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Posts Tagged ‘Coffee’

I’m just in from a coffee shop. Alright. Yes, it was Starbucks. And, surprise, surprise. There were 4 people in there with MacBook Airs. And they looked pretty much how I would’ve looked, had I also brought mine.

 

They were scarfed and sweatered. Fenced in by open books, cords, pens, mugs and, of course, phones.

 

At first, I was envious. Thinking how I long for days of doing nothing but writing. It’s a glorious feeling, you know. To be sure of your purpose. And for it to be something you enjoy. Something you find fulfilling. Albeit scorching and torturous at times.

 

And while I waited for my order, I, for the zillionth time, imagined a world where writing is my only focus. A world, that in reality, will never be. And, that’s okay. In my heart of hearts, I really wouldn’t want that, would I. I mean, where would my family be? Where’s my home in that scenario?

 

I don’t ever want to be without those things. Those distractions as they are sometimes referred to.

 

Anyway, what started as pre-beverage envy ended in post-coffee realization. Not one of those blessed little lambs was actually using their laptops. Every single one of them was on their phone.

 

Texting. Liking. Sharing.

 

Wasting.

 

Using valuable time. Precious, hard-to-come-by freedom. To generate useless statuses and insignificant tweets.

 

But, in truth, I really have no clue what they were doing on their phones. Never mind judging whether whatever they were doing was insignificant or useless. They may have been replying to agent’s proclamations, “CONGRATULATIONS, we sold your novel!” Or throwing out a few likes in support of fellow writers. Perhaps sharing triumphant news of a book deal.

 

Who knows? Like I said, not me. I just tend to make wild assumptions when I’m coffee-deficient.

 

So, I admit to suffering from misplaced projection. Putting myself in their chairs. Surrounding my own being with beloved writing gear. Staring into productivity-stealing space. And spending too much time on a phone of my own.

 

But luckily, the coffee-sufficient me sees the advantage to having, what one might call, an overactive imagination. Next trip, the phone stays in my pocket.

 

What? You didn’t think I’d turn it off, did you!

image

 

 

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You’ll notice this is not a morning post.

 

I am currently trying to drink a cup of boiled water mixed with half a lemon, a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger and a dash of Cayenne. This is supposed to cleanse my system, protect me against bacteria and boost my metabolism. It’s also supposed to taste so refreshingly healthy that I will soon crave this in replace of my morning coffee. While the first three points may happen, I can promise you that the fourth will not. I have in fact not had my morning coffee yet today, but only because I’ve been procrastinating about making and drinking this concoction since I woke up six hours ago.

Eush

Eush

It’s really tough going. I’m not even sure I can describe the taste, but being the stalwart scribe I tell myself I am, I will try.

 

It’s a bit like falling into a hot, dirty pond and trying desperately to get out before any of the sour, stagnant water makes its way into your mouth. But of course you can’t escape it in time and end up with a big gulp singeing your tongue and raking its way roughly down your gullet. And as it does, you feel like you might cease to exist if you have to experience that sickly, searing taste even just one more time.

 

Amazingly, there are people that live like this on a daily basis, people who don’t even think of living any other way, people who ingest only organic, (and I mean that in the rootiest sense of the word) made-from-scratch, sustenance. There are actually people who forgo a morning brew for this kind of torture. It boggles the mind. Well, my mind anyway. I am simply not wired that way. Oh, I believe in healthy choices, but sometimes I don’t…make them, that is. I like moderation. I like fruit…dipped in chocolate. I like my attainable to be sustainable. I like food that doesn’t hurt.

 

A lot.

 

Well, while writing this post has helped me get to the bottom of this pond, I mean mug, and I’m grateful, I do have to leave you. Now that my metabolism is buzzing and the bacteria in my body has most definitely been thwarted, it’s time to go rinse out this nastiness because my coffee pot is finally beeping.

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To distract from the consistent incorrect use of tense in my last post, which I’m hoping you won’t realize took me a full day to get around to fixing, I’m going to talk about coffee and its accessories.

 

I didn’t drink coffee until I turned 30. With company over one night and me, pregnant with my third and last child, I percolated a pot for our guests just as I’d done a million times before. But this time, as I set out the cream and sugar, the spoons and the mugs, I added one for myself without thinking. I poured the dark and steamy liquid, filling each one, including my own. My friends and my husband looked on, somewhat shocked.

 

And then, as natural as can be, I drank it.

 

I imagined it was a one-off, but from then on, my baby begged for beans. By the time she was out of the womb and a walking, talking two year old she was pleading for teaspoons full of my sweet and milky caffeine. (You may want to fault me for this, but I’m British and was raised on tea—let’s face it, we have since discovered that that is just as caffeine-infused as coffee and I turned out fine. No really, I did.)

 

It’s been a long few years since that first cup and it took me some time to figure out what it is about Starbucks that makes it the apparent all that.

 

It’s the lid.

 

I can’t even drink the regular coffee at Starbucks. It’s too stark, too bitter for me, so I tend to go for a milky Cappuccino, but sometimes, you just want a cuppa, you know? And I do love a good Double Double.

 

But. That. Lid.

 

I am aware this is the quintessence of first world problems but this is the world in which we live. With the knowledge available and the ‘perfect’ sample ripe for the copying, why oh why, would Tim Hortons manufacture such a horrendous lid?

 

It’s flimsy. It’s loose. It’s weak. Once you open that hatch it’ll never be on lock-down again—you’re left babysitting your beverage until the last drop. And, could the opening be any bigger? Who thought having to pause mid-walk for every sip would be convenient, or that your car would have to be motionless to take a swig. And your coffee is of course cold by then by the way, due to that gaping hole in the top of your cup.

 

I thought I’d finally found my genius when I ordered my Double Double and asked for their ‘latte lid’ instead which actually does resemble Starbucks’ style, but I knew I’d made a big mistake when I looked down to find my scarf covered in large fervently fragrant dribbles.

 

Details matter. People notice. They rely on us to get them right, to make it easy…to feel effortless. The structure, the tense, the flavor, the finishing touch…all of it counts.

 

It has to be charming. It has to be tight.

 

Readers will always choose a good fit. After all, the content is subjective.

Screen-Shot-2014-05-05-at-1.56.44-PM

 

 

 

 

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“I know where you live.”

I stop mid pour. The rich smell reaches my nose and it’s glorious, despite not being able to stomach the stuff.

“I don’t think you do.” I say calmly, tipping the pot once again. Little coffee bubbles dance on the old Formica countertop.

“I do,” he says. “Saw you outside the Laundromat last week. You were driving that old green wagon.”

He takes a sip and closes his eyes as if it’s the best thing he’s ever tasted. His lips pull into a wide, flat line.

“Yeah, well I don’t live at the Laundromat.” I joke.

It’s the simple things, isn’t it?” He sighs. “Coffee, black and hot. Cures whatever ails.”

“I don’t drink it,” I tell him. “But I imagine if I did, I’d be dousing it with cream and sugar.”

“Nah, that stuff just smothers the quality of the bean. I like to know what I’m drinking.” His eyes are still closed but they open when he asks; “How in the world can you work in a diner and not drink coffee?”

“Love the smell, can’t stand the taste.”

“Ah, it can be a cruel, cruel world.” He nods and smiles a little wider, exposing surprisingly white teeth from behind his reed-thin lips.

Ding.

Slamming my chit on the spike, I grab his order from under the warmer and set it in front of him. Two eggs, sunny side up, extra crispy bacon and sourdough toast, lightly buttered.

“How long you had that car?” He asks.

As he snaps off a piece of bacon and dips it in the ketchup he’s squirted on the edge of the plate, I can’t help but wonder where his sense of quality is now.

“Four years,” I answer. “My Grandma left it to me.”

The dark moons under his nails loosely string each finger together like a black crepe streamer and his clothes are on the worn side of things, much like his skin, supple and weathered.

“Ah, a treasure then. It’s a ’73, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, how did you…?”

“Lucky guess,” he says. “We used to have one back in the day. I learned to drive in it.” He chuckles. “Showing my age now, I suppose.”

“More?” I hold the pot over his almost empty cup.

He nods. I pour.

Despite his ruffled appearance, I can smell fresh shampoo and sharp aftershave as I lean in to wipe up the drips.

“It was a guilt gift,” I confess. “She wanted nothing to do with me. The car made her feel better.”

“Did it make you feel better?”

“Probably not for the right reasons,” I admit. “It’s the only thing I own. It’s more important than it should be now.”

“I’ll take it off your hands.” He offers and slides his business card across the counter. It claims he’s the owner of the Green Bean Organic Coffee Plant. The same coffee we use in the diner.

“I can’t. I still need it.”

“If you didn’t have it, where would you be?”

“Um, taking the bus?” My eyes shift.

“Sometimes it’s good to rid yourself of things that are holding you back.”

“I told you, I still need it.” I look away. “Why are you so hot for my car anyway?

“I could say it’s because it’s green. Or because, like I said, I learned to drive in that very same car.”

He lightly knocks his fist twice on the countertop. “

“But, I’d be lying. It’s because I know where you live.”

Green 1973 Wagon

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Like a droid, I walked into Starbucks and it wasn’t until I opened my mouth to order that I realized I didn’t actually want a coffee.

 

What am I doing here? I wondered.

 

If you’ve ever been to Starbucks, you’ll know there’s a language. You need to be able to order your grande, non-fat, half-sweet, extra hot, double shot, no whip macchiato in 5 seconds flat. No stumbling. No stuttering.

 

So, to be standing in front of this high-haired, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed barista and not have a clue what to say was, well, awkward.

 

“Something cold?” She offered, unable to conceal the hopeful gleam that I wouldn’t hold up her line much longer.

 

Something cold, I puzzled. Something cold? But, but I always got coffee. Hot coffee. Extra hot coffee. Something cold?!

 

Her eyes fluttered and a Colgate crescent fastened itself into place just below her sweet, petite, pierced nose.

 

“We have these things,” she informed me in a voice that sounded like a long, twirling question mark. “They’re like, cold with ice and berries, you know? They’re good.” She shrugged.

 

“Alright,” I conceded. “I guess I’ll try one of those.”

 

It felt odd to watch her write my name on the foreign, clear plastic cup, the comfort of my usual white, smooth familiarity gone with my snap decision. But I only had a moment to feel uneasy about my impromptu choice. In a flash, spontaneity was set in front of me, beads of water diluting the black lines of my freshly Sharpied H, A, Z and Y.

 

As I walked out into the sunshine, I paused, the fear that my gamble would disappoint, halting me.

 

Finally, caution was thrown to wind and I whet my whistle.

 

Sometimes it just takes a ballsy barista to bust your blahs and quench what has been a long-standing thirst.

Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher

Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher

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This is the fourth and final instalment.  (the story is below in its entirety)

Destiny’s betrayed me, I think as I slam my breakfast into the sink. The spoon clangs in protest and milk lashes out over the rim of the bowl and onto my hand.

I should’ve been a shoe-in.  No, I was a shoe-in. Heavy rain made angry pangs on the balcony’s cement and I focused on the miniature water bombs.

I’d put in for a new job placement two weeks ago; Head of Displays.

The Box, a large designer store, had employed me for six years and I’d snailed my way up and over the shelves from part-time stock girl to full-time smock girl while slogging through an upper echelon school for which I was still making hefty monthly payments. It had taken me four years to attain my Bachelor’s and I felt I’d more than proven my commitment to fashion.

“And along comes Denise”, I pretty much spit as I paw at the milk dots on the cuff of my blazer with a damp cloth. “Or ‘Denise the piece’ as she’s known amongst the male lunch crew when they think no one sporting alternative equipment is around.

“Piece…my ass!” I chuck the cloth into the sink to join the bowl and spoon. It stares me down while sullenly sucking up the spilled milk.

Denise appeared about a year ago. I’d choked on her perfume before she’d even hit the lunchroom, decked in a low cut blouse, red hot mini and leopard stilettos; complete with ballooning bosom and legs all aglow.

I had to admit I’d known in that instant that I was doomed. If Nigel had gotten any closer she could’ve breast fed him and every other male in the room would’ve stood in line behind him.

My boss is a lady’s man. At least, he tries to be. Nigel is tall and lanky, never having surpassed his high school physique and in his skinny ties he reminds me of a zipper, his tongue, the toggle. His black hair is a little too shiny and his thickly rimmed glasses don’t quite depict a scholar. He’s always been nice enough to me, but I’m not his type and to show my gratitude for that, I try not to step back when his spit bubbles burst onto my face. Nigel’s a bit of a close-talker.

I look around the kitchen. It’s clean and tidy and for ridiculous reasons this brings me some peace and the strength to head into work.

Snatching my satchel from the velour chair in my entry, I check for my phone.  Straightening my slim-cut cargos, I slip my feet into well-worn combat boots and take a deep breath. Grabbing an umbrella, I swing it like a sword and march out the door.

I don’t make my usual stop for a skinny macchiato.   It’s raining too hard and my hands are too full, one gripping my swaying umbrella, and the other, my slippery phone.  Aware that any sensible person would ignore a text under these conditions, I swipe away, trying to access Nikki’s message but my fingers are wet and slide uselessly over the slick screen.

I’d vented to her last night over the phone after she’d told me what Denise had said and she was probably worried I was about to do something crazy.

My attempt futile, I slip the phone back in my pocket and wish I’d made a java stop after all.  Now I’d be forced to drink the ‘coffee’ Troy made every morning.  Bless his little stock boy heart.

The store is quiet and everything, as it always does when The Box is closed, seems surreal.  I know a lot of the staff feel eerie in the big store when it’s not open for business, but not me. My spirits lift the moment that warm whoosh of air escapes the big glass doors and meets my face.  There’s something about the white, high-glossed floors and the atmosphere fused with leather, lavender, lotions and limitless blood, sweat and tears.  It’s home to me.

Taking a moment to right myself, pulling in the calm and pushing out the clutter, I feel my heart rate slow as drops of water meander off my boots and onto the gleaming floor.

“Mornin’ Lenore,” Seth greets me as he places a bold Caution: Wet Floor sign on the tile. “Jeez, yer soakin’ the place.   Dry up, would ya?”

“Very funny,” I reply. “Don’t push my buttons today Seth, cuz I can’t be held responsible for my actions.”

“Aww, the weather ain’t that bad!  Chin up, doll face.”

Seth, you’re pushing…” I walk away smiling.  “I’ll see you at lunch.”

The ride up the arced escalator is soothing and the view from half way is simply stunning.  I drift up backwards, taking it in.  The Swarovski handrails glisten and magnificent flecks are scattered throughout the store.  Billowing silk screens, blown by forced air, almost lick me as I glide by and Jalisse, a raven-haired black beauty looks like she’s swooning to the piped-in Musak as she greets me at the top.  Draped in a royal blue Maxi dress, she smiles gracefully, letting me know I made the right choice.  Her new attire pleases her.

I’m almost completely pacified by the time I step off.  My ‘you didn’t get the promotion because I’m in love with Denise’ worries nearly forgotten, I pass Jalisse and notice a dot on her chin, a little white chip marring her beautiful milk chocolate complexion.

Tiny, but enough to drive me right back to crazy town.

Vigor returning, I head to the lunchroom sporting blinders to all around me.

“Nigel, I need to talk to you.”  I look directly at him and head for the coffee pot.

He’s sitting in a fuchsia chair at the lunch table, long fingers wrapped around a cup of sludge.  His dark, thin brows lift when he hears my tone.

“Well, you’re all business bright n’ early, love.  Not even a mornin’ for your crackerjack boss, then eh?”  Nigel’s British lilt, though normally one of his few redeeming qualities, borders on annoying this particular day.

“I’m not kidding, boss.  A serious face to face – when are you free?”

I look down at the dark liquid spilling out of the carafe.  With bits and pieces of brown substance bobbing up and over the spout, I swear I see an entire bean pass through the flow and into my mug, Espresso, stock boy style.

His fingers punctuate his words and as he stands, Nigel’s tie uncurls like a snake’s tongue.  “I may have time post lunch,” he grazes on my attire, tasting his way from my boots up to my shabby but chicly ‘bunned’ hair.  “You do have a way when it comes to assembling”, he observes.  “An eclectic ensemble indeed.

Reluctant to portray self-doubt, I don’t review my outfit in front of him, but resurrect a mental image of my full-length mirror from this morning; Meh, I was good.

“I do like to think outside The Box once in a while, you know Nige…?  There are options beyond…” Small pools of sweat form in my pits as I wonder if my metaphor is over his head, but I continue to doctor my coffee, now morphing into a latte as I add more and more milk.

“As I say,” he sprays, slipping silently up beside me; “I’ll text you after my lunch.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be with Denise,” Was it my imagination or did he hiss the S?  “But it won’t be quick, I’m sure.”

“Actually,” I venture, “I don’t think I can make it ‘til lunch.  I need to talk now.”

My phone buzzes like an angry hornet trapped in my pocket.  The pools of sweat begin trickling down my sides and the waist of my Cargos becomes Martina Navratilova’s headband.

Nigel tries peering at me without turning his head, but the arm of his specs proves too wide to see past.

Lenore, love.  It wouldn’t be prudent until I’ve taken care of the other business, yeah? Sensitivity’s of the utmost…I wouldn’t like her to be the last to know.”

A snap of his tongue and he slithers away.  I toss his cold mug into the sink and use my still damp cuff to wipe his venom off my forehead.

Unable to ignore it any longer, I swat to squash the mad buzz but when I see I have twenty-two notifications from Nikki, my heart drops.

“Red alert,” most of them begin.  “It was a set-up – promo yours. Abort, abort!”

The urge to slap Denise was fierce, nothing new there, but absolutely foreign to me was wanting to kiss Nigel.  In the blink of a text his snake’s skin had shed and he’d emerged a Superhero, complete with tight blue suit and red cape.

As quickly as the thought came, I let it go.  I’d almost quit a job I loved over a rumor and I wasn’t about to start another.

I’d quietly stroke the snake.  No skin off my back.

 

Okay, so I couldn’t find a Superhero snake…

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*This is the 3rd instalment of a short – you can find the 2nd one here:

Vigor returning to my step, I head to the lunchroom now sporting blinders to all around me.

“Nigel, I need to talk to you.”  I look directly at him and head for the coffee pot.

He’s sitting in a fuchsia chair at the lunch table, his long fingers wrapped around a cup of sludge.  His dark, thin eyebrows lift when he hears my tone.

“Well, you’re all business bright n’ early, love.  Not even a good mornin’ for your crackerjack boss, then eh?”  Nigel’s British lilt, although normally one of his few redeeming qualities, is bordering on annoying this particular day.

“I’m not kidding, boss.  A serious face to face – when are you free?”

I look down at the dark liquid spilling out of the carafe.  With bits and pieces of brown substance bobbing up and over the spout, I swear I see an entire bean pass through the flow and into my mug.  Espresso, stock boy style.

His fingers punctuate his words and as he stands, Nigel’s tie uncurls like a snake’s tongue.  “I may have some time post lunch,” he grazes on my attire, tasting his way from my boots up to my shabbily-chic ‘bunned’ hair.  “You do have a way when it comes assembling”, he observes.  “Quite an eclectic ensemble.

Not wanting to portray any self-doubt, I do not look my outfit over in front of him, but rather resurrect a mental image of my full-length mirror from this morning; Meh, I was good.

“I do like to think outside The Box once in a while, you know Nige…?  There are options beyond…” Small pools of sweat form in my pits as I wonder if my metaphor is over his head, but I continue to doctor my coffee, now morphing into a latte, as I add more and more milk.

“As I say,” he sprays, “I’ll text you after my lunch.  I’m not sure how long I’ll be with Denise,” Was it my imagination or did he hiss the S?  “But we do have a lot to go over.”

With a snap of his tongue he slithers away.  I put his cold mug in the sink and use my still damp cuff to wipe his venom off my forehead.

*To be continued

*Constructive criticism encouraged!

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