car, "I'm sorry folks, but I just can't hold it anymore," at which point she proceeded to pull down her pants and urinate on the floor. For quite a while. She got off at the next station.Makes you wonder if they should add "Do not relieve yourself" to those signs prohibiting eating and listening to audio devices without headphones.

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Losing Bracelets: Sounds like your daughter handled it a lot better than those guys in Southeast in March.

John Kelly: Ha, really! OF course, she doesn't have her license and so couldn't rent a minivan for a driveby.She'd been at a student conference at Columbia University and called a few places up there in the hopes it had been turned in. No luck.

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Arlington: How cool that you gave a commencement address! Which school? How did it go?

John Kelly: I did Northwest High School yesterday at DAR. And today I did the Frost School's Lodge program in Rockville. It's a school for behaviorly disabled kids and I must say, the students who spoke were incredibly moving. Imagine the obstacles they had to overcome to graduate.

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the worst things I feel really bad about losing: Are opportunities. When I look back on my life and the opportunities (professional and social) I wasted, I feel bad because you can't go back and get a redo.

John Kelly: That sounds like my commencement speech! Of course, it's too late for us to learn. How come nobody told us that 30 years ago. Oh, wait. They did. We just weren't listening.

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Answer Man: John, are you equipped to answer this here, or do I need to e-mail Answer Man?Where was the original "watergate" (not the hotel) and what did it do?I know it was built where the Potomac switches from tidal to non-tidal (that's why we have a Tidal Basin), but what was the watergate for?

John Kelly: Answer Man has authorized me to link to this column from 2004 in which he addressed this: "Answer Man: A Gate to Summers Past."

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Lost stuffies: When we moved into our house 4 years ago, I had bagged up my children's stuffed animals, which included some of my old ones. I had a couple of bags of outgrown clothes to donate to the shelter as well, and when my husband took those, he also took the bag of toys. The kids were heartbroken, as was I, as some of those had been given to me by my grandparents, long since dead. We were heading out on vacation the next day, so upon our return, we went to the shelter store, where some of the stuffies still were. We were able to get them back, but some of the ones with the greatest memories were gone. We figured they were with some other kids who would love them so it wasn't such a disaster!

John Kelly: That's a good way to look at it. When my dad and his siblings cleared out my grandmother's house in Brookland they had an estate sale. In the hustle and bustle some things that shouldn't have been sold, were, including a document signed by the Pope to an ancestor. It may have even been a Papal Indulgence. Whoops.

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Jimmy Cliff: Had to share this. Went to the Jimmy Cliff/Sly & Robbie concert at Wolftrap last night. It was a lot of fun and Jimmy puts on a good show for a 62 year old dude. I thought it a rather strange venue for a ska/reaggae concert, what will all the fat white guys sipping chardonay with their 40 something wives. Classic was the dorky bean pole dude in front of us, who downed 2 bottles of screw top white wine. He was pretty subdued until Jimmy sang "I can see clearly now" and then was up trying his best dancehall moves. Looked like an albino giraffe having a seizure. Dude "lost" whatever dignity he had.

John Kelly: Now, mon, don't be hatin'.Speaking of Jimmy Cliff, when I was in London a few years back I saw a great stage musical version of "The Harder They Come." A killer band was onstage and the costumes looked just like from the movie. I never really knew that much about Jimmy Cliff--and I still haven't seen the movie in its entirety--but seeing "Many Rivers to Cross," "You Can Get It if You REally Want" and "The Harder They Come" live was incredible. I don't think that show ever came to America.

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I've got a question for the Answer Man: What did they call a cartwheel before wheels were invented?

John Kelly: They didn't do cartwheels. The most they could manage was a somersault, which they called a "rolling boulder."

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Lost Cheesecake: I was home from college one weekend and my mom made my favorite dessert - chocolate chip cheesecake. She saved the leftovers in some tupperware for me so I could enjoy it when I went back to school the next day. My friend picked me up for the drive back to school and as we were backing out of the driveway, my mom ran out with the cheesecake yelling "wait!" I'd almost forgotten my prized leftovers. That night after dinner I was practically drooling getting my cheesecake out for dessert. When I opened up the tupperware, it was lima beans. Mom had given me the wrong container. I know, not a great loss in the scheme of life, but disappointing at the time.I've since had the misfortune of losing tons of digital photos that I'd worked very, very hard on in Photoshop. Some of them I actually have the negatives for, but many I do not. It's been a few years I'm still sick about it. I hope the family gets their computer back. Photos you can't recover are the hardest things to lose.

John Kelly: Sometimes I'll have my whole day planned around a piece of pie. It's the only thing that keeps me going, knowing that it's at home waiting for me. I get home only to discover that someone else ate it. In fact, I better put in a request now for at least one piece of the chocolate cake with peanut butter creme icing that My Lovely Wife made for our daughter's birthday the other night. It's shrinking like a polar icecap.

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To have and have not: Last summer, my husband lost his wedding ring. We looked everywhere in the house for it. We even went through the vacuum cleaner bag to make sure it hadn't been inadvertently sucked up. It was nowhere to be found. Finally, we caved in and bought a replacement ring. About two months later, a woman he works with, and at whose house we had attended a pool party the weekend the ring went missing, brought him back the ring! She had found it in her pool filter. My husband thinks it must have slipped off his finger when he was playing a basketball-type game in the pool.

John Kelly: A happy ending!Now let me ask what you think of this: A fwe years ago my wife decided she didn't like the wedding ring she had, ie, the wedding ring I slipped on her finger on Aug. 1, 1987. We'd bought it used from a jewelry store, just like mine. It had a few small diamonds, some of which had fallen out. I think also it had shrunk--or something. Anyway, she sold it and bought a new one. Is that weird?

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lost items..: I'm sure I am not the first to submit this, but here goes.. I've lost my mind and have yet to find it.. Sorry. Couldn't resist..

John Kelly: It's always the last place you would look. Look there first.

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You again?!?: You also lost a brother in Bloody Sunday according to this article from today's WaPo:

John Kelly: See, we John Kellies are everywhere. It's why I'm contemplating changing my name to Tony Kornheiser. How many of those can there be?

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who downed 2 bottles of screw top white wine: Hey now...go easy. Nowadays a LOT of reputable wines are coming out with screw-tops. The equipment and supplies to cap with screw tops is cheaper than the equipment and supplies to cork bottles and the screw tops last longer and don't leak as much as corks do, so the wines last better/longer. You're going to be seeing more and more wines with screw tops including some decent wines.

John Kelly: When I was at the Bark Ball last weekend a guy at my table slipped a few bottles of wine out from somewhere (his pants? his dog's ear?) and offered them to the table. He didn't like what the hotel was serving so he'd brought his own. It was screwtop, and it was goooood.

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Getting an education: Hello John.I am an employed, mature adult. Although I have a decent job I feel that my general education has been lacking and would like to do something about it. My college-educated friends say 'read books'. Sounds like a good idea but I was hoping for a more directed approach. Do you have any suggestions? I want something I could do on my own without formal class meetings, etc.Thank you.

John Kelly: What about those taped lectures from that company that advertises in The Post.? I can't think of the name now. Great Learning, or something? (That doesn't sound right.) They have top profs giving lectures on everything from history to religion to literature to science.Or how about poke around online and find the syllabi and reading lists from some college courses and just follow along on your own?

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Fortune telling?: Shouldn't the question be not "Should idiots be protected from themselves?" but rather, "Should the laws against fraud be applied vigorously?"

John Kelly: I find it funny that the same county that tried to forbid fortune-telling has a building that doesn't have a 13th floor. It's the building I'm in right now, The Post's Rockville bureau.

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R.I.P Maryland Trooper Brown: Mr Kelly,Please offer our condolences to the family of Maryland State Trooper Brown, who seemed to die a senseless death at a local Applebees.My personal opinion, is you shoot a police officer in the course of their duties, you do not deserve to survive the encounter w/the police brothers in arms. And if you do, may the police place you in the Ronnie White cell at the PG County jail. Thank you for letting me vent & R.I.P. Trooper Brown

John Kelly: Condolences offered. I'm sure this guy will get what's coming to him--within the confines of the law.

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Lost and Found: So, was cleaning the basement last weekend and found a lot of things that I had thought were long gone. Included, I "found" photos that showed how much hair I've "lost" even in the last 10 years. I found some out-of-print books that I didn't realize I still had. I found a box of things that my parents boxed up for me several years ago that had been sitting around their home and they figured should be sitting around my home. Always interesting to see what excavation of the basement brings up.

John Kelly: The question then becomes: If you thought you didn't have it, and you've obviously lived without it, do you need it at all? I don't think there's an easy answer to that, as my attic, basement and office attest.

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Re: Typical Chatter: That's pretty much true of any chat - go back and look at Hax, Tom Seitsema, Food, Travel - the same topics tend to come up again and again. If that's what people want to talk about, that's what gets talked about - instead of complaining, do something about it.

John Kelly: Exactly. Feel free to hijack the chat. Go all DB Cooper on us.

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I'm sure I am not the first to submit this, but here goes.. I've lost my mind and have yet to find it.. Sorry. Couldn't resist..: I've been waiting for the inevitable, "I lost my shaker of salt" posting.

John Kelly: You don't have to wait...

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Still searching for...: my lost shaker of salt.

John Kelly: ...much longer!

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Could it be because they have to keep to a schedule?: Every morning at L'Enfant, the Green Line train I take to Navy Yard mostly empties at L'Enfant and the "Doors Closing" always starts while people are still exiting. The driver admonishes us to "use all the doors" but we ARE using all the doors. Drivers need to realize that at major transfer stops, they can't get in and out in 10 seconds at rush hour.

John Kelly: Agreed. I have noticed that some passengers don't get up until the train has come to a complete stop, which slows things down. It's not so much commuters on the packed trains as tourists who are moving sort of leisurely.

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It's why I'm contemplating changing my name to Tony Kornheiser. How many of those can there be?: Too many.

John Kelly: ...

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Dancer on Metro: A little fun for Friday:We've got a feelin'.......

John Kelly: As I'm at a computer without the proper plug-ins, someone will have to describe that for me.

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She'd been at a student conference at Columbia University and called a few places up there in the hopes it had been turned in: Truly, that is the reason I never wear jewelry when I travel (except my wedding ring, of course).

John Kelly: YEah. I have my father-in-law's Rolex. (It's okay. He's dead.) I don't wear it nearly as much as I'd like since I'm afraid I might lose it/get robbed. Much easier to give a thief my Swatch.

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I lost something last night: OH YEAH!

John Kelly: Your Kool Aid?

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I lost something: John,I lost my virginity. Any suggestions on where to find it?

John Kelly: Oh, I get it. Do you remember the last place you had it? Under the bleachers? The ladies room at TGI Fridays? The alien spacecraft?

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World Cup: predictions?

John Kelly: Slovakia. First time in the World Cup and they're going to take the whole thing.

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sounds like: Kelly parents aren't very imaginative namers.

John Kelly: picked such an unusual, unprecdented name.

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Lost ring: I had a ring my parents bought for me in Nigeria. We were moving back to the U.S. from Nigeria and I went to use the airplane bathroom. I stupidly took the ring off and put it on the side of the sink when I washed my hands. I drained the bowl and when I did, the plane hit a bump and the ring went down the sink, presumably falling into the ocean below. My mother was not pleased with me. (In my defense, I was only seven, but I've never lost another ring.) It was a really cool silver ring and I've been sorry about that ever since (I'm now 40, FWIW).

John Kelly:

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Lost ring: My father gave me an antique ring for my birthday while I was in graduate school. I lost it. Could not find it. Not in my house, not in my grad school apartment. When I finally got a job after grad school I had to move (here). I was moving from a small house to a small apartment so I hired a woman who helps us with various jobs from time to time. She found the ring behind the toilet!. I was so excited I gave her a needlework picture I done. I was so happy.

John Kelly: I think Beatrice may choose to go to college in New York City just on the off chance she finds her charm bracelet.

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My college-educated friends say 'read books'.: But this is a great suggestion. Get one of those "the books you should have read" books (Michael Dirda's "Bound to Please" perhaps) and read the books suggested. Write a blog for your book reviews to stay motivated. Doesn't that sound like fun? AND, you can read the books and write your blog post while enjoying a screw-top bottle of wine. So, it's a great way to spend an evening.

John Kelly: Great advice.

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To Maturing Adult: Rent Audiobooks from your public library and play them in your car while commuting. Gridlocks are much shorter that way.

John Kelly: This too. I have two strong audiobook memories. One is right after my wife and I were married and we listened to a book on the American Revolution while driving down 95. The other was listening to a book on the Battle of Leyte Gulf while driving to and from Chicago. Odd how we bond over war.

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Lost and Found: My brother lost his high school ring within a few years of getting it, and we assumed it was gone for good. A dozen years later, however, after my parents had moved away and then back to our home town, they got a random call from someone asking if they were related to my brother. Turns out that this person found my brother's ring on the beach our family frequents (2 hours from the school) and because of the school name and the engraving with my brother's name (fortunately the last name is not common), they were able to track down our family and return the ring.

John Kelly: I love hearing stories like that. Sadly, in all the columns I've written about lost things, I have never reunited the loser with the lost.

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Lost and found - 20 years later: My mom had a lovely college ring. She lost it when I was really young. About 20 years later, she gets a call from her alma mater saying that someone had found her class ring. Apparently, when my brother was in elementary school, he took it to show and tell and lost it. 20 years later, someone else's parent brought a metal dector to show the kids, and it picked up my mom's ring in the playground. The elementary school called my mom's college to find her. The college called her. And now she has her ring back (and hte truth about how it was lost).

John Kelly: Beatrice should bring a metal detector to New York City. I wonder if she'd find anything.

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Taped lectures: I don't notice the ads in the Post, but it sounds like The Teaching Company. My dad has bought a lot of their stuff -- good lectures by reputable college profs. One warning: once you get on their e-mail list, they will never let you go. I bought him one or two courses in the past as gifts, and I was stuck with the e-mails for a long time. Still, they're worth considering.

John Kelly: That's it. Thanks. Tell them you saw their ad in The Post!

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Names: How did Margaret become Peggy? Elizabeth who is Beth.

John Kelly: I blame the Irish.Think of all the possibilities embedded in your name: Eliza. Liz. Liza. Beth. 'Zabeth.

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Atlas District . . .: sounds hip, where as H Street Northeast doesn't. It's why people who live in Kensington say they live in North Bethesda.

John Kelly: YEah, what's up with that? And what's South Bethesda? Washington?

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There is soccer to talk about: I predict a North Korea vs. South Korea final, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance.

John Kelly: Geez, I hope it doesn't go to a sudden death shootout.

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Atlas district: It probably refers to the area around the old and now renovated and reopened Atlas Theater. From their Web-site: "Located in a historic movie theatercomplex on H Street in Near Northeast D.C., a once-vibrant corridor of the city that was devastated by riots in 1968, the Atlas formally opened its doors in November 2006 after four years of renovation. "

John Kelly: Ah, of course. Though it sounds as if it was never called the Atlas District before.

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How come nobody told us that 30 years ago. Oh, wait. They did. We just weren't listening.: Sometimes the problem is that you are listening to the wrong person. I know mom and dad are full of wisdom, but they pushed me in a career direction that was so wrong for me. I can understand why, they both lived through some tough stuff and thought they were helping me to be safe. So I'd say, I wish I'd had the guts to NOT listen.

John Kelly: Now wait just a minute. I have told my older daughter that all she has to do is exactly what I tell her and everything will work out. Are you suggesting that parents are fallible? Gwyneth, turn away now.

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John Kelly: You will note that I named my daughters Gwyneth and Beatrice, not Margaret, Mary, Anne, Mary Anne, Sheila, Catherine or any of the other names that crowd the Kelly/Spillane family tree.

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Watergate: John, I read your 2004 column, and I think one of your dismissed answers is correct.The C and O canal has two types of locks -- the raising/lowering kind, and the kind that lets Potomac water flow in. You can see both at Violet's Lock. The latter kind is called "water gate."

John Kelly: I guess the question is was the hotel/office building named after the lock or named after the barge/steps that was presumably named after the lock?

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When my dad and his siblings cleared out my grandmother's house in Brookland they had an estate sale.: Makes me think of the only material loss that still makes me sad. When my dead great uncles' wife was moved to a nursing home, her greedy neice didn't tell any of us. We went by to visit once and the house was empty. The neice kept all she wanted and threw out all my great-uncles stuff. Old family photos that we treasured, trashed because she didn'tn want to let us know she was keeping all the expensive stuff for herself. And we didn't care about that stuff, we just wanted the family photos.

John Kelly: That sounds like one bitter old woman.

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Anyway, she sold it and bought a new one. Is that weird?: Maybe not to have wanted a new one, but she SOLD it? Oh....

John Kelly: I think she would argue she was being thrifty.

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Rockville, MD: "John Kelly writes:Tell me about it. My dad's a John. I have an uncle John"Reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live skit with Nicholas Cage. He was playing a husband of a very pregnant wife and they were picking names. He kept vetoing "normal" names. At the end, a delivery person knocks on the door with a package for him. As Nicholas Cage's character says "It's pronounced Ah-swee-pei" after being called A**wipe.

John Kelly: At some point, everything will remind us of an old Saturday Night Live skit. Either that or an Onion headline.

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Getting up before the train comes to a complete stop: I'm totally guilty of not doing that. I do have all my things together, but at 8 months pregnant, my balance isn't good enough to be standing while the train does the "moving forward" jerky actions.

John Kelly: As long as you carry a note from your obsetrician, that's fine.

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Mistaken donation: There was a court case in Illionois 20 years or so ago in which some valuable silver was left on the dining room table and accidentally picked up with some clothes for Goodwill. The owners successfully sued the person who bought the silver from Goodwill, on the theory that the silver was "lost property" and Goodwill never obtained good title under the Uniform Commercial Code. So the sale to the buyer could not pass good title.

John Kelly: On teh dining room table in the house? Or on the table in the driveway?

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Kelly Clan: So, on the Kelly side:- Your dad's name is John- You have an uncle named JohnMy best guess is that they are brothers, correct?

John Kelly: Yes: Siamese twins! Enjoy this lovely weekend and thanks for stopping by.


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