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Archive for the ‘Coffee’ Category

A couple weeks ago I was lucky enough to have a break from the day job.  The plan was to have the week to myself with the kids in school all day and nothing pressing on the agenda.   My goal was to experiment with writing in the morning hours instead of stealing a few after the kids go to bed.  I decided my vacation was to live the life of a what I imagine of a full-time writer.  Here are some of the things I learned on my “writing staycation.” 

The first glaring fact of this week off was the fact it really only boiled down to three days.  The benefit of a holiday took the first three days to family time.  On Tuesday, the public school district, with it’s tricky first day of school sham, was actually only an intro for an hour before shuffling the kids back home.  WTH?!?  When Wednesday arrived, I was chomping at the bit to send the kids up to school and get my writerly groove on.  After typing away for a few hours at my dining room table, I needed a change of scenery.  What writing staycation would be complete without a trip to Starbucks with the laptop.  So I did.  I looked pretentious as all people do who work while sipping on cappuccino, and pounded out a few pages in between baristas shouting orders.  I tweeted a few lines of observations, gave some FB updates, and checked writing tips off their WiFi.  For those two hours, I felt like a writer.

Thursday brought distractions.  My full-speed ahead to knock out much needed pages was like walking through curing cement.  Frustration turned into self-deprecation when I found myself tweeting more lines than adding to the work in progress.  Needing more inspiration for creativity, I turned to cookies and books.  When I wasn’t icing, I was reading Ashes.  This may have seemed like a waste on a writing staycation, but it actually fueled the fire of creativity more than I thought it would.  I got two blogs out of it and was pretty damned excited when I was able to send cookies of a lead character to the author. 

By Friday, only the third day of the writing staycation, real life took over.  Hubs and I had a date to meet up with another couple to enjoy a night out at a concert in the park of Men Without Hats, Human League and the B-52s.  Although I got in a couple of pages,  most of the day was spent prepping food and drinks.

In the end, I didn’t finish the novel which I had grand visions of doing before the week began.  It would have required the commitment of constant writing the entire week.  It could be done, and some have done it, but it’s not the type of writer I want to be.  I enjoy these other things in my life because they add to the person I am, which translates to the characters I create. 

I did set some ground rules before starting out that included not being distracted by laundry and household chores.  (It was more difficult than I imagined.)  In the end, the staycation was nothing like I thought it would be when I started.  (Kinda similar to stories with a rough outline, but take on something different when applied.)   But it doesn’t mean it was a waste or I didn’t get something great out of it.  The biggest takeaway was the experience of living like it was my full-time job, even if it was for a short time.  I learned my current status of full-time employment, wife, and mother of two works just as well because this is the writer I have am.

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I have a terrible habit.  No, it’s not drinking too much or making jokes a twelve-year old boy would laugh at like you might think.  Not because I don’t do them, I do.  But who said those were bad?   My habit is leaving one-fourth of the coffee at the bottom of my cup.  My mugs are left on the dining table where I work, they are next to the coffee pot like I was going to get a refill, and they have even been found on my night stand from the middle of the night.  For some reason, at first I have high interest in my hot, delicious, Irish-Crème flavored drink.  But with some slight distraction, my excitement is tempered and I leave it to turn ice-cold.  It becomes something gross and something I can never go back to revisit.

This problem was with me in my younger days when I consumed Diet Pepsi like it was air.  My dad used to throw a fit with all the half cans on the kitchen counter.  It never failed when he grabbed a handful to crush outside, there would be one hidden which would either soak him on the way there or ruin a pair of shoes during the crushing.  Luke warm from sitting out, I lost total interest in the syrupy concoction.  It didn’t taste the same any more.  The passion I once had to ravage the beverage was gone and I didn’t look back.  My dad tried to resurrect some of them by re-chilling them in the refrigerator in hopes my interest would return and not waste dollars on my fickle taste.  When I would head to the bar fridge, he’d scream from the other room, “Don’t get a new one, there’s three open ones in the kitchen!”  I’d shrug, wrinkle my lip, and crack open a new can with fresh carbonation.  He stopped when the tower of cans toppled over when he pulled on the fridge door too hard.

The habit followed me into adulthood with the grown up drink of coffee.  Hubs does the same attempts of zapping it in the microwave, but it isn’t the same thing.  The creamer separates into weird swirls and the temperature isn’t the same as a fresh mug with a couple of tablespoons of cold crème.   The connection we once had when I drank the first three-quarters is gone.  The only thing left is the sad remnants of what once was…now the ice-cold sludge at the bottom of the mug.

I wouldn’t be honest with myself, or with you, if I didn’t draw the parallel that this is my biggest fear about writing.  When my works in progress hit a wall, fear shoots through me that they are the last quarter cup of coffee.  I’m carried away by some other distraction and leave my passion to turn ice-cold.  The exciting world of something new, something that could be better, lures me away from returning back to the story that looks a lot like work.

It’s a conscious decision to return to a work in progress after realizing it needs heavy revision.  Sometimes I wonder if it’s best to scrap the whole thing and fill it up with fresh “java.”  But characters are different from curdled cream.  The more they turn in my head, the better they get.  As I revisit one of my old projects, the one I shelved last year, I’m not seeing it as something I forgot about.  Instead, it’s become something I needed more maturity to appreciate.  The same maturity needed to realize wasted soda is wasted money (now that I foot the bill.)

Even now as I type, the ice-cold last quarter cup of coffee stares back at me from my dining table in the darkness.  I know it doesn’t taste the best.  I could walk the few steps and try to heat it up.  I could forget about it and go to bed instead.  Or, I could realize I need to suck it up and just swallow.  (Okay, this one is too damn easy…That’s what she said.)

Bottoms Up!

PS…If you doubt my immaturity, I give you this picture.  A co-worker saved this cherry because she knew I would love it so much.  It cracks me up every time!

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Free Fixes Everything

Fresh off of rejection from a writing contest (one I really had high hopes for) I decided to treat myself to a non-fat mocha this morning.  I pack up the kids early and head over to Starbucks before a torturous photo session with five children under the age of eight.  When I arrive to the drive-in, the line is long.  But this is the treat I promised myself to end the pity party started yesterday.

After 15 minutes, pity turns to rage.  (I guess these are the steps of healing?)  I become so irritated with the line, I consider driving out of it just to put the drinks out of order.  A confused barista trying to figure out what went wrong might just be the thing to bring a smile back to my face.  Contrary to my normal instincts, patience wins out.

The barista says “Chai Latte?”  With a heavy sigh, I correct him with the mocha order.  He nods and disappears behind the sliding window.  (Okay, who left the line and messed up my order?)  He comes back to make some small talk about plans for Thanksgiving.  After a few pleasantries, with me being on my best behavior, he leaves again to collect my drink. 

With my $5.00 extended, he says the magic words. “It’s on us because you had to wait so long.”  The generous offer surprises me.  I’m speechless for a second with probably a very confused look on my face.  “I hate waiting,” he says.  Like someone out there likes to wait, but I’ll take it because he’s giving me something for free.  I thank him several times and roll away with a new smile on my face.

It was a small token of appreciation for waiting, a free drink.  Appreciation which came at a good time since I was feeling down.  I drove away with spirits a little raised, savoring the treat, and damn glad I ordered the Venti.

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