Sunday, November 23, 2014
The Coffee Shop Chronicles No. 23
It seems I have come full circle. I am back at the coffee shop where The Coffee Shop Chronicles began. Just as on that first day, there is snow outside.The wind is blowing and the coffee shop is warm and friendly.
The only differences are there aren't the mountains of snow in the parking lot, yet at least, since this is the first snow of the season. Here at the lakeshore we haven't gotten as much snow as those further inland have received. This is also November not January. It is hard to believe it has been almost a full year since I started the Chronicles. It has been a good year, filled with interesting people and great eavesdropping experiences. I have explored lots of coffee shops and found that I enjoy being a coffee shop critic, maybe that can be a future career. I love sharing my first impressions of a place with you, the reader. Now if only these coffee shops would read what I write and fix the things I find annoying, like bad Feng Shui.
I have grown as a writer and a story teller thanks to the Chronicles. No matter what you chose to do in life the only way to get better at it is to practice and practice a lot.
I arrived at the coffee shop at twenty minutes to eleven.
A late start due to darkness and the need to snow blow the driveway before I left the house. I wanted to get Scout out for short walk before I left. With these short hours of daylight I have to wait until after 8:00 a.m. for it to be light enough for us to walk. Once we were out, Scout was moving fast so what was going to be a 15 minute walk in a wind chill of two, turned into a 40 minute walk in a two degree wind chill. I must admit near the end of the walk, at the fast pace we were moving, I was sweating from all the layers I had on. My hands are always the first thing to get hot, which is odd since my feet are almost always blocks of ice. So the mittens came off and got tucked into a pocket.
As we were returning home a tiny patch of blue sky appeared and the writer in me got excited as I marveled at the tiny spot of blue as it appeared, peeking out as if to say "Hello, do you remember me?" Then the wind blew and the tiny spot of blue was covered by a thin wispy veil of pale lemon drop yellow, which was then in turn swallowed up by an angry sea of winter gray. If I wrote nothing else that morning I was happy. Oh the little things in life.
As I entered the coffee shop I was greeted by the warm, friendly smile of Brenda the order taker. This was going to be a good morning. There were two young college guys in line ahead of me. Note to self, this might be a good place to bring Mallory. The one was definitely a regular since Brenda knew his name. They placed their order to go. Bummer now I couldn't study them or write about them. Once they had left I stepped up to the counter to place my order. A grande Chai with a Oatmeal Muncher Cookie. I knew I was going to stay here for lunch so I chose the cookie over a muffin.
The great discovery over the last year is that I love writing at coffee shops. Whether I am writing a chronicle or working on a writing project. There is something about them that is conducive to writing. I guess the biggest thing, at least for me, is that there are no household distractions; no laundry that needs to be washed, no floors to be mopped or vacuumed, no meals to make. Mallory and I were discussing this just the other day. She too feels that the only place she can do homework now is a coffee shop which can prove to be expensive for a college student. Thankfully she does have an on-campus job and she doesn't spend money on anything else except groceries, so if a latte or mocha a few times a week helps her be productive as she brings these college years to a close, so be it.
The coffee shop is quiet today. All the schools have a snow day, so the moms that were hoping to get out to the coffee shop are now stuck at home with their bored children. And the older folks are just plain smart and staying off the roads.
The one couple of interest was a college age couple that were sitting across from me. At first I thought that I was witnessing a break up conversation, and she was the one doing the breaking up. She seemed cool and very much in control of the conversation, he seemed much more agitated. In the end though I think they were just having a serious relationship conversation and she prevailed. I don't think they were breaking up because after their conversation they each went to the bathroom, refilled their coffee cups, came back to the table, pulled out their laptops and homework, put in their earbuds and settled in to study. If they did break up it was the weirdest breakup I have ever seen. Although when I got in line to order my lunch, he was right behind me and only ordered for himself, so who knows.
With no more interesting characters to write about, I pulled out my other writing. I have been working through the writing exercises in this book, Wishcraft by Barbara Sher. I give all the credit to Amy Duncan from Four Corners Design for recommending it to me. Seriously it is so good, if you are struggling with what direction you want to go with your life and especially your creative life these exercises give so much clarity. I am on Exercise Eight. In what imaginary environment would your best self emerge? I wrote about our future house including in great detail about my art studio. It will be big, with high ceilings, lots of windows for natural light. Heated floors will be a must, because I want to be able to work out there all year round. Separate workspaces for my writing, my photo processing and photography still life set up. A little mini kitchen and a cozy leather couch for reading and naps. An area for the dog and his dog bed. It was fun to do this exercise and I could see everything quite clearly in my head as I wrote about it. The overall theme I picked up on for my ideal environment is Space & Comfort. It was a fun daydreaming exercise. You should give it a try and see what your ideal imaginary environment would look like.
I hope to write a couple more Chronicles before the end of the year, but with only a little over a month left before the end of the year that time might go very quickly. There are some projects that I need to finish, and some others that I need to lay the foundation for before 2015 starts. I can make no promises. I truly want to thank you for joining me on this writing journey. It has been a lot of fun sharing my observations with all of you.