Coffee

Roasted

dark

hot and waiting

aromas drift

and capture

carry

and hold

heat comes

to my lips

and tongue

and the flavor

slides up

into my

mind

Fun, Fun, Fun

My writing sessions continue as entertaining and productive sessions. The book in progress is booking along (sorry for the pun — no, I’m not) as the characters grow and the story expands.

Didn’t go to the Boulevard today (see yesterday’s post, “Unbelievable”. As recap, Allison’s father, who owns the property, had Allison and her husband (Josh) managing the property for him, and fired them yesterday (Merry Christmas!). Baristas walked out in solidarity, and I went, too. Yeah, I know, I don’t know all of the story; I’ve witnessed how hard Allison and Josh work, though.

Anyway, had to find a new writing spot today. The first was too crowded. I made the second work. I’m at a breakfast bar on a high stool. Not comfortable. I alternate between standing and sitting, but the writing must be done. I’m thankful that our small town (population less than twenty thousand) has about ten coffee houses (which is down from when we first moved here, and two of them are Starbucks, which is a last resort).

Best, the muses didn’t care where I was. (“What? You’re not at the Boulevard? Well, screw you, mister,” they didn’t say.) They crowded in and began their thing before I’d taken off my coat.

I have ten main characters. I don’t know who the final primary protagonist will be. Several candidates are slugging it out. Meanwhile, each character apparently has their own muse. So, today, when settling in to write, these muses were all clamoring for me to write ‘their’ character’s story.

That’s what writing like crazy is all about — getting it down without prejudice, sorting it out as needed later, and editing and revising to improve it sanity — I mean, flow — and story-telling.

Good day of writing like crazy. Off to the movies now, to see Knives Out. I’ve been looking forward to it, and today is five dollar Tuesday.

Hard to beat that.

A Bevy of Muses

After awakening with busy dreams, my muses immediately pounced on me.

“Add these sentences to this, this, and this,” one was telling me.

“You need to pick up Sly’s point of view,” another was saying. “It’s ready and needs to be expanded and told. Here’s what happens.”

A third was saying, “We’re not done with Selena. There’s a lot more for Selena.”

“Okay, okay,” I was answering all of them, making mental notes about what they directed.

That didn’t mollify them. I think it even energized them. Much more was directed, becoming a tsunami of scenes when I was walking to the coffee shop where I write. “Alright, alright,” I kept saying, nodding as each muse bubbled up to add more. I was trying to keep up and trying to shut them up, but without offending them. Never want to offend the muses or piss them off, nope, nope, nope.

Got my coffee. Yeah, time to obey the muses and write like crazy, at least one more time.

So, Traveling

I haven’t flown in about a year. It’s surprising how much has changed at the various airports and airlines. Most critically, I let my TSA Pre-check expire. Now I must wait in lines, strip down to my boxers, flash my privates, and share everything that I have to eat with anyone in a five foot circle before going through security.

One thing that hasn’t changed are my people. I don’t know them. I hope they’re my tribe. You’ve probably seen them, one arm bent at the elbow, a cuppa coffee extended in front of them like a bumper, marching their bags in search of. Soon as localized, I found a Peet’s — YES! PEET’S — and purchased a coffee.

High airport prices haven’t changed. $3.19 for a small coffee. Yikes. If it wasn’t a bonafide medical emergency, I may have passed. But caffeine was calling and the sky was falling…

It was needed, though. Looking forward to another thirteen hours across land and through air before reaching the final place.

Cheers

 

Coffee Confessions

I admit that I like dark, strong coffee. I prefer not to put anything in it. Sometimes, though, I will change things up and have a twelve ounce mocha with four shots of espresso.

They asked me about my coffee preferences today at my regular coffee haunt. The two brews available both work for me so it was sixes. What I’m looking for a good cup of coffee is what seems like a clear and unambiguous flavor. I don’t want woody or winey blends, or coffees that shrink away from being strong.

It prompted thoughts of the coffees that I don’t like. I know you’re curious and anxious about it, so here’s the list.

  1. McDonald’s coffee
  2. Dunkin Donuts
  3. Starbucks
  4. Any other fast-food place where I’ve ever sampled coffee, like Burger King, Wendy’s etc.

People are often shocked when I mention Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. Eyes bugging out, their voice rises. “You don’t like Dunkin Donuts coffee? I love it.” They gape at me as if I’ve just spoken an alien language. I imagine them going home to loved ones in a state of shock. The family gathers around to comfort them. “What is it, honey? Are you okay?”

They slowly respond from their depths of horror, “You’ll never believe what I heard today.”

“Tell us, tell us.”

“Michael doesn’t like Dunkin Donuts coffee.”

Gasps all around.

It’s always amusing when one person is appalled that another doesn’t the flavor that they love themselves. “You don’t like Budweiser? I think that’s the best beer in the world.” I, course, respond without snobbery, asking, “Have you had any other beer? Do you have any taste buds.” See? I’m just like them.

I feel like I’m required to mention Seattle’s Best, Pete’s, and Tim Horton here. I’ve never had Tim Horton, so I can’t comment on it. I’ve had Seattle’s Best, and can take it or leave it. I do love Pete’s Coffee; it’s my go-to when there’s a need to find some and it’s there.

My coffee days began in the military over a quarter of a century ago, when American coffee options were much smaller. I was a shift worker. Night shifts sometimes required some stimulation, especially those of the twelve hour variety, in at six in the evening, out at six the next morning. In those bunker-like places without windows, lit by fluorescent and tasks lights, warmed by multiple telephones, radios, and computer terminals, I began drinking coffee.

I began with the leftover day shift coffee, you know, whatever was still in the pot. I’d nuke that sludge and drink it down. As my taste buds developed, I realized how dissatisfying that was. Actually, it was nasty. Instant, like Nescafe and Sanka, was then embraced and discarded. They frankly seemed worse than the warmed up sludge.

I started brewing my own pots. That’s when my preferences awakened. I figured out what strength I preferred when I was required to measure out the scoops for my pot. In the early days, it was, “More is better.” Command posts and operations centers typically had Folgers or Maxwell House. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I found them weak and unappealing, forcing me to bring in my own grinds. Then I started buying beans and grinding them at home…

Yes, I was hooked.

It’s amazing how many coffee options now exist. It seems like just like everything else in the world, we go for overkill, trying to fill every niche and nuance of flavor and delight.

I guess I can live with it, as long as I get mine.

Saturday’s Theme Music

A friend said she’s giving up coffee. Moving on to green tea and herbal teas.

Says coffee is disrupting her sleep and jarring her focus.

On hearing these words, another friend said that he’d tried to remove coffee from his life, but he ended up with a constant craving.

With that, k.d. lang’s 1992 song, “Constant Craving”, leaped into the stream. I’m hoping that posting this will dissolve it so I can enjoy my coffee.

Boom

I was expecting another fast and furious writing session. That’s one of those times when the muses pile in, dictating so urgently that all you can do is type and hope to keep up.

After studying myself extensively, I know there’s a lot that I don’t know about myself. I know that my moods and energy levels cycle, though, and that I often go through a dark period that lasts about two days, where I become pessimistic, bitter, and angry. I also know that I go through a period of buoyancy as well, whenever, when the sky is the limit. It’s about being aware of those cycles and the peaks and troughs, and managing myself through them. And, I know that although I write almost every day, my writing energy also runs in cycles.

First, about writing almost every day. I try to write every day. It’s my intention and effort to go, order coffee, sit down, and write. I push hard to do it. Existence intervenes. Doctor’s appointments, social engagements, holidays, family obligations and other things all provide obstacles. I try to work around them, but sometimes, I fail.

I used to hate it when I failed to write. Part of the hate was the fear that, if I don’t write every day, I’ll lose whatever meager skills I’ve acquired. Now, either because I mock my skill level or whatever, that fear is much less. It might take a little more time and thought to encourage the muses to arrive after a long writing break, but they generally do come in. I’ve become more familiar with their ways and the signals they give off when they approach. I’m a bit better at letting them in.

By the way, the longest break from writing every day this year is four days.

Because I think about myself in general and my writing often, trying to make sense out of who I am, what affects me, and how it affects me (especially given how my body has changed through the years), I know about the cycles. So I was ready for an energetic writing session to strike.

One point about that, though, gives me pause: do I make the writing cycle happen out of expectations and investing more in myself, and extending a greater effort, or does it actually come about on its own?

I’m not positive, but I believe that like many things, there’s a bit of both in it, and that what’s true one time is probably not true the next time.

Today, though, was an exciting and intense writing session, sweeping me out of here and deeply into the imaginary existence that I’m writing about. It was one of those sessions that are so fantastic, they’re addictive, because it encourages hope that this can happen every day. That’s not how highs work, though.

There are some drawbacks. First, didn’t drink my coffee. A third of it is gone, but that’s all. Small price, right?

Two, I’m suffering from writer’s butt. My Fitbit reminded me to get up and walk each hour. I said, “Okay, in a minute. Just let me finish this sentence.” Next thing I know, ten minutes and several hundred words have passed. Oh, well.

Good day of writing like crazy. Time to go on and address other aspects of life and living, like, you know, eating. Cheers.

A Writing Dream

A dusky, beautiful young woman approached me. Wearing a short, light-blue skirt and high heels, she seemed like she was sixteen years old, but trim and gorgeous, with a doe’s large, dark eyes, and long, black parted in the middle framing a heart-shaped face.

Solemn and reserved, she stopped before me. She was holding a paper and pencil, and held them out toward me. “I’m from a writing class. We’re writing novels. We’re supposed to ask you for help.” Puzzled, I took the paper as she explained that the paper was a checklist of eight things to do to write a novel.

I asked questions to clarify who she was and where she was from. During that exchange, she indicated a large building at the top of the hill. Other classmates approached. All were young, with clear, clean skin and groomed hair. I knew several of them. They, like the first girl, were there to get my help with their writing assignments. They were writing novels and had the same checklist that she had. One boy, who was familiar to me, explained to me that they were on the first step, and needed help to write their novels because they didn’t know what to do.

I felt flattered and told them that I was happy to help them. Meanwhile, I became obsessed with the building that they were supposed to be going to school in. A dark, spicy mustard color, it was set into the top of a green mountain. It was the backside of it that intrigued me most. A floor rested at the very top. Its windows seemed broken and it seemed like it was empty. I wanted to know what was in it. I felt like I’d always wanted to know what was in it.

I asked one of the young men who I knew well if that building was where they went to school. He confirmed that it was. “Then you’ve been in it,” I said.

“Yes.”

“Have you been in the back?”

“The back? I’m not sure.”

“I want to know what’s in the back of the building.”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure what you mean. I need to go.” He took his checklist from me and stood. “But you can go into the building yourself and check it out.”

I went with him to the building. He went off to class. Climbing stairs and taking elevators, I went up as high as I could. One door was in the last room. It was a modern space, but didn’t have any windows. I went to the one door and tried opening it. It was locked but the young woman who I’d first met opened it. She wouldn’t let it open more than the width of her slender body.

She was holding a large mug of coffee. I tried seeing past her. “Can I come in?” I asked.

She shook her head. “But I can give you this coffee.”

“Thanks.” I took the coffee. “I can help you with your checklist, if you’d like.”

“No, thank you. We’re okay.” She closed the door.

Dismayed and frustrated, I stepped back. I wanted into that other room but didn’t know how to get there. Returning to the outside of the building, I contemplated the place that I desired to enter and confirmed, there was movement behind the windows. Something or someone was in there. Sipping the coffee, I plotted ways to satisfy my curiosity, determined to find a way.

The dream ended.

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