Boulderites Aren’t Unique…And That’s Good!

I grew up on the east coast where people are aggressive, angry, and closed off. Then I lived in Russia for several years, where people are closed off, angry, and aggressive. And then I moved to Boulder. Boulder is a magic land. Boulderites sincerely welcome newbies into their friend group. They mean what they say and do what they promise. They are genuinely happy for the success of those around them and the fact that others are out enjoying nature and leisure time as much as possible. I’ve never been in another place where people always smile at each other as they pass by on the street or a trail and where strangers so frequently strike up conversations beyond small talk with one another. When I exit our magical borders, I kind of expect the whole rest of the world to be in a Mad Max state of affairs.

OK, that’s all a bit of an exaggeration, but my point is, I believe Boulder is an anomaly, so when I travel somewhere else and find people every bit as lovely as they are at home, I’m surprised…and thrilled! And this was my experience in Dallas. I recently spent 11 days in the city where big things happen and had a wonderful time. Everywhere I went people were friendly and open and pleasant, and I don’t only mean the people I was with. Shopkeepers, servers, bartenders, gas station attendants, and so many people I encountered seemed to be in a great mood, and that made my trip even better. Continue reading →

Who Are You When You Travel?

When I was growing up, I lived on a small street in a rural area where having friends over to sit in the garage and drink was the main Saturday attraction. In all houses, that is, except mine. My parents didn’t drink and they weren’t particularly social, at least not in the kind of way where friends drop in and hang out without any specific invitation or plan. I’d listen on summer nights, through my open bedroom window, to the laughter and chatter going on across the street and wonder why our house wasn’t filled with people too. I swore that when I had my own place, my door would always be open and friends would come and go constantly.

That’s not remotely the kind of person I turned out to be. I’m every bit as inflexible with my time and protective of my personal space as my parents were. It drives me crazy when people stop by unannounced. Even the UPS man. I ignore invitations to go out if they come less than eight hours before the start time because that’s not enough time for me to prepare and accomplish everything I planned to that day. I don’t send read receipts on my iPhone because I don’t want people knowing whether I’m looking at my phone and therefore, presumably, available to talk or text. I always opt for “Entire home/apt” when using AirBnB because I certainly don’t want to be in the house with the owner, having to make chit chat. And communal tables at a restaurant? Whoever came up with this terrible idea should be hanged. Continue reading →

Summer Lovin’

It’s not technically the last day of summer, but it has been a long time since you last heard mention of my dating adventures. And as this entry posts to my blog, I’m somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean heading back from two and a half weeks in Europe, which means I’ll have lots to post about my travels in the coming weeks instead of about the men of Boulder. And, one more reason for the timing of this post, today is the six month anniversary of my first date since the big breakup earlier this year, and I have a thing for posting on artificially significant dates. So here goes!

The 3D and Graphic Designer: He’s really sweet and we had a great time together for almost two months, though we rarely saw each other more than once a week. But I knew pretty early on that I wasn’t going to want a relationship with him. Partly, because he’s not a reader. Books are so important in my life and after a five year relationship with another person who didn’t read much and then dating someone who read aloud to me (an unbelievably sexy experience), well, yeah, I just couldn’t. There are a few other reasons I didn’t want anything serious or long term with him, but I really like him as a person and I dated him long enough that I think it would be inappropriate to blab about him here. 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: 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.

Continue reading →

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 →

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 →

Boulderites: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

People in Boulder are, well, to put it nicely, eclectic. No, I’m just going to say it. They are weird, really weird. As much as I enjoy the extreme friendliness of the overwhelming majority of people I interact with in town, there’s a reason I live in isolation in the mountains. But even so, I can’t escape bizarre interactions. Sometimes I invite them, like the time my partner and I went to an organized date night event run by two early-twenty-something “intimacy coaches” that turned out to be more a group therapy session with us and 28 complete strangers. But other times, they just happen. I present to you the following evidence.

The Good: A few Fridays ago, I was headed downtown to meet a friend for happy hour. I entered the trendy part of town around 4:45 and started to look for parking. The good thing about living in a small town like Boulder is there is always ample parking. The bad thing about that is people have no idea how to really parallel park because they generally have two whole car lengths to do it. I was about to encounter one such spatially challenged individual. Continue reading →