My Go-To Coffee Orders (at every place in Billings)

Non-fiction, Writing

I’m a coffee person. I went from being a person who drank absolutely no caffeine, to being a person who needs it to survive, over the course of about a year. Naturally, with Billings, Montana being the small town that it is, I have had the opportunity to try many a latte from the few coffee places available. I always find other people’s coffee orders interesting so I had the idea to write about mine for my blog. This idea developed into a full fledged quest for coffee throughout the city. Resulting in 12 coffees, 2 teas, 2 wraps, 1 fritatta, 1 Italian soda, and 3 caffeine crash naps. This is a blog post about that quest.

I would like to start with explaining that this blog post excludes 2 coffee shops that are in Billings due to opposing political beliefs, and my long standing refusal to fund businesses that project hate towards others. With that said it’s time to meet…

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From left to right: Skyler, Maisy, and myself

“The Coffee Crusaders” (Trademark Maisy Jam 2018). I enlisted my sister Maisy (@maisyxjam on Insta) and our honorary sister Skyler (@frances_brauneis on Insta) to join in on my caffeine hijinks. With our team assembled, we were off to the ever-changing, but somehow always a staple…

MAZEVO COFFEE:

The name has changed like 3 times now but Mazevo is probably the most popular of  Billings’ local coffee shops. They have really excellent seasonal specials as well as a good bagel selection. My go-to order here is the Graham Cracker Latte. This is also where we acquired the Italian soda: ordered by Skyler who then decided she didn’t want it, so I drank it instead. Maisy drank most of the latte.

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Mazevo Graham Cracker Latte

 

STARBUCKS: 

I probably go to Starbucks the most, simply because I’m a fan of the drive thru. I actually have a couple staples here but usually I go with a coffee frappuccino. Maisy got a green tea here as well.

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Coffee Frappuccino

 

MOUNTAIN MUDD:

Another longstanding Billings fave; Mountain Mudd is a kiosk only coffee shop. They have a really yummy white chocolate latte but they are also VERY expensive. Maybe because they add sprinkles?

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The less aesthetically pleasing, White Chocolate Latte

 

CITY BREW:

Unpopular Montana opinion here, but I don’t love City Brew’s coffee so I always get strawberry smoothies here. They taste like Candy. Maisy and I also got hungry at this point and got some City Brew wraps as well.

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Smoothie and Sun-dried Tomato Wrap.

 

ROCK CREEK COFFEE:

Our first Downtown location, Rock Creek has been around since I was a baby. Their menu intimidates me so I always just get a vanilla latte. This vanilla latte in particular was made by a guy I matched with on Tinder awhile ago and never messaged. It was delicious. Good job Tinder boy.

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Maisy demonstrates how to put the straw in if the coffee is too full.

EBON COFFEE:

Ebon is the only coffee shop that has peppermint lattes on their menu year round and for that I love them. Also they have really good waffles on the weekend as well as an A+ interior decorator.

 

ANNEX COFFEE:

This is actually my favorite coffee shop to work in and also our scheduled last stop. I always get the lavender rosemary latte here which is amazing. Skyler got a fritatta here and we also took a small break since Maisy was near caffeine overdose level.

 

BLACK DOG COFFEE:

I’d never been here before today but it’s one of Maisy’s favorites so we decided to add it to the list. At this point in the day there was no way I could drink another coffee so I got a juicebox but I will definitely be going back to try their coffee. I also couldn’t not get doughnuts on National Doughnut Day so I got some powdered sugar ones that I could have eaten a million of. Skyler got a muffin and Maisy got another tea and an everything bagel “To soak up the coffee” in her stomach.

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This concluded our coffee adventure and we all promptly went home to take naps (except me who has to post this blog post). Let me know what your favorite kind of coffee is and also let me know if there’s anything else we should try out around the city. Thanks for reading this week and I’ll see you on Monday! (and before anyone asks…yes we did all have to poop afterwards.)

-A

Religion

Non-fiction, Personal, Writing

The kids behind me in the coffee shop were trying to find a bible verse to describe love and all I can think is that the bible can’t describe love. The connection between someone and an idealistic figure whom they have never met and the connection between two humans, are two very different things. As I thought about this, the conversation behind me progressed into one about mental health and how everyone who was depressed, simply needed god in there life, and this is where I start to have a problem with religion.

I was raised agnostic in a state that is predominately christian, so from a young age I was exposed to the division between those that believe in god and those that don’t. The first time I was told I was going to hell was by my classmate in first grade, and I remember going home and asking my mom if I was going to hell because I didn’t believe in god. This was the first of many incidents involving religion in my public education, including arguments with teachers over the use of religion in teaching materials and many fights with other students over whether or not there was a god. What I think is funny, is that they were always started by the people that claimed to be the good ones. The followers of this god, who are supposed to be accepting of everyone and who are committed to a guide that is supposed to be one of love and caring, not me, the Satan loving abomination of an Atheist.

I started identifying as an Atheist when I was 16 which means simply that I don’t believe there is a god. Look, I get it ok, there are a lot of people that in order to have a meaning in their life, need to feel that they are headed for something greater. I also want to mention that I have no issues with people doing good things, and living there lives with belief in a higher power. The thing I have an issue with is organized groups that use a text and fear to control a group of people into spreading something the world doesn’t need. When a religion needs to put down others beliefs and spread hate for people that aren’t like them ,that’s not religion anymore, it’s just a power trip.

I think we all know God didn’t hate the gays, or black people, or anyone that believed in anything that wasn’t him. If god was this all knowing, loving, image he’s supposed to be then he would not be susceptible to such human emotions like hate. I think a lot of people lose sight of what their religion is supposed to be. People use religion to fuel hate and hurt others and somehow still put it on people like me, who simply choose to accept an ending at the end of life.

I remember when I was young, that even though me and my sister didn’t believe in god, my mom taught us a lot about the Buddhist and Hindu religions. We learned about enlightenment and karma, and were raised on ideals of love and caring towards our fellow humans. I would even argue that my mother is a better person than any god fearing christian, because she believes in the world, and her small role of taking care of it, which I think is an ideal that gets lost among the things god did and didn’t say.

 

 

Coffee Convo

Non-fiction, Personal, Writing

Ok, so it’s not really a coffee this time. It’s actually a green tea with honey and an asiago bagel but that’s only because it’s 8,000 degrees here today and I couldn’t be bothered to drink anything that wasn’t refreshing. It’s only May and I’m already so over sun. I mean I’m not asking for 7 foot snow again, I would just like it if it was always 60 degrees and cloudy.

Since I am posting regularly again I figured I should give you a bit of an update and since I haven’t done a coffee convo in a hot minute, I figured I would share my asiago bagel with you all.

For starters, I am turning 20 in a few weeks which feels bizarre. A lot of me still feels like I’m only 14 and the other part of me is coming to terms with the fact that my sister graduates in a couple days. YES MAISY JAM HAS A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA. I’m honestly probably more proud of her than I was of myself. She works insanely hard and is also incredibly smart in ways I have never been and I can’t wait to see where her life takes her now that she has been released from prison/the public school system.

Summer has also officially begun which means lots of plans are being made. I am making a trip to Idaho over the 4th of July with my family as well as trying to figure out all of the logistics of moving, which, if everything goes to plan, should be happening in late August.

My asiago bagel and tea

My asiago bagel and green tea.

I’m trying to find time to spend with all the people I’ve known for years as well as make connections with new people and it really brings to light just how many people come and go in your life. There are people that I still have genuine love for that I haven’t seen in years. It really puts into perspective how much time we set aside for things that don’t give us the love that family and friends give. We put work, money, and material things over interactions that could change our lives and that’s crazy to me.

I haven’t been reading hardly at all this year, which is frustrating because there’s so much I’ve been wanting to read. I think I need to work more on prioritizing the things I love over the things I have to do. I put work over a lot of things, and while I do generally like my job, My life has taught me that I need to make time to do things I like because, I don’t get to re-do life, and I should probably spend it doing things I love.

I’m also working on not caring what other people think about my life. I generally don’t care what others think when it comes to the way I look or act, especially when it comes to strangers. Lately though, I’ve been focusing on not needing validation from the people I’m close to. Even the people I love aren’t going to understand me and I need to accept that and be ok with it.

These are just a couple things that have been thinking about lately. If you have anything to add, I always appreciate your comments and messages, and if you want to see more photos like the one in this post, please follow me on instagram @avejam_ . Thank you for reading and you will hear from me on Monday!

– Avery

13 Reasons Why: Season 2 Review

Non-fiction, Writing

WARNING: THIS BLOG POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE 1ST AND 2ND SEASON OF 13 REASONS WHY. IT ALSO CONTAINS DISCUSSION OF THE SENSITIVE TOPICS DISCUSSED IN THE SHOW. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.

13 Reasons Why is Netflix’s original series that came out last year and released their second season about a week ago.

The first season was based on the book of the same title by Jay Asher and tells the story of Hannah, a girl who kills herself and leaves behind 13 tapes, each one for a different person at her school, that chronicle the events leading to her suicide.

Due to my fragile mental state, I usually refrain from watching shows that deal with suicide, but my mom had gotten me the book 5 years earlier and I had loved it. I enjoyed the first season and thought it stayed very true to the book. However the first season ended where the book ended so I was curious to see where they would go with the second season.

The first thing I will give the show credit for is it’s “bingeability” I finished the whole season in about 5 days. The show definitely keeps you engrossed and on the edge. This isn’t necessarily always for the best though. Throughout the season, the characters are faced with disaster after disaster and even when things are looking up it only lasts for about half an episode before everything once again comes crashing down. It gives the show an over all feeling of hopelessness which is not ideal for a show based around suicide.

Speaking of the shows themes, much like season one, the show faced a lot of backlash for it’s graphic depictions of rape and suicide as well as the way people deal with it. A lot of viewers say the show depicts suicide as a way that’s offensive to those that have suffered suicide attempts. Here’s my take on it: the show focuses on one story of one person. The show never claims that this is typical of all suicidal people or that all people with these experiences behave this way. The fact that the show even uses something that is so often tiptoed around as a main theme is something to be commended over the logistics of how Hannah comes to kill herself and leave the tapes. As a survivor of a suicide attempt I don’t find it offensive at all and I appreciate the shows boldness with this and other topics. The show also provides a very large selection of resources for people struggling with these topics.

The best part about this season by far was Jessica Davis’s recovery from her rape. The compassion her friends show her and how she works towards owning her experience and getting professional help is very refreshing throughout the shitshow everyone else is enduring. This, as well as Sky’s example of the person who deals with suicidal thoughts in a healthy way by going to a mental facility, brings the high-strung, emotionally charged show down to a more comfortable level.

Which brings me to the thing that annoyed me the most about this season. While every character is dealing with their mental illnesses and their problems, not once is anyone ever concerned about Clay’s vivid hallucinations. He spend half the show talking to a dead girl but somehow he’s just helping everyone else? Hallucinations are a very real symptom of mental illness and it’s annoying to see a show that’s trying so hard to shine a light on these symptoms, just brush this one under the rug.

It’s pretty obvious at the end of this season that Netflix is shooting for a third, and while the second season was engrossing it seems to me the show has completed what it was meant to do. The creation of problems at the end seemed unnecessary and it seemed like the show was just fishing for a problem that could be considered bigger than Hannah’s suicide.

Overall, the second season was well written and engrossing with all the actors once again giving incredible performances. While not as good as the first season the second season holds strong on its own. Can the third?

Doing College With Depression

Non-fiction, Personal, Writing

If you’re like me, then you are a person that the modern world was not made for. When they were building the schools, and the jobs, and the basic human interaction they forgot a whole group of us who, you know, can’t function. How are you supposed to go places if you can’t move from your bed? How can you learn new things when your in the middle of disassociating? How are you supposed to write a paper about what you want in life when all you really want is to die? Well here are the answers…not really answers though. Here are the ways to kind of make things easier maybe!

  1.  Doing The Most – Everybody has good days and bad days. In my case, I have highly productive days and what I like to call, “slug days.” One of my number one tips for acquiring a higher education with a mental disorder is to get ahead on the good days. If you are feeling productive one day, and have already finished your homework, do tomorrows too. Take advantage of every moment that you feel like being busy to do all the shit that you know you won’t when your curled up in a ball eating ice cream and crying.
  2. Keep It Manageable – There are tons of classes that I want to take and it would be great to get all my courses out of the way as fast as possible but I know how my brain works. I know that if I was to take a full 15 credits I would get overwhelmed and ultimately give up. If you know you don’t do well when you have a large amount of work then don’t give yourself large amounts of work.
  3. Make A Routine – It really helps me if I make a plan for my morning in advance because then I’m more likely to do it. If I come up with something I want to eat for breakfast and what I’m going to wear then I’m a lot more likely to actually get out of bed.
  4. Don’t Skip – This isn’t really a tip that I follow because I skip a lot, but I find that if I skip school, it is very likely that I will skip the next day too. However, If I go then I usually end up going the next day as well. If I do skip I always try to find something class related to work on at home.
  5. Using College As Therapy – you obviously have to write a lot of papers for college and sometimes you can tie your paper topics in with your mental illness. It’s a lot easier to write a good paper when the paper is making you feel better as you go. Writing stuff out always makes me feel better and if it also helps me finish my homework, then why not kill two birds with one stone.
  6. Know Your Mental Limits – This kind of ties in with tip #2, but it’s important to know what your brain can and can’t do. Know what times of the day you work better, and how long your attention span will last. If you cater your schedule to your needs then you will have a lot more success.
  7. Use College As An Excuse – Personally, I find that sometimes I can convince my brain out of a depressive episode if there is something else I know I have to do. If I tell myself, “Hey, you can’t take a 6 hour depression nap right now because your paper is due in six hours,” sometimes that’s it takes for my brain to come back to earth and get some stuff done.
  8. E-mail – There’s this handy dandy messaging tool, where you can just e-mail your teachers and classmates to get answers about your class or find out what you missed. This way you never have to make eye contact or worry about your voice being shaky.
  9. Online Classes – If you are someone who can work from home and still manage your time wisely, then online classes are ideal for depressed people. It’s a class you can do straight from your bed on days when you are feeling crappy and always be caught up on subject matter.
  10. Know That It’s Okay To Fail Sometimes – Sometimes we fuck up, or procrastinate a day to long, or forget to study. That’s Okay. We can’t always do everything perfect. Just because you messed up something doesn’t mean that it’s all over. Just say “well fuck,” and put everything into your next assignment or class.

So there are 10 tips for going to school with a mental illness. I hope you find some of these tips helpful. Do you have any tips of your own? Let me know in the comments and share this post with people you think it could help them. See you Wednesday!

When Women Were Birds

Non-fiction, Writing

I received this book as a gift a little less than a year ago for my graduation. It was given to me by one of my closest friends at the time and came with an inscription: “A book about strong, inspiring women, for the strongest I know.”

When I was given “When Women Were Birds” I was in a bit of a reading slump. I had just finished a literary project for the end of my senior year, where I had to read five books over the course of a couple months. I had also just finished one of the greatest books I had ever read “middlesex.” I was hesitant to start a new book, highly doubting that it would be as good as the one I had just finished. I read maybe one book over the course of the summer, and while I was in Portland I read “Survivor” by Chuck Palahniuk.

It was when I returned home that I finally picked up this book. I had never read Terry Tempest Williams but I knew my mom liked her a lot and I knew that I wanted to read again. From the quotes written on the first two pages, I knew I was going to enjoy it.

“What if there was a hidden pleasure in calling one thing by another’s name? -Rae Armantrout

“Birds, birds…Behold them armed for action like daughter of the spirit… On the white page with infinite margins, the space they measure is all incantation. -St. John Perse

After these two pages what follows is idea after idea intertwined with personal narrative about the authors life. I was pulled in immediately. I always write in my books but never as much as I wrote in this one. It gave me so many different perspectives into the life of women and our purpose in the world.

I love the comparison of women to birds. The idea of women being seen as these powerful all-seeing, flying creatures, is the biggest compliment we could get as a gender and this book is a testament to just how accurate of a comparison it is.

The authors connection to her mother and the other women in her family is strong and it reminded me a lot of my own relationship with my mother. I have always seen  my mother as a strong being. She has been the driving force in our family my whole life and much like Williams’ mother, she hardly ever shows weakness. I see a lot of things in my mother that remind me of my grandmother but I also see many things that are completely different, much like I see myself in my mother but at the same time I see complete difference.

One of my favorite line’s from the book is:

“She is the one who embodies the moon”

A true testament of the power of women being similar to that of the moon and also a reminder of the tattoo of the moon on my own mothers chest.

This book gave me hope. On January 20th I sat in a coffee shop reading this book. On the same day President Trump was inaugurated I read the line, “And there is nothing more demeaning to women than to have a man, especially a man we don’t know, define the laws that will govern our milk and blood.” We will persist as women. We always have and always will.

This book is packed with wisdom and I encourage everyone especially my fellow women to read this book. I have never felt  so much strength being poured into me while reading. From the symbolism of the blank pages to the constant driving point of her mothers journals, I felt a wave of knowledge flood into me with every page.

This book puts it all out there and it is a reminder of the kind of writer I want to be. This book is the reason I am reading again and I am beyond grateful.

If you have read this book leave me a comment. I would love to hear your opinions, favorite lines, etc.

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Travel Essentials

Non-fiction, Travels, Writing

1 day until Portland! I am so excited to blog about my adventures there. Until then, here are some things I never leave home without.

  1. Plastic pouches: My liquids ALWAYS spill whenever I go on a plane or in a car so I bought these cute little pouches for three bucks from Target and they are the bomb.com. If they get messy all you have to do is rinse them out with water and let them dry.

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    pouches. $3 at Target

  2. Neck Pillow: I only recently purchased a neck pillow and sleeping on the go was changed forever.

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    French Bulldog Collection neck pillow. $15 at Target

  3. Empty water bottle: Nobody wants to be thirsty in a place they’re not familiar with. Bring a waterbottle and save yourself the hassle of buying a plastic bottle.

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    Swell bottle in metallic gold. $42 bando.com

  4. Cozy sweater/flannel: doubles as a blanket. A neccesity.
  5. Portable charger: So convenient. My phone is always dying on me so having a backup battery is awesome especially if I need to stay in contact. Now if only I had a backup battery for when I forget to charge the portable battery…
  6. Tangle stress toy: Keeps me calm in stressful flight situations and is also very entertaining.
  7. Ice Breakers: Planes are gross as it is, no point in making it grosser with bad breath.

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               Portable Charger. $15 at PacSun             Tangle Stress Toy. $6 Amazon.com

  8. Backpack: backpacks fit way more stuff and are way more reliable than a purse. Bringing a backpack enables me to be hands free during my travels.

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    Kanken backpack in Ochre. $75 fjallraven.com

  9. Dry Shampoo: because who has time to shower

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    Batiste and Amika dry shampoo

  10. Makeup Samples: TSA approved and perfect if you want to bring lots of makeup but don’t want to take up a bunch of room.

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    samples from Birchbox and Sephora

  11. An Open Mind: Traveling is not the time to close yourself off. It’s for exploring new places and ideas and finding as many new things as possible.

See you on Monday where I will be blogging from Portland! 🙂

-Avery

Maddy Evenson

Non-fiction, Personal, Writing

In the home/tiny apartment of my boyfriend’s 19 year old sister:

Maddy: like how long ago did you paint them?

Me: Like I just painted them

Maddy: God

Me: I had to have my dad get my keys out for me because I just…

Maddy: Oh Jesus god

Me: Ok, so start with your name and what you’re doing with your life.

Maddy: My name is Maddy Evenson and I go to school full time with a tiny job on the side

Me: Where do you go to school?

Maddy: MSUB

Me: What are you majoring in?

Maddy: Psychology.

Me: What’s your age and how do you feel about it?

Maddy: I’m 19, I’ll be 20 in September, and I feel very worried about turning 20 because in your twenties you’re supposed to get married and have kids and buy a house and I don’t know when I’m going to be done with all my school so that kind of worries me.

Me: You have an apartment so you’re like halfway there.

Maddy: Yea halfway there.

Me: What was your biggest challenge of becoming an adult.

Maddy: Um I’m really close to my mom so probably being away from her. I do get homesick even though I’m only a block away. That and managing money. I’m pretty good at it but when you live on your own you actually have to buy food and like kleenex which is stuff you don’t really think about when you live with your parents.

Me: That sounds terrible. Do you manage your boyfriends finances too?

Maddy: Yea, Chance isn’t very good at it, but I’m not one to talk I just bought a purse online and it was not cheap but it’s a collectors item.

Me: oooo. ok this is a very broad question, what is the biggest realization you’ve ever had?

Maddy: I guess in general, in life,  that I’ll probably be ok. As long as I stay with Chance and stick to my plan, my life will be ok.

Me: good realization. Now a much less serious question. What’s your favorite movie and why?

Maddy: I always say Easy A which is totally not my favorite movie now but I’ve put it down on so many things. I think she is so funny and I think the whole “I’m a whore” thing in highschool is so funny.

Me: Yea it’s the only movie that had anything to do with the scarlet letter, that was good.

Maddy: I need to read that book

Me: It’s terrible. I hated it.

Maddy: Yea it should be terrible, it’s a stupid thing to write about.

Me: What are some of your inspirations and why?

Maddy: well I would say something that inspires me currently is that if I work hard, I get good grades, and I do well then I will get a career that I enjoy. What you want to do is a big thing in adult hood too because you think about what you want to do and some people don’t know so it’s something you figure out.

Me: What is the best part about adulthood?

Maddy: the best part is that I don’t have to deal with family which sounds bad but i come home from work and instead of being quiet I can just do whatever.

Me: What is the worst part?

Maddy: The money part… I really shouldn’t have gotten that bag.

Me: What is one piece of of adult advice you have?

Maddy: Well if you and Zac go into the adulthood thing together, which I hope you do, just be nice to each other and be honest. I feel like it’s easier to do stuff in life if you have someone to do it with. Just be good to the person you spend your life with.

The Last Day

Non-fiction, Personal, Writing

When I woke up this morning I felt tired. I, as usual, had not gotten enough sleep the night before and I mostly just wanted to stay in bed forever. Then I remembered that today was my last day of high school. Ever. The realization was emphasized when my dad came into my room hugging me and crying. In his defense it is also his and my mom’s anniversary and his 47th birthday, so today was a lot of emotions for him.

13254222_10154233323342888_3147433319151404185_nI feel very cliche writing this graduation post, but I feel like lasts are an important thing. Everything you do in your everyday life suddenly seems momentous because it’s the last time you’ll ever do it. This morning I cleaned out my locker and threw away my binders for the last time. Today is also the last day I’ll have to deal with my shitty locker that never opens. It’s a very weird feeling.

I tried to treat today like it was any other day but it wasn’t. Everyone was emotional. I received some great gifts from some of my favorite teachers and it is so weird to think that a lot of the people I have seen in the hall today I will probably never see again. I’m not sad about it because I truly never liked high school and the last thing I want to do is stay here longer, but jumping off that edge and going from spending everyday in an institution to spending every day doing whatever you want is a big feeling.

I feel free but I also feel like I have a lot to figure out and work on. There are no more excuses left to make. It’s time for us all to do things with our knowledge and it’s finally time to live.

Thank you to my family and friends who have helped me throughout my life. Especially my mom, dad, and sister. I plan to start posting 2-3 days a week as soon as school gets out (in 30 minutes). I have exciting things planned, and to all my fellow graduates; good luck on the next step of your life.