In Portland, drinks are cheap and doilies are a hot commodity. And it's real close to the Goonies house.Read More
So part of my job means traveling. Jetting off with my obscenely large (and ugly-on-purpose) paisley suitcase and confused sense of what, exactly, the TSA means by "personal carry-on items." Anyway, I had to go to Denver for a conference. I was in charge of 11 teenagers, but we won't get into that (too soon. I can still hear the iPhone ding ding's bouncing off the walls when I sleep).
Let me confess one thing: I am hopelessly, endlessly, obnoxiously enamored with The Shining. The fact that The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park was a mere 1.5 hour drive from my convention hotel was both exciting and depressing, because I couldn't get away from work (see also: 11 teenagers). But it was made better by the fact that my shuttle driver looked exactly like Jack Nicholson; the only difference is that my shuttle driver seemed to love drinking neon-colored Fanta and asking the same questions over and over ("So what got you into Denver?" ... "A conference." ... "Oh, ok. Let me tell you a story about a conference. Hey, what brings you into town?").
Somehow I don't see Mr. Nicholson being so forgetfully inquisitive.
Anyway, Not-Nicholson told me a story about a giant blue horse statue as we passed it on the freeway. This horse was unsettlingly large, blue, and had glowing red eyes. If Rosemary's baby had been a horse, it would be this thing, bucking in absolute rage.
Let's talk about Blucifer.
- Blucifer's real name is "Mustang," but literally no one calls him that.
- Because while he was being built, his head fell onto/killed the sculptor.
- The Denver airport already has some seriously creepy, post-apocalyptic vibes and conspiracy theories. And have you SEEN the murals? I'll have nightmares for a nice long while. Thanks DEN.
- Seriously, WTF is up with the Denver airport?
- I'm kind of obsessed with Blucifer now. Just call me Rosemary.
It was cold in Denver. I say this as someone that has lived in California for nearly two years, but damn it was cold. It snowed the first two days I was there, but did I pack a jacket? Nope. Did I learn that my weather app was a sinister little liar when it came to predicting Denver weather conditions? Yep.
Here's some other stuff I learned about my time in Denver:
- "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes." - Everyone in Denver.
- There are some damn fine coffee shops (shout out to Novo Coffee for putting up with me multiple times per day, and Corvus for having the best damn latte I've ever had).
- Denver Flea is not for the faint of heart, or the poor, and I seemed to be both. Fun anyway? Yes. Because beards. Everywhere, beards.
- Never go to Denver on 4/20 weekend. Y'all, just don't, okay? But if you do: be prepared for everyone to say "happy holidays!" and ask you for money for "hippie research" while they prance around the streets. Prance.
- People prance in Denver. They're good at it.
All right, Denver. You win this round. I'll be back to visit Blucifer, The Stanley Hotel, and drink more of your coffee/booze. Until then, I'm saving all my heavy sweaters for you.
After watching Reese Witherspoon's achingly honest performance as Cheryl Strayed in the film Wild, I started reading the book. Because, you know, I didn't read it like three years ago when my creative writing teacher told me to. Yeah, yeah; I'm always late to the party, and I'm always the one that brings unpopular snacks.
Anyway, in the first few pages, Strayed talks about losing her shoe on a cliff along the Pacific Crest Trail. In the movie, we see Witherspoon carefully pulling away the remaining bits of toenail that cling to her mutilated feet. Then she pitches the other shoe down the cliff. The point being: Cheryl Strayed did not know how to buy proper hiking shoes (really, just ones that fit her properly). And this brought up a very sincere, if not totally trivial, fact of life for me: I suck at shoes.
- I suck at buying shoes. I will never pay full price for shoes. This means I have really mediocre shoes that are real cute from places like Target and H&M. This also means that I own really out of season designer shoes that I got for probably 80% off at one of those hideous designer warehouse places. Yeah. I shop at those.
- I suck at fitting into shoes. Just like Strayed, I often find myself with mangled feet at the end of a long hike. This is a lie. I usually wear really, really inappropriate shoes on hikes (just ask any Californian I know. For real). We're talking sandals, we're talking $20 boots that instantly soak up the water that drifted majestically off those damn fine (and enormous) Redwood trees.
- I suck at wearing weather-appropriate shoes. I'm consistently confused by the weather in California. It's either blazing-hot and my toes get sunburned, or it's slightly less hot and I sweat in my boots. Either way, I can never seem to find a homeostatic happy place for my feet.
- I suck at caring what people think about my shoes. Let's be real. I get dressed in the dark basically every day. If it's clean, I'll probably wear it. I catch myself around noon each day glancing down at my feet just to make sure my shoes match. This is a very real comedy for me. And the fact that it takes me until noon to even give a damn is also a little sad. What's not sad, however, is that the underlying sentiment remains: I do not care. If I accidentally mix up a black oxford with a brown oxford, I'm going to pretend I did it on purpose and feel zero shame, naysayers.
I was recently at a gathering with a bunch of pals, and one of those pals decided to shoe-shame my companion on the way out the door. We both looked at each other quizzically: are we supposed to be embarrassed by this shoe faux-pas? Since when are standard Nike shoes "dad shoes"? Let's face it, we're all pushing 30-35. A lot of us are dads and moms. I wear mom jeans, and I don't even have a kid. That shit is just comfortable.
Maybe I'm just trying to make sense of my complete lack of shoe-responsibility, because I'm cheap and I have wide feet and I'm pretty sure I wear the same size as Dennis Rodman. Here's where I say that Cheryl Strayed made me feel better about not buying proper shoes (I am not alone!), but also worse because I should buy proper shoes. Not that I'll be hiking the PCT any time soon—though if I did I'd probably wear a pair of neon pink Nikes.
Here's a picture of the last time I went hiking in Auburn. Check out those fly $25 totally-made-for-nature H&M boots.
In my pursuit of Getting to Know California, I've seen a lot of valleys, sunshine, and some bizarrely cold/foggy beaches with sand that isn't really sand, but tiny rocks that manage find their way into my shoes. But like Diane Arbus always said, "my favorite thing is to go where I've never been," so I jumped at the opportunity to spend a weekend in Santa Cruz, because I'd never been there before—and you know, in the 80's Kiefer Sutherland made it seem spooky-cool in The Lost Boys.
One trend I've noticed in the past year and a half has been that people from California love being from California—and they frequently show their devotion with those California Republic shirts with bears on them, Sac Republic scarves to show some soccer love, and an abundance of Santa Cruz hoodies (to technically show love for a skateboarding company, let's not get into it). I'm not complaining: it's refreshing to see a sea of bear logos instead of a sea of Alabama or Auburn garb.
Anyway, I went to Santa Cruz. It was foggy, and a bit chilly, but I was thrilled to visit Verve Coffee, drink a few iced mochas, and head over to the Boardwalk to ride a gnarly rollercoaster, a cheesy haunted castle (I may have kept my eyes closed for most of that one, whatever, I scare real easy, y'all), and smash into children with bumper cars. Since it was California-coastal-raining, a lot of the rides were closed. This made all the rides that were open all that much more unsettling and creepy.
I'd like to take a moment to suggest that if you get a chance to ride the 1911 Looff Carousel, do it, but it will haunt your dreams forever (especially if it's California-coastal-raining, foggy, and not crowded at all). This ride is charming because not only do you get to sit on a hand-carved old-ass wooden horse, but you also get to grab brass rings from a dispenser as you go 'round, and then you attempt to toss them into a clown's mouth.
At the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, you can ride a beautiful wooden horse and attempt to throw brass rings into an aged wall-clown's gaping maw. If you are successful in your attempt, you're rewarded with flashing lights and bells. I was not successful, because I apparently suffer poor motor skills, but I saw a couple of people win in their attempts.
Santa Cruz is a little janky, which I wasn't anticipating. But I liked it. Stay janky, Santa Cruz. But I'm not buying a hoodie (at $55 each!), and next time I'd really like to run into some Lost Boys.
Here's the thing about karaoke: it's not something that can be described as a "verb" for me. I didn't recall ever being in a place in Birmingham that had karaoke, and if they did, it was only a sporadic or one-a-month kind of thing. Or, maybe I'm remembering it wrong and it was everywhere, it just wasn't on my radar.
Karaoke was never on my radar because:
- I can't sing well. No one wants to hear that. Pretty sure it pisses off my dog when I sing heartfelt renditions of Elliott Smith songs in the shower. I think I'm losing her respect.
- I don't like getting in front of large groups of people. I tend to make stupid faces, or say stupid things. I barely passed Public Speaking in college.
- Seriously, people stare at you when you're up there.
So when a coworker announced that we were going to get a group together to go to a sushi/karaoke bar (yes, that is a thing), my exact words were, "I will go and eat the heck out of the sushi, but you won't get me drunk enough to karaoke."
And then I got drunk enough to karaoke. Actually, I won't say I got drunk. I got overserved. I may or may not have sung a sketchy rendition of Pearl Jam's "Better Man," but you only live once, right? In all actuality, I would pretend none of this ever happened, that I didn't embarrass myself in front of a room full of coworkers. Unfortunately one of them took a video as proof, so I can't deny any of it.
While I will eventually get over this, I have noticed that my coworkers now look at me in the same way that my dog looks at me: slightly disappointed, slightly amused.
And here is a picture of this whole thing actually going down, and there's Lunar trying to bat away the photographic evidence of me singing in public. Enjoy, dear reader. This will never happen again. Probably.