Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

I found my favorite coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas. Two things for which San Cristobal de las Casas is known: alpine chill in the air and out of this world good coffee. San Cristobal de las Casas is the heart of Mexico’s coffee industry.

Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

For real, I thought the local coffee in Oaxaca was delicious. Chiapas has best coffee on lock! Cold nights lead to chilly mornings that warm into exquisite days… It’s like a perpetual mid-March/early-April even when not raining, which is another climate specialty of this sky high city. Both elements contribute to a perfect environment to drink hot coffee and chocolate to my heart’s content.

Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

Whether a frequent tourista or a digital nomad, us wanderlust afflicted ladies know the value of wifi. One of my first searches upon finding a new city landing spot is where is the good wifi. And just as importantly, where is the good coffee?

Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

If you have to sacrifice some of your vacation, or “vacation,” to work, it might as well be in a beautiful space with fast wifi, spectacular coffee, and a jamming play list. Frontera has all of this in spades…

Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

While I call it my favorite coffee shop in San Cristobal, it is possibly my favorite. Coffee. Shop. Period.

Reclaimed wooden and glass doors function as tables. Linen upholstered wingback chairs frame a bookshelf stacked with board games and books. A Chippendale sofa upholstered in cobalt blue offers a perfect vantage point for people watching or reading up on the history of Zapatistas. Windows and skylights ensure the lighting is perfect for selfies. And working. Circa 1994 Counting Crows meets Bel Biv Devoe meets Cigarettes After Sex’s cover of Keep On Loving You. And the patio… … …

Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

Oh, but the coffee, right? In addition to the tried and true espresso press, local artisan coffee can also be extracted by Chemex (my favorite), Aeropress, French Press, and Dripper. All of the coffee beans are from Chiapas, fair trade, and organic. And delicious! Holy roastery Batman. Amazing!

Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

United Airlines is going to need to forcibly remove me from my seat. Frontera is the coffee shop of my dreams and for the time I have remaining in this magical little city, is hands down my favorite coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

I love to say the name of this city so much… San Cristobal de las Casas. You know, it wasn’t part of my original plan when I moved to Mexico. I’m so glad I cut into my Oaxaca time and came here. My regret is I only have one week.

The artistic and creative energy that this place emanates is crazy strong. If I were a better and more inspired writer, I think I could write a novel here. At least, I was able to finish my dissertation chair required edits here? Committee approval and defense, I’ve got you locked in my cross hairs. Finally!

Frontera coffee shop in San Cristobal de las Casas

What elements do you look for when seeking your coffee mother ship? XO, Jennifer

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Today is the final day of the first month in our new year. How are you checking in with your goals? I could be doing better, myself. But I refuse to let me berate and abuse what hasn’t been done (although my personal gap review is long – that’s the inveterate MBA in me speaking). Fact is, when reviewing my own goals check in this morning (yay for insomnia m while my progress is not as fast or far as I wanted, I’ve covered a lot of ground during these past 30 days. I have wins! And not of the tiger blood variety, either. I feel good enough to be encouraged but not cocky.
~My dissertation, all five chapters, is written. Fina-f*cking-Lutely! It’s a hotter mess than my sweat saturated ponytail after a #parytonabike spin class, but it’s written. I’m not saying I haven’t cried during edits. But it’s written!
~I went out on an limb and displayed great vulnerability at the expense of almost painful emotional discomfort in effort to break a haunting pattern. Twice. Wait… three times. In the moment of one particular ignorer of boundaries, instead of my usual pattern of annoyance > frustration > total devolution into emotional anger, I felt unf*ckwithable and held my boundary. Fact is, while a troll doesn’t deserve your kindness, you don’t deserve the emotional fallout of meeting him (or her) at that same level of petty disrespect.
~I relocated and am settling into my new city with lost in translation embarrassments every day.
~I marched in the Women’s March on Washington in my new home city and stood with other US expats among our Mexican neighbors in solidarity. We expected approximately 300 people to show up and march. Over 2,000 US and Canadian expats residing in Oaxaca along with tourists from other nationalities visiting the city who heard of the march showed up and marched with us. It was beautiful.

And there are more. But these… I’m most proud of and I’m not going to let energy spend dwelling on what wasn’t done. I’ll review and reset my priorities for February.

Because we get to start over every month, day, hour, minute. Every breath – in and or out – is an opportunity for a reset. There’s no rule stating when your revolution must begin. Isn’t that beauty-full?

Jack Keruoac - I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page - goals check inNow, how are you checking in? What are your January wins?

XO, Jennifer

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Despite my persistent whining, crying, and moaning about being “stuck” still in Phoenix, my reality is I’m close to leaving. The number of weeks I am here is longer than the original intention. But, by the love of family – the kind you make not the kind that is kin – and friends, I still have a “home.” Even when crying about being “homeless,” Mom Two, Kathy, assures me I have as long as I need to stay with them. Which, I appreciate. More than appreciate. Dad Two, Pete, greets me every morning with a daily reporting on my progress, challenges, how I’m addressing those challenges…. Between Pete and my dissertation chair, Dr. Dale, I have more motivation to find every conceivable way to complete my data collection interviews than a gymnast training for Rio.

***With, of course, more sugary and fatty diet options… of course. Metaphorical back flips, not physical. Heck, I am so out of shape right now, I can’t even do a handstand, anymore. Not even on a wall. Can’t kick that robustly enlarged bottom up over my shoulders without risk of throwing out my back and breaking my neck.***

I told Pete and Dr. Dale they are very much the personality equivalent of dopplegangers if ever existed. Right down to their ages, education and backgrounds, military service, vast professional accomplishments… oh, and ultra type a and insane alpha male dynamics. With senses of humor, and affections for me… when not wanting to kick me in my tush or neck, I’m sure. Between those two and their tough love philosophies, even if I wanted to be a lazy loafer, I’d have no chance of succeeding on that front.

What bothers me is I don’t have an equitable way to repay them for their love and generosity to Edie and me. Not only do I have their shelter, I receive their counsel and wisdom from very successful and moral lives lived. It does not matter whether the talks are over split pots of coffee and morning paper reading with Pete or midnight margaritas (who am I kidding – full witching hour cocktails were consumed) with Kathy. There is no possible way I can even come close to bringing them the value they give me.

I love and respect these two as my own parents. Heck, they were both as actively involved in raising my best friend and me in high school as my own parents. Where Amy was, I was, and vice versa. Heck, we even wore each others’ clothes, constantly. The only things that were off limits to each other were bras because her “ladies” were much more developed than mine. Still are.

I’ve spoken with Amy about my feelings and discomfort. I’m not used to being in a position of accepting help. I’m not good at asking for help. I am intensely uncomfortable with that vulnerability to another person. That discomfort and extreme unease of letting myself go to any state of personal interdependence or -any- dependence is a common theme in my many failed attempts at relationships. In fact, numerous men called me out on it. I know it. That is deeply rooted within me.

I had lunch with a couple of friends this week. We spoke about my discouraged optimism and my challenges with lack of progress on data and relocation. We spoke, specifically, about the difficulty in vulnerability and accepting help and love for the sake of loving help. Struggling to not feel as though I am taking advantage of someone if I take their assistance.

I know how much joy I receive when I help someone who sincerely needs and receives my help. I helped many friends with no expectation or wish of reciprocity. But, I have a hard time even considering I could be the person someone wants to help. I don’t know why, I just do. And, so as my friends made sure to observe to me on Friday, my dissertation data collection going badly – worse than I could have predicted – and the necessity for me to remain in Phoenix under Mom and Dad Two’s care and supervision, might be a life lesson for me to learn.  And the lesson might be to receive help without ability to neutralize.hipster swimming pool float for dogs

After all, Edie has her own pool boat float. I promise you she. does. not. love. The boat or her doggles.

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My typical makeshift desk space

 

I love house sitting. It feels much less mooch-like. I can wake up, resume former underwear wearing uniform, and stream music as loud as I want. This morning’s pick is the rather dreamy, streamy, and somewhat steamy, beats of Lost Frequencies ~ Are You With Me. Love it! When house sitting, I have a purpose, here, instead of merely occupying breakfast nook space with stacks of papers, books, computers, a screeching printer, and Edie barking. At. Every. Thing. Incessant barking.

I’m, essentially, living with a second set of parents. Might as well be, for I’ve known them since I was 13. While that was sufficient for me for the anticipated month it would take me to finish my data collection, I’m feeling the stress of how much longer I’m living here than was originally expected. I cannot accurately – sufficiently – express the deep, deep, gratitude and love I feel for being allowed to spend my final weeks in Phoenix in such a positive and supportive space…. But — I am ready to goooooo………..

Doctoral Writing research draft house sitting

I managed to condense six banker’s boxes’ worth of documents, software, and random papers into two. Which is progress I’m rather satisfied with for the morning. This afternoon, after drafting entries for my data collection journal to submit to my dissertation chair for review, I am hosting a shredding party. Party of two. Edie and me.
Why did I make the symbolic sacrifice of no wine until my data collection is complete? Well, with more luck than I seem to be due, I hope to have the focus group completed August 6. While I do not want to make the hard – and $$$ expensive $$$ choice it will be to get the focus group done. If I manage to facilitate a successful focus group, I can at least pack up and head to Alabama. The last focus group attempt did not go so well.
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This morning is another one of those mornings. Up at 4. Not by choice. Laid in bed until about a quarter to 5, then decided to make an effort to capitalize on the early day. A few cups of coffee on the patio and several mosquito bites later, Edie and I are taking refuge in the air conditioning, listening to the din of the washing machine and dryer with laundry loads # 2 and 3 complementing Matt Simons streaming on the iPad. Grading is already complete for the week, I checked in with my class and all is seemingly well with my students; I will check on them again tonight, but for the day, my work is mostly done. Well, of course there is more dissertation editing. I know, right?! ALWAYS dissertation editing. It’s a grind, my friends! If I cannot interview, I can edit. I can transcribe I can work more on building the database to prepare for analysis. Seriously, only mega jerks get their PhDs! I swear it!
 manchester terrier mix, Oh edie
I have the house to myself for a couple of weeks and am celebrating my reunion with my solitude in rather appropriate fashion: underwear and a too-small tank top, the back of which is completely damp from my hair. Even though I aim to have no interpersonal interactions today and intend to not dress for anything other than the walk to the mailbox to send off a consent form for another participant for a skype interview, I  was overdue for a hair wash, so in the spirit of the early day, I even already managed to shower. If I were willing to face people, I almost might be adultable, today.
But I’m not.

I’m tired. Restless and agitated. Emotional. Tired. Too long spent, too much trying to do too many things at the same time. It’s possible multi-tasking will be the death of me.

Truth be told, I feel like I am walking through deep mud. I’m trudging, but with an exhaustive effort. Unable to make the progress and distance I aim for, and the exertion… well, without muck boots, it’s even more… muckier. I understand, now, why so many people leave their PhDs when they are so near the end. Before, I couldn’t understand how on Earth someone could make all the way through the pain of the course work, the heinous torture of comprehensive exams (that is time and energy in my life I will never get back and I am certain the stress I experienced during that two week period of time took years off the end of my expiration date), and walk away. Now, though, I can get it. Obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. Roadblock, puzzle, solve, solve, endure, patience, patience, perseverance, obstacle, regroup, redirect, over and over and over. It’s exhausting. I cried again, last night. From the emotional and mental fatigue. Perpetual disappointments. I’ll have a breakthrough and success, then another complication. A PhD is not for the weak or wearisome, I tell you, that much. I have been broken so many times throughout – and by – this damn degree… there’s a cargo ship’s volume of irony I see, right now, in reference to a PhD being a “terminal” degree.
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