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 Rape and Rising, Hopefully

[There are potential triggers in this post re: rape. Please do not proceed if this may make you uncomfortable.]

“Rape” is a four-letter word.

I’ve written before about my journey to the realization about the devastation of rape (I knew, but I didn’t know, you know?). Now that I’m fully aware of not only the physical effects but the emotional and psychological devastation caused by rape, I’m burning with rage about it.

My friends and I have spent a lot of time discussing the gray areas surrounding the concept of sexual assault and rape. It’s a harrowing topic, because the more it’s discussed, the more it doesn’t make sense anymore. There’s the “maybe” and the “I don’t know” and the “intent,” but at the end of the day, regardless of where any act stands on the spectrum, it’s a harmful, traumatic experience, period.

It was one of my friends, during a recent discussion about rape amazed me with his passion, who reminded me why it’s not a fruitless endeavor to fight for change. His anger, his emphasis, the sincerity in his voice – it brought me out of the removed apathy that so many of us don when we’re hesitant. It brought me into the present; it ignited a part of my soul.

They say that rape is about power, and I guess that to a certain extent it is. But it’s more than that, too. It’s about having your power taken from you. Rape, gray area rape or legitimate rape or date rape or sexual assault or whatever else you can think to call it, takes away your power. It makes you feel weak inside. It makes you skittish and scared; it makes you hurt all over; it makes you burn with shame, even though you know that it’s not your fault.

It’s under-reported. I can empathize with those women (or men) who for any number of reasons, cannot report it, and suffer in silence. I think of the Kobe Bryant trial. I don’t care whether or not it was rape – look at what happened to the victim. She was shamed, called horrible names, doubted, had her life spread before the eyes of the world and then slowly dismantled to be examined. So often, it comes down to “he said, she said” and nothing can be proven.

(I should note here that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people assume that women are “crying rape” for attention. I don’t think anyone should ever misreport anything, and it’s disgraceful to do it – but at the same time, every time someone reports something, people are so quick to make critical judgments and I think that says a ridiculous amount of negative things about humanity.)

The statistic that 1 in 3 women will be beaten or raped within her lifetime is terrifying. One billion women. One billion. (I’m imaging Mike Meyers as Dr. Evil saying “one million dollars” right now….)

Think about that number. Really think about that. What does that say? What does that say about men? What does that say about our tolerance for violence? What does that say about our inclination to make women bear the brunt of the responsibility for actions committed against them?

The world is not a safe place. It never has been. But that’s not an excuse for us to stop working toward something better. I hate the idea that women are weak. I hate it. But I understand it.

During college, I took a Transgender English class – liberal arts, I know – and we read a story about a college professor who transitioned from male to female. I hated the book at the time – she wrote about embracing femininity in a way I found to be so shallow, materialistic, and stereotypical. She wrote about the vulnerability that she felt when she felt the wind between her thighs when she was wearing a skirt.

I disregarded the notion entirely. But I have gained new insight. I do understand the vulnerability. I am glad that I never realized my own vulnerability while I was living in Chicago or staying in Cape Town. I’m glad that I was bull-headed and street-smart enough to be safe.

No amount of “right decisions” can protect you. No amount of preparedness can keep you from harm. There is no such thing as safety. It’s all merely an illusion. That’s what we’ve come to as a society. Our gated communities and fancy security guards are nothing. Trust is irrelevant, an outdated idea shirked in favor of deceit and false self-truths.

Enough is enough. Listen to Eve Ensler (Vagina Monologues!) say some powerful stuff about the movement called “One Billion Rising.” People are breaking their silence. They’re letting go of the discomfort that they feel when discussing something as taboo as rape and sexually motivated violence. They’re realizing that something needs to change. People need to be held accountable for their actions. People need to fundamentally respect other people.

Rape is a preventable crime. It’s not preventable in the ways that have been suggested in the past, such as “dress more conservatively.” I forget who originally made the counter-point to this, but it’s so incredibly valid: what does that say about men? That they’re little more than wild beasts who will be unable to control themselves at the sight of flesh? That argument in itself is disgraceful to men and to women.

What I wear or do not wear cannot be construed as an invitation for rape or violence. What I do or say or act like cannot be construed as an invitation for rape of violence. There is no valid excuse. None at all.

We need to teach our young men that “no means no.” We need to teach them that power can be gained through other avenues that are more rewarding than acts of violence aimed at belittling and degrading other people. We need to emphasize respect – actions have consequences. Even if you can’t see the harm that’s been done, it’s there. We need to dispel the myth that sex is something to be taken, something to be claimed.

We need to remind all women that their voices and experiences matter. We as a global society need to value our women, rather than marginalizing them and quieting their voices. We need to remind women to be strong – we need to assure them that we’ll support them, heal them, and lift them up.

No one can be an island. We’re not in this fight alone. Globalization necessitates cooperation and conviction. We must work together to stop this perpetuation of violence, of hatred, of fear. Sexual violence against women (and men, too) has long been used as the ultimate bargaining tool, a source of shame and ultimate destruction. We must stop it. We must make it so that our people are free from the terror of vulnerability.

The world is willing to work for change – it’s time for us to realize that the capacity for human compassion and love is ever-present. This is a beautiful thing. Love is the essence of humanity – it keeps us strong and humble. Love is something we need to work on teaching our children. With a strong foundation, they will be less likely to take from others what they cannot find in themselves.

On Being Boring, Reluctantly

I saw an article about being boring on Facebook about a month ago, so I clicked on it. Sure enough, I am boring. It’s official.

I crave me-time. The single-Katie that lives inside of me is thrilled by the prospect of nights spent with a hot bath and a good book, or visits to the library to wander through the stacks, filling my arms with more books than I can possibly read in three weeks. I’m also thrilled by thought of having endless amounts of time. Time to do what? I don’t know. Peruse the thrift stores, organize things (pssh, that’ll never happen), paint my toenails more than bi-monthly.

I haven’t jumped naked into a body of water other than my bathtub since 2010, and even the bathtub can’t count as jumping – it’s more a careful stepping to avoid slippage and broken bones. (All I can see in my head right now is that commercial where the elderly people have the bathtub that has doors on it. Is that next?!)

I don’t drink like I used to. (Note to all people: this isn’t a bad thing. It’s just a departure from my typical habit of a responsibly enjoying a gin and tonic or four with my friends and then going dancing on a semi-regular basis.) Weeks are going to turn into months and then pretty soon I’ll be sipping non-alcoholic beer in a Chili’s wondering what happened to my life. Alternately, I imagine that I’ll have two martinis at a corporate event and be so overcome by the reintroduction to alcohol that I take off my pants and/or throw up in the punch bowl.

(That scenario is entirely unrealistic. The worst drunk me ever does is jump into bodies of water – Lake Michigan, I’m coming back for you, I swear – or get belligerent and lecture strangers about anything from feminism to sexual health to politics to sports. South Boston, I’m sorry for the things I said about Belichick, even though I was not wrong.)

I make excuses about doing laundry (Jacob calls me out on this all the time) so I can go home and run a hot bath and relax. I work too many jobs to ever be hung over. There’s no room for naps or excuses or anything else. I got excited to print out IRS forms last week. I signed my very own homeowner’s insurance policy. But wait, it gets better! It’s bundled with my brand new auto insurance policy. Oh, bundling was exciting!

Ready for the worst part? I’ve been listening to oldies. At least, I was until Kool 105.1 started playing holiday music. Since I’m holiday-averse, I immediately plugged another radio station into my #5 preset in my car. Once the new year begins and the nightmare that is ever-present Christmas music ends, I will reset #5 to Kool 105 and I will revel in the disco-tastic awesomeness that it is.

8 Signs You Are Becoming Boring

NOV. 8, 2012

Disclaimer: I write this list in full recognition of the fact that I am a freshly-minted Boring Person myself. This is a space of no judgment, only facts.

1. You see students out having fun and are exasperated.

It starts with the high school kids. You see them out at the mall, scowling at things, drinking their energy drinks and just generally being assholes in front of the Pacsun or the Hot Topic. You think, “God, what irritating little warts. Good thing I was never 15,” and then carry on your boring way to go get a loofah at Bed Bath and Beyond or whatever you are there to do. Then you see college kids, getting rowdy in a bar, potentially using terrible fake IDs but still getting away with it because the bartender is cool and they want the money. Despite the fact that you, too, used a fake ID just a few short years ago, you are filled with righteous indignation. “Wait your turn, you brats,” you long to say, “Go drink 4 Loko in your bedrooms until you turn 21, like God intended. The bar is for people with jobs.”

2. Your idea of fun has become staying home with some blankets and your computer.

There is just something so profoundly beautiful about having a whole night ahead of you with nothing planned but Netflix, perhaps some tea or wine, and chilling out in your jammies under your covers. It is a state of such deep relaxation, it can occasionally reach near-orgasmic levels of joy. Add a little take-out Thai food to be eaten while still firmly in bed into the mix, and you have the makings for a night that would beat a club opening hosted by a nude Ryan Gosling and a snowblower full of free money.

3. The only thing keeping you from being obese is being lazy.

There are so many times when you are overwhelmed with the desire to go a few blocks over to get a big bag of McDonald’s or a Frappucino made out of what appears to be vegetable shortening, or simply a king size candy bar (king size, of course, because if you made the trek out there you’re not going to just get a regular-sized Snickers like a peasant). But then you think, meh, that would require leaving the apartment and turning off this episode of Dexter and putting on something other than a Snuggie, and then it’s just like fuck it, I’ll eat these carrot sticks I have in my refrigerator. Who knows how many potentially-clogged arteries were spared out of sheer will to remain a hermit.

4. Staying within budget is not a problem.

There was once a time during which you were truly concerned about spending too much money on things like extravagant nights at the bar or too many dinners/lunches at restaurants, even moderately-priced ones. It seemed like the most efficient way to burn a sizable hole in your checking account and find yourself unable to comfortably make rent at the end of the month. Then, all of a sudden, you realize that actually extracting yourself from the comfort of your apartment every once in a while and finding something worth spending said money on may actually be the more pressing issue, as you are quickly adhering to your pajamas and learning through real-time evolution how to blend your skin in with your patterned bedspread.

5. You are excited when people cancel plans.

I think we’ve all had a moment or two where you are sitting there, not at all pumped to go to this social outing that you agreed to (it’s not that you don’t like the person, you just don’t like having to go outside right now), when all of a sudden they call you with the thrilling news that they are unable to make it! It’s as though the heavens themselves have parted and shone a light down on your lazy, boring ass personally to sing to you with the voice of a thousand golden angels “Fear not, for you have a few more hours of dicking around on Tumblr ahead of ye.”

6. You prefer to go to the same restaurants, ordering the same foods.

One minute, we’re these adventurous little sprites of youth and excitement, ready to go anywhere and try anything at the drop of a hat. The next, all we have to do is call our local Chinese takeout and, through only seeing our number on the caller ID, they are downstairs in five minutes with the exactly what we want, right down to the extra soy sauces. When I was a barista, there were many customers for whom we could prepare their drink only seeing them walk through the door. I used to think that they were silly, that they should try to expand their horizons. Now I resent the fact that no one knows me well enough to make my extra-hot grande soy latte when I walk in the door.

7. Literally any plans the following day make going out a hassle.

How is it that you used to be able to stay up until 6 in the morning doing crystal meth and running naked through a forest of pine needles and still be fresh as a spring flower for class the next day, and now you have to really weigh your options about going out for dinner if you know that you have to be up by 10 the next morning to go pick something up at the dry cleaners? How is that possible?

8. People are no longer surprised when you don’t do things.

In your transition from “chill person who is down for pretty much whatever” to “boring-ass hermit who has a minor panic attack every time the bar they’re in gets too loud and full of amorous college students,” you will notice a time frame in which people still hold out hope that you will prove to be the social butterfly you once were. They will try in vain to extract you from your home-pod, thoroughly disappointed when you don’t accept. Now, of course, they don’t expect you to come out to their various parties and gatherings — they know that you, like any society diva who is so in demand on her own futon, have a lot of potential nights to choose from, and it may just end up being ice cream and The Price Is Right reruns. TC mark

Read more at http://thoughtcatalog.com/2012/8-signs-you-are-becoming-boring/#GGSColeKRzqPdQbB.99

On a Night Off, Unexpectedly

This week brought an unexpected night off – there was a 24-hour power outage at the Dairy Queen and everything melted or was spoiled. It’s not funny, but it was a nice surprise. It was even better that I didn’t have to do any of the clean up. My manager said that squeegy-ing (sp?) melted cakes out of the freezer was horrific. I imagine she wasn’t wrong.

I was anxious driving home on Wednesday. I so very rarely have time that’s unaccounted for. What was I going to do? I shouldn’t have feared. I called Jacob. When he suggested our goth bar, I was elated.

It’s not really our goth bar, of course. But it is one of my favorite places in Denver. It’s only open two nights a week. You have to enter from an alley. There are two separate rooms, connected by a dark hallway. Each room plays different music. The darker room is bigger and the walls are lined with dark couches perfect for hiding away and people-watching. The Clockwork Orange-esque room is brighter, and more upbeat.

Since I was a little goth in high school (who wasn’t?!), I feel so at home here. The people are so lovely – they’re fascinating and equally terrifying. But the best part isn’t the patrons, it’s the dancing. In my natural state, I dance like your stereotypical white man: legs spread, rock side-to-side. It’s so unattractive.

Once, at a club, Jacob grabbed my hips and started moving them in a figure-eight. Like this, he said. Start there. And so I did. So now, after a couple of years of tentative figure-eights and remembering to let go a little, I’m much better. (Much better doesn’t actually mean I’m a good dancer; it means that I am much improved.)

My ability – or partial lack thereof – is not the point here, though. It’s how thrilled I am to be surrounded by people who look like they’re doing my signature dance move, The Wet Noodle, or alternately, having hipster seizures. (Sorry to offend hipsters and seizure-sufferers.)

It’s freeing. Suddenly, I’m part of a mass of moving limbs. I let my mind go, I shift to the music as I internalize it. My eyes look down, around, everywhere. I become a kinetic observer, watching from curious eyes while not-quite-mindfully moving to the music.

This is why the goth bar is the best place. That and the terrifying bathroom conversation between two large women about how tough they are. (I lingered while washing my hands – I scrubbed my fingernails! – to be able to hear their conversation. First it was about some guys “newest fiance” and then it shifted to how thick their legs were, which meant that they were more powerful. Scrubbing completed, I dried my hands and bolted. I’m tiny, I’ve never been in a bar fight, and even though I grew up fighting my now-6’4″ brother, I’m nowhere near as tough as I’d like to think I am.)

I thought this two-faced shadow bit was cute.

Last night, i spent two hours with my wonderful mother signing mortgage loan documents. Mike and I are really buying a house! Oh my goodness. It’s a leap. Last night, he told me that since I’m taking care of the paperwork, he’ll do the packing. (And the unpacking, I hope.) This is such a good example of why we make such a good team.

We are such polar opposites as people, but in such complementary ways. He’s the detail-oriented, logical, patient one and I’m the take-charge, impatient, chaotic communicator. The screen that displays everything in his car broke and he couldn’t change CDs or radio stations or anything. So he was left to cycle through his CDs, song by song, listening to the entirety of each.

I, being as ADHD about music as I am about the rest of my life, told him that this would kill me (it was killing me in that moment. He likes jam bands whose songs are all about 8 minutes or more on average). He replied that he considered it an exercise in patience. He’s that guy. Hilarious, wise, and sometimes entirely frustrating. But for all of our sibling squabbles, we get along remarkably well.

So he’ll pack. I’ll coordinate paperwork and loans and payments. We both dig this plan.

Tonight is date night, so of course I’m antsy and excited. Not being able to see him all week builds the anticipation. Of course, we’re in nearly constant communication – emails, texts, FaceTime. It’s nice, though, to be able to maintain my life and begin to start incorporating him into it. It’s also nice to email links and running commentary about everything back and forth. People’s taste in the internet is very telling.

Uggggh, I was not going to blog about any of this. I was actually going to talk about people. But I guess I’ll do that this weekend.

On Resuming, Blissfully

I rarely lose my voice, so the silence that fell over me this week was uncharacteristic and unsettling. I have fully recovered and am back to being my bright, very busy, and occasionally grumpy self. Of course this means I’m exhausted.

On Tuesday night, I met a friend for tea at the coffee shop where I spent most of my high school and early college years. A cup of steaming Earl Grey with a touch of honey and a moonlit walk to the park near the coffee house led to hours of discussion and ended with me spinning on the playground apparatus that they don’t install at playgrounds anymore because of safety concerns.I spun around, growing dizzier and dizzier while I stared up at the trees.

I always used to mark the coming of summer by how the leaves grew. In the middle of winter, you could see straight up to the sky if you were laying on the spinning thing, and as the spring stretched into summer, the leaves grow until they form a thick foliage canopy until you can just make out the glint of the moon through the leaves. It’s so predictably cyclical – the growth, the death, the empty, the emergence, the growth…and so on. It’s the best. Apparently, adulthood has made me less prone to enjoying the dizzying stomach sensation, though, because I had to steady myself after I wobbled off the spinning thing, and I felt a wave of nausea rush through me. But I smashed the feeling with the glorious nostalgia, and we walked back in the middle of the quiet, dark street.

Last night, I played arcade games at the 1Up, a bar downtown. I didn’t grow up with video games, so I’m not sure how to play them, or even comfortable playing them, particularly in public. My friend Ely came down from Boulder because he’d never been to 1Up and because we’ve been meaning to hang out for like three months. (We do this regularly – we’ll be like, hang out soon? and we’ll keep pushing back plans until we finally manage to meet up. The system works, though, and I imagine I’ll see him again some time next quarter.)

I was hesitant to play video games. Normally I just watch. (I think it’s cheaper and less embarrassing.) But Ely wanted to play games with me, so we played Rampage (maybe it’s called that, maybe not) – where you are a donkey thing and have to jump and smash and stomp and kick buildings and airplanes and people. It was awesome! And I was not bad at it considering I was just randomly pushing buttons.

Invigorated by my success at building-smashing and general mayhem, we went and played shooting games. I’m terrible. I would get like 19 kills and Ely would have about 85. I also kept shooting our guys – a big red X would appear every time I did it. I complained that I had no problem hitting our team, but that I couldn’t hit the enemy to save my life. Still, super fun.

But we were really there for giant Jenga. Keep in mind that Ely is 6’6″. This tower would eventually get up past his eye-level. I won 2 out of 3 games. He would stand, incredulous, after I would gently pull a block from the tower. “Fairy fingers,” I told him. Actually, I’m just very lucky.

 

On New Opportunities, Sadly, Fondly, Excitedly

This post is a love letter to one of my best friends, who’s off to intern abroad for the next six months. I hope she has an absolute blast perfecting her Italian while eating gelato and canolis and kicking ass at what she’s doing.

I’ve known her since I was fourteen. We got close during geometry class our sophomore year – we were absolute hellions to our teacher – and then traveled to Europe together on an amazing forensic science trip between our junior and senior years of high school.

We went to Chicago together our senior year. She was visiting her boyfriend, and I was falling in love with the lake. We ended up going to the same university. Even though we’ve had very different life experiences, we’ve been able to maintain and strengthen our friendship through the years.

Honestly, some of my best memories from college are from my senior year. The Irish, the Ginger Summer (parts one and two), bar trivia, adventuring, accidentally driving to Wisconsin, the Boston trip, the last night and the sunrise that wasn’t – those are the moments that shape the beautiful memories of my time in Chicago.

I have come to rely on Madeline for advice, for adventure, for a good laugh. Sometimes when I’m really stressed out, she’ll appear in my dreams and yell at me, so I’m pretty certain that she’s my super ego. She is the logical half of our duo, the rational one who always has the right answer. I respect and value her opinions at all times, and have looked to her as a source of strength when I need it most.

I’m so lucky to have a friend like her.

There was a flaming bowl of rum punch involved. That may explain why the picture is so off kilter.

San Francisco, summer 2010, singing “Wonderboy” at a karaoke bar. Are we awesome at karaoke? Absolutely not. Did we rock? Of course.Wonderboy, what is the secret of your power?

The Chicago Mustache Bash:

Spray painting the Irish’s van. Sally, as the van was called, had no working speedometer or gas gauge. The Irish had gotten her for $400 and paid a guy in beer to fix her when she broke.

The first night we went out with our new Irish trivia buddies, they picked us up in the van. I was certain we were going to die when they opened the sliding door while we were on Lake Shore Drive and yelled “air conditioning!”

(The Irish got stopped trying to get back into the US from Canada because they had spray painted “We’re here illegally” on the side of the van.)

South Boston, 2010. A trivia adventure.

Downtown Chicago, 2009. Maddie’s family was in town. Things got wild. This is my favorite picture of us. 

On Being a Twenty-Something, Defensively

I’ve had a blog since I was fifteen. I wrote posts on MySpace, I posted to (and obsessed over) my LiveJournal account, and finally, when I went away to college, I got a Blogspot to document adventures for my family. Three (give or take a few) iterations later, you have the present form of the same thing: a place on the internet to write about my life.

There is something so entirely humbling about reading back to a post that I wrote when I was little.

Stuff like:

“I stood there, in the company of many, but I knew so few.”

and

“I smiled, trying not to make eye contact. I’m sure my dejected look detracted from my approachability.”

or

“The drive home, in the cool night air, windows down, music up, was immense. No other cars on the road, just me and the night, speeding slowly home. I set the cruise control, just for fun, so that I could just be in the night. I was sixteen again, fresh with ideas, taking the turn to the song, letting the music take me elsewhere.
The lights in Denver have begun their countdown, a simple way of informing pedestrians of their impending restriction, and at night, the countdown simply hits zero and reverts back to the little light man walking. I found myself timing it so that as I drove, I’d be crossing the intersection as the change occurred, the ultimate end leading back to the same beginning.
There is nothing better than the promise of summer, no matter what life is holding for you at the moment, standing outside in the night and smelling the air will change your life. Floral scents intermingle with the city’s hot fresh air and the animals of the night seem to be more alive.
We saw a skunk mosey past, on his way somewhere fast. As I drove away into the night, rolling down the windows, I passed the skunk again, still running, still on the street, getting somewhere.
We’re all getting somewhere, even if we have no idea where we are.”

These posts become a place for me to mark my growth. They remind me that I’ve always been some things, and they reinforce that I’ve always been others. Sometimes I am struck by how insightful Past-Me is, and others, I cringe at her insecurity and wish her all the self-assurance in the world.

I’ve been reading posts about my generation. We’re the Millenials, the ones who are supported by their parents, who have no work ethic, who are vapid and shallow and marked by their sense of entitlement. All of those authors are so wrong.

Yes, we’re wallowing, wandering, lost, and afraid. (And yes, some of us are total dicks. But your generation had some not-so-pleasant people in it too, admit it.) What we were raised to see as our future is crumbling in front of us, as though arriving at the desert mirage to find more and more of same, too-hot sand. We’re thirsty. As I’ve said before, we’re the Next Lost Generation. We have no idea what to expect, because the expectations change daily.

Struggling to find the balance between youth and maturity is a difficult one, particularly when any move toward “grown-up” is criticized, and movements to remain “youthful” are equally stigmatized by both my peers and my age-superiors. What I find interesting is that many of these authors criticizing the Millenials are Millenials themselves.

I work three jobs and don’t get financial support (except health insurance premium – Mom, you’re the best), and I make it work. I have work ethic, drive, desire, and passion to create a sustainable and secure future for myself. I happen to enjoy a few gin & tonics and some dancing. So be it. Yeah, I get frustrated at my peers. I find people with no drive infuriating and weak. I am prone to the occasional meltdown of desperate wallowing.

But I’m also not wallowing for the sake of wallowing. This life is a journey. Right now, the age-superiors are controlling a large stake of this world that we live in. It’s hard to get past the entry-level job, it’s hard to ascertain whether or not our place is as adult-equal or child-mentee. It’s difficult. It’s like being seventeen again, being all lost and insecure and afraid.

The reason that there are so many twenty-somethings actively writing about their lives is because they’re finding an outlet.The internet has opened lines of communication that hardly existed twenty years ago, and has fostered equal parts community and isolation by “social networks.” Growing up with access to technology will change – has already changed – a lot of the ways that people example typical milestones. There’s a lot more comparison, more evaluation, but also less of each.

Pressure on young adults to be “perfect” is a very real thing. They want to succeed, and want to be able to do that, but are often so coddled and cared for that they lack the tools with which to do so. Or, alternately, they want to succeed but instead of being coddled and cared for, they’re tough enough to make it on their own but are constantly fighting external circumstances. It’s life, just like you lived it, just like your kids will live it. It’s just always a bit different.

Yeah, some of those blogs are insipid as all hell. Some are lame. Others are personal. Each blog inhabits its own space. It is exactly what it is. And I’ll tell you something that I always tell people: If you don’t like it, don’t read it.  (For those of you who think the Millenials are strange, you should delve into the world of middle-aged bloggers, some who are fascinating, wonderful creatures and others who are like reading something reminiscent of listening to nails along a mile-long chalkboard. The grass is always greener, dear Baby Boomers.)

My blog marks my growth from adolescent to young adult and beyond. I’m humbled by, grateful for, astonished by, embarrassed about, aware of, and immensely proud of everything, even the parts I hate. This blog, while both public-facing and well-trafficked, is an account of growth and the stages that mark a life. My life. It is meant to be self-pitying and triumphant in equal measures.

When I look back on my posts, I am able to mark the moments at which I grew and changed. I am able to see how my opinions and tastes have changed and grown. And I am  content to see how the journey has progressed thus far, and excited about the glorious future that awaits.

So, remember: If you don’t like it, don’t read it. Problem solved.

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 baseball, begrudingly

View from the Rockpile, Coors Field

I had never sat in the Rockpile before.

So now I can say I’ve done that.

So bummed, my favorite sandals broke last night. Looks like it’s time to invest in some new shoes. Yesterday at work we were having a Birkenstock vs. Keens discussion. They all like the Keens better, but I prefer the Birkenstock look. (My old sandals were from Target. And I’m super upset that they didn’t do a new version of the style this year. Because the same thing happened to the first pair of favorite sandals that I had – same exact style, but older. The thing between the toes goes. And then you don’t have sandals anymore. Just sadness.)

This baseball game was infinitely better than the last one we went to.

Waking up this morning with a mild hangover, I’ve decided that I hate adulthood. I need my 8 hours of sleep now. I need my alone time. I can’t stay up all night, or do shots of whiskey, or dance until dawn (at least not on weekdays). Sometimes I try, and I’m always swiftly reminded why those activities quickly become best left to the young. And by young, I mean people who don’t have to be at work before 9am.