Thursday, June 18, 2015

L'Oreal Ultimate Straight Influenster Vox Box Review

I received a set of L'Oreal's new Ultimate Straight hair care supplies to experiment with as a free trial from Influenster. I was pretty excited, as my supplies showed up just as I was about to run out of my regular shampoo, so, hooray, no trip to CVS for me!

I received the full set of the new 4-step line:
Step 1: Smooth Intense Ultimate Straight – Straightening shampooStep 2: Smooth Intense Ultimate Straight – Straight Boosting Pre-conditionerStep 3: Smooth Intense Ultimate Straight – Straightening conditionerStep 4: Smooth Intense Ultimate Straight – Straight Perfecting Balm

I also received the headache of secret steps 5 and 6, blow drying and straightening.

The thing I was the most excited by about this line is that it's paraben free. It's getting easier to hunt down paraben free supplies from the drug store, but it's still not exactly easy. Having a box of them delivered to my front door was pretty swell.

The thing I was LEAST excited about was a 4-step system. I'm pretty low maintenance, and on the best of days, I can manage to shampoo and condition my hair before passing out with my wet hair scrunched up on top of a towel. If I'm REALLY lucky, I'll dry and slap some argan oil on there to keep the frizzies down.

It turns out that the 4 step system isn't so bad. There's one extra step in the shower, the pre-conditioner.It doesn't need to be rinsed out, so it really only adds a minute or two to your usual routine, which is nice. The perfecting balm is used after you towel dry your hair, which is exactly how I use my argan oil, so no real time difference there, either.

What isn't clear about this system is that purported results come as a result of not only use of the 4 products, but also of blow drying your hair, as well as straightening it, if needed, after you blow dry it. These are steps that I almost NEVER take, and was not excited to find out needed to be a part of the Ultimate Straight regiment. (Though, I understand how stick straight hair works, so I can't say I was surprised.)

I tried this system 3 times, once using the whole system less the secret steps, once only using steps 1 and 3, and once using the whole system with the secret steps. My thoughts:

No Secret Steps:
Hair is definitely softer, thought not necessarily straighter. The routine isn't so arduous that I wouldn't keep doing it, though I'm not sure if the results are any better than what I usually do with my three step routine.

1 & 3:
Hair is still pretty soft, but definitely not straighter. If anything, I have MORE flyaways than usual - possibly a result of not using a post-shower moisturizer? Using steps 1 & 3 as an independent straightening system is probably useless, but I might use them in conjunction with my argan oil. Will have to try this.

Secret Steps:
I feel like if you have to use styling tools to achieve perfect, optimum results, the products aren't really delivering 100% on their promises. Of COURSE your hair will be straight if you straighten it with a blowdryer and an iron. You don't really need a straightening product regiment for that. But I was resolve to try this, so I did. Result? The same, if not marginally worse, than my usual hair straightening routine. My hair is still super soft, which is great, but I have plenty of rogue frizzies, and it still doesn't lie as flat as I'd like it to


As a simple hair care regimen, this seems fine, though it leaves my hair feeling pretty light, which I'm sure contributes to my frizzy/flyaway look. I'm a natural brunette who is actively going grey, so I need a lot more weight to keep the greys down than what this system seems able to offer me. That said, I'm ok with keeping up with the 4 step system til I run out of product, but I'm not sure if I'd purchase steps 2 & 4 independently. I'm not convinced that step 2 actually does anything, but I would purchase it again, if I can get a good deal on it. Step 4 I will probably just trade out for my usual argan oil, which seems to be more moisturizing for my hair. I don't think I'd endorse it as a revolutionary new straightening regiment, but it is adequate.

#Ultimatestraight was provided for me for free as part of a 2015 Influenster VoxBox. Thanks for the products, Influenster!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How To Clean Your Roller Derby Pads

People keep asking me how I clean my pads, so I figure I'd just write it up for good. Everyone has their own way of cleaning their gear. You should use whatever way you like best - this is just mine.

I skate with a rec league, so at best, I'll have two "real" practices a week, plus whatever skate time I can fit in on my own. I don't take very good care of my gear - I don't spray it down after practice, I don't really even ever take it out of my bag. I only wash it when it gets to gag-worthy level, which is usually every 4 months, or as soon as it hits 90 degrees in Denver, whichever happens first.

So. How I to wash your gear. (And by gear, I mean wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads. Obviously, DO NOT drop your bearings in the washing machine!)

Step 1: Wait until your gear becomes ungodly stinky. Dead skunk on a July day in the sun with flies stinky. (Or whenever you feel like cleaning it. In fact, you should probably NOT wait as long as I do.)

Step 2: Remove gear from your bag. Try not to gag.

Step 3: Put white vinegar in a clean spray bottle. Lay gear out, and spritz down. When I say "spritz," I mean "go to town." Undo the velcro bits and get every last bit of surface. If any of the guard-y bits are removable, feel free to remove them, but I never have on mine. Make sure it soaks in and gets to the foam, the vinegar will help kill the bacteria that is actually living in there, and causing all the stinkifying. Spray the velcro. The elastic. Inside the little air holes that serve as ventilation straight in to the padding. EVERYWHERE. Do this in a well ventilated area. I do it in my bathtub, with the windows open, at night.

Step 4: Let the vinegar soak in, to the point of evaporating or nearly evaporating. I usually let it hang out overnight.

Step 5: Place gear in lingerie/mesh washing bags. I put the kneepads in one, and the wrist guards/elbow pads in another.

Step 6: Put in washing machine with about a cup of baking soda and detergent. I use Boulder 100% Natural Laundry Detergent, which I picked up at CostCo for like $10. Use however much is equivalent to what you'd use for a (whatever you plug in as the size as your load of laundry) load of laundry. (Win is also supposedly good at getting rid of odors, but I've never used it.) Boulder has a very mild citrus scent. I'd recommend using something similar, or unscented, to avoid irritating your skin later.

Step 7: This depends on your washing machine. I set mine for a "large" load and a "delicate/knit" washing cycle. Do whatever approximates a lot of water and delicate swishing. The water temperature should be cold wash and cold rinse. Let the machine fill up, and let the gear soak for a few minutes.


Step 9: Take your gear out and let it line dry in the sun. The UV from the sun also helps kill the bacteria.

Step 10: Clean gear! Sniff test: does it smell tolerable? If so, you're done! If it still smells like vinegar (if it still smells like skunk, it may just be time for new gear), run it through the wash (same steps) and line dry again.

That's it! It may sound like a lot, or time consuming, but I swear that this process has rescued my gear from the point of no return every single time I think I've hit the point of no return. The key, I think, is the one-two punch of bacteria elimination (the vinegar AND the UV), and then swishing out all the dead bacteria. (Obviously, I am not a scientist. That is guesswork.)

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Anxiety Nightmares #2

Item: My dad is my best friend.

Item: My dad's health is not, and has not been, for a very long time, the best.

Without getting in to the details of his maladies, suffice it to say, the idea of my dad getting even sicker, or worse, dying, has been an source of anxiety-to-the-point-of-trauma for me for a very, very long time.

It's bad enough that I can make myself physically ill with worry during the day, using nothing but controlled, conscious thought. What's worse is how much worse (better?) my subconscious is at drawing out fantastic, excruciating, unbelievable versions of these same anxiety-fantasies.

 I have had recurring dreams of my father's death/decline for as long as I can remember dreaming. Not the same dream, but the same storyline. (Do other people dream in movies, like I do?) What's truly impressive is the staggering number of storylines my subconscious has come up with to exploit this fear with me.

The one where I lose him in a crowd at a Flyers game at the Spectrum, and the next thing I know, I see his memorial obit picture on the jumbotron.

The one where, in a stunning recreation of an actual event from his childhood, he wanders down the beach and never comes back.

The one where I sit in the hospital with him for days and days and days and the doctors refuse to tell me why we're there.

It goes on. I've forgotten most of them, thank God. I mostly remember just waking up in cold sweats, consciously toeing that line between knowing it's a dream and just needing it all to STOP, and knowing it's a dream and being so horrified by the nightmare scenario playing out that I want to see it all the way through to the end.

And so, today's. I took a nap after I came home from Kentucky, and got served what may have been my most vivid version of this shitshow to date, and a uniquely nauseating one, to boot.

This wasn't a dream about my dad's death, for a change. The thought and fear of that was a bright and pulsing undercurrent for the dream, to be sure, but not the literal content.

We're driving home in a car that is mine, but is not my Element, though it is suggestive of it. We are driving from a vague but familiar point west - Genaurdi's, perhaps. The doctor's office. We are initially driving past Not-Radnor-High (you know how dreamscape geography is), under the 476 underpass at Lancaster & KoP, when the underpass area becomes more urban (a larger underpass area, more lanes, more concrete, more confusion) and more forest (more leaves on the ground, low-forest shrubs in the same concrete-y area) than before. The area merges to a combination of the underpass intersection of Sproul and Conestoga, but with the trailheads of Enke Park/Radnor Chester Road transposed on the SW side of Sproul.

This locations are important, because they're such a familiar, background part of my daily drives back home. That section of Sproul, particularly, is one of my favourite bits of road to drive on. The scenery and landscape are familiar, homey. So it makes what happens next all the more distressing.

The roads become this morph of roads, and they become difficult to navigate. The car is physically having a difficult time travelling over them. The traffic is getting more condensed - not heavier, just as if the roads are merging - and though I don't see it, it feels as if we're fording a river. I'm becoming claustrophic.

I feel the car pass over what might be a speed bump, as we're passed on the left by a large, white, fast moving vehicle. This is insufficient. It's a vehicle that seems to be part DeathRace 2000 racecar, part boat. The part that is exposed to me, on the driver's side left, is the right side of the vehicle, which is essential the white, oversized ridged bilge of a crappy speedboat, if that speedboat bilge had been stretched with the bow and stern on the horizontal, and the bilge pulled vertically along the gunwales, almost to form a sail (maybe a shield) that obscures the rest of the craft from me as it passes by, though I see enough of it to know that it is attached by a simple joint, like an umbrella, or what is used to hold up deck awnings.

It passes us, and between the reflections (or what, I'm not sure, just that they're glaringly bright) and the water it splashes, I am blinded and run off road.

We are in a patch of the underpass underbelly, stuck in some sort of mud-quicksand-grass-island-median. Dreamscape, all things at once. We're being passed by men and women on foot, in costume. Dad gets out of the car, and wanders in to a storefront, one of many that has appeared, and look like they have come out of a set, or Main Street Disneyland. They look faux, false.

I realize that the men and women in costume are part of one of those doofy themed 5ks, and the Disney set we appear to be on is, in fact, a set that has been built on top of these familiar roads. The bilge vehicle DID offroad us over breakers, and we ARE in the middle of the course. And this course IS partially submerged in water, the racers DO have to ford it (there are large black whitewater rafts, though it is unclear how racers are chosen for them. Teams? Fighting?), and run it, and obstacle course it.

The car is stuck, and there is no way back to where we started. The terrain is unpassable in that direction, and we are beginning to be overcome with course runners. I manage to find a race official to explain the situation, but Dad has wandered in to a storefront, something that appears to be a cross between a tailor's shop and a western saloon. He stands on a slightly elevated square of a pedestal, as you do in a dressing room, while women both measure and coo over him. This added measure of sexuality makes me intensely uncomfortable as a watch them drape themselves over him.

The staffer I talk to is at first perplexed - she doesn't understand that we're not part of the race, that we don't want to be a part of the race, that I just need to get my car off of the "lot" and go home. Eventually, she leads me behind the "scenes" - it is exactly like a false front on a set, or a prop front on a stage, and, from the back of a "barn" front, she throws open the double doors and says that I can drive out that way. Even with my narrow Element, the frame is not quite wide enough for me to fit my car through, I tell her. She gets upset, and re-explains that this is how I should leave. We go through this for a while, til she eventually sighs, exasperated, and pushes a wall to the side, like a pocket door.

I go to retrieve my father, and he doesn't want to go. He doesn't protest, doesn't say he isn't ready - and that's the most frightening part. He is acting like someone wholly unlike the person I know. This is the part I find hardest to describe, because none of the actions he is taking or words he is saying are inappropriate or lewd or unbecoming. There is simply this aura of his behavior, his body language, his words and tone, that is distinctly off and frighteningly wrong. His physical form has shifted. He is not the man who is currently my father, but somehow a dream-ish version of him when I was younger, one that I have cobbled together from pictures, but not actually rooted in memory. Not problem-free, but healthier than he has been in a long time. Brunette, not grey. And I am surrounded by people who cannot see this, who do not understand why these behavior changes, along with the physical retrogression, distress me so much.

I become increasingly desperate to collect my father, to leave this situation, but in between spurts of me not being able to find him, being overcome by runners in (superhero) costumes, by the spray from the obstacles, I can't. And no one will help me.

"You're being a stick in the mud," they tell me. "He's just discovering himself. Maybe this is his true self. Maybe this is how it's meant to be."

But that is not my perception. The actions and interactions I see my father performing are so wrong (on him) that they are shaking me to my core. I am on the edge of hysteria, as the people around me ignore the years of relationship that my father and I have built, telling me that his current actions are the way he really is, should be, wants to be. And that way is rude, childish, fedorable. He stands in front of a fountain like the one in Triangle Park, Lexington (onyx stairs), with his brown hair and enormous tortoiseshell glasses, and looks at me. Looks past me. Like he's not interested, or like I'm only something he imagined, once.

I can only try to explain my terror, in that moment, of someone who is being told that their loved one's cancer, or mental health, or broken limbs, are "natural," and the treatment options that are usual for them are hurting them, that they should be free to be their "true" self. That their suffering/pain/distress is actually pleasant, a release. Or like when a child goes missing, and someone suggests to her friends and family that the reason they ran was a reason so far from the realm of known possibilities that it is actually offensive. (This did, in fact, happen to me several weeks ago. Maybe some of that is bleeding through, here.)

Maybe I'm seeing a version of my father that never was - of a person he wasn't able to be, because of his illnesses holding him back. But in the moment, all I can see is my dad, my best friend, who is acting like he hardly knows me, like he doesn't care, and like he has no responsibility to get back in the car, and back towards the time-sensitive treatments that allow him to continue being my best friend.

I go from person to person, trying to get them to help me bring my dad back to me. Every one of them chides me, asking how dare I pretend to know what is best for him, how I can deny him his true self. "Look how happy he is," they say!

All I can see (feel) is how close we are to that timeclock running out on when he last took his insulin, what he looks like when he goes in to shock, what will happen when medicine can't keep him patched up and running. hHow powerless I feel when bad things happen to him and I can't help him. I can't do anything. Nothing I do or want or say can save him. He stands by that fountain and grins.

I wake up, per usual, drenched in cold sweat and tears.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Just Wondering, Do You Want to Help Me Out With My Random Fetish?

Maybe it's spring fever, maybe it's spring what-the-hell-is-snowstorm-about.

Either way, my friends and I have seen a noticible uptick in online dating messages that are blatant unsolicited solicitations for us to indulge the user's sexual fetish of choice. Generally, these inquiries come from users who are located a fair distance (500+ miles) from us, have very low match percentages with us, no or minimal profile information filled out and, obviously, no pictures.

"Oh, I'm not really serious," they respond when we ask them WTF is up with these inappropriate messages. (Inappropriate because they're unsolicited and/or explicitly the opposite of what the receiver has stated they're looking for. Not because the fetish is weird. Fetishes are healthy and normal!) "I'm just gathering information."

Well, budding sexologists, I have done the data gathering for you, and am willing to share my results, for free. No market research barriers to entry here at ReadaGoddamnBook!

You don't have to thank me. You're very welcome.

Friday, December 13, 2013

519 Days Since Our Last Public... Oh.

Maybe I just can't believe how often this happens. Maybe on the first anniversary (364 days young!) of the Sandy Hook shooting, this SHOULDN'T be happening.

88 days since the Navy Yard.

53 days since Sparks, Nevada.

Maybe these events shouldn't be happening more frequently than network Sweeps Week.

Maybe I'm a callous dick. Maybe I shouldn't have to write these stupid posts. Maybe I shouldn't be so jaded to all of it that my first reaction is "workplace accident joke."

Maybe this shouldn't be happening anywhere, ever, at all, let alone at a rate that is literally unprecedented anywhere else in the world. Maybe Colorado shouldn't feel like ground zero for this shit.

Maybe we should be able to have a grown up, adult conversations about why these shootings keep happening. Maybe they should be hard and painful and really introspective. Maybe they should look at all possible roots of the causes. Maybe they should look at the cultural zeitgeist. Maybe they shouldn't be reduced to soundbytes and fearmongering. Maybe they should be complicated. Maybe this is why we can't have nice things.

Maybe the solution is hard. Maybe the solution isn't just one thing, it's lots of things. Maybe it's lots of things all at once. Maybe that's really hard. Maybe we're not ready for it.

Maybe we have to be.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Mommy and Me: Date Night at the Art Museum

Tenderheart Bear
You are thinker, organizer, peacekeeper, and leader all in one. You have a power to command attention and people listen to you. However, you are often so concerned about not hurting others' feelings that you don't tell them what they need to hear and this gets you both into trouble. But you always have loyal friends to help you out.
The good news is, every link to every LJ quiz I appear to ever have taken is dead. 
Except this one.

Man, remember Livejournal? And blogging back when it was just thoughtsinks of people's days, fanfic, and quiz results? Me, too. I miss those. When I didn't feel like I was writing "for an audience" (or trying to), or like every post had to be vaguely "on message." When I just got today out of my brain and in to the pensieve, to make room for other shit. Sunday was good enough to make it feel like a good time to bring those back.


My mom came to visit! She came out for my youngest cousin's 4th birthday party, up in Vail, then drove down to Boulder with me afterwards on Saturday. Long story short, I spent like 7 hours in a car yesterday, driving all over the mountains, then down to Denver for derby and the Nervous Curtains show. And then passed out at 1am and slept for 10 hours, counting the time change. For those of you keeping score, that is not only the most sleep I've gotten in a month, but also the first time in that same month that I've fallen asleep before the sun rose. And when I say rose, I mean was significantly in the sky. Insert commentary on the joys of insomnia and mental health disorder byproducts.

Anyway. I slept! Then headed to the Boulderado a little late, after scouring the internet for a good place to take her to dinner. My go-to, Root Down, was full up on reservations for the ENTIRE NITGHT, so I needed a plan B. Problem is, there is no plan B. Let's be honest, I don't eat at $30/plate restaurants very often (basically, unless my parents are in town), so I had a pretty small personal sample size to choose from. My friends on the intertubes had some pretty great suggestions, but they weren't quite what I was looking for. (And it seemed rude to go back and explain, a little bit more and more, after every suggestion, about my mom's personal tastes. But really, internet, your suggestions were what led me to the RIGHT place, so they really were sincerely appreciated.) It took me about 40 minutes to paw through everything the internet could teach me about every 3 star restaurant downtown (along the way, I got a refersher course in Things I Hate About Food Industry Websites - you're lucky I closed all the tabs, place that had an automatic audioplayer start up, otherwise I'd be calling you right the fuck out.) before I found what I was looking for.

My mom, to her credit, is pretty good at food. Better, at least, than the rest of my family, who could honestly live on McDonald's, teriyaki (fun fact: "teriyaki" is not in my computer's spellcheck, but "sukiyaki" is.) chicken, and pizza, if they so chose. And they often do. I broke out of that, after years of my own peanut butter and jelly, turkey hoagie, and pasta diet, when I went to college and realized that if I didn't start being adventurous, cafeteria food and ramen might actually kill me. So mom is up for SOME shenanigans, but not many. She's still a little squirmy about international foods, and anything too high concept - molecular gastronomy, weird portion sizes, etc - won't fly. At a base level, I personally object to any place that puts a $20 hamburger on the menu with a straight face, so there was a LOT of stuff downtown that got ruled out. Not to spoil the dinner recap portion of this entry, but we ended up at Beast and Bramble, which was a total home run.

I felt bad - I was running late and so engrossed in my restaurant research that I forgot to call and let Mom know, so she was standing outside the hotel for like 20 minutes. Rude. Do better next time, M'ris.
Drive down was sunny and uneventful. Mom made a last minute clutchtime decision to go to the Denver Art Museum instead of the Denver Botanic Gardens, so I pulled right at the split and headed thataways. (I wasn't too excited about the Botanic Gardens anyway, so I may have stacked the deck a little. Subtly.) I missed the turnoff for Speer, because Holy Fuck, that section of 25 has been under construction FOREVER, WHY CAN'T YOU GET MORE FUCKING SIGNAGE FOR THE SPEER EXIT, YOU GITS???
Parking, line, museum. Hooray for endless emails from endless Denver websites paying off, I remembered that Denver Arts Week is happening and saved $3 on admission. Sure, it's only $3, but hey. I like how every dollar saved via couponing feels like a tiny victory. Like the real life equivalent of finding items in a video game.

We had about 90 minutes before our timeslot for the audio tour of Passport to Paris, the rotating exhibit currently on display at DAM, which actually gave us just enough time to check out the adjoining sections. (There are 3 - Nature As Muse, a collection of Impressionst paintings, Drawing Room, an intimate room full of works-on-paper from the Esmond Bradley Martin Collection, and the main event, Court to Cafe, which features three centuries of masterworks. I totally cribbed most of that from the DAM website.)

I'd actually suggested the DAM exhibit without really looking in to it, and it wasn't til we actually got inside Nature As Muse that I remembered - Mom loves the Impressionists. They are, in fact, her favourite period, with Monet topping that list out by - well, as much as Root Down tops out my Denver Restaurant List. (Her second pick is Van Gogh, also applicable here, and then a very distant Georgia O'Keefe.)

The thing I always hate about crowded art museum isn't so much the crowding, or the other people standing around staring at the pictures, but the way I feel like I can feel all those other people's eyes boring in to my back when I move up to the picture to look at it in more detail, even thought they've all just done the exact same thing. Because, y'know, it's what you do. But I'm just a casual tourist, I'm definitely not a zillionaire art snob, so what right do I have to be taking up that time and space? I know, I know. That part is just in my head. Still. Makes me nervous, don't like it. The consequence of that is that I always feel rushed, and the consequence of THAT is that I always end up feeling like I've missed some ephemeral something.

They had one of Monet's Water Lilies paintings on display, along with several other works, plus some Pisarro, Renoir, and a lot of Sisley. Though I definitely had a moment where I really missed Dad, where the caption next to the Renoir went on and on about his masterful use of lines, dashes, exposed canvas, and squiggles. I then spent several minutes counting the squiggles.

In case you were wondering, there was one singular squiggle. A squig, if you would. In the river, in the lower left corner. Look for it, if you get the chance. It's pretty expressive. (It's a squiggle.)

I think the exhibit made Mom a little heartsick, because as we walked out, she told me how she remembered giving all of Grandma's art books away to one of the Hartford museums, after she died. Grandma would've really liked the exhibit, too.

Upstairs was the Drawing Room, which, while impressive in its own right, I wasn't super in to. Mostly I was getting hungry, trying to figure out if I should change the time of the reservation, and making What Does the Fox Say jokes in my head. See, like I said, Drawing Room is this collection of paper works, which is basically just sketchbook pages or simple pen/ink/watercolor drawings. (Not always, but usually.) The first display is some pages from a menu that Paul Gauguin did for a dinner party in Tahiti. They're actually some of my favourite pieces from the show, but they definitely involve a cartoon fox dancing around, and where else was my brain supposed to go with that.

By the time Mom was done in there, we were right on time for our timeslot for Court to Cafe. Which, sorry, I really don't have a lot to say about. It's a very well put together collection, a selection that shows the progress and evolution from pre-Louis XIV up through the impressionists, in a variety of media (including music and video), which is cool. But, ugh, I cannot stop being bored... bored is the wrong word. Fatigued, irritated, put out by - a lot of the Baroque oil paintings. I understand its place and relevance, historiologically, but man. Something about it just grates on me. Like, on a really fundamental level, the gloss of the paints and the finish of many of the works, makes me want to complain about it, a lot. Distaste for the subject matter, the focus on the ornate, lush lives of the nobility... blahhhh. Want to stab things. This collection did include a few more "subversive" (by which I mean "normal") works, (and I am a git b/c I forgot to write down names), but the guy who explicitly set out to paint normal people as snapshots from their normal lives, warts and all. The one they had on display was of a woman painted while she was suffering from some sort of head cold. Her hair is mussed, her nose is red, and she looks exhausted, not porcelain perfect and demure. That's the stuff I appreciate from that era. Oh, and the Rococo inlayed furniture. That shit's bonkers, yo.

I actually lost Mom in the exhibit - I didn't remember passing her, but when I turned in my headset, she wasn't outside the exhibit hall. So I snuck back in (literally, past one of the guards who was giving people a hard time for reentry), found her, and told her to text me when she was done. In the meantime, I wandered over to the Nick Cave exhibition (which is really just a video with some bad audio of some of the soundsuits in motion. Could've been really cool, but they'd clearly done it up as a kid's exhibit, not a for serious one), then headed up to the 3rd floor for some of their more modern art, which is much more my speed.

I was thrilled to walk in and find a whole exhibit full of Vance Kirkland's up (on loan from The Kirkland, obvs, which Mom had nixed because she's not really in to Modern/Pop/Bauhaus/Etc.) I really like Kirkland - he hits this note with me that's somewhere between Dali and Barbarella, or Ken Kelly (you know him by all the Manowar album covers.), and the stuff my dad used to paint when he was in college. Then I turned the corner and came face to face with an Barbara Kruger's It's Our Pleasure to Disgust, which, hi, I can't tell you how long I spent in undergrad dissecting her stuff (to a bunch of other comm majors who I'm sure were sick to death of me.)

Some requisite sunset shots from the Sculpture Deck, which I had completely to myself that afternoon, then up to the 4th floor to flop around in this womb/uvula/squishy bean bag floor/interactive art thing. Mom got a hold of me as I was done flopping, then humored me as a excitedly showed her a rug portrait that Chuck Close has spent 4 years learning how to create, and some sculptures made out of mylar tape. I may have also done a lot of cartwheels in Annica Cuppetelli and Cristobal Mendoza's interactive a/v exhibit, Transposition. Mom never openly approves of such shennanigans, but I always catch her smiling at me when she thinks I'm not looking. She secretly loves it.

We got out of there right at closing time, and I stalled on the street for a minute while I called Beast and Bramble to change our 6.30 reservation to 5.30. Mom was getting a little hungry-cranky and I - well, in typical fashion, I hadn't actually eaten all day. I detoured us around the Convention Center/Performing Arts Complex, to show Mom the giant blue bear, then headed over to food.

Sometimes Mom is really easy to make happy, when sightseeing - all she really wants to see is "old buildings," quote unquote. I tried to explain to her that Denver isn't really old, so there isn't a whole lot of that around, but she was actually pretty thrilled with the Franklin & Studebaker building, and the Jonas Bros Furs sign.

Beast and Bramble, to lead with the punchline (again) was a total hit. They were super amenable to us changing the reservation (even though, I know, earlier is always easier. And it was almost empty in there when we got there at 5.25), happy to switch us to a different table with better lighting, etc. Our server knew the menu really well, and was happy to offer any and all advice to Mom, who isn't really familiar with the whole "farm to table" thing.

And the food. Oh, man. If I were a food blogger of any capacity at all, I'd stop right now and let this be its own glorious, indulgent entry. But I'm not, so really, what you get is a whole bunch of "holy shit this was so good," which I will probably just copypasta to Yelp anyway.

We skipped the Chef's Course or whatever it was called (1 app & 1 entree of your choosing, plus an intermezzo course of the chef's choosing/creation), though the horseradish braised beef something something sounded pretty awesome. I'd already kind of drooled over some stuff on the main menu, so Mom just said I should order as many apps as I wanted, and we'd share. Fun fact: my mother is a filthy liar.

We put in for their pumpkin flan, some roasted parsnips, and a lamb cheeks with gnocci thing. While it was all wonderful (the pumpkin flan was like eating a pumpkin flavored cloud,) the lamb. Holy crap, the lamb. Again: not a food blogger, so I can't actually describe a damn thing - but here's this instead:
There is a very short list of dishes that I would (and have) thrown caution and/or dignity to the wind for, and literally licked the plate. There was a garlic butter escargot in Ghent, Belgium that I actually picked up and drank the snail-butter-garlic sauce out of the pockets of the snail-plate. There was a lamb at Dish, in Edwards, CO, that I actually picked up and licked. Christophe has photos. And there were the lamb cheeks at Beast and Bramble, where I sheepishly asked for a spoon when the waitress came to clear our plates, so I could drink the au jus at the bottom of the dish in a manner that wouldn't make me look like a total three year old. I don't know what was in there. Mushrooms and lamb and gnocchi and salt and pixie dust, or something. It could have been a meal unto itself, and I would have been happy.

Oh, and the part I didn't mention: Mom didn't share, so much as she made me eat both the parsnips and the lamb on my own, then guilted me in to finishing her flan. Because mothers.

Obviously, by the time the main course came, I was too full to eat my quail. Quail! I love quail. It was good, and is half sitting in my fridge right now (half of the dish. It is not half in, half out of my refridgerator.), while Mom finished all of her mint fettucini with chicken liver. I love some really weird stuff  - Ankimo (Monkfish liver) is actually one of my favourite foods - but man, I cannot get behind chicken liver. I always think I can, and then as just as soon as I'm about to make my peace with it, bam, there is is, that awful coppery aftertaste that makes me want to gargle with saltwater forever.

Not to be forgotten in all of this lamb jus drinking awesomeness, is the fact that Mom and I had really good dinner conversation, too:
Mom: I wonder if there's a way to tell paint apart, like from the composition of it.
Me: Of couse there is. It's pretty easy, really. That's a really common way of dating paintings, actually - a spectranalysis of the chemicals in the paint.
Mom: Really? Like what?
Me: Like lead. Lead makes some really vibrant colors. That's why you don't lick the Van Goghs.

Mom: Oh, this {her clutch}? I got it in Venice {where she just was with my dad in the spring}. Just feel how soft it is!
Me: Oh, wow. Yeah, that's pretty nic - WHOA. Mom, this zipper is SO SMOOTH! {I proceed to zip and unzip the zipper on the clutch about 20 times, because seriously, it was a really smooth moving zipper. No resistance at all. Just glide. STOP JUDGING ME.}
Mom: Marissa! Stop playing with my zipper!

We debated over dessert a little too long while I simultaneously looked up movie times, eventually ordering a marscapone mousse that I was expecting, for some reason, to be kind of mediocre and uninteresting (why, M'ris? Everything else you had tonite has been amazing! Why would dessert be any different??), but turned out to be, obviously, awesome. I forgot to ask if they sell their rooftop honey, but man, I hope they do.
Dessert somehow took 40 minutes, and by the time we got out of there, we were running late to the movie at The Pavilions. Per usual, I got lost on my way to 16th street from Broadway, because that deke on to Tremont makes NO SENSE AT ALL. Luckily, there were about a thousand previews, so even though we kind of got lost in the theatre (and almost had a fight, thank god that was narrowly avoided), we made it to Last Vegas in plenty of time.

I'd actually wanted to take Mom to the Sie FilmCenter - she became a member of the local arthouse theatre back home a few years ago, and has really been enjoying the classes there. (My mom now loves Fellini! She saw 8 1/2! Twice!) But the only thing playing there that I thought she might be interested in was 12 Years a Slave, which I suggested, but thought might be a little heavy for the night. Then Last Vegas came up, and when I suggested it, she totally lit up. I should've known, it's all her favourite actors, in a comedy that Dad would despise seeing with her. (And, secretly, I have kind of really wanted to see it ever since I saw the trailer. Does that make me old?)

Last Vegas may only have gotten 2 stars most places, but guys, it's super cute. It really is The Hangover for Old Dudes, only without the gratuitous sex and uncomfortable jokes that made The Hangover just a little too much for me. Last Vegas, on the other hand, is actually really respectful of its subject matter (womanizing, fidelity, and eldering), while still managing to be hilariously on point. Old people jokes are so easy to turn in to cheap, meaningless laughs, but Kline and DeNiro are just all over them. Perfect delivery.

There's also this douchey dudebro that they turn into their servant boy and help reform his dudebro ways, and it's so minor to the plot, but it is SO AMAZING to see a plausible, accessible, mass media example of "Hey, jerkwad. You're being a jerkwad. Stop being a jerkwad. Here is a primer on how not to be a jerkwad, by which we mean how to treat women like they're people."

After the movie let out, Mom bought a $6 bottle of water from the concession stand. Nevermind that I have like 18 bottles of water in my car (that she's been bugging me to throw out since Saturday), nevermind that there's a 7-11 around the corner, as I tried to inform her. $6 bottle of concession stand water. Purchased.
We got back to the car, where I was disappointed to learn that $6 bottled water does not taste like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous:
Mom: Do you want some?
Me: Sure. Y'know, I hope this tastes like gilded lilies. Like saffron and rubies had a child, and it's this bottle of water. {drinks}
Mom: So?
Me: We're talking topaz, tops.
Mom: Better than quartz.

Finally, we headed off to 7C, so I could drop off a cliplamp as a stopgap til we can get one of the overhead lights replaced. I was kind of apprehensive about taking mom to 7C, and told her so - as much as I love that place, it's, well, ugly. Dirty. Disgusting. It's not the kind of place that Mom would feel comfortable in, at all. And so while there was a part of me that really wanted her to see this place that I'm so passionate about, I knew that even if she saw it, she still wouldn't really get it. And in fact, would probably actively dislike it. Which would invariably lead to a fight that I really just never want to have. (I left that part out.)
As I opened the door of my car, she elected to stay in there and wait for me. "Lock the doors," she called out behind me. "Don't forget about me!" she yelled as I shut the door behind me.

There's probably a whole other entry about how, even at 30, I still want my mom to approve of my life and the things I do and care about, and how disappointed I can be when I know that she won't grok something the way that I do. And to that end, honestly, it was probably better that she stayed in the car. Still, I wish she could see what I see in places and spaces like 7C, and how important what we're doing there is for all the communities that intersect around it - Denver, touring musicians, teenagers, etc etc etc. Like I said. Another time.

Then blah blah lamp delivered, Jorden hugged and kvetched at, new kid vaguely scared of me, mission accomplished all around. This is also just about the point in a Livejournal entry where I would start getting tired of writing all this verbose nonsense, and sum the rest of the evening up in like three lines. Ready?

Drive up was uneventful as I continued to hate-listen to the audiobook of James Dashner's The Kill Order. It's really fucking terrible. A lengthy explanation of my love of hate-listening to audiobooks is probably also best left to another post.. Dropped Mom off, swung around, headed to Dark Horse to meet up with the guys and their M:tG decks, then peaced out around 12.45 and came home. 
It's now 3am, and I've been writing this 4000 (3700, if we're being picky) word blog post for two hours. I suppose this should be the part where I sleep, now.
Requisite Denver sunset photo, sculpture deck of the Denver Art Museum

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Things I Think About on the Way Home From Derby

Someone sometime said that I should take all the things I think about while I'm driving home from derby and write them down. Because apparently, they're kind of fascinating? Sure, why not. Maybe I'll remember to google the answers for some of these, sometime.

So. Potential new weekly feature: Things I Think About on the Way Home From Derby. TITAOTWHFD? That's terrible.

- The smell of dogfood just after leaving practice will never not be the grossest thing in the world.
- Dogs. What are dogs actually supposed to eat?
- Dogfood came from... where DID dogfood come from?
- Seriously, What are dogs supposed to eat? Like, in the wild. Are there still wild dogs?
- How long have we been domesticating them? Are wolves and coyotes all that's left?
- Dog breeds are weird. How did we end up with so many different breeds? So quickly?
- Why do Chows have purple tongues?
- Is dog DNA like apples? Or pigeons? Is it just really, really easy to manipulate dogs into what we want them to be like?
- How come there aren't as many domestic breeds of cats?
- What's the dog equivalent of a sabretooth tiger?
- All cats really do look pretty much the same, less their hair. It's not like there's a Great Dane of domestic cats. Or designer cat breeds. Is there? There's that hypoallergenic cat. I don't think that counts.

- I should blog about this. Is that pretentious?
- Do other people think about weird shit like this while they're spacing out driving?
- Great, now that I'm thinking about how to think about things while driving home from practice, I can't think of anything.
- That's weird.
- Actually, if the only time I can't think of anything is while I"m trying to think about something, that might be brilliant.
- In a roundabout self-sabotaging my overactive brain sort of way.

- Why am I so squicked out by dudes explicitly stating what sort of sexytimes they'd like to have? Isn't that just them being open and honest? Isn't that the point?
- But it's icky. Why is it icky? If I actually knew them and they told me these exact same things, it'd be fine.
- Well, maybe it has to do with what you're looking for. You're never looking for those things right up front. You've got other priorities.
- What are my priorities? Would other people be just as weirded out if I put what I'm really looking for up on the internet?

- No one on 36 can merge. Augh.

Here. Have a puppy.