If We Were Having Coffee // Mini Vacations and Pattern Recognition

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’ll be honest, I’m not in the best mood today. The suffocating summer heat has returned and so has the wildfire smoke blowing in from as far as California. I’ve got a strong batch of cold brew to help with the heat but my runny nose and itching eyes and throat are making me miserable. I’m hoping that some good company and conversation to pick me up though because it’d be a real shame to waste the last of the weekend this way.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. Let’s talk about last week!

“and we drink our
coffee and pretend
not to look at
each other.”

— Charles Bukowski, Luck

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that last week was my first week back to working my normal, non-summer schedule and even though I struggled with it—getting up on time, arriving to work on time, and staying awake through what has been my nap time all summer—I actually loved it. I’d forgotten how good it felt to wake up and have to be somewhere, to have things I have to and people who expect me to show up.

It’s weird but I’m just one of those people who thrives under strict schedules, clear expectations, and hard boundaries. I like to know what is coming up. I like to plan ahead and prepare emotionally for the day, the week, even the month ahead. It’s an anxiety thing I’m sure. A lot of my friends think it sounds boring, but to me, it sounds safe and efficient. I can have fun and do wild and crazy things. I can surprise myself and learn something new all the time, I just like to plan for it, that’s all.

I got to meet the new kids coming on to my route since 9th graders have a special orientation day before the official start of school. They seem awesome and I’m confident we’re going to have a fun year. I was sad to learn that one of my favorite kids from last year moved back to his home state and won’t be riding with us after all. He will definitely be missed.

Tomorrow all the kids I had last year are going to see me again for the first time since May. I can’t wait to hear all about their vacations and see just how much they have grown over the summer. That may be my favorite part of my job, watching kids grow up into young adults. It’s why I bid middle and high school routes exclusively year after year. The rapid changes these kids go through is so mysterious and fascinating to watch and I feel privileged to be a part of it, no matter how small.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the weekend was a relaxing one. Friday night we stayed in but made the night special by grabbing a pack of hard cider and picking up some hot wings for dinner. We watched Extinction on Netflix, a sci-fi alien invasion flick that wasn’t really worth the time I took to watch it.

Yesterday we went had lunch at our favorite sushi place and ended up getting marvelously daytime tipsy after a couple of ginger beer, lemonade, and grapefruit vodka concoctions. Afterward, we walked to the Alamo Drafthouse across the street to see the new Spike Lee joint, Blackkklansman. Now that is a movie worth every minute of viewing time and every penny paid to see. I highly recommend it and make sure you have some tissues with you. The entire theater was in tears by the end.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that Saturday was such a good day, and so was that the Saturday before. They were so good that I’ve decided to do my best going forward to spend every Saturday doing something new, fun, or interesting.

It’s like going on a tiny vacation. You unplug, get out of the house and away from your day-to-day grind to get a new perspective. Doing this, even for a few hours a week has profound effects on your mental health and productivity. It’s even had a profound effect on my relationship.

These past few weeks my girlfriend and I have had to deal with work bleeding over into what was once time we set aside of one another. We haven’t been able to eat dinner together, go to bed together, or talk much during the day, but these past couples of Saturdays have given us a chance to catch up and reconnect away from those responsibilities and worries.

This coming Saturday we’ll actually be celebrating our 16th anniversary. It’s a big day but we’ll keep the festivities low-key, just a nice dinner at our favorite out-of-the-way seafood place. We’ve never been big on gifts but I did get her (us) something small, a beautiful copy of the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack pressed on beautiful red vinyl.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m going to try something new this week. Last Friday I listened to an episode of the Sketchnote Army Podcast featuring a thought-provoking interview with my favorite creative, Austen Kleon. In it, Kleon outlined a compelling writing strategy he’s been utilizing.

Basically, he carries around a pocket notebook and uses it religiously. The pocket notebook is for fragments, thoughts, aha moments, and quick notes and logging. Later, the fragments and bits are expanded into journal entries, blog posts, essays, pitches, poems, and then as they pile up, a year or two out, maybe later, maybe sooner, you start to see a pattern.

That pattern is how your mind works and contains the things you think about and the areas of life in which you have opinions about the way things are or the way they should be. You find out what you are trying to tell the world. You find your big idea.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I guess I’d heard about this way of writing before and just never put much stock in it but the way Kleon explained it made me think it might make sense for me. I already take notes on everything I hear, see, say, and think, but those notes are wildly disorganized, lacking context, and easily lost. If I manage to hold on to them they are usually indecipherable by the time I decide to sit down to articulate and share what I had in my mind only hours before.

So this week my goal is to write more of these fragments and to commit to organizing them and expanding them in my journal or here on the blog every evening. My hope is that a new system will lead to a higher quantity and quality of work not just here but in others areas of my creative life.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the rising temperatures in the house have me ready for a cold shower and a nap, so, I have to cut the conversation short.

I hope you had a productive week. I hope you learned something, made some small progress, or at least made it through with minimal stress and little to no tears. I hope your weekend was relaxing. I hope you were able to make time for you and if you weren’t I hope you know there is still time.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Hussain Ibrahim on Unsplash

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If We Were Having Coffee // People Exhaust Me

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I apologize for the lateness of today’s post, and for the absence of last week’s.

My sister and her kids were in town and I didn’t want to do anything but spend time with them. And then, when it came for them to leave, I was too sad to write. I didn’t know how to get back into it and I didn’t know what to say when I tried. Slowly but surely I’m returning to the version of myself I am without them here and finding the will to write again, starting today.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup, we have a fresh batch of blond roast cold brew, or, as I recently saw it referred to, “anxiety gasoline“. Let’s talk about last week!

“I never laugh until I’ve had my coffee.”

— Clark Gable

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the world has been overwhelming lately. I have been cowering inside my little bubble more and more and this week managed to reach levels of introversion that I have never experienced before.

Around midweek the old “nausea and the urge to run away just before I turned into my workplace parking lot” feeling returned and by Friday, I was struggling to leave the car and walk in. I remember at one point turning to my girlfriend, sighing, and saying to her, “People exhaust me, even the people I like, they just wear me out” before shutting the car door and walking in.

My headphones have been a life saver, allowing me to pop in and out of the world as I want to or am able. The pets have helped too.

The cat comes and goes from around me as she wants, and the dog is available to bring me out of myself, making me feel loved and appreciated in a way that humans can’t. Of course, my main source of support is my fiance, but this time of year is her most stressful and she needs more from me than she can give back, and that’s okay. My problems aren’t always the most pressing and I, like almost everyone, need to be reminded every once in a while to pull my head out of my own ass, put my own sufferings aside, and be a source of support and empathy rather than continually seeking it.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that not all is so bleak as it sounds. Work has been a bit tense sure, but my team and I are killing it! We’ve tackled every task thrown our way with no complaints or drama between us. See, my main job is riding on school buses with special needs kids, keeping the kids happy and safe, but that is only part of what I do. The other part is teaching new employees how to do it too and keeping our existing staff trained and knowledgeable.

This time of year is very busy for us too. We want to make sure everyone has the knowledge they need to start the school year on the right foot and we have new people starting too. We also have to get ready for our own routes and get used to coming in early and going home much later again. Still, my team and I, we’re doing our best to be our best and we can only get it done by showing up, with positivity and determination. I’m grateful for at least that.

Even if I can’t always love what I do, I can show up and find, even on the worst days, an encouraging environment and the motivation to do my job well.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that, as far as writing goes, things went as they usually do. I wrote plenty and posted almost nothing, and as usual, I hope things go a little bit better in the coming week.

I want to get back to posting my “journal” posts and finish up a couple of found poems I started the week before last. The trick will be finding the energy to work in the evening. I will be too busy during my usual “writing hours”, 9:30 to 11:00 AM or so. I don’t expect to produce very much but anything at all would be better than none and that is all I am asking of myself before Friday.

I didn’t get my newsletter out as I had hoped to but I’m hoping it will be ready next weekend. I may send it earlier if it’s done. I think opening up the schedule and allowing for dispatches whenever I can get them out might help me send them more often.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that despite all the stress and depression around me, I actually had a really good weekend. Friday night we went out to find a place where we might get a few good oysters and a nice bottle of wine. We found the place and proceeded to shack off the stress of the week and enjoy the first date night we’ve had in weeks. Afterward, we walked over to Whole Foods for a few sweetie treats and then back home to pick a romantic movie to fall asleep to.

Yesterday we checked out the Museum of Contemporary Art during their “$0.01 admission fee for local residence” event. Walking around art galleries has always been one of those activities that I want to do, but feel like I don’t know how to do right. What I mean is, I like looking at art, but I’m not very good at analyzing art. I’m better at finding the beauty, less at meaning, but for one cent! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

I’d never been to the MCA. I’ve been to the Denver Art Museum plenty of times, but this was something very different and I quite enjoyed it. Plus I learned about new programs and found out about the “Octopus Initiative“, a chance for Denverites to borrow artwork the way you might borrow a book from the library. I signed up immediately and can’t wait to find out if I’ve been picked to take home a piece, to hang and enjoy for a while, before replacing it with another.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I spent a lot of my time bingeing the newest season of Orange is the New Black on Netflix. It was…okay. I like that the show brings to light much of the injustice found in the American judicial and prison system, but it’s hard to immerse yourself in that feeling and awareness when you have Piper, the shows main character, walking around being idiotic and completely ridiculous with little or no consequence.

I’m still watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown too, but I’m not rushing it. I like watching one or three episodes and then letting them sit with me for up to a week before diving in for a few more.

I also watched the first episode of the new HBO show, Random Acts of Flyness. I don’t know how to describe to you what this show is about. HBO has said it’s a “fluid, stream-of-consciousness response to the contemporary American mediascape.” It’s surreal, dark, and overwhelming which makes it hard to decide at first whether you like it or not, but eventually, you get it. Think of it as a kaleidoscope of black experience but from the inside looking out rather than the outside in. It’s a must watch for sure!

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it’s getting on toward dinner time, which means it’s time for me to panic over everything I haven’t accomplished yet. It’s time to rush around to get the laundry done, the dishwasher loaded, and emotionally prepare for the coming work week which is somehow already impossibly packed with assignments to complete.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you were productive. I hope you found a way to stay cool and to take care of yourself. I hope you were able to relax this weekend and that your coming week will be better than the last in whatever way you need it to be.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // I Used to Love Summer

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I’m moving slow today but I’m trying, my mood isn’t great though. I woke up later than I meant to and there are more things to do than there are hours to do them in.

I attempted to make breakfast but the eggs were too runny and the bacon too burnt. I fried some tortillas but they came out too hard and the avocados had gone bad. Nothing is going right but then again, I haven’t had near my usual amount of caffeine, so there is still hope.

So pull up a chair and fill up a cup. We’ve got new screens on the windows and a fresh batch of cold brew to combat the oncoming heat. Let’s talk about last week.

tumblr_osll1uv37e1tcqhjho1_1280
Albany Ledger, Missouri, September 9, 1898

 

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell that this past week wasn’t a very good one. I struggled to get to up and get to work every single day and didn’t once make it in on time. I wasn’t able to get up for my morning jog at all and writing was slow. I was easily distracted and exhausted.

Nearly every day as soon as I came home I fell asleep without intending to. I would feel an intense need to just sit down or rest for a moment and next thing I knew I’d be waking up anywhere from half an hour to two hours later. A lot of time was lost to fatigue and heat exhaustion.

And the heat! Oh my god, I used to love summer but this one has been absolutely suffocating. I miss the days where, sure, you had to suffer through a couple of hours in the afternoon but then you could head downtown, or to a friends backyard, and enjoy a good meal and a beer or two. Now the 90+ degree temperatures are holding well past 8 and 9:00 at night. There has been quite a few nights that I have gone to bed at almost 11:00 and it is still uncomfortably hot out.

It’s too hot to do anything and that is the only thing that set summer above winter. The amusement parks, the festivals, the events and gatherings, the warm nights out with friends and strangers alike just enjoying our state, our shared interests, and shaking off the stress of the day, that is what I loved about this season. Now we’re miserable outside as well as inside.

I’m ready for fall, and I have never in my life said that before. I’m afraid for the real heat that will come in August and I’m terrified of future summers. Our little swamp cooler used to be enough to get is through the worst of it but well be saving up to get central air—which is much worse for the environment—just so that I can live and sleep comfortably.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have been a huge ball of anxiety lately. I mentioned last week that it’s time for our annual bidding for routes and hours at work.

For my new readers I work on a school bus, not as a driver, but as an assistant who rides along with the kids, primarily the Special Needs kids, to make sure they have a safe and happy ride. Where I work we bid our routes based on seniority and the drivers bid the routes first. There is one particular driver I prefer to work with so I stress doubly every summer over whether or not she will get the route we want first, and then whether or not I will get the route the following week when I bid.

Last week I was able to relax a little after my driver was awarded the route we wanted. Now I only have to stress for five more days until I find out if I got the same this Friday. I’m not supposed to let myself worry too much about anything but this time of year makes it really hard to stay calm.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I made a few mistakes at work and I feel super embarrassed and down about it. Friday, during the driver’s bid, I was tasked with setting up training and testing times for individual driver’s who needed it. From the start, I misunderstood which drivers I was supposed to focus on and I missed some who needed to be scheduled. Then I scheduled them all a week earlier than I was supposed to, messing up not just my coworkers coming work week, but my own in which I planned not to work very much at all.

I’m sure it will all be okay, but I’m not used to making mistakes at work. I pride myself on being perfect and enjoy the respect and freedom I’m afforded because I make such an effort. My boss has already told me it’s okay, but I can’t shake the feeling of failure and disappointment.

This coming week will be a busy one, at first, but I’m actually looking forward to it. I haven’t been busy all summer and I’ve missed the structure of a proper work day.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that there is more to my life than work. This week my little sister and her kids will be here in Denver for seven days. I can’t even begin to express how excited I am to see them and how sad I already am that they will have to leave again at all.

I’m not sure we have any real plans while they’re here but we are hoping the siblings—my two sisters, y brother, and me—can find tattoo shop to accommodate all four of us getting some ink on the same day. The tattoos are, I hope, turning into an annual tradition. Last year was our first with matching sibling tattoos. This year we are all getting something different though.

I’m hoping to get my knees done. I’m looking to get a butterfly, specifically the Colorado hairstreak butterfly, on one knee, and on the other, a moth, the achemon sphinx moth actually. I’d like both done in that traditional, old school tattoo style. It’s a unique tribute to my home state, with the hairstreak being our official state insect and the achemon found throughout the region.

I excited, but a little scared too. The knee area can be sensitive and tattoos in general hurt anyway. Wish me luck!

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my stomach has started to growl reminding me that the afternoon is here and it’s time, not just for lunch, but to complete a few chores and get ready to run some errands and visit with family.

I hope you had a good week and that you’ve had a relaxing weekend. If it wasn’t I hope the next will be better. Try to stay cool and make sure to make time for the things you enjoy, the things you want to accomplish, and the things that make life worth living.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Summer is Slipping Through My Fingers

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. Today is a good day for it too. We’re finally getting a break in the godforsaken heat. The high is forecasted to stay below 80ºF, and there’s been a consistent cool breeze since the early morning hours. Oh, and there are clouds, real rain clouds threatening the first real precipitation we’ve had in so many days I’ve lost count. I’m actually excited!

So, fill up your cup. We’ll open the blinds and let some sun in. This place has been shut up in a futile effort to keep cool and we—me, my dog, the cat, even the houseplants—are all desperate for it. There, that’s better. Now, let’s talk about last week!

“Coffee is far more than a beverage. It is an invitation to life, disguised as a cup of warm liquid. It’s a trumpet wake-up call or a gentle rousing hand on your shoulder. Coffee is an experience, an offer, a rite of passage, a good excuse to get together.”

— Nicole Johnson

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that July is passing by much too quickly for me. June seemed to drag on forever, but July? I keep thinking we’re still in the first week or so and find myself shocked everything I check the date. How is it already the 15th? How has so much summer slipped through my fingers?

Tomorrow the routes and hours we will all bid for at work will be posted. This means we are very close to the new school year beginning and summer, with its quiet and relaxed schedule is coming to an end. It’s good and bad.

I enjoy waking up and knowing I don’t have to go to work if I don’t want to, but having to go to work is a great motivator. I write better when I have to work. I take better care of myself, and I get out into the world, into the fresh air and among other people when I have to work. During the school year, I get to meet and interact daily with children which comes with stimulating challenges, laughter, and regular inspiration. When I have to work my mind and body are put to use. I live my life, and my life feeds my writing.

But before I go back to work, there is the bidding. We bid based on seniority, and while I’m pretty high up there, I’m not at the top. That means there is a chance I might not get the hours I want, the schools I want, or the driver I want. I’ve been lucky every year, for the most part, up until now, but that luck might run out any year now. So I’m a ball of anxiety and will be until my employee group bids on the 27th.

I’m working on not being a ball of anxiety though. Worrying about the future will only rob me of what little summer I have left. A lot of it will be out of my control, and there really is nothing I can do now to help that future, so, why fret? Going forward I’ll need to be mindful of my anxiety and redirect those thoughts and that energy when I notice them intruding.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend has been a pretty relaxing one. I made a point not to plan anything since I’ll have family in town and birthdays to celebrate in the coming weeks.

We spent Friday night running errands and checking out an open house up the street. The house was recently put on the market for what I felt was a shocking amount of money considering the neighborhood. A lot more than our house would go for anyway, so we thought, let’s go over there and see what a house worth that much looks like.

We learned it certainly looks way better than our house does, but it’s not unattainable. We’ve redoubled our commitment to improving our home, and now we have a few strategic ideas on how to do so.

Saturday was spent trying to write and binge-watching Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown on Netflix, a show I dearly loved but grew lazy about keeping up with when it was on. After the news of Bourdain’s passing, I couldn’t watch it again, not right away. It felt too strange, but yesterday I felt like it was time to reacquaint myself with Bourdain’s unique talent for sharing cultures not by filtering it through himself first but by simply providing the platform and the structure for the people living it to tell you their stories directly.

The weather was unbearably hot well into the late afternoon, and all I could manage to accomplish after lunch was a cold shower and a long nap before heading out for dinner and a movie.

We saw Sorry to Bother You, a new surreal sci-fi comedy by Boots Riley exploring the pitfalls of living in a capitalistic society. The movie is wild from beginning to end, and without giving anything away I will tell you that the first half is exactly what you expect it to be after seeing the trailer, but the second half takes a sharp, more outrageous and somehow, more serious, turn. It’s not a perfect film, but it’s good enough and different enough to make it worth everyone’s time.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while I still have yet to post much of anything new here, it’s wasn’t the worst writing week I’ve had all summer. Progress was made. I finally have a solid grasp on Microsoft’s OneNote app, the new home for my notes, thought fragments, and drafts of blog posts, newsletters, poems, and pitches and hopefully where I can begin some bigger projects too.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about NaNoWriMo, the insane marathon writing event happening every November, and considering giving it another go this year. The memoir genre has been calling me, softly, shaky and unsure, from far away, but if I listen closely I can just make out my story being told. I wonder, would anyone care? Would anyone be helped, be interested, be entertained if I dared share it?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this coming week’s goals are the same as the last, to simply write. I want to try to finish two posts for the blog and post more journal posts. I have tried every day, but I never finish them. They either seem too short to too mundane, not enough of what I am trying to live is coming through. Just my flaws and my monotony. Too much of what is happening to me and not enough of what I am thinking. It’ll take practice I suppose.

I took time this week to clean up the “creativity room” and now that I have enough clear space to work and write in. I’ve set a goal of one hour a day in there, more on Saturdays, no excuses.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the rain has started to fall and my eyelids and limbs are growing heavy. I’m going to use what energy I have left to start the laundry, and then I think it’s time for a nap. I don’t want to waste the rare weekend opportunity, you know?

I hope last week was good to you. I hope you made progress in your pursuit of perfection, and I hope you weren’t too hard on yourself when you didn’t quite achieve it. No one else did either.

Until next time.

"Cognitive biases can be organized into four categories: biases that arise from too much information, not enough meaning, the need to act quickly, and the limits of memory." — https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases . "Every cognitive bias is there for a reason — primarily to save our brains time or energy. If you look at them by the problem they’re trying to solve, it becomes a lot easier to understand why they exist, how they’re useful, and the trade-offs (and resulting mental errors) that they introduce.” — https://betterhumans.coach.me/cognitive-bias-cheat-sheet-55a472476b18 . “It's not at all hard to understand a person; it's only hard to listen without bias.” — Criss Jami, Killosophy . #blackoutpoetry #bias #thinking #quote #human #newspaperpoem #foundpoetry #humancondition #cognitivebias #makeblackoutpoetry #change #writerscommunity #writersofig #humanity

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***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

 

Photo by Jonny Swales on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // A Long Way from Normalcy

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I’m up, but I wouldn’t say I’m all that awake. Today is the first day in a while that I haven’t had to get up early or rush off to an event or family gathering. My body seems to know I have nowhere to be and very little to do and is refusing to cooperate.

I’m moving slowly, but I’m not fighting it. I’m not resentful or frustrated. I don’t feel guilty or disappointed. I know I need the rest so I might as well enjoy it. I’ll write what I can, clean what I can, and spend the rest of the day watching TV, listening to some podcasts, reading, and catching up with you.

So, fill up a cup—we’ve got a fresh batch of cold brew that’s been steeping since yesterday and plenty of ice to keep us cool— take a seat on the couch and kick your feet up with me. Let’s talk about last week!

“I’ll read my books and I’ll drink coffee and I’ll listen to music, and I’ll bolt the door.”

J.D. Salinger

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was another that felt far from anything that is normal for me. I only worked two days, Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday I was off for the holiday and spent it with my fiance’s family barbecuing, drinking, watching Independence Day, and enjoying an illegal neighborhood fireworks show.

Personally, I’ve never been a fan of these nationalist holidays, but lately, I’ve been using them as an opportunity for reflection and remembrance of the true history and reality of our country, and it’s ideals and impact and spreading that truth. I’d rather think, and help others think critically about our country than participate further in the collective delusion of grandeur and rosy retrospection we cling to. Yes, I am a patriot, and yes, I love my country, and that is how I show it.

Thursday was meant to be spent at the funeral service for my mother’s father, but it has been postponed, so we moved the furniture out of his home to get it ready to sell. On Friday, I had CPR and first aid training for work. It was boring and repetitive, but there is a sense of pride that comes from knowing that you are prepared to step in and maybe even save a life in an emergency.

Most evenings my girlfriend and I were out of the house either celebrating birthdays or helping out with moving or errands. It feels like we’ve barely had time at home, or with one another, but we’ve worked hard to make time, usually deciding to stay up late and sacrifice a few hours of sleep just to enjoy a movie and a bowl of ice cream together.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that, glancing at my calendar, it seems I’m a long way from anything that looks like my normal schedule. I’ve got more family coming to town, more birthday’s to celebrate, and more summer events to attend. I’m really not complaining. It’s nice to have friends and loved ones to spend time with. I’m just tired, so very tired, but who isn’t, right?

Do you ever wish you could just freeze time for a while so you could gather your thoughts, and rest without the world passing you by? Do you ever wish for everything and everyone would just be still and quiet so that you could be still and quiet for a change?

I’m considering planning a day here and there where I unplug totally. No TV, no phone, no people, just me, alone and silent for a whole day. Maybe I’ll spend it in the woods somewhere, or maybe just locked up in my room with a good book or a set of paints to play with. I’ll pretend it a day that lies outside of time, off the calendar, and away from anything that looks like an appointment or to-do list. Wouldn’t that be nice?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that yesterday I got to spend the day at one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people. My fiance, my youngest sister, and I took my 10-year-old nephew to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to nerd out and learn a whole bunch about dinosaurs, the human body, North American birds, and space exploration, and the best part is we got to go for free!

We were lucky enough to be in line for tickets in front of a family that had quite a few free passes left over and offered to let us use them. My faith in humanity was briefly restored, and I’m hoping for an opportunity to pay the kindness forward soon.

My nephew had a great time and since we took him before his birthday party—he was actually born on the 4th but it turns out Independence Day isn’t actually a good day for a birthday party with everyone trying to travel and some people still having to work—we made sure to stop by the gift shop for some birthday present shopping.

The trip reminded how much I missed having a kid around who gets excited about the same things I get excited about. Kids see things in ways we can’t and can make something you’ve done a hundred times seem brand new again. They make it easy to be silly and to have fun. It’s going to be hard when he heads home to Texas at the end of the month.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that healthwise I am feeling physically the same and emotionally much better than I was last week. I feel happier, but my self-esteem is low. I’m working on reasoning through self-depreciating thoughts and not being so hard on myself. Breaking up big tasks into manageable chunks and prioritize the things I enjoy makes me feel good and gives me a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

As usual, my goals for this week include making progress through my current read, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, writing a few blog posts, and finding a publication to pitch. I doubt I’ll make much progress on any of those though. The “creativity room” is a mess so before I can work on some collaging, I have to get in there and clear some workspace. I’m going to get back to journaling, both in my physical notebook and here. I’ve done my best to keep up with my morning jogging ritual, and I try to make time for the things I enjoy when I can.

Besides the Museum trip I watched a movie I’d wanted to see for a long time, Good Timean intense, twisting, heart-wrenching crime film that reminded me of one of my favorite novels, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck—and caught up on the Netflix docuseries, Explained. I took a much-needed break from the news but was happy to see this morning that the boys trapped in the Thailand caves are being rescued.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it looks like the sun has shifted to the west windows and that means it’s time for me to rush around the house in a panic trying to clean and prepare for the work week to begin tomorrow.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you were able to stay cool and to find time to do something just for you. I hope the coming week will be better than the last and that you’ll have the energy, the focus, and the inspiration you’ve been looking for to accomplish that thing you’ve been working toward.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Ronaldo Arthur Vidal on Unsplash

 

If We Were Having Coffee // I Feel I’m on the Edge Again

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I’m up and moving at a decent time today despite the protest I feel in my bones.

I haven’t been sleeping well and with the new morning jog routine, and some of the errands and housework, not to mention the evenings out with family and friends, my poor body is just exhausted. Too much activity, plus chronic illness, plus weaning off of medication means an unstable mood and a fragile motivation. We’d better chat while I can.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup—today we’re trying something new, a little coffee and lemonade concoction I read about called the Laura Palmer, or the Thunderbolt, or, simply, Lemon Brew—let’s talk about last week!

Update: the 1:1 cold brew to lemonade ratio most recipes call for is super nasty. Don’t do that. Instead, mix 1 ounce of simple syrup and 4 ounces strong cold brew or espresso. Then, in a tall glass drop four mint leaves in the bottom, add 4 or 5 ice cubes, pour in the coffee syrup mix, and fill with lemonade. Stir and enjoy!

“I hope one day I’m happy enough to hold my coffee with both hands.”

Glenn Rockowitz

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are still playing the waiting game with my health. I’m happy to report that at more than halfway through my last week of steroids I am doing well. My blood work came back looking good, and besides this persistent fatigue, I do feel pretty good, considering.

Mentally I’m not as good. I feel on the edge of depression again. I’ve struggled my whole life with depression—and anxiety—and I’m all too familiar with the signs: moodiness, the blah feeling, the comfort food cravings, the longing for solitude, and the circadian rhythm reversal.  I’m aware of it and fighting it with plenty of fresh air and coffee, but it’s frustrating to feel so powerless against, well, myself.

I’m stressing over my medical bills as well. Anyone who lives in the U.S. and has ever been sick can relate. Our healthcare system sucks. I’m in a program where I am reimbursed for some of my medical costs but while I wait for my claim to be approved and the check to arrive in the mail the bills are stacking up, and my anxiety is rising.

I’m constantly worried that something might go wrong. What if I filled out a form wrong? What if I misunderstood the terms? What if they don’t pay for the medication? How we will live under such a financial burden?

It shouldn’t be this way.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that we are finally working on fixing up this old crappy house of ours.

I’ve never really liked our house. It’s not a bad house, and it’s certainly not in the worst location, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done, and I never feel like I have the time, the know-how, or the energy to do it, but we’re trying. We’re starting small and working our way up to the more difficult, more time-consuming, and more expensive projects.

We’ve replaced a few light switches and did a small plumbing project. This morning we put in a new light fixture, and this week we’ll replace some screens and fix the light above the garage. We have a whole list of little things to do and a few big things we can break into smaller steps. We’ve agreed to check off two things from the list every week, and you know what? I don’t feel so overwhelmed anymore. I actually feel kind of excited.

It feels good to learn something new, and put my problem-solving skills to work when something goes wrong. It feels good to accomplish something and to make your home your own.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my best day by far was spent at a small pop up carnival that opens every summer near us. I’d never gone before thinking it’d be boring but my mom, my youngest sister, and my nephew were heading there and wanted to know if I felt up to tagging along.

The place was pretty small, and there weren’t a whole lot of people there. The rides didn’t look terribly exciting at first, but I found myself shocked more than once after getting on one and realizing halfway through that the tame-looking ride was rather wild and terrifying. By the end of the trip my legs were shaking, and I was incredibly nauseous. In other words, I had a fantastic time!

I want to go back soon, this time with all my friends, the rest of my siblings and my girlfriend to experience this rinky-dink little carnival with me all over again.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I don’t even know where to begin with what’s been going on in the news lately. I’ve been watching, paying close attention and feeling heartbroken, confused, and furious right along with you but for some reason, I haven’t been able to write about it.

It’s all so disturbing, disquieting, and disgraceful I cannot find a place to begin. Before I can wrap my head around some new atrocity or outrage, another one is in the headline right behind it, and I’m at another loss for words.

In just the past week, with the supreme court decisions, the upcoming supreme court vacancy, the mass shooting in Annapolis, the separation of families at the border, and the ever-present threat of nuclear war have made it hard to want to stay engaged and informed. I don’t know about you, but all I want to do is bury my head in the sand and pretend everything is okay. I know I can’t, but I’m tired. I’m discouraged and despondent. I’m disappointed beyond words in humanity.

And I’m scared. For someone like me, a queer woman of color, and others like me, it feels like we’re at the mercy of the majority and the majority doesn’t care a whole lot whether we are happy—or even alive.

This country is increasingly devoid of compassion and inclusively and for those of us who are different and who want a different world where everyone feels valid, equal, and safe we can see the tide changing. We can feel the hate from the other side, and we are afraid, but we are also strong.

We’ll fight this like we always have.

What else can we do?

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my stomach has begun to grumble and that means lunchtime has snuck up on me. The day is half over, and I still have so much to do. The laundry is piled high, and dirty dishes are spread far and wide throughout the house. I’d better get a move on if I don’t want to be cleaning until bedtime.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you are still hopeful and that you are taking care of yourself. Please, if you have a minute, drop a note in the comments, so I know you are okay.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Lex Sirikiat on Unsplash

 

If We Were Having Coffee // A Profound Thing to Witness

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I am in desperate need of both. My energy levels have been waning for days now. Coffee is the only thing that has kept me going.

I’ve had an exhausting week, and a lot of it still lingers in my mind. It would help to get it out there, organize it, and leave it behind so I can begin again tomorrow with a clearer head. I’m sure you have plenty to share as well.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. The clouds are moving in, threatening rain and seducing us with promises of perfect napping weather, but I have a fresh batch of 10-hour coldbrew ready to help fight back the fatigue. Let’s talk about last week!

“At least there was coffee. Reliable, delicious life-giving coffee. ”

— Mary H. K. Choi, Emergency Contact (via coffeebooksorme)

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I took off of work nearly every day this past week to help my mother begin the arduous task of cleaning out her late father’s home. Him and his wife, my mom’s mother, had lived in the house for over fifty years and when you never move, you never have much of a reason to throw things out. You just collect them and hide them away in nooks and crannies about the place, forgetting about them entirely.

To make matters worse, this man was quite the detailed and meticulous note taker and keeper of records. For example, I found every registration, inspection, and proof of insurance card going back to the purchase of his car in 1985, all of them in the car! He has lists, upon lists, upon lists of everything he has ever done.

I’m more amused than frustrated. I keep picturing my own messy desk and all the shoe boxes and drawers I have filled with my own lists and notes scribbled on scraps of paper. I definitely come from this man.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that of course, the whole process is emotionally exhausting for my mother. Half of what I have been helping her with is staying focused and motivated. The other half is giving her a ready ear whenever she needs to talk. I offer my opinion and act as a second, less stressed out brain for her to process what must be done when she gets overwhelmed.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that by far the most interesting thing I have found is his extensive work on our family history and genealogy. He has boxes and boxes filled with photographs, news stories, and scanned book pages on various family members on every branch of the tree going back as far as the early 1700s. It looks like I had ancestors that actually fought in the revolutionary war!

Before I knew he had done all this, I had been doing my own research on the family tree, and I am delighted to find not just that he had completed so much of it himself, but that we both felt the need to know where we come from.

The more I see of him in his work and his things the more I really wish I had known him. We were a lot alike, I think.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that in the midst of all this and more going on this week, I witnessed someone’s life saved in a  restaurant this week.

We’d taken a break from sorting items, papers, and photographs in the house and went for sandwiches and crepes. While waiting for our food, I heard a commotion behind me and someone saying “he’s choking, he’s choking.” I turned around, and there was a tall, skinny kid, not more than 15 years old, I thought, backing away from his table with a look of panic in his eyes. His mouth was open, and he was gasping for air but making no sound.

His mother and another kid, his brother I figured, were trying to perform the Heimlich maneuver on him but it wasn’t working. I’d been trained in both CPR and First Aid and just as I was going to offer to try a large man stepped out from a booth, grabbed the kid around the midsection and started squeezing. It took longer and sounded a lot worse than I imagined it would in real life, but eventually, the soggy wad of bread blocking the teenager’s airway fell from his mouth.

He took a deep breath in and immediately began crying for his mother. He went to her, hugged her hard and sobbed. Tears welled up in my eyes too, and I sat back down across from my own mother to give them a moment to collect themselves. I could hear the kid thanking the stranger, the family asking to exchange phone numbers, the waitresses offering free food to everyone involved and then…it was over.

Everyone went back to eating, except for the kid, he refused to take another bite of food and asked for only water, even turning down a free milkshake. The place was buzzing around him, the stranger and the mother talking, the waitresses fully awake now, and my mother telling the story over the phone to my sister, but the kid said nothing else to anyone.

It was a very scary thing for him to go through and a very profound thing for me to witness. I hope he goes on to live a very long life and I wish him all the best in it.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am going to make a few small blog tweaks this week in hopes of jump-starting my lately lax daily writing habit.

I have been following Austin Kleon’s blog closely, and I love the way he mixes his daily lived experiences with his “niche” of creativity. I’ve recently found a slew of bloggers who blog daily for the love of blogging. They use their blogs to collect inspiration, to work out patterns in their thinking, and to look back on and mine for book ideas. They, like Kleon, do that by sharing what interests them and how that interest impacts their daily life experience.

Yesterday I came across the blog of Thord D. Hedengren who has a section for his more serious blog posts, and for his daily journal entries. I also took a look at Patrick Rhone’s site and found myself inspired by his daily blogging habit and his “Site Notes” page. Tina Roth Eisenberg also posts daily, but she doesn’t always write. Sometimes she just shares an interesting quote or image. I’d like to incorporate a few of these ideas into my own space here.

I actually do write almost every day, little journal entries recapping my day, capturing my thoughts and feelings at the moment, responding to something I saw, or read, or heard, and reminding myself what to be grateful for. I rarely share them, but I want to start because like these other bloggers, what I am interested in—the way it feels to be a human being, alive, in pain, afraid, curious, confused, in love, and all—touches every part of my day. I want to share that with you and in the process get closer to what it is I am trying to say or be myself.

I’m also giving myself permission to fail. No, I’m ordering myself to fail! I haven’t been able to finish any of the drafts I have started in the last month or so because I am terrified of sharing anything that is less than perfect. I’m afraid to be a bad writer, but the truth is, I am a bad writer, and I need to let myself be a bad writer so I can be a good writer one day. I’m going to finish my drafts and then let them go, for good or for bad, it doesn’t matter, they just need to go.

***

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I am enjoying our chat, I have probably unloaded quite enough on you. And anyway, I have family in town to visit and a house in serious need of attention. I think it’s time I get going.

I hope you had a good week. I hope your to-do list is a lot shorter than it was seven days ago and that you found some time for you. I hope you learned something new. I hope you surprised yourself. I hope next week will be even better.

Drop a note in the comments and let me know how you have been.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Mikesh Kaos on Unsplash