Friday, August 20, 2010

Welcome To The Mile High City

The Mile High City did in fact welcome me with open arms. First, the mountains suddenly sprang up on the horizon then, as I ventured further into the city, a medicinal marijuana dispensary waved it's leafy hand at me, prominently displaying it's contact number which was somewhere along lines of 1-800-WEED.

Too bad I don't smoke. Yeah, I know, I'm so boring, right? Well, I do drink enough to blacken a rhinoceros' liver, so that ought to make up for it.

Anyway, after moving in, which went quite smoothly, (hire movers, I tell you!) unpacking, which went a little less smoothly since I have SO MUCH CRAP and saying goodbye to the parents (*sniff*), I've spent most of my time wandering around aimlessly, getting lost, being welcomed by interesting characters, then finding my way again.

My first night out in Denver, last Friday, my friend and roomie Whittah and Danielle went to Comedy Works to see yet another of Chelsea Handler's comedians, Josh Wolf. We sipped red wine and tried to make sure it didn't spray out of our noses at some parts.

Then we hung around the lobby for the pleasure of meeting this ornery little shit. I say that in an endearing way, btw:

One large difference between meeting Josh Wolf and meeting Chris Franjola a few months ago is that whoever took our picture this time actually knew how to operate a camera.

Saturday night, the same trio was hit on by hoards of incredibly drunk dumbshits at a nearby and loved bar. It's the same in all cities, is it not?

Sunday I spent the day on the lake at Cherry Creek State Park, however it didn't quite get interesting until I tried to find my way home. After missing about six exits on I-25, I saw a familiar name — Colfax — the longest and seediest drag through Denver. I instantly knew I was in trouble as I pulled up to the light and saw some hobo crackhead dancing around with two fingers pressed to his lips, which I can only assume is the international sign for, "got a cigarette?" This combined with air kisses got closer and closer to my car window, then he whipped out a disgustingly filthy squeegee and began to swipe it across my windshield. Andy starts barking ferociously while I yelled "GO AWAY!" from my sealed tight car. I thought about honking, but I figured it would only encourage more jittery dancing...and perhaps nudity. Finally the light changed and I escaped.

A few blocks later, as I rolled past the capitol building, another panhandler proudly displayed his sign that read, "Girlfriend kidnapped by ninjas. Need $$ for karate lessons." Like Chris Rock said, that guy isn't really homeless because real homeless people are too hungry to be funny.

Check out these interesting and welcoming characters:

This is my Tuesday night kickball team celebrating not only hat day, but a victory.

I am amazed by many things that are allowed to happen in Denver: Bed, Bath and Beyond here is like a department store and necessity store combined, complete with two stories of fine china, make-up and a floor to ceiling aisle of travel toiletries, some of which I've never seen in such tiny proportions; an entire aisle dedicated to wine in Target, yes, TARGET! and each Tuesday this fall, kegs will be tapped at 5:30 p.m. in Denver's City Park to allow young adults like myself to play kickball, otherwise known as slosh ball because a cup of beer must be in one hand at all times — fielding, running the bases, pitching etc...

I just might love this place.

I've gone from suburbia, which is not so bad, to full blown urban living. I can see the capitol building dome from my living room and bedroom windows and the skyscrapers welcome Andy and I on our daily walks through the neighborhood:

However, public transportation and me might have gotten off to a bad start. Parking prices are INSANE so driving to class or even downtown very often is out of the question for me, so I knew I had to get acquainted with this extremely foreign thing called public transportation. It's quite good in Denver as opposed to Kansas City, so I found my six block walk to the nearest light rail station pretty convenient as well as finding the right train, gliding south through downtown Denver and getting off at the correct stop at the Auraria campus.

I was feeling downright victorious as I went to the student union, found most of my books, went back to the station, hopped back onto the correct train and started my glide north through the city to my station near home. I am somewhat sheltered suburban Kansas girl turned bona fide savvy city chick, maneuvering through the streets of downtown Denver with ease.

However, that's when things went a bit sour. No, I didn't get mugged (yet) and a meteor did not fall out of the sky and crash into the train. A few stops from home, I began to hear a fat girl's ear piercing cackle over and over again. She appeared to find her fellow trashy fat girl friend who was sitting across from her quite hilarious...Hilarious enough for me to want to throw something nice and heavy at her face.

As we pulled up to my stop, non-cackling fat girl sprang from her seat and lumbered toward the exit. Then I heard a loud splashing sound and a husky, "SHIT!" escape her mouth as she rolled her fat ass off the train. I thought she had dropped her Big Gulp of Fanta Orange on the entrance/exit stairs, but then I heard her making some distinct sounds outside on the station platform and I realized what had really happened. Yep, she definitely projectile spewed all over the inside of the light rail car right in front of me.


Here is a brilliant artist rendition of the scene for clarification and your enjoyment:

People getting on the train used the opposite staircase to avoid the drippy disaster forcing me to wait to get off. When I finally made it off and just past the fat girl's puking rally, I felt a rain drop on my cheek. Then the sky opened up and I had to walk six blocks home in a drenching rain in slippery sandals that nearly flung themselves off my feet, threatening to break my ankles at each step. Perhaps I should have checked the weather before I left the apartment.

I would like to say, once again, that this sort of shit only seems to happen to me, which is probably why I can continue to write. OF COURSE, the first time I ride the light rail a girl nearly pukes on my shoes and then I have to walk home in a monsoon. How else would it go? It's so ridiculous that you have to laugh. Now, if I would have been PMSing during this fiasco, there might have been tears and a murderous rampage to follow, but thankfully I'm fully in my right mind at the moment. Fully laughable, if you will.

Other than escaping unwanted window cleanings and puddles of puke on my mode of transportation, I've been attending orientations and meet and greets for school, which starts on Monday (*Harna has slight heart attack at the mention of this*). I've meet some great people, exchanged some phone numbers and I'm ready to become a student again...preferably with a few new friends.

Perhaps in the next episode of "Harna Does Denver" you'll hear about how I tripped over my own feet while walking into a classroom on the first day of school and fell on my face or something equally as awesome and I'll post a pic of the amazing view from my rooftop deck. City and the mountains? I'm sold.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Click Your Heels

One of the things I remember most about Reno, Nevada was it's distinct smell — desert brush mixed with pine and white fir wafting down from the Sierras along with the slight stench of pollution from seedy tourism. That last part disappeared as you wound up Mount Rose towards gorgeous Lake Tahoe as I did every day for my internship at The North Lake Tahoe Bonanza newspaper that summer.

They say your sense of smell is the most sensitive of the senses, often helping to conjure up even the most distant of memories or experiences with people. I lived in a completely different world there — new smells, new experiences, new attitudes, new surroundings. It's the only other place I've lived. However all of this came with the safety net of living with my parents who lived in the area at the time. And, after two short months, I was back at school in the middle of my familiar Kansas.

There are no safety nets this time except for the fact that I will now be living with one of my best friends instead of alone. Moving to Denver will change my life completely and I'm ready to take it all in despite small fears that "homesick" will develop into a disease rather than just a tiny, intermittent virus.

The bad thing about Kansas City is that it's smell is not distinct like that of Reno. It smells like barbeque and roasted coffee beans from the Folgers plant, which means that walking past a coffee shop or a meat smoker while on this adventure to the west could cause me to shed some spontaneous tears...well, I hope not.

Maybe Kansas City isn't the most glamorous of places — there are no mountains to speak of to ski on, no beaches to flaunt our shit on, it does in fact go to "sleep" around 2 or 3 a.m. and seeing cows next to office buildings isn't uncommon. Our claim to fame is apparently "The Wizard of Oz" based on the fact that everybody who finds out I'm from Kansas says, "Ha! Do you know Dorothy? Where's Toto?" and I have to refrain from verbally abusing them and shoving my foot up their horrifically non-witty ass. I did, however, meet Jerry Maren, the lollipop kid from the movie, but that's another story...Despite it's so-called shortcomings, according to the rest of the country, not me, I love that place.

I spent the last couple of weeks before I left soaking in the comforts and distinctions of my city, my home. The food, the trolley rides, the theme parks, the nightlife, baseball games and of course, the people. My going away party, thrown by none other than my best friend Kate, was filled with all the people I love and the distinctions of Kansas City.

Shortly into the party, Kate brought out a huge pink box full of all things Kansas City that people had picked out to give to me — a bottle of Most Wanted vodka made in Atchison, Kansas from my friend Erin with a note telling me to find a Slurpee and a swing if I ever got homesick — a nod to a childhood memory we had together; T-shirts from my favorite bars; french fry seasoning and barbeque sauce from the the best BBQ joint in the world, Oklahoma Joe's, which is attached to a gas station and on Anthony Bourdain's 13 Places to Eat Before You Die; Christopher Elbow chocolates and a Boulevard Brewery glass; the passing on of the infamous "HO" cup; treats and a collar for Andy from Land 'O Paws, locally brewed beer and a "City of Fountains" martini glass.

Of course, there were nods to Denver too — a few reusable shopping bags because I'm pretty sure you get stoned to death in the street if you don't use those in Denver. And, my new roomie Whittah surprised me by first showing up to the party, then giving me a Denver care package full of granola, extra sunscreen and University of Colorado Denver supplies.

I was overwhelmingly touched by the party and the people that showed up. It was quite the send off celebration.

To top it off, I decided that it was a good idea to go on our annual and physically exhausting float trip the weekend before I left without having my apartment packed up. Yes, of course it was a good idea, because it's the greatest float trip ever created, a.k.a. Riverdiddle. Our theme this year was the golf classic, which of course prompted us to have Sam play Tiger Woods while we played his many cocktail waitress hos. I spent the day with play money shoved in my swimsuit and a name tag that read "Tiger's #1 Hizzo" stuck to my ass. Highlights included winning the Wal-Mart Bingo contest and receiving a blue pitcher with our team name on it — Kate's Car 'o Bitches, an armadillo sighting, a braiding contest, flip cup championships and flying whip cream shots. It doesn't get much better than that.

I came home to yet another send off from my family. This is when I really had to fight off the waterworks, escaping to the bathroom at least twice to compose myself. My niece, Remi, walked into my parent's house and immediately wanted to show me the card she gave me, which read: "If you knew how much I missed you...You'd be back by now."
Then, she had two versions of her name, one with and one without help on one side and this little drawing on the other side:

NOT Ike from Southpark, by the way.

"That's you," she said, pointing to the one on the left "and that's Andy," she said, pointing to the one on the right. This kid is killing me. I might just miss her most of all.

My aunt, whose health is fading more and more making me worry about moving so far away, gave me a card with the distinct ruby slippers on the front and the wish that I would click my heels and come home often. If only it were that easy...

While I found myself nostalgic of home last night, saying my last goodbyes to my friends, recalling memories of all the places I drove by on the way back to my parent's house and shedding a few tears, I sit in this hotel room in exotic Goodland, Kansas and feel more excitement than fear. I'm a two hour drive away from a new life, and while I'll miss my home and my people, it's about damn time.

Movers Were A Good Choice

Kansas is pretty much the surface of the sun...perhaps hotter, right now. I've smelled like a 12-year-old boy on the brink of puberty that hasn't had "The Big D" talk with his dad yet for about a month now along with looking like a greasy asshole. I'm quite tired of the perma sheen and salt film all over my body. However, I'll take some shininess as opposed to keeling over dead and taking my parents with me any day...which is what would have happened if we hadn't hired a couple of guys to schlep the massive amount of shit I own shoved into boxes down the stairs today. I'm a delicate flower that cannot be bothered with such grueling work. *burp* *fart* *snot rocket*

This was me a couple of hours ago:

Now it's all empty, echo-y and depressing...but all in a truck that I didn't have to load, so who gives a shit. See, this moving stuff makes me all bitchy.

Anyway, so yes, it's actually happening — I'm moving to Denver. My parents and I will spend the day barreling down I-70 in a U-Haul to Denver. Well, actually Goodland, Kansas, then Denver the next day. Oh, and check out the little friend that will be joining us on the trip:

Out of all the U-Hauls, of course there would be a giant, nasty bitch spider on mine. The only way this could be more ironically fucked up is if there was a U-Haul sized centipede plastered on the side of the truck.

I do have way more thoughts, deeper thoughts if that's possible about this moving thing and lots of stories to tell, but I'm so deliriously exhausted from not moving boxes that I must pass out...more later, of course.

But, before I go, please heed this post as a warning. Just to be safe, You might want to consider not only avoiding I-70 for the next couple of days, but also the entire state of Kansas because I will behind the wheel of this thing...just me, my Mom, my Dad, Andy the JRT and giant fuck spider.

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