The Denver Café Chronicles—2914 Coffee

IMG_0980.JPGThe Fact

It takes me a minute to fit my car into a spot on the side of the road. But, wishing I had one of those fancy rear cameras only crossed my mind once before I decided that I, in fact, have successfully parallel parked. Stepping out, proud, I look up and see a cute neighborhood pub with a red door and small square tables outside of the front. I’m almost tempted to set up my laptop right there instead of the coffee shop I am headed to. As I’m walking to the coffee shop, I pass two women who are talking about how great this area is to live in because it has everything you need. And I’d agree.

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I’m feeling pretty snazzy sitting here in the same shirt that I wore to bed last night. There’s something about wearing my PJs out in public that I just dig. 2914 Coffee is a cute little coffee shop tucked away in a cute urban neighborhood just 5 minutes away from my place. Now, sitting in the shop, I’m looking out the large windows in front of me and am wishing I lived in one of the apartments with a balcony across the street. I feel a quaintness here while upbeat Saturday afternoon music plays overhead. Coffee grounds are being poured into the espresso machine, and the cinnamon I sprinkled over my cappuccino smells familiar and lovely. It’s one of those refreshing days where you can’t help but smile when you step outside. It’s a bright morning, and it feels almost too warm in this coffee shop.  But I like it. I was worried this place would be busy since I got a later start to my day after deciding to make myself banana pancakes. But, I’m pleasantly surprised to have found several tables open with the sun shining off them, clean and bright.IMG_0933.JPG

An older man sitting behind me in a small area with a red couch, red chairs and a coffee table shuffles some papers together and stands up to leave. On his way out, he passes the barista and gives a pleasant, “so long” to her. “So long,” she says back with a soft smile. This interaction makes me want to go “mmm.” It’s like the kind of “mmm” after you take a bite of crème brûlée, soft and rich in your mouth with a bitter crisp finish. I decide right then that I am going to make an effort to add the phrase “so long” to my social farewells.

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I sit and enjoy my surroundings for a few moments resting my chin on my hand as I look over past my laptop. Bon Iver starts to play overhead as the sunlight dims a bit in the shop. A sleepy Saturday gaze seems to sweep over everyone. I look around and notice the quiet, the stillness of the place and everyone in it. The barista moves quickly clearing a table in front of me. But even her quick footsteps on the wood floor vibrate slowly under my boots and make me sink deeper into this brief moment of stillness before the sun peeks back in, reflecting off every table. Just in the nick of time, a guitar quickly strums overhead.

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The Fiction

Edward sits in his armchair as the early morning light starts to peek into his living room. The small wood round table that he places his coffee on has stained rings all over it from his dislike of coasters. The wood floors absorb the warmth of the sun, he can feel it on his bare feet as he walks over to crack a window open to let a breeze in. It’s a warm morning, and the breeze feels cool as it lightly sweeps into his living room. The tall green plants he has sitting on the window sill sway slightly. He goes back to his chair and sinks deep into its warm leather. He picks up his coffee cup. Realizing it is quite hot, he holds it to his lips and lightly blows on it while he gazes out in front of him into the sunlit room. He can feel the breeze sweep past his face, and the smell of his coffee is strong and bold. He takes a small sip. Too hot still, he places it back onto the wet ring on the table. He takes his legs up and folds them close into his chest before relaxing them onto the arm of the chair. His grandkids are coming over today for breakfast. He’s planning on packing a picnic of meats and cheeses, and fresh fruit from his garden. He’ll have them pick the fruit themselves before they leave, he decides. They love using the outside hose to wash off the fruits and vegetables they pick. Smiling, he gets up and goes into the kitchen, opens up the fridge and takes out a glass pitcher of fresh squeezed orange juice. He pours himself a glass, slowly, enjoying the smooth sounds the juice makes as it hits the inside of the glass. He always loved how freshly squeezed juice foams up at the top. Since he was a kid he’s enjoyed trying to sip only the bubbles up before taking full gulps of the juice. He breaks off a piece of coffee cake that is sitting in the middle of the kitchen table and goes back to his armchair. He sets the glass of orange juice down next to his coffee. He takes a bite of his heavily cinnamoned coffee cake and takes a sip of coffee. It’s cooler now. He takes 2 more bites of his cake, finishing it off. Brushing the crumbs off his fingers onto his pant leg, he picks up his glass of orange juice. Taking a slow sip of the pulpy beverage, he notices the ring that was just left on the side table from the cup. He chews some of the pulp left in his mouth and places the cup back down onto the orange juice ring. The doorbell rings just as the heavy front door creaks as it quickly opens, and quick little footsteps run over the wood floors into the living room. 

Mission: Every week I will visit a new café/coffee shop in Denver. The daunting part of this plan is that I intend to write, blog, at each one. My idea is to have 2 segments. The first part, “the fact,” of the blog will be my experience at the café, a review if you will, how I’m feeling, what I see, etc… The second part, “the fiction,” will consist of a fictional story that I come up with while at the café. I’ll be grabbing onto my surroundings, the vibes, and my feelings to inspire a short story.

Perspective is the new happiness

A prompt. I’m always looking for one, hoping to stumble upon something that will get my ass moving in a particular direction. A prompt to do something, make a move, think a certain way. I could call it inspiration, but that word itself is daunting and often is seen as aloof when the lack of inspiration is what is causing the distraught disposition. So, a prompt is something more obtainable, less threatening.

Give me a word, I’ll expand on that.

Give me a feeling, I can expand on that too.

Maybe through a prompt, I can find, feel really, the inspiration that I want.

I want something to prompt my writing, I want something to prompt my motivation to workout, to eat healthily, to find a new mindset, essentially, to be happy. Because I’m finding happiness comes and it goes. It’s something I have to be mindful about. Because when I find myself not doing so hot, or letting my emotions get the best of me, I realize that I let my happiness run away from me. And that’s ok, sometimes I need to feel things other than happy to get a real grasp on my reality in order to live in a perspective that shows me what’s real, where I need to go, and how I should handle certain things. Because even though I can try to constantly be happy, life has its own agenda that sometimes does not match mine. When that happens, I realize happiness is not what I need to hold onto, but rather perspective. Just like happiness, perspective changes—it comes and goes and has different forms. It is what shows me new happiness, it helps me feel different, good. Good or bad, it definitely presents both, and in that perspective, I can realize that happiness doesn’t have to be stable. Realizing that happiness shifts makes the downs and the emotional rollercoasters easier to handle. Easier to navigate around.

I’m hard on myself, I know this. I constantly feel like I should be doing more, which boosts up my stress levels and I find anxiety is the only hand I’m holding.

I talk a lot of talk, preach a lot of preach, and struggle daily trying to hold myself up to my words. I find myself in a catch-22 often, or at least I feel that way.

Perspective. That’s one word that I really do think makes the entire difference. It’s what makes things important. It’s what makes things make sense. It directs happiness and shows you where you place your joy. In search of the perspective that I need, I often find myself aware of the lack of such a view and find myself grasping onto what I believe is true without realizing the possibility of an alternate reality. This is where we find ourselves getting taken out at the kneecaps, where our breath gets beat out of us, and we feel like we’re in a well with walls 1000 feet high. We get stuck in something that seems perpetual and we take it as so. Our ignorance keeps us from seeing past the walls that we put up. Our misery keeps us there, whispering sweet nothings into our ears until we feel that where we are is where we belong. It’s not until a passerby comes along to get some water that we realize there was a bucket and rope hanging right above us, we just had to look up.

p i e c e s

Being all of myself, that’s just not something I do.

I let my ambitions ride on magic carpets to places I don’t know. I let my heart stay with the people I love and have loved. I let my ideas float around me just beyond my full grasp.

If you call it reckless, if you call it susceptible, if you call it foolish, you’re right.

I am that.

But if I can get to a place I can’t imagine yet, then I’ll let myself fly to get there.

If vulnerability is what my core is made of, then my heart is not meant just for me.

If when I look out of myself and am able to see pieces, well I know I have something to make.

I am not whole.

I am places, people, and things.

Feeling at peace with myself is feeling alive in what I dedicate my life to, in the things that I feel worthy, and in the people who I choose to care about. My feeling of belonging, of happiness, of identity, comes from not only the pieces of me I decide to walk in, but also the pieces of me that I let free.

Purple Rain

You think she is just a happy girl eating ice cream. She has a smile on her face as she walks through the crowd of happy people watching the outdoor concert. So yeah, you wouldn’t question where her smile stems from.

But there’s something else to her story, like there usually is.

She wishes her story could be as simple as it looks. She wishes that moment in the crowd was an easy smile.

What you missed was the person walking ahead of her, the person she was following. The distance between them grew. She couldn’t see his face, so she held her own expression. She wore a smile, and she remembers it felt good.

As his strides got longer, she felt more alone. But, she realized she was on her own the whole time anyway, so she continued to smile.

She decided to feel the grace of the moment around her. When she passed other people, she saw a joy that she couldn’t help but smile with. She felt the passion of the music being played on the stage behind her and she couldn’t help but sway with it. She had a smile on her face and as she looked at the people she was passing by, they smiled back at her. She was living in a moment, and it looked easy.

But the person walking ahead of her must have had a different determination. When she turned to watch a song that caught her attention, he didn’t follow. With a hard face, he stood his ground. Maybe it was because he couldn’t hear the same piano she heard when she was a kid and feel the joy that song always gave her. He didn’t feel the sacred melody that moved through everybody else in the crowd. Even so, why did he have to stay back?

She turned back to him thinking he’d be by her side, but instead found him 5 paces away standing there, waiting for her. She gave him a playful smile inviting him to join her, but I guess he didn’t see it. He only came up to her to tell her “c’mon let’s go.” She bit her lip, held her breath while she took a spoonful of her ice cream, took one more gaze at the stage, and turned around to go with him. It was the pivot of her foot that sent her in a direction away from that moment. But she didn’t protest. She took another bite of her ice cream and continued to sway with the music as she walked behind him. She swayed and sang up the steps, through the entrance, up the elevator, and to their door. She stopped when the door shut behind her and she found herself in the quietest room in the whole building.

He doesn’t even realize what he just silenced.

The man who walks ahead of her doesn’t seem to care. He couldn’t know her because he never turns around to see her.

He says she’s crazy.

He doesn’t know that is the worst thing she could hear from him.

She’s become exhausted, over time. Exhausted trying to show him the good, what she sees. She feels like she’s screaming at the top of her lungs, but no, she’s standing in front of him struggling to get the right words out. With him like this, her heart feels like it drops into the acid of her stomach, over and over again.

You see, it’s not an easy smile.

Wonder on

There are words that get overlooked when they stand next to the bigger ones of today.  When the verbs and nouns such as hate, revolution, change, opinion, media and news fill the articles we scroll through with negative connotations, when more than ever everyone seems to have opinions on topics with the limited knowledge of headlines, words of authenticity like hope, love, joy, and charity find themselves being swept under the rug society walks on.

Wonder is one of those good words, one that we don’t see much praise for. It has almost become something overrated in our world of “doing” and “making a change.” While it lays as the foundation of change and revolution, its authenticity gets lost in opinions, or more like the fear of others’ opinions. In conversations we often feel the need to have opinions, even if we don’t. Agreeing or disagreeing, having a stance on something without conviction, has taken the place of the vagueness that hope conveys. We rarely gives ourselves the step back to fully see a picture. We restrict ourselves to what is already seen, we forfeit original thought. And this gets us into something that is even more bleak than conformity. Because without wonder where did it start?

Wonder

noun- a feeling of surprise mingled with admiration, caused by something beautiful, unexpected, unfamiliar, or inexplicable.

verb– desire or be curious to know something. Feel admiration and amazement; marvel.

Like damn, marveling doesn’t happen often anymore. Which, is so unfortunate because marveling, the sight of ones jaw falling slightly open as one looks steady ahead with wide eyes, has a beauty to it that just can’t rival the tight squeezed jaw or open flailing mouth we see too often.

Wonder is where it starts. Wonder is what creates opinion. It’s what stirs thought, pushes for action, and creates a picture. The greats of our time, the revolutions that were rightfully started, began with someone wondering, being curious enough to delve, to put forth effort to form their own opinion and act upon it in hopes to make a difference. To wonder is to dream. To wonder is to hope. To wonder puts in action figuratively, then literally.

As a whole, I don’t believe we are all hopelessly lost, but I do think that we all could use more room for wonder in our life, our thoughts, and our actions. We need to know where it started so we know how it should end. This is where right and wrong come into play, and where the faded lines have crossed each other in unfortunate places.

Stand for something you know, believe in it, care about it, and do something with it. Big or small, we don’t have to be the face on the posters, but we can be proud of the ones we hang in our homes and still are able to marvel at.

Cake

You bewilder me.

You simplify my thoughts,

breaking them down and stretching them out.

You make ordinary something to look forward to.

Your scent lingers with me just like I want it to.

Because when I think you’re one flavor, sometimes I get more.

What can I say,

I like cake, and I want more of it.

Travel guide to homelessness and happiness

Today I starred a bunch of big girl jobs on Craigslist. Jobs that seemed interesting enough that dealt with marketing/pr—things around my degree, jobs that come with security—401k, health insurance, a salary. Because jobs like this is what I’m being told I should take. Being told by society, my student loans looming over my head, my family, the voice inside my head when I think about my future, my money problems, and my adulating self. I found myself getting exciting, saying “hmm that could be cool, I could do that.” More times than that though I did find myself thinking I’m not qualified enough for that one, or I would never get past the first round of the interview process. So, I moved on, I moved through, job after job, not starring anything lower than $15/hour.

But then I starting thinking of something else, like my brain usually does when forced to focus on a particular task. Damn.

I slowly, but quickly, started realizing that maybe these types of jobs are what I don’t want, shouldn’t have right now. I am in a place in my life where I feel pretty lost, wandering in a familiar path, looking for something that can prove itself as new to me. Thinking, if I land one of these security jobs, what happens when I realize years down the road that I took the job too soon. I fell into a life that I swore I wouldn’t ever stumble into, because of well, health care.

I found myself saying “shit this job wants me to commit to a 2 year program, NEXT!” I cannot, in every cell in my body, commit to something for over a year at the moment. Love is the only thing I can see as an exception. I simply am just too goddam unsure, ok, more like scared that I’m going to make the wrong decision and send my life into a direction of tripping in puddles and looking up to see that I am nowhere near anything familiar. Hell, when the gym guy was signing me up for my membership and asked me if I want a lower-priced committed plan vs a higher monthly priced non committed plan I pretty much screamed OH I DO NOT WANT COMMITMENT.

I know that right now, in my 25 year old self, body, and soul that I aggressively am against putting myself into anything that I am not passionate about. Yes, I know I need to start setting myself up for the future, and I know that can be seen as an incredibly selfish and naive statement, but if I am setting myself up in a way that will actually put me 5 years back when I’m 30, is it worth it? Because I know myself. I know that I can’t allow myself to settle and feel ok about it. Is it worth always wondering if I could be doing something I actually enjoy, something I made for myself because of the giant risks I took in my 20’s? If I put myself in a position right now of setting my creative 20’s life away, where will that put myself in the future? Is now the time when I need to be taking foolish jobs, wandering even more, falling in love even more, feeling even more scared, and jumping into some not so lucrative creative things?

Recently a coworker was just talking about how almost everybody out of college gets a job that pays over a 30K salary—not sure how valid that point is— and it got me to thinking that, damn, I really don’t want to be in a category of people that go into the fucking “job market.” Right now, I don’t want to picture myself saying, “yeah I never saw myself marketing ceiling fans, but damn I’m sure good at it and its makes me a make a hefty salary.” No, right now I want to picture myself standing strong on my own in my own art studio in painted overalls sipping on tea while a soft jazz number plays in the background. I want to see myself as someone who made her own path. Made something of HERSELF. I don’t want to market SHIT. I want to find a passion, run with it, and be proud of it because it is a part of me. Ceiling fans will never be apart of me. I don’t care how good I could be at it, I don’t even want to imagine myself in that god awful position no matter how good looking that salary looks. Label me crazy. Hell, I sure feel like it. I think it’s an inner battle that I’ve been having with myself for awhile now. I just haven’t realized it. I know what I should do, aka get a security job. And I also know what I want to do/should also do because it’s something I want. And I sure know, I do what I want.

Listen,

I’m not sure what kind of decisions I’ll make, nor what I’ll base them off of. I do know I’m nervous, and I also know deep down that whatever decisions I make will be the right ones, because life has a way of working itself out. I truly believe that. It’s all perspective.