On Marilyn Manson and The Smashing Pumpkins, Nostalgically

I wrote recently about the disillusionment that comes with adulthood, and last night, I felt all of that, and then none of it.

I have been so excited about seeing Marilyn Manson and The Smashing Pumpkins at Red Rocks for weeks. I didn’t think I’d be able to find anyone to go with me, but lo and behold my friend Emily was game. (She is my favorite for concerts of moderately ill-repute; we’ve seen Swayze, Mickey Avalon, a local Denver band masquerading as fake Germans called Total Ghost…..all of them equally fantastic in their own ways.)

I saw Marilyn Manson play in Milwaukee in 2009 and I was enthralled. The show was amazing. I was with my college boyfriend, and he loved Marilyn Manson. He’s the one who got me into him. I find Manson’s music to be mediocre when it comes to hardcore cred he’s tried to earn over the years; his act is more of an image-based popularity. But he does touch on themes of love and disillusionment that I so identified with during my teenage and early 20s years.

I’ve never seen The Smashing Pumpkins. The ringtone I had set for my mom for years was “1979,” so whenever I hear that song, I think of her, and then think I might be in trouble. It’s sweet, that way. My friend Dave in college had all of their music on vinyl. I’ve never been that into vinyl, but he had me at “Want to come over and see my records?” I did. They were crammed into his studio apartment, and I respected him immensely for allowing pieces of flat discs crammed into cardboard to consume so much of his living space.

Rolling Stone posted a review which very adequately described the show. Marilyn Manson was present, said the word “Denver” at least seven times, and had a suitably theatric, aesthetically interesting show, but it lacked the energy that The Pumpkins were able to provide.

I personally was crushed because he didn’t play “The Nobodies” or “Love Song,” both off his Holy Wood album (which is my favorite). Or even “Heart-Shaped Glasses,” newer but sweet in its own way. But still, even as he’s progressed into the depth of adulthood, he’s not lost his slightly irreverent charm. Emily and I concurred that it might have been our Catholic school upbringings, but there’s something beautiful in the slight scorn of religion. Then again, I’ve lost the passion for all things anti-Christ (most likely because I don’t have an overly devout teacher calling me “Sister Katherine” in a slightly sarcastic way, spurring the inklings of teenage rebellion), and much of the set fell flat for me because I’m no longer amused by religious appropriation. Much of his set was propelled by props but lacked substance and soul.

But oh my, The Smashing Pumpkins, or what’s left of them (namely Billy Corgan), blew my mind, tore apart my heart, and released such great nostalgia and joy. It’s that cathartic energy that brings you simultaneously back and forward, to the nights when you first fell in love and felt your emotions in time with their songs, and suddenly into the present here, now.

We stopped for a bathroom break and then decided we would wait for a few more songs before we adulted our way out of the amphitheater. I am so glad we did. We were able to find standing room in the 6th row, where we saw them play my favorite songs. “Landslide,” “1979,” everything else. I caught myself smiling that wide, unbidden joyous smile.

I fell in love with The Smashing Pumpkins my freshman year of college, and the resonance has never left. “Bullet with Butterfly Wings” was my jam forever. Hearing it live was beyond fantastic.

My life is such a fantastic one. I’m so pleased to be able to look forward and look back, and spend time with people who have known me (and will know me) forever. I treasure my adventures; each and every experience; every minute I am able to do what I want, because I know that there is only this one chance. I’m not giving it up without a fight.

I love the intensity of this photo. I love our faces, our lives, our experiences. I am so blessed to have a friend who will go with me to the strangest places and who will fully commit to the adventure of living in the moment. We look like animals. I love it. I love the intensity here. We had an absolute blast. My life is even more complete now.

On Cakes, Frostedly

I was always fascinated by the way our cake decorator made cakes. Everything she touched turned into magic.

When I started writing on cakes, they looked terrible, like an elementary school kid scribbling with gel. I practiced. I’ve got it down now, perfect cursive and a quirky print that I love.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot more of the cake decorating at work. It’s nice. It can be stressful when there are special orders due – that’s when someone has an idea about how they want the cake to look. Sometimes, their vision is far different from what they request. Sometimes, it’s difficult with a lot of tracing or attempting to mold frosting a certain way. Sometimes, they’re thrilled by the results. I find that when they give us more room to play, they get a more fun, more creative cake.

One of our regulars laughs because when I decorate cakes, I end up covered in everything. She told me that she knew I was really into what I was doing the day she came and I had frosting everywhere from the tip of my nose to my knees. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, so I think it may be more that than dedication, but hey, I’ll take it.

This cake is by far my favorite. I was bored at work one day and had some time to play, so I printed out an outline and went nuts. The result was fantastic. The people who purchased the cake were thrilled by it and told me how excited they were to have found it.

Tonight, I did it again. I used a purple that I’m not terribly pleased with, but considering the color limitations, I’m excited. I hope whoever buys it loves it as much as I do.

van gogh, starry night, cake,

On Pictures, Belatedly

I look very serious. If I were Virginia Woolf, this is how I would pose for pictures. Jacob and I grabbed dinner with a friend of his one night last week.

Cold feet by the fire.

Jacob and Moses. That squished cat face is the cutest thing, but the striped socks are a close second.

Katie and I went out on Friday. We tried to take a picture on a rooftop with the moon and the city in the background, but that turned out to be far too challenging. I think this picture is adorable. We explored her new neighborhood and had a blast.

We ended up grabbing our last drinks at Linger, a bar/restaurant that used to be a mortuary. We got fancy cocktails, which was a mistake, because I was treated to a seriously pretentious overview of the various “herbacious” liquors the made up the drink.

I’m down for a learning experience, and do in fact welcome them, but there’s nothing worse than feeling patronized while suffering through a cocktail that tastes spicy and sour and like root vegetables simultaneously. (The bartender’s mistake was that he insulted girly drinks. I may be a gin and tonic girl, but Katie is a lover of all things girly drink. She’s unabashed about her love of them, and I respect her for it.)

I’d rather drink a “flirtini” than have to go through the rigmarole of having to hear the ingredient list to a fancy hipster cocktail, which is surprisingly parallel to the ingredient list of the flirtini. Not really, but if you add “vintage” or “rare” or “small-batch” to the ingredients in a flirtini, you might get pretty damn close.

It did get me drunk. So you win, Linger bartender. You did good. But the next time I hear a bartender say “herbacious,” I’m bolting. (I do sort of think it’s cool that the monks haven’t changed the recipe. I just wasn’t in the mood.)

Saturday morning, I went with my brother and his friend to buy my birthday present. It’s a hammock! All I’ve been talking about for months is a hammock, and so Mike surprised me by telling me what my birthday present was. Mike brought it home and set it up, hanging the hammock from the tree in our backyard. I am so ridiculously excited for this. This might be the best birthday present ever. It’s soft and comfortable and deep – you can fall into it and it will hold you.

I’m so happy.

After we got the hammock, Katie came and met us at REI. The lure of sunshine was too much, so we went to play frisbee in the park. I’m terrible a it, and everyone made fun of me because my frisbee-throwing dance is very much like a ballerina. There’s a lot of leg extension.

Then we walked around, exploring Katie’s new neighborhood, which is slowly succumbing to gentrification. It’s a beautiful old neighborhood with stunning houses, but it’s quickly being overshadowed by the new builds. I don’t know what it is, but I much prefer an older house. One of the reasons that I love the house we live in now is because of the older features, like rounded archways and built-in shelving (in the walls). That’s the kind of stuff that you don’t find in new builds. They’re sleek, but that lack that comfortable, lived-in feeling.

She has a pool! I’m a sucker for bodies of water. They draw me in.

On a Treehouse, Excitedly

What is quite possibly the most adult project I could attempt this summer? Building a sweet treehouse in my backyard, of course.

As a child, I’d disappear into the apple tree in our backyard and spend hours reading. You can’t see it anymore, because it’s no longer there, but there used to be a perfect lounging spot. Two branches extended to the right of the main fork – they were just far enough apart and at different levels that one would support your back and the other was perfect for hanging your knees over. It was like a chair.

Now that I’m grown and have my own space, I’d love nothing more than to take advantage of the beautiful backyard. Mike is dreaming of fire pits and lights, and I’m dreaming of the treehouse and a hammock. It’s going to be magical, should it ever come together.

This is my amazing tree:

Yesterday, one of my friends posted a sketch of some plans for a backyard party and I immediately picked up the phone to call him. Instead of assuming I’m insane when I offered to bring plates and cups and cutlery for the party and then immediately launched into my questions about treehouse-building, he readily agreed to sketch it out for me. I love having creative friends. He was concerned about access to the treehouse, I am now concerned about the fact that I’ve never built anything before.

This could happen. Potentially. This could be really fun. Maybe. Maybe this will be like vacation where half the fun is just imagining it.

On Joy, Happily

The shameless hipster that lives in me felt the need to post this quote today. The impulsive emoter (psssh, it’s a word now) that shares the space agrees. Deal with it.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…”

– Jack Kerouac

After spending the better part of the last month fighting a strange bout of utterly consuming melancholy, I seem to have emerged radiating joy. I can feel good energy flowing around me, and I’ve noticed that the world seems to be noticing that as well. I’ve been having the best conversations with friends and strangers; I’ve been smiling and laughing; I’ve been hooked by the promise of what is still to come.

I heard someone talking about what they’ve learned about grief and pain – they said that someone once told them that instead of fighting it, you should just let the waves of emotion wash over you. I did exactly that. Instead of struggling, I let the seemingly infinite sadness surround me.

Apparently, my life force was too much for the sadness, and I’ve been returned to my usual state of good humor. Oh, how I had missed it. This weekend was my first full-on return to joyous revelry.

I ended up in Boulder on Friday night at a show that my friends were excited about. They told me that some guy named Dave Au Jus would be playing…and all I could imagine was a man holding a French dip sandwich. As it turns out, there were no sandwiches nor a man who spells his last name Au Jus (très disappointing on both counts). The man, Dave Aju, was more amazing than a sandwich. I had a blast. I forget how much I like to dance. As much as I gently ridicule my friends for their love of “techno parties,” I’ve never had a bad time at one and I always end up having some sort of excellent adventure.

An excellent adventure it was. I ended up on a porch at an after-party trying to find Orion in the sky – I was extremely disappointed to find that the night had progressed so far that he had slipped away, but the people around me were kind enough to provide me with their sky maps so that I could search. (Note to self: find more constellations to love. I can find Jupiter, sometimes, or Cassiopeia, but other than that, I’ve got nothing. Not even the Big Dipper.) I slipped back into my house at 6 am, an hour I’ve not seen from the side of night in ages, desperate to find sleep before the sun started to creep into the sky.

***

Saturday brought a lingering breakfast of coffee and bagels, then babysitting. I didn’t see the girls last week, and it’s funny how much I missed them. From there, it was off to get ready for the drag ball and Emily’s birthday celebration.

This is the lovely birthday girl!

My costume and a direwolf – he made that himself and the hood was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. I would very much like to own one.

More of us, but with my wig:

Since it was a drag ball, there were categories that people would walk in to win trophies and glory. I ended up judging at the last minute because one of the judges didn’t show. It was part terrifying, part really fun.

Jacob and Gina are beautiful people – Jacob won the (S)Executive Realness category for his stunning outfit and walking ability. (You should have seen the suit jacket he wore.)

Sunday brought brunch – if you ever need to lure me out of bed, just say “brunch” and I’m there. You might also want to say “bacon,” “gravy,” or “mimosas.”  Then I’ll hurry.

After the drag ball, there was quite a flurry of internet activity, mostly comments about the party the night before. The original “Denver is Burning” drag ball was held last year in a DIY space. The party was a smashing success. It wasn’t repeated due to space issues – it’s really hard to find a good place to hold a sweet party sometimes.

[Odd side note – that silver cuff that I wear was gifted to me by an artist who was painting in the same building that night. I wandered in and apologized for bothering him, but I was fascinated by his work. He gave me the cuff and a necklace. It’s become one of my most treasured possessions, and I think of that man fondly every time I wear it.]

The chief dissenting comments discussed voguing, ball culture in general, and racial issues related to all of it. It is frustrating to see such good intentions be torn apart by misunderstanding. It also reminds me that Denver’s racial demographics aren’t conducive to creating the underground ball scene that Harlem saw in times past. Denver just isn’t that diverse.

Granted, some of the categories were a bit weird. Game of Thrones? Totally shouldn’t have been a category (even though I loved it). But it was awesome. I wish you could have been there – there was music and dancing, and I ran into friends that I haven’t seen in ages. Everyone looked amazing, and free, and happy. Isn’t that what life is all about? (Minus the looking amazing part. Just the free and happy part.)

Some people were frustrated about what they perceived to be the over-involvement of white people. As a white person who spends a ton of time in the gay/queer scene, I find it frustrating that people are so quick to jump on race like that. I was born white and straight. I can’t help that. But it doesn’t mean that I should be excluded from activities because of my biological sex, my gender, my race, my sexual orientation, etc. (Isn’t all that inclusion what we’re all working for?! We’re working backwards if we can’t start to love people of all colors, genders, body types, hair colors, whatever. Also include my obligatory “understanding of white privilege” statement, but I’m not going any further into it because it doesn’t apply here.)

Plenty of appropriate thought was put into it – plenty of links about the origination of ball culture and voguing were shared in the lead up to the party. Plenty of respect is held by everyone for the original ball culture, the original intent of ball culture, and the struggles that people have faced while trying to achieve the equality, respect, and recognition that they deserve.

Ball culture will never be what it once was – it’s impossible, not because of people’s refusal to embrace tradition, but because of the fact that situations have changed drastically. The world is a different place now in some ways, and exactly the same in others. The people who threw this party wanted to be respectful of the past, but also embrace something new. It’s how things will work, communities will grow, and people can become more educated.

I think that it did open up a very important dialogue, but it was hard to watch the pain that my friends felt – they worked so hard, and with such pure intentions, to create something magical. I hope that this doesn’t stop more like this from happening in the future – Denver could use more of it, and needs people to remain involved and motivated to create beautiful things.

***

I returned home from brunch to be lazy and do nothing. It was lovely. I killed some bugs on the side of the house. (That’s a lie – I made my brother do it.) Then I did some googling about said bugs. They’re harmless but annoying, and I imagine that the Barrys vs bugs battle that will undoubtedly take place this coming spring and summer will be nothing short of frustrating. (I can be a very determined woman – those bugs haven’t seen anything yet.)

***

When I was 18, I dated a guy who always used to tell me he was going to make me a bunch of rocks that said “Katie” on them. So they’d be Katie rocks. (Get it? I rock!) This weekend, my phone dinged and told me I had a message – there, out of the blue, was a picture of a rock with my name on it. A Katie rock. The caption? “I know it’s been years, but you still rock.” My heart cracked into a million pieces and a huge smile spread across my face. It absolutely made my day.

***

And so now it’s back to work, back to reality, back to responsibility, but with a renewed energy. I’m back to being my radiant weird self and I’m beyond thrilled about it.

On Feats of Strength, Fashionably

I am amazed. Flabbergasted. Astounded. Excited.

A while back, I started reading blogs about girl stuff, hoping to somehow learn to how to dress, do my makeup, decorate, and generally be adorable. As it turns out, it may be starting to work – yesterday, I belted a sweater dress with a belt that did not come with said sweater dress. Being able to properly accessorize is something everyone else can do. I was not blessed with that skill, so this is a small victory.

Even better? The dress wasn’t black. (I love black. If I could wear all black all the time, I would. But I’m trying really hard to start working with color. It’s so intimidating!) Ever since breaking out my red dress (Bruce Wayne power suit, same difference) for NYC and getting such a positive response from people like the TSA ID checker, I’ve been wondering if I shouldn’t try wearing red more.

I found the dress online (my new motto for 2013, besides “Do less,” is “Treat yo’self.” I think that’s working out quite well for me). It’s long-sleeved and striped red and blue, and I paired it with black tights, combat boots, and a skinny belt. Feats of strength? More like feats of fashion! (That was a joke. Right now, it’s all about baby steps.)

So, that brings me to my next feat:

Daenerys Targaryen.

There’s a drag ball happening this weekend. Last year, I was too shy to dress up. This year, I got ambitious. However, ambition without skill leaves room for disappointment (a room with which I am quite familiar). I was determined to keep it simple, but I also wanted to do a good job. One of the categories is Game of Thrones Huntiness, so naturally, I gravitated there.

Here’s what I’m going for:

And here’s where I’m at:

game of thrones, costume, daenerys targaryn,

That top is burlap, tied in the back with leather straps and held together with more burlap and hot glue. The halter part and belt are made of braided strips of leather. The ruching in the front? So necessary. (Jacob was shocked by the change from pre-ruche to post-ruche in terms of the illusion of cleavage. I explained that women’s clothes are all about illusion. We’re like Criss Angel, but not.) I was worried that I was going to mess it up, but I was somehow made fearless (wine helped) and went for it. We secured that leather strap with more hot glue.

One of my friends gave me some of his direwolf costume to line the top with, so I’ll definitely be making use of that (so soft!). I have a blond wig, some more burlap to tie around my hands, some boots, some more rope for my waist, and I think I’ll be good to go.

I’m excited. I think it’s all going to come together quite beautifully. Even if it doesn’t, I still made a shirt out of burlap and hot glue and I love it. Win win. Here’s to a weekend of voguing and adventure.

On Beauty, All Too Mindfully

One of his hobbies is photography. This is a wonderful habit to have. I love pretty pictures – even though I take all of my pictures with my iPhone and then use Instagram to autotune them into some semblance of “decency,” if you can call it that. (I like them. I imagine those of you who spend hours manually focusing and whatnot are annoyed by this, but I don’t care. To each their own. And my own methods are free and convenient, two things are just really hard to beat.)

But this is why I am self-conscious. I’m about to grossly generalize here, so forgive me, but as a woman, I suffer from at-times low self-esteem, self-confidence, etc. Growing into my own looks was a really rough journey for me – the nose got made fun of all the time, the lack of boobs, etc. But I think that I’ve finally arrived at a point where I can look in the mirror and be like, “Damn girl. You got this.”

Having someone who thinks I’m stunning is lovely, but I have no idea how to accept his compliments. Modesty, humility, gratitude: all of that exists in me when I hear him tell me such lovely things, but the idea makes me uncomfortable. Because it goes back to the whole “Me? How could he find me this attractive?” thought process. It’s not just a woman thing. And not all women have this, but I find that particularly girls like me, who grew up not gorgeous and not heinous, but just plain and awkward, have a hard time coming into adult beauty with grace.

Not that I’m trying to say I’m beautiful, or anything other than that. I am Katie Barry, and that’s enough for me. But I am improving in the looks department as I age, and this is a really positive thing.

Seeing myself as he sees me, or at least as his camera sees me, is really odd for me. My curiosity gets the best of me. It’s vanity at it’s finest. It’s more that I’m examining each photo, mentally picking out blemishes and fine lines and ugly, but also searching for beautiful. I see the pictures and I search to find my beauty – to validate what I want to see in myself. I want to feel beautiful because when I do, it spreads through me and carries such a tremendous amount of power in its translation from understanding to outward confidence.

I have no idea if I made any rational point there, and I’m not going to belabor it. Moral of the story: I have no idea how to act when there’s a camera in my face. I sit still, thinking of how hard it really must be to be a contestant on America’s Top Model, and I make a mental note not to judge them all so much for being stupid and vain. And after a while, I relax, forgetting or no longer caring that the camera is there. And then it’s okay.

We’ve agreed that when we got to Albuquerque, we will be tourists and have people take pictures of us together. This will be fun. It will be freeing. We will be touristy and silly and our photos will be of us and not just me.

He was playing around with a new lens the other day while I talked (of course). This is what he came up with:

and this:

 

and this, which is my favorite:

I have no idea what I’m talking about. No idea at all. He reminded that within ten minutes of meeting me, he had commented on my animated speech. It’s something I don’t realize I’m doing, but when it happens all the time. (At Dairy Queen a few weeks ago, I was asking a man how he wanted something and one of the options was “blended.” I made a crisscrossing motion with my arms, which he found hilarious. It ended up being the highlight of my day, because we bonded and laughed about that before he joked about the high quality of service and asked if the cameras were working – insinuating that’s why I was being so awesome – and then gave the cameras the “thumbs-up” just in case. Made my day. Thank you, strange blending arm motions, you give me character and positive reinforcement.)

On Doing It Yourself, Perilously

(If you click on this picture, you’ll be directed to the site that I got it from, although I originally saw it on Pinterest.)

I’m not really that crafty at all. I’m also not big on DIY stuff, because I find that I usually end up frustrated and covered in glue, or paint, or whatever it is that I’m working with after having spent a ridiculous amount of money on whatever project it is.

That said, this is something that’d be super easy to do and would look awesome. So perhaps I’ll find some time in the near future to get all crafty and do this.

The above sentence was most likely a boldfaced lie.

This is probably one of those silly “Future Me” moments where Future Me is so cute and crafty and put-together and hip. “Present Me” is more like, “Meh. I  have not finished spray-painting my dresser.” Yep. I had a blonde dresser that I was in the process of spray painting black when it started to snow – ah, Colorado – and so I stopped.

So now, a year and a half after the initial spray painting attempt in the snow, I have a half blonde, half black dresser that doesn’t even stress me out. It’s vintageish and awesome and flanked by two even more-awesome bookshelves. (Hah, I was going to put a mirror over the dresser. I went so far as to purchase the mirror. The mirror lives in my closet now, waiting to be put up.)

Maybe I should finish that project – finishing moving in to an apartment I’ve lived in for a year and a half – before I go melting crayons all over canvas.

On Summer, Serendipitously

When I started titling my blog posts with adverbs at the end, a la advice columnists, I had no idea how difficult it would prove to come up with adverbs that sound marvelous and yet entirely capture the mood of each post. I think I make up words sometimes, and I’m alright with that. I struggle not to sound pretentious, because to me, that’s the biggest sin one can commit in the public eye.

Serendipitously sounds like the lovechild of surreptitious and serene, although I promise it’s just serendipity with a long ending. Although, I do hope to someday title a blog post “…., surreptitiously.” I promise you that post will be brimming with as much faux-pretentiousness as I can possibly manage.

Lanterns at night

Thursday night. A quick drink. There is nothing more wonderful than sipping a cold drink while sitting outside on a hot summer night. The lanterns and lampshades only add to my enjoyment.

Red Umbrella, Blue Sky, Brunch

After a quiet night at home on Friday, I welcomed Saturday with brunch at a little place near Jacob’s house. I like the bottomless mimosas, the coffee – and the fact that the waiter noticed the curdling cream and replaced it without me having to timidly raise my hand and request a new cup, and the willingness to accommodate my strange order request without hesitation. The cook laughed when the waiter asked him to make veggie eggs benedict with sausage gravy instead of Hollandaise sauce. It was delicious; if you’re a fan of gravy, I suggest that you try it some time.

Brunch

My brunch date, or as my five-year old neighbor would say, my BFF. (I was leaving my mom’s house to hang out with a friend one day, and our little neighbor asked me if my friend and I were BFFs. My mom had to turn her face so that the little one couldn’t see her laughing. So cute.)

And the house behind him is one of my favorites. It’s so funky. I imagine the inside to be all hardwood floors and quirky colors (like turquoise and deep oranges). Even if it’s not like that at all, I will keep thinking that it is so that my love affair can continue.

You've Changed

I love this picture. Saw this stoop on my way back to the car after brunch.

I really wanted to go to Jazz in the Park on Sunday. Like really, really bad. But it was just too hot. And…I got super hooked on the show Game of Thrones and so I spent most of yesterday pretending to clean and watched most of the first season instead. I would take a twenty minute break in between each episode and go do some dishes, or pick up trash, or organize things, but between the show and the cherries, Parmesan, bread, and Nutella (Nutella and I are having a serious love affair that was rekindled because Swisher wasn’t around this weekend…since he’s allergic to nuts, I can’t eat it when he’s around) that called my name at the grocery store, I couldn’t maintain my cleaning focus.

Oh well. The Dothraki and the rest of the Seven Kingdoms are way more important than cleaning anyway. I have the 4th off, so in between lounging in my kiddie pool and barbecuing, I think I’ll spent some time trying to wade through the mess that is my room. I’m finally trying to be ruthless when it comes to getting rid of clothes. More to come on that mission….

On the Weekend

Kids Crafts

I love babysitting. Now that I’m out of college and staring down the possibility of motherhood within the next decade or so, I am looking at babysitting as the ultimate in childhood education. It provides such an insight into the world of parenting. I get to see the kids at their shiny, smiling best and at their absolute, angry worst. I get to watch their minds develop and wonder; they blow me kisses and sign “I love you” when I put them to sleep; we giggle together. Children are truly wondrous.

But more than that, I get to watch different sets of parents actively making choices. Each household does things differently, and all they want is the best for their children. I’m terrified that I will somehow raise children that aren’t independent, free-thinking, and respectful. (See this article in the New Yorker for more on that…)

It’s good practice. It’s good exposure. And I honestly think that for all of my years spent babysitting, I’ll be a much better mother.

Kiddie Pool

Denver has been HOT. Too hot. Whenever the summer gets like this, I always think of that episode of Hey, Arnold! where there’s the heat wave. Don’t ask why, I’m not even entirely sure what happens in the episode.

My apartment does not have air conditioning. The cat is angry about this, and is grateful for the fans we have set up in an attempt to circulate some of the air. So on Saturday, we bought a kiddie pool, some squirt guns, sunscreen, and a plastic jar with a spout and a handle! It’s the perfect combination for summer. Swisher has informed me that now that we own a hose together, we’re pretty much committed to each other.

After the stress that was our first fight last week, I had some more serious realizations: On Saturday, he helped me clean out my room at my mom’s house – she’s trying to reclaim our childhood rooms and I’m resisting. But there was no judgement as he picked through random piles of books and clothes and the knick knacks of my youth. I realized that even though there are things that I’m going to have to accept and learn to love about him, he’s having to do the same thing for me. Helping me clean is always going to be a labor of love (Maddie knows all about this), and one that I will be forever grateful for.

I’m going to try to be more patient and realistic in my expectations, but I also told him that I’m not going to let him slide on anything. I think it was good. Cooling off in the pool was even better. I can’t wait to spend the summer hanging out at the pool I’ve inflated in the empty lot next to my apartment building. (Hah.)

Sky clouds plane

The view from the pool.

City park jazz

On Sunday nights, they do free jazz concerts in City Park. Since it’s within walking distance, last night we made a little picnic of lemonade, bread, cheese, meat, and grapes and headed over with some blankets. It was a lovely evening of lounging on the blankets in the cooling air.

City Park Jazz Denver

(Swisher took this!)

Sadly, as the jazz was ending around 8pm, a police officer (and single mother of a 12-year old daughter) was shot and killed. We heard the gunshots, thought they sounded like fireworks, and then heard the sirens. Cop cars and an ambulance were all over the park. We weren’t very close to the shooting, and we didn’t really feel any sense of panic (I mean, it wasn’t the stampede-effect), but the stream of people out of the park was pretty consistent.

I seriously hope that this crime doesn’t deter people from coming out to the park. It’s such a beautiful place, and having free music every Sunday is a really great opportunity to feel like a part of the community. Maybe next week, they will have some sort of donation center up so that patrons can donate to the family of the slain officer.

I’m sad. Sad for the daughter of the officer, sad for the officer herself, and sad for the guy who killed her. Misplaced rage, or sad displays of masculinity, or something else led to a split-second decision that took a life, took a mother, and changed another’s life forever. This guy, who’s only 21, will have to spend the rest of his life reliving those moments. I only hope that prison for him is not so much a place of criminal education, but instead offers a place of hope and personal growth. (It won’t, but then again, our prison system has never really been about reducing recidivism. It’s more of a profit mill than anything else. I like hearing about places that really work for rehabilitation and optimism than those which breed gang violence and racially divided populations while glorifying violence.)

Night fisbee

When we got home, there were a ton of people in our living room. By a ton, I mean ten, but expecting to see one and seeing ten is still overwhelming. After a while, Mike’s friends wanted to take a walk. Which was perfect, because I wanted to play night frisbee.

Night frisbee has been on my brain for days now. It’s harder, I think, to play night frisbee because all you see is the light, flying straight at your head. The color is nice, but it’s easier to miss. I’m still awesome at it, of course.

After everyone left, Mike, Swisher, and I continued playing on the side of the building. It was such a relaxing night, the perfect end to a very hectic week. (Or the perfect beginning to another hectic week?)

In unrelated news, I love my slapwatch. I do not actually use it to keep time, and so I don’t think it’s been accurate for like six months. (Bear in mind that I’ve only owned it for like 6 months.) Also, my childhood self cheers every time I wear it. Good for her.