the story behind the picture

warning: this is not the most articulate nor put together post I’ve written, but it is just too ridiculous not to publish. And I kinda like it the way it is, so. 

Most things aren’t what they seem. Especially on social media. I’ve written about this topic often and it’s something that I think needs to be brought up often. We live in an age where we text rather than call. We “like” a friend’s new life event rather than actually catching up and talking with them. We post relationship status updates like anyone really cares. We care too goddamn much about things that are not important. Like at all. Listen, I miss the days where our phones had real keyboards and social media was this new weird new thing that only weird people partook in. Or even when we had to press the 5 button three times to get the letter we needed to type out. Let’s go back even farther, I miss the days where we went to the store to develop the pictures we took on our disposable cameras because we were too young and couldn’t afford the new fancy digital cameras. THOSE were the best.

One time I lost my phone, ok not so much lost it. I left it at a bar the previous night before and couldn’t get it back until they opened later in the afternoon the next day. But let me tell you, I remember that day vividly, even without documenting it with pictures or staying in “the know” on my socials, or even knowing what time it was. I remember sitting at a table at a coffee shop and actually looking around. I didn’t feel that burning need to fumble around with my phone to keep busy, and sometimes I get jealous of that feeling. 

Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is real life is not our “social” life, and that social media is truly a whole lot of BS. I recently moved to a new city and I’ve been using social media more than I usually do, posting about places that I visit, mostly coffee shops that I go to write at. But the picture only shows so much, which really isn’t much. It’s really not that important to me, nor really to anyone else. But it is kinda fun documenting the places I go to, so, whatever. (You see the vicious cycle?) 

I want to tell you about the day I had today at a coffee shop I went to because honestly, it was just too ridiculous.

So, I get to this coffee shop that has awesome outdoor seating. It’s really nice out so I wanted to go somewhere where I could be outside. I’m really excited to find a picnic table off in the corner under some shade. The place isn’t really busy at all, but the sun is pretty hot so it’s nice to find some cover. My table is also under a large tree and next to some cool ivy and leaves along the fence. Anyways, I’m sitting here writing, sipping on an iced coffee. I soon realize that my ankles have become very itchy, so I pull my legs up and sit cross-legged. Then, I realize my back is getting itchy, I’m wearing a cropped top.  I am getting eaten alive by mosquitos. Why the hell are there mosquitos right now, I think. Stubborn and wanting to stay outside, I throw a light sweater that I brought on. I don’t want to leave this place, or move tables. This is literally the best table out of the sun. I continue to write, very aware of my itchy feet and ankles. After a while, I feel hungry and decide to order myself some food. When my food is brought out to my table I’m VERY happily surprised by the enormous size of my sandwich. If you know me, you understand.

This is when the story gets even better. I go to take a bite of my sandwich and I am quite literally swarmed by flies. At first, it’s just a few, maybe 3 or 4. But they are persistent bastards. Annoyed, I lay my napkin over the rest of my ginormous sandwich as I continue to casually take bites while writing. Soon more fly buddies surround me. I am swatting them away, trying to take bites of my sandwich realizing I’m getting crumbs all over my laptop keys from the swatting. There has got to be like 10 flies flying around me. I decide it’s best to close up my laptop and just finish my sandwich before I start to write again. Originally, I wanted to take my time eating and write at the same time. But these fucking flies, oh my God. I decide to lay a single salt and vinegar chip at the other end of the table hoping to allude some of them over there. Realizing this may not be enough incentive, I place my pickle spear next to the chip. They MUST want this, I think. It’s probably the most fragrant thing on my plate, anyway, I’m not a pickle person. I wait for a minute, taking bites of the quarter of my sandwich watching to see if the chip and pickle scam work. It does not. Maybe one or two flies are attracted to it, but it’s like the flies are talking to each other and inviting more of their friends over to me. I have flies landing on my fingers as I go in to take a bite. I’m looking around to see if any of the other tables are having the same issue. They are not. Granted, there are only a few other occupied tables and not all of them have food. I’m thankful that I’m tucked away in the corner so people don’t notice me flailing my arms and swearing at these goddamn flies.

Like I said, my sandwich is huge. It is cut up in 4 large sections and each section has 3 pieces of toast in it. AND, it’s pretty darn toasted. I try to eat it quickly, but the top of my mouth quickly gets completely cut up. I start to feel a bit helpless. I decide to Google how to ward off flies, and I found several suggestions. Most do not pertain to what I have available to me. However, I do find that flies don’t like certain essential oils such as eucalyptus and lavender. I usually carry peppermint oil in my purse, which I know is not eucalyptus, but I figure it’s close enough. Can’t find it. Damn. Ok, hmm, I do have some Purell. Thinking, ok, maybe they won’t like the alcohol scent, I give it a shot. I rub some into my hands, but no, I need to take measures further. I drop small gobs of it onto the thin napkin that is covering my sandwich. Then I squirt more into my hands and try to flick it around the table. Gah, I probably looked nuts.

I’m sitting there just hoping it works. The hand flicking did momentarily ward some flies away. Ok, awesome, I’m so clever, I think.

Well, that was a very short lived thought. The flies are back almost immediately. I sit there, STILL with the first quarter of my sandwich in hand, on the verge of a frustration outburst. I dig back into my purse to see what else I have. I find my EOS peppermint lip balm, you know the sphere-shaped kind. I twist it open and lay it next to my sandwich. Nope. A fly lands right next to it. I put it back. Then almost too excitedly, I find an empty container that held these tea tree chewing sticks (toothpicks.) I think, YES, I found my answer. Tea tree has a strong scent. This seems to work, kinda. The flies don’t like landing on it, but they still manage to fly over it and onto my Purell saturated napkin which is still covering my sandwich. I also find some lotion I took from a hotel that seems to have a lavender scent. I rub that on my hands, on my napkin, and a little on the outside of my plate before I leave it open with a little squeezed out next to my sandwich.

I have done my best. I’m sitting here surrounded by random items from my purse, hands reeking of Purell and lavender with a tore up mouth and itchy feet.

Holy hell. I give up and let it just be. I try to eat my sandwich quickly, and just let the flies swarm me. I watch as they mock me while landing in the puddles of Purell happily.

Eventually, I take my last bite. I pick up the chip and pickle at the end of the table and put them back on my plate. I’m pretty sure I let out a loud “alright, that’s done,” get up and put my dish away into the dish tub outside.

I wipe all the crumbs away from me, and just like that the flies disappear. I sit there and write for probably another hour, unbothered by any more flies. By hour 2 though, my ankles have become increasingly itchier. Even though I am in a good rhythm with my writing, I decide it is just time to leave.

And that’s that. If you only saw the nice happy picture I took and posted on my Instagram, you would never have known everything that went behind it.

And that is social media, folks.

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The Denver Café Chronicles—Federal Coffee

Mission: Every week I visit a new café/coffee shop in Denver, and write an article that has 2 segments. The first part, “the fact,”  is my experience at the café, a review if you will, how I’m feeling, what I see, etc… The second part, “the fiction,” consists of a fictional story that I come up with while at the café. I grab onto my surroundings, the vibes, and my feelings to inspire the short story.
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the fact

IMG_2475This coffee shop has tall ceilings, and possibly the coolest coffee bar I’ve seen yet. There’s a tall skinny green tree of a plant in the corner giving the whole coffee shop life. A small round succulent sits in the middle of each table, and I sit down on the long leather booth that runs along an entire wall. A massive old circular mirror hangs above the coffee bar, and a single art piece sits next to it on the counter. It’s a painting on metal. I look around and notice the bare brick walls, and realize that is the only piece of art in this shop—besides a naked lady painting in the back hallway of the bar. I overhear another customer ask if they’re setting up for an art show. 

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I then notice the metal wires hanging down the wall behind me, intended to hang art. The barista says they are actually getting ready to hang up new art, probably tonight. She points over to the metal painting down the bar and says he’s the artist they are going to be showcasing. This makes me wish I came here tomorrow so I could see the shop in its prime with badass metal paintings covering the walls.

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I am getting a retro vibe in here. It’s partially the spacey, almost 80’s themed modern music, and it’s partially the feel that the old massive wooden mirror gives the place. You know when something just feels spooky or haunted? Well, it feels like this mirror has seen things, and been around sitting high in places for a very long time. I can’t help but get some Stanley hotel vibes from it. It has stories to tell, and now it sits here, absorbing and reflecting the energy of the shop. I dig it. Sitting in the booth, it’s nice and warm. I can hear the heat pumping through the space on this cool morning. While the shop is small, its tall 18-foot ceilings give it a large feel.

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There’s no menu anywhere I see. Only a small sign advertising the coffee beans being sold by the bag. I order a dry cappuccino, and damn it’s good. I’m tempted to get a freshly made doughnut, but I decide that the banana pancakes I just ate at home were enough for this morning. As I type this, I am second guessing my decision. The wood floors look like the may be the original flooring, the skinny kind you see in old houses with wooden archways in the hallways. Each person that walks in this morning seems to be a regular here. That is always a good sign of a good coffee shop, especially in the vast coffee scene of Denver. Its only fault, and a big one at that, is that whatever music streaming station they are using has commercials. Very unfortunate.

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the fiction

Kimberly sways with the music. She begins to lose herself under the music and the gin and tonics she’s been drinking all night. She throws her hands in the air and moves her body back and forth, slightly bumping into the people dancing next to her. It’s like an ocean in here. Everyone’s body is in sync with the music and the vibe of the club, and they’re all riding the waves together. Kimberly loves coming here. Its chill vibes easily suck her into the dance floor and she finds she is able to dance the night away, by herself.

She never brings her friends here. She likes that this is her place, a place she feels comfortable enough to let herself sway with strangers all night. The stresses of her week get swept out from under her feet and she is carried solely by the groovy music playing above. Her friends wouldn’t like this place anyway. There’s no annoying bumping club music, and no one taking selfies with their friends on the booths around the dance floor.

This is not a place people come to party. People do come here to drink, sure. But its more on a mature chill with the help of fancy garnished drinks from the bar. It’s a place people come to dance. The kind of dancing where you run your fingers up through your hair and groove your arms up over your head as you sway your hips back and forth. Swaying just isn’t enough for some people. Some people need the noise. Some people need the scene to consist of girls snap chatting their friend getting down on the dance floor with people taking shots on shots of liquor in the background. Some people need chaos to escape. Sometimes Kim enjoys that scene, but most Friday nights she ends up here. 

Kimberly’s a vampire artist. Meaning, she only is an artist at night. By day, she’s a social worker handling troubled cases. She loves the work she does, but it takes a toll on her. More than she thought it would. She always considered herself strong and capable of handling a lot, but the kind of social work she does is another level. Every day leaves her emotionally drained and exhausted. Her art is what shakes her awake. She’ll stay up all night even on days she has to work early in the morning. Her art is important to her, and without it, she thinks she would crumble.

Kimberly has been dancing for a solid half hour without getting another drink. A slow groove of a song ends and she feels her whole body take a deep breath. She briefly takes a moment to close her eyes and feel the sensations of her body. The cool sweat at the nape of her neck, the hardwood floor beneath her feet, the smell of coffee from a table nearby, and taste of gin still on her tongue. She opens her eyes and propels herself forward off the dance floor. She floats to the bar to close her bill. She sits on the soft bar stool, her long skirt wavering just off the floor. She kicks her feet back and forth slowly. Her chin sits atop her hand as she looks out at the dance floor and across the bar. A crooked soft smile stains her face, and her lips feel full and soaked in gin. The bartender, a handsome tall man wearing a bowtie and jeans hands her card over with a wink.

“Next time, Kim.”

“See ya, Mac.”

She smiles and slides off the stool. Still floating, she moves inside the crowd and makes her way to the front door. As she opens it, the coolness of the night sweeps across her face and fills her nose with the smell of wet asphalt. She pauses for a moment before she takes her next steps. She can feel her eyelids, heavily blink over her eyes. She walks a couple business down to a New York style pizza place and orders herself a large pepperoni slice. She takes her pizza on a flimsy paper plate and sits down on the curb in front of the pizza place. She watches people move in the streets, cars slowly passing by, and she watches the stop light to her left change colors several times. When she finishes off her crust, she licks her fingers of the parmesan and grease. She stands herself up, throws away her plate, and points herself in the direction of her home which is just down a block. It is lightly drizzling as she walks slowly, still floating, down the sidewalk under tall swaying green trees.