Being a coffee writer, a freelance journalist and “new” to Denver, I often find myself looking for a local coffee shop to work at and/or acquire some much-needed energy. Though Starbucks generally has the most reliable WiFi and a menu I’ve become extremely comfortable with, I more often opt for indie cafés with character and sometimes their own roasts.

Below are my personal thoughts on the ones I’ve visited thus far, ranging from coffee and food to atmosphere and customer service, as well as a five-star rating.

☆☆☆☆☆ You must go here!
☆☆☆☆  Worth a visit
☆☆☆  Does the job, but nothing to write home about
☆☆  If you’re desperate for coffee and short on time
☆  There are too many great spots to waste your money here

The Bardo Coffee House
238 S Broadway
Denver 80209
Score: ☆☆☆☆

This eclectic coffeeshop on South Broadway is a little rough around the edges – similar perhaps to the folks who frequent the bars just a few blocks down – with its furniture slightly tattered and its interior needing a facelift. But as they, “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover,” because I had one of the most delicious lattes in my first visit here. It was frothy and tasty without being too sweet, and had the perfect coffee profile. Bardo uses beans from Kaladi Coffee Roasters, which I’ve seen at a lot of coffee shops throughout Denver.

The staff isn’t as warm as their coffee, but they know how to make a great coffee. There are other beverages on offer, as well as snacks and baked goods.

There are lots of options for seating in the large space, with cozy, albeit worn, couches and lounge chairs in the back, old-school diner booths in the middle and standard café tables in the front. If you don’t mind slightly dingy, tattered furniture, then settle right in! WiFi is free for two hours (via code) when you make a purchase.

Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters
1619 Reed St.
Lakewood 80214
Score: ☆☆☆

This roaster-coffee shop was named in Food & Wine magazine’s top coffee shops in each state, so of course I had to visit. I probably would have never known about it otherwise, because it’s definitely off the beaten path and very easy to miss.

I love walking into a coffee shop with fresh coffee beans being roasted in the big in-house roaster behind the counter. So when I went early one morning, I was welcomed into the spacious roastery-shop with the smell of roasting coffee.

Much of the space is dedicated to the commercial-sized roasting machinery and packaging operations, so it’s not a place I’d come back to work or relax with my coffee. And to be honest, neither the experience nor the coffee are anything I’d go out of my way for – remember, this place is out of the way.

They have a pretty minimalist menu, which I see a lot with indie coffee shops. It comes off a bit pretentious, and this place in particular doesn’t even have syrups or flavorings for its coffee beverages. I ordered a latte and was offered raw sugar as the only way to add flavor. Again, the coffee was OK.

Cafe Ole
3225 S Wadsworth Blvd.
Lakewood 80227
Score: ☆☆☆☆

This place has become one of my go-to coffee shops for working and a good latte, largely because it’s so close to my house but also because the coffee drinks are good and the customer service is exceptional.

It’s great to see an indie business thriving, and this place definitely is. The owner frequents the coffee shop and knows all the regulars, which are plentiful, and takes pride in his staff and business. The baristas are some of the friendliest, most attentive I’ve ever seen at a coffee shop.

They rotate roasts and only use organic, high-quality beans for their coffee drinks. The menu is pretty extensive, with both standard espresso drinks and specialty drinks like dulce de leche and horchata lattes. They also have a decent food menu, with breakfast burritos and empanadas. I love empanadas, so I always get one (or two) when I’m there to work. The Lomo Saltado (a traditional Peruvian dish) and the spinach cheese are my two favorites. They also have fruit empanadas; check in on Yelp and you can get one of these free! They also participate in the Fivestars Rewards program, so I often get discounts on specialty coffee beverages.

The space is cozy and spacious, with a variety of tables and couches for lounging or working. The decor is a bit hodge-podge and the space overall could use a make-over, but these are minor details in an otherwise great place.

Nixon’s Coffee House
871 Englewood Pkwy.
Englewood 80110
Score: ☆☆☆☆

This is my other go-to coffee shop, generally when I’m coming from the eastern part of town. It’s right off Hampden, near one of my gyms, and right off the Englewood light-rail station. The convenience, atmosphere, generally friendly baristas, and food and drink offerings keep me coming back.

It has lots of seating inside and out for relaxing or getting some work done – generally the latter for me. Free WiFi is always great. The only (minor) downside is that the floor-to-ceiling windows face west, so the setting afternoon sun gets really warm, even with the blinds down, and really heats up the space.

In those occasions, an iced coffee or kombucha are perfectly refreshing. Both are good, as are the hot espresso coffee drinks. They have a selection of baked goods, too. For hot coffee, the standard latte is good. But I especially love how they make a macchiato – just the way I like it! Note: It is not the traditional macchiato, with just espresso and foam. It’s made like an upside-down latte, the same way a big-name chain I dare not speak of makes it and how I learned to love it over the years. Nixon’s also uses Kaladi Coffee Roasters’ beans.

ink! Coffee
1590 Little Raven St.
Denver 80202
Score: ☆☆☆

I’ve seen these all over Denver, so even though it’s a small, local roaster – its roasting facility is downtown in the hip RiNo district – it can now technically be classified as a chain. That said, it’s an OK coffee shop for a chain: nothing special, but nothing negative either. They only have one size for iced drinks, which is weird. I usually stick with 12 oz coffee because I don’t like all the extra milk, so was disappointed to hear 20 oz was my only option. Who needs that much milk?! Fortunately they accommodated my request to not fill the glass to the top with milk. They also gave me a fourth shot of espresso for free, since I ordered three but the machine pours in doubles regardless. As such, I’d rank customer service alone with five stars.

The space isn’t super cozy and it lacks a bit of character, but that’s expected with a chain I suppose. There was ample seating, though, in the large interior space and out on a spacious patio with tables and umbrellas. I wouldn’t be opposed to working from here in the future if I happened to be in the area and needed free WiFi and some coffee.

Novo Coffee
217 S Holly St.
Denver 80246
Score: ☆

I had driven by Novo on Holly several times and wanted to check it out in my explorations of Denver indie coffee shops. Turns out there are several others around Denver, which surprises me considering I didn’t have a very good experience. It was actually quite the let down in many ways – so much that I left early and will definitely not be back to this location or any others.

Why?

  • The staff were not friendly and seemed annoyed by customers coming in. And for some reason, there were about five baristas working for very minimal traffic.
  • My coffee was not made correctly. The barista who was annoyed by having to work clearly didn’t listen to my order because I could tell it was off. (I will say the coffee itself was decent, though.)
  • There are no outlets for people to charge phones or computers. And the one extension cord they had available was pulled into the middle of the room, creating a trip hazard.
  • The temperature in the café was completely out of whack. When we arrived on a sunny winter day, the heat was blasting inside and everyone inside was visibly uncomfortable. Not long after we arrived and got settled, the AC kicked on and dropped the temp to an equally uncomfortable frigid level.

At one point during our short visit, the owner stopped by (I recognized him from his photo on the company website). To my surprise, he didn’t seem to notice or care about the issues with the excessive (and rude) staff or the uncomfortable, inconvenient setting.

St. Mark’s Coffee House
2019 E 17th Ave.
Denver, CO 80206
Score: ☆

The only positive about this place was the people watching. It’s an eclectic crowd and we happened to be lucky enough to sit next to a gal who called a meeting with a guy she has a crush on who is currently involved in a love triangle with her two friends. The awkward conversation that was going down between them kept me entertained and distracted from the horrible experience I was having at St. Marks.

The only barista working seemed incapable of actually doing his job and clearly hated that he was at work. I’m not sure if this is him every day, or if he was unsuccessfully recovering from a wild night.

I ordered a nonfat vanilla latte with just a little vanilla. It took quite a while to make, and once I got it I found it was poorly made and not the right drink. It had zero foam; I watched as he half-assed steamed the milk and slopped it into my glass. It also had zero vanilla; I never saw him put any in and I couldn’t taste any. When I brought it back up and asked him to add it in, he snapped that I didn’t order vanilla…. Umm, ok.

My sister attempted to order a breakfast sandwich but he struggled to understand what she wanted, and then made it very clear that he did not want to accommodate her simple request of no cheese. Frustrated, she just ordered a toasted bagel and cream cheese. Within 30 seconds, he managed to forget who she was and burn her bagel. “Do you need something?” he said, and so she reminded him of her bagel, which was burned by this point. Instead of accepting it, which he expected her to do, she just asked for a croissant.

The place is expansive, with lots of seating. What’s unfortunate is that not a single table had been wiped down that day – or dare I say that week? Even after wiping down the tables ourselves, they were still grimy. The floor was dirty too.

Corvus Coffee Roasters
1740 S Broadway
Denver 80210
Score: ☆☆

This place off Broadway has a great patio and beautiful signage on the wall that would have easily called me in off the street had I not already sought it out via Yelp.

Like Sweet Bloom above, the space smelled of freshly roasted beans because the space operates as a cafe and roastery. A barista and the cafe counter greeted me at the front and a roaster was hard at work in the back, perfecting the latest batch. High-top tables, chairs and bags of green coffee were intermingled (tightly) between the two spaces. While it’s definitely neat to be among “the action” of a roastery, the space was way too cramped; it’s just too small for all the seats they tried to fit in there. The only seat I could find available was the bar along the side, which basically required me to climb over coffee bags and bump a row of other patrons every time I needed to pass through. I’d recommend reducing the number of chairs and tables inside or find a way to store the green coffee elsewhere.

The barista was super friendly and helped me order when I stared at the minimalist menu with a confused look on my face. I ended up with my standard latte – it was good, but nothing to write home about. And unfortunately I ended up not getting to enjoy it and having to drink it very quickly because the café’s “free WiFi” wasn’t working. Aside from preferring indie roasters/cafés over chains, the WiFi is why I chose this place. So needless to say, it was super annoying to find out the WiFi didn’t actually work AFTER I ordered.

If the coffee was amazing, I’d probably go back, but it was pretty standard for a specialty roaster-café, so I won’t likely go back considering all the negatives with the actual setting.

2914 Coffee
2914 W 25th Ave.
Denver 80211
Score: ☆☆☆☆

This great little café is on a tiny business strip just off Federal near the Highland neighborhood. The café is cute and eclectic, with mismatched vintage-y furniture – even a barber’s chair! It also has a great patio out front with lots of seating for warm days.

Like many of the shops I’ve visited, 2914 uses Kaladi Roasters coffee beans. I haven’t had an espresso I didn’t like using Kaladi bean, so I can go into most cafés with their beans and feel confident I’ll like the coffee drinks. And as anticipated, I enjoyed my latte while eating a raspberry scone and working on the free WiFi. They also have a variety of paninis that sounded good.

Unfortunately I’m rarely in this part of town, particularly during the time of day when I would need a coffee or somewhere to work, so I don’t see myself frequenting the café. I highly recommend it for others in the area, though.

Coda Coffee Co.
5224 W 25th Ave.
Denver 80214
Score: ☆☆☆☆

Coda is technically in Edgewater, which is a little unincorporated township right off Sloan’s Lake. It’s a bright little coffee shop right on “main street.” Their other location is the roastery in North Denver. I’ve seen some of their coffee used at a couple local shops, but would love to see more because I really like it.

I first stopped in on my way to work and got a vanilla latte to go. It was one of the most delicious I had ever tasted! When I went back, the latte didn’t knock my socks off the second time, but it was still good. They also have good cold brew, and I believe they have kombucha on tap. They sell pastries and breakfast foods from local businesses.

Because Edgewater and its main street are small, the businesses are naturally small themselves. As such, the seating area in Coda leaves a bit to be desired. Seating is somewhat cramped in an odd-shaped, narrow space – not ideal for lounging or working. I don’t believe it’s air-conditioned either.

So needless to say, I probably wouldn’t go back with intentions of working there, but I definitely will go back for a great coffee beverage.

Fun side note: In writing about Probat, a German commercial coffee roaster manufacturer, for an article, I learned that Coda co-owner Tim Thwaites won a contest Probat put on at last year’s Specialty Coffee Expo to visit the company’s state-of-the-art headquarters in Emmerich, Germany.

Pigtrain Coffee
1701 Wynkoop St.
Denver 80202
Score: ☆☆☆

This is coffee shop is in the newly renovated Union Station in downtown Denver. Because it doesn’t really have any seating and, instead, relies on the train station’s seating in the Great Hall waiting area, it’s more of a coffee bar. Also because it’s in the train station, it’s a great place to pick up a coffee before your departure or on your return. As such, it’s a busy spot but the baristas are pretty good about keeping the line moving.

They have a decent selection of coffee and other drinks. I decided to go with a unique specialty latte with lavender, but unfortunately I wished I had stuck with my go-to vanilla latte. The lavender-espresso combination made it taste a bit like potpourri; the lavender just gave it a weird flowery taste. I can see it going well with tea, but not coffee. Now I know. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the other coffee beverages and I couldn’t even really tell if I liked the coffee itself.

I guess they also make coffee alcoholic beverages and cocktails, too, which I’m assuming are more popular with the evening crowd that flows through the Great Hall. They use coffee and espresso beans from locally owned Conscious Coffee.

SloHi Coffee Company
4436 W 29th Ave.
Denver 80212
Score: ☆☆

This coffee shop combines its operations with a bike shop, which is a bit of an odd combination and doesn’t make the coffee side ideal for relaxing or working. It’s better for people looking for a coffee to-go. I was in dire need of some caffeine on the go, so it worked perfectly for me. And because bikes flowed in an out of the space, the barista didn’t even bat an eye when I came in with a double-jogger stroller.

Come to think about it, he didn’t really show any emotion to me or any customers. The barista wasn’t very friendly.

I got a cold brew, which was good but pretty standard. They use beans/roasts from a few local roasters, which I always appreciate. One of those is Strava Coffee, a company I had the opportunity to interview and write about. They have a line of hemp-infused coffees (with CBD), so I thought that was a unique and interesting addition to the coffee shop’s menu. If I wasn’t on the clock, I might have considered trying it.

Copper Door
900 W. 1st Avenue #180
Denver 80223
Score: ☆☆☆

If a person didn’t intentionally seek out a nearby coffee shop or patronize one of the nearby businesses, this place could easily go unnoticed. It’s in this tiny little indie business district below Santa Fe called the Yard. I have no idea how the mish-mash of businesses in there came together, but it’s quirky and I like it.

Copper Door isn’t quirky, per se, but it’s a great coffee shop in what looks like it used to be an auto garage of sorts. For the first half hour I was there, the big garage bay was open, letting the nice spring weather into the large open space. The barista pulled the door down when it started raining.

I got a cold brew, which was good, but I resisted my temptation to get a pastry. They have quite the selection of yummy-looking baked goods. I think they also have some hot items, like breakfast sandwiches and burritos.

As I mentioned, the indoor space is large. It’s pretty minimalist and clean with some seating up front and the coffee bar in the center. In the back is the roaster; they roast all their beans, and I believe there are a couple other locations, including the original.

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After I quit my full-time job, I was determined to blog more. In the start of the new year, I made a resolution to blog once a week. Now, here I am eight months since quitting and almost six months into 2018, writing my first blog post. And it’s about a trip I took a month ago!

In any case, during my travels through three major cities across eastern Canada, I was inspired to write. Here are my observations…

  1. Canadians are super friendly! I met so many nice people during my travels.
  2. They have great coffee and coffee shops. While there, I became obsessed with Second Cup.
  3. Tim Horton’s was not one of those great coffee shops. It’s equivalent to a greasy fast-food joint, with the same smell, low-quality food and stale dining area.
  4. Everyone speaks French as a primary language in Montreal. I wasn’t expecting its prominence, but really liked how it made me feel like I was in a far-away country.
  5. If you’re dining alone, the restaurant staff absolutely do not want you taking up a table. I was offered the bar first every time, and a couple places wouldn’t even let me sit at a table after I requested one over the bar.
  6. The cities shut down on Sundays. Both downtown Ottawa and parts of downtown Toronto were dead on Sunday.
  7. A lot of people smoke. I’m going to blame the French influence.
  8. Poutine is not that great. I prefer cheese or chili on my fries to gravy any day.
  9. Meanwhile, Beaver Tails live up to their hype. And now the franchise is headed to the states thanks to a gentleman I met at a Montreal bar who recently purchased eight with the intention of US expansion.
  10. Most restaurants, including non-fast food, cook their burgers on flattops instead of grills. I noticed this on a few menus and could taste the distinct flavor in mine at a gourmet burger joint.
  11. It’s freakin’ expensive here. Even though the US dollar goes further, prices are high on average and then everything incurs a 13% tax.
  12. The shoulder months are not good for visiting. My friend warned me, but it wasn’t until I was there in April that I truly saw how wet and ugly everything was. I can imagine how beautiful it is in the winter and summer when the ground and trees are covered in snow or greenery, respectively. The other downfall was that a lot of things were closed in the off  season.

Verdict: I had a great trip and would definitely go back to Toronto. I absolutely loved that city! I’d give Montreal another chance, especially because Old Montreal is really cool. Ottawa is only worth a stop if you’re passing through to or from Montreal and Toronto.

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It’s been five years since I last posted new year’s resolutions on my blog. As such, it’s safe to assume I didn’t quite hold myself accountable to all of that year’s goals. So, this year’s first goal will to be (1) recommit to annually sharing my goals and making a valiant effort toward achieving them.

2) Blog at least 1x per week
3) Read 1 book or magazine per month
4) Find 1-3 more writing gigs
5) Run 2 miles per day (total 730 for the year)
6) Visit gramps at least 1x per week
7) Hike a 14er, ideally in CO
8) Snowboard somewhere new
9) Visit a new national park
10) Move to a new city
11) Start donating blood again
12) Find at least 2 more steady freelance gigs (or a FT remote job in journalism)
13) Finally close dad’s estate

“You’re so busy” is something I hear often. It’s also not uncommon for me to get a “boo” or sad face emoji when I have to turn down an invite. As long as I’ve been old enough to use a planner, I’ve had a busy schedule. And as long as I’ve been able to tell time, I’ve been squeezing every minute out of every hour.

Most of my close friends know this about me, so it can be mildly irritating when they give me a hard time for being so busy or not being available with fewer than 48 hours notice.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty, though. It’s a bummer when I miss fun activities or, worse, friends’ life events. But I’m both a planner and a woman of my word, and I also have a legit case of FOMO. So if I want to do something, I’m going to say “yes” to the first invite or I’m going to plan it myself. And once I’ve committed, I’m not going to flake. (Unfortunately some of friends are too comfortable with doing the latter.)

The last time I heard “you’re so busy” my friend then told me to “cancel things” so I wouldn’t be so busy. I was both humored and confused. Why would I want to cancel the things I had planned? It’s not as though these things appeared on my calendar without me knowing. Sure, it can get exhausting, but I took on all of these plans/trips/events/activities/etc. And again, I don’t bail.

So recently when I read an article about shifting the notion of being “busy” to that of being “focused,” I finally felt as though someone understood me. And I started feeling less guilty.

“When we describe ourselves as ‘busy,’ it takes away the intention behind our priorities. ‘Focus,’ on the other hand, puts us back in control of what we want and need to get done.”

A simple word makes the difference between a schedule filled with mundane tasks or meaningless activities and one filled with those that are important to me. My guilt and negative self-talk around being busy aren’t warranted. I need to remind myself that I’m focused on doing things that improve my life, and hopefully others’ around me along the way.

I haven’t yet used the approach when communicating with friends, but I’m hoping it’ll help them understand that my “busyness” is not only self-inflicted, but also purposeful.

“Reminding your friends why you’re so focused can help them better understand that you’ve chosen your schedule for a reason. You’re not just busy fulfilling other people’s demands—you’re working on something that’s important to you.”

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Now, at this point in my life, as I make some big life decisions and changes, my calendar is more packed and color coded than ever. I’m focused on accomplishing as much as I can in my last weeks at a company I’ve spent 7.5 years. I’m focused on getting the most I can out of a city I’ve lived for nearly 12. I’m focused on finding a new place to call home as I visit eight cities in three months. I’m focused on making my passion of writing become a full-time reality and sustainable livelihood.

“Put yourself in control of your schedule—in all its hectic glory—and know it’s packed with reason and meaning. It’ll lead to greater satisfaction and more motivation as you choose to keep hustling.”

When i think about what I’m focused on, it reminds me that my schedule is not full of meaningless tasks and activities. There is intention. This is what I have prioritized. I am in control of what I want to do.

It amazes me how intensely people debate on social media and how willing people are to berate friends over status updates and comments. But that’s what our society has become. People can easily hide behind their profiles and argue to the death without having to face their opponents – who may actually be their close friends. And gone are the days of sharing something without hearing an alternate opinion or even pissing someone off.

I was aware of all of this when I recently shared an article on Facebook, and I knowingly opened myself up to opinions and even ridicule by posting it. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t shocked by the level of attention (mostly negative) that it got.

Two weeks ago, a United Airlines passenger was yanked off a full flight that was preparing for takeoff to Louisville, Kentucky. He was the fourth of four passengers who were (mostly) randomly selected among the economy class to disembark and take the next day’s flight to accommodate four flight crew who needed to get to the destination to make a flight they were scheduled to work.

At face value it doesn’t seem right that paying customers were bumped to make room for staff, but ensuring these crew members arrived to the flight destination on time meant avoiding a potential chain reaction of delayed or even cancelled flights – and, thus, hundreds of inconvenienced, pissed off passengers.

I don’t know the procedure for when flight crew call in sick and can’t make it to work. But again, at face value, four fewer people for the connecting flight meant it wasn’t going anywhere.

So, back to the passenger.

When his unlucky seat number was chosen to take the next day’s flight, he decided he wasn’t moving. So much that a federal officer had to board the flight and remove him … or “reaccommodate” him as United CEO Oscar Munoz put it.

What happened at this point is what caused a social media uproar and frenzy of debates.

Because the passenger vehemently refused to leave his seat, holding tightly to his seat and screaming, the officer “had” – I put had in quotes because I don’t know enough about the law to know if that was standard protocol – to remove him. The passenger hadn’t committed a crime, but the situation quickly escalated to one that didn’t appear too different from someone resisting arrest.

In one of my comments of the many that populated my Facebook post, I likened his behavior to that of a toddler midtantrum, kicking and screaming. I immediately got called out for that. No, I guess I can’t confirm that he was kicking, but he was definitely screaming and resisting with all his might. It is this resistance that made it difficult for the officer to remove him and, ultimately, a contributing factor to his severe injury.

As he resisted and the officer pulled, the passenger ended up falling face-first into the armrest of the seat across the aisle. I think he broke his nose and lost some teeth in the fall.

Because this incident was captured on film, it immediately became a case study for social media mavens and novices alike to dissect. The majority were appalled by United’s behavior – understandably – but there were a decent number of people who demanded the law enforcement agency take some responsibility and an even smaller number who had opinions about the man’s behavior.

Without much to form an opinion on beyond the smartphone videos and initial reports – keep in mind that is all anyone not on the flight had to work with – I placed myself in all three of those aforementioned groups. And in that order as I slowly collected my thoughts on the shocking event.

First: Holy shit, is that how overbookings are handled?! I never want to fly United if that’s how they treat paying customers.

Second: Oh, that officer isn’t a United employee? So who’s crazy directive was he following to engage in such violent measures?

Third: Sure, getting bumped to a much later flight really sucks, but is that appropriate behavior for a grown-ass adult?

Everyone seemed to be shying away from that third point.

I couldn’t help but think about what I would do in this situation. Sure, I would be pissed, maybe throw some verbiage at the United agents, maybe shed a tear. Ok, probably both… in that order… and lots of tears. And United’s 1-800 number would probably hear a lot from me until I received what I considered to be reasonable remuneration for my inconvenience – and that’s after they accommodated me overnight and then on the next available flight.

But what I would also do is stand up and walk myself off the plane because that’s what a federal officer has asked me to do. Sure, I don’t mind breaking the law to stick it to a behemoth corporation (e.g. trying to sneak into Disney World as a late teen in defiance of its outrageous prices). But in a situation of this magnitude and that affects a large number of people, I’m going to obey the law – even if I’m not in the wrong.

I get it, the law is absurd. Actually, what is the law even? And to be honest, sometimes there isn’t even a law being enforced, as we’ve seen unfortunately in numerous recent police brutality cases.

But if a government officer with a badge and a gun is asking me to disembark the plane, I’m going to do it – just like this man and his family did when they found themselves in a similar situation with Delta shortly after the United incident. He stood his ground, stated his rights, complained, reminded the airline he had purchased the seat, even threw out some curse words, but ultimately he decided to get off the plane – and his wife seconded that decision.

Yes, it’s super shitty that airlines are allowed to overbook and then kick paying customers off. It’s even shittier that they can treat these customers like crap. It’s maddening that these companies get away with it and are rarely held accountable – just for an extra buck to pad their billions.

On a greater level, this is so wrong. And on a smaller level, in the Boeing 737 that was leaving Chicago that day, it was so wrong.

While I by no means think this man deserved the brutality he received – even though some of my friends seem to think I do merely because I posted an opinion that wasn’t aligned with the sympathetic majority – he’s earned the award for best dramatic performance in my book. And a gazillion dollars in an out-of-court settlement with United.

As appeared on NonDoc.com

At first, it was my friend’s all-caps, double-exclamation-mark Facebook post that motivated me to look closer at the article she was sharing. But then it was the headline that fully pulled me in: Society is creating a new crop of alpha women who are unable to love.

Finally, someone had defined the way I felt as an independent, strong (read: bossy) female who has been single exactly seven years this month.

Or so I assumed based on the title of the article.

The article was actually an excerpt from a book accompanied by a video clip from Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” Author Suzanne Venker was being profiled for her controversial tome, The Alpha Female’s Guide to Men & Marriage, and its idea of the alpha female’s role in a relationship — or lack of, rather.

It’s that latter caveat to which Venker dedicates most of the video and excerpt. It’s also the part that didn’t sit well with me, especially considering I had clicked into an article that seemed to describe me so well in its 14-word headline. In the simplest sense, this woman was basically saying that women need to be the more submissive “betas” and allow men to have control as the natural “alphas.”

“The goal is to get one of each, but if [the female] is bringing alpha energy to the table, and he’s alpha by nature because he has all the testosterone, you’re going to be like two bulls in a China shop,” Venker explained in the Fox News spot. “If you want him to be the more feminine person in the relationship, I guess you could do that, but that usually doesn’t work for most people because women are naturally feminine.”

I immediately thought of all the testosterone-less men I’ve dated over the years, ones who were far from those she described as the norm. I also thought of all the stay-at-home dads that exist today in support of their wives’ career pursuits. While I agree that a relationship needs a balance of opposites, Venker seems convinced that the men are always the alpha and, thus, women can’t and even shouldn’t be.

Venker: Women need to revert to beta status

After women stopped being groomed to be wives and started being groomed to be leaders, which is what’s happening today, Venker says men controlled the relationship: from calling a girl and paying for a meal to even proposing. Although she still claims “almost all relationships start that way” — which seems part delusional and part storybook fantasy in this day and age — she says women soon shift to the alpha mode, which then confuses the men. At that point, problems arise, there is “a lot of contention” and “the relationship starts to deteriorate.” Venker saw this happen between her parents, her mother being the quintessential alpha wife.

“An alpha wife micromanages, delegates and makes most or even all of the decisions. She is, quite simply, the Boss.”

By the time I finished watching the spot and reading the excerpt, I was infuriated. Now I understood my Facebook friend’s all-capped comment with swear words and double exclamation points.

Was this woman living under a rock?! In what day and age do men always make the first call and pay for dates? And in what world are all men testosterone-filled? Does she truly believe, after all we’ve accomplished as women — ability to vote, work, earn executive titles — that women need to revert to being submissive and serving their husbands? It sure sounded like it.

Is my ‘alphaness’ actually the problem?

As much as I was infuriated about her portrayal of strong women and how we are the ones causing problems in relationships, I couldn’t help but think about how I’ve been single for so long and how many of my past relationships didn’t work out because I am so independent and set in my ways. I ended up with guys who saw something in me but ultimately couldn’t handle my need for space, time alone or with other friends (both female and male) and decision-making that didn’t involve them. One after another, I called each of the relationships off.

While I don’t buy into most of Venker’s wild assumptions, accusations and generalizations, I do wonder if my “alphaness” is making it difficult for me to find love. I understand that two alphas may find themselves butting heads, but why did my relationships fail when I often found myself with betas? We had the balance of masculine-feminine energies that Venker spoke of (but with me in the masculine role), yet each one ended sooner than the last.

And why was I ending up with this type in the first place, when their neediness so starkly contrasted my independence and what I wanted out of a significant other?

If I looked to Venker for the answer, she would say I need to get in touch with my feminine side, that I need to change.

“We’re constantly pointing fingers at the men, when we’re the ones who are actually the problem,” she said so matter-of-factly in the news spot. “If you exude positive, feminine energy, they’re very responsive. If you’re coming in with negativity, or hardness rather, they recoil; they don’t want it. The husband needs from the women softness instead of hardness, happiness instead of anger, more compliance and less dictatorial.”

So because I’m an independent, strong female, I’m a negative, hard, angry dictator. Well when you put it like, then I probably do need to change. No wonder my relationships don’t work out!

Search for balance continues

With all the author’s outrageous talk aside, I’ll admit I may actually struggle with embracing my feminine side. I rarely let a man help me or take care of me, I often shut down their compliments and I’m also quite competitive. I’ve always believed I can take care of myself, and I’d rather do things my way. I am one of those aforementioned females raised by an alpha mother to be a leader, not a wife.

So as I strive to be a leader and do things my way, do I knock down anything that comes in my path, including men who are interested in courting me? Venker quotes Jackie Kennedy in her book: “There are two kinds of women: those who want power in the world, and those who want power in bed.” Am I so focused on my personal power goals that I’m not making room in my life for a powerful relationship?

While I won’t be buying Venker’s self-help book, I appreciate the self-reflection it has incited. And as I put myself out there in the vicious world of dating — that to Venker’s likely surprise mainly involves texting rather than calling — I will definitely be more conscious of the energy I’m putting into a relationship.

So although I’m not going to change who I am for a man just because some deranged “culture critic” says to, I will more willingly contribute to the necessary balance in my future relationships.

Facebook friends shared my outrage after seeing the post on my news feed.

 

January 8, 2017

I’m sitting at the airport after my first flight, the first of two layovers and a stopover. Not the ideal flight itinerary considering how exhausted and sick I am. For the second time this trip, I’m sick with bronchitis. Fortunately – for that reason only – home is around the corner.

I land at LAX at 11:50 am tomorrow, Sunday, January 8. That’s four days later than my original flight itinerary, which had me leaving Rio on Wednesday and arriving to LAX that evening. A much better flight itinerary, yes, but it was too soon. I wasn’t ready to leave Rio, to end my trip, to head back to reality.

It would have meant only 3.5 days in Rio; I quickly learned that wasn’t enough to do and see everything in the incredible city. I’d originally booked four, which I knew wasn’t enough but was all I had “time” for. But when it came time to check in for my flight from Sao Paulo, where I think I had too many days, I realized that I had booked my flight to Rio for January 30 instead of December 30. A new flight – for $260 to $500 – wasn’t in my budget, so I booked an overnight bus. This meant I’d lost my evening and would be arriving to Rio a day later. I lost most if that day, too, because I’m one of few who can’t sleep in cars, buses or planes.

On top of that mishap, I also had a few days of bad luck trying to visit Christ the Redeemer due to weather and timing. So after just a couple days in the city, I knew I wanted to stay longer. Fortunately my flight was refundable and my boss was understanding. I got to see Christ the Redeemer and got some extra days at the beach – which are highly necessary for someone like me.

All that explanation was basically to say I wasn’t ready to head home. But now as I sit here at the airport, I wonder how ready I am now. Put aside the bronchitis and this dreadful flight itinerary ahead of me, and could I stay longer? Not necessarily in Rio, but in South America, on the road? Could I keep traveling? Am I ready to go back home?

I’m ready to do some laundry (my way) and wear some different clothes. I’m ready to sleep in my own bed and actually sleep in because I won’t have any noisy dorm mates or any sites to get up early for the next day. I’m ready to start working out again and eating better. (I’ve definitely put on some LBs during this trip – lots of carbs, booze and sweets.) I’m ready to pare down my spending and pay off the debt I’ve incurred. (Despite traveling by bus and staying at hostels at times, all the travel and food and activities are expensive. I don’t even want to try to tally up how much I’ve spent.)

But I’m not ready to go back to the real world, the reality where I have to work every day and re-accumulate vacation days and justify taking time off.

It’s this weird dichotomy, where I’m ready to have my routine back for the stability but I’m also not looking forward to the monotony and lack of daily adventure in a routine . I also have no problems with my job; I love the company, my boss is great and I’m freshly in a new position. It’s more that I’m dreading work itself. People spend so many hours, days, years of their lives working, and some people never even get to see the fruits of their labors.

I’ve traveled quite a bit, but this trip has only confirmed how much this world has to offer. There is so much to see and do, and I’ve only experienced a small portion. Heck, some people have never left their hometowns or crossed their state lines. While that will never be a reality for me, I hate to think that I’m headed back into a daily routine that involves working in an office eight hours a day. I haven’t lived that life in 64 days! Going back is going to be quite an adjustment, and I foresee myself struggling for motivation in the early days.

I’m not looking for sympathy or a pity party. And I definitely don’t want my boss to question letting me take this trip in the first place. I just don’t know how long it will take before I’m “ready” to be back. By the time I’m ready, I’ll probably have already planned my next trip 😉

Disclaimer: I recognize that I’ve slacked in my blogging. I’ll admit I slowed down, but I do have some posts to put up from the past few weeks that are saved elsewhere. I’ll also add some photos to previous blogs. In the meantime, I’ve added all photos to my open Google album here: https://goo.gl/photos/Q9CEN7Vmi4UcFFoU8

P.S.  Thanks for reading!