Are You NOt Exhausted?

I have left my house so infrequently in the last year. When I did, it was usually to go for a neighborhood walk or to the grocery store. I used to love grocery shopping until the pandemic made it stressful. But even in the last year, it’s been the one place we needed to go regularly and one of the only trips out of the house that gave us a small sense of normalcy. Yesterday, we were reminded again that no mundane, everyday activity is safe.

Maybe it’s the weight of the entire last year, but fuck, I’m tired. I’m god damn exhausted. Our glimmer of hope in the pandemic is immediately quelled by the reality of what normal is in this country. “Back to normal” sucks. I don’t want to go back to normal.

I’ve lived in Colorado my whole life. Columbine. Aurora. Now Boulder. Not to mention a whole bunch of other preventable tragedies in between like STEM School and Arapahoe High School.

We have a problem. We have had a problem. And the most frustrating part is that it’s a fixable problem. STOP LETTING ANY IDIOT WITH A PULSE HAVE A GUN. This isn’t complicated.

Why do we continue to do this? I will never understand. When are we going to decide to stop? Seriously, what’s it going to take?

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.

When it feels like everything should stop

I was out on a walk when a friend texted me to turn on the news. I opened Facebook and saw that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died. I stopped, and moved from the sidewalk to the grass and just stood there. I cut my walk short, went home and wept.

As a woman in this country, I am devastated, writing through tears even now. My life has been, in many ways, shaped by the work she did. I can get a bank account or a mortgage without a male co-signer because of her. It is illegal to discriminate against me in employment because of her. It’s also worth noting that she fought for the ability of men to receive tax deductions for being care-takers, which was something previously reserved for women. It was never about man versus woman; it was always about equality.

This loss feels personal for so many. Why now? Why did it have to be now? And the worst part is that we can’t even properly grieve because of what’s at stake and the thing we knew would happen if a Supreme Court seat opened this year. I wish we could just stop for just a minute, but we can’t.

She carried such a weight, and hung on for so long. I am so grateful for her life and her work, and to have existed on this planet at the same time as her.

To say that it feels like we’ve reached a new level of fucked is an understatement. I haven’t felt this way since November 9, 2016. I’m terrified.

Grieve her. Mourn her. Cry. Then get to work. Hell, get to work while you’re crying. Let it fuel you.

Donate. Phone-bank. Text-bank. Tell your Republican Senators what you expect of them (knock-knock Cory Gardner). We have to. We have to for her.

What IS Happening in cities?

My grandparents live in Montrose, Colorado – a smallish town so far west that it may as well be Utah. While they both spent significant portions of their life living in or near the city, they hate coming to Denver or really anywhere near it now.

Too much traffic!

Too many people!

What’s with all the homeless people?


Their life in Montrose consists of keeping things that are strange or uncomfortable away and preserving a warped sense of safety. There is no clearer signal than the number of times they manage to use the word “property” in a conversation. This guy built something that crossed into their property. That guy drove his tractor onto their property. If the phrase “get off my lawn” was a couple of 70-somethings living in Western Colorado, it would be my grandparents.

Fortunately for me, my dad moved away from his Western Colorado upbringing, and I grew up in the suburbs near Denver. I attended college in Downtown Denver, and in my early 20s, I escaped the strip malls, and chain restaurants, moved into an apartment in the Five Points area of Denver. I wanted to be in the action, I wanted more diversity, and I wanted to be around people who cared to talk about anything other than my prospects for marriage and children.

No offense to suburbs. I love a Chili’s.

With all eyes seemingly on cities right now (or at least the ones with Democrats in charge), a lot of people suddenly have strong opinions about what’s happening to our “crumbling” cities despite the fact that they have not recently or ever set foot in an actual city. I now live in the southwest corner of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Denver. I am just over 1 mile from Downtown Denver. This neighborhood along with the central business district have been the epicenter of protests, marches, and yes, a really bad and getting worse homelessness problem.

When you live in a city, it’s pretty likely, you live in an apartment, where you are in a shared space as soon as you exit your front door. Above you, below you, and next to you, is the place another person calls home. When you step outside, people are buzzing by you on bikes, or walking their dog, or going for an evening run. You may not know anyone’s name, but you are forced to care about their space and their well-being because it is also your space and your well-being. I’ll admit that in the middle of a pandemic, the unavoidable closeness of other people has felt unsettling, but it’s also somewhat comforting.

Here’s the thing… you can’t remove yourself from the situation in a city. You can’t not see the homeless encampments. You can’t not hear the helicopters flying overhead capturing a standoff between protesters and police. You can’t listen to people saying that your home is going to hell in a handbasket and walk away without defending your community and its citizens. You can’t not care. You can try, and I’m certain there are some people getting by blissfully on apathy.

This all adds up to one thing: Empathy. The closeness of others, the diversity of thought and background, and the exposure to struggle create a collective of conscientious and activated people who desire a world where all are included and lifted up. It’s why our citizens show up to help our unhoused neighbors pack their belongings before an impending sweep and then scream (into what feels like a void) at our leaders for a humane solution. In cities we recognize humanity. “Other” doesn’t exist in a city because we couldn’t keep the unfamiliar away if we wanted to. The way we tend to vote isn’t a coincidence.

Some might argue that Denver is barely a city compared to places like New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles. You wouldn’t be wrong. Denver’s population is less than 1/8th the population of New York. Some might argue that a city hardens you, and to a certain degree, you wouldn’t be wrong about that either. Living in a city requires boundary setting and the ability to be independent. Underneath that is the care a city-dweller must have for their small and densely populated corner of the world.

Denver is far from perfect, but Montrose, Colorado has one of the highest suicide rates in the state. There are theories as to why that may be, isolation and lack of resources being just a few of them. I can look outside and see community right in front of me. It’s not scary for other people to be close (except there’s still a pandemic, so 6ft and wear a mask please and thank you), and what the hell is the comfort of home, or “property” as some may call it, if you’re too afraid to see what’s beyond it?



I’m with the kids

It was inspiring to see kids walking out of their classrooms today. They walked out because they care about their lives and the lives of others, and they have the guts to do something about it. So many people have your backs, kids. Keep fighting.

Seeing the way some “grown-ups” are treating these kids hurts my heart so much. You know what gets my goat more than just about anything? The notion that anyone under a certain age can’t possibly have enough understanding of the world to know what they believe in yet is preposterous. Sure, maybe the fact that they don’t have a fully developed prefrontal cortex leads to dumb shit like eating Tide Pods or snorting cinnamon or whatever. But these kids know what it feels like to grieve, to hurt, to lose. They know the difference between right and wrong, and they know that it is wrong for kids their age to be murdered at school, a place that should be safe and even sacred. Furthermore, they’re smart enough to find a common denominator. Spoiler: It’s guns.

I saw some of the most ignorant, and frankly, stupid comments on social media today. Most of them were from the adults. Some hurled insulting names like idiots or sheep and accused the kids of using this as just another excuse to get out of class. The dumbest thing I read was a man stating that his kids don’t need to participate in something like this because they were raised to fend for themselves. A) What does that mean? B) The way a kid was raised won’t help them if someone with a powerful weapon wants them dead. What is even more disappointing is that some of these people are probably parents.

Then there were the people playing the anti-bullying card WHILE BULLYING TEENAGERS ON FACEBOOK. Don’t get me started on the #WalkUpNotOut nonsense. Okay fine, people should be nice to each other, and bullies are shitty. I agree. But the fact that this came about as a response to the planned walkouts makes it yet another scapegoat to avoid addressing the issue of easy access to powerful weapons. It’s the new mental health. It’s also a very emotionally manipulative form of victim blaming. Please stop.

I digress.

I am a Democrat raised by a Republican father. Granted, my dad hasn’t voted for a Republican for president since Bush in 2000. My earliest political memories are of how much my dad hated Bill Clinton. “Slick-Willy” Clinton is what he called him. When I got older, I started to understand what I believed in through involvement in democracy. Starting just after my junior year of high school, I protested, I canvassed, I worked my ass off alongside other high school students. None of us could vote yet, but we understood what we were working for, and we cared about the future of our communities and our school.  My dad supported my desire to be involved in the political process so much that he excused me from school on Election Day, so that I could call voters and make sure they were able to get to the polls. That year, voters approved a measure to increase school funding in our district, and these types of measures had been historically difficult to pass there. High school students from all over the district had been knocking on doors telling voters how much they cared about their schools since summertime. With the support of all of our parents we worked for something and we were able to watch that pay off.

If you’re a parent with a kid who wants to participate in the democratic process, that means they care. If you have a kid who cares, that means you did something right as a parent. If you’re on the opposite side of an issue, fine! TALK to your kids. Ask them why they feel the way they do; don’t admonish them. Encourage them to read and research and be able support their opinions with FACTS. For Christ’s sake, how amazing to be able to say that you raised an independent thinker! This is the time in their lives they will start to create the kind of adult they will become. Don’t you want to raise a kid who believes in the power of their voice and someday their vote? Or would you rather spend grades 9-12 telling your kid they are too young to possibly understand, so their opinion doesn’t count? They might just transition into adulthood holding on to that kind of cynicism. Think about it.

One more thing: The Gen Xers and Boomers (mostly) who have such strong opposition to these kids participating in the democratic process better hope these kids hang on to their compassion and respect for human life. These kids will see the older generations through retirement. Quite honestly, they have no reason to care about the lives of their elders considering how little care has been shown for their own lives. But something tells me they’re going to do the right thing.

Join me in marching on March 24th. I’ll be participating in the Denver march.

Open Letters to Senator Cory Gardner- round 2

As promised, and with plenty of snark, here is the letter I wrote to Senator Cory Gardner about my experience at Planned Parenthood.

Dear Senator Cory Gardner,

      I’m taking time to write this letter to implore you to please listen to your constituents and protect women’s healthcare, and by that I mean protect Planned Parenthood. First question: Do you have any idea how ridiculous it is that we women have to write letters to a bunch of old men begging them not to make changes that drastically restrict access to healthcare and contraception. That’s mostly a rhetorical question, but the answer is that it’s really bloody ridiculous. (See what I did there? Period joke.)

I did not have health insurance for substantial part of my early twenties because I could not afford it. This was before the Affordable Care Act, of course. I went a very long time without a Pap exam or any kind of routine check-up. I didn’t have great access to contraception either. Sure, condoms are fine, but surely you know that women use birth control to address other health issues. Oh, you didn’t know that? I thought you and your Republican boys club were the experts? Well, I have Endometriosis. It’s mild, thank goodness, but birth control keeps it under control. That way, my whole mid-section doesn’t feel like it’s wrapped in barbed wire when I get my period. I was also diagnosed with P.M.D.D. (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) at one point in my life. Certain birth control pills help regulate moods, so women don’t contemplate suicide for about 4 days of every month. I’m not saying that to be crass or insensitive; I’m saying it because that’s what I went through.

I don’t know if you know what it’s like to not have health insurance, but it’s basically okay until it’s really really not okay. For a while, things were going fine. I mean, my periods were awful, and my moods were in the dumps, but at least it was regular. That is, until they weren’t. My periods started getting really erratic. I would bleed at random times during the month. And not just a little bit. I was bleeding a lot. My mood swings were so bad that I had to leave work on several occasions. I was young, broke, and scared. My body and my brain were completely betraying me. I called a low-cost clinic in my area, and they couldn’t see me for weeks. Then I called Planned Parenthood. They could see me the next day.

The Planned Parenthood staff was more attentive and caring than any doctor’s office I had ever been to. They listened to my concerns, and offered solutions. I was able to get a routine exam and easy, affordable access to birth control to get my body and mind back on track. When I found myself in a long-term relationship a year or so later, they were there to counsel me when I was thinking about other birth control options.

Let’s be real, Cory. Abstinence is not realistic for twenty-somethings. No matter how hard you believe it, it doesn’t make it so. You fiscal conservatives, don’t want to pay for the kids we don’t want and can’t afford, so you can at least help us out with an IUD and some pills, don’t you think?

I have friends who have been raped. I have friends who have found themselves with an unplanned pregnancy. The local clinics you and your colleagues would rather see money be funneled to couldn’t help me, they couldn’t help my friends, but Planned Parenthood could. Planned Parenthood is not a place that rips babies from the womb and tosses them in the dumpster as you and your Republican friends have brainwashed people to believe. It is a healthcare facility where women have access to routine exams they may otherwise not have access to, and where they can get contraception for whatever reason they need it. It is a safe place where women can be counseled as they make difficult decisions.

I’m sure you’re getting squirmy about that unplanned pregnancy thing. Let’s discuss this. Women do not make decisions like this all willy-nilly like. It’s hard. If you and your Republican pals were actually “pro-life,” you would vote differently on basically everything. I will never believe you’re “pro-life.” You are pro-fetus, and you’re anti-choice. Until your voting record changes, you will not convince me otherwise. If we lived in a country that supported kids after they leave the womb, regardless of the circumstance they’re born into, maybe some women wouldn’t feel like abortion is their only option. No matter a woman’s reason for her decision, it is her’s to make. Your religion has no place in legislation about women’s healthcare.

Final question, Cory: What do you think will happen if you take away a place where women can receive affordable routine exams, contraception, and family planning counseling? The answer isn’t hard. You can get there with common sense. You have that, right? I sure hope so, Cory. The answer should be a problem for someone who says they’re a fiscal conservative.

Please make good choices, so women are able to make choices at all. Your constituents are watching, and we are all waiting for 2020 if you continue to turn your back on us.


Whitney B.

Not a paid protester

Denver, CO

               P.S. If any of this was too graphic for you, it might be a good indication, that you are not the authority on the female reproductive system or the care of it. Leave it to the ladies. We can handle this.