This Thanksgiving, celebrate the things you share

By Michelle

I have never been one of those people who dreads seeing their relatives on the holidays. I mean, I get that those people are out there, and I get why. We’ve all seen a Christmas special set around a kitchen table. We’ve all read one of those cutesy pieces on “How to Survive Dinner with Your Relatives,” as if having to see family is some sort of death sport as opposed to say, an event whose central element is mashed potatoes.

“I don’t get how you’re so calm about this,” a girlfriend told me earlier this week. “I’m already angry at my uncle and I haven’t even seen him yet.”

And girl, I feel you. Because the secret to my holiday happiness is not that I don’t have any crazy family members.

My family tree has Grand Ma Jean, whose idea of Sunday brunch involves beer-battered wings and whiskey on the rocks. My family tree has Uncle Brian, who is a member of the American Birding Association and the Thanksgiving I was 16 compared my sunny disposition to the Turdus migratorius—American robin—which gave my cousin Seth carte blanche to refer to me as “Turdus” for the next three years.

Hell, my family tree has Stephanie, who once called Che Guevara her “soul twin” and a year ago this week almost burned my parents’ house down. We all have crazy family members. We all know someone who voted for the other candidate, or likes the other singer, or thinks their sister’s dread locks don’t work with her bone structure. We all have differences. How do you bridge those differences?

Ignore them.

It’s really that simple. If a touchy topic comes up, laugh and pivot to something you all know and love. Like turkey, or alcohol, or ABBA—I have really weird parents—or the Downtown Denver Grand Illumination that we’re all going to pile into a Metro Taxi Denver cab to go see.

Look, I don’t love Grand Ma Jean because she shares my belief that no UFO landed in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947 (she does not share that belief). I don’t love her because we share every single same value. I love her because she bakes me terrible cookies filled with love and shows up at my apartment carrying a bottle of gin if she knows I’m sick. I love her because she once threatened my 12th-grade chemistry teacher with a lead pipe after I failed a major science project. I love her because she is my grandmother. And any differences, with her or anyone else, can be paved over by that love.

Except with Uncle John. Uncle John is an Oakland Raiders fan. He’s dead to us.

Until next week…



Michelle writes weekly about goings-on in Denver. Michelle is all of us. Or none of us. It’s complicated.

This season, celebrate the wisdom of your elders

By Michelle

It’s always important to help elderly family members get to Thanksgiving dinner. Particularly when that elderly family member is my Grand Ma Jean. Full disclosure: Grand Ma Jean is not the kind of person you exclude from holidays. If, in fact, we neglected to send her an embossed Thanksgiving invitation three weeks ahead of the event—it’s in the mail, Grams—she would show up at my parents’ place in Boulder astride a war elephant and trailing Dothraki blood-riders behind her. Which would not go over well with Dad’s HOA.

Grand Ma Jean lived through a Great Depression, a world war, and the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special (which she talks about with the air of someone who survived the Blitz). She is, in other words, one tough broad. The kind of broad I’d like to be. And given that the most pressing crisis I’ve had in the last five years was that time Whole Foods was out of my favorite brand of Kale Chips, it would serve me in good stead to hang around with Jean a bit more. To pad my Spanx with steel, as it were.

Look, I get it: you’re busy. I am, too. I spend too much time on Instagram and not enough calling my mom. Too many hours Netflix-bingeing and not enough, say, having mimosas with my 91-year-old grandmother at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday.

But that’s what the holidays are for! Not day-drinking, per se—though Jean’s fondness for martinis and sunrises gives new meaning to the adage “the early bird gets the worm”—but for catching up with the loved ones we don’t see as often as we should.

Juggling everyone’s schedules can be challenging under the best of circumstances, and that becomes doubly true when older family members start to experience issues with mobility or find themselves unable to drive. As Jean reminded me when last we spoke, it happens to the best of us.

“Every moment that passes is a moment gone,” she said wistfully. “When I was your age, I was hell on wheels. Now I eat special yogurt to help me poop.”

That’s a tough pill to swallow, especially for a certain someone who still proudly displays a 1982 traffic court document that refers to her as “a menace to public safety.”

But there are plenty of resources to make sure elderly people are able participate fully in family life. In Denver, for instance, Metro Taxi offers 14 wheelchair-accessible vehicles as part of its paratransit fleet, which is going to help a lot of elderly people see a lot of loved ones next Thursday. One of whom is yours truly, and I can’t wait to bask in the wisdom of my very own intoxicated Yoda.

Because my grandmother, even though she still pines for John Lennon and thinks we might have faked the moon landing, has something many people don’t: perspective. Last year, when Stephanie’s execution of gluten-free frittatas did not go off as planned, Grand Ma Jean turned from the firemen in my parents’ kitchen and patted my shoulder.

“Your sister Stephanie is a little bit of a moron,” she confided. “But not where it counts. Life is meant to be enjoyed. And she pulls that off well.”

Truer words. I’m off to find a turkey and a nonagenarian.

Until next week…


Michelle writes weekly about goings-on in Denver. Michelle is all of us. Or none of us. It’s complicated.

A perky post-election guide

By Michelle

After months of see-sawing opinion polls and angsty Facebook posts from Great Aunt Thelma, Americans selected their 45th president this week. It was a momentous evening full of surprises, the most immediate of which, at least on my end, concerned a spicy aioli sauce and a close friend with poor self-control.

But it also included one nasty shocker about which no American could be happy: having to stay up until 2 a.m. on a Wednesday. Seriously, Founders, some of us have to take I-76 into Denver each morning, and no constitution should ever be framed without accounting for 8:45 a.m. conference calls (looking at you, Ben Franklin). That said, there is good news here. Because despite our election-season divisions, Americans unite this morning around our sacred civic institution of sleep deprivation, a topic on which I can offer some detailed thoughts.

I was dead the next day. You were, too. This blog post probably has at least one serious typo—and I definitely drooled on the keyboard halfway through—but that’s okay. Because Denver offers gas stations for the body.

I am referring, of course, to the plethora of charming coffee shops that dot our fair city, and if you can dip out of work on a Tuesday to pick the leader of the free world then you can sneak off this week for an impromptu caffeine tour. Here’s a list of the sites to hit:

  • Crema Coffee House: The ambience alone carries this one, even though the stuff on the menu is super duper yummy. Artsy décor, friendly staff, and fun food earn a place on the list.
  • Little Owl Coffee: Has the phrase “little owl” in the name. Seriously, what more do you need? Is also crazy elegant and sophisticated and such, and has an espresso machine that sounds like a spaceship taking off. Do this for yourself.
  • Black Eye Coffee: Just yum. Just yum everywhere. Going to this café is a legit experience, and its logo has two guys punching each other in the face. Why wouldn’t you do this?
  • Denver Bicycle Café: Literally exactly what you think it is. But also it has beer. Which is probably a good idea.

Don’t want to zip around Denver in your dazed state? Too tired (let’s be honest: hungover)? That’s fine, too. Because Metro Taxi Denver is, as always, here for you. And so am I. But only in spirit, because if I don’t get some rest soon there will be no more Michelle. And how would you go on?

Until next week…


Michelle writes weekly about goings-on in Denver. Michelle is all of us. Or none of us. It’s complicated.

By MichelleCivic shenanigans: Or how to make Election Day fun

It’s been a long year, politically speaking. But in just six days Americans will head to the polls and carry out the most sacred tradition of our democracy: pretending to vote for president until the Electoral College does it for real a month later. I’m kidding about that. Mostly. I mean, those electors can actually vote for whoever they want, which means that theoretically my mom could be elected president next Tuesday—and she would definitely make America bake again—but it’s probably a safe bet that Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton will come out on top. And that, regardless of your political leanings, is cause for civic celebration.

Because if you really think about it, isn’t it awesome that we do this? America created the Internet, blue jeans, and cookie dough ice cream, and everyone’s favorite superpower has been letting the people pick the president (indirectly, but whatever) since 1789. We were into peaceful transitions of power before they were cool.

So in honor of the awesomeness that is America, and of our freedom to vote for whomever we please, here are Michelle’s tips for an Election Night watch party that will please every wing of every party:

• Get your hands on some red, white, and blue cupcakes from The Dessert Stand just outside Denver. Because both victory and defeat taste better covered in frosting.
• Enjoy some delicious partisanship with UV Vodka’s colored products. The company offers a red sangria flavor to complement its signature UV Blue raspberry (which, incidentally, was also my signature flavor at a time in my life when I listened to electro-pop and employed the word “legit” in casual conversation). Mix either with Sprite, and you have tasty blue or red refreshment for all donkeys and elephants.
• Get out of the house and take a Metro Taxi Denver cab to the Blake Street Tavern, where you can watch returns, have a beer, and contribute money to an awesome cause.

A few do-nots:
• Do not turn our democracy into a drinking game. Because seriously, if you take a shot every time Cuyahoga County is deemed “too close to call,” no one’s going to be having a good night. Keep it smooth, guys.
• Do not upend the living room table, dump a bag of Doritos in your friend’s face, and scream “BOO-YAH!” if your candidate wins and theirs does not. This is considered poor form.
• Do not forget to vote. It’s the party foul to end all party fouls.

And one last do: Bond over some pizza. I’m serious. My sister Stephanie and I have a few political disagreements (shocker, I know) and years ago we started a tradition whereby the sister whose candidate wins buys a pizza for the sister whose candidate loses. We enjoy it together, because we’re still sisters. And we really are all on the same side.

Until next week…

Michelle writes weekly about goings-on in Denver. Michelle is all of us. Or none of us. It’s complicated.