Um… What Holidays?

Posted in SoForth on December 12th, 2014 by Diva

I spent Thanksgiving Day on a cruise ship in the Mediterranean.

Specifically, we went to Rome, Italy last month for two days of wandering about town, then boarded a boat and spent 11 days visiting other port cities. In Rome, we saw Constantine’s Arch, the Colosseum, the Forum, and wandered St. Peter’s Square a bit. By booking tours from the boat nearly every day on the cruise, we got to visit Florence, Pisa, Monaco (Monte Carlo is the name of the casino, not the country), Marseille, Aix-de-Provence, Barcelona, Valencia, Sardinia/Pompeii, Palermo (Sicily), and Naples. Then we disembarked back in Rome for another two days, where we toured catacombs, crypts, bone churches, the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. Then we plowed through a downpour to see the Pantheon (worth it!).

It was a dream vacation, though I was pretty sick of the boat by day 7. I don’t like people in general and prefer not to spend any time around giant crowds of them if I can help it. We went because the fare was super cheap over Thanksgiving, which is why I spent that particular day on a boat, eating turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce from an overcrowded buffet.

Ok, I lied: I didn’t eat any traditional Thanksgiving dishes, on that day or any other. There was more exotic fare from which to choose. And for the record, the food on the boat wasn’t up to European standards really, but it was quite tasty because the worst food in Europe is much better than any food here. Homemade pasta al dente, pizza in Naples (where the concept was born), meat and cheese plates with ingredients so fresh you could practically hear the cows mooing and so delicate it melts in your mouth. Not to mention the gelato – oh, the gelato!

One thing I do sincerely love about travel is the flavors, that’s for sure. But it also makes me sad our tastes here in the U.S. are so low-brow. We settle for Coors Light or Bud when we could have Duvel and Leffe; our fast food is touted as great-tasting but doesn’t hold a candle to anything I can find in a basic convenience store in the EU. If only our standards were higher, in food and many other areas. But I digress.

All this explains why just last night it occurred to me: Xmas is upon us. Really, it took me until 15 days out, probably because we returned home to beautiful 55-60° weather – 68° today! – so it doesn’t even feel like December. We also dealt with jet lag, did a massive amount of yard work (the fall leaves were still strewn about), caught up on work, and took 2-1/2 days in Breckenridge (preplanned and ill-timed) to kick off ski season for the Maestro. Only today have I really gotten back into the swing of things, but I haven’t been to the gym in three weeks, and my brain meats are starting to slooooow doooooown …

Uh-oh. Not only am I behind in our annual gift-a-palooza (sorry, Texas family), but I could not give less of a shit about any of it than I do right this moment.

But hey, at least I posted here. So there’s that.

Vacation photos forthcoming.

Someday.

Halloween Decor.

Posted in SoForth on November 17th, 2014 by Diva

Finally finished editing the set. There are a lot more than what I’m posting; these are just the ones that give an idea of how far I go each year for my favorite holiday.

Mantel Full
The fireplace mantel.

Mantel Demon
Demon child.

Side Window Right
Close up of the window previously posted.

Musical Baby Dome
Just as creepy in person, trust me.

Little Red Wagon
Happiest parts clerk ever.

Light Head 4
Doll head and LED candle. Easy-peasy.

Kitchen Window Left 3
The eyes have it.

Kitchen Window Center Dark
Lighting – or lack thereof – is important to the mood.

Harry
We call him Harry, because he isn’t.

Hallway Right 1
As basic as super glue.

Hallway Charlotte
Charlotte’s been fixed so many times, she’s mostly new bits.

Doll Dome 3
Thrift store dolls + a sale on glass domes at Michael’s = creepiness.

Hall Art 2
Yes, everything – even the art – gets the Halloween treatment.

Dining Doorway
Doll heads on one side …

Dining Doorway Backside
… and doll clothes on the other.

Bathroom Window 1
I think it’s funny. My ex-husbands probably don’t.

Bathroom Head 1
Main bathroom.
There was a corresponding brunette head on the other side.

Bathroom Shower
Inside the shower, for anyone who dared to look.

Barbie Box Dark
Barbie shadow box. In front of it is …

Garland Dark
… garland made of doll parts.

Doll Freak 6
Perhaps it’s best not to ask.

Diva Fairy (cropped)
And the absinthe fairy.

Because the scariest costume in the world – at least to my friends – is me in a pastel color with wings.

What’s the opposite of goth?

So Little Time.

Posted in SoForth on November 5th, 2014 by Diva

October is full of Halloween organizing, decorating, and entertaining. Most of this November and December is already booked with other plans.

This poor old blahg suffers in my absence. It’s not for lack of having anything to say, it’s having the time to write it down in any cohesive fashion.

I’m on Twitter more often because I can do it from my phone, anywhere, anytime. I miss this, though. It’s relaxing to organize my thoughts and place them here.

For awhile I said to myself, “I’ll write on the plane” or “I’m taking the laptop to a coffee shop next week,” but it doesn’t happen. I’m allowing life to get in the way. So it goes, so it goes.

Well, back to prepping Halloween photos for posting, scanning old family photos (newish project, that), and paperwork I’ve neglected.

Be seeing you.

My POS Scooter.

Posted in WhatNot on October 23rd, 2014 by Diva

I call my scooter a Chinese piece-of-shit because that’s exactly what it is: A cheaply-made item from China.

I bought it used on Craigslist for $600 and, in the near decade I’ve owned it, there have been a dozen or so small problems – a loose wire here, a too easily bent fender there – but it’s always an easy fix and the parts are super inexpensive. And while I love the look of the more expensive brands – Vespa, Scarab, People, etc. – mine gets me from point A to point B just fine. Why spend twice as much? For the prestige?

Prestige. On a scooter. Hilarious.

But the best part is not having a name brand means no one wants to steal it. I rarely, if ever, have to dig out my cord lock and attach it to a pole or other immovable object while I’m out.

So I was cruising around Newegg today, looking for computer stuff, and discovered, surprisingly, that they sell cheap, Chinese POS scooters. And not only that, they’re having a sale right now on some models. That means anyone can get their own Chinese POS for about $650 with FREE shipping.

Don’t think I’m not considering it. Mine’s beat up from multiple drops (I am uber-uncoordinated on any two-wheeled vehicle) and, right now, the steering is slightly messed up from a curb hit (I said I’m uncoordinated – ask me about my knee injuries!).

I love my POS, but it just might be the right time to turn it in on a newer model. I gotta think fast, though; the sale ends in three days.

No pressure.

Halloween is My Jam.

Posted in WhatNot on October 22nd, 2014 by Diva

Busy as ever creating this year’s sand painting.

Side Window

I love October.

Boo!

Conduct Unbecoming.

Posted in WhatNot on October 9th, 2014 by Diva

I don’t have the inclination, the time, or the space to explain all the reasons why I signed this petition, other than to say online disagreements between people should never, Never, NEVER end in doxxing.

For those unclear on the word, doxxing is the release of personal information, including but not limited to name, address, phone number, etc., online. Some have even had their social security number released. It’s the last resort of the non-confrontational, wherein someone would rather ruin another’s reputation and/or personal life than face them head-on and discuss their differences like adults.

Doxxing is always wrong, even for the “lulz.” We have laws and courts – which don’t allow rumors, hearsay, gossip, or other public opinion, go figure – to help those who have genuinely been wronged. If it’s not enough to go to court over, confront it by asking the people involved to flesh out their views. Discuss, debate, ask questions, and be nice (read: mature). You’ll be surprised at how much rage can be alleviated by mere conversation.

I know, asking anonymous people to face their cognitive dissonance by confronting their biases … but seriously, the LEAST you can do is face the person you’ve judged and ask their view on the situation. If you’re unwilling to do that, let it go, because in the long run? Unless you’re one of the parties directly involved in a disagreement, it doesn’t concern you. If you are, doxxing (or calling for it) is a marker your argument is weak and/or you are unwilling to debate your point like a rational adult. Either way, it makes you the immature, irresponsible, and unethical side. Congrats.

Put another way: Tweeting someone’s real name and place of employment when they’ve made it clear they prefer to keep their work and personal lives separate is unacceptable.

Seeing it from a woman who professes to be on the side of science and skepticism is enraging and, ultimately, disappointing.

/rant

This is why we can’t have nice things.

New York, New York.

Posted in WhatNot on October 8th, 2014 by Diva

Until last week, I had not been to NYC in 20 years. Having lived in the Western U.S. my entire adult life, it’s easier and cheaper to take time off in L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, even Salt Lake City, than anywhere out east. From Denver, most West Coast cities are only about two hours away by air, where the NYC flight was nearly four. Add being at the airport two hours early for the usual security theater and the trek easily wastes 1/2 a day. I’d rather arrive in Vegas by noon than NYC by 6pm.

Anyway, my last journey to the Big Apple, lo those many years ago, was pretty epic. I met friends in Baltimore and we all took a Greyhound to the NYC Port Authority Bus Terminal, where we caught the subway to the Grand Hyatt Hotel for one of the first-of-its-kind gatherings of S&M folk (the “BDSM” moniker came into use a few years later) in the U.S. So there were hundreds of players, fetishists, a giant vendor fair, and other various perversions to be had in our hotel, plus planned sessions, panels, demonstrations, play parties, and other related convention fun. Add the city was host to the Gay Games that year, going simultaneously with Pride weekend AND the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots … welll, when I said “epic,” I meant it. But that’s all for another post, some other time, though I wrote a little bit about it a few years ago.

My overall impressions of the city are still the same. First, the air is thick, wet, and it stinks. Not figuratively; all the jokes about the New York stench are true. Car exhaust, urine, grease and fat from restaurant exhaust, hot dog water from sidewalk carts, body odor from the crowds … I don’t have the most sensitive nose, but there were times I found it monumentally gross. On the bright side, it took my mind off the dirty sidewalks, walls, and subways. As we passed the Central Park Zoo and caught a whiff of dung, my man said, “This is where New Yorkers go for fresh air. Makes sense.”

Second, it is crowded. CROWD-ED. Even the lobby of the hotel was filled with noise 24/7. People are everywhere, at all hours, doing all manner of things. Which is neat if you’re visiting, but not having space got tiresome for us pretty quickly. We only found respite in our hotel room, but even on the 37th floor we could hear traffic, sirens, trucks backing up, and all manner of busy city noise.

Third, New Yorkers still have that good old oral fixation. Vape pens have not supplanted smoking in the least, toothpicks are something you chew on while you talk, and the gum smacking … chewing is at least more polite. I mean if you have to have gum in public at all.

Finally, New Yorkers look miserable. Not ill-dressed, not due to any sickness, but resigned. To what? To living in a smelly city with too many people and virtually no peace and quiet? I don’t pretend to know, but they look somehow beaten down. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism, but the only smiles I saw were on tourists and drunks.

I don’t want to make it sound like there’s nothing worthwhile there. We had an absolute great time. The first day was the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the second the Museum of Modern Art. Yes, they both took a full day and yes, they were packed to the mother-fucking gills with people, but totally worth it. At the Met, we arrived at opening, skipped a wing or two, and still barely made it out when they closed at 5. It’s world history in painting, sculpture, and decorative arts.

MoMa was a tad easier, even if it did involve maneuvering through the “audio zombies” – people with the audio tour implanted in their ears, who meandered this way and that without regard to the geo-positioning of their fellow humans. I bumped into more people there than on the street, with the same number of headphones involved.

What struck me most at MoMA: How small Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory is and the room-sized, wall-filling Water Lillies by Claude Monet. I had thought the former would be bigger, the latter smaller. This is the perspective that happens when you only see art in books or tacked to your dorm mate’s wall, which is my way of saying, “Get thee to an museum.”

The one and only Broadway ticket we’d pre-purchased for the trip was The Book of Mormon, which I can’t recommend enough to anyone with a sense of humor about religion. It was delightful – it always skirted the edge of blasphemous without actually crossing over and had quite the subversive treatise on belief, the way we perceive and (ab)use other cultures, and human nature in general. Plus I nearly laughed my makeup off. Recommendation: Go but sneak in a flask, because a CAN of water cheap beer will cost you an entire intermission and $12 (my short, poorly-poured rum and coke was $18).

I keep up with The Stand comedy club on Twitter and thereby managed to score us $5 tickets for two nights of stand up. The place isn’t right next to a subway stop, so I guess they have trouble filling up on weeknights. That’s too bad, because the line up both times was just stellar. It’s the third or fourth time we’ve seen Christian Finnegan and Dan Soder, but I had never seen Rachel Feinstein, Yannis Pappas, or Gary Gulman live before. We were also introduced to comics we hadn’t previously heard of, Monroe Martin in particular. And once again, we were the old folks in the club laughing hard and loud. Audience members always shoot us looks, even in backwater Texas, but you know what? The comics LOVE us. Dan Soder even fist-bumped me for being happy and animated.

(A brief diversion about comedy clubs: If you travel, try to get to one. Doesn’t even have to be at a huge venue with big names, just go to a stand-up show. I say this because it’s usually the cheapest ticket in town, you might laugh your cares away, and comics with short sets in clubs are more than likely working out material for a longer set. That means you’ll get to hear a joke before anyone else, see it evolve if it gets on TV, and see the final product if the comedian is lucky enough to get a full hour special. Plus, if you’re in NYC or El Lay, huge names sometimes stop by to work out – it hasn’t happened to me (yet), but I’ve heard stories of Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, Jerry Seinfeld and others “just dropping in” for a set. For a comedy nerd, that’s like Dylan coming to sit in on a Mumford & Sons set. Ok, diverson over …)

The one overly touristy thing we did was take the trip to the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. The only thing that saved my sanity was the idea belonged solely to my man, who saw the discount tickets offered at our hotel and allowed the bargain-hunter in him to overcome his sensibilities. I blithely tried to talk him out of it, because we tend to avoid the tourist stuff – we walked around the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, but never once considered the wait to go up – but I kind of wanted to go, too. So off we went, tickets in hand, not realizing even on a slow day the line would take wandering several floors with masses of people for close to two hours.

I can see those of you who know my love cringing at this prospect. Trust me, it was special. Worst of all was the knowledge we could have skipped the line entirely by getting an express ticket, but that was $20 more each, which was not going to happen. Watching my love try not to complain about waiting was absolutely priceless, though, so I’m not sure I’d trade the experience if I could.

Anyway, two hours of wait, 10 minutes up top fighting through the crowd to catch a glimpse of One World Trade Center, the Statue of Liberty, and other landmarks in the distance, then another 20 minutes to get back down again. Hardly worth it without the express ticket, in my opinion.

We were in town for four days and mostly ate (and drank) at Irish pubs while we were there, because 1) the food was reasonably-priced, and 2) you can’t throw a rock in Midtown without hitting one. Perhaps it’s just us, but each and every one we went to had a genuinely Irish bartender, too. So if you want a job at a bar there, you should probably spend some time in Kilkenny first.

The food itself was unremarkable – burgers, bangers & mash, potato skins – until our last night, when we discovered Lillie’s Victorian Establishment. The decor can be best described as a former tea room turned bar run by a gay uncle. It’s “homey museum” or “living salon;” each table in the huge space manages to be somehow intimate. Here, just go take a look at some photos. And before you think it was all about the ambiance, I can tell you that one meal we had there was nothing short of spectacular. When we go back, Lillie’s is where I will eat every meal if I can.

My only other notes on NYC are to do your subway search for handicap accessible stations, or you’ll be taking your suitcase up and down a lot of stairs. That was fun on our arrival, let me tell ya. Good thing I work out. And don’t take a special trip to Brooklyn for the Morbid Anatomy Museum, unless you’re already in Brooklyn or plan to spend the day there. The place took us 30 minutes to get to, 15 minutes to visit (including the espresso we had in the cafe), and 30 minutes to get back. It’s worth it, just not as a side trip from Manhattan.

Also, there’s a story to tell of one of our evenings there that requires its own, separate post. Because there are a million stories in the city …

… but I’m still not sure I’m one of them. You’ll see.

I am glad to be home, though.

Where the buffalo roam.

Political Action.

Posted in WhatNot on October 6th, 2014 by Diva

As a registered independent, I’ve been getting mail from both the Cory Gardner and the Mark Udall Senate campaigns.

As a skeptic, I look up the statistics and other information they each claim to be true. Informed voting is important and it takes just a mouse-click to research most of it.

I’ve found, as many others have, that Gardner’s literature is riddled with half-truths, if not outright lies. This is to be expected, since the major backers to his campaign are the Kochs (mostly via their super PACs) and the Tea Party-supporting FOX News, both of whom operate with the knowledge if you spout a lie often enough, it becomes truth.

Well, someone’s calling Gardner out on it.

I can take the usual political maneuvering, vitriolic rhetoric, and mud-slinging; it’s part and parcel of elections and has been since the time of our beloved founding fathers.

The lie WILL grow and become truth if it’s ignored long enough. We’ve allowed exactly that to happen too often and for too long. Time to call ‘em out on it.

Ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s ignorance.

Beautiful Resignation.

Posted in WhatNot on September 16th, 2014 by Diva

I don’t care for most poetry, but there are rare instances I find some that just works for me.

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

Just an excerpt of Japanese Maple by Clive James, found in this week’s New Yorker. The full poem may be read here.

Before you click through to read it, though, take note: Mr. James is terminally ill.

Something in your eye, too?

The Parkway.

Posted in WhatNot on September 12th, 2014 by Diva

One of my favorite things about living on a parkway is seeing out our front window.

Picture Window 9-12-14

On a cold day like today – it’s 45° at this writing – it’s nice to sit on the couch closest to the view with a cup of coffee and catch up on some reading. Today, I read articles and blog posts related to how atheists process grief after the death of a loved one.

One of my favorite things about living on our particular parkway is the proximity to Fairmount Cemetery. During summer, my love and I ride our scooters over to check out the many markers and mausoleums of people who once were.

View of Fairmount Cemetery in Denver, Colorado

On a warm day like tomorrow – the forecast says it will be in the mid-70s – we pack a snack and some tasty beverages and wander about the place both on wheels and on foot. We’ve done this for five summers and always found some new beauty, tragedy, or oddity there amongst the dead. Today, I reminded him we should make our annual trek before the weather gets too inhospitable for scooter rides.

But one of my absolute favorite things about living on our particular parkway is sitting at my front picture window and seeing a funeral procession headed to Fairmount.

Victor Hugo Funeral
They look nothing like Victor Hugo’s 1885 funeral,
but it
is a copyright-free image.

On a day with any weather – because death continues, unabated, through all seasons – it’s fascinating to see the hearse, limousine(s), and parade of mourners in vehicles go by. I always wonder about the deceased and feel for the families, but I mostly find myself counting the cars and contemplating my own mortality.

But not today. I just can’t.

No.