‘Cause Ya Gotta Have Friends

What do you say when you know you have reached the final chapter? Are you happy that you had the experience? Sad that it has to end? A mixture of both? When you look back to the beginning, did you have any idea where the journey would take you? As the finale of my beloved podcast, The Karen and Ellen Letters, is almost upon me. I have stopped to reflect on what I have learned and what I will take away from this experience. I have also asked the roomie community to share their reflections.

So, in March of 2017, I was branching out, in search of new podcasts. Little did I know then, that joining one Facebook group, in hopes of getting some recommendations, would change me. As I scrolled though the page, something caught my eye. It was something about a podcast that was funny and set in the 80’s. Well, as an 80’s girl myself, I figured I would give it try. I went looking for this Letters podcast and began episode one. It was short lighthearted and a unique bundle of insanity. I was hooked. I listened to the all the episodes that were available and found myself laughing uncontrollably. I was cleaning my house and at some point, slipped into some water. My socks got all wet and I was tracking soapy water through my house. All I could think of was, “well, my landlord owes me for this!” I stopped dead in my tracks and grabbed my iPad. I HAD to find out more about this podcast and see if there was a group. I joined and wondered if this would be one of those Facebook groups that took themselves to seriously and would make me wait days to join. Immediately, I got a notification I was in. And, I was approved by Josh Hallmark. Giddy, I thought, wow….the actual podcast guy approved me! Wet socks and a dirty house be damned. I sat down and began reading the page. Inspired, I knew I HAD to write something. I was sure I would make a fool out of myself but, hell, when has that ever stopped me before?

Dear Josh,
I’ve spent a half of a half of my day binge listening to your podcast. I tried cleaning while listening but, I spilled some water on my floor and realised I couldn’t focus on two tasks at once. Hence, I will have to hire the services of the cleaning company around the corner. I chex-ed and the cost is $100 for half of the half day but, I think I’d like a full half day instead. The cost of which is $150. I’ll deduct that service from my next listening session.
P.S. I also got water on my socks from the spilled water and so I need dry socks that aren’t wet from water.
Sincerely,
A newly loyal tenant
Stephanie Sabin

I remember that day like it was yesterday, and not almost a year ago. So began my tenure as a roomie. It allowed me to be silly and make friends and more than anything, allowed me to grow and learn. You see, I always wanted to write. I even took a stab at it a few times and declared it wasn’t something I should pursue. But, on March 30, 2017… little did I know I opened a fur lined door to opportunity. I know every person listening to this podcast may not have a huge cat on the wall moment like I did but, this podcast, community and Josh Hallmark have left an impression that will never fade. Don’t believe me? Well, I have reinforcements.

Cindy P. (Libra) says, “The K & E Letters has impacted my life in ways I would not have dreamed possible a year ago!! Not only has it provided me countless hours of entertainment (and probably way too many hours ‘ researching ‘), but it has also introduced me to a community of wonderful people. A place to laugh and bond with other listeners- initially about just the podcast itself- but, eventually on a much more personal level that expands far beyond our shared appreciation of K & E. I believe the podcast and the FB group has introduced me to a number of friends that will remain in my life long after the podcast wraps up. What a gift this is, and just another example of how the Universe sometimes works to bring people together, in my opinion.”

Sara S. (Capricorn) states, “As an actor, playing Karen has allowed me to perform again – recording while the baby sleeps. As a single mom, I’d pretty much accepted the idea that I wouldn’t be able to do that for years, so this opportunity was such a perfect fit. As a fan of detective and crime shows: I got to go down the rabbit hole, use my analytical skills and occupy my over-active brain in a way that had no stakes. Sure beats stressing about how I’m messing up my kid, or how the country would change in the next four years, which was my previous hobby. As a fan of the show: There are no words to describe the magic that happened in the Roomie Room on Facebook. A shared sense of humor really can bring people together, and it sure did here. Mary Christ, I’m glad I’ve ‘met’ you all. Even the pickle lovers. *shudder* Your pickle gifs make me puke, but I still love you.

Roseanne S. (Sagittarius) wrote, “The Karen & Ellen Letters change the way I listened to podcasts. Podcasts were kind of my thing, and my thing alone. Earbuds in, everyone out. It still very much is something I listen to when I’m alone, but Karen & Ellen was the first podcast that was actually no fun to listen to alone. And what’s more is not only was I listening it with some of my friends, even my husband, at home or in the car, I listened with the Roomies on Facebook. I was introduced to a whole new community of listeners online that turned into real life friends. And the host was one of the first out there that I’d listened to that made listeners a part of the show. That continues to be what sets the show apart from anything else out there. The characters of the show also became more than just voices in our ears. They came to life, and they were so illogical, but funny and warm, and charming, and they felt like they were a part of our world.”

In addition to growing the Roomie community, the podcast made us laugh, together. It created amazing catch phrases, one liners and inside jokes. Believe me, I say some of this stuff ALL THE TIME and people look at me like I’m bonkers. (Which, to be honest, I probably am.) I guess, if I wasn’t a listener, and a stranger in a grocery store dropped an avocado and yelled, “MARY CHRIST!” I’d probably think they were insane too. I can’t write or say, sincerely without pronouncing it, SIN-cerly. No one else realizes how hysterical vacuums and refrigerators can be. It could happen to anyone, right? Well, it happens to roomies.

Kelsey (Cancer) will always remember laughing her arse off in the car riding back from Colorado about Mary Christ and the Feast of the Consumption.

Paul C. (Pisces) tells me the word “jurisdiction” has been made permanently funny now.

Jessica (Sagittarius) says no one in my real life will understand why avocados are so important.

Cheryl (Libra) shared this antidote; A couple weeks ago I said, “can you imagine?!” without even thinking, Totally not on purpose. Then I realised what I said and started laughing my guts out. My friends thought I was going mad.

Jennifer M. (Virgo) admits that when she’s bored she tries to find mermaid clocks online.

With the good can come the bad. And, while this podcast community has remained positive that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our fair share of tears. I think every listener was moved by Ellen and Mark’s letters concerning Ellen being Jewish and unaccepted. Or, when we learned Fish Ellen had been involved in an accident. But, the worse tears are knowing the end is near. And, so here we are. Thinking about the sunset and what we will take away from this. Almost every person I communicated with stated that the Facebook roomies will live on. The friends that were made through an online podcast group cannot be explained to many. My own husband has, admittedly, been confused and bemused that I refer to people I’ve never physically met as friends for life. And, I’m not alone.

Nicki T. (Aquarius) says, I’ve met SO many lifelong friends through the podcast and group.

Vanessa (Cancer) wrote, I am genuinely so much happier than this time last year.
This is largely down to this podcast, and the people that I’ve met because of it.
It has brought so much joy and laughter into my life.

But, we wouldn’t have come together if it wasn’t for Josh Hallmark. Our wine drinking, McDonald craving, pantless, amazing storytelling Papi. Josh had a vision and decided to share it with us all. Its pretty safe to say that Josh changed the podcast community as a whole. He engaged listeners, created a safe, sharing space and opens his heart to every single person he comes in contact with. That first post I made on the group page? Well, Josh was the first person to comment. He welcomed me into his world. Josh encouraged me to blog and to continue writing. He has always been available to me whether I want to run an idea by, ask advice on a blog post or just chat some dumb stuff with. Josh has touched so many people. Here are just a few things the internet needs to know about Josh:

“He’s a really talented storyteller. But you know that already. An amazing party planner – the original live K&E reading that brought me in was amazing – cotton candy, booze – just a really unique and fun event. And he’s almost allergic to taking credit for his talent – always tossing compliments to his collaborators and often reluctant to accept money for his work. He’s generous to other podcasters and drives himself too hard – the hardest working man in podcasting. The nicest too. And he has the best laugh. But you know that already too.” Sara S. (Capricorn)

“Josh is so hard working and kind! I will always be grateful that he created a podcast and FB page that brought people together. I’ve met so many really great people, because of this!” Vicki W. (Taurus)

“Josh Hallmark is the hardest working man in podcasting. His work needs to be shared everywhere because he has this amazing gift for bringing the best out of people. He brings the best out of people he interviews and the people he has on his shows. He brings out the best in the roomies and all who know and love him. That kind of talent is something that needs to be celebrated by everyone.” Jennifer M. (Virgo)

“Josh is an incredible person and he treated these letters with respect.” Renee (Aquarius)

“Josh is incredibly creative. He has found his perfect medium in podcasting. His ability to tell a story is captivating and inspiring. He’s also just a really great person who seeks to lift others up with him as he finds success. That is so rare in this world.” Samantha (Pisces)

“He never sleeps and he never wears pants. He likes drinking too! But most of all he loves to entertain people and you can tell he REALLY cares about his work.” Nicki T. (Aquarius)

“Josh took these letters, and this story, and wove magic. He created so much more than a podcast. He also created a community, based on love, laughter, and friendship. Josh is talented, clever, insightful, intuitive, generous, and hilarious. He is the best storyteller that I’ve ever met. I feel privileged to have heard some of his stories. I hope that there are many more to come, and that the whole world gets to hear them.” Vanessa (Cancer)

“Josh is a fantastic host. He’s very thoughtful of how he puts together content for his shows. He spends time really interacting with the listeners in his groups and makes everyone feel included. I’m so glad to have met Josh! He is a wonderful person and brought together a fantastic group of people!” Cheryl (Libra)

“Josh Hallmark, being able to bring abstract words on paper to life was brilliant, his storytelling is masterful, he is engaging, quirky, charming…and most of all, for me personally, he’s been a mentor and an inspiration.” Roseanne (Sagittarius)

“Josh Hallmark is one of the best writers and speakers I have ever “met” . His kindness and his heart are completely genuine. I absolutely adore and love him.” Nicole B. (Aquarius)

“Josh Hallmark is a hardworking and talented guy, and I’m proud to be part of the community he has created!” Jessica (Sagittarius)

“Josh is smart, creative and likes to entertain. He has a good heart and infectious laugh.” Jenn A. (Leo)

“Josh has been one of the greatest gifts I feel the podcast has given me. His willingness to be brutally honest about his own life experiences, his engagement with his listeners, and the level of humility and empathy that he constantly demonstrates have brought me to tears more than once. This expands beyond K & E, obviously, to include his other podcasts, as well as things he has shared with the ‘ roomie ‘ community. I think he is an amazing person, with a rare ability to connect with others. These qualities lend themselves well to the incredible material that he produces. But, clearly, he also possesses an abundance of creativity, and a compelling adeptness for bringing characters, places , and experiences to life. He is a consummate story-teller.” Cindy P. (Libra)

“Josh has incredible hope for us as people. This man works every single day to give a gift of perception to the world. He is passionate about knowing what makes people different and embraces those differences. Our Americana celebrates people and the surprises they bring. He revels in the ordinary and shows us how extraordinary it can be if we just look hard enough. His laughter is infectious and his heart is just authentically good. The podcast world has a standard set in him. I have been blessed in the last months to have watched his network grow and have a very good feeling this is just the beginning of his journey.” Vicki R. (Cancer)

“Josh is a very gracious and generous person. A truly wonderful soul. The only reason I met Josh is because he needed someone from New Bern to interview for his Our Americana podcast. A friend of his (who is my best friends ex), asked my best friend to do it as he lived in New Bern, but he thought I would be better as he only lived here for a few years in high school and college and since moved away. I remember when he first started the K&E podcast, I read about it and immediately was intrigued and listened religiously. I wish I could meet him in real life, as I just know we would get along famously!” Adrienne H. (Aries)

“Josh Hallmark deserves the Gold Card to McDonald’s.” Kelsey (Cancer)

Therefore, I raise my glass to you, Josh. I thank you for being a master crafter, an incredible story teller and an amazing human being. I appreciate the countless hours of work you dedicate to the podcast community, your listeners and your friends. Because, we all think of you as a friend. Thank you for sharing yourself with the world. In addition, I also want to thank my fellow bloggers (Torey and Vanessa – You both rock my socks!), the roomies and my #HoneyBlondes. This podcast wouldn’t have been the same without each of you. I appreciate and adore you all.

I am leaving the final word to Miss Laila (Capricorn). Who warned us with her sweet little voice at the start of each Season two episode.

Karen and Ellen are silly washing the fish.
Mary Christ looks down on them saying,
“What is this?”
I hope we will have
a statue together as well as Mary Christ.
I will love this podcast forever.
Hooray! Hooray!

I love you, Josh.

Until the next smell comes from behind the oven…

Love and Avocados,
Stephanie (Aries)

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