December 30, 2010

The Astrologer Monk

The monk does astrological charts. He said in 2012, somethingsomethingsomething planets aligning for the first time since my birth. This means there will be a big change in my life, involving more responsibilities. According to the time of my birth, he foresees it involving travel. That could be cool or worrisome.

Also, he said somethingsomethingsomething all my planets are in only one section (??) which is very rare. It means something blahblah I have the propensity to become a public figure and that it could mean I'll be famous, despite being introverted.

He also said Scorpios are notorious for being sexy, secretive, and successful. And since my rising sign is Aquarius, I'm a good person and like to help others.

I really like my work conversations.

December 17, 2010

Crocheting Hippo-Hatamus

You want to know how I get my creative juices a-flowing? No, don't worry, it's nothing that will make you feel weird later for knowing. My thought process goes something like this: "I have a craft fair tomorrow. I've been selling a lot of frog hats lately. I should make another animal hat for tomorrow. What is another kind of ugly animal that you don't often see as a hat? Ooh, a hippo, and I even have a bunch of purple yarn!"

That's all.

I started by making just a basic beanie, then added the details. For the snout, I crocheted a large, triangular piece, then stuffed and whip-stitched it on. To give the appearance of separate "cheeks," I simply cinched the middle of the bottom row. Then some triangular ears, a couple nostril flaps. When I got to the eyes, I looked at many photos of real hippos, to get an idea of how I would design them. What I noticed is that hippos have fairly ugly eyes, simultaneously saggy and bulgy.


True to life, I made the eyes dark, bulging in their saggy sockets. Keene said, "I think it would be more relatable if you added some white to the eyes." I said, "But you don't really see the whites on real hippos." He said, "But it would be more relatable." I said, "Who relates to a hippo anyways?" I kept it ugly, its eyes dead and full of despair.


(Ignore the line running down the side of the snout. It was a failed experiment which was later axed.)


Unfortunately, in addition to being an ugly, unrelatable animal, the hat is also hugely un-photogenic. No matter how many times I tried, no matter the angle, lighting, or model, the hat just looked weird and shapeless.



But on the bright side, this hat could totally chomp you in half.

December 15, 2010

December, 2010: Oh, What a (Beer) Night!


There is something magical a-brewing in liquor stores dotting the city, something promotionally wonderful and marketably fantastic. You can now "design" your own six-pack of beer. Okay, okay, I get it. This is probably not news to most the beer-drinkers out there. However, for this beer-drinker and her boyfriend, it made us feel like maybe there was more to this bleak, gray world in which all adults inevitably walk.

So it came to pass one Saturday evening that we passed a liquor store and decided to try some new brew. Lo and behold, I discovered two full cases of assorted bottles, each one sweating with anticipation, hoping I would choose it. I stood in front of the cold freezer for a long time, contemplating all the choices. Then I grabbed six different bottles:

Great Divide - Hades, Belgium-style ale

As the night began, we put a lot of thought into each beer, discussing the scent, the taste, the mouthfeel. (As in, "The mouthfeel gooooooood.") My boyfriend said, "It's challenging right off the bat, but finishes with almost a cider taste." He also remarked that it was a lot like champagne, with its style of dry carbonation. Its fruity, light taste made it something you could drink like water, easily and quickly before the guilt really sets in. Almost like Coors, but without feeling like you are being punched in the crotch for making all the wrong choices in life.


Widmer Brothers Brewing Company - Brrrr

If Hades hinted at fruitiness, Brrrr damn near pelts you with rotting grapefruits, like a food-fight gone awry. It's overwhelming scent and flavor is of grapefruit and orange peels. While it is initially tasty at the front of the tongue, it soon hits the back of the tongue, making you feel like you have somehow wronged God and are now being punished. While I picked up this bottle because of the name, thinking, "Ooh, 'Brrrr,' this sounds like a good holiday brew!" However, as it turns out, the "Brrrr" isn't referencing snowy evenings or crisp December mornings; it's giving props to the chills you get while viciously puking up last night's festivities.


Tommyknockers - Maple Nut Brown Ale

Count on Colorado to get it exactly right. The locally-brewed ale is as close to perfection as a beer can get without also being a drinkable hair-growing or boob-enhancing concoction. The smooth, thick taste is remniscent of Guiness, but with no hint of a bitter aftertaste. My boyfriend excitedly said, "I could drink nine of these!" but unfortunately, for us, there was only the one bottle.

New Belgium - Frambrozen Raspberry Brown Ale

Say you had an occasionally girly boyfriend who likes his beer on the, uh, fruity side. What might you do? You might take the aforementioned Maple Nut beer and add Framboise to it. And if you did that, you'd get pretty close to the taste of Frambrozen. It is a dark, heavy brew with a very strong taste of raspberry. Yet unlike Framboise, which tends toward being too sweet, Frambrozen finds a decent balance. And how did that occasionally girly boyfriend like it? "Taste-T!"


Widmer Brothers - Drop Top Amber Ale

You know, by the time you get through analytically tasting and tastefully analyzing five beers, you might find yourself losing momentum (or gravity, one or the other). My first and lingering impression of light, hoppy, Drop Top went something like this: "Huh. It smells like marijuana. Or B.O. It tastes like it too. No, the marijuana, not the B.O. Don't you think?"

December 13, 2010

Grown-up Children: Interviews with Teenage Mothers


(Reposted from Examiner.com)

Kortney Owen is an Englewood-based office manager who, at 29 years old, has a nice home, a youthful face, and a love of dachshunds. People know her as a fun, aspiring comedienne who leads an easy-going life. However, many do not know about her early years as a struggling teen mother.

At the age of 14, she was fairly active and hard-working. She participated in class, earned straight As in school, and wanted to become a teacher. Then she met the boy who would become her boyfriend: “He was weird, I was weird. He was into drugs and hanging around the bad kids…it was exciting.”

Were you on birth control when you got pregnant?
KO: No…we sometimes used condoms. [I thought,] “It wouldn’t happen to me.”

How did you discover you were pregnant?
KO: I started having morning sickness almost immediately. I just kind of knew. I missed a period, then took a test to confirm [it].

What did you think or feel upon finding out?
KO: Apprehension, sadness. I also felt like I was in control of my life for the first time. I made a big decision without anyone telling me no. I felt that I had made a very serious decision [to have sex] and had to deal with the consequences, meaning I should have the baby.

How did you tell your family?
KO: My mom could tell by how sick I was. She seemed sad, but told me she would supportme in any decision I made.

How was your life immediately affected by the pregnancy?
KO: I couldn’t go to school because of the morning sickness. My friends were all really shocked and upset. Some of them started avoiding me. The school was also surprised and, I think, really disappointed. It made me feel terrible to have a lot of people around me “turn their backs.”

What was your pregnancy and delivery like?
KO: I had trouble gaining weight in the beginning [due to nausea]. Although the morning sickness subsided later, my pregnancy was plagued with health issues. I had extreme sleep troubles: sometimes not sleeping for a day or two; other times staying up really late, then sleeping the entire next day. Near the end of my pregnancy I was diagnosed with Preeclampsia [a serious condition which causes blood pressure to rise and protein to develop in the urine] and was on bed-rest for the last month of pregnancy. About five days into my bed-rest, I became extremely ill: fatigued, nauseous, and listless. Unbeknownst to me, I had been slowly leaking amniotic fluid for some time and my blood pressure was through the roof. I began having contractions and went to the hospital.

I was kept in the emergency area of the hospital for monitoring. A few hours later, the doctors began preparing for delivery. A special labor nurse explained the details of how the Pre-E and lack of fluid could make for an extremely difficult labor. Adding in the fact that I was so young, she told me that the baby or I could die. I was given an IV of magnesium to assist with the blood pressure. After eleven hours in the hospital, I delivered my baby.

What was your life like after your daughter, Zoe, was born?
KO: Hectic. Tiring. At first, I tried to continue with school, but it was too much work. My daughter was not sleeping well, was very fussy, and demanded a lot of attention. I couldn’t keep up with homework or even being gone that much during the day. After about seven months, I got a job [and quit school]. My mom watched the baby while I worked.

How did your relationship with your mom change?
KO: [We] became more equal in some ways: we both made important decisions about our children. (She also had two very young children of her own, so she had her hands full with little ones.) It was strained because she needed to help me and my baby. She taught me a lot about how to care for a baby.

How did your relationship with Zoe's father change?
KO: He ran away from home when he found out [about the pregnancy]. I think he was surprised and scared. Then he came back, tried working, saw the baby a few times [before moving to Kansas]. He was unable to help me much until just recently.

Did you date anyone else?
KO: Yes. It was much harder to date, because boys weren’t interested in having little kids around. They were afraid I’d somehow make them help with parenting. I started dating a guy that didn’t mind; he was much older than me and in a different place in his life. It made our relationship especially hard.

How were you treated by those around you (strangers, friends, etc.)?
KO: Strangers [made] comments about my “sister.” [They would] act upset or surprised when they found out she was actually my daughter. Sometimes they would say things like, “You’re not old enough to have a child!” My friends were afraid of the baby; some [of their] parents didn’t want them to hang around me anymore.

At seventeen years old, Kortney moved out of her mother’s home and into an apartment of her own. She earned her GED and focused on supporting her daughter and herself. While at times she earned enough to keep them afloat financially, there were times when they subsisted on ramen noodles or peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Occasionally, she would bring home whatever food was left over from her job at a fast-food restaurant.

Amid her struggles, Zoe was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of five, then with a mood disorder (including depression and bouts of rage) at the age of nine. Suddenly, Kortney was tackling issues which would have stumped many parents more than twice her age.

KO: [Zoe] was always very high-energy and had mood struggles. It was especially difficult [for me] to be taken seriously by doctors and school [officials] at such a young age. There were times when it was insinuated that my parenting—based on my age—was more to blame than any mood disorders [with] which she had been diagnosed.

Around twelve years old, these mental illnesses became exacerbated by the emergence of pubescent hormones. She began lashing out violently, ditching school, and spending time with drug-users. Kortney, feeling helpless against this turn of events, looked into such options as placing her daughter in a group home. When Zoe was 13 years old, her father suddenly made contact with the teenager. After enduring his own struggles over the years, he was finally in a position to make a positive influence in his daughter’s life. After many weeks of phone conversations and occasional visits, Kortney made the decision to let Zoe move to the small rural town in Kansasto live with her newly-reunited father and his close-knit family.

What was like to make such a hard decision in letting your child live elsewhere?
KO: Because of my age, [we] grew up together; we lived more like siblings than a mother and daughter. Our relationship had always been quite outrageous and often strained. Since moving to Kansas, Zoe's emotional problems have stabilized a great deal. She is passing all of her classes and is very active in extracurricular activities. She participates in church and community events. She and her dad still have struggles that all parents and teens have, but she has a supportsystem that allows her to find a balance in her life. The first few months she had moved away, I barely heard from her, mostly getting updates from her dad. We both needed that break. [I] miss her a great deal, but knowing she is growing and becoming the great young adult I had always hoped for her to be helps. I look forward to her calls and messages. I feel that we are more able to care for each other and be a positive part of each others' lives than when she lived with me.

In what ways does your past as a teen mother still affect your life?
KO: People are still shocked to hear that I have a fourteen-year-old daughter. I don’t usually bring [it up], because she doesn’t live at home. People are also surprised to hear I have a child at all. When I see a young mother, it takes me back to a lot of the feelings I had at that time. Sometimes it’s a struggle to feel those things again.

What was the hardest part about being a teen mom?
KO: Being completely uncertain of the future.

What do you think was the most common misconception people had about you?
KO: That I didn’t always try my hardest.

What would you have done differently?
KO: I would have been more assertive about my parenting decisions and what my daughter needed from her caregivers (school, stepdad, grandma).

What advice do you have for other teen mothers?
KO: Don’t doubt yourself. Always ask for help, if you think you need it.

What about for parents of teen mothers?
KO: They may be young, but they will figure it out. Give them the help they need, but don’t be afraid to stand back sometimes.

Finally, what advice do you have for all teenagers, in general?
KO: Don’t get pregnant. You don’t have to grow up now and you don’t have to be right all the time. It’s okay to ask for help and keep asking until you find it.

December 10, 2010

I sold three hats today, well, Keene did.

I made him a frog hat finally. He's been pestering me about it for weeks, if not months. I made his with an adjustable mouth, so if he's feeling happy, he buttons the ends upward. If he's angry, he buttons the mouth ends down. It's pretty adorable.

Anyhow, he's been wearing it everywhere and his coworker asked about it. He AWed me and my website, emphasizing the custom work I do. She placed an order for two custom hats and one already-made hat. Maybe I should make hats for him more often!

December 9, 2010

Ganesh

Earlier today, the cook/personal assistant came to my office to chat. She saw where I had pushed a desk lamp off to the corner. It has a little Hindu statue hanging from it (leftover from the previous woman in my position). She gasped and said, "What is Ganesh doing over here? He's such a good guy. Here...let's hang him up here. Such a good guy."

She then turned to me and said, "Uh, you can google it sometime."

I was like, "Pfft...Ganesh? Hindu god? Yeah, I'm familiar." ::tosses hair::

A skeptic in a house of spiritualists

I went up to the kitchen to get some tea. I made sure not to use the milk jug filled with water, marked "BLESSED". The monk came upstairs and I said, "I don't see you up here much!" (He's seriously the quietest guy ever. I've seen him maybe 3-4 times since working here.) He said, "I come up here to heat up my macaroni. I don't really eat anything else." :eyebrow:

He then said, "I just got done healing myself of a cold. It took a day, instead of weeks."


I said, "How's that?"

He said, "Funny you should ask," and pulls out a little metal dildo-looking thing, the size of a pen. He said it's an energy something-something-something that you wave it around and it heals you. In fact, he just healed a woman with lung cancer the other day.

Okay.

He then told me he sells them for $300. Or, I could try some powder for less.

December 6, 2010

Fighting Injustice, Wheelchair Sports Camp-Style

Photo by Adrian Diubaldo of PhotoRoadies.com

One of the loudest voices in the Denver hip-hop scene is coming from a very unlikely source: Kalyn Heffernan—the small, intelligent, and outspoken frontwoman from Wheelchair Sports Camp. She raps a steady, impressive stream against a funky backdrop of saxophone, drums, and plenty of mixing. The resulting songs vary from mellow and poignant to quirky and biting, such as “Party and Bullshit.” Yet it’s not all about the music for this band: they are taking a stand against violence, fighting for civil rights, and forcing listeners to pay attention from coast to coast.

CMB: Are You From Denver?
Heffernan: Originally born in Denver in ‘87, then moved to Burbank, California when I was six months [old]…and moved back to Denver in ‘97. I consider Denver home.

CMB: How did you get into rapping? How old were you?
Heffernan: I started listening to hip-hop when I was living in California at about 5 or 6 years old. I was going through radio stations on my walkman, and made my dad turn to the station I [had] found. He immediately told me, “Turn that shit off.” Ever since then, I couldn’t help but love it. TLC was the first hip-hop group I remember being obsessed with. I didn’t start rapping myself ‘til I was 12 years old…I remember beat-boxing over a tape and rapping to it for a talent show.

CMB: How has your rapping style or content changed since you first began?
Heffernan: My lyrics are much better, thank God! As far as content, I feel like I’m much more aware and focused. When I first started, I rapped about what everyone else rapped about. Now, I try to rap about real things, having a good time, and social inequalities without being a Debbie Downer. I find humor to be my most favorite expression and, without it, life would not be worth living.

CMB: Tell me about your band. How and when did you meet?
Heffernan: The band started in 2007 with just me and a middle-school friend, Patrick. I started making my own beats in high school and they were finally good enough to rap over. We [collaborated] more with outside musicians, but had a nasty breakup shortly after. At the time, I was going to school at University of Colorado at Denver for Music Production, when I met Abi (saxophones; also of Abi and the Blue Language) in a record label class. We [started] collaborating and have been close friends since. She’s such an amazing musician and adds ten stars to every show we play with her.

Through her, I met her brother, Isaac (drums), who is just as great of a person as her. We had a few classes together and shared a lot of the same music interests. He’s been another great friend of mine. Just recently, I was looking for a DJ to play at an Abby’s Voice benefit walk and met DJ B*money. Coincidentally, he was already familiar with Wheelchair Sports Camp and I knew of him as one of the five Colorado DMC (national DJ competition) finalists. We share a lot of the same interests in music, graffiti, and recreational activities. He DJs full-time so we play with him as much as we can.

CMB: What national and local rappers (or bands) do you like?
Heffernan: I really dig on Shad K and Busdriver right now. I also listen to a lot of Radiohead, Erykah Badu, and Portugal. The Man. As far as local, I get down with my good friend 3Two a lot, along with Mute Man’s Microphone, Mane Rok, and S.T.O.I.C. I really enjoy the Hi-Tops, both Babah Fly and Panama Soweto, along with Acezi and Xperiment, of course.

CMB: How do you feel about the Denver rap/hip-hop scene?
Heffernan: I’ve always had a sore spot in my heart for Denver’s local hip-hop scene, because it’s so easy to be a hater. But the more involved I become, the more I realize how many great hip-hoppers Denver has. I feel like hip-hop all over could be a little more positive and use more work, but I thnk Denver is a unique place with a lot of great people.

CMB: What is Krip-Hop?
Heffernan: Krip-Hop (KripHop.com) is a global movement started by Leroy Moore, a disabled artist/activist. It is a collection of disabled hip-hop artists from all across the world. I was lucky enough to be a part of a Krip-Hop event last month at NYU in Manhattan. I was part of a discussion panel with Rob Da Noize Temple (DJ of Sugarhill Gang), who is also disabled. I [also] played a small performance. It was such an honor for me to be a part of it, and [I] had no idea how many other handicapped hip-hoppers there were in the game. [Moore] found me on Myspace when I first started doing the rap thing semi-seriously.

CMB: As a rapper with a disability, how do you feel you are treated within the hip-hop community?
Heffernan: Luckily, I don’t get treated differently because of my disability very often. I do my best to go out of my way to make myself known as a fully independent person with or without your acceptance. I don’t waste time [worrying] about what people think of me. Love it or leave it. I’ve also been lucky to have a great group of friends who always have my back and always support my ambitions. The hardest time I’ve had with my disability as an artist has been the lack of accessibility at venues. I usually gather about five of my cousins, friends, or strangers before every show to help lift my wheelchair on stage.

CMB: As a female rapper, how have you been received in the hip-hop community?
Heffernan: Again, I don’t notice being treated any differently, but I have to go out of my way to make sure that won’t happen. I also feel that, because I’m a disabled woman, I have to go the extra mile to make sure that I’m holding my own with my beats and rhymes. I feel like I have to be twice as fresh or people will just dismiss me as another local.

CMB: Do you have any advice for other women who want to rap?
Heffernan: Please do and more often! There [are] really not enough female emcees…and it’s a shame.

CMB: You play a lot of benefit shows and fight for a variety of causes. Do you have a cause or charity that is particularly meaningful to you?
Heffernan: The Abby’s Voice Foundation is, by far, the closest to my heart. My best friend from college (Abigail Robertson) was brutally murdered [by her ex-boyfriend] the day after her 21st birthday. It has been the most life-changing experience I’ve ever had to deal with. I was at her birthday party the night before, celebrating with her, and [I] had no idea it would be the last time I saw her. I just finished attending the two-and-a-half week trial, which ended on [November 17th].

Since this has happened, I hear of domestic and dating violence all too often. I help Abby’s mother (who founded the non-profit) by playing or booking shows, making flyers, and [helping] with any of the events, however I can.

CMB: What do you enjoy the most and least about performing for others?
Heffernan: I always enjoy playing with major headliners, because the crowd is always bigger... Plus it’s great to say I’ve shared the stage with so many of my favorites. It is hard, though, to compete with all the other local hip-hoppers for a spot on the bill; that’s what I like the least. It’s all politics to get on a big show, and I hate politics.

CMB: Any plans for upcoming tours?
Heffernan: Our biggest plan now is to play in Austin for South By Southwest (SXSW) in March, but yes, we are looking for the right headliner to follow on tour. Hopefully by next year…

Look for the upcoming, follow-up album to 2008’s “The Best of the All-Time Unreleased Greatest Hits Vol. 303 ½”. Meanwhile, check out Wheelchair Sports Camp, playing on December 23rd at The Old Curtis. And of course, stay tuned for the SXSW roster in March.

Myspace.com/WheelchairSportsCamp

December 1, 2010

Something Old or Something New: Which is Better When It Comes to Lenox China?

Weddings and china go together like divorce and martinis. It seems like there are only two options when discussing whether to get china or not: will you register for it or will you receive an heirloom set from somebody? Never mind that the couple may not even want china. Rubbish! Let’s push that nonsense aside and decide which is better: to buy or to inherit.

Favor must automatically be given to buying a set brand-new, if only because you can’t rely on a generous relative passing his or her set onto you on your wedding day. But for the purpose of this article, let’s assume you can. The first problem you may face is what if you hate the pattern? What Aunt Brunhilde once considered to be exceedingly vogue may now seem a little outdated to you. Some people struggle with finding occasion to break out the china; however, everybody struggles with finding occasion to break out the ugly china.

Nevertheless, what you may find instead is that the Lenox china your relative is passing down is a beautiful, valuable, and long-discontinued pattern, something you wouldn’t have come by otherwise. Yet this idea can sour very quickly, the moment a plate breaks and you are unable to obtain (or afford) a replacement.

What perks might a new set offer? To start, it would be uniquely for you, unlike a set that reflected the personality of its previous owner. Assuming the price tag doesn’t scare you away, you can pick out whatever set tickles your fancy. Also, replacement pieces can be easily had, because even if that pattern is discontinued, many times you will still be able to find what you need online, sometimes on Lenox’s website itself.

There are downsides to nearly everything in life, however, and china is no exception. When you receive a set from a beloved family member, there is a certain sentimentality attached with it—maybe you remember your grandmother serving meals upon these dishes once or she let you use them for a tea party as a child—which cannot be purchased for the new set like an extended warranty. The responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of you and your new wife or husband to create those sentiments.

Also, while you may receive many pieces of this set as wedding gifts, it is more likely you will not receive the whole set. Unfortunately, this expense will become yours, should you decide to complete your set. If you aren’t able to afford these pieces after paying for a posh honeymoon, your set may have to remain incomplete for a while. Lastly, while shopping for your china set, you may find a pattern that is amazingly trendy. Nevertheless, remember Aunt Brunhilde. Those Bedazzled plates may not be quite so awe-inspiring to your children and great-grandchildren.