Coffee and Conversation

Today has been full of events and excitement with people I love, and places that I have enjoyed visiting. As the sun began to rise on this subzero January morning, I prepared for my day with a hot cup of coffee, brewed in the latest and greatest Keurig 2.0. Coffee has been around for centuries, but the technology for the beverage has recently started to brew stronger over the past decade. I enjoy waking up with a cup of good Folgers in my hand, but have recently started to enjoy local brews from across many regions that I visit. On this specific Saturday, I had the chance to visit a new location for a cup of java; a place where coffee is life, and it comes from the heart. The Duluth Coffee Company has been around for years, but I have never had the chance to visit their location and see what all the hype is about. Deciding to take the time out of my busy, hectic Saturday was something that really made me feel warm and fuzzy for the rest of the day.

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Coffee at Pelican Coffee Company in Duluth during a previous visit to the beautiful City. Taken by Brett Mensing

After shooting a story with Iceman Roger across the bridge in Superior Wisconsin, I decided to take a detour on my way back to my boyfriend’s house. He tends to frequent the popular coffee hangout, and wanted my to experience and taste the “grounds.” We both enjoy a nice cup of coffee, one with crème, and the other without. Upon arrival to the fine establishment situated on Superior Street in Duluth Minnesota, we were greeted with warm welcome, and happy smiles. As previously stated in my blog, Duluth is a City that I can see myself living in over the next few years, because it is close to home and is welcoming when it comes to accepting my sexuality. Walking in to the Duluth Coffee Company, I was holding my boyfriend’s hand, happy to be doing something out of the ordinary in my life, and taking the time to sit back and enjoy life while reflecting on things that pop into my mind.

As for each cup of coffee, there is no correct way to drink a cup. I find this to be true with people as well. We are all different, and are all brewed to our own perfection. Some of us might indulge in a light roast with crème, while others may enjoy a darker roast, without. As I began sipping away at my cup of coffee on this Saturday afternoon and engaging in conversation with my boyfriend, I started to think about how coffee and local coffee shops are similar to human beings. We all enjoy different settings, different roasts, and varied beliefs as to what tastes the best when it comes to life, and beverages.

I was excited to see that my boyfriend and I were not starred down while we enjoyed our coffee at this local hangout. I have recently experienced discrimination across the St. Cloud area, and it has made me feel upset and unhappy about going out in public with the person I love. It really makes me think about where I want to live after graduation, as I see myself latching on to this wonderful relationship that I have been blessed with as the New Year begins. I think about my future, and brew up fresh thoughts about who I am, and who I want to be not only as a person, but also as a boyfriend, friend, and journalist. I want to live in a place that welcomes me, and allows me to feel warm and comfortable to be myself.

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Lake Superior at sunset. Taken by Brett Mensing

My visit to the Duluth Coffee Company is something that I will remember for months to come, because it was an enjoyable experience. I was able to relax, and reflect on the fact that coffee resembles who we are as people. We might be sweet, bitter, or strong at times. These feelings and tastes might not fit into our lives, but there are always other locations that may offer a more acceptable experience.

 

Le Tour Eiffel

Today when I opened up my Facebook News Feed, I was surprised to learn that it had already been three years since I visited a country that changed my life, France. Back in my senior year of high school, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to France with our French Club, and spend two weeks in the country that many dream of visiting throughout their lifetime. After months of fundraising and preparation, our plane took flight from Minneapolis on a chilly spring evening, and ten of us were off to the foreign land.

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The Eiffel Tower, circa 2013. Taken by Brett Mensing

I could write dozens of pages on this experience, but am choosing to center on my visit to the Eiffel Tower for this blog post. The photo that Facebook displayed as a blast from the past was my friends and I standing below the skyscraping Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. After all of the terror attacks that have been taking place in France over the past few months, I have really started to think about my visit once again, and reminisce about all of the life lessons that the two-week visit taught me. I choose to write this entry under the “Things I Remember” page, because I still to this day remember being so surprised about the size of the Eiffel Tower. Growing up watching TV and various movies and taking three years of French in high school, I had seen numerous pictures of the iconic monument, but never really realized just how big the Tower was.

When we arrived for our visit, I was breath taken by the 1,063 foot tower; amazed by the structural aspect of this ginormous attraction. I never realized just how much work it would really take to construct such a monstrous yet beautiful piece of art. The amount and size of the bolts and metal holding it together is something that I will never forget. Never seeing something built like this before, my mind started racing while thinking about the countless hours and lives that were lost while the construction took place. The Eiffel Tower serves as an important part of telecommunications throughout the country of France, but we often forget that it has a true meaning, beyond its glimmering lights that shine and twinkle every night across the City of Love.

This was one of the most memorable experiences from my trip abroad, along with the meal that we ate in the Tower for lunch on that bright yet chilly spring day in the city. The meal consisted of raw tuna for a hors d’oeuvre, calf for our meal, and a delicate chocolate mousse for dessert. The meal was extremely authentic, and not something that I would eat on a daily basis back home. But this was the start of my new beginning, and realization that life is a changing path that we must conform to in order to have fun, and life it to its fullest.

This post has allowed me to reminisce about my past, and think about going back to the City of Paris one day, hopefully for my honeymoon! I believe that after my visit to the Country, there is still a piece of my heart situated back in the land, a piece that will one day be put back in to place. I hope to visit my French family that I stayed with while on my second week of the experience. I recently contacted my French brother, Tom Vezier to interview him for a story I did for UTVS News after the Paris attacks back in November of 2015. It was nice to chat with him once again, but it made me realize that I must work to keep better contact with him, because it is important to have global connections in life.