Transparency, baby. Texas is HOT

I’m sitting on the front patio of a coffee shop because every spot inside is taken. Upon sitting down, I can already feel the perspiration above my upper lip start to accumulate. I’ve already had enough coffee this morning, and the small sips I take of the cold brew I just ordered are making my foot shake more than usual.

Never would I thought that I would be living in Texas. Never. In fact, if you asked me in high school, Texas would probably be the last place I ever would have seen myself. Texas is historically the reddest state, and I never thought I’d want to take on the constant heat. But, here I am, sweating my ass off in my jeans at this coffee shop. And you know what? I’m perfectly content. To my fellow wanderers, you know the life of adjusting to new scenery. With it comes excitement for new beginnings along with the slight terror of it all.

I gotta say, I was pretty damn nervous to make this move. Typically in my past experience, the first month of adjusting to a new state, a new home, is rough as hell. I won’t get into the details of it all because it touches a little too personal on my being and honestly my pride, but getting through the first month is a feat.

Pushing through my own comforts and boundaries has been what makes my wandering spirit happy. It also has shown me that I need to set aside more time to be with myself and to recharge. Just because you ask for change doesn’t mean you need to excel in it every second of every day. It’s a balance, and over the years I have become very in tune with myself and can feel quickly when I start to lose my grasp on my emotions. Resetting, for me, is a necessity or else my anxiety skyrockets and takes over.

I have one of those calendar things where it tells you new wisdom-full things every day. There’s a page that I always think about. Without completely butchering the quote from some great monk that said it, I’ll paraphrase: living in the past causes depression, living in the future causes anxiety. It’s in the moment, the present, that you want to be. There you will find the joy and happiness you’re looking for.

So, as difficult as it may be sometimes, I’m finding myself in the moment. I’m understanding what works for me and (trying) to push away what anyone else’s perceived thoughts are about me. Like, right now I could worry about my sweat running down my arm and leaving deodorant streaks on my black shirt, but you know what, it’s cooling me off so I kind of like it.

A whole new definition of “bug-eyed”

I was on the last leg of my walk with Boomer, my roommate’s dog, when a bug flew straight into my eyeball. So much in there that it might, in fact, still be in there. I felt it get sucked in from the wind tunnel the brim of my hat created and flew directly into the inner corner of my eye. I could feel it. It was cold which immediately shot goosebumps down my body. With my eye watering profusely, I bent over like I got shot. Bicycles are flying past me as I grip Boomer’s leash so he doesn’t clothesline anyone. I dig my finger into my eye but am unable to see through my phone camera to see if it is still in there, doing whatever a bug that just flew into eye juices does—biting at my cornea, laying eggs so near my brain, or defecating from pure fright. It was overwhelming going through the possibilities this bug was doing to me, assuming it didn’t get obliterated from the force of impact.

It’s then that I had a come to Jesus moment, minus the Jesus. A pure coincidence of fate can happen and alter everything. Unlike a car crash or elephant crossing, this tiny subtle realization hit me almost as hard as the bug did.  At any moment a bug can tunnel vision itself into my eyehole, burry itself behind my eye, and lay eggs for me to birth within weeks. My life may have changed its complete course due to this bug. I could be that thumbnail of a video on your Snapchat home screen, “girl’s eye engulfed by larva.” Ugh. It makes me shutter writing this with only 70% confidence that the bug is no longer in my eye.

So, you know what I’m going to do now? I’m going to live life like the bug is still in there, defecating, and counting down my days until the birth of its thousands of babies. I’m going to do exactly and only what I want. I’m going to buy myself ice cream even though I was just at the ice cream shop yesterday. I’m going to let my worries go because it could only be a short time until my time as a regular two-eyed girl comes to a close.

What Matters: The long ride after the longest ride.

This is a new segment of my blog. It’s called What Matters.

Millennials are supposedly the loneliest generation. We have the luxury of connecting with each other in more ways than what has been possible in the past. With the emerging of the internet and social media, we can connect with humans across the world from us, instantaneously. So, why are we so lonely?

We live in a society where no one talks about their real life. Maybe it’s from the stigma and shame of vulnerability. We think no one wants to know how we are really feeling, so we respond with “I’m good, how are you?” 

We choose to show how we want to be seen by posting our active moments, our adventurous selves, and our beautiful faces on social media. We cover our blemishes, our scars, with filters. Even those not participating in the social media world put filters on themselves and what they share with others. Nobody gets that close to anyone. What we give are the good looking framed pieces of our lives. 

So, this segment is meant to shed light on the real moments of life. On the moments that we don’t talk about, the moments that we don’t think anybody cares about. Really, the moments that we are scared to share. Because life is not all good. We forget that we all lose our cool sometimes. This is not meant to be a pity party, or me venting, but to show pivotal moments in my life that are real, are ugly, and even embarrassing. Because I am not just the filtered cropped pictures on my socials, and neither are you. If we share ourselves with each other more, really become transparent with one another, we may realize that we are more relatable with each other than we thought. From there, maybe we can beat the loneliness that consumes our generation.

Every moment in our life matters. Our feelings matter. The small things matter.

So, I want to share my moments. Because they mean something to me. I might leave out the backstory. I might leave it vague. But, I aim to share some small parts of my story, my life, that would normally get shoved under the rug and never spoken about. 

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THE LONG RIDE AFTER THE LONGEST RIDE

Sitting there, after ripping my own heart out just hours ago, I hold a carnation given to me by a stranger. I feel every bump of the shuttle ride. I shift around my backpack on my lap and stare at a spot on the floor.  I feel eyes on me by the people sitting across from me. I know they can tell I’ve been crying. I let it stain my face. I don’t care. I sit there with a broken heart and a shattered frame of mind, flower in hand. When I get home I put the flower in a glass of water. The next morning it starts to show signs of wilting. The next day even more so. I let it sit on my kitchen table until it bends low below the rim of the glass, dead in a puddle of water.

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We get hit with blows. Right to the face.

When I’m going through what feels like a shit storm, I let myself feel it all. I become super-aware of my emotion. I let it sink into me, and I sit with it.

And then, I get up. I turn the water on and wash my hands.

I sit on the couch like it’s Tuesday.

I laugh when it’s funny.

I focus when I need to.

I create.

Because at a moment, a brief random stupid moment, that damn storm blows right back into my face.

And it’s hard.

For a couple seconds.

For a few minutes.

Hell, for an entire hour.

I sit in that storm and let the water run down my hair and into my eyes.

I find peace when I hold my breath, and then slowly let it out. It’s then that I remember it was something great. So, I smile.

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. 

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.

The Denver Café Chronicles—Carbon Café and Bar

Mission: Every weekend 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 facts,” 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.
The Facts

I’m in a part of town I haven’t spent a whole lot of time in, and walking to this new café I stop to take a picture of a cool looking bridge. Turning back around, a very close and bright bike light shines in my eyes. I gasp and jump out of the way, probably to an exaggeration, but I’m surprised by this oncoming bike and think I’m about to be hit by this bicycle man. It’s dark out now, so all I can see is the bright light from this bike swerving around me. I can’t tell if the guy saw me there and was planning on swerving past me like he did, or if he was just as surprised to come that close to a pedestrian standing in the middle of his path.

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Walking up to Carbon Café and Bar I am distracted by a large doughnut hanging above the door of the shop next door. I walk past the café and peer into the window of this alluring doughnut shop, with an even more alluring name, the Habit Doughnut Dispensary. I’m a big fan of pastries that are covered in glaze, so I keep this late night snack option in mind as I turn around and walk into Carbon Café and Bar. To my excitement, there is a connecting opening to the doughnut shop inside the café, how convenient.

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First impression. Impressed. Beat heavy house music welcomes me as I walk into the dark yet glowing room of the café. It’s a long room with tall brick walls and open HVAC. Clinking glasses and footsteps on the wood floor make me instantly feel at home. At the front counter I’m greeted by a beautiful display of doughnuts I’m assuming are from the shop next door. There’s a long bar with tall beer taps and cool bar stools. There are taller tables along the walls, and walking to the back I realize the room extends to the right with a long tall table surrounded by shorter booth style tables. There are lamps in the corners and the ambiance has a dark brown golden glow. There is another room straight to the back up several stairs. This room, brighter, has an entire white wall full of graffiti and the wall opposite of it is painted with chalkboard paint. There’s a giant “happy birthday Erin and Cody” surrounded by several tic tac toe games and other various things people have drawn. This room seems to be the “business room” as there are several people talking pretty loudly on their phones with laptops opened in front of them. I choose to turn back around and choose a seat in the darker room at the long tall table.

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I sit down and pull out my laptop. I’m greeting by a lovely woman who sets down a very full cup of water in a mason jar. “Here is the hydration,” she says. “Your server will be right with you.” I very much enjoy this greeting, smiling, I take a sip of my hydration. Looking around I see one wall is made up of these large old wooden barn doors with an arrangement of empty picture frames hanging on them. Everyone around me seems to be working on a computer with a beer or wine in front of them. Unfortunately, I am sitting next to a couple of slightly obnoxious guys who are talking loudly about a startup they are working on while complaining to the server about the high priced beers they realized they just drank. Having been a server for 7 years, I don’t have much tolerance for the types of remarks these men are making toward her. I almost laugh out loud when she replies to them with “well, I hope it was worth it,” and walks away. I’m glad to see them leave after a good 30 minutes of their spats full of loud startup lingo.  But, now that my table is free of the business talk, and I am able to enjoy more of the ambiance.

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It feels like there’s a lot going on in this place, and I like it. The decorations are pretty mismatched yet put together, and the vibes of the place change as you walk through the café. Every seat seems to offer something a little different, comfortable and trendy. This is definitely where the cool people come to do work.

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I notice I can hear a muffled voice of a woman speaking, almost like she’s right in my ear. I look around thinking maybe somebody is playing something on their computer behind me. Then I look at a table up in the “business room” and see the woman who is talking. She’s farther away and I ponder for a moment on why I can hear her so well, she’s not talking loudly, but I can hear almost every word. It reminds me of the room in the US Capitol building where John Quincy Adams would listen in on the discussions of his international guests from across the room due to a phenomenon caused by sound waves reverberating off of the ceiling. Thinking of this, I feel like I’m sitting in John Quincy Adams’ seat—I’m smiling as I write this.

I order a pasta dish recommended by my server. I’m sipping on a very good, very spiced chai. When I order it she asks me if whole milk is ok. I enthusiastically reply, “Oh, yes.”

Also, the goonies just started playing from a projector onto the brick wall directly in front of me. I very much like this place.

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The Fiction

The competition ended a couple hours ago and already Charlie’s muscles are starting to ache. He’s been snowboarding all day and came back to his room with a 3rd place trophy. Not ideal, as he thought he had a good chance of taking home 1st. Blake, his childhood friend and also his biggest competition won 1st. He felt a little peeved about this since he was the one who helped Blake become the boarder he is now. Charlie sunk into the leather sofa as the glow of the local news filled his room. There was a huge snow storm brewing and it was expected to shut down all roads until the morning. He wished he would have taken his parents up on their offer for dinner, but since he didn’t place 1st he wasn’t in the celebratory mood. He settled on a room service burger. His parents left town before the storm hit, and his only other friend in this competition was Blake, who he was in no mood to party with tonight. Embarrassed that he let a rookie boarder take 2nd from him in the last round, he knew Blake had some clever remarks to say about that. Charlie slowly lifted himself out of the deep imprint from the chair. His back ached from the fall that inevitably cost him 2nd place. He went over to the tall winders and opened the curtains. It was getting dark now, and the moon was rising just below the thick dark clouds above. It glowed through the darkening sky as the white snow glimmered. Thanks to his parents, he had a nice room with a walkout deck and a hot tub.

When room service came around, he ate his burger quickly and changed into his suit. The snow was already getting deep on the deck and his footprints sunk at least a foot. He opened up the hot tub with some force, steam quickly released and then floated above the tub. Charlie swung his legs into the burning water and his body coiled for a moment while he got used to the heat. He extended his legs and stretched his arms over his head. He cozied up in a corner of the tub facing the now darkness, the moon disappeared above the clouds. It was so dark now. The flakes were coming down big and chunky, falling quickly and melting as they hit the hot water. He liked the quiet sizzle and the stillness of the night. Relief is what he now felt. Relieved that his training was over, for now. He could relax and take it easy on the slopes. Charlie liked competing, but he also liked riding the mountain without the pressures to makes points. Sometimes he just wanted to glide. He closed his eyes, stretched his legs out farther so his toes were floating on the top poking out of the water. He always thought it was strange the way clear crisp air has such a distinct smell.