• Take Me Back to Coffee In Kansas City

    I know you were all just dying to read a story about how I tried to drink water out of the toilet like my childhood dog, but I thought that I might change things up a little bit this week. I know that the weather is probably nasty all of the united states this week, so let me show you some of my favorite coffeehouses in Kansas City.

    For me, coffeehouses/shops offer so much more than coffee. Good coffeehouses are able to take me to different countries without me having to pack a bag, warm my tummy on a cold day, provide an ambiance of relaxation and serenity, and sometimes coffeehouses simply lend a (silent) listening ear. When I am in a funk, I like to go to a local coffee shop and just sit there and reflect. I like to gather my thoughts and plan out my next steps. Believe it or not, Kansas City has an incredible coffee scene. I haven’t experienced all coffeehouses in Kansas City, but the ones I have tried have been fantastic (except one, but it will remain nameless). If any Kansas Citians are reading this, please leave a comment below with your favorite coffeehouse in or around the city. Even if you aren’t from here, please share your favorite coffee shops.

    Having no kids and not working a full time job can make things pretty monotonous during the week when my partner is at work, especially when he has colleagues in town and he has to entertain them. We have lived here now for about three and a half years and I still haven’t made too many friends. Just this past year I finally began to branch out and have become friends with a couple of people through my internship and other social settings, but I still get a little lonesome. To occupy my time I obviously job hunt, but one of my favorite things to do is to discover different coffeehouses around the city. My partner and I love to try non chain coffeehouses and shops whenever we travel. Some chain coffee shops are good, but most of them taste the same to me. In my opinion chain coffee shops like Starbucks aren’t even that great, they are just convenient.

    Anyway, moving on. The best coffee shops roast their own beans in shop and are small on the inside (although this doesn’t always apply). Because most of the best coffee shops in Kansas City are downtown, they are typically small on the inside, however this does not apply to Messenger Coffee Co., which also shares the same space with Ibis Bakery. Messenger Coffee Co. is located in The Crossroads, which is the arts district, and it fits in perfectly. The building, both inside and outside is beautiful. It is technically a three story building that is extremely appealing to the eyes and is every bloggers dream. Not only can you take beautiful photos of your coffee or tea, but the atmosphere is exuberant and you could spend hours there writing. They offer coffee, food, and baked goods. You could literally spend all day there and work on your computer. You can even watch them prepare their baked goods and roast their beans. It does get fairly busy, so you have to get there at the right time to secure a spot with a power outlet. It is on the more pricey/boujee side, but it is so worth it.

    All images © Krystal Renee

    Quay Coffee is located in the River Market area, which is also a bloggers dream because it is in an older building with exposed brick in the inside and it is located on a street that makes you feel a certain type of way. It definitely has photo opportunities and the coffee is incredible. Their coffee is actually my favorite in town, which I literally just tried for the first time this month. I can’t believe I hadn’t tried it before and I am a little mad at myself for not trying it sooner. It isn’t big on the inside so you get more of an intimate experience and they keep their merch in an old safe that remains open. Parking is fairly easy depending on what time of day and year you go since it isn’t in the heart of the River Market, which makes all the difference when you are in a hurry or don’t want to walk several blocks. The people that work at Quay Coffee (pronounced ‘key”) are so nice and that in itself is a reason for me to keep going back.

    All images © Krystal Renee

    Lastly, but certainly not least, there is Headrush Roasters in the northland. Northland just means north of the city. Native Kansas Citians would say north of the river, but I’m not a native :).  Growing up in California, when someone says going up north, it literally means going to Northern California. Headrush Roasters has two different locations, but the one we go to more often is the one in The Village at Briarcliff, which is a little boujee shopping center in between the airport and downtown. Headrush is very homey and when we don’t feel like going far it is the place that makes us feel kind of like we are home. It is a family ran establishment and almost every time we go in, one of the owners is working behind the counter. Headrush’s location is prime real estate because it has a cute outdoor area the overlooks the city.

    All images © Krystal Renee

    There are plenty of other coffeehouses in Kansas City that I haven’t tried yet, but I hope to try all of them! There is so much to discover in Kansas City and I love living here. I definitely miss the California weather and food, but Kansas City has a pretty incredible food scene as well. Coffee places are special to me because we like to visit different ones in each city we travel to. We get to learn a little about the city we are visiting and we get to experience the locals. I think that Kansas City coffeehouses and shops are a great representation of what the city is all about so if you ever find yourself in the city, let’s get some coffee!


    Krystal Renee

  • Take Me Back to My Origin

    Happy New Year, Zoo Fam! I am sending all of you good health and well wishes in 2019! As we ring in the new year and work on our resolutions, let us also remember the difficulties we may have faced in 2018. Life can be difficult sometimes and that is perfectly fine.Bounce back and own 2019. I for once had an amazing year filled with accomplishments. I snagged a badass internship with an organization that cares deeply about sexual and reproductive health, I finally received my bachelors degree, I turned 30 years old, and I started this blog! To some people those might not be huge accomplishments, but to me they are and I plan on having an even more accomplishing 2019. It has taken me a long time to get to where I am today and for that I feel grateful and accomplished.

    Today’s blog is about new beginnings and what better way to start the new year off with the story of how my mom found out she was pregnant with me and my quick arrival into this world. Without getting too deep into the conversation of “when does life begin”, I will start my “life” off as when my mom found out she was pregnant with me because that seems like a fair place to start.

    My mom never wanted to have kids. Granted, she was only 16 years old when she had me so who can say 100% that would have been the case when she was older, but we will never know. She went on to have three more children after me so, yeah. Anyway, back to me!

    I was the biggest “oops” that could probably happen, but I was the most loved “oops”. I was never actually seriously referred to as an “oops” (maybe as a joke), but we all know that no one has their shit together at 16 and doesn’t plan on having a child at that age so an “oops” is an appropriate description. My mom kept complaining about stomach pain, so naturally she and my Grams assumed it could be appendicitis. My Grams took her to the hospital and had some tests done. This is where the details get a little fuzzy because I don’t exactly know how the doctor ended up talking to my mom alone, (because she was a minor) but after the exam was finished, the doctor asked my Grams if she would like to go in and see my mother. Once she was inside the room she noticed my mom was crying with her head in her hands. As my Grams entered the room, my mom sobbed into her hands, “they said that there are two heart beats,” meaning my heart beat and my mother’s. My Grams immediately hugged my mom and started to laugh. Laughing in a crisis must run in the family because my aunt (mom’s sister) had the same reaction when my mom told her about the pregnancy. My mom didn’t really have any other symptoms of being pregnant because she still had her period and she grew sideways instead of outward (her words, not mine). It was at this same doctors appointment that she found out she was FIVE months into the pregnancy.

    My mom waited a whole week before she told anyone else about the pregnancy because she wanted to seek out alternative options before making a decision that would ultimately change her and my dad’s life. My mom visited a clinic almost immediately after she found out she was pregnant with me to see about an abortion, but she was too far along and the procedure couldn’t be done. She then weighed the option of putting me up for adoption, but she couldn’t bear the thought of me being in a home where she would have no idea if the people were good people or not. So, ultimately she decided to keep me.

    Now, all of that information that I just shared might sound harsh or cold, but I never once hated my mom for the options she weighed. I don’t blame her for telling me about them either. If I were in her shoes at 16 years old, I probably would have weighed the same options. It also blows my mind that she, as a 16 year old, had the smarts to think of my future when considering putting me up for adoption. She could have said “fuck it” and given zero fucks of where I ended up, but instead, she thought about my future and what kind of home I might be placed in. Yes, she did consider abortion, but she was thinking of my future life. She had no idea what kind of life she could provide for me and we all know that at that age (and era), a majority of the time the responsibility for taking care of a baby as a teen parent falls on the mother. That was a lot of responsibility to consider and it wouldn’t just affect her. The responsibility would fall under anyone who was responsible for my mom and anyone who was responsible for my dad. That is a lot of people’s lives to have to consider.

    She obviously decided not to put me up for adoption because if not, you would probably be reading a completely different type of blog. I was born premature at 7 months gestation. My mom and dad had a whole whopping two months of knowing I was coming and to prepare, but I didn’t even make it long enough for my mom to have her baby shower.

    I was fortunate to be born into two families who valued my life. Life for everyone was altered once I was born and everyone put all of their efforts into making sure I had the best of everything. My birth affected both sides of the family and it was a huge adjustment that was not resolved over night. Not every child born to teen parents, or any parent for that matter, is as fortunate as I was. I’ve lived an incredible life thus far, and it only continues to get better. I am a huge believer in fortuity and all of the decisions my mom and dad made for me has lead me to where I am today in some way or another. I am my future.


    Krystal Renee

  • Take Me Back to the Zoo

    Pop culture has taught us how to glorify one-sided social media and TV and sometimes we forget that there are multiple sides to every story. Two of the most popular TV shows that demonstrate this are 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. On those shows, we get to follow the lives of teen parents, but what we are really watching is the exploitation of their struggles and failures as parents while their successes get ignored. Don’t get me wrong though, most of what they show on TV is non-sense and it’s all for ratings, but the stories we don’t really get to see and understand is that of the child who is effected. This has a lot to do with the child being so young, but also because TV likes to dramatize their parent’s lives to make a good story. In this blog it is my mission to provide a voice to those children and to other people like myself who are products of teen pregnancies. I have been alive long enough to share stories of a child born to teenage parents and I suppose I wonder if there are any other people out there like me who suffer from anxiety or other ailments from similar experiences. Most of the time we hear from the perspective of the teenage mother, but now I want to share from the perspective of the child because I feel like our voice is often overlooked.

    Feeling like you are sometimes overlooked or not heard can drive you crazy, but what happens if you live with a bunch of crazy people just like yourself? Let us talk about crazy people for a minute. I’m not talking about the clinically insane (or am I?). All of our families have crazy members. My family is full of them. In fact, I am one of them. But I love them and they love me. Those crazy people are who shaped me into the person I am today. Those crazy people were always around when I was a baby and young child, but the most important thing is that they were loving and caring people who helped my parents tremendously. I come from an amazing, yet complicated background. I was born to teen parents which is tough enough, but being born to teen parents where both came from divorced families made it even more difficult. The odds were definitely not in my parents favor, but they overcame the odds in more ways than one. Both sides of my family had to learn together what it was like to raise teenagers and their infant daughter. We all grew up together and we continue to grow whether we are living near or far. When I was a kid, one of the running jokes my aunt used to tell me to try and scare me when I was acting up (which was almost never because I was a weird kid and I never cried or got into trouble) was that she was going to take me back to where I really came from. She was going to take me back to my real parents (monkeys) at the zoo (probably because I was a hairy child and my parents were crazy like monkeys). If you find this funny and want your kid to turn out totally cool like me, I have many character building stories just like this one so stay tuned! If you really think about it though, a lot of families are ‘zoo-like’. There are so many different dynamics, but it works. It is because of things like telling me that I was born at the zoo that I have a twisted and sometimes morbid sense of humor. It wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows being raised by teen parents. There were many ups and there were many downs, but I never went without and my parents always put me first. And to be clear, I had an amazing childhood, but it definitely wasn’t perfect.

    It took me a very long time to mentally get to where I am today and I hope to grow even more as time passes. Finishing school in the last year and a half and finally getting my bachelor’s degree felt like one giant therapy session. Switching my major from Liberal Arts to Psychology was one of the best decisions I ever made. Not only did I grow as a person, I was able to recognize things about who I am and where I come from in a way that I have never thought about before. I have a better and deeper understanding of who I am and where I came from. I also gained a new form of respect for my parents and myself.

    I used to be an extremely anxious person all the time with high levels of anxiety because I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. In my adolescence and early twenties I chose to dwell and remember only the bad things that I had gone through with my parents (fights, family drama, being everyone’s therapist), but what I failed to see was that those experiences were important because my family was learning as things were happening. My grandparents had no experience in raising children that had a child themselves. Since I did know some of my family member’s deepest thoughts and secrets, I developed a lot of character and personality over the years, but I also gained a huge weight on my chest knowing the personal individual struggles of family members. I shouldn’t have had to hear the fights or known everyone’s business, but it is because of those experiences that I am who I am today. Those experiences and memories outline the conversations I have with my partner, teachers, co-workers, friends, and strangers on a daily basis. We are 100% made up of our memories and experiences. Without our memories and experiences, we would have nothing. We would be walking around mindless and emotionless. Just always remember that the experiences you want your children to have will define who they could become in the future. Don’t let your kids do asshole things because chances are they will do asshole things as adults. You are the creator of your life and the creator of your child’s life.

    I am so excited to be writing again, but sometimes my words don’t work when said out loud so writing helps me express myself when words fail me. The way I speak to myself in my brain is nothing like what I sound like in real life. I feel like I am my true self when I am writing. I am 100% uncensored and honest. It is kind of like writing in a journal for the entire world to read. I may not have a million followers, but it makes me happy to be writing for those of you that are reading this and I hope that through my writings I might be able to help someone else who is going through a difficult time or that just needs a break from their norm. I want to document my life experiences to let you know you aren’t alone in your struggles. Everyone is human and has problems and if they try to tell you otherwise, then they are just lying to themselves and are full of shit.

    There ARE silver linings and pots of gold at the end of rainbows, but that doesn’t come without a few storms here and there. I think a lot of people try to escape the craziness of their lives in hopes of finding peace by leaving. I did it. While some people might call it running away from their problems, I call it trying to find sanity and inner peace. When I left California I left my entire family behind, I left all of my friends behind, and I left behind all of the beautiful mountains and beaches California has to offer. But the most amazing thing I left behind was my anxiety (not all of it, but most of it…life would be boring if I didn’t have a little anxiety…said no one ever). Even though I left the crazy in California, I find myself wanting the crazy back. Not all of the time, but once in a while. I want to hug my family and friends and go to the beach. Sometimes I just want someone to take me back to the zoo.


    Krystal Renee