No Thanks, Dierks

Here’s a summary of nights I’ve spent in the LoDo area of Denver that I either have mostly forgotten or would like to:

  • When I was working for an entertainment website in college, I was assigned to PHOTOGRAPH and then WRITE ABOUT a bikini contest at Jackson’s. Presumably, it was a little easier for the bosses to stomach the idea of sending a nerdy girl with glasses to such an event rather than literally any of the male freelancers. While I was most definitely a nerdy girl with glasses, and tried extremely hard to make that clear to any patron I encountered, I was also still *checks notes* a woman who was perceivably more accessible to the drooling men in attendance than those participating in the competition.
  • My 21st birthday, when I consumed a drink from bucket and later yelled, “I’m drunk and I’m running” while probably not actually running back to my sober friend’s car.
  • Several shows at the Marquis Theater from ages 18-23 – okay, with the exception of maybe my taste in music at various points of my young life, those were actually mostly fine.
  • My sister’s pedal-hopper bachelorette party, which would have been terrible enough (because the combination of bike-riding, drinking, and blocking traffic was a really cool plan) without several other bridesmaids giving the only underage bridesmaid vodka-soaked gummie bears to put in her virgin cocktail at dinner in plain view of our server who definitely knew what was happening, walking in on my sister puking in a public bathroom at 9 pm, and her diabetic bridesmaid giving herself an injection of some kind to make sure she would be able to get good and drunk that night without dying. I don’t know if this is actually responsible diabetic person behavior because I am not diabetic, but she was kind of the meanest of my sister’s mean girl brigade of bridesmaids even though I had never met her, so I’m just going to assume she sucks and makes bad choices. I also had to wear a tank top that said something like “It’s a bachelorette party, bitches!” I don’t remember what it said, just that the word “bitch” was on it somewhere, and I have since trashed it. I left early, and I don’t remember any of the bars we stopped at because THEY ARE ALL THE SAME.
  • A radio station event where some band I liked at the time was playing on a roof-top patio. Although, I can’t recall the band. Maybe The Fray? Shut up – they’re from Colorado okay! Clearly, this was at best, a mediocre event.
  • A night out with a friend and her very drunk husband who decided he wanted to discuss feminism and specifically, Lena Dunham, with me. This is also one of the less than five times in my life that I’ve accepted a shot of the peppermint variety, and my digestive system did not enjoy it.

LoDo is full of mediocre to actually terrible places that are all kind of indistinguishable from each other where the youths from the suburbs flock to drink fruit punch flavored cocktails and bad beer and gyrate to some inexplicable combination of country music and mumble rap, before driving drunk up and down the I-25 corridor, waking up hungover and relishing their super awesome night in what they believe is Downtown Denver.

Geographically speaking, it is Downtown Denver. But this block of shiny shirts and gold chains being someone’s idea of Denver is tragic. LoDo is quickly losing any ounce of charm and uniqueness it once had, and this is only amplified by the gut punch of the permanent loss of El Chapultepec just a few months ago.

Then, Denver got the news that some guy named Dierks is going to pour salt in our fresh jazz-loving wounds and open a restaurant, bar, and “music venue” called Whiskey Row in the space where LoDo’s Bar & Grill once was. And fine, okay, I guess we’re replacing one shitty bar with bad food, people, and music with another. But it’s not exactly a wash is it?

It’s obviously not rule that every new place in LoDo has to be soulless and generally suck. Take Ophelia’s for example. Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox inhabits a building that was once a brothel, and somehow they’ve managed to preserve that history (calling themselves a gastro-brothel), create a unique environment, and host shows that are actually interesting. And their food is great. The Dairy Block is a collective of bars, restaurants, and hotels and has nothing to do with dairy in the year 2021, but they kept the name AND even share the area’s history on their website.

I don’t know anything about Dierks Bentley. I know that he sings country music, both of my sister-in-laws like him, and he once got busted for fishing in Colorado without a license. He says he loves Denver and opening his bar here will give him more opportunities to go to the mountains.

Is he aware that the mountains and Denver are very different places? Can someone do me a favor and ask Dierks literally anything about Denver? Does he know about the history of Five Points just up the road from where his surely fine establishment will be? Hell, someone put him in a car and tell him to drive to Casa Bonita without GPS. (It may be a shithole, but it’s our shithole). Here’s an easier one: using Whiskey Row as a starting point, find Colfax.

Dierks, my dude, you don’t know Denver, and we don’t want your shitty bar. I know our Mayor said it was cool, but we don’t really like him either.

Maybe try Westminster or the town where you got busted fishing.

I know that some of you may accuse me of being snobby or pretentious, so let me just say that I am. And I JUST WANT LIVE JAZZ, DECENT FOOD, AND A LITTLE RESPECT. 

January is for reading

The silver-lining of the last 10 months is that I’ve had way more time to read. As such, I’ve become one of those obnoxious humans who wants to tell you about all the books I’ve read and encourage you to read…something… anything.

Here’s what I read in January:

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

As if it’s any surprise, this book is excellent. And fortunately, it doesn’t feel like a 700-page book. It’s a political memoir that is also a page-turner. It’s not often we get a window into modern history like this. Obama provides so much context for his decisions, and anecdotes from working with members of Congress and his cabinet. It will frustrate you and maybe make you cry. Truly a great read.

Memorial by Bryan Washington

I wasn’t sure how much I would like this book initially, but as I got into it more, I really appreciated the honestly of it. From the representation of Queer men, and particularly Queer men of color, to the complicated family situations, to culture, it was just a very honest book. You can love people who have done horrible things to you. You can also have a lot of love in a relationship, but that love may not be enough to sustain it.

How to be Alone: If You Want To, and Even If You Don’t by Lane Moore

Given my reading history and some of my other favorite writers, I should have loved this book. Alas, I did not. While I hesitate to in any way discount Lane’s lived experiences or personal truths, I found this book to be so incredibly whiney and self-indulgent. If I had to sum it up: “I had the worst childhood ever. My parents were the worst parents to have ever existed. Every man I’ve dated has been shit and it’s all their fault that our relationships failed. I have no one and nothing. But look at how good I am at singing and comedy and writing and babysitting and stuff. I’m just the best… no thanks to my awful parents.” Okay. Like a lot of people, I also did not have the most ideal childhood (that’s a whole other blog post), and in a lot of ways, I’ve overcome a lot of shit to have the (mostly) drama-free life I currently do. I’m all about stories of personal triumph. But good grief, the wallowing and the patting herself on the back…. I started skimming toward the end. She says at one point (after talking about a high school trip to Germany, which is confusing because you don’t go on school trips like that without a liiiittttle bit of privilege and means and semi-present parents – it was a struggle for me to make it to Florida to sing with my choir in high school), “I truly don’t know anyone with a family who doesn’t use them like a fucking credit card with every dollar matched by cash back rewards.” Ex-squeeze me, really? I have a family. It’s broken and whole at the same time (again, that’s a whole other blog post). I have supported myself at least partially since I started working at 16, and since I moved out of the house, I have not once asked my family for money even in times that I was very much financially fucked. Also, unless the progressive revolution is achieved and student loans are cancelled, I’ll be in debt until I die. And I think there are more people like me than those that live off their families well into adulthood. But sure, all of us with families- we got it made baby! Life. Is. A. Breeze. I’m sure Lane is a lovely person, and I’m happy for all she’s overcome and the success she’s found.

When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

I really liked this book. I am generally sort of impartial to the mystery/thriller genre because they tend be soooooo similar. Someone disappears (spoiler: they’re dead), someone is responsible for said disappearance, but it’s probably not the person you think it is. Insert substance abuse problem (Girl on the Train: drinking) or mental illness (Sharp Objects: cutting; The Woman in the Window: agoraphobia) to make it interesting and someone has a secret (or secrets) and boy will they blow your mind. And there you have it – recipe for a mystery/thriller type novel. And hey, they’re usually fun and quick reads, since for some reason, we as a society are really into murdery things. When No One is Watching is a gentrification-themed thriller, so expect all of the elements you enjoy about that genre plus an exploration of a common social issue primarily impacting communities of color. The only critique I have is that the pace was a little jarring. There was a whole lot of build and then the end happens kind of all at once. But overall, it was really good. Recommend.

One of Us is Next (One of Us is Lying, #2) by Karen McManus

This book was…fine. I read the first one a while ago, and just hadn’t gotten around to the sequel until now. I think this book is categorized as Young Adult, which disturbs me slightly. Sinister games and teen murder… Yes children, read this book! Is it a book? Yes. Did I read it? Yes. Did I vaguely enjoy it? Sure. Would I watch the shit out of a trash TV series based on this book series (think 13 Reasons Why)? Yes. Yes I would.

Currently Reading: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

And here we are

I’m having a hard time subduing my emotions today, as I’m sure many are. I just had a nice, long vacation from work, and already, I feel like I am filled to the brim with toxic shit and on the brink of a breakdown.

The thing is… I don’t even know that I could fully articulate why I am an emotional train wreck at the moment. It’s probably a combination of things. But that’s kind of the point, right? Have we not all reached our emotional bandwidth? I know my emotional stability has been out the window for months as it is. Between having to maintain day to day responsibilities with work and home, trying to avoid getting sick, fearing for my friends and family and their health, social isolation, seasonal depression, and on top of all of that, having to digest and process whatever new national crisis is happening, I am spent.

I did not have the energy for Republicans and the Trump cult coup attempt, but here we are. And I wasn’t even surprised by it.

There are a lot of things about yesterday that slowly broke me – seeing the contrast in police action from the protests following George Floyd’s murder, all of these people doing atrocious things because they’ve been duped by those who are supposed to help make their lives better. Five people died. For what?

I’ve been politically aware and active from a very young age, and until the last four years (give or take), I carried the optimism that at least people sought public office for the right reasons and/or they truly believed that the things they were fighting for would make their constituents’ lives better. Even if I believed they are always on the wrong side of history, at least their intentions were good. Maybe that was naive.

I do still believe that to be true for many, but seeing people storm the Capitol because of lies their leaders have been persistently telling them breaks my spirit and my faith in government in so many ways. Those in power perpetuating lies do so for no other reason than for the pursuit of power for power’s sake. They know what they’re saying isn’t true; they aren’t helping anyone. In fact, they are actively harming people, whether it’s by lying about an election they didn’t win or sitting on COVID relief for months while people suffer only to do the absolute least. I hope that history remembers them for what they are and what they have enabled for the last four years.

And for those feeling the way I am – exhausted, sad, confused, or emotionally all over the place. Take a deep breath, cry if you need to, and keep going. You can do it. Remind yourself every day that things will get better. Take it one day at a time.

Welcome to 2021, everyone. We’re off to a rockin’ start.

A year

It’s hard to feel motivated or inspired by the change of the calendar that’s about to occur. I’m not setting any goals or thinking about making 2021 my year today. Truthfully, we will all wake up tomorrow plagued by the same problems we have today. Sure, I wish that were different, too. It’s hard to use 2020 as a baseline for any goal-setting or framing of the year to come because it was so unlike any other and we just don’t know what’s ahead.

Still, I hope that you have found things to be grateful for. I hope you have found moments of peace and happiness this year. For me, I have never been more grateful for the written word and the escape that reading has provided me. I also feel like I really came to know my independence and mental toughness and my ability to adapt and survive in ways that are appropriate for me. While there have definitely been plenty of days of sadness and feeling suffocated by the weight of this year, I’ve somehow managed to embrace the slow-down and the time without plans. I’ve become reacquainted and comfortable with silence.

This year has brought a deeper realization of my values, and I hope that the same will prove true for society as a whole as we start to see our way out of this.

More than anything, I am thankful that myself and my family have made it through this year with our health, and my biggest wish is for that to continue as people begin to be vaccinated.

Happy New Year and good riddance to this garbage year. Wishing you all love and light in the year to come.

How I’ve survived and you can, too

We’ve all had our own version of a garbage year, #amirite? I’ve gone through my own emotional roller coaster that has ranged from seriously-I’m-fine to oh-look-I’m-crying-now to please-for-the-love-of-god-can-I-please-just-go-somewhere-without-it-being-a-whole-thing!!

This year has given me a shortened attention span thanks to all the doom-scrolling, emotional unpredictability, and levels of laziness and exhaustion that I did not know a were possible, even though I’m an introvert with, what I would call, a tendency toward laziness. AND THEN I had the cool idea to apply for, interview, and get a new job this year. In addition to the events of this year, I also thought it would be fun to feel like I have to prove to my new boss that she was right to pick me for this job (lol I’m dumb).

My point is that every day brings a new struggle. So go easy on yourself. We’ve still got at least a few more months of this, but it looks like we are starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few things that have brought me joy… or at least helped me pass some time. Maybe they can help you get through this final stretch safely and COVID-free.

Books

Books have been my number one source of comfort this year. Considering my melting attention span, I also do not know how this is possible tyvm. I’m thankful my brain hasn’t completely turned to gravy in the last 9 months. Here’s a list of 10 books I’ve read this year that I loved. For my full book list, find me on Goodreads.

  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman – This was a recommendation from my high school English teacher who I ran into at a restaurant last summer. We immediately started talking about books, and he told me this book was better than A Man Called Ove by the same author. When I started reading it, I was like, “Ugh a sports book.” But then it becomes a different kind of story entirely- about men and ego and loyalty, and doing what’s right. I couldn’t put it down.
  • A Dream About Lightning Bugs by Ben Folds – I love Ben Folds. If you also love Ben Folds, you’ll probably love this book. Or if you’re interested in the music business or song-writing, you also might love this book. Ben Folds sounds like a neurotic genius nightmare who I would probably never be friends with, but I appreciate his contributions to the world.
  • The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead – This is the story of two young, Black boys wrongly sentenced to a reform school in Florida during the Jim Crow Era. There’s a reason this book won the Pulitzer. It is very good. The end is just incredible.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – I feel like I’m a little late to the party on this one. I had been hearing about it for a while before I finally read it. It’s a story about growing up and survival, and the secrets we keep. Believe the hype. It’s all true. The end is so damn rewarding.
  • Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan – This is a mystery set in 1990s Denver. The author worked at our local bookstore, Tattered Cover for a time, which is what the bookstore in the novel is based on. If you’re a very Denver person like me, this is so much fun to read with the references to the Colfax bus and different pockets of the city. It’s great even if you’re not from Denver.
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid – This book is about a young, Black baby-sitter and the well-meaning white people around her. It covers race and privilege and saviorism with honesty and even humor. A great read.
  • The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson – I’m quite late on this book, as well. It had been on my to-read list for years, I think. Read this book. The white-washed history we learn in school… sucks. I don’t recall ever hearing about the Great Migration or how it shaped the current landscape of our country. We learn history like a series of problems that we put our heads together and fixed and now America is perfect (lol). History is obviously far more nuanced than that. Take responsibility for your education and read this book and books like it.
  • Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby – Honestly, read anything by Samantha Irby. You will laugh out loud. I happened to be reading this book the week that Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, and I needed to escape and be able to laugh. This book is a gift in this year of hot garbage.
  • Shit, Actually by Lindy West – I was reading this book the week of the election, so in between refreshing my Twitter feed for updates, I had this book to keep me company. This is another laugh-out-loud hilarious book about movies you love and how they do or definitely do not hold up.

TV

No, I haven’t quite finished Netflix yet. Far from it, actually. But here are a few things I’ve watched and loved (okay maybe not loved, but they all served a purpose) over the last several months.

  1. Glee (Netflix) – I know there is a very big, dark cloud hanging over this show that just doesn’t seem to clear. At the start of the pandemic, I needed something familiar and comforting, and I loved this show when it was first on TV. It was totally what I needed, and I think Harrison is officially a Gleek now. I’m pretty sure a lot of the deeply inappropriate Sue Sylvester insults went right over my head the first time around, so watching this show again was a wild ride.
  2. Somebody Feed Phil (Netflix) – I have never really been into food or travel content, so I have no idea why I can’t get enough of this show. It might be that I can relate to the goofball level of happiness around trying different foods when you go somewhere new. This is also how I react to food when I travel. Traveling may not be a super chill thing to do right now (are we even allowed in Europe yet?), but watching someone else’s adventures has brought me some happiness.
  3. Emily in Paris (Netflix)- No this show is not “good,” but if you want something mindless that you can binge in a day, this is it.
  4. I’ll Be Gone in The Dark (HBO)- I couldn’t really get into this book, but a lot of people loved it. The docuseries was really, really great – weaving Michelle’s story with the ultimate conclusion of finding the Golden State Killer. Such a crazy story!

Other Stuff

There may be no more important task than protecting our mental and physical health. There are days that it is hard, like really hard, for me to get out of bed. I’ll be honest- there have been some Saturdays that I haven’t left my bed, opting to stay under the covers with a book. It’s okay if that’s you some days, but try to give yourself some things to look forward to.

  1. Go outside as much as possible – Hike, bike, go for a walk. Do something. I have found this to be absolutely necessary for my sanity, and it hasn’t been easy. We did a fair amount of hiking in the spring and summer, but there were long stretches where the air quality here was so bad because of the fires in the mountains that going outside or even having a window open was out of the question. Now it’s dark by the time I finish working during the week, so I’ve had to adjust by trying to get outside in my lunch time hour instead.
  2. Virtual Game Nights – Harrison and I have been hosting game nights for friends to give them something to look forward to during the week, especially now that it’s colder and outdoor events are more difficult. We just brought both of our families together for games on Thanksgiving since we were all apart that day. Check out Jackbox games party packs. They have a variety of games, and they make it so easy to share an evening with friends when you can’t be physically together.
  3. Exercise – At the start of the pandemic, the yoga studio I had been a member of for years did a great job shifting classes online, which was such a comfort. Then they closed abruptly in June, and I had no idea what to do. Fortunately, I found Black Swan Yoga online which is only $8 month and has a huge library of classes. If you’re comfortable going to a gym or a class in person, great! For folks like me who can only seem to visualize the respiratory droplets flying around, there are a ton of online options for classes. Whether it’s yoga or something else, find something physical to do.
  4. Attend Virtual Events – I know it’s not the same, but this year has robbed us of our ability to make plans. These virtual events are a little way of getting that back. Virtual concerts, comedy shows, book tours, or even a hard seltzer festival (yep, we did that) have been small ways that we have been able to pass the time and enjoy an evening. The true silver-lining of this year is that we can do all of these things from the comfort of our homes with or without pants.
  5. Support Your Local Businesses – Harrison and I have been extremely fortunate this year. We’ve both maintained employment. He got a bonus from his company, and I got promoted- twice. We have tried to be very intentional about how we spend the money we are so lucky to still be earning. We think about the places we used to spend our time before all of this, and how we can play a part in making sure they’re around for a while. Whether it’s a local brewery or distillery, or a local plant shop, think about the places you love and where you want to be able to go when this is finally over.

And it will be over.

I think it started on Halloween

Has anyone else been struggling with some rage issues? Like you feel it, but you’re not sure what to do about it. If you express said rage, you might ruin relationships. But also, maybe it’s okay because MAYBE YOU DON’T WANT TO BE FRIENDS WITH PEOPLE WHO CAN’T STAY THE FUCK IN THEIR HOUSES IN A GOD DAMN GLOBAL PANDEMIC ANYWAY!!!!!

Okay listen – I am a rule-follower by nature. I’m also insanely introverted. I can do alone way more than basically anyone I know. I do not suffer from FOMO to the slightest degree. I also have a partner whose company I enjoy 98% of the time, and we are both still employed and working for companies that have given us the ability to work from home. I am wildly fortunate, and I recognize that.

On the other hand… I cannot for the life of me understand why a single person, healthy or not, would just be like, “Welp, if I get it, I get it. I mean, I’ll probably be fine. Statistically speaking.”

Let’s say that’s true. You’ll be fine. But what about all of the unassuming people your reckless dumb ass comes into contact with who are just trying to work their job that we the public have deemed essential, for which they almost definitely do not get paid enough, and I don’t know… NOT DIE. This is why I have had to restrain myself from chucking my phone at the wall for the last 6,7,8 months whenever someone posts online that we shouldn’t judge people for their choices.

FUCK YOU, YOU NO EMPATHY HAVING MONSTERS! I WILL JUDGE YOU FOR YOUR CHOICES WHEN YOUR CHOICES DO NOT EXIST IN A VACCUUM IN THIS PARTICULAR SITUATION!

And furthermore, you do not know that you will be fine, so why would you risk it? Personally, my lungs, brain, and heart are my 3 favorite organs. All of those organs could be permanently damaged by COVID.

It’s the week of Thanksgiving, and judging by how things have escalated the last couple weeks, it bears out that all of the people who couldn’t handle chilling the hell out on Halloween have made an already very bad thing much worse. The hospital down the street from me in Denver is full last I heard, and meanwhile, I know people getting on planes.

I’m tired, too. I used to LOVE our weekly grocery store trip. Now, we go bi-weekly and shop like it’s the actual apocalypse to keep ourselves out of circulation as much as possible. I have not walked out of my apartment door without a mask on my face since May 6, when the Denver mandate was implemented. Every trip out of the house has a damn strategy. I haven’t sat down to eat at a restaurant since March. I. AM. TIRED. I miss the movies, theater, concerts, yoga in a studio, and not having to think about what I’m touching or how close people are standing to me. I have seen 6 friends in person since March, and only 2 of them more than once. My family lives an hour away, and I am not seeing them for Thanksgiving, and maybe not Christmas either. We definitely aren’t traveling to see Harrison’s family for Christmas like we have for the last almost decade. I get it. This sucks. But guess what I’m not sick of – being healthy and not spreading a deadly virus.

So yeah, I’m judging you because I know what other people have given up and continue to give up while you just can’t be bothered.

I am not the person to show your Thanksgiving photos to, and I am NOT the person to complain to about the stresses of holiday traveling. The CDC has given you a giant wide open out.