The Denver Party Scene and THOU ART on HIGH: A Cap Hill Neighborhood Art Night



I quite enjoy parties. I grew up in an area known colloquially as “South Florida” – an area along the southern east coast of Florida which spans three tri-county areas and houses cities such as West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, and Miami. You’ve probably heard of at least one of these cities, and you would expect them to be filled with sunshine, tanned bikini bodies, and all-day and all-night beach drinking. You would be right to imagine it this way– in South Florida, the weather is warm year-round, the people have money to spend, the location is prime for any-drug-you-want access, and there’s no good reason not to party. There are clothing-optional rooftop pool parties, international four-day-long fetish events that take over entire hotels, every concert you want to attend, and five separate downtown club scenes in a 3-hour north-south radius. The party scene is expensive; it has a dress code; and you can bet that professionals are running it.


While known as a party destination to much of the world, South Florida lacks a certain intimacy and community connection. Although it has so much to offer, it does so with a shallow and half-hearted nature. There is no meaning to the party, no value; it’s just another day in the life.


Denver is different: It encourages the genres of art, sex, circus, and theatre to unite like great poets, writers, painters, and philosophers of the 1920’s once gathered. No one is wasted; not in their intoxication nor in their humanity. Everyone desires to show up as themselves and to enjoy others as they are. The party scene wakens my soul to a glorified time when eccentricity, glee and rebellion both escaped the center of culture and eventually defined the culture for an entire decade. Life will be seized and consequences will be damned.


I first recognized the 1920’s atmosphere back when I attended Natalia Kvalem’s first-ever production, a variety show held at the Diebolt Brewery. With interwoven acts of burlesque, aerial arts, and stand-up comedy, Natalia produced and hosted a show full of enjoyment, enthusiasm, and a “fuck-the-system” attitude reminiscent of the greats of that magical jazz era. Imaginations stretch, races mingle with honesty, notions of gender and sexuality dismantle, and folks disregard class as trade for the opportunity to laugh, dance, drink, dress, love and behave as they want. A hundred years …

Personal Development

He Didn’t Trust Me Because I Wasn’t Trustworthy (and Other Tales of Self-Blame)



Once – and only once – upon a time, a man left me. He left me after I swallowed the second of two pills that effectively ended the possibility of us being united for a lifetime with a child. He left me on my knees, crying and begging for him to give me one more chance, to forgive me for some imagined hurt, to hold onto me. I needed him to stay so badly that I didn’t care how foolish I was acting or even how foolish it was what I was asking of him. I mean it when I say I begged: I was on my knees on cold hard tile floor, with my hands in prayer to him, tears streaming down my face and snot pouring from my nose.


As shameful as it is to share this story for the first time and so publicly, my closest friends (and many friends along the way) would not be the least bit surprised if I had told them. I obsessed over L since the moment I met him in college and after a calamitous affair that ended in him being forced to cut all ties with me, I never really let go. I wrote hundreds of thousands of words of prose about him; I fell apart on every floor of every library trying to make sense of my feelings for him; and, after being reunited six years later, I dropped my entire life in D.C. to move back to a place I swore I would never return (my hometown) to be with him. As I wrote long ago, I felt like I would run out in the middle of traffic to save him from harm. I had never experienced that intensity and desperation of feelings for anyone before, and I believed for years and years that I would never be able to feel that way again.


Almost immediately after we reunited and entered into a real relationship with one another, he began to alternate between making me feel like the most beautiful human being to ever exist…and the worst human being to have ever been born. When things were good, I had never been happier with anyone. He showered me with attention and affection like crazy; he reminisced on our years apart and his mutual obsession for me; he memorized my work schedule and would call …


Community Support, Panic Attacks, and A Visit to the Mercury Cafe for Drunken “History of the West”



First, it’s Friday night and I’ve spent the day fighting a panic attack. I left work early, laid down on the floor of my bedroom and cried. In a private local women’s group on Facebook, I posted to express my current anxiety and my unease with how to deal. I’m 35. I can’t bang my head into a wall so hard I see stars; though it would certainly shake me out of the madness, it wouldn’t help halt my mounting list of concussions. What can I do during a panic attack that doesn’t require harming myself? As I submitted the post for approval, I heard back from Embur with her address to come see her.


I met Embur back when I first moved here when I had attended an event thrown by the local circus community. If friendship-at-first-sight is a thing, I felt it for her. We’ve crossed paths in smaller settings since that time and shared brief moments of acceptance and admiration for each other. Somehow, I knew I could turn to her. As I made my way toward her place in a few layers including my winter coat and fleece-lined leggings, I was greeted by her on the steps outside her apartment building wearing a hoodie, short shorts, knee-high leg warmers and the barest feet. She took me in and asked me to tell her what was going on with me; she looked me in the eyes and remarked on how beautiful she thought I was; and she talked to me about me moving into a downstairs apartment like I was her best friend and she wanted me near.


She shared what was going on in her life, too. She cried and I laid down against her leg and held her just so slightly that she would know she was safe to keep talking. We didn’t speak too much about our community or about our shared passions with circus even though that’s how we came together. Our sharing of interests in shared space, our sense of community toward one another, developed a foundation for friendship. It made us not strangers in a world of strangers.



Then, it’s Saturday night at the Mercury Café – inside the entrance, I’m greeted with choices: ahead of me is a staircase and on the door to my left is a sign about “the show outside and …

HR for the Employee Leisure

What Can We Learn from Ulmer? The Bomb Cyclone of 2019



A week ago, all of Colorado was hit with a Category-2 cyclone named Ulmer only later in the evening after several tragic events already occurred. For those of you unfamiliar with weather terms, a cyclone is a hurricane that forms in the Pacific Ocean rather than the Atlantic. They were calling it a “bomb cyclone” here – a reference that a lot of folks considered to be a dramatic description for what seemed to be a normal snow storm for the Denver area. In fact, the term was generated from the technical term “bombogenesis”: a weather condition known to cause significant damage due to extreme and quick barometric pressure drops.


Ulmer was no joke. Unfortunately, too many people thought this storm wasn’t even worth knowing about it or considering. I followed the storm progression for the two days prior with an unexpected familiarity with the weather tracking I’ve done elsewhere. Having spent about two-thirds of my life all over the state of Florida, I’m used to the almost year-round hurricane season that stresses out populations across a massive expanse of land. There, hurricanes usually form far off the eastern coast in the Atlantic Ocean. Due to conflicting pressure systems and temperature changes in the water, we never quite know where the hurricane is going to land. Speaking of land, once a hurricane hits the coast, we can’t predict its path of destruction nor whether it will strengthen or weaken as it moves. We’ve seen hurricanes pass us by in southeast Florida, cross the entire state, and then decimate South Carolina. We’ve experienced hurricanes that zig-zag across the state, hit one area before strengthening again to damage another area ten hours away. Tropical storms because Category 1…2…3…4…5 hurricanes in a matter of hours. Because we experience this for the majority of the year – year after year – we know to at least pay attention to the news.




I can’t say the same for the people of Colorado. As proud as you are to be natives, or to have spent decades settled in this state, y’all don’t seem to know much about the weather systems that affect your local experience. Too many of you have concluded that meteorologists can’t be trusted. Ignorance plays a disappointing role – as weather here can be impacted by a multitude of factors none which have anything to do with trusting …


The Spotlight’s On Me (Another Goldfish Production)


I returned to the Goldfish Garage last Saturday night for the bi-weekly Garage Show by Goldfish Entertainment. Intimacy distinguishes this and any underground world – if you wanted a macro focus on the Denver comedy circuit, this is where you would venture. I’m standing next to Lauren Dafault while she looks over and edits her notes before her set. I’m a few feet away from comedians Kona Morris and Stylo Marx, each of whom selectively laughs at jokes that leverage their professional approval.


There are layers upon layers of passion, commitment, and camaraderie that subsist for performers, especially comedians, and you can’t often see it when watching someone on a massive stage in a packed auditorium. I grew up watching some of the greatest comedians receive their first HBO specials in just such a space, and even now feel intense excitement over the Netflix, Hulu, and Prime generation of comedy special releases with comics who catch their breaks. But the world inside this garage engages more than just laughs.


Unlike the polished comics we all know by name, these folks are still seasoning the pot of their comedic soup. They are learning how to deliver with timing and tone, how to feel confident in a joke even when the audience is silent or distracted, and they are reworking jokes until they get them right. It’s one thing to be impressed by someone who has practiced to the point of perfecting their art; it’s another entirely to be invited on the journey to that perfection. I’m honored to be here, to have the opportunity to watch local artists grow – and I’m certain I will see many of these folks find success if they keep at it. More so, I’m certain I will see myself find success – in part because I’m surrounded by people who inspire me to keep chipping away at my own goals.


Harrison Garcia took to the stage, thanking us for “being here in this garage” and describing his look with rubrics such as “if an owl had a drinking problem” or “resting diabetic cat face”. In his black rimmed glasses, bearded face, and flannelled chest, Harrison is the epitome of a Denver guy. As he narrates to us in sing-song The Backstreet Boys’ musical number, “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” so we can all re-familiarize ourselves with lyrics about a return from a …