WTF?


Beware the Edibles

Don't eat the cookie, Alice.For the record, I’m not totally inexperienced when it comes to marijuana. Since I first tried it,1 I’ve smoked very occasionally, I guess you could say. I might go years without having any and I might have some a few times in a month. I’ll have some if it’s around but I don’t seek it out and I’ve never bought any myself.

When I was pregnant, a former neighbor came by one day and gave us a few weed cookies. “Be careful,” he told us, but Ben was all yeah whatever beanpole teenager.

We put them in the freezer, where they stayed for maybe a year. One day, Ben ate two of them and made onion soup. He said he was pretty messed up but he was able to function.

On July 2, 2010, I ate one of these weed cookies before we went to the Rockies game. The actual cookie is pictured at right, for some reason on an issue of Westword. As you can see, the cookie isn’t particularly large or anything. It tasted like what eating marijuana in Russia might taste like (this isn’t a bad thing).

I sat around and waited for something to happen. Nothing much did until we got out of the car and were walking to Coors Field. All of a sudden I was all what and whoa and whattheeverlovingfuck. I wasn’t quite sure how I was able to walk and it was kind of like being afraid of flying, such that if you fail to believe this giant, heavy, metal thing is capable of soaring through the air it’ll come crashing to the ground. So you believe you can use your legs to get from one place to another and you do, but the whole time you’re doing it you’re increasingly paranoid that the people you pass: (1) can tell you’re totally fucked up; (2) are able to discern something deeply wrong and troubled with you; (3) can see inside your brain and know your very thoughts.2 The police officers you pass are especially problematic.

This was also the only time we’ve ever had club-level seats at Coors Field. From what I can piece together from the shards of memory lying in the back alleys of my mind, this was magnificent — long, well-lit, glowing hallways filled with the kind of people who would not result in fans of your team being included in a “Top-10 Ugliest Baseball Fans” list. Shiny floors. I think there were windows? Air conditioning? The ability to fly.

The fact that I made it to our seats was monumental. I sat in one seat and Ben and Soren sat in the other. I was completely lacking in any ability to interact with a child. This made me feel deeply guilty, which is really saying something because I’m generally not one for guilt. I had no idea weed could fuck you up this much. No idea.

While I sat in my seat at Coors Field, bathed in a cold sweat, I engaged in the type of bargaining you might do when you’re in a dire situation from which you might not escape alive. I’ll be a better person. I’ll do more volunteer work. I’ll stop making fun of people on the internet. Just let me get through this.

Eventually I became incapable of even this relatively simple thought process. I tried to watch the game but couldn’t tell where I ended and the game began and didn’t really understand what the game was. I felt like Dock Ellis and the LSD no-hitter only not nearly as awesome:

The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn’t hit hard and never reached me.3

Then I realized I had to go back in time so I could learn how to think again. I melted into my chair. I picked at some french fries Ben insisted I eat. I said, “No, I can’t” every time he suggested we get up and walk around. Aside from that, I didn’t move. I worried about what would happen after the game ended and the fireworks were over and I’d have to get up. First I was afraid. Then I was petrified.

From our seats, you could see the right 1/3 of the fireworks. Ben took Soren to a spot where there was a better view and I stayed in my seat and watched 1/3 of the fireworks as best I could. By the time we left the game, I think I was feeling a little better and at least marginally able to function. I got home without incident.

This experience was absolutely nothing even remotely like what happens when you smoke weed. I don’t imagine that it was a typical edible experience, but I have to say I’m probably not going to try pot brownies any time soon. I don’t know if it was these particular cookies (Ben agrees that they were pretty jacked but they didn’t mess him up nearly as much), the length of time they spent in the freezer (not sure how this could have any effect on anything), or what. That said, if I had any advice to someone about to try marijuana for the first time: beware the edibles.
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Notes
1. The first illegal drug I ever tried was LSD, also junior year of college. I did that maybe 5 times, all during college. I don’t know how you go about finding a reliable LSD source these days but I have to say I kind of recommend that everybody try it at least once.
2. Since medical marijuana became available in Colorado, I’ve never gotten that weird paranoid feeling you sometimes get after smoking weed, where it’s like everybody is talking and all of a sudden there’s silence and whatever you just said was the most awkward, ridiculous, and loud — very loud — thing anyone has ever said. In my non-expert opinion, the greatly increased quality of marijuana has eliminated that unpleasant side effect.
3. See www.snopes.com/sports/baseball/ellis.asp.


Homeless People Now Illegal in Denver

I don’t usually write about political stuff here, but the latest development in Denver has me so steaming mad I have to today. First of all, the civil unions bill was killed last night, which is gross. But what I want to talk about now is the fact that Denver pretty much made homeless people illegal.

I apologize in advance for how long this is going to be. In an effort to keep things as short as possible, here are some links where you can get more information about what’s going on, including a link to a pdf of the draft ordinance:

Here is the draft version of the ordinance:

Sec. 38-86.1. – Unauthorized camping on public or private property prohibited.
(a) It shall be unlawful for any person to camp upon any private property without the express written consent of the property owner or the owner’s agent, and only in such locations where camping may be conducted in accordance with any other applicable city law.
(b) It shall be unlawful for any person to camp upon any public property except in any location where camping has been expressly allowed by the officer or agency having the control, management and supervision of the public property in question.
(c) No law enforcement officer shall issue a citation, make an arrest or otherwise enforce this section against any person unless:
(1) The officer orally requests or orders the person to refrain from the alleged violation of this section and, if the person fails to comply after receiving the oral request or order, the officer tenders a written request or order to the person warning that if the person fails to comply the person may be cited or arrested for a violation of this section; and
(2) The officer attempts to ascertain whether the person is in need of medical or human services assistance, including but not limited to mental health treatment, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, or homeless services assistance. If the officer determines that the person may be in need of medical or human services assistance, the officer shall make reasonable efforts to contact and obtain the assistance of a designated human service outreach worker, who in turn shall assess the needs of the person and, if warranted, direct the person to an appropriate provider of medical or human services assistance in lieu of the person being cited or arrested for a violation of this section. If the officer is unable to obtain the assistance of a human services outreach worker, if the human services outreach worker determines that the person is not in need of medical or human services assistance, or if the person refuses to cooperate with the direction of the human services outreach worker, the officer may proceed to cite or arrest the person for a violation of this section so long as the warnings required by paragraph (1) of this subsection have been previously given.
(d) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Camp” means to reside or dwell temporarily in a place, with shelter, and conduct activities of daily living such as eating, sleeping or the storage of personal possessions in such place. The term “shelter” includes, without limitation, any tent, tarpaulin, lean-to, sleeping bag, bedroll, blankets, or any form of cover or protection from the elements other than clothing.
(2) “Designated human service outreach worker” shall mean any person designated in writing by the manager of the Denver Department of Human Services to assist law enforcement officers as provided in subsection (c), regardless of whether the person is an employee of the department of human services.
(3) “Public property” means, by way of illustration, any street, alley, sidewalk, pedestrian or transit mall, bike path, greenway, or any other structure or area encompassed within the public right-of-way; any park, parkway, mountain park, or other recreation facility; or any other grounds, buildings, or other facilities owned or leased by the City or by any other public owner, regardless of whether such public property is vacant or occupied and actively used for any public purpose.

My main problem here is that the law, as it currently stands (with no additional resources added to the Denver community as a result of the law) does nothing to solve the problem of homelessness. It just says Denver doesn’t want to deal with homeless people other than to allow for their arrest if the police feel like it.

A Hypothetical

The law is also, if I can be blunt (and I can), a stupid law. Let’s say a police officer finds a homeless guy (we’ll call him Ralph) sleeping on the 16th Street Mall at 2:00 a.m. Here’s what the ordinance says should happen. First, the officer orally tells Ralph to stop being homeless on the 16th Street Mall. I suppose Ralph could comply in one of two ways — he could magically obtain a home on the spot, or he could leave the 16th Street Mall and go be homeless somewhere else. Option 1 is impossible and option 2 doesn’t solve the problem because Ralph is still homeless. If he fails to comply, the officer gives him something in writing telling him that if he fails to comply, he may be cited or arrested. This is great because we totally need to use more paper, and if someone didn’t magically obtain a home on the spot or go be homeless somewhere else when verbally requested to do so, I’m sure receiving the same request in written form will make all the difference.

Then the real fun begins. The officer gets to “attempt[] to ascertain whether the person is in need of medical or human services assistance, including but not limited to mental health treatment, drug or alcohol rehabilitation, or homeless services assistance.” Before continuing with our hypothetical, I have some questions. Why does the officer just have to attempt? Shouldn’t she have to actually ascertain? What standards does she use when attempting to ascertain whether Ralph needs medical or human services assistance? Why doesn’t the ordinance provide these standards? Will there be standards (If so, who makes them?), or does an officer just get to use her own judgment? By the way, I hope serious crimes aren’t happening while this attempt to ascertain business is going on, because this ordinance doesn’t provide extra funding to the police to help with the extra work they’re going to have.

So, let’s say the officer determines that Ralph may be in need of human services assistance. Now she “shall make reasonable efforts to contact and obtain the assistance of a designated human service outreach worker.” What are reasonable efforts? Assuming she, through reasonable efforts, contacts a designated human service outreach worker, that worker “shall assess the needs of the person and, if warranted, direct the person to an appropriate provider of medical or human services assistance in lieu of the person being cited or arrested for a violation of this section.” How, exactly, does that work? Let’s call our designated human service outreach worker Bob, because that’s fewer letters. Does Bob make this assessment based only on what the officer tells him? Does the cop say, hey, Ralph, come use my phone so you can talk to Bob so Bob can assess your needs? Does the cop take Ralph to wherever Bob works so Ralph can stand in line with all the other homeless people who have been rounded up that night? How much time does this take? If Bob determines that Ralph needs human service assistance and directs him to an appropriate provider of human service assistance, does Ralph have to go right then even though the provider probably isn’t open in the middle of the night? While waiting at the door, will Ralph be approached by police and told to stop being homeless again, or does Ralph get a free pass for the rest of that night?

Now, let’s say our officer is unable to obtain the assistance of Bob or any other human service outreach workers. (How many human service outreach workers are working in the middle of the night in Denver every day? I assume [just kidding, I don’t really] there are several, because this ordinance does not provide for additional human service outreach workers.) Let’s say Bob is in the bathroom and doesn’t answer his phone, and any other human service outreach workers are busy with other homeless people. In that case, the officer is free to arrest Ralph. Yay, Ralph goes to jail. This is great because Denver is rolling in extra tax dollars and jail space. If Bob determines that Ralph is not in need of medical or human service assistance, or Ralph refuses to cooperate with what Bob tells him to do, Ralph can be arrested. This is great for the reasons listed above.

I think it’s fair to interpret this ordinance as making homeless people illegal in Denver (compliance requires one to stop being homeless or leave the city or, I suppose if you want to get technical, sleeping outside with no shelter other than the clothes you’re wearing and no possessions you couldn’t store on your body, which would be dangerous in the winter and pretty much impossible), which I think is completely disgusting. I also think it’s unfair to require homeless people to sleep in shelters. And it’s ridiculous to have this law on the books while there is not nearly enough shelter space for the homeless people of Denver and there are not nearly enough resources to deal with homelessness. The right way to do things would’ve been to set up the resources and then, if necessary, start talking about making a law.

Support for the Anti-Homeless Law

As a side note, every comment I’ve seen on the internet that’s in favor of the law has been something like this:

  • I own a business and sometimes homeless people sleep by it. (This is especially rich coming from restaurant owners who opened restaurants in areas where many homeless people have been sleeping for years.) This makes me and my customers uncomfortable.
  • I see homeless people on the street. Sometimes they talk to me and ask me for money. This makes me uncomfortable.

Holy crap. You know what I do when a homeless person asks me for money? I generally decline to give him or her any money because I don’t have any. Then I go on my way. If it’s an especially egregious interaction, I might complain to Ben when I get home or write a blog post bitching about it. Because here’s the thing. Unlike the people who support this law because homeless people make them uncomfortable, I don’t believe I’m entitled to live in a world where nothing ever makes me feel uncomfortable. Hell, if I got to make things that make me uncomfortable declared illegal, people who support this ordinance would be illegal.

Let’s Talk About Albus Brooks

Here’s a fun (to me) tangent. To try to get an understanding of where he was coming from when drafting and sponsoring this ordinance, I spent some time on my City Councilman Albus Brooks’s Facebook page. I ended up becoming even more disgusted. The most recent post was this:

Tonight was not about winners or losers, it was about beginning a long process of providing smart services to individuals that need it the most. Time and patient application, not rhetoric, will reveal the true nature of this ordinance. Now it’s time to begin working on securing support for the next step-a 24 hour resource center.

I have so many questions. Shouldn’t the true nature of this ordinance have been revealed before it was passed? Shouldn’t Albus Brooks have begun working on securing support for the next step, a 24-hour resource center, before working to get this law passed? Shouldn’t he maybe have not only secured support but also built/established this center before working to get this law passed?

Here’s an exchange from the comments under the above entry:

Rachel: When I spoke at East High the day after you did, a girl said that you made the bill seem like a “bowl full of cherries” and she was dead on. Sketchy politicking, a lack of knowledge about the population this will affect, and a lack of humility in really listening to those who work with them. Bringing diverse communities together? When you have folks like Charlie Brown backing you on issues such as this, you know you have lost your roots.

Albus: Rachel, that was one girl, how about the whole class. You only get half the story, your view is flawed. To be apart of transformation you need to see the whole picture. Sad that we can’t work together because of pride. Smh

First of all, it’s a part. Second, I have more questions. Why does he think she only has half the story? Why hasn’t he told the other half? Why does he assume her view is flawed because she disagrees with him? How does Albus Brooks expect anyone to see the whole picture when he doesn’t even seem to know what it is? To what pride is he referring? How did he determine that they can’t work together? It sounds to me like he’s making a personal attack on Rachel. Also, I can’t take you seriously if you use “Smh” in a professional capacity. But hey, because Albus Brooks thinks personal attacks are cool, I think Albus Brooks is a dismissive, patronizing, smug elitist who doesn’t know what he’s doing.

Scrolling through earlier entries on his Facebook page (which he lists on Twitter as his website, so I assume it functions as an official site), I discovered that when people left respectful comments that are critical of what was then the proposed law, he gave responses like this (extra assholery bolded):

I am disappointed you did not call our office and seek to understand what was being offered before you jump to conclusions. 1. When this bill is released it will be accompanied with 300-350 bed(please call me so I can give you detail…s 7203378888) 2. New services to the top 200 district court offenders ( which are all homeless) 3. We are currently in talks with the Mayors office to develop a 24 hr shelter through a public private partnership run by a non profit the first 24 hour resource center for homeless in this city. Lastly, I had businesses support me, but a GROUNDSWELL of D8 community support, would be happy to show you :).
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I am surprised at you, I thought you would at least call or email me to find out the facts before you jump to conclusions like everyone else. First i want to know what are you doing as an engaged residents is doing to get people off of the streets? It will take a the community but the community has not been engaged in what is actually going on there are only few advocates actually working on solutions and MANY naysayers throwing daggers. This is what I am doing with this bill 1. We opened up a church in our district house women who are homeless nightly 2. Waivers to increase shelter space in two specific shelters. 3. Working in conjunction with the Mayors office to develop a 24 hour resource center for homeless individuals.

The way he responds to concerned citizens is completely unacceptable. It’s not their job to call his office to hear his explanation. It’s his job to get his explanation out there. He sounds defensive and, frankly, a little creepy. The smiley face doesn’t help. His plans are vague and there is no evidence that any actual work has been completed. Where are the 300-350 beds (I added that “s” for him)? What are the new services to the top 200 offenders? Being “currently in talks” means nothing has actually happened. Having the support of businesses and a GROUNDSWELL of D8 community support does not negate the fact that some people disagree with this law or do anything to substantively address the issues. Some of the people who oppose this law, like me, live in D8. Also, asking a concerned citizen what he’s doing to get people off the streets is unacceptable and makes Albus Brooks look defensive. It also makes me think that if I ever contact Albus Brooks with a concern, he’ll just ask me what I’ve done to solve the problem, which is not really what I’m looking for from my Councilman. If the community has not been engaged, why hasn’t he been trying to get them engaged?

Finally, I respectfully suggest that he hire a professional editor.

I considered sending my concerns to Albus Brooks directly, but I don’t see the point of giving him the chance to say that he’s disappointed in me for forming an opinion based on the information he’s put out there or to virtually shake his head at me. Albus, you’re welcome to contact me should you like to discuss my concerns further.

All that said, maybe there is good news for the homeless people of Denver. I’m working on finding out his address (as you may have guessed, he did not return to the thread to post it) so I can let everyone know they’re invited to stay at Albus Brooks’s place.

 


WTF Wednesday: Bangs

Bangs. I always get them and I always hate them.

It’s as certain as death and taxes. As soon as my bangs finally grow out and I am freed from the prison of having annoying hair in my face all the time and the associated problems including but not limited to greasy bangs (and the existential dilemma of whether to wash them more often even though I know that just makes them more determined to be greasy) and sweaty bangs that bug the crap out of me while running (I can’t wear headbands because they, like, move around and also my head is gigantic have you seen it) and bang separation issues, I’ll go right out and get them again.

I made an illustration of my relationship with bangs using my toddler’s LARGE washable crayons. I call it “The Cycle of Bangs” and it is destined to repeat itself over and over and over in my lifetime.

cycle of bangs

I’m currently in Why?!! territory, headed toward Aaaaah!! Fun times.

Maybe one day I’ll learn.


My Favorite Glasses

Glasses!I need to wear these glasses more often. Or would it be more accurate to refer to these glasses as wearing me? Either way, I love them but they also terrify me. Last year, I had them redone with Transitions lenses, so they can be both regular glasses and sunglasses, which is just about the silliest thing in the entire world but these really want to be sunglasses and I just didn’t have the heart to keep them from fulfilling their full potential even though I really want them to be regular glasses.

Sorry I’m light on content again. Soren got sick and then Ben got sick and now I’m getting sick. I’d like to spend the rest of this gloomy, rainy day on the couch snuggled under a hand-crocheted ripple blanket, which I do not own but fully intend to make one day as soon as I master sewing on my new sewing machine, which is next on the list (I did some sewing in high school so I’m reasonably confident this will be a successful endeavor), and then learn to crochet (I’ve been meaning to crochet a ripple blanket for years). So back to the couch, I was on it, under a blanket that doesn’t yet exist, watching the 900 hours of Rockies coverage that comes with having two games played on one day (and keeping in mind that tonight’s game will be the third in a row we’re supposed to attend but will miss thanks to everyone being in various stages of feeling like crap — I should have a system for giving away our tickets in these situations), and then going to bed early, where I actually fall asleep instead of reading Sports Illustrated, worrying about things, starting to finally drift off, and then being awakened by a raspy, boogery, crying baby who will only fall asleep again after having his diaper changed, ingesting baby Ibuprofen, and having his back rubbed for 57 years. Instead, I’m having a beer and writing a blog post that probably makes me sound like I’m delirious with fever, which I’m totally not, while Ben is doing something mysterious that has resulted in Soren being reasonably quiet even though he’s a bit grumpy right now. I think it involves food. (Haha he’s feeding him grapes like a tiny little Greek god or something.)

Speaking of food, the good news is that I’ve already made tonight’s dinner, less the vegetarian bacon, which I’ll add at the last minute so it doesn’t get soggy. It’s a seven-layer salad. (Soren is totally not going to eat that.) Do you need a recipe for that? You probably don’t, because they’re all over the internet, but I’ve noticed that most of the internet recipes for seven-layer salad have a tragic flaw (I’ll just say — brown sugar > white sugar in this instance). Also just say no to celery, if it’s called for, because celery is one of those things that is necessary only in very limited circumstances (such as stuffing) and tends to overpower the other flavors in a dish. So maybe I’ll give you my seven-layer salad recipe later, not that you need it. xoxo


Cat Anxiety

Song: Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Soothe & Glow Seahorse
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Do you ever get an unlikely thought stuck in your head and eventually kind of freak out about it?

XochitlYo dawg, what up?

Xochitl is a woman of the streets. Well, she used to be a woman of the streets. She came to us as a pregnant stray and eventually had four kittens, all of them tabbies. Eek. (As you may know, we adopted out two of the tabbies, to delightful former co-workers of Ben in Oak Park, and kept the two who turned out to be kind of special.)

Life on the streets still holds a certain appeal for Xochitl. When we lived in Nederland, she darted out the door one night when Ben came home from work. To say I freaked the fuck out would be an understatement. I think it was on my birthday, too, but fortunately, time softens these stupid memories. I put signs up all over our (thankfully tiny) neighborhood and contacted every animal shelter in the area, including Boulder (as if she’d just, like, walk down Boulder Canyon and go to that Atlas Purveyors place everybody is always talking about [I’ve never been]). I wandered the streets with eyeliner-tear-stained eyes, calling her name, which we incorrectly pronounce kind of like SO-chee (we like to hand out Aztec and Danish names as if we’re Aztec or Danish, I guess). I found a website that tells you to find your lost cat by thinking like a cat, and if I recall correctly it had some kind of “What kind of cat are you?” quiz, where you pretend you’re your cat answering questions on Facebook and then find out that you’re a Samantha cat. Of course you are. You got knocked up by a tabby. This research resulted in a bowl of cat food being lovingly placed on our front porch.

These were the glory days in Nederland, where I didn’t have a job and spent my days going to the gym and the beer store and my nights talking shit on the internet for hours with a group of women who to this day are totes my internet BFFs. That meant I was home the next day when that crazy bitch showed up on the front porch to eat some delicious cat food. I didn’t want to scare her away, so I slowly opened the front door, totally trying to act all nonchalant and shit. She just walked right into the house and was all, “‘Sup.” (She still kind of talks like an annoying hipster who pretends she and Snoop Dogg knew each other back in the day, but her “back in the day” was in DeKalb, Illinois, so this is doubtful.)

She sometimes still thinks about making a run for it, even though she’s fattened up over the years and has lost any street cred she might’ve had many years ago. The weird thing is that she seems to like snow. She likes snow and sometimes she lurks by the front door when someone is coming in or going out.

This morning, I made my usual trip to the car to drop off all the luggage Soren and I need to get through our respective days. Before the door closed behind me, I thought hey, Xochitl didn’t get out, did she? I don’t even know why that popped into my head. I looked around and didn’t see her, so I piled the stuff into the car, came back in the house, performed the dog/peanut-butter/leaving-the-house ritual, picked up the bejacketed Soren, grabbed my handbag (I’m far too paranoid to leave this unattended in the car because someone might gank my debit card and get that $7), turned on the alarm, and then remembered I had this fleeting thought about Xochitl ducking out of the house to go on a crack-buying run or something. As the alarm counted down (it gives us plenty of time but always puts me a little on edge, like if I don’t get out of the house before the alarm is armed I’ll be trapped in here all day) and while carrying the world’s heaviest 25-pound toddler and a Tokidoki LeSportsac (yay!) bag full of random crap like 72 granola bars and the current issue of Sports Illustrated I insist on bringing to the gym even though I never read magazines at the gym, I half-assedly looked for Xochitl. I saw one tabby. I saw another tabby. I thought oh shit, we’re overrun with tabbies, and I left.

Cat anxiety doesn’t surface again until I’m sitting in my office hours later, and you know how that works? I start thinking hm, the cat didn’t get out, did she? No, she didn’t get out. There was no evidence of a cat escape — no paw prints in the light dusting of snow that was just beginning to accumulate this morning. Nothing. If this were the show Disappeared, we’d have to look elsewhere for evidence because there’s none here. Somehow, though, a random wisp of a thought can become full-on anxiety if you’re not careful. Holy shit the cat is totally gone and we live in the ‘hood and it’s going to be a bazillion degrees below zero tonight. You realize you’re being stupid, but as I am wont to say, that’s never stopped you before.

Tonight when I got home from the gym, the first thing that happened when I walked into the house, before I could even take off my ugly-ass boots (you totally get to wear ugly-ass boots when you live in Colorado — it’s a rule or something), there was Xochitl, waiting to eat the snow I tracked in from outside. “Xochitl!” I said. “I’m so happy to see you!”