Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Phoneless Socialite

I am indeed a phoneless socialite.

My phone fell out of my lap into a parking lot on Saturday night and I didn't realize it until I tried calling it and guy picked up and said it had been run over by car and he had it with him. I have phone insurance - but it does me little good when they tell me my phone is backordered for up to 7-10 business days. 10 business days means two weeks from the day my phone died!Gahh!

The timing of something like this is never ideal, but especially right now. I met a guy on Thurs that I really like and he had my number and I didn't have his...and then my phone was crushed to death. It's laughable to a point, as I'm sure it's not the end of the world. But like I said: phoneless socialite.

I've been making the best of this situation by enjoying the quiet and alone time. Today I went to my favorite breakfast place JELLY! to get lunch. I've been there a handful of times and made friends with the staff on day 1. I saw Randy today who gave me a hug and told me to enjoy the alone time. I sat at the breakfast bar and met a girl named Regan who served me. She happened to grow up in Alameda, CA which is where I was born! One of the cooks, David, came out and I told him he made a mean breakfast. He introduced himself and told me about how he opened 2 restaurants in the Bay Area, then one in Seattle and made his way to Denver because this is where he wants to be.

Capitol Hill is by far my favorite place in all of the downtown area because you meet people just from walking down the street. I love how downtown used to be so foreign to me and I would get lost all the time, but now I know the sequence of streets going East-West and don't need a phone to navigate anymore. There's one positive despite being phoneless :)

A lot of times when I'm out by myself I tend to surf facebook on my phone or do other things on the internet, but today I didn't have that. I watched a group of 8 people eat their meals together and listened to their laughter. I loved it. Community is such an important part of life even if it's not for the purpose of being at church. A lot of times, the conversations and experiences outside of church bring different life perspectives and wisdom together and in that, the face of God is revealed to me. Brokenness is a common theme among all of us. Let's share it. And work through it. And heal from it.

There is a guy eating by himself across the way from me and he's surfing his phone. Sometimes I wish that every time I went somewhere, I could sit down with a stranger and just start talking to them. Social norms work against this desire, but I want to help change that. What would it look like if we ate with or talked to a stranger every day? Talk about community.

It's been easy for a lot of my Christian friends to tell me the reason my phone broke is because God thinks I need a break from it, or need be less dependent on it. I'm not going to get into this argument too much here. Maybe being without one for 5 days and counting is a good thing, but I think the way we go through life - with or without a phone - should be consistent. Maybe God broke my phone? Maybe it's for my well-being? Maybe the guy I met was bad news and God knows something about him that I don't? Or maybe it just happened? TBD...

On my 2 hour walk around downtown I got Pinkberry for dessert. My fave! Mango yogurt with raspberries, blueberries and chocolate chips was today's order. I filled out a survey for them and got two coupons for free Pinkberry. My day would've been complete at this point. But I left and just a couple blocks later a man named Eddie was sitting against a building and pointed at me and started dancing. He saw I had my headphones in and so I started dancing toward him. I took one headphone out and he laughed and he told me I "got it going on." Haha, it was so fun. I only had $1 left in my wallet and I gave it to him after he declined my offer of a raspberry. Normally I wouldn't blame him, but raspberries are my new favorite fruit, so I guess it was win-win because I got to eat my extra raspberry and he wanted the dollar instead. He had the best laugh. I couldn't help but smile.

I wish I had a moral of the story for this entry. Maybe it's that I am not a slave to technology (as I type this on my new Mac?), maybe it's stop and talk to people on the street, maybe it's about community. Or maybe it's all of them. I met 3 new people, got to listen to great music, walked four miles in my saffron yellow cord TOMS, and danced with a homeless man. Great day, great day.

p.s. The JELLY! jelly flavor of the day was raspberry!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Changing of the Seasons....

"And I didn't know who I really was, that I'd been locked up just because.
I didn't know what freedom was, but now I do."

-The Colorful Quiet "I Didn't Know"

A lot has changed in 9 months. Especially the last 4. And especially the last one.

Spring has finally sprung and there are no words for me to describe this feeling I have. I have been waiting for this Season since June and God has so faithfully carried me when I needed and guided me when I was running circles around my guilt. In the last month, there hasn't been a day that's gone by where I didn't stop suddenly and just beam. Because I am exactly where I'm supposed to be doing exactly what I'm supposed to be and able to become the woman God has destined me to be.

I have an incredible job with amazing people that I absolutely love - and I get to do it living in a place that I am in love with. In the words of one of my associates, "Shannon, you're in a city you're obsessed with." I do love it here, but I think no matter where I have lived or will live, I go out and explore. It's what I love doing. I'm meeting new people every week without limitation. When I think about the fact that I may have been at a different life stage, getting ready to spend the rest of my life with someone - I can't imagine being there right now. I am still soaking up the sunshine on my days off, dreaming, growing, hoping, praying, trusting, and surrendering. Every step I have ever taken has been guided and overseen by the Divine Creator. When I get scared or ask why or wonder what is next, He gently reminds me that if I knew all that is to come I would miss out on the joys of now. There is something beautiful about being fully present in the present.

All of the experiences I've had up until now have prepared me for such a time as this. And the timing of it all is so perfect. Had I entered the job I do now last summer, I wouldn't have grown into my role the way I have. And God knew that. He knew everything that would happen going forward last May on the day that I stood at my college graduation and the chancellor said, "I imagine you're not the same person you were four years ago..." And I know that 3 years from now, I will feel that way again.

I drove my friend Kelly to the airport this morning before the sun rose and after I dropped her off I passed a jumbo jet heading toward the runway. I had a particular song on and I always do this thing where I want something dramatic to happen - like a plane taking off? - right at the best part of the song. I kept rewinding and looking in my rear view mirror for the plane to take off. After a few minutes I didn't understand why the plane hadn't taken off. It was 6:47am and surely that plane was behind schedule because I've booked my fair share of flights, shopping those early 6:00 or 6:30 flights...

And then all of the sudden I looked out my front windshield and there it was, it had taken off and was headed upward. I had missed the take-off because I was so busy looking behind me. And it hit me that I no longer have to look backward - ever. Because I will miss everything that's ahead. Being present in the present.

Sometimes I see the lines on the faces of older folks and wonder what has caused the seasons of change in their life. Every line has a story, a sadness, a joy to be told. Tales of loss, success, dreams realized, and lessons learned. I hope that most of my lines will come from laughing - or at least finding a way to smile through the difficult times.

Every place God has ever taken me has been for my well-being, even when it hasn't always been a smooth ride. Suffering has been promised to me, a concept that I know sounds foolish to most. The path will not always make sense, and what is to come will not always be revealed - but I hold onto this promise:

"In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:37-39

Redemption and freedom from trying to do it on my own is the reason for every smile, for every laugh, and for every moment that I stop in the middle of a great conversation with friends and realize that the only thing that matters is the here and now. I refuse to let these moments pass without a grateful heart and a smile on my face. Don't let the moments you can't get back escape without a chance to experience their beauty.

"I think I'm ready to leap, I'm ready to live, I'm ready to go."


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mascarpone is the New Black

"If the Divine Creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

-Fernand Point

Food. Such a simple necessity, yet it all awaits its discovery.

I spent the better part of February and now early March discovering Denver's finest restaurants and eateries. Colt & Gray, Steuben's, Vine Street Pub, Lala's Wine Bar + Pizzeria, Panzano, and Jelly! - just to name a few.

Chicken apple sausage, made-to-order cinnamon sugar donut holes, bacon grilled cheese, mascarpone-arugula pesto spread, Baked ricotta stuffed rigatoni with red pepper pesto, brown butter gnocchi, peach jelly, chocolate cannolis over black cherry sauce, and Dr. Loosen Riesling. Oh, must I continue? My mouth is starting to water!

A native of San Francisco, you would think I would have tried it all. But I grew up a picky eater - and some people wonder how I've lived.

It's a valid question, and one that I dared myself to challenge in 2011. With all of the exciting things ahead of me in my life, I figured I would add the uncharted territory of food to the mix. And I certainly haven't been disappointed.

When I went off to college in August of 2005, I had only ever tried 5 kinds of fruit: apple, banana, grape, watermelon, and cantaloupe. WHAT? No..ORANGE? Yes, no orange. I have distinct memories of my dad chasing me at half-time during little league soccer games to eat one. NEVAHHHHHH!!!! I was a defiant eater of sorts.

My lack of risk taking (but let's be honest, an orange to most people is not risk) in trying foods is almost humerous when I look at how I take risks in all other areas of my life. I'm not really afraid of the unknown when it comes to anything else - so why food? Perhaps this is a phenomenon I will continue to discover the answer to as I explore the possibilities. The only thing I know right now is that I sniff EVERYTHING I eat, and God gave me an acute sense of smell. What I'm finding is that acute sense makes new flavors unbelievable!

But the common theme I've found each time I dine is that I discover another facet of beauty. And it's not just in the food. It's mostly in the conversations. With friends. With bartenders. With servers. And with strangers. The times I dine alone are the most profound, because every time I do, I meet someone new. I'm more comfortable eating alone and making conversation with the guy serving me than I am eating a mushroom smothered in brown butter sauce. Perhaps there's something strangely beautiful about that.

Being young (almost 24 - eek!) and single, the freedom and possibilities are endless! And I can't say I've minded a few drinks and dinners paid for by strangers either. I swear I don't make conversation for free food, it really is because I want to get to know the person. But surely big curls and mascara help :) I'm kidding!

Just yesterday I was at Vine Street Pub with a friend. We walked around uptown (17th) for 20 mins while we waited for it to open at 4. We walked past my next adventures of il Posto, Thin Man Tavern, St. Mark's Coffeehouse, D Bar Desserts, Strings, Limon, and Pasquini's Pizzeria. We sat at the Vine Street Pub bar and it was there that I discovered the "Create your own Grilled Cheese." Bacon, pesto, mushrooms, avocado, you name it! The bacon grilled cheese on buttered bread paired with green chili chicken enchilada soup.

Mouth. Watering.

Every time I asked our server Andy what he thought about something on the menu, he used an exciting adjective, and said it in a way that made you want to order it. And he did that for EVERYTHING - the hops in the beer, the soup, the burger, the grilled cheese. Fantastic, delicious, amazing - it made me want one of everything.

I topped off my meal with a slice of Quoddy Mousse Pie in a small to-go box with a "to-go fork" - in the words of our adjective-loving server Andy. Dark chocolate cookie crumb crust, a layer of chocolate torte, a layer of chocolate mousse, and topped with white chocolate cream fluff. I ate it while we walked on 17th again so I didn't feel so guilty. We passed by a small boutique called Peppermint, and the only reason why we stopped was because there was the cutest dress on a mannequin outside. I may or may not have purchased it.

But, inside I met Tymla, Stephanie, and her husband Chris who all worked for the same company. Peppermint has a brother store next door for men, and then there is a place called Pandora on 13th near the Capitol building. Over the better part of an hour, we shared stories, laughed, and acquired new revelations about the purpose of the life experiences we've had. And all just for walking through the door. This is what I've loved about my food adventures. Someplace, someone, and something new every single time.

The newness of these adventures hardly leaves room for boredom; routines have no place. The exciting thing about where I am in life right now is I get to decide where I spend my time and with whom I spend it.

And can I just say that I'm having the absolute time of my life?!

I swear I was born for living in the heart of a city downtown!

I know that someday, I'm going to meet that person that shares the same love of adventure. We'll take the risks together. And we're going to have the absolute time of our lives.

Until then, I can't wait to try Crème brûlée.