Posted in Writing

The Coffee Shop

Soft jazz unwinds overhead in meandering strides, evoking images of the final hours of a wedding reception—discarded bouffant cake on plates and final drunken revelers stumbling about a hotel ballroom. But this is not that place.

It is instead a brightly lit coffee shop with sober patrons about their business. A college boy in basketball shorts, a t-shirt and sandals, lightly perches at a table with printed handouts and unopened textbooks. He highlights judiciously, with his car keys a mere inch from his fingers.

Next to him, a businesswoman does the same. highlighting her own pages, with much more care and and discretion. Her manicured fingers pop in an out of a coach briefcase where her notes are all neatly arranged in folders and files, and a clunky sterling bracelet jungles with every movement.

Behind the counter, the baristas bustle, talking on headsets, clanging ice, and a blender whirrs, and then a shaker.  Then someone tells a joke, and the comic relief lasts for but a second, before they are moving again…forever to make a buck.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Writing

When Your Passion Becomes Your Bread and Butter

I am sitting in Starbucks today, trying to write something. Anything. For once, I have a break in the things that I “have to write,” and have an entire day to write the things I “want” to write. And what is that? I feel like I don’t remember anymore.

I have spent the last hour going through old projects, and making new notes over old ones, just trying to get somewhere. And I’m getting nowhere. And it’s frustrating.

I spent an exhilarating decade going through my starving artist period. I lived out of suitcases. I ate instant oatmeal three meals a day. I held a series of part-time odd jobs, and slept on couches, all so I could indulge my unhealthy addiction to coffee and Microsoft Word.

It was a great time, and I am so grateful that I even got to have those years. So many people get snatched right into the corporate world, and never get to pursue their passions until their golden years.

Or, that’s what I kept telling myself every time another one of my friends got married, had a baby, or closed on their first mortgage. I am doing exactly what I want to do with my life, I told myself. I get to write. This is the price. Now, I am no longer a starving artist. I am certainly not ready to close on a mortgage or anything.

But I can afford to buy a car produced within the last ten years, and my answer to the question, “What do you for a living?” isn’t precluded by that cliche post-collegiate-millennial response, “Well, right now I’m…” No. My answer is a one hundred percent truthful, and simple, “I’m a writer.” And I’m so incredibly grateful for that. Don’t get me wrong.

But yet, somehow, by monetizing my passion, I’ve found as of late, I seemed to have sucked the life out of it. So much so, that I can’t find the part of it I truly loved. So, here I am in Starbucks, trying to find my passion again. And all I can find is the work.

It’s my day off, and I choose to spend it sitting in the same coffee shop I frequently work out of, and typing away on the same word processor. And the familiarity blocks my creativity.

I’ve never understood people that would rather not spend their entire lives pursuing their passion. It’s never made sense to me. Now, I get it. Not that I would want it any other way at this point. I couldn’t see myself doing anything else in this world for money.  Or at least being happy doing it. But, maybe, in retrospect, they had the right idea.

There’s this song, a fairly cheesy pop song, that says, “Every time I run you’re the one I run to.” I think that line describes how I feel about writing. There’s a part of me that wants to take a break, and “get away from it all.”

 

But, when I envision what this blissful, heavenly break would look like–it looks just like my daily grind. Just maybe with some waves in the background, and a different coffee shop. So what is that?

Maybe I’m just uninspired and need a hobby. But, there is something about making your bread and butter out of the one thing that truly makes you happy. I haven’t got it all worked out yet, but I wonder now if it’s an entirely good idea.

I guess I can say this now that I’m there. If I weren’t in this place, I’d probably be sitting in a darkened room, sobbing, and drowning in Jack Daniels, while lamenting on why God gave this passion and never gave me the opportunity to use it. I’ve been there.  It’s no fun, and your eyes get sore, and you’re snotting everywhere, and maybe slobbering, and your face is all sticky. Nah, no fun. I think I’ll have this problem instead.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Writing

Poem: Closeout

Into the spinning vortex we travel
Shutting doors and sealing portals
Another here, another there…

Deeper and deeper we plunge
Closing out what took us
All those years to build

Like divers into the sea we go,
Another door discovered,
Yet another window shut
So many, so many

Levels and levels we go down
Now we’re breathing on tanks
The air is scarce down here

We’re nearing the vortex floor
It’s dangerous to go this deep
Here lies bare, raw, exposed tendons
The very flesh of the human soul

This kind of mystic depth
Is where only God and his angels
Are meant to be, and even they
Are sparing with the key

We shouldn’t be this far down
We know, no mortal man
Should ever aim to comprehend
Let alone traverse, this sacred place

But here we are
And even here,
There are doors and windows
All of which must be closed

In silent reverence, we tread lightly
Daring not disturb, a single cell
We shut, we seal, we closeout

And we erase…the past.
And that which we held so deep
Now never was.

Posted in Writing

Pajamas Aren’t All They’re Cracked Up to Be: Thoughts on Working from Home

Everyone paints working from home as this idyllic picture of waking up late, going to work in your pajamas, running errands at will, and “being your own boss.” Don’t get me wrong, it can be all of those things. But, in reality, it’s not always everything it’s cracked up to be.

You do have to work–well, that is, if you want to make any money. So, the sleeping late part, and running errands during the workday, ehhh…not as much as you would think.

Your specific schedule all depends on the job and the company. Some jobs simply give you work and a deadline. Whatever hour of day or night you get it done, is up to you. So, in that sense, yes, you can run errands and sleep late.

But, it will catch up to you with some wicked late nights before deadline. You learn pretty quickly that regular office hours are probably a good idea. Other jobs, require you to be available during regular business hours, and expect certain productivity levels throughout the day. Late mornings and errands, have to be snuck in with “artful explanations.”

The truth is, whoever is paying you–be it an array of independent clients, a company down the road, or in my case, a virtual boss whom I have only ever spoken to through a corporate messaging service—they know the market value of the work they are asking you to do. And they are going to pay you accordingly. Therefore, you’re still going to have to work as hard as you would if you were doing the same job in a regular office.

As far as pajamas in the workday, sure. Knock yourself out. But, the truth is, how a person is dressed effects their attitude. Chances are, you’re not going to be inclined to behave as professionally, when you’re working on your couch in a tank top and underoos, while endless episodes of The Office stream in the background. (If you can, kudos to you).

I have found, it’s best to get fully dressed to start my work. That is, jeans, and a casual top, socks (because my feet get cold), no make-up, and haphazard ponytail. Otherwise, I start to feel gross when it’s two pm and I’m still in my sweatpants from last night. It does something to your head–especially day after day.

The being your own boss part–somewhat. If you’re self-employed, your clients are your boss. So, you do answer to them in some respect. But, if you’re just telecommuting, then you still do have a boss somewhere. Granted, they’re not bothering you all day long, but they’re still there, just an e-mail or phone call away.

I have also found it gets pretty lonely working from home all day. It’s just you, and your work–for the most part. Some jobs have messaging apps that allow you to communicate with your virtual colleagues. That helps to some degree. But, you’re all working for the most part, only available to make random comments here and there.

Now, if you’re in a client-based position like sales, it may be easier. You’re constantly out meeting new people. But, if you’re the type that just does work and turns it in–it can get lonely. And boring.

I do love working from home. No commute, and it saves on gas. It also saves on food, because you’re eating from your regular groceries instead of going out all the time. It’s healthier too. You can make nutritious meals, as opposed to processed food on the go. There’s also no dry cleaning or expensive business attire to keep up with.

In a creative position, you can take advantage of all of your gimmicks and tricks to get your creativity going. You also don’t have all of the co-worker drama you would have in an office. That’s a plus.

I love it. But, it’s not everything it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes I miss co-workers. I miss getting up, and getting in full business dress code and heading off to join the world. I miss the energy of business, and the vigor of new people coming in and out.

So, I have to remind myself when I’m working from home, that I am still in the middle of the business world. I am creating files, that are used to fill web pages, that someone somewhere uses to whine and dine advertisers and investors. I am very much contributing. I am still generating and exchanging new ideas, and people are still connected to me through my work. I just can’t see any of it.

It’s just a weird way to live.