If We Were Having Coffee // A Little Time to be Unproductive In

Hello, happy Sunday, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I’m up early this morning despite another late night last night. Words are coming slowly though and I am fighting my own body which longs for more sleep and my mind which would much rather do anything but create. I’m learning very quickly that the new year has found me with no more willpower or self control then the previous year left me. Still, I am up, and I am at my desk as I am scheduled to be so there has been some improvement.

The sun is rising now and my desk is lighting up with gorgeous hues of pale blue and pink. The forecast calls there to be plenty of sunshine but winter is definitely in the air. That’s fine with me though. I have no plans to leave the house. It’s my last day to do nothing before returning to my regular work schedule and I plan to savor every minute doing just as I please.

So, please, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. I have a light blond roast steeping in the French press and a bit of frothed sweet vanilla soy milk for flavor and silky texture to pour over top. Let’s talk about last week!

“So early it’s still almost dark out.
I’m near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.”

― Raymond Carver

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I was supposed to work three days this week but I only ended up going in for one, Friday.

My wife and I wanted to begin the new year with our new last names so we spent Monday morning at the Social Security office and Tuesday, New Year’s eve, at the Department of Motor Vehicles presenting the proper documents and dealing with bureaucratic errors. It was both an exciting and a frustrating experience and though we weren’t able to get everything done before the new year we were able to end the week with our new names being made official.

In the meantime we went about planning for our evening. We had hoped to celebrate the coming of 2020 by attending an event or going out for drinks and dancing even if it was only just the two of us but, to be honest, the world has seemed less safe lately and we felt that by staying home we could relax and really reflect on the new year without anxiety or worry.

We spent the day munching on snacks and for dinner we made a shrimp and crab leg boil with sausage, corn, and potatoes and plenty of wine and dessert too, of course.

I was exhausted come midnight, but I fought my fatigue tooth and nail. I had to stay up no matter what. It’s been a tradition for my wife and I for as long as we’ve known each other. Just after midnight on our first New Year’s day together, 17 years ago, my we said “I love you” to one another for the first time, and every year since we have stayed up to relive that first declaration. I hope to begin every new trip around the sun this way for as long as I live.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the rest of the week was mellow. I spent New Year’s Day lounging around the house and napping on and off throughout the day and then seeing my dad for a late night dinner. I was surprised at how many people we’re also opting for dinner out on New Year’s Day and by how many of them were for birthdays.

I stayed home from work Thursday. Since it is still winter break I am not required to go in. I’m just offered the opportunity to come in, complete a few projects, and get paid if I want, but the late night before, the pain in my stomach from over indulging over these past few weeks, and the fact that my dog and I both woke to her vomiting in the dark made me give up on the day before it really had a chance to start.

Friday I returned to work but only physically. Mentally I was elsewhere and if I’m honest, I spent more time on my personal passions than I did the work I was being paid to do. Luckily many of my coworkers were in the same sort of mood. We all ended up chatting and ordering pizzas for lunch, then heading home early.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that so far my New Year’s resolution to be more mindful about how I spend my time by scheduling my days in advance is going…ok. I am getting more done but it will take a lot of practice before the battle between what I want to do and what I really want to do is more easily won.

At first I would look at the calendar and see so many hours in which to do all the things I wanted but as the days wear on and I try to pack more and more into those hours, they have slowly become less and less abundant. I’m also struggling with procrastination and distraction. Phone notifications, Netflix, naps, ideas and tangents that suddenly pop into my head, the urge to get out of the house, my coworkers, and even my wife and pets have easily pulled me away from my schedule.

The problem, as I have mentioned, is willpower. I don’t have much of it yet but I’m practicing and working out new strategies, but it has been hard. 

The most glaring obstacle I need to overcome is getting enough sleep every night. Without sleep I have no chance at all of doing anything I set out too. I don’t even look at the schedule or the to-do lists. I fail by not even trying. Going forward I will stick to a bedtime as well as a time to wake even on the weekends, even when I’m in the middle of binge watching a good show, even when the thought of losing so many hours to unconsciousness fills me with dread.

My second mistake has been failing to include a little time to be unproductive in. I’m beginning to believe that the human mind, or at least my human mind, needs time to shut off. I’m just not ready yet to be so present and so aware all the time. I need to give myself permission to watch a show or jump on Twitter for a little every day. I need the daily break from reality.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing wise this was not a good week. I was able to come up with some essay ideas and I have every intention of working through each of them one by one over the coming weeks, but they were ideas for pieces I wanted to write for me, not for other publications.

I have been trying to find opportunities for pitching and for collecting rejections but the more I look the more I realize that though I might need community, and inspiration, and accountability, I am not keen to write for anyone but myself.

I plan to keep looking and to keep trying but I doubt I will hit my goal of 100 rejection in the next 12 months. I’m going to be a little picky, to start at least. Who knows how I will feel in a few more month’s time and after a few first attempts.

For now, I have returned to my top priority, my own blogs. This place has a new theme. I needed something that felt more like a notebook and that offered the option of post formats. I’m rethinking the kinds of posts I have been writing here week by week here and considering moving some of them into a weekly newsletter. I made an editorial calendar and spreadsheet for Zen and Pi but overcoming my need for perfection there is a hurdle I have yet to clear.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing isn’t the only area I’m trying to make improvements in.

I didn’t make a proper resolution but only a renewed effort to start moving my body more by working out 3 times a week and walking with the dog more often. So far I’m doing far better than most weeks of 2019 and though I’m proud of it I’m not letting myself get too excited. I don’t want to push myself too hard since I am still dealing with a bad ulcerative colitis flare up and I don’t want to get to a point where I will be devastated by disappointment if I have to cut back. My symptoms are triggered by stress and stressing the body with too much activity certainly counts.

I’ve also started writing in a physical journal by hand again, for two reasons. As much as I like sharing a little of each day here with all of you under my Journal tag, there is a lot that I cannot share. Stories that don’t belong to me alone, feelings I would like to keep private, and little anxieties and moments of self-pity I don’t want to live on the internet forever even if no one will ever read them. I needed a private space for my eyes alone.

I’m also ending each day with gratitude by listing 5 things no matter how small that went well or felt good. I may share those things here too but for now I need them for me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am deeply dreading the return to regular working hours and expectations in the coming week. I need the structure, sure, but it has been so nice to spend a few days living just for me for a change.

Technically, I’m off tomorrow too but like the rest of winter break I am being offered the opportunity to come in and work if I want. I’m choosing to use the day as a way to ease back into work and plan to wake at my usual time and stay at work until a little closer to my usual leave time. I’ll make sure everything is all clean and organized, that all my projects are wrapped up, and that the next four days are all scheduled out and I know exactly what I have to do to get through the week.

Still, I can tell already it’s going to be a long and grueling one.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the caffeine made me far too long winded and wordy. The sun has moved on from the east windows and I have lost track of my time. If I want to use any of this energy on my chores and to-do list I’d better end our date here and get on with the rest of my Sunday.

I hope you had a good week. I hope your New Year’s celebration was a lively and safe one, or a quiet and reflective one if that is what you needed instead. I hope your resolutions are still intact, if you set any at all, and I hope you know you can start again any time on any you may have struggled with so far.

Until next time.

Georgia // Brittany Howard

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

Featured image by John Forson on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Focusing on the Day by Day

Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of catching up over a delicious cup of coffee.

It’s a strange kind of Sunday here. Most Sundays are threaded through with alternating peace and panic, this one, much like the last is directionless and disorienting. I’m still on winter break and though I had planned to go into work tomorrow to catch up on small things and make an easy 8 hours of pay, it turns out there is a class of new employees scheduled to use my office space and no where indoors for me to work. It will be so cold I know that trying to find work to do outside on the buses will be make me miserable and render me useless. No, I think better I stay home tomorrow and in doing so give myself a little more time today to chat with you, to clean, to finish some end of the year blog posts, and to read.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. I had hoped to use the new ibrik I received from my little sister for Christmas to make a frothy cup of Turkish coffee to sip but I have yet to get out and buy some proper beans to grind for it. Still, I have plenty of bright blond roast to lift the spirits and a fresh carton of vanilla soy milk to foam and pour over top.

Let’s talk about last week!

“One must savor the coffee, to actually have it.”

― Mohith Agadi

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I cannot express to you my relief in the Christmas holiday finally being over. We had a good one, of course, but it is a stressful time of year. I love to be with my loved ones and to spread a little joy but it drains me to be out shopping, to be up planning, and to work out how and when we will ship gift and see our families. The expectations of it all nearly ruin the whole thing, you know?

My wife and I spent Christmas eve with her family. We had an Italian dinner of stuffed shells and caprese on bread paired with plenty of wine. For dessert there was tiramisu cake and sweet, syrupy amaretto to sip. All was lovely and quite lively by the time we got around to passing gifts.

On Christmas day we saw my family for brunch. My family is a bit bigger and far more disorderly. It can be overwhelming or it can be rejuvenating, depending on your mood. Being up so early in the morning meant I could go either way and somehow did. I was energized by my niece and nephew, both got nerf guns as gift and both were quickly taken over by the adults. It was roarous fun but my low energy reserve meant that I had to tap out quickly and before noon I was ready to head home.

After brunch my wife and I, the cat, and the dog all piled onto the couch and napped until it was time for us to cook our own little dinner. On the menu was braised lamb shank and roasted Brussels sprouts, carrots, onions, and garlic for dinner and a cute little raspberry mousse cake to share. Both courses were accompanied by copious amounts of wine and a warm sense of contentment and gratitude.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the day after Christmas I had to return to work. I didn’t mind though. Since it’s winter break, there are no school bus routes running and 99% of my coworkers are still at home. I go in and I catch up on paperwork, complete a long-planned project, and plan for the upcoming second half of the year. It’s quiet, easy work and I get the peace of mind of knowing that I won’t be missing out on my base pay per hour times the number of hours I won’t be at work.

For the first time in many years my wife—who now works at a different, much smaller, school district—is finally getting to enjoy an entire two weeks off for her winter break. She has worked so hard, been so stressed, and at many points of the last few years, quite depressed too, and I am so happy to see her finally getting the opportunity to balance her personal life and her work. I’m happy to see her find herself outside of her job.

I don’t have to work the entire break. Last week was just Thursday and Friday and this week was meant to be Monday, Thursday, and Friday but as I mentioned I am going to take tomorrow off too. My wife and I didn’t get one another gifts for Christmas this year but we are going to make time to change our last names and finally become our own little family before the new year starts.

I’m a little nervous about changing my name, though I don’t know. I’m not even really, really changing it. I’m simply adding my wife last name to my own, unhyphenated too so that I can still write under the name I have now. She’s adding my name to her’s too but at the beginning so that we match. I’m afraid I’ll forget to I let all our places of work, our financial institution, and any company that I do business with know to change the name on all billing and correspondence. I’m afraid, maybe, of getting used to being someone else, of being more a part of someone else too.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my health continues to improve but at a depressingly slow pace. Still, improvement is improvement and I am grateful for the hope that the day-by-day incremental decrease in pain and the increase in energy levels brings.

I did speak with my doctor last Monday and to be honest it wasn’t a lot of good news. She sounded worried and a little unsure of the next steps. This was the first time I heard her sound so uncertain and it distressed me some. She said she would send over my information to a colleague for a second opinion and decide in the next week or two what to do if I am still suffering. She would like to add a third medication to my already rigorous regimen and I’m debating whether to try to convince her otherwise. I would much rather simply move on and try something new entirely than add more pills.

But there is still hope. If I can get my ulcerative colitis symptoms under control, recapture remission, come off of these steroids, and my maintain remission with my old medication alone then there is a chance I can continue at least as I had been six months ago and work once again from there on reducing my dosages and working up to a more active lifestyle.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I still can’t believe that the year is set to end in just a few short days away. Normally I am excited to start a new year but this time I feel a reluctance to let go. 2019 was just a good year for me. I got to marry my best friend. I got to experience new things and do new things at work. I traveled. I spent time with people I love. I let go of the people who needed to move on and I learned how to love myself more than I ever have. I want more of 2019.

But, perhaps 2020 can be a good year too. I just don’t know yet and I am worried that it will be a year of return to self-destruction, directionless wandering, unfulfilled potential and passion, mistakes, and failures. I’m afraid to find out next year that I am no more than what I have become in this one.

Still, I know deep down that there is a chance too that life will go on getting better and that I will go on getting better right along with it. When I take a step back, I can see there is no reason or evidence to suggest that I can dream big and achieve as much if not so much more than I have in the next 12 months as the last. I’m working hard to center that perspective and to look through a lens of optimism and enthusiasm going forward.

I want to say now too that I won’t be declaring any big resolutions this year. I have a list of goals and things I like to do at work, in writing, with my wife and for our home, but only so time won’t get to far away from me. The only habit I am committed to changing this year is moving from thinking of my goals within the cycle of the entire year to something smaller and more manageable. I’m focusing on the day by day now, that is all.

I’ve tried balancing my life over a year, or a month, or week, thinking if I did one thing on Tuesdays and did the opposite on Thursdays it would all come out even in the end, but it never did. I am too easily distracted and too inept at guessing what my future self will do. I have learned that habit can be built nor any goal accomplished in spurts. Everything must be done a little every day. So, my only resolution is to decide how to spend the whole year by deciding now how I will spend each day and then to schedule it complete with notes, to-do lists, and reminders. I’ll talk more about this in posts to come.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I have grown very long winded and this chat has lasted a lot longer than I planned for it too. It’s time for me to return to my chores and my little to-dos before the sun makes it too far west and I make my way to the couch, the TV, and another shot of that sweet syrupy amaretto over ice.

I hope you had a good week. I hope your holidays have been warm and bright and that you’ve had plenty of good food and fun to get you through the rest of winter to come. I hope you had a good year and that if you didn’t the start of a new one will relieve and revive you.

Until next year.

Hell N Back // Bakar

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up.

Photo by Goran Ivos on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // From Well To Worrying

Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of catching up over a delicious cup of coffee.

Today feels more like a Saturday in early September than a Sunday in late December. The cold and clouds have given way to sunshine and far milder temperatures than the seasonal average. I’m too tired to get out and enjoy it but I’ve opened windows all over the house to let the warm air in. Despite my fatigue, I’m feeling cheerful too. My winter break away from work starts tomorrow so I don’t feel the usual panic at the approaching work week. There is less to do, more time to do it in, a rare gift for a Sunday. I’m soaking it up, taking advantage of it, and daring to enjoy every minute.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. It’s so warm I almost wish I had a carafe of cold brew steeping in the fridge for us but at I have a fresh bag of blond roast on hand and the French press warmed and ready to go. I have coconut milk on hand if you’d rather something lighter still than the vanilla soy. Let’s talk about last week!

“Nothing is equal to the smell of good coffee when one is real tired.”

Albany Ledger, Missouri, September 9, 1898

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my health continues to bounce wildly from well to worrying day by day. This was the first time I had to miss two days in a workweek and I felt incredibly guilty about it, especially because I knew it was the week before the district closes for the holidays. It’s one of the times of the year we need people to show up the most.

Every day I am grateful to have a job where I can take a day to rest when I need to which only makes me feel even more guilty somehow. The only thing getting me through this is knowing that eventually, I will be healthy again and back to my old productive and dedicated self. No matter what this is just for now, not forever.

I have a phone appointment with my doctor tomorrow to talk about how I am doing. Last week I got a message from her advising me to go back to a higher dose of steroids and to stay on it for the next few weeks to give my body a better chance to heal and my maintenance medication a better chance of working again. As much as I hate the long-term side effects of the steroids I was relieved to get her recommendation. I can’t deny how much better they make me feel and I am desperate for any improvement to my quality of life right now.

Tomorrow will probably just be another check-in and an evaluation of the severity of my symptoms. The overall theme is that I am improving just so much slower than I have in the past. I’d like to know what we will do if the maintenance medication I am on fails again to keep me in remission and I may even broach the subject of surgery, or perhaps I’ll save that for a future conversation. She’s already asked through email that I make another phone appointment in two weeks’ time.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that though I missed two of my five work weeks I still felt the stress of it. I didn’t have a lot on my plate but all around me I could see nothing but chaos and burnout. I spent most of my work hours hiding from the rest of the staff and making a show of being absorbed in my own work just to keep from getting sucked up in the emotional frenzy.

There was some good news too though. I found out that my district is sending me to a large 5-day conference in Texas on transporting students with special needs next March! This conference happens every year and every year I hope I’ll be among the lucky few asked to go but my low position in the office hierarchy has always prevented me from being selected. But this year things have changed. My job duties have expanded and I am working hard toward a promotion. This year I’ve made my value impossible to ignore.

In addition, though my wife now works for a much smaller district nearby there is a chance they may send her as well. We both will get to go down there, stay together, and get not just a bit of a vacation but a chance to learn something new, network, and further our professional development.

I’m excited and proud of us both! I love that we both take our jobs so seriously and that though our work might be quite niche and unimportant to the general public we both play our own vital roles in the lives of the children in our community.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that though there was disorder and flared tempers all around me I was able to find moments of peace and quiet to get a little reading done and make some new cut out poems. I used my days off started back up using Khan Academy for learning all the math I missed in high school and returning my little Spanish lessons on Duolingo. I’m just trying to keep my mind active or at least use my phone for something more useful rather than downloading games and losing hours on social media when I’m bored.

It wasn’t a very good writing week, but that’s ok. With the unpredictability of my health and the near-constant fatigue clouding my mind and hampering my productivity I didn’t think it would be. I’m taking it easy and working out a schedule and getting my ideas down onto paper and into the drafts folder. I’m still working on using “Bradbury lists” and word association to get the wheels turning. It’s working but there’s not been anything worth sharing yet. I’m hoping to begin 2020 with a more rigorous schedule and produce pieces that thought they may not be good are at least finished.

From now through the end of the year I plan to just keep on doing what I have been, plugging away little by little. I do have to work for a few of those days and make time to see my family for the holiday but outside of that, I’d like to make more time for writing. Even on my days off I have been getting up early and spending an hour at least in the “creativity room”. I’m not always focused though but with practice, I know it will get easier.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I can hardly believe that Christmas is just a few short days away! I’ve never been a big fan of Christmas, nor of the holiday season as a whole, so it isn’t like I’ve been counting down or anxiously awaiting the day. I get why others might enjoy it but for me, every aspect is only another kind of stress. The shopping, planning time with family, cooking, even receiving gifts stresses me out! What I’m looking forward to most of all is waking up early on December 26th and knowing I am the furthest away from the next Christmas and possible.

I know that may sound cynical and sad but I promise that my dislike of the season does not stem from a place of bitterness or anger. I’d simply rather stay home because it’s cold and because I’m tired and I’d rather us all save our money or buy ourselves exactly what we want instead. I think I’d be able to slip more easily into the Christmas spirit is the holidays were held over the summer. Can you imagine a warm Christmas dinner out on the patio or a Thanksgiving spent around a campfire? That’s the kind of holiday that would cheer me.

At least this year the weather will be well above freezing and by all forecasts free from snow. This will probably be one of the most summer-like Christmases I’ve ever experienced. I can say I’m happy about that but the rest of it still feels overwhelming and unnecessary.

I’m proud of myself for not avoid and procrastinating this year the way I usually do. My wife and I were able to get all of our shopping done and we were even able to ship packages to our out-of-state loved ones in just enough time to surprise them all on Christmas day. This year our plan is to spend Christmas Eve with my wife’s family and Christmas morning with mine. For dinner, it will be just the two of us, my preferred way to spend all my holidays if I could. I’m still working out the details of our meal.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this chat lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. The sun has gone down, and the coffee has long run out. I can feel my discomfort and fatigue returning and I know it will be another early night for me.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you have had a stress free shopping season and that you feel surrounded by love and warmth this holiday season. I hope you don’t overdo it too much, that you get something nice from someone who cares for you, and that you make time to care for yourself too.

Until next time.

Rollin’ Stone // Kyle Lux

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Giving Myself Space

Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of catching up over a delicious cup of coffee.

I’m up early this morning thanks to an early night last night. It was a big day yesterday and in order to get through it I had to use up every last drop of energy reserve I had. Today I feel as though I have almost nothing left, but it’s more in the body than the mind. Physically I don’t even want to move. Mentally I’m wide awake and ready for the day. It’s a frustrating predicament to be in but I’m hopeful the coffee will go a long way toward equalizing the two halves.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. I’ve got a big strong batch of blond roast steeping in the French press and some silky smooth vanilla soy milk to pour over top. The gloomy weather be damned, we have sunshine in a cup and conversation to warm the soul. Let’s talk about last week!

“There’s nothing sweeter than a cup of bitter coffee.”

― Rian Aditia

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was at least less stressful than the week before but beyond that there was much good too it. The new class I have been training has finally moved on from the classroom and testing portion of their probationary period and needing less and less from me. I’m already hearing rumors about another class bigger than the last two coming in January. I’m a little nervous about it but from here that feels so far away I simply told my boss I wasn’t ready to discuss it yet. I don’t need the additional anxiety right now.

Productivity-wise this week was a real roller coaster. Most mornings were hard. I’m still suffering with this ulcerative colitis flare and though I was certainly feeling better than the week before I still found it hard to make it in to work. I had to miss one day but I probably should have allowed myself more. It’s hard to accept that there is a lot I can’t do right now and hard to let go of guilty and worry about what others might think, but it’s getting easier. I’m one of the lucky ones though. My supervisors understand and my workplace policies allow me to take the time I need to get better without risking my livelihood.

I did receive some good news too though. My boss has decided to stay on through the end of the school year rather than leaving in the next few weeks. I wrote about him earlier in the week, about how great it has been to work for him and how rare those kinds of managers are. The fact that he’s staying means an easier transition over the summer rather than now.

I also I found out he’s sending me out on two major training trips in the next few months. A Crisis Prevention Training course in January and a major school transportation conference in March! I’m so excited to know that my workplace values me this much and so proud of myself for working hard and earning it.

Health-wise I felt very up and down too. I’m disappointed in how little the steroids are helping this time around and struggling to cope emotionally with the ways my work and home life are being impacted. Ulcerative colitis is a lonely disease, even when people care they can’t understand and understanding is what I desperately need. Luckily there are many support groups on Facebook and whenever I feel particularly sickly or down, I jump in there and read stories of others hurting in all the ways I am too. It helps to answer questions, offer support, and to vent when needed.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that with the additional down time I had from both the lack of work compared to the week before and from my simple need to rest I was able to get a bit of reading and writing in.

Some weeks ago my wife—who understands my little interests and obsessions more than I realized—brought home a 1965 Modern Library College Edition of The Plague by Albert Camus she’d found in a thrift store. I read The Stranger a few years ago and loved it but so far The Plague is much more interesting. I love stories about plagues and I love stories that ask big questions and make big statements about the human condition. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get around to this fascinating little book.

On Monday I made my first list of “Bradbury prompts” and wrote the beginning of what I hope will be a blog post for Zen and Pi, eventually. It’s a very winding and convoluted mess at the moment and I can easily see it being split up into two of more posts to narrow the ideas. The point wasn’t to write a post though. The point was to just write. To write about something that, though it may begin with me, has broader implications. To that end the exercise was a success. I found some spark in me and was able to write nearly 100 words with passion. It’s been a long time since I felt that and knowing it was only the beginning is very exciting indeed.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend has gone by too fast, but it has been a good one.

Friday night my wife and I went out for a little shopping and though we came home empty-handed and exhausted, we did get to try some awesome take out from a new chicken place up the street and, though winter and the accompanying holidays have never been my favorite time of year there is something nice about being out after sundown with all the other weary shoppers prepping for a day of gifts and giving. There is a kind of warmth and hope in it that you don’t feel in any other season.

Yesterday we woke up early for a long planned “Saturdate” together. We returned to our new favorite lunch place downtown and at some of the best sandwiches you can get anywhere. Afterward we headed to the theater district for a performance of Shakespear’s Twelfth Night, my favorite drama I read this year.

We’ve been to the theater district many times for ballet performances but this was our first play together. We had front row seats and with the circular stage and the fact that this particular play was a comedy we felt fully a part of the action. I think I have been fully converted. The ballets were nice, but they have nothing on the action of a lively play.

Next weekend we have more planned. I’m meeting my wife’s new coworkers for the first time over drinks Friday night and afterward heading to our favorite theater for dinner and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Saturday we’re heading to brunch with some, though sadly, not all, of our married couple friends. I’m looking forward to it all, and the next Sunday of rest afterward too.

If we were having coffee, I would tell that before all of that I have to get through the work week. It’s the last before our long-awaited two weeks off for the holiday break so I know it will feel very long. I’m expecting a lot of cheer and a lot of frayed nerves too. We’re all beginning to feel burned out and we know there is a lot more winter and a whole lot more school year to go. Still, making it halfway is worth celebrating and two weeks of rest is certainly a gift worth looking forward to.

I have very little work planned and I’m giving myself space for rest between meetings, tasks, tests, and obligations. The less I have scheduled the easier it will be to stay home if and when I start feeling bad again.

I have a little more Christmas shopping to do and packages I have little hope of shipping before the deadline to arrive on time. This means that every day after work I’ll be out and around town wearing myself thin to get it done and then coming home to box and wrap it all before collapsing in bed. I don’t even have any Christmas plans yet so I supposed I should work on figuring that out too. I’d love to stay home again, just my wife and I, relaxing and eating and drinking the holiday away but I dare not risk offending family twice.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the weather is growing gloomier outside and I am growing more and more fatigued with it. The dishes are done, the meals are prepped, the christmas shopping list is updated and the purchases so far are sorted. The cat and dog have already drifted off to sleep next to me and I think it’s time I joined them.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you are feeling well and that you made some small progress or found some small good to be grateful for this week. I hope you aren’t stressing too much over the holiday season and that you get to enjoy a little time for you between all you have to give to others.

Until next time.

Texas Sun // Khruangbin & Leon Bridges

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up.

Photo by Jayden Sim on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Perfect is the Enemy

Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of conversation and catching up over a cup of delicious coffee.

It’s late, I know. I stayed up too late binge-watching mindless T.V. and eating too many snacks. I normally don’t don’t do that on the weekends. I love to stay up but I know that I never deal very well with circadian disruptions in the morning. I don’t deal well with mornings in general! But the more sleep I get the better. And the truth is I’m not gettig any younger and though the mornings are getting harder all the time I am learning how valuable they really are. These late starts only mean less time in the light and already I can see the sun going down.

At least the air outside is still warm and I can have the windows open. I can hear the snow that is still melting from our last storm dripping off of rooftops and splashing in the streets. Autumn here is always more like winter but on the mild days I like to pretend spring has arrived early.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. I have the usual: hot coffee from the French press but I have returned to soy milk from almond. I missed the silky texture it gave my coffee too much. Let’s talk about last week.

“You may think a morning coffee is the most enjoyable thing in the world, but it’s really just a habit.”

― Julien Smith, The Flinch

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I know I have been going on and on here about how poorly I have been feeling. I thought about taking a break from this blog but it’s all I have right now that is both all mine and doesn’t ask too much from me. It’s all I have that is mine and I that I also have the energy for and even if it becomes a place for me to dump my complaints and my sadness, that is what it will have to be, for now.

So, I have been feeling poorly. My ulcerative colitis symptoms have been creeping on for a few weeks now but this week my symptoms have escalated quickly. I struggled at work, and worse, I struggled at home too. My greatest fear with this disease is impacted my wife and our home.

Of course, some impact can’t be helped when I’m exhausted and in pain and hating my own body for failing me so spectacularly but I’m trying to minimize it. I try to protect a little of what is good in me, to carry some small positivity and enthusiasm through the day to give to her when we get home so she isn’t left with a shell of a person, or worse, all of my misery.

The good news is that I have talked with the doctor and we have a plan. I’m back on steroids which is both awful and terrific at the same time. The side effects can be harsh over time and I have already done so many rounds in the last few years that the long-term effects will begin to pile but I know I will start feeling better soon. I’m going to set up an appointment to speak with my doctor over the phone in two weeks so we can work out what the next steps are. The hope is that I can’t get myself back into remission and stay there with the same maintenance medication I’ve been on, but I have my doubts.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that work this week was hard and not just because of how sickly I’m feeling but because I’m teaching a class of new employees again. I love teaching so much but trying always to be a good teacher is hard. What I teach is small, but it is important and I strive to take is seriously. I learn from each person I teach. I learn a new way that people learn and a new way to help people learn in a way that works for them.

This week I learned how to better explain to people why perfectionism is the worst thing while learning and while testing. I always tell them this but I have never been able to explain the why of it. Why shouldn’t they try so hard? Why shouldn’t they strive to be perfect? But this week I tested a woman who was so enthusiastic and who was doing so well but then, midway through her test, she made a mistake. It was such an understandable mistake and of course she would be given the opportunity to try again, but all she could think about was the failure and I saw the life, the enthusiasm, drain right out of her.

I’ve seen it so many times but never this obviously. People make a mistake and they stop trying. They can’t see what I see, the potential. They can see that these facts and demonstrations we demand of them are not what we are really looking for. What we are looking for is the enthusiasm, the resilience, the strength to bounce back because this isn’t about them, it’s about the kids. So, I told the woman what I saw happening in her after her failure and then she saw it, and she changed it, and now I know how to tell people why perfect is the enemy of good.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week will be hard too but most of my training is done and I have my meds now so I think it will at least be an easier week than the last. By midweek there should be some time for me to make my own. I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to reading something and to beginning a new kind of writing journey.

I cannot get Ray Bradbury out of my mind. I’ve been hearing him say WORK RELAX DON’T THINK and I have also been rolling around a part of his process that might just be the jump start I need to get from where I am to where I want to be next. It’s nothing big. In fact it’s so small and so simple that I have serious doubts it will work but I have a weird feeling too that it might at least help. I’m going to make a list, a giant list of words and phrases that I want to expand into a body of work. Essay titles, perhaps, or poetry prompts, or maybe even, someday, book chapters.

This is the task I am setting myself for December to open a spiral notebook (this has to be done long hand) and just start listing whatever pops into my head and I will keep on listing and when it’s time to WORK, I will RELAX because I won’t have to THINK so hard. I’ll let the list and my subconscious lead me to myself and you.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it is very late now and though I have so much more I want to tell you, and to be honest I’m not very tired anyway, but if I want to have any hope of a decent start to the morning and the work week, I have to go now.

I hope you had a good week. I hope that wherever you are it still feels more like autumn than it does winter. I hope that your holiday shopping season is off to a good start and that the beginning of the end of the year found you in peace.

Until next time.

Paperbacks // Arlo Parks

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up.

Photo by Julien Labelle on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Coping with What's to Come

Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of conversation and catching up over a cup of delicious coffee.

I’ve been awake since very early this morning but I have not been up and moving about as long. I woke early with pain and laid awake in the dark doing my best to breathe deeply and to relax as much as I could until the pain passed. It did, but the ordeal ate up 2 hours of sleep of my day. I’m not allowing myself to dwell on that disappointment though. I have too much to do today and I know what little energy I have will not wait for me to wallow, no matter how much coffee I drink. I’m up. I’m okay, and it’s time to start the day.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup.  It may be too cold out to open the windows but the sky is clear, and the sun is shining so we can turn up the heat, sit near the windows and pretend. I’ve got the French press out and some sweet vanilla almond milk though I’m half tempted to try using eggnog. Let’s talk about last week!

“So early it’s still almost dark out.
I’m near the window with coffee,
and the usual early morning stuff
that passes for thought.”

― Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was the shortest work week I’ve had in a long time. All weekend we’d been hearing the forecast grow more and more dire. By Monday morning we were hearing the possibility of 6 – 16 inches of snow overnight into Tuesday. All day my coworkers and I were buzzing with thoughts of a snow day away from work and an extra day added to our Thanksgiving vacation. I stayed up late after work waiting for the call I knew, I hoped, would come, and finally, it did. I went to bed early planning to get up early so I would have more snow day hours to enjoy.

I did wake up early but Tuesday I really began to feel poorly. I had been for a while, but that is how ulcerative colitis comes on, slowly and then all at once. I’d emailed my doctor already, and she ordered me to the lab for testing and to increase my medications back to where they were before our last visit. All my progress undone. With the snow there was no way I could get to the lab, so I spent the day resting and planning the rest of the week instead.

Wednesday I meant to go to work, but I didn’t have to go in and I figured why stress myself when I’m already feeling shaky and weak, you know? So I rested some more and planned a Thanksgiving meal for two while my wife spent the day with her mother. In the evening we shopped for our snacks, sweets, meat and sides, and plenty of drinks. For the night before a holiday and the day after a historical snow storm the stores were surprisingly calm and still well stocked. We found everything we needed and a whole lot, maybe too much, more.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my family was a bit scattered this year. We’re all feeling unwell, tired, stressed, and maybe a little down. We’ve been far away from each other, mentally and physically. This year we spent our holiday apart, each of us in our own homes, or with the families of our in-laws. I was sad about it but we needed it too. We needed the rest not the hustle and bustle, the expectation, the stress, the burden.

So, it was my wife and I alone and we made as special as wee could. We ate, and ate, and ate, and drank, and drank, and drank. We cooked lamb chops, mashed sweet potatoes, roasted carrots, and warmed some Colorado country bread. We watched Star Wars movies, and read books, and just enjoyed a day outside of time for a while. I had much to be thankful for.

The next day, armed with a list and a plan, we ventured out for Black Friday shopping. We left late to avoid the crowds, but it was still crazy out there. The shopping itself wasn’t so bad. There was plenty left on the shelves for everyone, but the lines were long that more than once we gave up items we’d found simply because we didn’t want to wait to purchase them. I did my best to keep in high spirits. We didn’t get all of our holiday shopping done but we made a significant dent and we might have found a few deals for ourselves that day too.

Since then I’ve been feeling worse and worse so I spent all of Saturday recouping from the holiday and all the shopping. I got the laundry done, and I got my Week’s End post up and my Currently // November post finished. I finished reading The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and watching episode 4 of Star Wars too. It was a good day.

Today was good too. I saw my family for brunch to make up for spending the holiday alone. My mom is fighting a cold so my sister made the eggs. My sister-in-law made muffins. My wife made the pancakes, and I made the bacon. We listened to music that was way too loud while we cooked and watched Disney shorts while we ate. I’ve missed them. I’ve missed all my family lately. I think in the new year I’m going to make more of an effort. I’m getting too old to let time pass between us this way.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that In between the snow, and shopping, and all the eating, and drinking, the family visit, and the relaxing I made it to the lab for the tests my doctor ordered and I’m hoping by the end of the coming week I’ll have answers and a new plan. I don’t want to dwell too much on my health but right now my body won’t let me forget. It fills up every moment with either exhaustion, pain, or worry.

I’m doubly disappointed because it may be my own fault that my symptoms are flaring. I didn’t take my medication as consistently as I was supposed too and I did not try hard enough to keep my stress levels down. I worked too hard, and I let myself pretend too easily that I was normal. I’m not normal. This won’t ever go away, and I can’t let myself forget that.

Of course, there is a chance this isn’t my fault at all but I’m not sure whether that makes things better or worse. If it isn’t my fault, then I have no control. If it isn’t my fault, then my body continues to fail me and I continue to run out of treatment options.

It’s best not to think about it right now, but like I said, it’s terribly hard not to.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that next week will no doubt be a hard one. There is another class of employees are starting which I will be training them and that means long hours and a lot of work for the foreseeable future, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I only have a few weeks left to go before it’s Christmas break anyway and that time will be so full of not just work but shopping and fun events that I know it will fly by.

I plan to talk to my coworkers and explain my need for scheduled breaks and evenly distributed work while I work on getting well again. I’m going to take real lunches, away from my desk. I’m going to ask for help, delegate, and, if I have to, if things get worse, I’ll check out all together and leave it to others to get done.

The time I have, the time I take for myself, I plan to use to read and to write, as usual. I’ve gotten through my last few books pretty quickly and I have a few more that I really want to finish a few more before the year ends. I’m also slowly plugging away at a couple of Zen and Pi drafts and there are posts to catch up on here. I bought a newspaper last week too and I’m eager to comb it for poetry finds. I need to create. I need to make something for me in order to cope with what is to come.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it’s late, much later than I expected it would be when we finally got to chat. The day got away from me and I know I won’t be able to keep my eyes open or the conversation going much longer. I have just enough energy left to prepare for tomorrow and that’s it.

I hope you had a good week. I hope that your holiday was filled with warmth and belonging. I hope you found much to be thankful for and that gratitude continues to be a concept you practice in your day to day life.

Until next time.

D’Evils // SiR

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up.

Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Time Before and in Between

Hello and happy Sunday! Thanks for stopping by for a bit of conversation and catching up over a cup of delicious coffee.

I’m feeling a bit fatigued this morning but I’m fighting it tooth and nail. I have too much to do to let a little chronic illness get in my way. The house is a mess. My resume still isn’t finished. The laundry is piled up. I have meals to prep, dinners to plan, pets who need attention and later, if there is time enough left, I’d like to do something for myself before the workweek begins. There may not be enough coffee in the house to get me through but there might be time for a nap in the middle of it all if I can keep moving now while I have the energy.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab a cup. I’m still in love with my French press though I’m starting to feel guilty for neglecting the Moka pot. I have a fresh bag of blond grounds and a fresh carton of sweet almond milk too though I am starting to miss the silkier texture and the firmer foam that comes from soy milk.

Let’s talk about last week!

“Black as the devil, hot as hell, pure as an angel, sweet as love.”

― Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week felt like a particularly long one. Between the weather, the added workload, and the raw anticipation of a Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving break, December, Christmas, and the New Year is making the time before and in between drag.

Most of the week was warm enough but around midday Wednesday things started to turn. A frigid wind blew bringing rain that froze overnight into heavy snow and icy roads by Thursday morning. I had checked the weather the day before and expected the storm to blow out of the city early in the morning but unbeknownst to me, the forecast had changed. We saw snow through the rest of the morning and the early afternoon.

Cold weather makes for hard days when you work in a transportation centered industry. It makes for even longer days when you are transporting the world’s most precious resource, children. The district opted to delay the start of school though none of us who have to venture out in the elements understand exactly how this is supposed to help. To us, it just adds chaos and confusion.

I continue to take on more responsibility and to stress myself out, for now, because I’m looking at the possibility of promotion. Before the year is over, I expect things to calm down. They have too because I am wearing myself out. I’m feeling worse, physically, but it’s not so bad that I can’t function, but I know from experience that things move downhill very slowly and then all at once I’m in pain, too sick to work, and sliding into depression. I’m emailing the doctor today so we can hopefully start doing some tests and get this thing under control before I’m too bad off.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you even though this week was a busy one I was able to plenty of reading time during lunch hours and in between work tasks. Last Thursday I wrote that I’d “finished Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky on Sunday, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller this morning, started Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury, and made slow progress through Moral Letters to Lucilius: Volume 1 by Seneca nearly every day.”

I will probably finish Zen in the Art of Writing tonight or tomorrow and next, I have The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and then Walden and Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, maybe. Since finishing The Song of Achilles I’ve wanted to read more fiction, maybe more from Madeline Miller too?

My next goal is to get back to writing my old “what I learned from..” book reviews. I like sharing the things I like and I like documenting and tracking my tastes and what I gained from what and from who. This blog, after all, is supposed to be a sort of second brain, and friend, a place to think and to bounce thoughts, ideas, and feelings off of. I already started a few drafts, but the starting has never been my problem, finishing is where the challenge lies.

Other than reading there wasn’t a lot I accomplished. In the evenings when I came home from work I had only enough energy to cook meals, clean, and care for the pets before I started

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Thanksgiving is fast approaching and I still have no idea how I am spending the holiday. I feel like no one has the energy for it this year. I know I don’t. I’ll ask around this week and see if any of my family is planning on cooking and would like me to stop by, but if not it’s okay. I quite like spending holidays just my wife and I. I’ve already floated the idea of a seafood feast rather than turkey and the usual sides.

I’ve got to get my black Friday shopping itinerary in order too. I want to get my Christmas shopping early and there are a few things I’m hoping to snag for myself and our home too. A new thermostat, a phone upgrade, a new Roku perhaps so I can watch Apple TV+. There are an overwhelming number of craft markets popping up over the next few weeks and Target’s gift sections are already beginning to look picked over and bare. I have to get going on this soon!

Yesterday my wife and I decided that getting new tattoos together sounds like a nice couple’s Christmas gift for one another. For the past few years, we’ve only been getting little things here and there and we both agree it’s time to start something big. She’s considering a back piece and I might get my knees done finally, or maybe my thighs, or my stomach, or, or, or…It’s hard to choose so this week I’m going to start settling on some ideas.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that next week should be an easy one. I’m only working for three days, maybe only two depending on how much snow next Tuesday’s storm drops on us. I have some things scheduled but nothing major and knowing my boss and my coworkers it’ll be fun. The mood always lightens before a break.

The week after that will be hard though. I’m scheduled to teach another class of new employees and we have no idea yet how many there are going to be. I’ve been told anywhere from 4 to 20. That’s quite a spread. I’m looking forward to the overtime but not to the lost hours I normally give to reading and writing time.

I’ve been learning lately that not everyone can balance work and personal pursuits every day. Some days are going to be spent doing what has to be done and then there will be whole days where you get do whatever you want instead. I’m working on remembering this when I get stressed, frustrated or feel burnt out. I’m working on recognizing when my time is mine again and learning to spend it doing what will make me feel better in the long run and not what will feel good right now. I’ll really need to focus through the rest of the year if I want to begin 2020 with the right mindset.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun and the chilly air coming in through the west windows is only reminding me of how close tomorrow is and how much more I still have to do. It reminds me of just how tired I am too. If I want to get anything done and then get any rest, I guess I had better get going. 

I hope you had a good week. I hope that you had plenty of time for yourself and you can rest easy today knowing you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. If you didn’t or if you can’t I hope you know every day is a new chance to try again.

Until next time.

Exhale // Kemba ft. Smino

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up.

Photo by Julien Labelle on Unsplash