That Spark Is Gone

I’m in a funk and don’t quite know how to describe it. I’m happy and content and loved, but that motivation is completely gone. Normally, I’m not this candid and divulge so much personal information into blog posts (other than surface emotions), but I’m challenging myself to open up and own these emotions.

A few weeks ago, I took a free yoga class. I read an email from my residence hall coordinator, giving details about how to “de-stress” from midterms. Not expecting anything grand, I went. The instructor felt oddly familiar and the class style mirrored that of my beloved instructor at home— come to find out, they not only know each other but did training together. It was amazing, as usual, to get back to myself and reconnect.

I don’t do yoga regularly now. The only way that I know I can practice effectively is to go to class and work through the poses. I don’t have that structure; in the past, every Tuesday at 5:30 was yoga, and I was accomplished— I have since let myself go. I attribute most of my grounded personality to this ancient practice, but as the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” One conundrum I have is that I don’t have transportation to a studio; it would take 45 minutes on a bus with two transfers in order to make it to a one hour class, and then another 45 minutes back. Add that up, and it becomes a four hour ordeal.

Of course, I could get up in the morning and practice. But that requires effort, not waking anyone else up, and finding a large enough space to practice. The point is that I’m creating barriers for myself. How does one overcome their barriers? This isn’t just in my yoga realm, either. I have little motivation to complete tasks, and while I feel that I’m doing my best, it isn’t adding up. No matter how much inspiration I have, I feel sluggish, like there is something missing.

Recently, a very special person came into my life, one whom I had been longing for quite some time. I had thought that, with this acquisition, life would suddenly change, brighten, and evolve— which, for the record, it has and I am thrilled. Yet it is inside me this “absence of umph,” if you will.

I keep looking for the key, the secret. In fact, I did watch The Secret and am attempting to incorporate this idea of positive thinking and attraction. So far, it has yielded minimal results. I know the point is to persevere and eventually the universe will shift in one’s favor— I wholeheartedly believe this, but small evidence would be nice to support this claim.

It’s like life isn’t as crisp as it once was, and until I flip the switch on somewhere within me, the sluggish feelings will remain. Know that it has nothing to do with my interactions with people and is completely of my own energy.

Until then, I’ll keep breathing.

Coffee Sleeves: My Mementos

I save the sleeves of important coffee interactions. Sometimes from travel, sometimes from meeting people. Rest assured that I have many more, but these are the highlights. Working clockwise:

  • Earlier this year, I went to the Pacific Northwest. My mom and I connected through Denver, and my lovely airline pilot friend (“big sister” of the industry) Delia told me to try the Turtle Mocha from Caribou Coffee— DEN is one of the closest places to have Caribou Coffee. Sweet and salty AND caffeinated. 
  • Yesterday was National Coffee Day, which inspired this post and the previous one. It would be blasphemous not to celebrate with a grande coffee.
  • My dear “uncle” (or whom I have claimed as such) Dan often conducts business in Saint Louis, so when he visits, I wake up early to eat breakfast with him, usually in the Central West End. This was the first visit.
  • A monumental date was that of meeting the aforementioned Delia. Though we had previously lived in the same town and chatted on a networking website, we met in real life at Lambert St. Louis airport. She took me through the crew room (more like crew closet) and gave me a pad of ATIS recording paper. We chatted forever,  or until she had to fly her last flight out of STL as a base. 
  • Yet again, I found myself trekking to the airport to meet with a dear yogi friend, Jen. You may recognize her name from my radio show’s segment, A Song for Jen. There is a pattern of my visiting the airport before friends fly. I take every chance I can to visit them and the airport. 
  • Half of these sleeves are Starbucks, but only one is from the original Starbucks in Pikes Place of Seattle, Washington. Walking through the market with a piroshki and coffee on a cool, rainy day may be my favorite thing to do in the Emerald City. My heart belongs in New York, now, but I foresee living in the PacNW to settle down.

Periodically, I’ll post significant ones. But there will also be sleeves that I will hold near and dear to my heart— for my eyes only!

National Coffee Day

Shouldn’t this be every day?

I don’t believe in coincidences. What we see on a day to day basis is only half of the story; the other half is what we feel and the energy beneath the surface— one can call it synchronicity. I walk into the coffee shop on campus and order a grande coffee (foo foo coffees aren’t my thing). The server tells me that it will be just a moment until fresh coffee is ready. A minute later, she replaces the bold coffee. It froths itself as I press down on the pump and my nose perks up to such a beautiful aroma.


Coffee is a bonding experience. We drink it to connect with the world in the morning. We drink it late in the night when a friend calls to come over and talk about their pressing woes. We drink it when that project is due the next day, and we have 10 other things to do. Although it is a stimulant, it slows down time and allows us to focus.

Glorious Day!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m chatting with friends. Later, I’ll post pictures of my memorable sleeves, which I save.

The Joys of Non-Revving: New York

I am addicted. I have been twice now, and each time, I can’t get enough. (I’m working on another post, dedicated to the trip itself and not travel).

I took the Metro to Lambert, looking smart in my dressed up nonrev attire, and checked in. The gate agent, Jennifer, with whom I became good friends, told me the bad news: there was no way I was getting into MKE (Milwaukee) on my first try. In this volatile industry where things change down to the last minute, I persevered. Two people, who had personally checked in with a customer service agent, were not on board at boarding time: Jennifer made several calls in the gate area, and asked a man who was sitting near the door. She asked, “Are you going to Milwaukee?” He said, “No, I’m going to Cleveland.” Which, on his ticket, was true. However, this dimwit, non-traveler, was connecting through Milwaukee. She raised her voice and said, “THIS IS YOUR FLIGHT.” He goofily laughed and made his way to the gate— one olive short of a martini, that fellow. This is why Jennifer and I got along; we are both pleasant and down to earth until one has proven to be idiotic. The other passenger was nowhere to be found. I stood at the counter, waiting for her to print my boarding pass. Their policy is to wait 10 minutes past the door closing time, at which point the passenger is considered a no-show. I had two minutes left before it was considered fair game. He. Showed. Up. And if he weren’t a fine looking gentleman, I would have pulled out the claws.

Jennifer and I collaborated. She said that LGA was completely booked from Milwaukee, and might I try flying into Newark? Jersey. For the love of Gaga. Jersey? People live cabs in Jersey. I called Terrence, who was to pick me up at La Guardia, and asked him if it would be an inconvenience. It would be, but he would do it. I researched other options and decided to take the train instead. It wasn’t my choice, but I had to get to New York. There I was, on the next flight to Milwaukee and staying overnight to catch the first flight to Newark.

Outskirts of Chicago

I checked the weather, which can either help or hinder nonrevvers. Thunderstorms were clogging up the entire New York metro area, but my flight, which I would miss, was only delayed 10 minutes. I mentally prepared to assume the position on hard airport benches in stiff clothes, and I watched Chicago pass by as we descended into Milwaukee.

As soon as I could get cell service in the air, I checked the status of my original flight into LGA— it was still delayed in MKE.
I hustled up the stairs after deplaning to find the gate; it was right across from my arrival. I ran to the desk, asking if I could get on. The snippy CSA said, “No. Doors are closed. Paperwork is done. This flight is over.” I asked, in a matter-of-fact tone, “So, there are still seats open?” Of course there were. I had been checking all day; they hadn’t sold out and had at least 20 seats left. She replied, “Well. Yes. But this flight is done.” I stared in disbelief, groaned, and griped, “You’re telling me that this plane is sitting here with open seats? I REALLY need to get to New York.” Slash I didn’t want to spend the night in the airport OR end up in Jersey. The other CSA standing at the desk among ramp personnel gave Miss Snip the classic and perfectly executed bitchPLEASE  look and turned to me. She smiled and asked, “What’s your last name?”

The rampers became disgruntled because they had to add one more person and bag to the flight and reflect it in paperwork. The kicker: we sat at the gate fifteen minutes after I boarded, and sat on the taxiway for another 45 minutes before departing, not to mention another hour on the ground in LGA. I didn’t care. I was in New York City. Thank you, thunderstorms.

Captain in Times Square? That’s me.

Irene’s Impact:

I constantly check the weather, but even more so when I travel. As previously seen, it can have very very positive effects on nonrev travel, or very very detrimental effects. Hurricane Irene was forecast to impact the New York area just after my scheduled Saturday departure. I gave it slight thought and imagined that I would get out just in time. I was walking on 33rd when my mom called; she was very concerned about the storm and told me about the warnings the airport authority was publishing and that many paying passengers were trying to get out of New York— Frontier waived the fee to change one’s flight to an earlier date. That’s when I knew it was serious. I wanted to leave on Friday, but she insisted that I leave the next day, Thursday. I got back to Brooklyn, checked on the flights, and my only way of getting home was through Kansas City— all flights to Milwaukee or Denver were booked. I only noticed this about two hours before departure. My plan was to take a MKE or DEN flight, and take the train to the airport, which takes about an hour. Instead, I called a car and was off to LGA. I said my goodbyes to my lovely hosts, Leah and Paul, and started the long day of flying.

Bye bye, rainy New York. Your weather matched my mood.
My (sudden) last day in NYC— View of the Upper West Side.

I had to rebook my flight, since I was not scheduled in the system until Saturday.  After a  refund fee, I was on my way to Kansas City. I arrived in a city only five hours from STL, yet I still had to fly to Denver to get home. The first Denver flight was full, so I ended up taking the next flight; I was to sleep in Denver. Checking all the options, this was the only one I had. I considered ending my travels in Kansas City (by the way, the most poorly designed airport I have ever seen), and having family pick me up. But I wanted to get back to St. Louis and prepare for school. Side note: the only reason I left New York right away was because school started on Monday. Otherwise, assuming my hosts didn’t mind, I would have ridden out the storm, even if nonrev travel was backed up for three or four days.

So I sat in Kansas City, exhausted, bitter, and emotionally drained, and anticipating a sleepless night in Denver. There was a flight heading back to NYC. It took every ounce of strength not to get back on it. After takeoff, I was out like a lightbulb. I awoke when the wheels touched down in Denver. Our flight attendants notified us that we were about 15 minutes early— early? I checked my phone. The flight to STL hadn’t departed yet, and I had about five minutes from the originally scheduled arrival time and that flight’s departure time. I RAN to the gate, the CSA’s cheering, “He’s here! He’s here!” They must have checked the standby list— my boarding pass was ready to go, I grabbed it, and thanked them from the bottom of my heart. Namaste, girls; I was going home.

An industry based on precision, anything can happen in less than a minute. I slept in my bed that night, thanking Gaga and the nonrev gods. Someone must have sacrificed a virgin somewhere.

The Joys of Non-Revving: Montana

Ready for vayCAYshun

A cooler than expected morning began with my aunt’s mantra, “We’re on vay-CAY-shun.” It originates from  a joke about Hotwire or other cheap travel sites at which backwoods folk can get four star hotels at one star prices. She doesn’t get out much, needless to say.

The whole process is nerve-wracking, wondering if we will get seats. Luckily, I can view the remaining seats online. The gate agents smiled as we approached the counter. “We’re flying standby to Spokane via Milwaukee and Denver”
“On a buddy pass?”
As he took our IDs and pulled our information, his raised eyebrows skyrocketed. “Milwaukee to Denver and then Spokane? Wow. That’s a long way, but you do have a better chance of getting out of Milwaukee than here [as opposed to going to Denver first].”

Writing is what I do onboard with coffee. Duh.
Descending through beautiful clouds into MKE.

It’s important to have as many options as one can when at the mercy of the nonrev gods. Our first flight was uneventful— we boarded the plane, not through a jetway, but by walking down stairs onto the ramp and up stairs into the airplane. My mother, in her sarcastic tone, said, “We paid $80 to get on an airplane by walking up a flight of steps?”

Arriving in Milwaukee was not a problem; getting out, however, was a feat. Both flights to Denver were completely booked, so we looked at going to other airports to get to Denver. Madison, Green Bay, Indianapolis, New York La Guardia, and Omaha were all viable options. The problem was not getting to these out stations, but rather getting into Denver— there was just no way. Apparently, Saturday is a short day on Frontier, so loads (on already full planes) were to the max.

Auntie settling in, being a diva.

One last option: San Diego. Hundreds of miles past our final destination, it was the only way we were to get out of Milwaukee. We already knew that we wouldn’t get into Spokane that night, and Denver is a better airport in which to spend a night (we’re cheap and don’t buy hotels for five hours). The next thing we know, we are en route to the beautiful state of California— I had never been, neither had my mother.

The mistake: I didn’t check us in right away when we got to SAN. I assumed, since we were on the standby list, that the gate agent would transfer us on automatically. He didn’t. Therefore, only my mom made it to Denver that night. Auntie and I slept in the San Diego International Airport. We found comfortable chairs and moved them into a corner by outlets— free wifi and within 20 feet of a coffee stand, and I was in heaven. We were to catch the 0630 flight to Denver and take the 9:30 p.m. flight into Spokane. That’s one long day in Denver!

These clouds weren’t so nice.

We arrive in Denver, no hassle. My mom arrived in Spokane, no hassle; she picked up the rental car and waited to hear from us. A crazy notion struck us— a flight to Bozeman, Montana was scheduled to depart Denver and arrive at 1:30 in the afternoon.  My mom would drive to BZN, a six hour drive, and pick us up. This became the plan. We approach the gate agent, request to change our destination, and we boarded the plane to Bozeman. As another change of plans, my grandpa picked us up instead; he wouldn’t let my mom drive all the way across the state to pick us up after minimal sleep and maximum travel.

Bottom line: we ended up in Missoula about 24 hours late.

The return flights home looked menacing with no seats available. By the Grace of Gaga, we made both flights.

Smooth sailing on the way home.

Coffee Review: La Minita Peaberry from Caribou Coffee

A preface:

I love coffee. The premise of this blog is my thoughts surrounding my cup of coffee in the morning. Typically my ideas come from influential persons about whom I think in the stillness of the morning. Topics are sentimental, storytelling, and analyses of my life.

Today, however, is essentially a product placement. No, I’m not being financially compensated (I wish) to write about a certain brand or blend of coffee. I like to promote persons and products that I find helpful and worthwhile.

My dear friend, Delia, graciously sent me a gift for completing my instrument rating— see the previous blogs —and the name on the address is perfectly appropriate. The title went straight to my head, and I now wish to be addressed as such henceforth. “Capt. Robbie Barnhart” is fitting, since my handle on Twitter is @CaptainBobbie and my radio persona is such, too.

At first glance of the package, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Ohh shoot. It’s a light coffee.” I’m a fan of very dark beans, ones that say GOOD MORNING. Weak, little light-roasted beans can’t compare to that of my Starbucks French Roast which has the label of X-BOLD, smoky and bitter (not unlike myself). But, knowing that Delia is an excellent coffee connoisseur— she’s a pilot—, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

And I was most certainly surprised. The peaberry is a unique bean in that it is oval-shaped and symmetrical. The aroma is earthy and herbal, but there are prominent notes of chocolate, especially as it brews. The mocha brown bean produces an unexpected dark brew, and while the bean itself is not oily, it leaves a residue in the bottom of the cup.

Sipping it, there is a slight fruity taste with a nutty finish (please laugh at this horrible choice of words) and a buttery, rich background. All in all, this wasn’t water with coffee flavor— it is a formidable light bean!!

Delia is now blogging, too, about her adventures as a regional pilot. You should follow her journey on her blog Sqeuaky’s Skywritings.

Excuse me while I finish this cup of coffee.

A Leave of Absence— but I’m back!!

I realize that my posts have been inconsistent. My original intent was to write every morning— did I mention that I’m not a morning person?

After my travels, I write a debrief— I just haven’t posted them yet. So in the next few days, keep your eyes peeled for NYC and Seattle. And most likely a rant on my trials and tribulations.

I welcome you back.

Women in Aviation: Conference 2011, Reno, Nevada

What do you get with a bunch of pilots traveling together? An annoying mob of know-it-alls, spewing random aviation terms in an effort to sound cool— which we are, so the point is moot.
The gang!

Our group from Parks College went to the Women in Aviation International conference in Reno, Nevada. This is different from other aviation events like EAA’s Airventure in Oshkosh, Sun n’ Fun in Lakeland, Florida, or NBAA’s event. WAI conference, or “conference” for short, is a combination of a trade show, networking, and educational seminars. It isn’t as relaxing as the aforementioned, but the energy level is the same.
We briefly explored Reno to find that there isn’t much more than casinos, hotels, and wedding chapels. Although having not been into the city of Vegas, I would gather that Reno is a cheap knock-off— which is fine for a nice mini vacation. But I saw many people sitting at the slot machine, beer and cigarette in hand, wasting away their money. It’s their life, and not mine to meddle and judge.
John & Martha King— classic thumbs up gesture

I met some of my aviation idols: John and Martha King; Rod Machado; and the many new faces that inspired me from the moment I met them. John and Martha are the owners of King Schools, which produces and distributes educational aviation material— always spunky, witty, and funny. (The funny thing is that they are shorter in real life than on their videos). Not only did they sign my logbook, but I also got TWO pictures with them, thumbs up included. Rod Machado is a renowned flight instructor, focusing on the psychology of the human mind and the learning process— I’ve “known” him for years, because he is the voice behind the flight lessons on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004: Century of Flight. He signed my logbook “May your landings be as soft as a butterfly with broken feet.” Comical, I tell you!

Putting Parks on the map!

The exhibit booth was my favorite part of the entire trip; such was the heart of many, many networking opportunities. This year, being my freshman and first conference, I had no idea what to expect. I knew that most people bring resumes and business cards for internships and jobs, but I decided to hold off and experience the conference with no pressure— I regret that. At the very least, I should have brought business cards so my new best friends at the airlines could keep in contact. For my eccentric personality, I have no difficulty in approaching and becoming friends with the willing. And for pilots, we all want to talk about ourselves— at Parks and SLU, I don’t find myself spending much time with the aviation community, but at conference, we were all united for one cause.
No, I’m not a woman, but I am in aviation— and it’s important to support the superior gender. I’m sorry, did I say superior? I meant equal (I meant superior). My gender will now stone me to death. My statement is this: I know many, MANY wonderful women, not just in aviation, but in my life overall who have helped develop me into the man that I am— I’d burn a bra for them any day. The scholarships awarded at conference are inspiring and hefty in price. Most, but not all, go to women in a life-changing moment and their career skyrockets. And then several, in the midst of or after their careers, are inducted into the hall of fame. This is no easy feat, because some of the inductees are no longer with us, due to their bravery.

Our group is transitioning from a dull year to a bright one. Much of the previous membership was the senior class, which has, obviously, since graduated. The leadership provided by the two graduate students, Tegan and Sara (insert pun for the musical group here) has been greatly appreciated by those who went to conference— but we’re ready to take it over, and they’re glad.  All of us have great ideas— the next thing we need is implementation and financial support. We consider this our “rebuilding” year— plans for increasing membership, activities, and a general presence on campus are in the works.

First Class and Cinnabon— THE life

And the trip back was exciting. The lot of us prayed to miss our connection to STL from Phoenix— we did. Darn it if the only flight was the red-eye in First Class!! Our two and only girls stayed in Phoenix until Monday evening, and they stayed at the Tempe Four Points by Sheraton Hotel. We sent them off, and watched airplanes from atop a parking garage roof. The serenity of a spooling engine is mesmerizing. I’m sure I’ll have many more moments, but this one sure solidified my life, my passion, my love, and career.

Not Quite a Product Placement— but close!

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            Hiding from me during my first year of college is a fantastic café on the corner of Lindell and Spring— Nadoz. Despite the thousands of tasks that needed completion before my 7:10 a.m. departure from Lambert Int’l Airport, my friends intercepted me on the way to the laundry room and persuaded me to get a smoothie or something of the sort. I told them that I couldn’t stay more than an hour, due to pressing chores; they agreed and stated that the café would close soon anyway— hell, Nadoz follows me on Twitter, so I owe them patronage.
            Located in the Coronado, the establishment presents itself in a clean-cut, detailed manner. Although very intricate in terms of décor, Nadoz has a simplistic design, with ample seating, both booth and conventional tables and chairs. Catering to students, tables are large enough to accommodate huge textbooks, notebooks, and laptops all at one time— yet the space is intimate enough to have a private conversation. For SLU students, Nadoz is simply a walk off campus and is in the direct path home for many who live in the numerous apartment complexes that line Lindell Boulevard.  But it isn’t exclusively dominated by students like other nearby establishments.
            Several chalkboards serve as menus, ranging from classic to obscure— I didn’t have time to sit and have a meal, but from word-of-mouth and indirect observation, I can gather that the cuisine is scrumptious!! (I really want to try the crepes.) And the drink selection is absolutely endless. This particular day was cold, and after a teasing warm spell, I was in need to be warmed in a new way— that, and the fact that my 100% acrylic sweater did not suffice to maintain my body heat. I wanted pep, eccentricity, and sustainability to carry me through the rest of my very long day.
            I’m not patronizing or exaggerating when I say that the Mexican Chai Latte is now one of my favorite drinks; I decided this slightly before halfway finishing it.  Every single sip, even as the drink cooled considerably, was spicily sweet— first a kick and a diminishing surprise, followed through by the earthy, milky chai. Both sides of the coin were fantastically represented: shock and bite, richness and flavor, all together creating a uniquely refreshing evening drink. As you may well be aware, I enjoy jet fuel as my morning wake up call— bold coffees like Starbucks’ French roast and recently Pikes Place roast. But throughout the day, I need to cool my jets and relax into the flow, not startlingly jumping. The Mexican Chai Latte at Nadoz does exactly that.
            I fully intend on returning for more visits— the staff, stunningly cute and pleasant, is efficient and swift. In comparison to other local coffee shops located on and near SLU’s campus, Nadoz, in my book (or blog), is rated one of the highest. My only hesitation is that their hours are not cohesively convenient with the college student’s life; but therein is another aspect of Nadoz— its versatile clientele. The majority, yet not everyone, in the café was students and, seemingly, young professionals.
            I envy those who live in the Coronado and can quickly run to the lobby for a sensational treat, but for the most part, Nadoz is close enough (and closer in some cases) than their surrounding competition— those lethargic days, which I commonly have, will be complemented by a shorter walk.
            Side note: I’m writing this from 34,000 feet. Have I ever mentioned how productive I am while airborne? If only each weekend I could travel on a two-hour flight— I would accomplish so many things. My cell phone is turned off and no WiFi (yet…to my pleasure), meaning that there is minimal distraction. So to any airline pilots willing to offer free flights for my academic success, I greatly appreciate you! 
Visit Nadoz on the web at for more information.

February 14th, 2011— That’s all this day is

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I absolutely loathe this day. And I’m sure this is a very common sentiment for many others.
I’m painfully aware that I’m single— probably because I remember it every second of everyday. Of course, there is so much hype surrounding this day— the sick marketing and insane commercialization depreciates any value of romance. In fact, so I could assume, it forces upon a mate to perform in a manner that may not be natural; scripted love is for the movies, not real life.
Usually, when it comes to my bouts of surliness with love, it goes one of two ways:
·      I pout and consider the love I already have, and discount romantic love.
·      I grit my teeth, slug through the day, and go to bed— the next morning I feel refreshed and remind myself of the quote, “This, too, shall pass.”
Paired with the first bullet is that I have a conversation with whomever. I bitch my heart out, and it ends up that the best broken-record advice is given: “You’ll find someone someday. You’re young and have your whole life ahead of you.” I have problems with this statement; I live in this moment. Not tomorrow, not next month, or years to come. And for right now? I have yet to share a requited romantic connection with someone. The question arises, “Is it better have loved or never to have loved at all?”
Last night on the radio show, I mentioned the Portuguese word, with which I am in complete adoration, saudade. It isn’t translatable in any language, and one must have grew up in the culture to fully comprehend the word: loosely translated, it means a long lost love or yearning for that which is unattainable— if there were ever a word to describe myself, there it is.
I’ve wondered if I present myself in a way that is not appealing to others. Although, when it comes right down to it, I don’t wish to appeal to anyone but myself— not in a standoffish, arrogant way, but as to find peace within myself. “Love first; then love another.” I practice yoga regularly, and I have self-worth. I can accurately say that I do love myself and that I’m ready to love another; the opportunity or person has not yet approached me.