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(Coffee art from Art Six)

Can we all just take off work for a month or two and travel cross country trying these delicious coffee shops?? PLEASE?! Life made.”

“YES.”

I’m not even joking. New photo series/blog idea!”

 Indeed. I would have to save up to travel to all these places. But I could do a blog series on coffee shops. You could do a blog series on coffee shops. We could guest post on each other’s blogs…I could host people telling about their favorite coffee shops where they live. I’m very excited about this!!!  Do you want to guest post?”

And that’s how it started.

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(Ethiopian coffee from Queen of Sheba in Addison)

This idea probably should have occurred to me before now, but it took the post from Stefanie (who has an entire blog on the subject and thus is automatically my favorite blog to follow) on my Facebook wall to inspire it.  So Stefanie – I’m going to add to our list.

Best.  Road Trip(s).  Ever.

On Friday, April 25, I am going to start a series of guest posts about coffee shops across the country (or world…because I will fly for coffee).

And I’m inviting you to be a part of it.

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(Nichole Latte from Bochy’s)

Here are the guidelines for guest posts:

  1. Write a post about your favorite local (i.e., where you live) coffee shop.  It can be multiple shops, because as a lover and frequenter of multiple shops myself, I would never ask you to choose.  It can also be about tea shops, because while I am snobby about coffee, I also love tea (and I am going to write a love letter to Denton’s Amitea and include it). It can also be about a restaurant that makes an amazing coffee (observe the Nichole Latte from Bochy’s Bistro, pictured above), because sadly, road trippers cannot live by coffee alone.
  2. I prefer that you don’t send me posts about chains (although I offer some leeway for local-ish chains, like Cafe Brazil in the DFW area).  We all know that we can walk into any Starbucks worldwide and get the same mediocre experience/drink.  We don’t need to read about it.
  3. A special place in my heart and tear ducts is reserved for shops that sell coffee that is fairly traded, locally roasted, and/or organic. But if your favorite shop doesn’t (or doesn’t advertise it), I’m not going to hold that against it.
  4. Feel free to include a picture of your coffee, or of you enjoying your coffee, or of friends enjoying their coffee (basically any picture that goes with the words you are writing).  Pictures are not required, but I like them.  If you want the picture to appear at a certain point in the post, be sure to clarify where you want it.  Otherwise, I’m gonna do what I want.
  5. I am not super picky about word count, but if you need a guideline, shoot for somewhere between 300-1500 words.  I know that’s a huge range, but I also know that some people might be more picture-intensive, while others are text-intensive, and both styles are valued here.
  6. As far as content goes, I’m going to be pretty clear that these are not my words, so feel free to write however you write on your own blog. Having said that, I have never hosted a series before, so I’m not sure what I will receive from The Interwebs, and I have some minor anxiety about it. Therefore, I will issue a blanket statement that I reserve the right not to post everything that I’m sent and leave it at that.
  7. You don’t have to maintain your own blog in order to participate.  All I need is for you to email the following things to coffeesnob@gmail.com by May 31*: 
  • Your post (.doc or .rtf or .txt files only, please)
  • A short (100-ish words) bio, which can include a link to your blog if you do have one
  • A picture of you to go with your bio (optional)

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(probably a pour-over – my drink of choice at Seven Mile Coffee)

To start with, this series will run every Friday until forever (or until I stop having things to post). If posts start to pile up – i.e., if I end up with so many posts that it would take four months to post them weekly and WOULDN’T THAT BE WONDERFUL? – I will also offer them on Mondays, which is when I need coffee the most.

*As I hope for this to be an eternal, ongoing series, there is no actual deadline.  But if you need one, let’s just say May 31, because I can talk about coffee in Denton and the DFW area for a while, but even I will run out of things to say eventually.

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April is a funky month for me.

It’s not the weather. The weather in Texas is actually pretty perfect in April, especially this year.  It’s been cooler than usual, which for me is a glorious thing.

It’s partially the time of the school year.  April is a rushed month, trying to pick up momentum again after they’ve had a taste of Spring Break so that we can finish the semester.  That’s challenging, especially when we’ve missed as many days for weather or sickness or some other reason as we have this semester.

It’s mostly that I associate spring with loss.  Many significant people in my life – my friend G from the Bangles post, MeMaws and Granddaddies, uncles and aunts – have died during the spring.  The Boston Marathon tragedy last year fit in a little too well.

But there has also been comfort and hope, and that’s been beautiful.

Yesterday, I looked down at one of Granddaddy’s old cardigans that I was wearing, and I noticed that the tag still bore his name.

The Denton Community Market, which is the most beautiful thing Denton does, opened again.

And speaking of Boston, these pictures of survivors are my favorite thing on the Internet this month.

Edited to add – And oh gosh, this love letter to the Boston Marathon by Esther Emery.

So April is still beautiful, even through the melancholy.

I’m linking up with Amy Young’s Trusting Tuesdays, as we keep account of our OneWord365.  Join us?

I love it in your room at night 
You’re the only one who gets through to me. 

My sister and I grew up with a family friend (we’ll call her G).  She was a few years older than I, and we both looked up to her.  She taught us how to put on makeup the cool way (glitter shadow, shiny lip gloss – basically everything sparkly).  She kept us informed on who the hottest heartthrobs were.

She introduced us to The Bangles.

Jump over to Jane Halton’s blog to read the rest.

I’m guest-posting over at Story Sessions today!  We’re sharing memories this month.

“Do it again, Ut-zanne! Do it again!” Julie giggled as she toddled her tiny body in front of me again.  Her face was flushed.  Her hairline glistened, and one ringlet stuck to her cheek while the others swarmed her head like bees around a busy hive. Her hands clapped around anything that could steady her and immediately released it, lest it keep her from getting to where she was going.

She was radiant and irresistible.  Read the rest at Story Sessions.

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This month might be slow (-er than usual) around here.  I have a couple of places where I’m guest posting, and I will still do a couple of link-ups.  Or I will procrastinate and end up writing here more often.  Whatever happens, the reason is that I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo.  I have a goal of 75,000 words for the month on an old-but-new-again project called What Not to Say. It’s a commentary on the things that folks, trying to be helpful, say to single people that actually aren’t that helpful at all.  It has its own blog space, because eventually I want it to become a community project, as my experience as a single person, vast and wondrous as it may be, is still just one person’s experience, and as self-important as I am, I don’t really know how to market what would essentially be a manual on how to get along with me.

So I’m spending a lot of time that I’m in front of a computer typing furiously toward 75,000 words, and I’m spending the time I’m not in front of a computer scribbling furiously in this lovely journal:

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(My journal, my self)

I started this project years ago.  I stopped because it made me angry. All.  The.  Time.  I couldn’t let go of the anger that these memories were stirring up in me.  And it’s good to vent – to get emotion out so that it doesn’t consume you.  But when you vent (and vent…and vent…), and you are still angry, it’s not healthy.

So I stopped.

I was scared mid-February when I started getting the urge to pick it up again.  I didn’t want to go back to that place.  I especially didn’t want to go back to that place during the end of the school year, because that tends to be an annoying season to me anyway (see last post), and I didn’t want to fuel the fire.

Then it wouldn’t let me sleep. I would wake up with words, and I would not be able to fight them.  At first, there were snippets that I could save as notes on my phone.  Now, they’re whole chunks of text that would take forever to type out on Margaux’s touch screen, so I get up and type or scribble in the middle of the night.  This project has become my life again.

But now it’s different.  I’m different.

Jennifer Upton said, “You can’t see beauty if you’re bitter,” and it clicked.  I was anxious about pursuing beauty this year, but it has prepared me for writing something that has been a source of hurt to me.  It has prepared me to reframe my experiences – to say the true things while still acknowledging loving intent and leaving us a place to go from here.

So if you don’t see me a lot this month, that’s where I’ll be.  Clicking.

 

Can I be awful for a minute?  I mean, just tacky and graceless and snotty?

Good.  Because I’m gonna.

I tell my students that, contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as a stupid question.  I then go on to explain that any question that someone has not only already answered but also answered in writing falls under this category.

Because don’t be lazy.  Also, try to listen.

As the semester winds down, though, I want to add a couple of things to this category.

1.  Any question to which you could easily find the answer yourself is a dumb question.  Especially if you look at me, see that I’m busy doing something, and decide to interrupt and ask me anyway. For example, don’t ask me what time it is.  That is my pet peeve question.  I cannot think of a situation where I can be trusted to answer this question politely.  You can look at your phone just as easily as I can.  Also, there’s probably a clock on the wall.  Just turn your head.

You will get a look from me.  I’m not sure I can help it. It might be involuntary.  It might look something like this:

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(Actually, that’s more my “stop being funny – I’m trying to look angry here!” look)

It will be the look that says, “Look how accessible this information is to you without any assistance from me whatsoever.  Don’t you feel foolish?”  I will give you a look, then I will slowly and deliberately turn my head to look at the clock or to look at the phone IN YOUR HAND while I put down what I’m doing and pick up my own phone.  Then I will sigh.  Then, finally, I will answer.  This process will take at least five times longer than it would have taken you to figure it out yourself.

Overreaction?  Maybe.  Tacky?  Sure.  But not nearly as much as what I’m thinking about you in my head.

Because don’t be lazy.

2. Any question that forces me into small talk.

This is something that not many people know about me.  I like greeting people.  I like making eye contact, saying, “hello,” and wishing them a good day as they go off to class.  I like doing my part to help set the tone for a pleasant day.  I also enjoy welcoming the residents home and asking how their day went.  It’s pretty much my favorite part of my day job.

You know what’s not my favorite?

Small talk.

When I say, “Good morning,” I mean it.  When I ask how someone’s day is, I really want to know.  It’s fine if they only want to mutter “okay” as they shuffle past.  That’s their prerogative. But if they want to have a real conversation, I’m for it.

What I am not for is answering mindless questions about what I think of the weather 4,000 times a day.  If you ever encounter anyone behind a desk, do us all a favor.  Don’t talk about the weather.  Be the one fantastic person in our day who doesn’t make us have that terribly boring “conversation.”

I mean, I will answer it.  It’s not your fault that everyone in the history of the building has asked the same question.  I will be nice about it.  Usually.  Unless it’s hot.  Then I have feelings, and you will get to hear them, because hey – you asked.  But if your goal is to be nice, you’ve failed.

3. Any question that isn’t a real question but is designed to “teach” me something through manipulation and general asshattery (i.e., condescension disguised as pleasantry).

“How are you today?”
“I’m okay.  How are you?”
“Just okay?  Why not GREAT?!”

“Why don’t you smile more often?”

“Good morning!”
“How are you today?”
“I’m good.”
“Are you sure? You don’t look it.”

You clearly don’t know me very well, so let me explain some things.

1.  I have an MA in Communication.  I know how to communicate, and I do it just fine.  I do not need you to teach me how to act, and it’s rude of you to try to do so.
2.  I am 39 years old.  If you have ever encountered a grown ass woman before, you should know how to interact with one (hint – the conversations above?  Not the way to go.).
3.  I’m particular.  I have reasonable expectations, but it takes a lot to impress me.  And to get the reaction you are wanting, you have to impress me, not just meet the general expectation.
4.  I am analytical.  I am precise and honest.  If I’m not “great,” I don’t say that I am.  And as I am at work and NOT on a beach sipping an umbrella drink handed to me by a delightful cabana boy (who can smile or not, just as long as he keeps the drinks coming), I’m probably not going to be “great” when you see me.  I’m okay.  I like my job reasonably well, I’m glad to have it, and I choose to be here.  But it’s still a job, not happy fun time.

People have different personalities.  We aren’t all Polyannas.  And thank God for that.  We wouldn’t be able to breathe from all the syrup flying through the air.

I smile, but it’s usually pretty subdued, particularly compared to the bubbly stereotype you seem to want me to be.  And it’s going to stay subdued until I have something to get bubbly about.

Or unless my boss requires it, but I don’t see that happening.

But if you are a random person trying to tell me how to act at MY desk in MY building?  That will bring out the anti-bubbly. That’s a good way to get me to go from “okay” to “pissed off” in no time.

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March is my favorite month.  October is a close second, but it cannot compare to March, because March is my birth month!  The thing I was into the most was turning 39.  I received both yoga pants and wine as gifts, and I appreciated them, so clearly I am right on schedule with fulfilling the stereotype.

Winter persisted into the first week of the month and royally screwed up my class schedule, but I can’t even be mad about it.  It turned Spring Break into two weeks for me at the school where I teach, since I’m only there on Mondays.

Story Sessions had its first Story Feast (in-person meeting of local peeps), and ours was a small feast, but Marvia and I had fun hanging out at La Madeleine.

I got to spend a little time with Mom and Dad over break.  Mom had her first cataract surgery, so I went along to keep Dad company while he waited.

I took care of my friends’ dogs while they were out of town for about half a week.  While I was there, I had an uncomfortable realization. One of the dogs was dumb and needy but the sweetest dog in the world, and the other was smart and funny but also kind of an asshole.  I was dog-sitting every guy I’ve ever dated or liked.

I am also in the middle of two classes – Brandy Walker’s Be Course for Lent and the Reframing Collective through Story Sessions led by Jennifer Upton.  That’s why you’ve been seeing more pictures than usual.  I’m taking more.

Oh, and I got an iPhone.  This will be the first phone with a data plan I have had (I know, welcome to the 21st century, and I can stop churning my own butter now). I haven’t activated it yet, but I do have active plans to become addicted to Instagram.

Those are the highlights.  Here’s what was playing in the background.

To write:

I have Fishbowl mapped out.  I put the chapters in order.  I know how it’s going to end, and I know how I’m going to get there.  This is huge.

I have an idea that’s been brewing a while concerning the things people say to single people (and specifically, what I could stand for them NOT to say. . . just ever again).  So April, I’m going to write it out.  I’m going to bleed 2,500 words a day to see if I have enough words to start another project.  This could easily become a community project in the future, but for now, I’m going to see what I have to say about it.

My two favorite posts I wrote this month:

- My link-up piece for The Girls We Once Were, called Renaissance Girl.

- My answer to Andi’s prompt to give myself ten nuggets of writing advice.

To read:

Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet.  I loved it, particularly the parts about solitude.

- Vonnegut’s Welcome to the Monkey House.  My favorite story was “Who Am I This Time?”

- Stephen King’s 11/22/63.  Whose idea was it to have an 800+ page book for book club?  Oh, right.  Mine.  Well, I share the blame. I guess we all chose it. It’s a quick read, though, for 800 pages.  Because Stephen King.

Goodreads tells me that I am 11 books behind schedule on my reading challenge (100 books) for the year.  I would exclaim, “800 pages!” but that first book I read this year was really just a transcript of a speech, so I’m going to call it even.  I am trying to remember that I catch up in the summer and not let Goodreads psych me out. And maybe I could also remember that the world won’t end if I only read 90 books this year.

Some gorgeous things were written on the Internet this month.  These are my favorites:

When I Measure the Distance of God by Preston Yancey

Speaking Fear, Praying Shalom by Osheta Moore

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty – on YA Fiction and Beauty as a Priority on the Belle Jar

How Riding is Worship by Katie Rutledge

When World Vision Drops Me by Benjamin Moberg

The Internet has also been a tough place to be this month.  Lord, have mercy.

To watch:

Three words -

House.

Of.

Cards.

I watched both seasons in three days.  I couldn’t look away.

I am avoiding Psych and Scandal spoilers.  I’ll watch them after the semester’s over, when I can devote the appropriate measure of time to them. I think I’m actually going to start Psych over and watch from the first season.  That will give this season time to come out on DVD so that I can have it for my very own.  I love that show.

I finally saw Catching Fire. I liked it just as much as I liked the first one. As much as I like the story, I feel that I should have more to say about it, but no.

I had a nice time this weekend re-watching one of my favorite movies – Under the Tuscan Sun – and drinking wine and eating my weight in pasta.

But my favorite thing that I saw this month?  Veronica Mars, of course.  These were the highlights for me (and I don’t think any of them are spoilery):

- Veronica is back with the old school pop culture references – “You weren’t planning on carrying me through the airport, were you?”

- “You should only wear this.” Both times.

- Logan leaning against the car.  Rewind and pause.

- Dax Shepard cameo, for the win.

- Mac’s hair.  If I could pull off short hair at all, this is the haircut I would wear forever.

There were so many other things I loved about it, but any time you could spend reading about them would be better spent watching it.

To hear:

The Be Course has me dancing as a spiritual practice and also eating very fattening things so that my spiritual practice needs to take on some movement lest I gain 50 pounds during the class. So music has been mostly house and trip hop.  My neighbors don’t even know what to do with me.

To eat:

I have had a lot of baked goods this month (observe the pear tart above).  Brownies, cookies, cake.  I am in a constant state of sugar high.  This has to stop.  Of course, it’s chocolate chip cookie week in our e-course, and I’m a very good student. . .

During the dog-sitting/House-of-Cards-watching days, I developed an unholy affinity for peanut butter puff cereal.  I enjoy both the Mother’s and the EnviroKidz (yes, with a z) versions of this treat. As with all sugar-laced cereals, I try to mix it with plain Cheerios or plain puffed corn or wheat, but I have had at least one bowl a day for the last half of the month.

On Saturday, I took the marinara that was left over from supper club and mixed it with browned sausage.  I shaved a liberal dose of Parmesan over the top and put it on pasta.  So simple, yet so perfect when paired with birthday wine.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer - come by and tell us what you’re into!

 

 

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