Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Linq and High Roller Las Vegas

The Palms has a really great 24-hour checkout policy where if you book online you get to check out 24 hours after you checked in (instead of the normal 11a check out) so if you check in at 5p, you can check out of 5p the next day (or two days later or whatever). This was great because we could use the pool or leave our stuff in the room until we were ready to head to the airport. Very convenient.

We spent most the day wandering around the strip at the new Linq shopping center. "Los Angeles" seems to be the theme of new development in Las Vegas which is pretty fun. Poloroid has opened a "Fotobar" which prints cute coaster-like prints for a dollar. We thought about getting some but couldn't think of anything we needed printed. 


Attack of the giant flamingo!

I think Truman does a better flamingo than I do. I've sort of got a special chicken thing happening.

 The real flamingos are more sophisticated than we are. 

In true Las Vegas fashion the folks who own Cesar's have recently build the "High Roller," the world's largest ferris  observation wheel (but if you call it a ferris wheel people get offended). At 550 feet it's taller than the London eye (which is only 443 feet tall, sucka). Each "cabin" holds up to 40 people but since we were there (and you know...day drinking) at 11a there weren't very many riders. It turns out most people in Vegas don't do much before 1p. My husband, on the other hand, wakes up at 6a (seriously we had to go get snacks so he could munch on something before the buffet opened). We ended up getting out own bubble to ride in and Truman was excited about having his own space for a while (he was a great sport of hanging out in crowds for his crowd-loving wife's 30th birthday). I'm not sure if I'd pay full price for the thirty minute ride but for the Living Social price (that included a free drink) I thought it was a pretty cool.


In case you were wondering this is how Truman celebrates having his own space...

 And also this...





We finished up our trip by meeting my friend Jesus for happy hour. He moved from Denver to Las Vegas in May and it was great to see him. We grabbed happy hour at Simon in the Palms Place and it was great. Much quieter than other restaurants in Vegas hotels and everything on the happy hour menu was $10 or less. If you're looking for a relaxed place that still feels like your in Vegas (and has a view of a pool) you should check it out.


Monday, September 8, 2014

A Very Vegas Birthday

I decided I wanted to do something for my 30th birthday. And then I decided that I wanted to go somewhere. Where better to go than Vegas to see Britney Spears? It was fun and silly and a great weekend spent with my husband. Just the way a 30th birthday should be. 

 Silver ducky! At the new SLS Hotel.We thought the design of this place was pretty cool but nothing amazing (other than the ducky of course).  

 We stayed at the Palms and the rooms had the silliest collection of oddly shaped furniture pieces. Does anyone really utilize these?

 At the pool right before the bro pool party started. It was fun people watching (what up pregnant cocktail waitress in a bikini!?) and I sort of adore Vegas pools. 

 Birthday dinner was at Nove on the 52nd floor of the Palms. I think the theme of this trip was awesome views. It was a pretty cool place to to eat dinner. 

And finally, the main event: Britney!!!

 And our seats got upgraded! Our tickets were midway up the 200s section and they upgraded us to the 6th row of the 100s. The seats were great and the show was really fun. 

See, there's Brit Brit. 

And there she is in the ring of fire. Britney may have been a bit...um...medicated during the show. The fire made me a little nervous for her. Keep it in the middle Brit. 

After Britney we got some of those giant slushy drinks (thanks groupon). The Vegas check list was nearly complete. 

Our final stop was Ghostbar on top of the Palms. It may not have been our scene but the view as fabulous and the tickets were comped. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Camping

Ever since I moved to Colorado I have a history of saying things like, "holy shit, we're only 6 hours from [insert random attraction in the middle of nowhere]. Where did I move!?" Shortly followed by, "we should go." Remember the time I made Truman go to South Dakota with me? Well this year we realized (1) we're only 8 hours from Grand Teton National park and (2) we didn't have any Labor Day plans. Truman usually goes hiking on labor day or my birthday falls near that weekend but this year neither was true so we decided to take a (somewhat) last minute trip out to Grand Teton. And, heck if we're driving out to Wyoming we might as well visit Yellowstone while were at it. 

Unfortunately, not only do we have a history of random road trips. We also have a history of getting crap weather. Right as we finished the 9 hour drive into Yellowstone these dark clouds rolled in and opened up. Dear weather channel.com, this is not a "thunderstorm." This is 24 hours of rain. 


Thankfully, we had a couple hours in the afternoon (you know, when thunderstorms are suppose to happen) of dry-ish weather. So we got to walk around and see the geysers. Honestly, even if it had been pouring rain we probably would have walked around anyway. 9 hours is a long time to be in a car. 



Almost better than the geysers was the silly warning signs that accompanied them.






Our night in Yellowstone was cold, rainy and involved camping near bros. Thankfully, the accommodations in Grand Teton National Park were an improvement. The first day was still drizzly but not nearly as cold as the previous day. We went for a 5 mile hike around a lake and up park of the mountains and then took a little boat back across the lake. 


 Hidden Falls, near Jenny Lake. You can take a boat and then walk up here but we decided to add a couple miles and walk around the lake...gotta get your steps in. 




Truman got hungry and I got cold so we decided to take the boat back. Plus boats are fun. 

The tent camp sites in Teton were much better than the one we stayed in in Yellowstone. And the couple staying next to us were some very nice folks from Amsterdam who we introduced to S'mores. On our way out the sun finally came out. I never did get my perfect picture of the Tetons but it was still a fun trip. 




Handsome husband. 



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Ferguson

I've started this post a few times. It's hard to find perfect words when I'm feeling so much. Thankfully, some people who are better writers than I am have done some of the work for me.

I've always been interested in how we, as humans, interact with each other with a particular interest on how race effects those interactions and relationships. What oscillates for me is how willing I am to engage with people (usually white) who haven't thought about race critically. As I get older I am finding that I am less and less willing to play educator. Now don't get me wrong, at various times I've given talks and trainings on topics of race, diversity and inclusion. That stuff I love. If you want to pay me I'm happy to be a paid trainer. I also love discussions with people who are genuinely interested in fostering anti-racist ideas. The problems arise when people show up in my personal (rather than professional) world looking to "play devil's advocate." The people who don't really want to question their own assumptions but instead want to try and find cracks in my assertions that our identities color the way we see the world.

You know how there are stages of grief? The second stage of grief according to the Kubler-Ross model is anger. The second stage of becoming aware of your own privilege or whiteness according to the Amanda Gonzalez model is Make-A-Person-of-Color-Prove-It-To-You. I spent more hours of my 20s than I want to admit pulling studies, blog posts and academic articles for my white friends to "prove" to them that oppression exists. After more than one of those folks told me things like "well, I read the article you gave me and I decided they don't know what their talking about" I've decided to stop doing that. I feel, however, that I deserve several gold stars for never once screaming, "Yes, Derrick Bell/Angela Davis/person who has lived the experience we are talking about is clearly a moron and you are an expert! Clearly."

What those experiences taught me is that admitting that you receive privilege and power because of your identity is a really hard and painful thing to admit. Especially if you're not used to being challenged. And no amount of "proof" is going to make that change happen for those people.

I also realized that these people, the ones that were insisting that I "prove" oppression to them, had access to all the same documents I had. Why was I spending my free time doing academic searches when they were reading The New Yorker? It's my job and it's not the job of any person of color to educate white people. Why was I spending hours researching my point when there was no obligation on them to research and justify their own (classist or racist) beliefs? If someone truly wants to learn and become anti-racist they will take the initiative to do so without burdening people of color with all the grunt work.

In this excellent article about how to deal with friends' racist reactions to Ferguson Jenee Desmond-Harris encourages readers not to engage with ignorant friends or family on facebook about race or the terrible things happening in Ferguson. She writes, "[H]ere's the thing: Each and every person making comments that rub you the wrong way has access to the entire Internet, live feeds from Ferguson, materials on the entire history of American racism generally and violence against unarmed black men specifically. They are choosing to think the way they do because it works for them and makes them feel good." I think the word "choosing" was particularly impactful for me.

I'm realizing that some of what is sparking so much anger in me is that at some point the ignorance of the "well intentioned" person (even those that are politically progressive) becomes willful. I'm having a really hard time excusing the fact that people often choose to say terrible things or think a certain way (at the expense of people of color and black men in particular) just because it's easier for them.

As I'm sure you've discovered fro the tone of this post, I'm finding myself quick to anger right now. I sometimes feel suffocated by all the news coming out of Ferguson...but I can't not read it. I can't pull myself away and I'm not sure I really want to because I think the anger is justified. I'm angry that a Pew survey found that 47% of Whites think that race is getting more attention than it deserves. I'm angry that black and African American families are loosing sleep at night worry about whether or not cop will harm their son, brother or nephew. I'm angry at the bullshit I've heard my liberal friends saying that the real issue here is the militerization of our police forces. Need I remind you that white men have been killing people of color long before the War of Drugs started funding police tanks? Yes, militarization is a problem. But it's not nearly as big of a problem as racism and the unwillingness of so many to critically examine systems of power, priviledge and oppression in our own lives.

Heartbreaking kiddo and homemade sign at the Denver rally

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Facebook and Pot Roast

Pot o' Self Esteem 

There's something uniquely gratifying about preparing a crock pot meal. This recipe is cooking at home today and I have to admit...I left the house feeling pretty good about myself. It's as if you already know you have a win for the day. The world could go to shit but at least I prepared a home-cooked meal, I can't be that big of a fuck up.

Speaking of Self Esteem 

Truman's company recently brought on a marketing company. Prior to that I was sort of the company's marketing adviser. Which was sort of terrible because I didn't have any control over the situation. I still help update the social media periodically and I take way to much pride in the fact that my posts often do better than those from the pros. The other day I caught myself looking for analytics on my personal facebook page.

And Just to Prove My Point 

Remember my post about how words are not neutral? Here's a little side by side picture of Fox News and Fox News Latino illustrating my point.


Friday, August 1, 2014

On how we create space

I spent the last few days at the UUA's Multicultural Leadership School and ever since then I've been thinking about how we create space and who controls that space. All that is basically hippy speak for the feeling that you get when you meet a new group or people or go to a new place (like an office building or a new city). Does it feel like you belong there? What about the people or the place or the building make it feel a certain way? What about you makes you fit (or not fit)?

I've also been thinking a lot about how we claim space (for better or worse). How do we make it inclusive or exclusive to others. You see, these things don't happen magically. Churches or work places or liberal arts colleges don't just happen to be white/rich/etc.. Systems and people make them that way.

And then, right on time, the internet brought these two wonderful videos into my life. The first is about language. It has always grated on me a little when people correct someone else's grammar in public. It's one thing edit a written paper, it's another which it's speech... because there is so much wrapped up in speech. And the correcting has always implied to me that there is a grammar, a speech, or a code god. Which, or course, given the elasticicity of language, there is not. I love the line about putting "tri-lingual" on a job application.




The second video is about street harassment. It's gone viral on facebook so you may have seen it. A while back I was trying to explain to someone that criticizing other cultures and county's treatment of women or standard of beauty was a little throwing-stones-in-a-glass-house-y. They disagreed. That very night (it was summer so it was still light out) I walked a couple miles to grab dinner (ok, I walked a total of 6 miles to grab some In-N-Out, if we're being honest) and as I did so no fewer than three cars of men hollered things at me. My first reaction to this video was that it was a little over the top. But then I realized that wasn't really the case. The video wasn't over the top, my warped sense of appropriate-ness was. Even imagining a world where a woman can walk down the street without being told "Come on and smile baby" seems tough. Maybe we I need to re-calibrate my norms. Maybe we need to rethink about what kind of so-called public space we create. 
  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Camping and Tubing in Eleven Mile Canyon

Some friends invited us tubing/camping this weekend and, to be honest, I was being  a total grump and didn't feel like going. We went camping with Truman's parents a couple weeks ago and while we were gone (don't worry, it was only one night) Olivia got out. Some neighbors managed to wrangle her back into the back yard but, none the less, I was worried it would happen again.

And I feel like we've been gone a lot. And I'm going to be out of town next week. And laundry needs to get done. And mope, mope, mope. Let's be real, I'm an introvert and I have separation anxiety when I leave the dog. For realzies. Truman was a good sport and did the lion's share of the packing and Saturday morning we got out of the house only and hour behind schedule. But I was still pouting.

Once we got to Eleven Mile Canyon Recreation Area it was great. The area was beautiful. The company was great. The food was awesome. And Katy and I got to go tubing for the first time. I felt silly for pouting...but I still missed Olivia.

We've mostly been backpacking this summer and haven't done much car camping. I almost forgot how fun car camping food can be. It's sillier than what you'd cook at home and, as far as I'm concerned, calories consumed while camping don't count. We made foil pouch meals with ground turkey,onions, carrots and mushrooms for dinner and they were great. For dessert I followed this recipe (thanks pinterest!) to make dutch oven apple caramel cinnamon rolls.

Cinnamon apple goo fresh from the dutch oven, plus darkness, plus a flash doesn't make for the best pictures but trust me, they were delicious.

 This is Raleigh, he was obsessed with the fire. 

Campfire pancakes

Tubing was great. We picked up a little raft at a local sporting goods store the night before hoping that the three of us (Truman, Katy and I) would all fit but alas, it wasn't really made for two adults so I tubed solo. 

 Katy thought this whole tubing idea was a little insane. Regie thought it was hilarious. 

 There was some navigating involved. 





 Tubing selfie! I think I get extra points for a selfie with a dog in it. 




Katy the dog has become quite the veteran camper (six trips in the last two months). She's now gone backpacking, hiked a 14-er (a mountain over 14,000 feet), gone car camping, and done a little tubing. She's 3 craft beers away from being a Colorado stereotype. The only down side is that she's a bit of a pillow-thief in the tent.