I understand you, conservatives


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If I can say anything at this bleak hour, with the world splitting at its seams, it’s this: conservatives, I understand you. It may not be something you expect to hear from a liberal, but I do. I understand you.

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The New Red Light District


My last post was just over two years ago as I was just getting to know my new city. Life seems to have gotten in the way of writing, but I wanted to follow that post with an update on the current state of Denver, and in particular my neighborhood River North Arts District or RINO. I touched on this a bit in my previous post, but this newly gentrified area has become a glaring example of millennial influence on city life.

There is a pot shop, brewery or distillery on just about every corner of my neighborhood. I’ve seen several open in the two years I’ve lived here, and several more are slated to open within the next year. While Colorado in general has seen a huge growth in this industry, RINO is especially concentrated boasting 15 breweries within a short walking distance of my apartment. With the sheer amount of substances aimed at getting people buzzed packed into this small area one might expect a very seedy part of town, but that is not the case.

When I think about other places know for booze and drugs I think of Amsterdam, or Bourbon Street in New Orleans, bringing to mind sketchy red light districts and public intoxication galore. But RINO is missing one key element to make it a traditional red light district, the utter lack of a sex industry. That’s not to say that prostitution doesn’t exist in Denver, or that there isn’t a hookup scene, but it seems to exist as a separate scene altogether. Modern technology certain plays its part, as dating has moved largely to online to apps like Tinder, bars are freed up to become gathering places for friends and families.

The growth of the brewery, hard liquor production, and weed scenes have brought a slew of professional and young families looking to have it all. It is no longer taboo to bring children to bars, especially the breweries. In fact most breweries in the neighborhood provide kid and dog friendly patios to encourage millennial parents to drink, smoke, and socialize with their friends and children. Denver just passed a law to allow establishments to have sections of their bars/restaurants designated for pot use, making it even easier to enjoy Denver’s rocky mountain high.  And sprinkled in with the booze and pot are high end eateries, condos, murals and art galleries.

It shows a big shift in the way Americans view drinking and drug use, as it’s becoming clear this younger generation of parents are looking to live in clean, family friendly, upscale neighborhoods while still enjoying their youthful vices. It also shows a shift to a more European approach to drinking. You can go to a brewery and have a beer or two, let you kids run around the patio, and then go home to cook dinner. Going to bar here doesn’t mean you’re going to binge drink, get hammer and throw up on the street. Urban Americans are obtaining a moderate approach to drinking, and also to smoking pot. The stereotype of a “pot head” whose constantly smoking and sitting lazily sitting on the coach night after night is going out the door. People here will spend their morning hiking, maybe eat an edible or two, and be done with substances for the rest of the week.  The Denver lifestyle seems in line with cities in California, as well as Seattle, Portland, and others on the West Coast.  With the expansion of breweries in places like North Carolina and pot legalization in Massachusetts, on can speculate that East Coast cities like Boston are well on their way to establishing the family friendly red light district that Denver has achieved.



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Have you watched this: Pres . Obama Announces Executive Action On Gun Control

Today Jill passed shared it and I cried while I watched it.  I look at my kids (yes that is plural and it has been that long, I’m sorry) and I wonder what took so long, think about all of those little kids that were killed and cry some more.

I don’t care what all the nay-sayers spew about him, I wish that we could re-elect Obama. I truly believe that he has done some amazing things and I can only hope that whoever comes in next will work as hard.  The options out there on the right scare me to my core and I want a safe and good place to raise my kids.

When you become a parent the world changes.  Your eyes change, your ears change and your ability to watch Law & Order SVU changes.  You are not the same and you will never be the same.  This is a blessing and a curse because you will cry more and get scared faster.  You will see a child and think about yours.

I have more to say and to share, so hopefully I will do better and start writing more. But for now, I have one that just went down for a nap and the other about to wake up, so I am going to take 30 seconds to myself and drink some coffee.

Tonight I will hug my kids tighter and be thankful for a good start to gun control.




First Impressions




It’s a warm winter evening, a perfect night for being out and about. I walk down the streets of Lodo (lower downtown, Denver’s city center), passing spacious breweries and newly remodeled Union Station. I pass a person or two, but otherwise the streets feel shockingly empty. I look in the window of a few cool-looking bars, and I see a few people at tables but no crowds. On a night like this in D.C., every seat at every bar in this neighborhood would be filled. It feels weird. It feels like the calm before the storm. Then it occurs to me: Denver is preparing. With a warehouse-sized brewery on every other corner, Denver doesn’t have the population to fill these spaces, not yet; but in a few short years, it will.

Denver is the one of the fastest growing cities in America, ranking somewhere between 4th and 6th depending on the source. Even more substantial is the number of those with college degrees moving in. According to the Washington Post over the last 5 years there has been a near 22% increase in educated young people, more than any other city in the nation, and that’s only set to increase. The economy is booming with energy, tech, and marijuana leading the charge. The predictions vary, but Denver’s government is estimating that the current population of roughly 650,000 is set to add another 132,000 people in the next 5 years or so, and Denver’s businesses are ready. So is the housing market, with a large amount of new condos and apartment buildings going up.

Personally I’m reveling in the spaciousness, the calmness, lamenting what’s to come. After living in D.C. for so long with its constant noise and bustle, I’m in love with Denver’s low-key vibe. I selfishly want the city to stay just how it is, and yet I’m guilty of attempting to convert East Coast friends. Denver is just so wonderful it’s hard not to want to share it with the people I love. I’ve been living in Denver now for just under two months, and I’m amazed at how much it’s changed since my childhood. I never spent much time in Denver, because honestly there wasn’t much to recommend it. Back in the ’90s, uptown was named 5 Points, and it was overrun by gangs and crime. I remember going there a couple times for raves as a teen; it was dirty, filled with sketchy characters and rundown warehouses where squatters laid on cold nights. It’s now been rebranded the River North Arts District, or RiNo for short. And those rundown warehouses have now been converted to gyms, cool coffee shops, sushi places, and finally a fucking walk-up cupcake stand. And back then, New Belgium Brewery was just a barrel of Fat Tire being brewed in Jeff Lebesch’s basement; now there are too many breweries to even count, not to mention wineries, pot shops, and even a whiskey distillery.

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A Tally from the Tundra: Who’s Winning, Me or the Snow?


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Greetings from the frozen white wasteland that is the greater Boston area. I’m considering escaping to a warmer climate, but I’m too paralyzed by fear of the killer icicles lurking everywhere to make a run for it.

Thanks to all this snow (we’re at about 7 feet, but my backyard is under about 12 feet, in case you were wondering), we’ve been stuck inside. A lot. Really, far too much. My kids’ cabin fever has reached a frenzied pitch and my patience an all-time low, but on the upside, I discovered a great comic book to read to them that combines my love of martial arts and rabbits: Erik Craddock’s Stone Rabbit, Vol. 5: Ninja Slice. It’s about a rabbit who’s trying to prevent his friend’s pizza place from going out of business due to a rival chain run by ninja, and it contains this epic illustration and the ideal job description of the Ninja Slice owner:

Who wouldn't want this job?

Who wouldn’t want that job title? Imagine how intimidating it would look on a business card.

But ninja rabbits and pizza shoguns aside, we have read multiple books, watched lots of TV, played an absurd amount of video games, built at least six Lego creations that were subsequently smashed and rebuilt, and baked biscotti. We’ve played in the snow when the wind chill wasn’t into the negative 20s, and even made an igloo that unfortunately collapsed when my son fell onto it (and directly onto my husband’s head). We are seriously out of ideas, and we have two or three more storms headed at us over the next week. So I decided to do a little tally to see who’s winning this Boston winter, us or the snow. Continue reading

A Procrastinator’s New Year’s Resolutions


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I realize it’s a bit late to start talking about New Year’s resolutions. But I am nothing if not a procrastinator at heart, and also, I like to change my mind as new ideas and information present themselves to me. Honestly, this is why I don’t like the idea of New Year’s resolutions much. Resolutions to better yourself and your life are great, obviously, when made in good faith. It just seems to silly to start renewing your life and changing how you’re doing things because it’s the next calendar year. Why aren’t you reviewing and adapting as needed whenever the thought occurs to you? Why make some goals tied to a dropped ball and a changed date?

But it has been brought to my attention by, well, me (since I’m my own boss) that I could be more productive and attack my to-do list in better form. I’m mainly talking about my writing to-do list here because I’m great at getting through projects for clients in an organized, timely fashion; otherwise, I would have no clients. Anyway, I was talking with a friend today who said that at her job, they set goals and develop strategies for getting work done in two-week increments. Employees are supposed to track their output and their goals closely so that they have a list of things accomplished and things ongoing at the end of each two-week period, and then they move forward with planning the next two weeks with all of that info in mind. It sounds like a constant checks-and-balances type system where, ideally, anything that isn’t working or isn’t going smoothly will be quickly discovered and put back on track. Continue reading

The Grumpy Gift-Giver’s Gift Giving Guide

I have a love/hate relationship with holiday gift guides, mainly because a lot of what people put into gift guides is way out of my price range. Also, I find that I often object to their lists of “must-haves” because let’s face it, must-haves are water, food, air, and shelter, not someone’s pick for the year’s hottest eyeliner that’s $50 for one thin little stick. Besides, I’ll bet someone on Pinterest can teach you to create that very eyeliner out of a used matchstick, some ground-up kale, and a dollop of coconut oil.

So here’s my own holiday gift guide, presented in the grumpy spirit which always lurks somewhere in my psyche whenever I have a shitload of shopping to do. I realize it is the proverbial last minute, so I don’t know if you can actually get any of these by this Christmas, but they are awesome so you should just buy them ahead of time and then you’ll be ready for next year. Unless, like me, you might completely forget where you hid them.

Thanks and credit go to the lovely and equally grumpy L. for supplying me with two of these suggestions via Gchat one day when we were both “working” at the same time. Continue reading

A Writer’s Rights


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Earlier today, Carolyn of Rosemary and Reading Glasses alerted me to the following post on John Scalzi’s blog: Dear The Toast and The Butter, Please Fix Your Rights Grab. As you may know, last month, one of my essays appeared on The Toast. I was thrilled to have it accepted and published there, but I refused to sign their contract, which as Scalzi and the folks at Writers Beware note requests not just all rights but moral rights as well. For me, this refusal was a gut instinct. My essay is an incredibly personal one, and the stories I tell in it have implications that affect many others in my family besides myself. There is absolutely no way in hell I would sell all rights to it to anyone, no matter how much money they offered me.

As a fiction writer, I’ve done a lot of research into what rights publications typically acquire and the language of contracts, so when I got The Toast’s contract and read it, I knew that the language was terrible for writers. In fact, it seemed like such an overreach to me that I asked a handful of friends about it before I sent a response. I am lucky enough to have several friends who are either lawyers or who know a lot about law, and they all advised me that the contract was a bad deal for me. Basically, if I had signed it, The Toast could do whatever they wanted with my work, from now until infinity. And if I, say, suddenly became a screenwriter and developed a movie based on my essay, they could sue me for it. Continue reading

“Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air…


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…we all have it, or none of us has it. That is the truth of it.” – Maya Angelou

For days, I’ve considered writing a post about Michael Brown, about Eric Garner, about Tamir Rice. But there is a lot of excellent writing out there already, and despite my frustration and outrage about these situations, I doubt I could add anything to the conversation that is different or significant enough that it’s worth asking people to listen to me. Instead, I think we should listen to these men:

  • Chris Rock, who gives a very thought-provoking interview with so many great quotes that I can’t choose a favorite
  • W. Kamau Bell, who walks us through the way he approaches something as seemingly simple as buying ice cream at night as a 6’4″ black man
  • Kiese Laymon, who talks about the protection he is afforded by his Vassar College faculty ID, and about how he and his students, despite the “protection” of Vassar, are not okay

And if you’re interested, like I am, in doing something that may help bring justice in the long term, Amnesty International USA is calling for some concrete action. I’m still looking for other places and ways to make a difference, so if you know of any, feel free to share them in the comments.

I’ve put this list together now because silence seems wrong; it seems to imply that I’m not upset about each of these cases, and that isn’t true at all. But as I said, a speech from me seems inappropriate too. This is my compromise.

And if you’re interested, here are some shots of what the protests looked like here in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville.

Thank You, and Goodbye

The time has come for me to say goodbye to DC. Not to worry, I still plan on being a city girl, but the next time you hear from me, it will be as a newly minted Denver resident. There are a lot of reasons why I’m leaving, so I’ll make it quick. The first and foremost is highlighted in this month’s issue of the Washingtonian, entitled “Can You Afford To Live Here,” and speaks to the ridiculous housing and ever-rising cost of living. Short answer: No, I can’t afford to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Secondly, I’m well into my 30s, and without children of my own, I want to be closer to my family. Reason three, I miss the mountains, I want to spend more time outdoors, and well..sometimes you just need to be a ski bum.

Now with that out of the way, here’s what I want to say. Thank you, DC. It’s been an adventure. A pretty crazy one at times, but I moved here because I knew I’d be able to do things here I couldn’t do anywhere else. At times I’ve wondered if you were the right choice. I stand now, single and poor, but no one will ever say I’ve led a boring or predictable life. It hasn’t been an easy journey. I’ve battled with crazy landlords, bed bugs, and theft, to name just a few of the hardships, but I’ve walked away with a wealth of experiences. Here are a just few of the things I have to thank you for: Continue reading