If We Were Having Coffee // Just Like the Last, the One Before, and the Next

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

I was up before the sun this morning starting my preparations for the day, and for the rest of the week. Today is “family day”. That means I won’t have much time during the afternoon to do my usual Sunday things so I’m shifting everything either earlier to this morning or putting it off until later this evening. So, half the laundry is done and half the house cleaning too. Half the errands are run and half the reading, writing, and resting I’d planned is past too.

Now, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. The temperature outside has plummeted since yesterday and snow is forecasted to fall through the morning. I’ve got blond roast ground steeping in the French press and creamy vanilla oat milk to temper and smooth it out. Let’s talk about last week.

“Life isn’t sugarcoated. Why should coffee be?”

― Tommy Wallach, Thanks for the Trouble

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was as physically draining as the last but not as bad as I worried it would be. The new class of employees started but there were less of them than we expected and we even lost a couple along the way. I’m down to just 7 now, a very manageable number and being given plenty of time to work with them for as long as I need to get them through. That takes a lot of pressure off of my mind and allows me not only to focus solely on doing the best job I can but to enjoy what I do too.

By far the worst part of the week wasn’t work, or people, or any other of life’s little everyday stresses. Instead, it was the weather that got me down. After weeks of mild and dry weather in January I got my hopes up that the weather in February would only get more and more spring like but reality has hit and hit hard. Last week alone we saw more days of snowfall than not. On Tuesday most school districts, including the one I work for went on a “delayed schedule” and on Friday we shut down entirely for a snow day.

It was nice to have the day off but I couldn’t help worrying too about how the schedule I’d put together was now in shambles. Every thing will have to be moved up a day at least and with a new class starting just after this one I’m worried about overlap. There is only so much I can juggle and still be expected to do my job well.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that though I was not a fan of the snow, I welcomed the extra day off from work. I spent much of it on the couch resting since I felt the beginnings of another throat infection coming on.

I’ve had a sore throat off and on for a week or two now but Friday morning I woke up and I knew it was full-blown. I’m having trouble swallowing and everything feels very raw and dry. I’m worried about losing my voice which seems to be the natural course of this particular strain of nastiness according if I’m judging by the coworkers who caught it before me.

So, I spent all of Saturday on the couch drinking cups of hot lemon water and honey some with whiskey added, some without. The soreness gets so bad that even breathing can feel like sandpaper against the back of my throat. Cough drops help but my stomach doesn’t like them. It’d be easier to limit myself if the ones my wife brought home didn’t taste like candy.

By Sunday I was feeling better, or I was faking it if I wasn’t. We’ve been holding onto tickets to a Colorado Ballet performance of Peter Pan for months now and I wasn’t going to let a little throat infection get in the way. We woke up early to get ready and went downtown to our favorite brunch place for live jazz and whole bottle mimosas. After brunch we walked over for the show. It was the last day of the season but there were a surprising amount of people, and children, there.

The show was wonderful. One of the best I’ve seen before so far, topped only by their Dracula and perhaps The Wizard of Oz performances from last season.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that though I had a hard work week, I did manage to make a lot of time for reading. I finished both Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez and Traffic by John Ruskin.

Love in the Time of Cholera was just okay. I loved the writing but hated almost all of the characters, just as I did with One Hundred Years of Solitude. I’m also not fond of the way Márquez includes abuse of women and children throughout his stories that don’t seem to at least further the plot or add to the story. It’s painful to read even through his brilliant and beautiful prose and I will say that knowing what I know now of the story and the ending I probably never would have picked it up. I’m working on a proper review with all the details now.

Traffic was much better but I can see that if someone wasn’t in the right mood or sympathetic to certain liberal ideas, this little book might bore them to tears. I, a stanch bleeding heart liberal, just happened to be in the right mood for a couple of essays on the evils of the wealth and greed.

Of course it wasn’t much a writing week, but it was better than the week before. I’m catching up on my journal excerpts and posts here and working on staying ahead of my regular posting schedule. Obviously I need to work out a new way of writing around my work schedule. These long hours won’t be ending anytime soon and I can’t keep counting on “next week, next week…”. I’m going to have to do more than make time. I’m going to have to demand it.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this coming week is going to be just like the last, and the week before, and the next one to come. I have this class through the rest of this week and another class starting just on the heels of it next week too. The work is hard but it’s rewarding and my pay check has never looked better so I’m okay for now.

I will have a short break. Tuesday is my first appointment at the infusion center for my new medication. I’m very nervous about it. I’m more than nervous. I’m a little scared too. My wife will be there with me though to make sure I’m safe and supported. I’m sure I will be fine but since I don’t know that for sure I took the whole day off of work to rest afterward.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun has gone down and my sore throat has turned into a persistent cough. If I want to have any hope of making it in to work tomorrow, I should get to bed soon. As it is, I’ll be on the couch—I want to give my wife a chance at a good night’s sleep too—which is always an uncomfortable place to sleep, but a dose of nighttime medicine should get me through.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you are well, that you’ve been able to dodge the flu, strep, and all kinds of upper respiratory and ear infections. I hope you are warm. I hope the snow isn’t piling up too high and that somewhere in your bones you can still feel the eventual approach of spring.

Until next time.

New House // Toror y Moi

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

Photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash


If We Were Having Coffee // Preparing Myself Emotionally

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

I wasn’t able to start the day as early as I’d hoped but I was able to start it with energy and enthusiasm and for that I’m grateful. I had hoped to get out and enjoy the beautiful spring-like weather forecasted for us but I’ve been warring with a headache for days now and my attempt to move a load of tile on my own has resulted in a sore back so I’m staying in. I’ll have to settle for what warm breezes and sunshine I can get through the open windows.

But, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. I’ve got the blond roast grounds already steeping in the French press and sweet vanilla oat milk already frothed and waiting. Let’s talk about last week.

“Most important conversations for humans, concerns those they are having with God, their loved ones, with themselves and with coffee.”

― Mladen Đorđević, Svetioničar – Pritajeno zlo

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was physically and emotionally exhausting though I can’t put my finger on exactly what exhausted me.

I struggled with irritability and my social skills seemed non-existent. I was either too short and snippy with people or I joked too much and took pranks too far. I just couldn’t read anyone or any room. Other people were certainly my hell this week, so much so I needed to take a day to be alone. On Tuesday I stayed home from work and spent the day resting and recalibrating and on my return to society Wednesday I found myself improved though still imperfect.

I’m chalking it up to simple burn out and to the bad news that the break I thought I would be getting from my hectic work schedule was not to come after all.

I’d hoped for at least a week of fewer work hours and responsibilities and time and mental space to return to writing for at least a few weeks but yet another big class of new employees is start this Tuesday which means I spent the remainder of last week getting paperwork ready and calming my anxiety.

No matter how many classes I teach it never gets easier. Every time I have to overcome myself in order to get up in front of them and not only impart unto them the laws, policies, and procedures they must keep in mind when transporting students but to share with them all of my personal stories of connection and heartbreak I have experienced in my time of working with children. It’s not a prestigious job, and it isn’t a difficult one to learn, but in all teaching one must make themselves vulnerable and that isn’t easy for me to do week after week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I spent the weekend hold up in the house again.

Friday night my wife and I took each other out on a date. After such a hard week among other people I decided once and for all that she is the only person in the world that I even like, let alone love, and I needed desperately to spend time with her.

We went out for dinner and a movie, our favorite date night routine ever since we met more than 17 years ago. We saw Parasite which wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be but is as good a film as all the critics are saying it is. Like Jojo Rabbit last week, we should have seen it months ago.

I had hoped to spend Saturday downtown but my wife was on call for work and the idea of touring the art museum with her work radio going off all day sounded too cringy to attempt. I stayed home to clean and to take care of the plants and myself. It was a nice lazy day and exactly what I needed.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that health-wise I’ve been feeling really good. My ulcerative colitis flare up is nearly 100% under control and I’ve got just one short week and a half left of tapering off of these awful steroids and I start my new medications.

I’ll be moving to a less intense steroid that works only in the gut so that my body won’t go on being devastated by what I have heard other IBD suffered refer to as the “devil’s tic-tac”. This side-effects from this last round came on much more swiftly than in previous years and the withdrawal from tapering off was harder too. I won’t get into specifics but I will say that my body has changed so much that I’m having a hard time connecting to it, loving it, and considering it part of me right now. I just hope the effects reverse quickly so I can start feeling whole again soon.

The Tuesday after this I head to the infusion center for my first dose of Enyvio, a more gut specific medication I hope will help me achieve and maintain true remission. My doctor has warned me that this medication is slow acting and that I may be dealing with a roller coaster of increasing and decreasing symptoms for the next 3-6 months!

I’m doing my best to prepare emotionally for this too, for the infusion itself and the possibility of side effects, for the long term wait and see, and for the possibility that after all of this, Entyvio my just fail me like the last two or three medications have too and we will be right back at square one, only worse, working out what to try next.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you last week was at least a good week for reading.

As of this writing, I’m sitting less than 100 pages from the end of Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I really like this book but I’m really struggling to finish it. I had thought I didn’t like it as much as I did his other famous tome One Hundred Years of Solitude but it’s slowly coming back to me that there were whole weeks when I put it down because despite Márquez’s beautiful and moving prose most of the book almost seems plotless. Plus, there are more characters than I can keep track of and we move between years and incidents in their lives without warning and so quickly it becomes hard to orient yourself in the story.

Still, it’s lovely, and I know that regardless of my difficulties (and countless misgivings about the treatment of women, children, and the concepts of trauma and abuse) I’m just as in love with it as I was by the end of One Hundred Years of Solitude.

I’m also halfway through Aphorisms on Love and Hate by Friedrich Nietzsche. I’m no expert on his philosophy but I have read one or two of his books and I of all the philosophers I’ve read he is my favorite not because of his philosophy but for the cutting and heartless way he handles the very humans he speaks of. If you want the hard truth and a dose of tough love, and we all can use that every once in a while, go read Nietzsche.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that while today was sunny and spring-like weather is forecasted to come to an end starting tomorrow. We’re expected to go from a high temperature over 70 degrees today to a high of just 25 tomorrow. Snow is expected to start falling in the evening and I hear rumors that there might be enough to cancel school Tuesday. I hate snow but I’ve got my fingers crossed we get dumped on.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I can already feel the air outside cooling as the sun makes its way below the mountains. It’s time to close the house up and move from coffee to hard cider and snacks while we watch the big game, or more accurately, while we wait for the commercials between plays because we aren’t “football people”, or “any kind of sports people” at all. More than anything we are celebrating the end of foot for the next 7 months or so.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you’re getting through the worst of winter well. I hope that you can sense the light at the end of the tunnel and the earth preparing to burst into life soon. I hope you made time for yourself and those you love. I hope you stay safe tonight and that whichever team you’re rooting for wins.

Until next time.

What a Life // MFnMelo feat. Saba

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

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Overworked and Unsatisfied

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

Wake up every morning just before 5:00 AM like clockwork but after a late night of binge-watching The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina over a couple of drinks and too much dessert I found it hard to leave the bed and lost another 3 hours to sleep so fitful it wasn’t even worth it. Thank God for the invention of coffee, a drink that con correct for all those sleep probelms plaguing the modern world, right?

So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. I’ve got the usual blond roast beans ground course for the french press and I’ve started addding a generous pour of sweet and silky vanilla oat milk over top. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! Let’s talk about last week.

“Often whole days pass without my speaking to anyone, except to ask for dinner or coffee. And it has been like that from the beginning.”

― Vincent Van Gogh, Van Gogh in Arles

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was only slightly less stressful than the week before. I’m working in different departments and hardly getting a break let alone a lunch in between. To make matters worse I don’t feel like anyone sees or appreciates my efforts but I’ve realized the only one I have to blame for being so overworked and unsatisfied is myself.

I enjoy the challenge but I don’t know when to stop. I like being useful, respected, important, but I forget that I am not, in fact, being compensated to do more than one person’s job. I enjoy being a part of the action but I forget that I need time away. I forget that I can take time away, that I need to take time away. So, I will.

I am still training the new class of employees but this coming week the ones who made it through will be released and I will, hopefully, finally get a little break from the chaos and settled back into my regular, boring schedule. I plan to make myself scarce and to work no more than the hours I have to and do only the tasks assigned to me. Once I feel a little more like myself, a little more stable and strong, I can try ambition and initiative again.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I am taking it easy this weekend.

Friday night I decided to unplug and get out of the house for a change. I took my wife out for a date night of dinner, drinks, and a movie. She’d been wanting to see Jojo Rabbit for months now and there was one showing at our favorite movie theater. I had just enough time after work to rush home, change, and head back out. The movie was amazing and I highly recommend you see if you haven’t yet.

Saturday was spent much like today will be, doing nothing at all. I had planned to help some friends move to their new house but it turns out they were too excited to wait and did all the moving on their own. I had thought about going hiking but I didn’t have enough time to clean my gear and buy snacks. I thought I might do some shopping or head downtown, but my body protested and the bed beckoned and the opportunity to rest felt too good to pass up.

So, I’ve been home and though part of me is lamenting the wasted hours part of me knows this is just what I needed.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I’m still not feeling 100% health-wise though compared to just a month ago I have improved beyond recognition.

I’m nearly off of the steroids which feels great emotionally but physically it’s causing me so many problems. The withdrawal is causing terrible headaches, fatigue, and continued mood swings. I’m out of patience and snapping at coworkers. I’m irritable at home and struggling to give my best self to my loved ones.

I got a call from the doctor’s office informing me that my medication would be changed and I would need to set up my next four appointments for infusion. My doctor and I had discussed the changes but I hadn’t realized that we’d moved from discussion to decision. It’s what I wanted though so I’m moving ahead and in just over two weeks I’ll be back at the infusion center again trying something new.

I’m super nervous about it. Not the infusion itself since I was on another infusion medication before and know how the process goes, but with a new medication comes the threat of new side effects, new complications, new worries and new fears. My wife has promised to stay with me the whole time (just like the medication before) to make sure I’m okay and that helps but I’m still freaking out a little.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that with the busy work schedule, my fatigue, and general bad mood I made very little progress through my reading and had no time or motivation for writing.

I did manage finish two more Penguin Little Black Classics, As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Gerard Manley Hopkins, a collection of poems celebrating nature, the human condition, and God, and The Saga of Gunnlaug Serpent-tongue by Anonymous, an Icelandic tale of two high-born poets competing for love.

Both were surprising and rewarding reads. That’s what I love about this set, each book is something I probably never would have chosen to read on my own but each so far has proven worth the time. I’m reminded there is good work outside of what I am typically drawn to and encouraged to continue branching out even after I work my way through these 80 short works.

Now I’m reading the intriguingly titled On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas de Quincey, a satirical essay on exploring murder in an aesthetic light. I’m still slogging through Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez but I’m just not enjoying it as much as I thought I would. This week I’m going to try to make as much progress as I can. The best way out is through, right?

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m actually looking forward to next week. The chaos should finally start dying down again and I’ve already said I’m going to do my best to take at least a half-step back from optional job duties but more than that I’m looking forward to using that time for personal pursuits and passions again.

I’ve been missing my old split shift schedule with hours and hours between in which I could pop my ear buds in and type away about nothing at all. I miss my long lunches spent lost in my books. I miss having time to learn something new. I miss having time to think. I miss having time that belonged to me.

Next week is that last one before February begins and I would like to end it on a more fulfilling note that I spent it. I have post drafts I’d love to make progress on, more books to finish, a newsletter I’d like to send out, and collages and found poems I want to make and share. I’m looking forward to time and space to spread out in.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the sun has moved on to the west windows and it’s time for me to start looking toward the coming work week. It’s time for chores and preparations. It’s time to go enjoy what’s left of the weekend too.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you haven’t been feeling too stressed or depressed. I hope you’ve had successes and if you haven’t I hope you aren’t too hard on yourself. I hope you’re ready to say goodbye to the first month of 2020 and that February will find you rested and ready to begin again.

Until next time.

Sunday Blues // Julianna Townsend

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

Photo by Dmytro Davydenko on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // Comfortable in My Skin Again

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

I know it’s late but today didn’t turn out exactly as I imagined it would. I woke up early this morning to take some time for me and to write but it’s also family day and there wasn’t enough time for all the things I wanted to do before I was out the door and on my way and my family always get more of me than I plan to give. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. Time with them is time spent in warmth, and love, and laughter. It was a good day, but it went on so much longer than I expected. Luckily it’s never too late for coffee, not really.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. I’ve got the usual ground light roast steeping in the French press but we’ll be trying oat milk for the first time tonight. Let’s talk about last week.

“Either way, he figured a cup of coffee would hit the spot. For what is more versatile? As at home in tin as it is in Limoges, coffee can energize the industrious at dawn, calm the reflective at noon, or raise the spirits of the beleaguered in the middle of the night.”

― Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this past week was a very busy one. I spent long hours at work training a new class of employees all without my boss around to help guide me and all while trying to manage my stress levels and wean off of my medications.

There was more than one evening through the week that I came home, head throbbing and my body sore from the hips down after walking all day that I could hardly stand. I’d collapse in the bed, sleep until my wife woke me for dinner, and then sleep again just to wake up the next morning still exhausted, still hurting, but still determined to keep putting one foot in front in of the other and get through another day no matter what.

The class is doing well and at least this isn’t my first one so I’m not completely lost. I do learn a little more each time and I can tell I’m getting better. Speaking in front of a group is coming easier now and so are the answers to weirder and wilder questions. Working on a school bus isn’t easy and you would be shocked by the outrageous scenarios and situations that can arise on a moving vehicle filled with children who do not consider you much of an authority figure. The training is extensive and surprisingly overwhelming and oftentimes even emotional.

By Friday I had over 10 hours of overtime when most weeks I barely want to work over 30. The hours in addition to the weekly drop in milligrams I’m taking in steroids, in addition to my increasing anxiety, and in addition to chronic pain and fatigue means I feel like superwoman right now! I know I’m not supposed to push so hard but I need these wins right now. I need to know I can still do things. I need other people to know I can do these things.

So, it was a tough week but I survived with few setbacks or blows to my dignity and now I can give myself the rest I desperately need.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I have very little planned for this long weekend away from work.

Friday night I wasn’t feeling very much like myself. Between the steroid-induced acne, sweating, and facial swelling my self-esteem had been taking hits all week and by the end, all I wanted to do was crawl into a dark hole as far away from other humans as possible and live in isolation forever. I felt ugly and embarrassed and it’s been hard for me to imagine that others don’t see me the way that I see myself.

I’m doing much better now though. I turned Saturday into a day of self-care. I took a long shower and did a deep cleanse on my hair. I used lots of smell good soaps and conditioners. I did a clay face mask. I shaved and plucked and primped until I felt comfortable in my own skin again. I know I shouldn’t be so vain or so worried about what others think, but I’m human and all humans do at least sometimes. I’m not usually one to spend so much time on my appearance but I think spending more time doing things that make me feel beautiful and good is just what I need right now.

Today I’m was with my brother and his family for our weekly family day potluck. His wife had surgery last week and I was anxious to see how she is doing. She seems well, considering, but I could tell our presence weighed on her and only wore her out further. At the same time, I know she wanted us there and I did my best to be cheerful and useful. In turn they cheered me too. I need to get out of the house and among people more often than I have the energy or inclination to.

Tomorrow I’m off from work for the holiday and though I will be thinking of the great Dr. Martin Luther King and his legacy, I am also going to spend the time thinking of myself too.

I need a day outside of time (as I call those scattered Mondays and Fridays marked “closed” on our school year calendar) to forget work, and errands, and chores, and goals, and to just be happy doing nothing but living and loving. I’m going to get out, see the sun, and go buy something nice for myself. I’m going to eat something bad for me, drink a beer in the middle of the day, take a nap, then do nothing at all for the rest of the evening and feel not one shred of guilt for it.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I was too busy this week to do much of anything outside of work and sleep but I did find time to read since my Penguin Little Black Classics box set arrived yesterday. I’ve already finished book one, Mrs. Rosie and the Priest by Giovanni Boccaccio, which was quite a salacious set of stories for Penguin to begin with, but I’m taking my time with the second, a small book of startlingly beautiful poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Each book in the set is only around 50 pages long and I felt that sticking to my original reading goal of 30 books for the year would have been far too easy now. I felt too much like cheating so I raised it to 50 books for 2020. I may raise it further considering not only that I can read many of these in one day but that a few of them I have read already. I’d love to add the whole set, all 80 books, plus the 30 novel-length books I had already planned to read, and hit an even 120 but the end of December.

In addition to the set, I’m also reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude last year and fell in love with Márquez. He has taken my breath away once again with his prose but the feminist in me is again screaming that though he writes beautifully there is so much suffering, oppression, and mistreatment of women and children underneath it all.

I can, of course, still enjoy the story and the writing but my principles will not let me overlook the pain. It’s so frustrating to read these classics as a queer woman of color and see so much that men miss in the way they write about experiences outside of their own. I can see how much they forget, how much they don’t see, how much they don’t care and when it’s a writer you really love, it hurts deeply.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the coming week is going to be another busy one, unfortunately. The class had to be extended due to the long holiday and that means more days spent working long hours and pushing myself hard to get through the week. I’m thankful it will be at least one day shorter and there is a chance it may be two since I’m technically off on Friday too.

I meant to spend it helping a coworker and friend move along with another coworker and friend but the coworker and friend who was going to help too won’t be able to come and since I already have the day off I have the option of taking it anyway or going in to avoid the guilt. Staying home sounds like the more enjoyable choice but there is so much work to be done and my chances of reaching working enough to reach “time and a half” are already looking slim.

It only one day but living in a capitalist society makes these choices hard. I hate to let my team down, to leave work undone, to be unproductive, or to turn down the money, you know?

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that though I am enjoying the late-night chat too much coffee for too long into the night starts to impact the quality of the next day to come. There won’t be enough coffee in the world to correct for what I take from tomorrow today so I have to be off to bed now and salvage what I can.

I hope you had a good week. I hope you aren’t feeling too stressed or down. I hope you spent time with people you love and that you made time for yourself too. I hope you are reading something good or that you’re making something simply because it feels good and right to make it. I hope you have something that is yours alone and if you don’t I hope it finds you soon.

Until next time.

Blue World // Mac Miller

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

Photo by Julien Labelle on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // What I Know I Love Doing

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

I was up before the sun this morning. I made making breakfast and even got some cleaning done but it turned out that my mind was too far ahead of my body and mistakenly thought I had the energy to do more than I could.

Very quickly the bed beckoned me back and my subconscious held me there by dreaming I was doing all the things I had hoped to do while awake. When I woke again, it was to disappointment. I had done none of the things I thought I had and worse, had to muster the motivation again to do them in again in waking life. Coffee, made quickly and in copious amounts, will be a necessity today.

So, please, pull up a chair and grab yourself a cup. I have the usual: a light blond roast steeped in the French press and a bit of frothed sweet vanilla soy milk to smooth and temper it. Let’s talk about last week!

At this point, caffeine wasn’t for pleasure, it was sheer survival.”

― Stormy Smith, Who She Was

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was my first back to work after two weeks of winter break. I did work a little during that time but the workdays were shorter and farther between and the expectations were lowered and lax.

Returning to the early mornings and the chaos was a hard adjustment. There was a route in need of a substitute assistant and I have been temporarily assigned to ride with those kids until a permanent replacement is found. At first, I was a little peeved by the change but it turns out the kids are really good, the driver is competent, and the route itself runs through a few parts of town with gorgeous views of the mountains to the west and the sun rising in the east.

Every day on it I loved it a little more. Not enough to become the permanent assistant but enough that for the time being it is a part of my day in which I can find comfort and peace for the time being.

Outside of the route I spent much of the week feeling irritable and went to great lengths to isolate myself in order to cope. It wasn’t hard though. I had a lot of coworkers out during the breaks handling family emergencies or running errands. I wasn’t alone all day though. When I needed a laugh or to feel part of the team, my friends were there to pull me in and cheer me up. I’m lucky to work in a place where I have such control over my interactions and boundaries.

All in all, I think it was as good of a return as could be hoped for. Very little went as wrong as it could have and the greatest task I had was simply preparing for the next week. I have a new class of employees starting on Tuesday and that means a return to long hours and high stress levels. I’m going to my best to manage my time and emotions and I expect that things will come easier now that I have a few classes under my belt and I can anticipate the questions, the complications, and what is needed of me.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this weekend has been relatively low key but far too short.

Friday night my wife was out at a retirement party for her coworkers and I opted to stay in with the dog to nurse a headache and make some progress through my reading goal. I splurged and ordered gyros for delivery and slept on the couch. Evening naps are my favorite luxury and I only allow myself to indulge on Fridays when I know I won’t have to worry about work the next day.

Saturday morning I woke up early to make chicken tacos for my brother and his wife’s housewarming potluck. Their old place had been too small, was located in a bad neighborhood, and the landlord was frustratingly inattentive. The new place is the opposite in every way. It’s big, bright, and well kept. It’s in a quiet, diverse, and full of families like their own. They have a real yard and enough room for themselves, the kids, and the dogs. It’s perfect for them and a definite cause for celebration.

After the party, I returned home and spent the rest of the evening on the couch reading Ethics and watching old episodes of Homeland. I wanted to do more, complete a house project or work on a collage piece but I felt too run down to even try.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that health-wise I am still very up and down but more and more up than down every day.

I had another chat with the doctor and we have a solid plan for the next few months. I have to do a little more wait and see for now but I am working on coming off of the steroids and, if things keep getting better, I do nothing, if they get worse again I will be switching to another medication, another infusion this time, which is a good thing. I’ll get to come off of the daily pills and simply spend an afternoon every eight weeks at the infusion clinic. This was the best plan I could hope for right now.

In the meantime, the steroid withdrawal is really getting intense. I’m dealing with headaches, fatigue, and irritability. I’ve had to warn my loved ones and coworkers and I’ve had to be patient with myself. It helps to stay active. I have been exercising almost every day to take my mind off of things, to give my frustrations and outlet, and to release some of those sweet, sweet endorphins.

It helps too to look toward the light at the end of the tunnel too. It’s there, just five more weeks away when I take my last dose. It’s then I will know one way or another in what direction to take the next step.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that it was a good reading week. I’m so determined to hit my reading goal this year I’ve starting devoting nearly an hour every day just to it. I spend my whole lunch break reading but I’ve also started reading on the couch while watching T.V. I didn’t think I’d be able to follow along with either this way but I’ve been able to find a rhythm between the ads and the slow moments of a show.

I finished Ethics by Benedict de Spinoza, finally. Despite it being one of the shortest books I have ever read it was by far one of the hardest. Now that I am done I can say it’s also been one of the most rewarding I have ever read. I don’t agree with a lot of it but I like the way Spinoza thinks. I felt akin to the way my own mind works though I don’t for a second think I’m in any way equal to so great a thinker.

Yesterday I started Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. I read 100 Years of Solitude last year and loved it so much I knew I needed to read anything I could by Márquez. I’ve barely gotten past page 20 and have already fallen head over heels in again with his flowery and verbose prose.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that writing-wise this was not a good week at all but I haven’t given up. I’ve been giving myself too much leeway to decide what kind of writing to do rather than deciding ahead of time what to work on. It’s strange and frustrating how hard I have to work to do what I know I love doing.

And maybe that is it. I should be having more fun. I put too much expectation on myself to write well, to write meaningfully, to say something, but maybe saying nothing at all is fine too? Maybe shouting into the void and adding nothing of value is still writing worth doing. I need to find the joy and fulfillment I had a year ago, two years ago, when writing was for nothing but the joy of writing.

Back then I was using prompts. I type for hours on the subject filling the blank screen with whatever popped into my head. When I exhausted myself I would edit, some, hit publish and move on with my day until the next prompt. I’d like to do that again for a while, just to get the hang of writing for such long blocks of time. I’d like to have fun again since I seem to be unable to get serious.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the day is wearing on. The afternoon sun is streaming through the west windows reminding me that the weekend is waning and there is still so much to do before night falls. I’ll need more coffee but our conversation must end here.

I hope you had a good week. I hope that you’ve been able to adjust to life after the holidays and that you are settling in to the new year well. I hope that your stress levels are manageable and that you know no goal can be accomplished, no resolution kept, nor any expectation met if you don’t make time to take care of yourself first.

Until next time.

Your Way // Rexx Life Raj feat. Kehlani

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

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

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