The last 4 months have been a living nightmare for me.
I have had the longest period of sustained depression in my adult life, and it has started to grade on me.
I live with thoughts of suicidal ideation. Though nothing has come to pass since July, it is something that is constantly in the back of my head.
I quit my job last month because I could not deal with the stress of it. I am constantly on job boards when I am not writing, eating, or sleeping.
I oversleep now. What once was something that I could usually relegate to 7-8 hours a night has now become something that I do for over 10-11 throughout the day. It acts as my only escape from having to deal with the cruel truth that I am unemployed.
I feel lost, I feel on edge, I feel friendless. I feel numb.
As I began to type this post, I realize that it has been a little over 3 months since I have written anything for this blog.
You may ask “Loren, what has changed in that three months?”
One of the biggest things, outside of the season, is I got a great job working downtown for a software company in a Sales Support role. They have been incredibly great for me, and I really dig the culture.
That being said, I have struggled on many occasions with adapting to my new role.
At times, it is pretty evident that I am the “New Kid on the Block” with some of the mistakes that I make. During a big promotion that we had in the month of June for a software that we have, I felt like I was gonna give up near the end of the month. July was also frustrating as well, feeling at times like I would never be able to do well in my role.
However, now August has come around, and it is time for me to hone my craft in my role.
The time is now to ask questions, sharpen my ability to do things, and take care of a lot of issues that I did not necessarily take care of during the first 3 months of employment. I will emerge successful in my job, and make myself a valuable member of the company.
It was supposed to be a day to do laundry. That plan quickly was vetoed when my friend Mike messaged me at noon, saying he had free tickets to a festival that included one of my favorite bands, Bad Religion. Little did I know that I was in for the punkest ride of my life.
I arrived at the Colorado Light Rail Station at 4:00 PM, Mike, who had the tickets, to arrive. While I waited, a man came up to me and struck up a conversation, thinking I was on the streets at first. About 30 minutes later, he arrived.
We took a southbound train to Fiddler’s Green and got off at the Arapahoe Village Center station, walking to Will-Call to pick up our tickets.
When we got to will call, we were given “guest passes”. Mike and I wanted to test how far we could get with our guest pass wristband. The first test was to get into the VIP lounge. We flashed our wristbands at the bouncer, getting through without a hitch. In the lounge, we got slightly more private restrooms, cubbies to charge our phones, and semi-private bathrooms.
The next step was to see about getting backstage. We flashed our wristbands again at the Argus staff members, and they let us in, again knowing that we were “with the band”. We opened the gigantic dungeon door that was the entrance to backstage, and were transported to the mystical world of being VIP’s.
While Bad Religion, Black Flag, and the Vandals have become iconic punk bands over the years, seeing the stage techs, security, and everyday people behind the scenes that were the skeleton to the bands that were going on and made the show possible was inspiring.
Despite the fact that there was only one original member left, Black Flag was a powerhouse. The singer of the band was decent at performing their set, with high points being the now classic “Six Pack” and punk standard “Rise Above”.
The Vandals were the epitome of a traditional ska band. Though I can’t say I am familiar with their catalog, the lead singer had the charisma that every ska singer that I have ever seen has.
Bad Religion is consistently the closest I had to a spiritual experience at the show. With the advent of their latest EP and the upcoming 25th anniversary of “Stranger than Fiction”, the stage was set for another amazing show. Being as close as I was to Greg Graffin was the second most punk rock experience I have had.
When Bad Religion was done, Mike and I pulled off what I would consider to be the most punk thing I have done ever, Ready to push our luck one more time with our wristbands, we flashed them at the security at Offspring’s dressing room.
Inside Offspring’s fridge was 2 PBR’s. Knowing that they would probably not miss them, we grabbed them and headed out. When security tried to ambush us on the way out, I pointed to the current manager of Offspring, who Mike had known back in High School, and he gave us his blessing. We finished our PBR’s on the way out, and boarded the train home.
I’m glad I didn’t finish my laundry.
Featured Image is of my laundry, which I am finishing right now
Cameron was half asleep at his desk when the fire alarm went off. It was the first week back at Wilkes High, and he was not ready for the shock of it.
“Who the hell set that off?” yelled one of the students.
“Well… at least we don’t have to take that quiz” another one reconciled.
It was a chilly early January. Between his favorite arcade game going missing, his mom starting to become interrogative of his antisocial behavior, and the fire alarm, Cameron was on edge. As his math class began the process of lining up to go outside, Cameron feigned sickness and ducked into a bathroom, not realized he had accidentally ducked into the woman’s restroom.
Luckily, he was the only person in there.
The alarm with still going off. Water streamed down from the ceiling, which, coupled with the cold weather, made the high schoolers hesitant to exit the building. This made the floors incredibly slippery.
As soon as Cameron entered the women’s restroom, he knew he had made a terrible mistake. The floors were slippery from the sprinklers, coupled with the fact that a stall was overflowing from a failed flush of a lighter down the toilet. “I hope I don’t get caught in here!” Cameron thought to himself as he ducked into a slightly less flooded stall to collect his thoughts. He closed his eyes.
Outside of the bathroom, the chaos began to calm. Teachers had gotten students out to the grassy area adjacent to the school, and classes were beginning to take attendance.
In the stall, however, the chaos was just beginning.
Images flashed through Cameron’s mind as he shut his. Some were more concrete and centered in reality (his families’ off blue house, their dog, his red wagon when he was a kid) while others were more… abstract.
At one point, Cameron dreamed of being dragged into the back of a van, driven to a compound somewhere in rural Washington, and tied up in a dark room. While the dream lasted all of 2 minutes, it felt like an eternity to him, struggling to break free of his ropes. All of a sudden, as he felt he was about to break free, a light emerged from the corner of the room.
He knew that light really well, and, now that light was about to engulf him.
When Cameron was found after the fire drill, his death had been determined an accident. A panic attack caused by the sudden noises and water from the fire alarm, coupled with the buildup of water simulating the feeling of drowning. Staci, his friend who he went to the arcade with, was more skeptical of the story, particularly when she found a note on the bathroom mirror that confirmed her suspicion.
Interviewee and Interviewer are facing each other in a bright room, somewhere in America. Interviewee is sipping a glass of water. Someone is transcribing the interview, looking inside from a 1 way window with headphones listening in.
Interviewer (IR): So, Tech Liberation Army…
Interviewee (IE): Yes, I was a member
IR: Which Chapter?
IE (hesitates briefly): Washington State
IR: That was the group that took out that old arcade machine, I think it was Pong.. Galaga… PO
IE: (screams loudly) POLYBIUS
IR: No need to scream
*brief pause in conversation.*
IE: So, what do you know about what I did?
IR: You? I thought it was a group of people… Wasn’t that what the letter said?
IE: I wrote the letter.
IR: Just you? So, who snuck into the arcade? Just you or a group of people.
IE: I snuck in, the security guard was unsurprisingly asleep at the wheel.
IR: Did anyone help you?
IE: No.. I had a fairly big truck and a dolly…
*Longer Pause. Interviewer seems to be collecting thoughts for next line of questioning*
IR: What day is it?
IR: What month
IE: Why does this…
IR: What month is it?
*10 second pause, feeling like a lifetime. Interviewee takes a long sip of water*
IR: How many people did the Washington State Tech Liberation Army have at its peak?
IR: The news reported raiding a compound in Rural Washington. How many people were in that compound?
IE ….Myself, my wife, and my 2 daughters that helped maintain the grounds.
IR: Were they involved?
IR: So the press release was a lie?
*Interviewee Takes another sip of water. interviewer appears to be wrapping up?*
IR: Who brought you here?
IR: Who gave you that glass of water?
IE: …The guy outside with the keyboard
IR: Do you trust him?
*No response from interviewee*
IR: Well you sho…
*Tape cuts off due to length. Transcription ended due to audio issues*
This past Friday, I co-wrote a photo article for Streetsblogs Denver about Winter-Bike-to-Work Day, an annual event that attracts some of the most dedicated cyclists throughout the world to trails and bike lanes that have frozen over, been covered in snow, or otherwise neglected. When I learned that it was a thing, I wanted to write about it. Andy Bosselman, editor in chief at Streetsblogs Denver, agreed to write a joint article with me the Wednesday before, so I was dedicated to taking to the trails on my bike and getting it out there.
On the day itself, the starting temperature at sunrise was a 2 degrees in Denver, requiring me to walk my bike up a slippery hill to get to the first Bike-To-Work stop along the path. When I got to the Cherry Creek Trail, I was able to get a little low gear riding in, but was always cautious due to a small accident I had the week before.
The first stop, located at the corner of Birch and Cherry Creek Drive, was a joyous time. I very quickly met Phil, an employee for the Colorado Department of Health and Human Services, that was staffing the outdoor booth with donuts and coffee. Phil was gracious as heck, doing a candid interview despite being absolutely frozen when I talked to him. After grabbing a cup of coffee and a doughnut, I headed to my next destination.
The next part of my ride brought me through the often neglected and unpaved bike lanes of Denver’s south suburbs. Rather than try and use them and end up in the hospital, I dismounted, walking my bike most of the way on the bicycle to the DU area. Despite the fact that the roads were basically an icy hellhole, I still saw 1-2 other cyclists pass me.
From DU, I caught the train to downtown, meeting Andy Bosselman (the editor of Streetsblogs Denver) at the Wellington Webb station. The weather had cleared up to about the 20’s, and a good pattering of bicycles were out and about at the location. Andy and I ducked into a coffee shop, grabbed a cup of coffee, and put together an article in roughly an hour and a half or so. Despite the treacherousness of the roads and the constant need to re-assess if I could finish my ride, it was important for me to chase this story and showcase the subculture of people that ride their bikes in the most extreme conditions.
*Featured photo is a neighborhood in South Denver that the author walked through*
I have written in the past extensively about the nightshift, including a coupletimes for this blog. Rather than retread those past posts, I want to explore something a little different today: What do you do before and after a nightshift?
Perhaps one of the most eye opening experiences that I had in regard to this was eating at the beloved by many 24 hour chain, IHOP, about an hour before going into my shift.
Denver has a single IHOP, located on Colorado Blvd slightly north of the I25 onramp. It shares its plaza with a Safeway, several local restaurants, and a Guitar Center. Surviving the closure of IHOPS across the United States, it is one of the few 24 hours chains in the city.
On any given weeknight after 9:00 PM, you will find an assortment of people from various different backgrounds there: stoners who are looking for cheap and plentiful food, low income families having a night out for the first time in months, and, at times, the occasional homeless person coming in to escape the cold.
One table in particular, however, stood out to me on my visits to this IHOP.
The table was one of the handful of tables that was composed of “regulars”. They were old men, mostly in their 60’s and 70’s, with a couple pushing into the 80’s. Some were just getting off their shifts, and others had just gotten off. There were a couple of rotating characters, including some truckers that frequented the IHOP and parked their trucks nearby, and security guards that worked inconsistent hours.
While the theme of their conversations revolved mostly around what their shifts were like, what their wives were like, and the horrible state of politics in the United States (most of the men were fairly right wing), the table itself was a testament to a community that, despite operating on different schedules and kinds of work, had been built over several years. The waitstaff knew their orders by heart, the men were usually jovial to each other, and the most malicious thing that I ever heard out of their table was a comment towards me when I accidentally poured coffee on my waffles.
While what will ultimately happen to that IHOP on Iowa and Colorado remains to be seen, the memory of that table will stick with me for awhile. Though many of the men will pass on, a new generation of “the table” will be there to succeed the previous, and the legacy of the men that came before will live on.
Last Monday , January 4TH 1982 Three (3) Members of our organization, the TECH LIBERATION ARMY, PORTLAND CHAPTER were able to successfully take out the mind control device POLYBIUS.
While a seemingly normal game located outside of Portland, POLYBIUS has been known over the past 2 months to give children abnormal seizures, headaches, and, ultimately, put them in a zombie like haze when it is mentioned.
We arrived before the the mall and arcade opened, used several tools to gain entry. At this time, we have taken the machine to a remote location to research it further, and destroy it.
POLYBIUS, while seemingly published by the German publisher Sinneloschen, is in fact a product of the US government’s research and development division. Our fact finding division discovered this late December, and plotted the scheme to get rid of the game.
We do not seek a ransom, but do ask that the US government stop collaborating with game developers to create mind control devices.
TECH WILL NOT BE SILENCED, TECH WILL NOT BE CONTROLLED
As I write this, I am in the middle of preparing for a series of night shifts that I am covering for a coworker. On top of that, I am also in the midst into looking into local criterium races for bicycling that I could possibly qualify for, and planning my next blog entry for DenverUrbanism. Though it is slightly further out, I am also looking into the next possible place to lease in the city and am planning to start searching earnestly next year.
While, like the deer in the featured photo, I may still feel “out of place” in the big city, I feel like I can truly call Denver my home.
When I started writing post graduate, I chose to name my blog “Grad With A Tat.” This was primarily because that was what I was: A graduate who had a tattoo and happened to be headed to the Metro Area to check it out.
In 2017, I found a slightly more permanent gig through my current work. Because of it, I slowly moved towards the core of Downtown Denver, landing ultimately on East Colfax by late 2017. After an intense December housing search, I got into a year and 3 month lease on a place in Southeast Denver.
As I type this, I am proud that I have become a part of the fabric of the great tapestry that is Denver. Unlike most people who move here, I had absolutely nothing lined up. The generosity of my relatives, who I lived with for the first 8 ish months I lived here, is something that changed everything. While 2017 was the year I found semi-permanence, 2018 was the year I found home.
*Featured Image is of a deer I saw a few days ago in my neighborhood in Southeast Denver*
When I flew out to California to surprise my grandmother, I chose to fly into Hollywood-Burbank/Bob Hope/Whatever-You-Want-To-Call-it-in-2018 airport. Sure, due to the size of it, announcements can get weird, TSA lines are odd, and charging a laptop or phone is kind of a kerfuffle, but I still enjoy that it has the charm of a small regional airport.
In a way I can apply a lot of the experiences I have at the Burbank Airport to what it is like returning home to Ventura County and my family. Sure, my family is more of an Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) sized family, but it feels like an escape to a significantly slower and simpler time in my life. However, despite only being there for less than 3 days, I was able to get the 2019 In N Out t-shirt, touch the ocean, and surprise my grandmother in the span of 48 hours.
The 2019 In N Out Tshirt
My Dads side of the family Surprising Grandma
Silver Strand Beach, where I touched the ocean.
While these may seem like really weird, disparate activities to do on a Christmas vacation, they were important to me. The nostalgia for In N’ Out, respect for the beach, and love that I have of my family are all time honored things that I cherish, which is why I still fly out to California. The LAX size of the family doesn’t matter to me when you get the Burbank feel of love and respect.
Burbank isn’t my favorite airport however. To the surprise of many of my fellow Denver residents, DIA isn’t my favorite either (it is reallllllllly close though). If I were to pin down an airport as my favorite, it is Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. Sure, it gets busy, but there is an organization to it that just makes sense to me. I see a lot of what I do day-to-day, whether it is in my writing, my job, or even in having fun in the organized concourses of ATL. Due to that, I choose to stay in a state and city that has allowed me to embrace that organized chaos. I choose to stay in Colorado, and visit California when I can.
*Featured image is a picture of a construction ad at DIA for the renovation*