Once upon a time, I lived in a place called Ocean Beach, just north of Point Loma which is just north of the San Diego Harbor. It’s an organic-minded and vegan-heavy hippie town that feels a little like living in the 60s, except, still.
Cafe Loma was the eccentric little local coffee shop that paid me minimum wage plus tips, as long as my paychecks didn’t bounce. One time, we ran out of bread. All bread. Ciabatta loafs? Zero. Croissants? All gone, even the frozen ones. No more tortillas, and as for the bagels, we were left with two blueberry. I joked with a co-worker: A customer comes in and says, I’d like a [any kind of] sandwich. The cafe worker says, I’m sorry, we’re out of ciabatta/croissants/bagels, but can I put that [any kind of] sandwich on a lemon poppyseed muffin for you?
It was that kind of coffee shop. I appeased myself by writing poetry on the backside of the receipt trail that leaked from the register. Our customers didn’t keep their receipts so the two-inch thick stream of paper would get as long as I am tall, allowing me to write full-length novels. Or, at least rants about the lack of sandwich supplies.
It was at this coffee shop that I decided to apply to graduate school and study journalism. Writing was what I loved to do, after all; I found myself writing in my free time. I wanted to write more. I wanted to do nothing but write.
Fast forward a full year. Three months into a 12-month program at Northwestern University. All I want to do is tweet. My years of writing clever Facebook statuses easily translated over to summarizing humor plus intelligent commentary into a 140-character bomb. I thought to myself, I don’t want to write, I just want to sit here in front of this screen, or an iPad, or a smartphone, and read my Twitter stream, and click on links, and reply to people, and make friends. Oh, it is so so fun.
Naturally, my concentration in J-school became Interactive Producing. I took a class called Building Networked Audiences and we learned how a news publication, or any company, can use social networking sites and networks that are not online to build a community. And I did nothing but yoga.
Keep in mind I had practiced and taught yoga before. But the itch was back, and I signed up for two training programs, which met several nights per week, and I took a yoga class at least once a day and began investing in a remarkable amount of laundry cards. Hot yoga makes for sweaty clothes. I started teaching again – getting paid to do what I love – yoga.
And, I signed up to volunteer at the cafe inside my church on Sunday mornings. I miss making coffee. It’s a hobby. I miss burning my hand on the side of the metal pitcher to make sure the steamed milk gets hot enough. I miss that somersaulting in my stomach and tendency to knock over anything I touch that is the result of a caffeine high. Mmm three shots of espresso in a small cup of coffee with a few pumps of hazelnut syrup and a whole lot of half and half … repeat as necessary.
Now, I wonder why I don’t just work in a coffee shop by the beach, and write poetry.