A Saturday hike

 

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When your soul-sucking day job starts to catch up with you…

 

 

go somewhere quieter, where you can hear the wind move through the trees instead of rattling your old apartment window…

 

 

where you can only see your responsibilities far off in the distance…

 

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where you can be reminded that even the most relentless flames can’t destroy the core of a structure…

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and where strange but beautiful things begin to sprout out of what was once destroyed.IMG_2792IMG_2793

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look one direction and the outlook is dark and ominous…

 

 

 

 

 

 

but turn your head just slightly…

 

and be amazed.

 

Go higher…
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so you can see further.

 

Take it in.

 

 

 

 

 

But don’t forget who’s next to you the entire time holding your water bottle.

 

 

 

 

 

Location: Eldorado Canyon State Park

I’m currently leaking ink

I got a tattooooooo!

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This is what it looks like when I spend an irresponsible amount of money, but hey, when you’ve been fantasizing about something for years, it might be time to pull the trigger.

A few years ago, I went to Portland when Harrison and I were going through a tough time and were unsure if we were going to stay together. One of us needed to remove ourselves from the situation. I was in Portland alone for a couple days and then a friend met me there. It rained so much. It poured every day that I was there. I came armed with my umbrella and carrying a broken spirit. As much as I love Denver, Portland was there when I needed it. I found my independence again in those days that I was alone navigating a new city in the rain. In the past, I’ve used rain as a metaphor for feelings. You can’t ignore them. You might be able to shield yourself a bit with the help of a good friend or an everyday distraction. In a downpour, an umbrella might help, but you will get wet no matter how much you try to avoid it. Feel your feelings; feel the rain.

I still love Portland, and this year, Harrison and I were able to enjoy the city together.

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If you’re in the Denver area and looking for some excellent tattoo artists, check out Certified Customs. You can also check them out on Instagram.

 

 

 

 

Open Letters to Senator Cory Gardner- round 2

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

Dear Senator Cory Gardner,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Whitney B.

Not a paid protester

Denver, CO

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

 

 

Open Letters to Senator Cory Gardner- round 1

I promised a couple of weeks ago that I would post the letter I wrote to Senator Cory Gardner about my experience at Planned Parenthood. Since I have no idea if Cory Gardner reads his letters or if he can read at all (ok fine, I’m sure he can read), I thought I’d make it public.

I think it’s important that women share their stories. It’s important that women know they aren’t alone. This is why I am incredibly grateful that a friend of mine wanted to share her letter here, as well.

Because I’m polite and stuff– guests first. I’ll post mine tomorrow. Please show this the respect it deserves.

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Rachael, I am 37 years old, and I support Planned Parenthood. When I was 16 years old, I became pregnant. While I felt that I was old enough to have sex, I was not comfortable having a conversation about sex-and I bet my boyfriend at the time was not comfortable buying condoms. I will never forget the day my mother confronted me and asked if I could be pregnant. Up to this point, I was never in trouble; I did well in school and was always home before curfew. I still feel disappointment in myself when I think of my father purchasing a pregnancy test for his 16 year old daughter-20 years later I am still disappointed in myself. I remember sitting in the bathroom as the test turned positive immediately; I sat there the full 15 minutes hoping that it would somehow turn negative-thinking somehow I was not really pregnant. I remember the conversation with my parents when they asked me what I wanted to do. My mother let me know if I choose to have the baby, I would still finish high school-it would not be an option to drop out. My parents will help me raise the child as I finished school, if I choose the option. For me, having the child was not an option. Not only did I want to finish high school, I wanted to go to college. I wanted to do more than my parents did.

Walking into Planned Parenthood I felt that I would be judged. I looked around the waiting room and felt that the others were looking at me and judging me-judging me for being so young and pregnant. I remember watching a video with another young woman and thinking she must be in college. I remember her looking at me with sadness in her eyes and saying,” Well, this doesn’t look so bad”. I remember the procedure and crying the entire time while a worker of Planned Parenthood held my hand through the entire procedure. I ran into that woman months later at the grocery store I worked for and she introduced me to her son who was developmentally disabled. I remember the compassion in her eyes as she talked to me. I will never forget her. I hope she knows how thankful I am to her.

I still feel guilty to this day. There are times that I stop to do the math; today I could have a 19 year old child; I could have a child that is in college. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had given birth. I have to wonder if I would have even gone to college, if I would still be on food stamps now because I am not able to work a high paying job-and I definitely would have been a single mother. The father and I were no longer together when I had the abortion. I wonder if I would have had a daughter, and if she would have gotten pregnant at 16 as I did, and as my mother did. I still hold the regret to this day, and I feel ashamed for what happened.

For many women, the choice to get an abortion is not an easy one. It never crosses our mind that abortions can be an alternative form of birth control. For many, there is a reason why we choose to terminate a pregnancy. After I terminated my pregnancy, I graduated high school, went to college, and have earned two Master’s Degrees. I was able to purchase a condo in just my name, and have a stable job where I get to help people. I am not sure I would be able to accomplish all of this as a single mother.

Unfortunately, there is very little support for young mothers, and for single parents. There is a lot of talk that every child is a wanted child, but Republicans are cutting programs that help children. They are trying to push legislation in which any person on welfare would have to submit to random drug testing. Based on the Republican agenda, not every child is a wanted child.

I am 37 years old and am facing a time where I may lose my right to choose. I am faced with a time where birth control may no longer be affordable to me. I am scared of what the future holds for me, and I wonder if I need to tie my tubes as that may be the only available birth control option under this administration. I no longer feel that my government is working to protect my freedoms. For the first time in 37 years, I feel less than my male counterparts. I understand there are others that are morally opposed to birth control; these individuals feel this goes against God. I respect their beliefs and wish they would respect my beliefs. They do not have to agree with my decisions, nor do they need to make the same decision. But please let me make that decision for myself. Also, trying to shut down Planned Parenthood does not mean abortions with stop. Abortions will still happen, but they will be more dangerous. Women will be putting their life in danger to terminate a pregnancy. Remember, abortions were not legal in the 1950s-but women still had them. By working to shut down Planned Parenthood, women will take dangerous means to terminate their pregnancy. For every woman that dies from an illegal abortion, their blood will be on your hands and God will see this. God will judge you, and will see your sin.

I implore this administration to separate their religious views, and their personal views, from law. Please allow us the right to choose. It is not your place to make the decision, nor is it your place to judge-please let God do that.

I support a woman’s right to choose. Do you?

Sincerely,

Rachael M.

An open letter to Denver Comics: Past, present, and future- as published in the zine, “Word”

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but Harrison started doing stand-up comedy last year. Subsequently, I’ve been to a lot of comedy events– open mic nights, local comedy shows, etc.. I’ve heard a lot of great local talent, but I’ve also heard a lot of crap. So I wrote a letter to Denver comedians. A few comedians Harrison knows are in a sketch group together and also put out a zine a few times a year. I submitted the letter to them, and they published it! Now, I realize that zines have a small niche audience, but I’m still very excited about this. Normally, this zine only publishes submissions from actual comedians, so I am thrilled that someone thought I had a unique perspective worth sharing.

So here it is, and make sure to check out The Agency around Denver and online! Thanks for printing this, guys!

An open letter to Denver Comics: Past, present, and future

I am the proud girlfriend of an aspiring comedian. As such, I have been to many an open mic or brewery comedy show because if I didn’t tag along, I would probably never see my boyfriend. As I’ve sat (or stood) and listened to a plethora of 3 to 5 to 15 minute sets, I feel I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t offer some advice. You’re right, I’m not a comedian. So who am I to say anything about jokes? Answer: I’m the audience, and as I understand it, the audience response basically determines your future. Oh, I almost forgot. If it seems like most of this is directed toward the men in the group, that’s because 98.5843% of you are men.

Can we stop with vulgar jokes about the female reproductive system? This includes period jokes and jokes (if you can even call them that) that basically sound like you are watching a weird fetish porno in your mind and giving us the play-by-play. Also, we know none of this shit actually happened. No one eats that many assholes and enjoys it, and if they do, they know it’s weird and don’t talk about it. I have a hard time articulating why period jokes aren’t funny. I can joke about my own period because it’s mine. I’ve never heard a comedian make a good period joke. Performing your set with a tampon cigar hanging out of your mouth or begging the question, “Why do vampires bother biting a woman’s neck when they could wait few weeks and get a sweet, sweet Bloody Mary?” makes me cringe a little.  Ladies, you’re not off the hook here. No one wants to hear what happens when you cough while you’re on your period. I already know, and dudes don’t want to know. It’s okay to leave some things to the imagination. Jokes are made up of two things: setup and punchline. So… where’s the punchline?

While we’re on the topic of women, if everyone could refrain from rape jokes, that would be really cool, too. Time to ruin all the fun with my feminist high-horse. Sorry, except that I’m not. So everyone’s aware, I don’t discriminate on account of there only being one aspiring comedian I sleep with, and I am admitting right here that my own boyfriend is guilty. One of his favorite jokes involves junk e-mail he’s tried to unsubscribe from but still receives. He says, “It’s like they’re raping me with their low cost flight offers,” about e-mails from an airline. He then tells the audience that it’s not a rape joke; it’s an airline joke. This straddles a very questionable line. He would argue that the line-straddling is the reason it’s funny, and I argue the opposite. According to the CDC, 1 in 6 adult women will be the victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. It may also be safe to assume that number may be higher because rape and sexual assault often go unreported. Comparing the act of rape to something as trivial as spam e-mails contributes to a very dangerous attitude that already runs rampant in our culture. Talk about rape. We should talk about it, but do it in a way that gives power to survivors, instead of minimizes an act that took their power. I believe in you. Please accept this challenge.

Can we also about about body image for a sec? Talking about the girl you met online who looked hot in her pictures but was fat when you met her in person is tired, used up, and supremely unfunny (I believe comics call this HACKY.) If this did actually happen, and it wasn’t made up for the sake of a joke, I’m going to guess that the female in question is average size (14-16 in the U.S.), and the dude-bro now joking about it is not only an asshole, but probably somewhere on the overweight spectrum.

Phew. That was heavy. Thanks for hanging in there. I have one last request: Don’t be a dick to fellow comics at open mics. This especially applies if you’ve been in the game for a while, are fortunate enough to get paid to tell jokes sometimes, and occasionally show up at open mics to work on new material. Not everyone is going to be good at this, but it takes a lot of guts to get up on a stage where you’ll either get laughs or blank stares. Remember what it’s like to be the new guy trying something for the first, second, or third time; remember the people who came ahead of you who you looked up to, and how devastated you would have been if they had gotten up on stage and made a comment like, “It looks like a lot of people made New Year’s Resolutions to do more comedy.” So what if they did? Being an asshole to the person that decided to try something they’ve always wanted to try because you’re a “professional shit-talker” is not funny. You know who you are. In closing, I realize that no one is looking to me for guidance. But they are looking at you. Because you’re the one on stage, with a microphone. Make it count.