Sanctuary 2.0: The Line

I love nature. I love nature in little ways, such as letting spiders stay in my house in whatever corner they decide to weave their webs. I love nature in medium ways, such as not getting mad about the goats peeing on my yoga mat at goat yoga because I was so thrilled a goat was getting cuddly on my mat with me. I love nature in big ways, such as sobbing uncontrollably while watching the whales bubble netting in Alaska because I was overwhelmed from witnessing such a majestic event that is so perfectly designed and so completely out of the control of humans.

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But there is a point at which I stop communing with nature. The squirrels that killed my garden this year brought me pretty close to that point. Pretty damn close to making use of a pellet gun. But this…this is the real line. Nope, nope, nope. Nasty! Uh-uh. No way. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: Where Everybody Knows Your Name

As of today, I have officially had a downtown Boulder address for six months. Once upon a time, I lived in a city of 12 million. Now I live in a town of 100,000. Sure, that’s ten times the size of the town I grew up in, but it is still very, very small. Unless you are a total hermit with no social or professional network at all, if you live here, expect to run into people you know. And behave yourself accordingly.

My era of “Oh hey, fancy seeing you here!” started in the worst possible way on March 25 when The Writer took me to a dinner party at his best friend’s house. As we were picking up dessert at a grocery store, a dark angel crossed our path: the ex-boyfriend of a close friend of mine. A man who is friends with my ex and whom no one likes. No one has ever liked him, even before he moved out of my friend’s house in the middle of the day without having the decency to tell her the years-long relationship was over. We jutted our chins out at each other by way of reluctant acknowledgement and continued on. His appearance was an omen of worse things to come. When we arrived at the hosts’ home, my date introduced me to his best friend first and then to his best friend’s girlfriend. And that’s when I went nearly brain dead, taking great effort to force my smile muscles to move into shape and sticking my arm out zombie-stiff to shake her hand. I was incapable of being genuine because my mind was frozen in a state of horror. The girlfriend was an intimacy coach who had held a group session that my ex and I had gone to together. A most uncomfortable four hours ensued. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: Zorro the Wonder Cat

On June 2, 2016, I went to a local animal shelter and brought home what was supposed to be a barn cat. I lived in a house that was built into the side of a mountain where mice and other small critters were common invaders, so I thought it would be good to have an outdoor cat to help keep them under control.

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Within three hours, the cat ran away and I was crushed. It was out there in unfamiliar territory populated by bobcats and foxes and other potential cat-eaters. There was little to no water anywhere. I was sure I had sentenced it to death. But still hopeful, I sent an email to the neighborhood asking people to keep an eye out. About a week later, one neighbor reported having seen the cat beneath his porch, but he was unable to catch it. A week after that, another neighbor reported having seen the cat at the bottom of the mountain where my dirt road met up with the main canyon road, and where there was a stream with fresh water. Both neighbors who lived at that intersection began to see the cat repeatedly, so I got a humane animal trap and filled it first with Fancy Feast and later with some really stinky canned mackerel. I checked that cage twice a day on the way to and from work. Sometimes the food would be gone but the trap still untriggered, as if something larger, like the mountain lion also living in that area, had stuck its paw in and swiped it. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: I Never Thought I Would…

My recent 180 on Boulder has got me thinking about all the other things I’ve done in the last three months that I never thought I would. Being single gives me a lot more time to spend with the girls. In the core group I hang with, five of the six of us terminated our long term relationships between March 2016 and March 2017. And if you expand that core group to the friends of friends who join our outings on a semi-regular basis, 8 of those additional 12 women are single as well. Which means there are plenty of unencumbered ladies to get into trouble with on any given night. (As if anything any of us do can remotely be considered trouble-making. My penchant for cursing loudly when small children are present is probably the worst of it.) And since I’m not trying to balance relationships with friends with a relationship with a life partner anymore, I’m saying yes to more ridiculous things I would have passed on before. In no particular order, I present to you the following:

Pole Dancing

When we walked in the door for our 101 class, the advanced class was just finishing up. They looked like this. During my class, I looked like this. So, one class was enough for me, but, ever the sucker for making sure I get the most for my money, I had purchased a four pack of classes for $45 instead of paying $20 for a single class. What to do? I looked at the schedule for their other offerings and found Pound. Yes, it looks a little hokey from the videos, but it is SO much fun. You sweat a ton and work muscles you didn’t know you had, and the instructor, April Abbott, totally kicks ass. Someone find that woman a studio in Boulder! Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: Not Drinking the Kool-Aid, But…

Today marks three months that I’ve been living in Boulder proper, in my Little House, and so far, life in The Bubble has been pretty damn great. Yes, friends, that’s right. I said I like living in Boulder. My Colorado friends will not believe those words were typed by me. For years and years while living in Denver, I was firmly in the contingent of people who routinely mocked Boulder and not for a moment would have entertained the idea of living here. Even when I moved to what was technically Boulder, but not exactly, dealing with people who were weird enough to live in town was unthinkable.

But now, here I am. There was no question when I left the mountains that I would live right in town. My job is here, my friends are here, I hate commuting. But I didn’t expect to be so comfortable here right away. What do I love about it?

Proximity

45 percent of the places I go, including two friends’ houses, are walking distance from my home. 45 percent of the other places, including great hiking trails, are just a five to ten minute drive away and there’s always ample, free parking. I fuel up the car only once every four weeks or so. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: Princess to Pioneer

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Once upon a time, I lived in a land far, far away. A land of fairy tales populated by peasants and kings, bears and wolves, composers and poets. A land filled with beautiful things: lacquer boxes with miniature paintings, Orenburg shawls, intricate samovars, khokhloma kitchenwarematryoshkas, faberge eggs, and gzhel. In this magical land, I had a magical romance. Or maybe it wasn’t so magical but only felt like it was because I was in my early twenties and still believed love was the most important force in the world and still believed in its power to strike down all adversity and sorrow. But then I became too old for fairy tales and my Russian prince and I and our 12 gzhel statues moved to America where we were commoners with common lives and common problems that love could not vanquish. And then we didn’t have love anymore and so we parted ways. The gzhel cow, the gzhel pig, and all their fragile blue and white friends were relegated to a storage bin, packed away with the other memories of a life gone by, or perhaps a life that never was, to be pulled out and examined once or twice a year when nostalgia for the emotional intensity and naivete of young adulthood grew unbearable. But as time marched on, those ancient images and emotions were no longer strong enough to push through the haze of present day concerns, and the value in toting physical representations of memories from place to place was lost. It was then that the gzhel barnyard animals met their tragic end in a dumpster in a grimy alley in Denver, Colorado, far from their snowy origins. Except one. A rooster. The rooster refused to be tossed aside. He scratched and clung on, crowing for attention, urging my former self to allow one piece of who she was to remain, no matter how far down in the bin he had to be and no matter how much other detritus hid his existence. Just don’t let go. There’s more to come.

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Sanctuary 2.0: Re-Engaging the Senses

I recently starting rereading Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses, which I read for the first time approximately two years ago. The book is an exquisite and vivid journey through our five senses and how they guide and influence our interactions with the world around us. It’s a beautiful piece of writing that serves as a reminder of the importance of literally stopping to smell the roses. Today, I did that. IMG_6411After a morning session of restorative yoga in the planetarium that left me with an almost unbearable desire to pack up the car and drive straight to the Badlands or Moab to be alone with my senses, I settled for a three hour solo hike into the forest and canyons at the base of the Flatirons. The air, earth, and plants were still damp with the heavy spring rain that soaked the whole region on Friday. Such a rich humidity on a rainless day is rare treat in Boulder, as is the sound of rushing water and a nearly empty hiking trail only 15 minutes outside town. The luxury of the experience filled me with emotion and also got me to thinking about how my own senses have been heightened and tantalized since I removed myself from a relationship that was breaking my soul and forcing me to suppress a desire for rich experiences in order to simply get by from day to day. Restorative yoga helps you be present in your sense of self, but the other five senses are every bit as important. Here is what has been influencing mine lately. Continue reading →

Sanctuary 2.0: One Month In

In August 2015, I moved out of Lower Downtown Denver an hour away into the mountains west of Boulder into an exquisitely constructed house with a ten million dollar view. Partly due to its isolation and partly due to its Spanish mission style construction, my then-partner and I dubbed it the Sanctuary.

Sadly, the name became a misnomer. A sanctuary is a place of safety and protection but I was in a relationship that offered neither of those things. About eight months after we moved in, the relationship, which was always a bit fragile, became a nightmare. The person who swore he loved me, even up to the last day, who said everything he was doing was for our future and that I was his partner for life, also became a person who repeatedly told me I was a cunt and the worst thing that ever happened to him; who threw glass and smashed picture frames when I disagreed with him; who left the house for days at a time and refused to speak to me over the smallest arguments; who repeatedly told me I needed to leave his house and then begged for forgiveness and asked me to stay; who accused me of cheating, apropos of nothing, and then mocked me for being offended by the accusations; who treated me as the enemy, refusing to discuss our relationship at all and showing up drunk to couples counseling. I can go on for some time on the verbal and emotional abuse: Continue reading →

13,000 Hours in the Mountains: Whose Mountain Is It Anyway?

A big cat family roams Alaska Hill. Their presence has been been confirmed. At first, the evidence was inconclusive: sounds of an animal splashing around in the creek at the bottom of the hill and a barely visible tail near the sound of a branch snapping in the dark. Perhaps a murderous mountain lion, but perhaps a charming bobcat. Then, a cache was discovered near a neighbor’s propane tank. And then a spate of sightings around the area of the cache: the momma coming up a driveway, the cub disappearing into the woods, the duo crossing the road.

I have an unjustified feeling of certainty that I will be the feline’s victim. Much the way people panic when they see a gun, I’m certain, now that several people on my street have seen the beast (and its offspring), that it’s going to eat me, my dog, or both of us. Guns are all around; we simply aren’t aware of them because the owners have concealed carry permits, emphasis on concealed. The mountain lion has always been around but its territory is enormous and it’s mainly active at night. Logic often goes out the window when confronted visually with something you don’t like. I’ve hiked these woods many times with only my trusty but useless dog for protection. Now, suddenly, the caves and pits pockmarking the land terrify me, although my rational brain knows nothing has actually changed. Continue reading →

Boulder 911, or How I Was Almost Caught in a Shootout

2016 had an interesting end for me. I was on my way to work on the morning of Friday the 30th, waiting to make a left turn from one main road in Boulder onto another. As I sat in the left turn lane, a police vehicle came screaming up the inbound traffic lanes to my left, zig-zagged through the intersection to get back into the lanes going his direction, and then vanished around a turn at the next intersection. Actual crime is almost a novelty in Boulder, but even so, it was early and my mind was already checked out for the holiday weekend, so I forgot about the cop even before I got the green arrow.

When I turned left, I got into the right lane and drove along, nearing a gas station on my passenger side. Just as I reached the entrance, that same cop came tearing down the opposing lanes once again, lights flashing and siren blaring, but this time, instead of driving past, he sucked me right into his dramatic morning. He pulled a hard turn directly in front of me, back end of his SUV swinging wide, and slammed to a stop perpendicular to the road, blocking both lanes going my direction. He jumped out of the car with an assault rifle and ran into the gas station lot. Just then, three other police cars screeched in from different directions and all the officers jumped out, weapons drawn. They were pointing them at a man on the ground in front of a van. Continue reading →