The Birth of a Coffee Snob

My relationship with coffee, is, what I would assume to be, the same as one’s relationship with cigarettes.

Blissfully addicting.

Sure, my head aches in withdrawal and my mind is foggy before I consume– but it’s really my heart that hurts without it. Coffee is my favorite ritual. Its hypnotic scent casts me into a spell of invincibility and opportunity. Just holding it in my manicured fingers is the same comfort level of my fuzzy bunny slippers or a back massage after a Tuesday full of conference calls.

It’s my biggest, little pleasure.

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Photo by Derek!

When Derek and I first started dating, he would make us coffee to drink together on his all-too-picturesque front porch. We’d sit there and sip and smile and just talk. Still so in love with finding out everything we could about each other. We were morning breath and bedhead and oversized clothes.

And we were perfect.

 

Coffee, like cigarettes, (I imagine), is an acquired taste. Obviously. No one is born with an affinity for South American whole bean dark roast. (At least, I don’t think they are? Maybe that explains all of this…) I discovered coffee early on, like you did, I’m sure. My mom drank it. My grandmother had a half-consumed pot in her kingdom of a kitchen that I spent endless after-schools in. It smelled weird and I knew I wasn’t allowed to have it… which just made me want it more.

 

In 7th grade, Kelsea The Teacher’s Pet Wiggins as I’m sure my classmates must’ve called me behind my back, was summoned to run errands for certain teachers. “Because I could be trusted,” I would tell myself.

Because I’m better. I really thought.

Regardless, my pretentiousness led me to the teachers lounge on more than one occasion to fetch afternoon coffee. (Something I’d learn a LOT about during my time at advertising agencies.) During the stillness of the forbidden teacher’s lounge in the middle of the afternoon, I’d concoct an extra cup of “coffee” (if you can even call 4 month old pre-ground Folgers that) for myself. It was really 1 part coffee, 8 parts sugar, 15 parts creamer.

 

And it was delightful.

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When I joined the workforce at my first “big girl job” I would make coffee as an excuse to be away from the isolation of my cubicle. My whimsical mugs were the ultimate social ice-breaker. I’d stop by my coworkers desks and ask them if they’d like to accompany me to grab a “pick me up.” And, like cigarette smokers, (I assume), we’d have precious conversation that unveiled to me the nuances of office politics. So and so doesn’t really work after 2pm, she’s just on amazon, shopping. IT knows this because they have access to all of our computers. So and so is getting fired soon. Can you believe so and so wore THAT to work today? Did you see so and so on their phone during that meeting? RUDE!

 

Noted.

 

But I was still just a social coffee drinker.

 

Coffee was just something I did to feel older and look cool and pass the time.

 

Like cigarettes. I’m assuming.

 

Then, one day, you know, you blink and you’re in your mid twenties, and your job is no longer a meaningless social game and your life is no longer a barrage of blacked out nights on Park Street and blowing your rent money on brunch and club clothes. You have a career that you care about and ambitions you’re nurturing. And there’s this human at your apartment after your day full of over-grinding at your career who like for real loves you. And you need something to legitimately drug you into motivation in the mornings because you’re legit giving 10,000% daily. And the 8 packs of Spelnda slowly turn into one or two teaspoons of stevia. The french vanilla creamer turns into a baby-splash of almond milk.

 

At least that’s how it happened for me.

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Our first Christmas together, Derek and I, was magical, to say the least. I was in my tiny one-bedroom apartment on the Scioto River. We put up an all white Christmas Tree, aka the tree of my dreams. We made our first “holiday” plans as a couple. Derek spent Thanksgiving with my family, so I would spend Christmas with his. We exchanged gifts before making the snowy trek to New Lexington. It was a song and dance of anticipation and excitement and “do you like it?” and “you can exchange it if you want” and “omg babe you shouldn’t have.”

That was until I opened a large box that he had gifted to me.

 

It was a coffee maker. Stainless steel. But not any coffee maker. It had a built in grinder and a timer and a digital clock and everything.

And it was perfect.

I could buy that $60 6lb bag of black gold that I drank every day (and into the evenings) at the ad agency I worked at. I could pulverize coffee beans and make excessive amounts of my favorite delicacy whenever I wanted. Derek and I could go back to sleepy Saturday mornings outside, nursing piping hot mugs and talking about everything and nothing.

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Cause that’s what coffee is to me.

It’s stupid and it’s important. It’s food for my soul and a death sentence for my teeth. It reminds me of who I am and who I want to be, but also what I wish I could change about myself. It starts me and ends me. It fuels and crashes. Soothes and irritates.

 

It’s everything and it’s nothing.

 

So bad and so good.

 

Like cigarettes, i’m assuming.

 

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On Memory Making

Derek and I have a weird connection with nature. I, being the concrete-blooded city girl that I am, typically wants nothing to do with surprisingly damp earth, duck poop, and/or bugs of any variety. I appreciate Creation; I just prefer not to dwell too long in it.

However, Derek has a funny way of always forcing me out of my comfort zone and making me notice the beauty in the world I often choose to ignore. Ever since we met, our dates have been visits to waterfalls, morning hikes along the river, and coffee induced reflections over transitional deciduous foliage.

So when D surprised me with an early birthday present, (a fancy camera! Wahooo!), I knew a trip to the river would soon follow. Here’s some of the magic we were able to create together:

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Currently

Here’s an abbreviated version of everything I’m #CURRENTLY. Check out my new YouTube channel for more videos and don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe!

Feeling: BETTER

If you ready my last post On Interdependence, follow me on Twitter, or have been a fly on the wall in my home– you know that I’ve been struggling for the past couple of weeks. Here’s the abbreviated version: I went on a work trip, came home, and felt like an alien in my own body. I was sitting on my couch and staring at Derek and living my life but not feeling and existing in the way that I used to. I was overcome with sadness and apathy. I slept and ate nothing and cried. For 3 days. Happy to report that I’m feeling better — but still dealing with some anxiety and general feelings of just not feeling like myself. This is all hard to explain and even harder to navigate, but here’s what I truly believe has got me like 85-90% back to normal:

  • Derek. There are kind, selfless, humans in this world, and then there is Derek. The only way I can describe his love, patience, and empathy is through hyperboles like  “limitless” and “unconditional.” He loves me like family. Almost like it’s wired into his DNA. Almost like it’s second nature or just what he’s supposed to do. Through every mood, every low, every tear, every kiss, every fight, every laugh. He is a consistent, solid, unshakeably kind and loving mountain. I’m certain I’ve done nothing in this life to deserve him– yet, there he is, always on my horizon. Always gracing my sky. Always shielding me. This experience has given me endless empathy for those who struggle daily with mental health issues. It’s given me the same emotions for those without a Derek Mountain in their world. How do they get through the day? I’ll never know.
  • Routine. Getting out of bed, (the arduous task that it is) stepping on the mat to do yoga, sipping coffee, putting on work clothes. Submitting to the motions, even if that’s all they are… it helps so much.
  • The Grace of God. When I take stock of my life, what I’ve been through and how richly I’ve been blessed, I can only conclude two things: One. there is a King with endless mercies showing me unconditional, unending love, with a plan for my life. Two. There are souls, pleading with this King on my behalf. Souls of unswerving hope. Souls with pure hearts and clear minds. Souls like my grandmother. I believe, (like in my bones and in my belly and when I close my eyes and when no one is around) that this King’s love for me and love for those who beg Him nightly to show me favor, have brought me out of this darkness. And can bring me through anything.

Listening To: Anberlin

Listen, Anberlin is my jam. This band is comfortably sitting in my Top 5 Favorite Bands of All THYME! Why? I think 70% is the nostalgic factor. I grew up on Never Take Friendship Personal. And seeing them on their FINAL tour, was legendary. I love this band. I forget about them all the time. But they will always hold a very special place in my heart.

Watching: Bojack, Vice Principals, USMNT

Celebrating: FALL Y’ALL

 

 

I’m a lifelong fall hater. Here’s why:

  1. It doesn’t last long in Columbus, OH. It’s like a cool 12 seconds and then it’s winter for 6 months.
  2. I’m not a huge football fan? I mean, I love Ohio State as much as the next Buckeye, but I don’t understand American Football for like… a second.
  3. I hate socks. Random fact about me. You kinda have to wear socks like daily, beginning in this season.
  4. I don’t like scary movies. I don’t like being scared.
  5. I don’t look cute in hoodies.
  6. Bonfires are cool, but even better in the summer, imo.

So, when I was asked to do a photo shoot at a Pumpkin Patch and be as “Fall as possible” there was a huge “le sigh.” However, something about being completely immersed made it kind of attractive to me. And the icing on the pumpkin-flavored cupcake was spending the day watching Derek’s goddaughter explore the same pumpkin patch/apple orchard.

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Maybe fall ain’t so bad after all, ya know?

Thinking About:

Marriage and Babies — if you watched the video, you know that “that’s just where we are,” right now. We talk about our future kids like they’re in the next room. It’s weird but it’s awesome. Derek and I talk about what we’re worried about in regards to our future children in the video below:

 

Writing a Book– if I had a quarter for every time my Mom told me I need to “get started on my book,” I would have enough money to hire someone else to write it. I have been reading more, lately, which is (in my mind) preparing me to write a solid, New York Times Bestseller. Just wait on it, guys.

 

My Career– I’m obviously deep in the digital marketing world. I love it here. Truly. I love writing. I love social media. I love the psychology behind marketing. Love it all. But what’s the end game for me? My own digital marketing agency? That’s what it always used to be– but now that I’ve seen what that actually looks like, do I still want that? I don’t know.

 

Eating: BIBIBOP Asian Grill

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Do it for the culture.

 

Looking For: A House

 

For a second there, D and I were knee deep in the weeds of mortgages and home ownership. We’ve since calmed down about it, since we’re in a lease until the summer anyway — but I’d be lying if I said we don’t still hop on zillow and see what’s out there.

 

Supporting: Eminem.

 

Any questions?

 

Wearing: LIPSTICK BITCHES

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Drinking: La Croix and Coffee

I’ve decided to be a La Croix for Halloween this year. More to come on that.

 

In Need Of: Your Love!

As I venture out into every crazy facet of my life, your love and support is all I need. Thanks for riding with  me through everything. I hope I can reciprocate.

 

THAT’S ALL FOLKS!

On Interdependence

Standing up makes my head pulse.

Throb.

It hurts.

It fades though.

 

I’m only standing so that I can light this $30 teakwood candle. The article I read said I should light candles and play music and read. I’m desperate to feel anything other than this murky nothingness I’m currently feeling. All though, I take note that, normally, I would take any excuse to light candles. I love candles. I spend $30 on candles.

 

Now, it feels like a chore.

 

Maybe it’s the news. Maybe I’ve been subconsciously being placed into a gradual, undetectable paralysis. Maybe this is fear I’m feeling. That’s what they want, right? They want me to be afraid. Of everything. Of everyone. Of life and living and the world. Is this what I’m feeling? Fear?

 

I don’t know. It just feels like a headache right now.

 

Derek texts me.

The sound of my phone makes my head pulse again.

He wants to know if I’d like to go to dinner or something. I flashback to last week or last month or last year. I am standing in the kitchen with my head dramatically bent backward, bitching, in my whiniest voice ever, that we NEVER go out to eat.

 

“I’m not hungry.” I respond.

 

It’s true. Which is also strange. I’m always hungry. Right now, I’m mostly just tired. Even though all I’ve done for the past three days is sleep. It’s never enough. I’m Apathetic. And sad. Everything makes me want to cry. I feel so out of control of my emotions. I have no idea why.

 

The article said I should light candles and play soft music and do something I enjoy. Like reading. I pull out “The Handmaids Tale” from my purse. I had bought it on my way to Santa Monica, to keep me occupied on the flight. I bought it because I had watched the show and felt comfortable investing $17 in the text version. Plus the flight was long and I was already feeling uncertain. So I bought the book.

 

I was so conflicted about going to California. I wanted, more than anything, to travel. The Sagittarius in me, I suppose. I did not, however, want to do anything without Derek. Being away from him for five days seemed insurmountable. How would I fall asleep? Who would wake me in the morning? How will I pass the spare time? When will we talk with the time difference? My everyday has become so intertwined with him. I’ve become so dependent.

 

Ugh. What a word. 16 year old Kelsea would spit in my face. If I am anything, it is independent. Fiercely. Almost harshly. I call the shots, in all things. It’s my life, my way, right or wrong.

 

But the first and second days in Santa Monica, alone, made me feel more like an orphaned puppy than anything else. I felt stuck there, wanting nothing more than to be in my time zone, in my neighborhood, on my couch, with my Derek. The faces intimidated me. The tourists annoyed me. The conference frustrated me. The repetition of all of it just festered under my skin.

“Hi! What’s your name? Who are you with? Where are you from? Are you enjoying the conference?”

 

They were kind and well intentioned, but they were not the questions, rather, they were not the voice I wanted to hear.

 

16 year old Kelsea began to knock on my skull almost as annoyingly as this headache I have. “Fierce independence,” she chanted. 22 year old Kelsea joined her, singing of confidence. 24 year old Kelsea rolled my eyeballs back into my head. She showed me countless networking events and galas and conferences and WHATEVERS that I had not simply attended, as I was doing now, but that I had owned. That I had eaten up. That were better because I arrived. Never the other way around.

 

“You’re outgoing,” she whispered. Outgoing felt sweeter than the fierce independence chant. I vowed to myself to make the most of my time in this foreign land, with these strangers. That Derek and my interdependency would be there when it was all said and done. 16 year old Kelsea and all of her annoying growth-progressions silently applauded me.

 

I walked down to the Santa Monica Pier. I was lucky enough to catch the sunset. It was mesmerizing. Like an optical illusion or a magic trick. I couldn’t believe my eyes. That I was taking in this beauty. That I was witness to these colors. Surely no two sunsets were the same. Certainly no one here grew unimpressed with this sight. My thoughts wandered to Derek. I decided to get a drink.

 

 

_____________

Derek texts me again. “Do you want any snacks or anything?”

His attentiveness makes me want to cry.

Everything makes me want to cry. That’s why I’ve lit the candles and put on Coldplay and opened this book.

 

To not cry. To not think. To not be sad.

 

“Lolol.” I respond to him. I know this is something I’d normally text from how involuntarily my thumbs glide. I want him to not lose hope that I’ll be normal again. It’s only been three days of this. That’s not bad, right?

 

He tells me it’s not. He reminds me of when he felt like this.

Sad. Apathetic. Inconsolable.

 

I can’t remember, or at least, I didn’t know he was feeling like this.

That thought makes me want to cry.

 

I peel open the book again.

 

Offred, er, June, is talking about how they must’ve slipped some sort of pill into her food. She always feels lethargic. I let my mind wander to everything I’ve eaten. Maybe I got roofied. Maybe that’s what happened. Maybe it was a bad, old roofy that is just now, terribly releasing its affects on me.

 

The worst part of everything is just not knowing what’s wrong.

 

It’s not knowing what to say when someone asks you, “what’s wrong.” It’s not knowing how to respond, period. It’s confusing and annoying and trying.

 

__________________

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I sauntered into the huge restaurant at the end of the Santa Monica Pier. “Marisol’s” was lit up in a neon script. Three men were leaning by the door.

“Closed, closed, closed!” they said, shaking their hands and getting up from their butts.

 

“Even for me?” I responded, with as much arrogance as you read it with. “I’m with the conference.”

 

Their demeanor changed. Their hands went from stop signs to warm, limp invitations. “Oh yes, come in!”

 

I was still alone, but I felt amazing about it. Taller. Prouder. The fedora I had purchased on the Pier felt like a crown. I asked the bartender for a whiskey and coke. He handed it to me with a smile and I, (thanks to the conference), didn’t pay. I walked my drink outside to a table underneath a heater. I was the first one here.

 

Over the course of about an hour, I watched the once hypnotizing colors of the sky disperse into blackness. Everything was black, now. The sky. The ocean. The only thing that allows me to tell the difference between the two is the reflection of the moon. I take a moment to acknowledge that I’ve never actually noticed the moon’s reflection. Not before right now.

New friends joined me at my once lonley table. Women. Beautiful women. California girls. I felt prettier for standing next to them, conversing with them. Like property value. Like a cape cod. Our conversation went from industry bullshit to real life bullshit. It wove in and out of our personal lives. I told them all of Derek. I showed them his photo. They “aww” ed.

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“You must love his beard,” they all told me at one point of the night or another. It’s so funny how that seems to be the only thing anyone can notice on him. No one ever calls out his perfectly kind green eyes that sometimes turn blue, or his world-stopping smile. They never say anything about how genuinely he holds me in photos or the gentleness with which he takes care of me. It’s always the beard. I love it on him — I’ve never known him without it. Sometimes, though, I wish the world would take a second to love everything else about him.

 

The night continues as you imagine. My whiskey and cokes turn into sangrias. Sharing industry knowledge turns into laughing about how many people named “Kevin” there are at this conference. I think about Derek but I don’t miss him. I feel like he’s with me. It feels like a Saturday night out with our friends.

 

We stumble from the end of the pier to a British bar called Kings Head. It’s divey– and I love it. It smells like Columbus. The walls are dark and dingy. There are dart boards in the back, and the layout doesn’t really make sense. Our group completely overtakes the space. I feel like I know all of these once strange, intimidating faces personally now.

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I order a Heineken and almost forget that I’m supposed to pay, now. The bartender doesn’t recognize my Ohio license. He lingers on it like he’s thinking of a reason not to serve me. He doesn’t find one.

Once I get my beer, I rejoin the girls I’ve adopted as friends. We’re talking to some representatives from Yelp. Everything is funny right now. I don’t have a care in the world.

My new girlfriends must not be enjoying themselves as much as I am, because as soon as one of the reps stops talking, they say their goodbyes to me. I’m alone again. But I’m almost happier about it. I move seats to the center bar. A man I’ve said “excuse me,” too while finding my seat during the conference makes eye contact with me. We start a normal conversation. He’s as drunk as I am. He asks me if I’m married, which I find extremely strange. I, obnoxiously, hold the backs of my hands up to his face.

 

Single Ladies plays in my head. It finally comes to me that I’m being hit on.

 

I make eye contact with another acquaintance from across the bar. His name is Kevin. Or maybe it’s Josh. I think he told me Kevin, though. I realize in that moment that he was kidding. Either way, I send him SOS eyes as I realize I’m in a conversation that is going to be super hard to get out of. Josh/Kevin acknowledges my glance, but instead of saving me, yells out,

“DO YOU NEED ME TO SAVE YOU?”

 

_____________________

 

I know that every sweet word Derek is sending me is his attempt at a life-rope. He asks me if I want to go out to dinner because I always want to go out to dinner. He asks if I want snacks because I’m always sending him a too-late-text asking him to pick me up something. He knows my nuances, my subtleties, my idiosyncrasies. He knows when I need saving without my SOS eyes. He just knows me.

 

This thought instantly transports me into his sometimes green, sometimes blue eyes. My resting place. My shavasana.

 

Before I can dwell there, the jingle of his keys at the backdoor snap me back into reality. He erupts into the house. He’s a quiet, gentle presence to the world, but he’s a volcano to me. He always has been. He makes the same face he always makes when he gets home after me. Like a cartoon character at the end of the episode, or a 90’s TV dad. It’s overly friendly and excessively happy and super pleasant. I think he calls out, “Babe!” My favorite.

 

He takes in the candles I’ve lit around the house and the soft music playing on our Amazon Echo. I peek out from my book to whisper hello to him. He comes to me and doesn’t stop smiling. I ask him to tell me about his workday, which usually gets me an “I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

Today, however.

Today, now that I need saving, he has endless stories to tell me.

 

I lose myself in the movements of his mouth and his perfect teeth and the way he always talks with his hands. Before I realize what’s happening, I’m laughing at his story and joining him in the kitchen to fix dinner.

 

I realize that I haven’t eaten today. I haven’t been hungry.

But now that he’s here, I could eat.

_______________

 

The last day in Santa Monica doesn’t meet my expectations. After my rowdy night out with my new friends, I expect to be pretty popular at the conference.

What I found, however, is that everyone is hungover and sleeping in.

The sessions are sparsely filled and everyone I was high fiving and cracking up with last night barely has the energy to blink, let a lone notice me. I feel very alone again.

The conference ends very early. 2pm. My flight home isn’t until the same time the next day. Without being able to meet up with all of my new friends and make plans for the rest of the day, I slowly sink back into the lonely space. I never have these problems in Columbus. I never feel bored or unwanted.

 

I fight the insecure feelings I’m having and resolve to spend the afternoon exploring. I throw my hair into a bun and put on a sundress. I whisk my crossbody over my shoulder and meander around town. I shop at the 3rd Street Promenade. I stop and listen to street performers. When I miss Derek, I decided to go find a bar.

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There are an abundance of rooftops. Every uber driver I’ve had during this trip has told me to go to a bar called Bungalow. They say that I look like I belong there. Someone finally tells me that that is the bar where all the reality stars hang out. Drinks are expensive. I guess I give off that vibe. I consider this as I walk down Ocean Avenue, looking for a place to drink  my insecurities away.

 

Once I settle into a retro rooftop bar called Hotel Shangri-La, I remember that I’ve added some of my new friends on Instagram the night before. My confidence slowly trickles back and I reach out to them via DM to see what they’re all doing. We agree to meet and I fall in love with my independence again. Free to hop from bar to bar as I choose. To visit whichever friends I choose at whichever location. Free to go jump into the ocean if I should choose. (I don’t choose.)

 

Suddenly my flight seems like it’s coming too quickly and I’m wondering if I really want to leave this magical place that strings my emotions up and down and uncovers things like moonlight to me.

 

“You could totally live here,” I think to myself.

Derek’s not here though.

 

____________________

 

We’re eating dinner on our couch.

Our black leather couch.

Well, it’s a sectional.

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It was our first big purchase together. Or maybe the TV was. I guess I wasn’t really there for the TV. I just came home one day and it was in my apartment. He had told me about it. I venmo’d him for half of it. But it was really a Derek-thing.

 

But the couch…

 

The couch we scoped out, together. We hopped around from store to store and sat and leaned and laid. He really wanted leather and somehow got me on board with the idea. He’s a persuasive one. More so than he lets on.

 

Our couch was sitting alone in the very back of a Value City in Dublin, OH. It had a few hidden scratches that Derek found right away. They didn’t bother us. It was exactly what we wanted. Room for both of us to sprawl out after a long day. Or before a lazy one. He claimed his spot on it before we ever even brought it home. I have a weird attachment to this thing. I’ve never owned a couch. I’ve never gone to the store and purchased one and brought it home. They’ve always been hand-me-downs from roommates or Craigslist finds. But this one is ours.

 

So we sit. And we eat. I’m eating leftover pizza. Derek is eating healthy. Such is the balance of our relationship. Before long we are lying on the soft leather, neither one of us in “their” spots. We’re intertwined somewhere in the middle. Half in my spot, half in his. Derek has relinquished complete control of the television to me, tonight, because he knows I need saving.

 

I flip on Netflix and sink into how familiar and warm and right everything in my world feels.

Again.

Finally.

 

 

________________________________

 

Saturday comes in Santa Monica. It’s time to go home.

I have to check out of my Airbnb by 10a.

My flight doesn’t leave until 2p.

 

I hastily attempt to clean up the 2 bedroom apartment that I was calling home. It feels like home. I’ve used the coffee maker every day and done yoga on the balcony and showered and slept and ate and napped. It’s weird how quickly everything feels like it’s become mine.

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I call an uber and lug all of my actual belongings down to the lobby. With a slam of a back car door, I abandon my Santa Monica home and make my way back to Ohio. I tell Derek I’m excited about it, on the phone. In my mind, I am. But in my heart, I wanted one more nap on that couch. One more sleep in that bed. One more pot of coffee on the balcony.

 

Maybe it’s the hangover– maybe it’s the series of hangovers, but when I arrive at LAX, I cannot bring myself to do anything but plop into a seat at the terminal. I lie there, pretzeled up into a ball, my neck sometimes on my knees, sometimes on my luggage, sometimes wherever it wants, for 4 hours, falling in and out of sleep. I wake up with a sore throat, just in time to catch my flight to Chicago. It’s a 4 hour flight so I immediately regret the nap I’ve just taken. I pull a Tylenol PM out of my purse and pray I can sleep this day of travel away.

(Be careful what you wish for.)

 

The flight to Chicago feels like a dream. Not in that it was pleasant, but surreal. I sit next to a couple that looks like they would rather sit next to anyone but me. They whisper to each other and keep as much distance from me as possible. I try not to take it personally. I probably smell or have drool on my face. These aren’t far fetched ideas.

 

The Tylenol PM doesn’t knock me out, but does leave me dazed. I think I watch a movie on this flight. I think it sucks. I lose all sense of direction and time. I just know that I’m not home. Either home. My little apartment on Venice Blvd or my black leather sectional in Grandview Heights, OH.

 

Landing in Chicago is more of the same. I instantly feel the cold and darkness when I get off of the plane. It doesn’t rattle me or wake me though. I’m still some half-awake, zoned out, shell-of-a-Kelsea. The air just makes me more aware of that fact.

 

I somehow shuffle through the airport and get food. I have a phone call with Derek. This is the first time I’ve opened my mouth to speak since the uber to LAX. My throat hurts worse than I imagined. Derek is so happy that we are only one measly, 45-minute flight away from each other.

 

I board that tiny plane for that measly flight. I have a window seat this time. The only completely dark, night-time flight and I finally get a window seat. The irony would normally get to me. Right now, nothing gets to me. I rest my head against the side of the plane and slip away for those 45 minutes. I’m awakened by the captain announcing  that we’ve landed in Columbus, and a passenger yelling out the score of the Ohio State game.

 

Walking off of the plane is even more chilling than it was in Chicago. Derek is waiting for me as soon as I make it to the pick up spot. He is visibly disappointed that I am not at the level of excitement that he is about our reunion.

 

Truth is, I just don’t know how to be.

For the next three days I would field the same questions from Derek.
“What’s wrong?” “Are you sure you’re okay?” “Did something happen to you?”

 

I would answer him by saying that I was sick. Which was true. My throat, my head. This insatiable feeling of being hot and cold at the same time. Surely I just caught something.

 

But after a while I found myself consistently holding back tears. Which, as I’m sure you’re aware, is extremely tiring. I called off of work. When Derek asked my why I just cried.

He told me to do my yoga, to drink some coffee, to get back to my routine.

I didn’t want my routine. I wanted to cry. And sleep. And maybe be back in Santa Monica? But also to just be in bed with him. I don’t know. I wasn’t happy.

 

I couldn’t nail down why.

 

___________________________________

 

Pizza is hanging out of my mouth. Bojack Horseman is on our TV. Derek is giggling at memes on his phone and occasionally showing me the extremely funny ones. I’m laughing.

 

I don’t notice at first… but… yeah, I’m laughing.

And I feel fine.

 

I feel like Normal Tuesday Night Kelsea, and not Zombie-Depression-Android Kelsea.

 

My heart feels like its back in rhythm. I feel like a child that’s finally stopped crying.

 

I feel fine.

 

Like it’s not all that bad.

 

Like I was being silly.

 

I share this with Derek. 

I’m apologetic. I tell him that I don’t know what came over me or how I got so out of whack. I tell him that if the past three days are what people with depression and anxiety go through everyday— how do they function in this world? That cloud of muggy sadness completely debilitated me. But just as quickly as it encompassed me, it left.

 

Now, I’m trying to figure out why…

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The First Inaugural Grandview House Crawl: A Fairytale

Image result for storybook "O"nce upon a time, in the fabled land of Grandview Heights, in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, in the year of our Lord 2017, a group of friends congregated in the mission of fellowship and folly, in what is now known as The First Inaugural Grandview House Crawl. This is their story.

 

The day was melancholy. The sky moaned with soft thunder and drizzled with gentle rain. It was a sleepy summer shower. The day was wet enough to send a shiver down your spine, but certainly not enough to cancel what was in store for the day. Kelsea, of House Cozad, arose that morning, bright-eyed and bushy tailed. She turned to her partner, Derek, Lord of House Cozad, and kissed him awake. Together they prepared their castle for the events of the day.

 

The fateful day.

 

The day of the House Crawl.

 

In just a few hours, every House in the Grandview Kingdom would stop by to partake in their House Beverage and drink from their House Cup. It was a right of passage. A sacred tradition. And despite the beautifully marbled sky and damp ground– it was happening that very day.

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After prepping their palace and dressing in traditional all-black garb, House Cozad linked arms and made their way to the opening ceremony. Upon arrival in Suffbaugh Landing, there were friends from near and far making their way inside. House Stanley of the Elmwood Alliance was accompanied by many guests in green clothes and travelled in an extravagant chariot. Lady Barb and Lord Spencer were in attendance in clothing the color of rubies. House Langenkamp, newlywed in the Dublin Wedding of that same summer, sported blue clothing and eager smiles. The Suffbaughs welcomed all into their new castle, and even invited guest to sit upon their lush rug.

 

Once all of the guest arrived and drank from their aluminum cans, House Suffbaugh opened the day with the playing of the anthem and the presentation of the flag. All stood, removed their head coverings, placed hands across chests, and bowed in reverence. The end of the song spelled out enormous applause and The First Inaugural Grandview House Crawl was officially begun.

 

After much drink and several rounds of the Royal Game, “Kings,” the House Crawl was due to advance to the next estate. House Langenkamp would host the Kingdom, now. Most would progress on foot, braving the puddles and gentle summer rain. House Stanley would opt for chariot. Upon arrival at House Langenkamp, all would remove their boots and enter into pure bliss. Not only did they provide drink (Pink Panty Droppers) and entertainment (Civil War), but also feast and even more guests. House Redfern of Westerville and Lady Reagan of Hilliard greeted those arriving.

 

Much drink and food and merriment were had at House Langenkamp. So much so, that Kelsea and Derek saw it wise to exit early to further prepare for the next stop on the House Crawl: House Cozad.

 

They quickly bustled through the rain and rushed into their palace. Putting coffee on the fire was paramount, as the House Drink was a whiskey, coffee, and liquer blend known to the locals as a “Hot Nut.” Each guest that entered into the house would receive a small portion of this notorious drink in a traditional red solo cup. Next, was to prepare the entertainment. Certainly outdoor festivities were not in question, due to the less than favorable weather. Lord Derek hearkened the court jester to engage everyone in what is known as a Powerhour. The jester would play songs, but only for exactly one minute. At the start of each new song, every guest would have to drink from their cup until exactly one hour was completed.

 

But before the last Hot Nut was poured, friends funneled in through the front gate. Cheers and laughter followed. The House Crawl was off to a billowing success. Hot Nuts were distributed to all, and ceremoniously raised in honor of the new tradition the collective had begun.

 

“To the First Annual Grandview House Crawl!” one cried out!

 

“Cheers,” the crowd followed!!

 

Now was time for the Power Hour. But before the merriment could begin, it was always the prerogative of Lady Kelsea to commission a group portrait. And so, all of the guests were shuffled into the living area and given a pose to remain in until the portrait was complete. (Even Lady Reagan)

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Portraits complete, drinks consumed, and hours powered– the congregation moved South of the Grandview Kingdom to the founders of The Elmwood Alliance: House Stanley.

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As was custom, House Stanley provided full cups of delicious beverage and a new-age game called “Drawful.” More portraits were commissioned here as Captain and Cokes (and Vodka waters for those of the Ketogenic mindset) were consumed and endless laughs were exchanged.

As the sun began to set and sobriety began to disappear, it was time to move onto the final stop of the Crawl: Lady Barb and Lord Spencer’s. The hosts sponsored a racing tournament that seemed impossible to win. Some guests fell asleep here as the day of fun had exhausted them; some ventured out past the Crawl route to explore  what else The Grandview Kingdom had to offer; and some stayed put, opting to continue drinking and singing songs of the knight John Mayer until they could sing no more.

No one puked (that I know of). No one cried (that I know of). No one stopped smiling.

 

And they all lived Happily Ever After,

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Get to Know Me: 50 Questions

What is your full name?
Kelsea Danielle Wiggins
Are you named after anyone?
I don’t believe so.
What does your name mean?
It actually means “Island of the Ships,” which used to piss me off but now I kind of dig.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, USA
Where do you live?
Grandview Heights, OH
Where were you born?
These are getting a little redundant…
Which of your parents are you closest to?
My mom.
Which of your parents are you more like?
I, honestly, think I’m a pretty spot on blend of them both.
What is your favorite drink?
Black, Dark Roast, South American Coffee. And/or 2% Milk.
What is your favorite food?
Great question. Since I’m not eating carbs, my mind goes straight to French Fries.
What is your favorite holiday destination?
Uhm… my Grandma’s house?
What is your favorite childhood memory?
Definitely the vacation we took to the Outer Banks of North Carolina one summer.
What is your favorite way to pass time?
I honestly just really love being in my boyfriend’s presence. Even if we’re not talking or doing anything productive; just being close to him and feeling is love is the best. But if you’re looking for hobbies, I’d say writing, for sure.
What is your favorite snack?
Again, french fries.
What is your favorite sport?
Football, and not the American kind.
What is your biggest regret?
Not pursuing a relationship with Derek sooner.
Are you a fan of any sports team?
Arsenal FC
Are you a dog person or cat person?
Dog, for sure.
Are you scared of heights?
No.
At what age did you go on your first date?
I was probably 16? Maybe 15. I’m not sure.
What is an ideal first date for you?
Getting buzzed and smoking cigars next to a fire.
What is at the top of your bucket list?
Owning a home
What is something you are gifted at?
Writing. Singing. Public speaking. Definitely not dancing.
What is something you look for in a partner?
Only child. 29 years old. From New Lexington, Ohio.
What is something you wish you were gifted at doing?
Dancing.
What is the one item you can’t leave home without?
BOTH of my cell phones.
What is the best compliment you have ever received?
Oh wow. Hmm… it really like rattles me to my core when people tell me they’re proud of me. That’s like an instant happiness trigger for me. Not sure why.
What is the first book you remember reading?
Island of the Blue Dolphins
What is the first movie you remember seeing?
The Power Rangers Movie
What is the last book you read?
Men Explain Things To Me
Do you like pets?
Love ‘em
Do you have any pets?
Unfortunately, I do not.
What is the name of your first pet?
I had a fish named Trixie
What is your best physical feature?
I’ve got killer calves.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
My career– if you can call that one accomplishment. Getting as far as I have without a formal education.
What is your eye color?
Brown
What is your favorite color?
Red
What is your favorite fairytale?
I was never really into fairytales because I never saw myself in them, ya know? Mulan is my favorite Disney movie, doe.
What is your favorite ice-cream flavor?
Coffee
What is your favorite music genre?
There’s no way I could pick one. I’m really into R&B and like the new Alternative R&B that’s out now… but some of my favorite artists of all time are Rock/Alternative.
What is your favorite nickname?
My friend from college used to call me K-Tron. I loved that. I love when people call me “Kels.”
What is your favorite quote?
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” – CS Lewis
What is your favorite type of clothing?
Really into jumpsuits.
What is your most commonly used swear word?
“Dammit.”
What is your star sign?
Sagittarius
Do you have a best friend, if so, then who?
The Lord.
Do you have a tattoo?
I have three.
Do you have any allergies?
I’m allergic to amoxicillin
Do you have any birthmarks? If so, where?
Yeah, one under my armpit and one on my lower back.
Do you hold any convictions that you would be willing to die for?
For sure. I would die for my faith, for my family and friends, and for my civil rights. I’m certain once I pop out a kid, I’d be willing to lay my life down for him, too.

Bad Bish Network

September 6th, 2017.

 

6-ish o’clock.

 

I’ve parked my car on State Street and shoved every silver coin I can pick up with my acrylic nails into a meter.

 

1:28 is all I get.

 

“That’s fine,” I think to myself.

 

I shove my sunglasses onto my face, spritz some perfume onto my neck, smooth my dress out, and begin to model-walk to my destination: Serendipity Labs.

 

I am in full on networking mode.

 

I pass a sleeping homeless man behind the ticket booth at the Ohio Theatre. I wonder why he’s sleeping at 6pm. I keep walking.

I catch my reflection in every store front window. I correct my posture and mess with my hair. I keep walking.

I am careful to keep my neck straight and chin high and stride long. I keep walking.

 

I am in full on networking mode.

 

The intensity of my entrance gives way to a gracious, bubbly smile as I walk into the event space. I acknowledge new faces and recognize familiar faces. I make sure everyone sees my face.

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I shake hands and slap on a name tag and ask everyone what they do and how their day has gone and what they’re drinking and if they’ve been here before and can you BUH-LIEVE its already fall?!

 

I am in full on networking mode.

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The event begins. I’m sitting in the front row next to the woman who introduced me to this world; to this mode. I’m making intentional eye contact with the speakers. I nod when it makes sense and smile when my gaze meets someone else’s. I’m taking notes and ignoring notifications on my phone and being conscious of my posture and facial expressions.

 

I am in full on networking mode.

 

After the entire room introduces themselves to one another, Erin offers an opening that snaps me out of networking mode. These women that I have been schmoozing and shaking hands and giving hugs and offering waves and winks and rubbing elbows with will not be one and done. There will be no more “Hi, I’m Kelsea and I’m a social media manager.” or “hey girl, didn’t I see you at that CYP thing?” I will be on a personal and career development journey with all of these ladies for the next 10 months. And that journey is starting, meow.

 

I am in full on panic mode.

 

We break from the speaking-space into small groups. I am in, perhaps, the smallest group, with another Kelsey. Our conversation goes from “Oh nice name,” to, “oh, I’m really passionate about diversifying my workplace as well,” to, “yeah you should totally run for a political office.”

 

Yeah. Wtf.

 

I look back around the space. I look down at my heels. I think back about the homeless dude sleeping behind the ticket booth. I wonder if my stomping woke him up. I wonder what happened to the confidence I had before I walked into this. I look back into the eyes of my Fellow Kels. She’s opening up to me about a lot. Her vulnerable eyes are asking for empathy, not for a resolution. I feel way more connected to her than I did when I read her nametag.

 

I acknowledge my breath. I acknowledge that vulnerability/empathy are way more important to me, in this moment than confidence. That relationships are better than schmoozing. That looking into someone’s eyes and relating to them and silently vowing to just be there is bringing me more joy than my new dress or my San Pellegrino or my open-toed-slingbacks.

 

I have shed networking mode.

 

I have put on sisterhood.

I have put on empathy.

I have put on courage.

 

I am in Bad Bish mode.