On eight years of sobriety: the wonderful and terrifying reality of an alcohol-free life

Categories: Breeality Bites

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On the left, big fat drunk me in 2006. On the right, sober me.
It feels weird to commemorate quitting something that almost killed you. But on July 22 every year since 2006, I say thank you and congratulations to myself for being alive and healthy. As a drunk, I was somehow spared multiple DUIs; I drove drunk -- blackout drunk, at that -- many times over the course of half a decade. I never managed to get caught or kill anyone. I don't know if that's called luck.

Driving is just one of the many things I now do sober that I used to do drunk. Living a life without alcohol is pretty great most of the time (especially when it comes to not harming yourself or others with your own bad choices). But sometimes, it sucks. That's how sobriety works: If it was a super-easy thing to navigate and overcome, no one would be an addict. But the truth is, addicts are addicts forever and always. Addiction is not curable -- which is why, eight years after I stopped drinking, I still think and dream about it.

See also: Philip Seymour Hoffman, heroin and the secret club of addiction

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Everything I need to know about being in a band I learned from nine-year-olds at Girls Rock

Categories: Breeality Bites

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My lovely adult cohorts for the week of Girls Rock Camp.
For some of us, half the battle of being in a band is having the wherewithal to start one in the first place. Even if you're not a musician, you probably have at least one musician friend who has a ton of fancy gear in his or her basement but has never started a band -- let alone played a show. (Those folks are called the "never been gigged" set, as they're often people selling lots of good musical equipment on Craigslist that has never been used outside their home.)

My last band broke up about a year and a half ago, and I have been playing the sad-widow card ever since, laying all the blame for me not playing with a new band on the fact that I can't get over my old band being, well, long over. Every time I go to a show, I run into someone who excitedly asks, "Are you playing with a new band yet?" The answer, of course, is no (though I am lucky people even gave enough of a shit about my last band to inquire what I might be doing now).

But at last week's Girls Rock Camp, as I attempted to teach a group of nine- and ten-year-olds how to be in a band, I found myself wondering why I couldn't just take my own advice and be in a band.

See also: Our band (of Pickles) could be your life: A reflection on coaching Girls Rock camp

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My vacation that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram didn't see

Categories: Breeality Bites

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Bree Davies
Estes Park is full of amazing shit -- like the Park Theatre -- that FaTwitterGram never saw.

I went on vacation last weekend. By vacation, I mean that my boyfriend and I drove ninety minutes outside of Denver to spend the Fourth of July weekend in the beautiful mountain town of Estes Park because nature and the city are not far apart in Colorado, which is why everyone is moving here -- which you might want to do if you haven't done so already. (Also, legal weed.) Convinced that we'd be able to "just find a hotel room," I realized only upon arrival that the Fourth is probably the busiest day of the year for this kitschy village. We did not find a room so we had to do something I loathe: We had to camp.

But the events that transpired over our two and half-day vacation -- which included but were not limited to um, not just fucking camping but car-camping -- were nothing compared to another long-desired personal accomplishment. That singular triumph was this: a total disconnection from social media. This meant I did not show or tell Instagram, Twitter or Facebook about my trip.

See also: My fake Facebook engagement to a gay guy


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Why everyone should be concerned about the Supreme Court ruling on birth control

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At least we can count on our ride or die, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
For some reason, women who desire to take care of their bodies -- especially through preventative measures -- are terrifying to some large corporations. Yesterday, five of the nine Supreme Court justices decided that Hobby Lobby was human and that women were not, ruling that certain kinds of companies don't have to cover the costs of specific types of birth control for their employees.

Afterward, I saw many a Facebook spat over our "overreaction" to the ruling; some folks were saying it wasn't a big deal or that they didn't care because it didn't affect them. But here's the thing: when the Supreme Court gives the same rights to companies as it does to people, we have a problem. And when people are denied certain freedoms to take care of their bodies in a safe, effective and affordable way, we have a problem. All of us.

See also: Frida Kahlo of Guerrilla Girls on the dangers of art world tokenism and feminism as an f-word

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How to pick the right roommate for your witchy commune

Categories: Breeality Bites

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Living at our house is kinda like being part of The Plastics. Except without the mean girls part.
My home in North Denver is special. Not just because everyone who lives there pays a quarter of the rent that the average person in the city pays or because we make our own kombucha as a household. It's because we live communally.

But this isn't an ordinary commune; we don't eat from the same box of cereal or share toothpaste. We're also not like the many dirty punk houses I've stayed in across the country where none of the rotating fifteen roommates has done the dishes since 2012 and there are sixteen bicycles in the living room that don't actually belong to anyone.

See also: Welcome to hell: Being a chemical queen in a world of all-natural goddesses

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The hidden beauty of West Side Books and the indie bookstores of Denver

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I scored a bounty of Dare Wright books from West Side Books.
I don't read books. Really. I used to be ashamed of this, but then I realized that I read thousands of words every day -- they just come in the form of online articles and, when I'm lucky, physical copies of magazines. I've been a voracious magazine reader since I learned how to read; I love longform, investigative pieces, clips, tips and factoids. I love well-curated publications, beautiful photo spreads and regular columnists. My favorite authors are those with a magazine past, people like Joan Didion and Chuck Klosterman.

But despite the fact that I don't read books, I do love book stores. This past weekend, during the Highlands Street Fair, I was working a table for a friend's non-profit and I wandered into West Side Books to see if I could use the bathroom. But I was stopped in my restroom pursuit by a handful of books I hadn't seen in twenty years sitting high on a shelf, too far from my reach. I had to see these books.

See also: 40 West Arts is capturing West Colfax's history through commercial architecture

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Medium Rebecca Rosen helped me connect to my dead relatives and find my spirit guides

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In the hours before my coveted appointment with Rebecca Rosen, a local medium and author with a years-long waiting list, I was in full-fledged panic-turned-tantrum mode. Though I had gleefully picked up the chance to get a once-in-a-lifetime reading with Rosen weeks earlier, that excitement had worn off by the time the date approached. Frankly, I didn't want to mess with my dead relatives; it seemed inappropriate. I talk to them all the time on my own through prayer and meditation and late-night freakouts, but I had never really thought about them talking back: It was a one-way street, and I was fine with that. (We control freaks see life this way.)

See also: Rebecca Rosen on fulfilling your divine purpose and looking to the dead for guidance

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Laserium returns to the Gates Planetarium, and I'd definitely recommend seeing it on weed

Categories: Breeality Bites

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Photo of the actual laser show in progress, which maybe I shouldn't have covertly taken with my iPhone.
The last time I saw a laser show at the the Gates Planetarium, it was during a time when everything I did centered around where I could smoke cigarettes. That time was the early '90s and I was fourteen or fifteen. I wasn't old enough to drive, meaning I ended up whereever my parents or someone with a car would drop me off. My friends and I went to the mall to smoke; we went to the skatepark to smoke; we went to the Paramount Cafe on the 16th Street Mall to smoke, and we went to laser shows at the planetarium to smoke outside in City Park after the show.

But beyond the appeal of a teenage chain-smoking venue, the laser shows of the time were totally sick! Which is why I was so stoked to get a chance to preview one of the new Laserium shows at Gates, which have returned after a roughly fifteen-year hiatus and will be playing on weekends all summer long.

See also: From Phish to Floyd, the ten best light shows

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Standing in the way of control: Elliot Rodger, #YesAllWomen and the culture of misogyny

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When #YesAllWomen began as a hashtag on Twitter over the weekend, I sat back for a while and observed. As a woman who writes for the Internet -- and often writes about misogyny, feminism and the world I experience as a woman -- I have learned that you don't always jump right into conversations online. It's dangerous: You have to be ready and willing to be torn down for what you look like, how you act and what you think, even if it is irrelevant to the conversation at hand.

Often, being a woman and being online sucks. Though #YesAllWomen was a hashtag created to be, however temporarily, a safe space for conversation in the wake of Elliot Rodger's self-justified misogyny-driven murders, it quickly became a place where women had to defend themselves for expressing what it is like to live in a culture of fear. Not a fear of just men like Rodger, but a fear of being held accountable for other people's actions toward us.

See also: Dismantling sexist culture, one irrelevant strip-club sign at a time


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Learning how to be vegetarian without being a jerk about it

Categories: Breeality Bites

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These are some of the things I have consumed alone in my car in shame.
Many times in my life, others have assumed I was a vegetarian. At a work function or a family dinner, someone would attempt to pass me some kind of animal product, only to pull back the offering abruptly and say, "Oh, I forgot. You're vegetarian." But I'm not a vegetarian -- never have been -- and up until this past weekend, I never once considered it.

However, I'm starting to think that in the evolution my of own life and as a person who is conscious of how she treats others, vegetarianism might be the logical next step.

See also: Five best vegetarian restaurants in Denver


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