Heavy

Miles – our cat – almost died last weekend. He had an asthma attack last Saturday night, and we rushed him to an emergency vet at about midnight. He was put on oxygen, had x-rays taken, and within 30 minutes was diagnosed with feline asthma, which none of the vets he’s seen since his breathing problems started a few years ago even mentioned checking for. A few days later, we took him back to the vet because he had lost interest in all kinds of food. Didn’t matter what I presented to him, he wanted nothing to do with it. Another $180 (on top of the $2100 we paid to hospitalize him) and some new medications later we came home hoping he would start eating, so he wouldn’t have to be hospitalized again.

He did start eating, and we seem to be on the better side of this.

I went to yoga class after work tonight. I don’t typically put a lot of thought into the “dharma” or themes some teachers present at the beginning of class because I feel it sometimes creates an unnecessary pressure to feel or focus on a particular thing. The teacher tonight was talking about how she was in a situation with friends that is familiar, but she found herself feeling and needing something different. She related that to yoga in that we know the poses, but the experience and feelings that arise are often different.

When she queued Warrior II, I felt an incredible weight. My arms could not stay up. I mean, my arms are often tired in this pose. By the time Warrior II comes around, we’ve been supporting our weight in Planks and Downward Facing Dog poses, and we’ve reached up to the sky in Chair or Crescent poses.

It was more than tired arms tonight. It was like I was holding something very heavy or someone was pushing my arms down, and I was trying like hell to keep them up.

I started thinking about the last week and how difficult and exhausting it’s been.

(If you’re one of those people who scoffs at someone missing work due to the death of a pet or questions why people spend money to heal their pets rather than euthanizing them or surrendering them to a shelter only to then get a new, young, and healthy pet, as if your pet is just property you own for strictly for your enjoyment that does you no good when it’s “broken,” stop reading now, you sociopath. Actually, you probably should have stopped reading in the first paragraph. Why are you still here?)

I felt the weight of the vet bill I had not planned for and the cost of his ongoing care. I felt the weight of likely having to give him medication daily for the rest of his life, and trusting Harrison with it when I’m not home. And what about when we travel? I worried about finding a new regular vet for him and Billie, his sister, because how could I go back to the vet who never considered this problem? I thought about the possibility that he could have died, and he would not be tucked under my left arm with his head on my chest as I type this. I felt the weight of trying to make sure Billie gets equal love and attention that is not in the form of treats because… uh… she fat. I guess that is also a less metaphorical weight. I felt the exhaustion of the sleepless nights when I was getting up to check on him or try to get him to eat.

Fine, they’re cats. Just pets. Disposable for some. (Again, why are you people still here?We will never be friends.) My cats, or any other pets later to come, are likely the closest thing I will have to kids. By choice. Don’t pity me or ask me why. It’s 2019, people. I love them… more than most humans in my life.

I guess this was all a very roundabout way of saying that loving something carries a weight that manifests at unusual times like in a yoga class. Somedays you feel strong and are able steadily carry all of the weight worry of things you hold dear or maybe someone is helping carry the weight, and other days, you feel crushed by the weight, alone. I’m a sucker for certainty with a tendency toward laziness. This shit is hard. But in this case especially, it’s worth it.

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My heart.

Larry, Curly, and Mo(l)e

I am generally a very mole-y white person thanks to the great genes handed down from mostly my dad’s side of the family. My grandpa, my dad, and I have all had suspicious moles removed. I get my skin checked every year because a) I will use my health insurance while I have it, and b) I am real scared of skin cancer, especially because I live in Denver. Fun fact: being closer to the sun means there’s a higher risk of skin cancer.

If you’ve known me or met me at any point in my life, you’ve known me with 3 sizable moles on my face. They make a triangle!

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When I was a kid, the moles on my face were basically freckles, and three freckles in the shape of a triangle on a little kid was cute. Then I got older, and they got bigger.

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Age 11

And bigger.

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Age 20. Also with a spray tan and heavy make up after a performance.

 

And bigger.

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Age 32.

 

I started to really hate them about the time I reached college. For a while I was retouching pictures to hide them, which is obviously stupid because disappearing them from pictures didn’t disappear them from my face.

The first time I asked about getting them removed, I was about 21. I went to a dermatologist who told me they weren’t suspicious, and removing them would be a cosmetic procedure that I would have to pay for out of pocket. That was that. I couldn’t afford that.

So they stayed on my face, and I tried not worry about it. They continued to grow and take on lives of their own. Ever had a pimple ON TOP OF A MOLE? This has happened several times. Once one of them started bleeding, and it took forever to get it to stop. It was quite an embarrassing problem.

About two years ago, I made an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon my dermatologist recommended, and then I cancelled it. I don’t really know why. I think part of it was that I felt guilty about the prospect of spending such a large chunk of money, but I also felt weird about changing my face in a very significant way. I think I felt what I can only describe as shame for wanting to change myself. How dare I do something strictly out of vanity. I mean, most people say they don’t really notice them. It’s just my face. And then there were the people who said they liked them and that it made me unique. As genuine as those comments may have been, I always felt like those people were just trying to make me feel better about something I could not easily change, and it certainly did not lessen my insecurity.

Over the last year or so, that insecurity almost became unbearable. They’re so big, and one of them kind of looks like a nipple. I can’t look at a picture of myself without my eyes being drawn directly to the left side of my nose.

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So like a band-aid or a protruding facial mole, I ripped it off. I paid in advance, so I couldn’t back out and go through the same song and dance again. They’re gone. I’m stitched up, and what an incredible sense of relief and a weight lifted.

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I’ve heard it all, and I’m sure I’ll continue to hear it. I’m sorry if you’ll miss them or if you liked my face before. I’m sorry if you disagree with my vanity. Trust me, I have worked really hard to have a positive relationship with my body and my appearance. I love my size 12 body because it’s strong and healthy and allows me to do so many things I love, and I’ve grown to appreciate the wrinkles that continue to deepen on my face. There are very few things about my appearance I would go out of my way to change.

But here’s the thing… If you’ve never popped a pimple on top of a mole that is on your face, had a mole gush blood with no sign of stopping, or worried so intensely about whether people notice that you have an inflamed mass on your face, it’s not something I expect you to understand.

Do the things that make you feel happy and confident. If you think it’s the right decision, but you’re worried about what other people will think, it’s probably the right decision.

Pardon me while I go change my Steri-strips.

Be a damn flower!

 

You’ve heard the analogy, right? The idea that in a relationship there is a gardener and a flower. I heard about this idea years ago from a friend. I don’t remember how it came up or giving much attention to it. I just said, “huh,” and moved on.

Recently, this idea has come up a couple of times, mostly on TV dramas strangely, but it made me stop. I started thinking about this idea in the context of my own relationships and the transitions that have been taking place since the start of year.

What I’ve realized is that, holy shit, I have definitely been the Gardener. In so many of my relationships, I have taken care of the foundation and watched others grow and bloom and find success. To be clear, this is an important role, and it’s definitely not a bad thing, especially if being a nurturer is something that fulfills you.

Here’s the deal. At the start of the year, I started singing with a choir. I used to sing in choirs, a cappella groups, and perform in shows around town (usually there were Drag Queens, costumes, and songs from Rent involved). I’ve loved singing since I was a little kid, and I have  missed it so much. It has been a struggle to find the right place for it in my life as I’ve gotten older and more introverted because the things I was doing before stopped feeling right, but this has been the perfect fit.

For the last several years, I’ve been stuck in a routine of work, home, occasionally yoga, and going to Harrison’s shows. For a the first few years of our relationship, it was his various music projects, and now it’s his comedy shows. I have for sure been the Gardener in this relationship. And again, there is nothing wrong with that. I have loved watching everything Harrison has done, and I’ve loved even more when I can help him manage his many side hustles by hauling sound equipment, working the door, or critiquing a joke. Basically, I’ve made myself EXTREMELY available. My routine became the deepest of ruts, and while I have loved being there for Harrison, I wasn’t being honest with myself about the things I was missing.

Harrison is going from being basically the sole receiver to having to give a little bit, and sometimes take the role of the Gardener. And it has not been easy. So much so that I have felt an ever-so-slight bit of guilt for being less available for him or for asking and even – dare I say it – demanding support. It doesn’t help that women are professionals at this kind of guilt. There’s this silent struggle over whose commitment is more important or who gets to use the car we share to get to the thing they need to get to instead of taking the bus or a Lyft.

It’s a work in progress. Sharing sun is hard when someone has been making sure you get as much of it as possible for years… since we’re using a flower analogy.

My relationship with Harrison isn’t the only relationship in which I have been the constantly available and reliable person who can definitely pick you up from the airport because I definitely don’t have anything else going on. As life has become busier and filled with more commitments, it’s given me clearer picture of which friendships in my life are mutually supportive, and which ones have existed on a foundation of me being available for favors. That’s not to say there isn’t more to those friendships. There is, but you start noticing who shows up when you have something to show up for. Some of the people who show up might surprise you, and the people who don’t might surprise you just as much. It’s a big deal when people show up.

I made a quiet commitment to myself to get back to the things that have made me feel most like myself, and I’m taking small steps in a direction that finally feels right. I’ve always been hyper-aware of the time I ask of others, and it’s generally made me uncomfortable to ask a lot of others. But listen, it’s my damn turn to be a damn flower. Just sometimes. Is that cool?

I hope so. Because I think I was well on my way to becoming something much, much, much lower than an overly available and less than fulfilled Gardner – the doormat the work boots sit on.

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Via GIPHY

Welcome to your Snow Day, Denver!

Did you hear? There’s a blizzard in Denver today. #Bombogenesis

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Via 9news.com

Having grown up in Denver and having experienced true Denver winters, I have been aching for a winter like this for years. The mildness and lack of snow of the last several years is just not a Denver winter. I know transplants have become accustomed to hiking on a 70 degree day in December, but let me make this very clear: THAT IS NOT NORMAL!

When I was kid, my family lived in an apartment, with very steep stairs that led up to the front door. When it snowed, the ice an snowpack that covered the steps would make the perfect hill for sledding. These were not safe stairs under normal circumstances and certainly not when it snowed. People trying to walk down them would have been better off grabbing a sled. We sledded down iced over stairs a lot.

The last time I remember a storm that shut the city down was when I was in high school – the blizzard of 2003 that conveniently hit right in time for Spring Break. I remember classes being cancelled for one day exactly one time in college, and I’ve had early closures at work a couple of times since working a corporate job. But today, today is special.

At about 10:30 pm last night my phone rang with a recorded message from my employer to inform me that our office would be closed today. The whole day.

My email inbox and Facebook feed has been filled with notices from local businesses like  Tattered Cover, yoga studios, and even breweries informing me of early closures and limited class schedules. This just does not happen here.

Furthermore, Denverites are a hardy people who historically don’t cancel or close shit for weather. Do you have any idea how many times I had to trek to my retail job on treacherous roads when I was in college? A lot! I risked my life many times so the people of north metro Denver would not have to wait a day to fulfill their home improvement needs.

So I’d like to thank the transplants, particularly those who have come from warmer climates, for filling this city with wimps and allowing me this rare day in which I am discouraged from leaving my home and thus do not have to put on make-up, do my hair, wear a bra, or speak to other humans. I appreciate you. In all seriousness, it was a good call.

And to those of you who woke up this morning to only rain thinking we were all fools, how dare you doubt the incredible rollercoaster of Colorado weather!

Enjoy your day, people of Denver!

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Miles has the right idea.

 

Maybe when I have all the money, I’ll care about close seats, too.

Me: Do you want to go to the Nuggets game on March 2nd? I can get $14 tickets through work.

Dad: Where are the seats?

Here we go.

Me: In the 300s. They’re $14.

Dad: We want to go, but we would want to sit closer.

WHY DOES IT MATTER? IS IT AN OLD PERSON VISION THING?!?! THERE’S A JUMBO-TRON! Also DAD, I have to have fun on a budget because of those student loans I’m paying because of that college you thought I should have to pay for literally for the rest of my life because of bootstraps or something. 

Me: I didn’t look at the price of those. I’ll check.

Dad: Okay, well if you and Harrison want to go and the tickets are more expensive, you can just pay me the $14, and I’ll cover the rest.

I’m a 32 year old woman with a job and am about to agree to allow my dad to subsidize a closer seat to a Nuggets game.

Me: They’re $57.

Yikes.

Dad: Let’s do it.

Okay………… That’ll be $200.

The difference between Boomers and Millennials is how close they care to be to the court.

 

Under different circumstances

This weekend, I embarked on what has become an annual pilgrimage to hipster Mecca – Portland, Oregon. But this time felt so starkly different from previous visits. If you’ve read this blog, you may be aware that I have a love for the city of Portland. It has served as a place for me to find my sense of independence when I was unsure of whether my future would include a partner, it has been a place for me and that partner to celebrate that we had made it through very rough waters, and it has been a place to reunite with a friend I had not seen in a long time. And of course, Powell’s is in Portland.

If I’m granted access to a heaven that may or may not exist, I hope it’s just a giant bookstore. Powell’s basically.

Portland is the one place outside of Denver I’ve visited and felt like I could live.

This time, I was supposed to meet Harrison in the middle of his own adventure. He went on the road with another comic for a week, and Portland was a scheduled stop. The plan was that I would arrive on Saturday, have a day to do some of my favorite things, and then he would get there on Sunday and perform in two comedy shows in the city.

If you’ve seen the news at all, you may have seen that the Pacific Northwest got some snow. Seattle and other parts of Washington mostly. Portland didn’t really, at least not by the standards of a Colorado native or any person who has seen actual snow accumulation.

Before the trip, I was religiously checking the forecast, like the nervous traveler I am, and it was changing about as often as I was checking it. While the forecast for Portland seemed to be improving, Washington’s was not, and Harrison was scheduled to be in Yakima Saturday night.

While he was traveling through the snowy mountain passes between Bozeman, Montana and Yakima, Washington, I was going through my own sort of rollercoaster of a day.

I made it to Portland without even a delay, and the air travel gods apparently were satisfied with the number of middle seats I’ve occupied over the years and granted me a flight with 70 empty seats. I had an entire row to myself. When I arrived, I decided to go to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) because I had never been there. I don’t know that anything will ever counter the awkwardness of seeing bunch of a children aged about 7 to 10 running around multitudes of displays of male and female genitalia, models of fetuses at different stages of pregnancy, AND what childbirth looks like including the weird way babies’ heads get all misshapen as they’re squeezed through a hole far too small for it to remain a normal shape.  Portland does not mess around with science-based sex education, which I can get behind.

Then Cascade. Whoever decided to make a Kriek to be served hot is a damn genius, and I need a Denver brewery to make this happen. By next winter, please. Thanks.

I walked over the Burnside Bridge, which I love doing for some reason, even though I have a bit of a fear of heights and looking down makes my stomach leap. Not far over the bridge is Powell’s. I. HAD. ARRIVED. This would be a great weekend, I thought. Maybe Harrison would want to come back the next day.

While I was at Powell’s, I realized I hadn’t heard from Harrison in quite a while. I called him, and his phone was going straight to voicemail. I tried not to panic because I know that cell service in the mountains can sometimes be spotty. I made my way to where I planned to get dinner. I walked up on a street that is typically full of people eating and drinking, and I found it empty. Many businesses had closed in anticipation of snow. There was no snow accumulation on the ground, and the most I had seen was about an inch when I landed at the airport. Coupled with my worry about where Harrison might be because at that point, I had seen a post on Facebook from the venue saying their Yakima show was cancelled because the comics were stuck in a snow bank “somewhere in bumfuck Egypt,” the city started to feel very cold and lonely.

I finally heard from him. He was safe. He and the comic he was traveling with had slid off the road into a ditch and had to dig out. The road to their destination was closed, so they were stuck in some small town. They found a gas station and a motel and would figure out their next move and if they would even be able to make it to Portland. One of their Portland shows had already been cancelled because of “snow.”

He didn’t make it to Portland. I know that he feels bad, and that he did what was best for his safety. But the disappointment in this change of plans changed everything I felt about the weekend heading into it.

For the first time in all the times I’ve visited, I suddenly couldn’t wait to go home. For the first time, the city felt cold and empty and lonely and nothing that I needed it to be. Sure, it was quite literally cold, but it seemed like everything started to shift when plans changed. Everything that I love about the city became tiresome and cold, even the people. I heard a man yell at a streetcar operator and call him an asshole. I had never encountered a rude person in the Pacific Northwest. Ever. While the city’s transit system is truly the best I’ve ever seen, even that started to exhaust me. I sunk into a weird funk that I had a hard time fully pulling myself out of, and I was suddenly just kind of killing time before my flight home.

I tried to make the best of it. I ate at some of my favorite restaurants and drank some of my favorite beer. I tried to do something new and learned that Portland has an excellent art museum. But still, I ended up changing my flight to leave earlier on Monday morning rather than trying to enjoy one last Portland breakfast. I even splurged on a Lyft to the airport instead of using the city’s great public transit options, because the thought of dragging my belongings to the train and then switching to another train was utterly exhausting to me.

As all of this took shape this weekend, I was struck at how this very different set of circumstances and frame of mind so drastically changed my experience with the same city I’ve visited and only ever loved. I don’t really know what conclusion to draw from this experience except that I definitely don’t respond to change as well as I had hoped. I like a plan, even a loose plan, and no location in the world is likely to change the person I’ve been for 32 years of life. Sure, I’ve become better at responding to a change in plans with practice and copious amounts of yoga and breathing exercises. But deep down, I live with a set of expectations of how things will happen, and there will always be an uneasiness when things don’t happen that way. It influences my perception of my overall sense of well-being. Also, I can do alone like a champ, but lonely is another story. With Harrison being away as much as he has been lately between work and this excursion, I was really excited to be able to be with him for even a few hours. Missing Harrison and encountering a city that became so empty in places because of LIKE AN INCH OF SNOW was lonely and frustrating, and it made me sad.

I still love Portland, and I’m sure I’ll be back. However, maybe not when there’s a chance of snow. IMG_1504

Professional networking is my personal hell

If there is one thing I’ve learned from people I know who have found new career opportunities, it’s that those opportunities have come to them through a connection they’ve made. I have heard no less than 2 people in the last month say, “This just kind of fell in my lap.”

WHAT?! HOW?!!!!

My lap covers some territory, and I’m not over here catching any specks of good fortune on the career front.

My stepmom always says, “You have to get in front of the right people.”

Well, shit.

I don’t exactly love being in front of people or being the center of attention. My most comfortable state is completely alone, anonymous, observing rather than participating. I recently took a personality test that put me at 86% Introvert and only 14% Extrovert. Basically, 14% of the time I want to be with other humans, and that sounds…uh…correct.

When I’m not at work, you might find me watching TV or reading a book alone. I prefer to run errands alone. I prefer to shop alone, and am often reminded of this whenever I invite a friend to the mall with me because I’ve forgotten how much I dislike shopping with other people. I go to yoga alone and speak to no one except when I give the teacher my name at the front desk.

My dudes and dudettes, this level of introversion is not a joke.

Harrison used to ask me, “Is this really all you’re going to do tonight?” as he leaves me on the couch with a book or a very deep Netflix queue on a Friday night to go to (probably) a comedy show or open mic. Then he stopped asking because my answer was always, “YES.”  Harrison spends a lot of evenings out at open mics, so our relationship has been incredibly accommodating. Some might say enabling.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), I have a new friend who is constantly inviting me to get involved in things despite her own innate inclination to stay home. And as much as I don’t want to, I know I need to.

I spent the last two evenings at engagements geared toward young professionals with her. One of them is actually a choir, and I’m legit excited about that. I loved singing in choirs when I was younger, and at least I’m in a room with people working toward a common goal. The singing part I can handle, but the conversing with fellow singers is the hard part.

The other event was a happy hour for young professional at a fancy hotel bar and um, it was the worst.

First of all, I’m not fancy, and I always feel out of place in those environments. I own exactly one blazer that I think I’ve worn exactly twice. At a young professionals happy hour, you better bring your blazer. I am also THE MOST AWKWARD. I’m bad at starting conversations, and I am really terrible and feigning interest in things that I find absolutely dull. I wear my heart on my face. Eye contact with strangers? Lol. Please. I usually find myself following around the one person I know trying to interject myself in their conversations and doing a very bad job of it.

Introversion is not a condition that needs to be cured, but damn it’s hard to be an introvert in a world that places so much value the charismatic and gregarious over the quiet observers.

I’ll just be over here…tired from all the people-y stuff I’ve had to do and wishing I were at home.

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Via GIPHY