More Than Just Coffee

Lately I have been wondering if I have been truly in love with something or just the idea of that something. For example, I decided at our last monthly grocery run that I wanted to try to be a coffee drinker. It isn’t that I haven’t had coffee before, I was one of those people who got a coffee maker for a wedding gift ten years ago and used it maybe twice. I love going to our local specialty coffee shop and indulging once a year but making my own wasn’t anything I was ever interested in. Now I thought I’d give it a try for a number of reasons; I would rather get a small boost of caffeine from a small cup of coffee versus pop first thing in the morning, my RA has had me running on fumes, and I love the smell of coffee. I have been spawned by long and large group of coffee drinkers. I would smell the lingering aroma of it from home to the home of a relative, and every Sunday morning at church. The Baptist couldn’t wait for a coffee fueled sermon followed up by coffee fueled fellowship. The thought had occurred to me that I had an emotional attachment to the smell, and not the taste. It’s probably true. We were between housing when we lived with my eighty-something year- old grandparents who brewed coffee in the morning, reheated it in the afternoon and anytime they got a chill, which was quite often for my late grandfather. I miss him dearly and my decision came upon the heels of a year since his passing.

So we’re at the grocery and I stopped and stood in the coffee aisle taking in my limitless possibilities. I admit that I was a bit shocked by the number of choices I had and I am not a decisive individual. My son cheered me on as any bad influence of an eight year-old would. Apparently drinking coffee is a huge thing for third graders at his school…. So after telling him to stop taking out every interestingly packaged coffee and coffee mug for his new habit, I chose a very girly vanilla cupcake flavor coffee. Heaven forbid my coffee would actually taste like coffee. One package of coffee filters and a over indulgent container of chocolate caramel creamer later, we were headed home.

I returned home more than eager to brew my first cup, but where was that coffee maker? I had a frightening thought that I may have pitched it in our last move. Why not? I never used it anyway. I kept frantically searching as I secretly began to repremand myself for throwing it out. I don’t like throwing anything out for this very reason, I’d have to buy another one and I know that wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Finally, I found it! But then I didn’t know how to use it. Luckily the people at the girly coffee factory want to make sure all of us novice coffee drinkers could make a cup so we could thus get hooked. Great idea! I got it ready and began to unload groceries as it brewed. My husband thought I’d surely made it wrong when it only took a few minutes to brew my quarter pot of coffee. Then I had to find a cup to put this newly acquired liquid gold in. I certainly had some coffee cups as I am avid cocoa drinker in the winter months. One coffee cup is all I found. Darn. Then by chance I found an awesome mug fit for a coffee pro. I washed it, poured my first cup, and it was weak. I made it too weak. I was going to need more zing than that keep me going during the day. The second cup was amazing and I felt special sipping out of my fancy cup. For the next few mornings my coffee was already auto brewed by the time I came downstairs. I had a bit more zing in the a.m. and I began to see why people insisted on starting their mornings with this stuff. Then the disappointing happened, I started having terrible heartburn. I cringed when my mom suggested it was the coffee. After all that trouble, it was causing me heartburn that could be mistaken for a heart attack.

This afternoon rolled around and in the true spirit of the Midwest, it was below normal temperatures and a hot cup of coffee sounded great. I brewed it and it is still sitting there an hour later. I haven’t touched it. Do I dare chance the feeling of looming death for my newly acquired taste? Today I may be satisfied with my emotional attachment to the smell.

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I am more disappointed that I once again can’t be like all the other “cool” people and start my day off with a jolt of girly coffee goodness. I can live with reducing my consumption but what about that smell? It reminds me of home, loved ones, and a church family that felt more like my real family. Maybe I need to think a little harder about sporadically falling in love with an idea because it seems like those ideas for me don’t pan out in real life.

My daughters have been playing together more as my “baby” is now a year and a half of busyness. She follows her big sister with her ride on toy, they play with the tea set together, and they frequently say “Bye!” as they leave for their pretend jobs . It makes me wonder what it would have been like if I had a sister. I have been in love with the idea of a having a sister forever. I have seen cute little posts on social media comparing a woman without a sister to one without an arm or some other nonsense. Like I had a choice about how my family dynamic played out. I hoped I’d someday have that faux sister that I could go shopping with, call on the phone, and we’d celebrate all of life’s joys together. But from what I see, it isn’t as glamorous as I had imagined. Sisters fight. I don’t like to fight. But I still wonder.

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And then I wonder about all the things I may have missed out on; a college degree, a full time job, and all the dreams I watch others live out. Those notions are so much harder to live out than buying a four dollar package of coffee off the shelf. So I learn to accept life as I have it. I have notions about what I think life is all about and no one knows what my life is really like. So I keep dreaming about those little things. Are they what I really want or do I just like the idea of it all?

I am awful good at looking idealistic. I often seem like a pillar of strength or maybe a beacon of hope, but I complain about the circumstances out of my control just as well as the rest. Why does my coffee have to give me heartburn? Why am I not worthy of meaningful friendships with other women? Why am I sick? Why are we drowning in medical debt? Why are we not living out this dream life? And on and on….. The truth is, things aren’t easy. We spend time doing a lot of things we’d rather not. Last night we spent three hours preparing and sorting paperwork to fight social security. Yes, they want to take back payments from two years ago just in time for the holidays. My desk is full of paperwork only special needs parents or the chronically ill can appreciate. “Here is your half ton of paper work Mrs. M.! Good luck with all of that because life understands how easy you already have it.” Yes, nothing is easy or as it seems. I can be joyful in the face of adversity but I can be equally as disappointed in those things beyond my control. I just keep trying. I keep smiling and I try putting my faith in things that have a special place in my heart whether it be a friend as close to my heart as a sister or my husband who spends three hours on the floor digging through paperwork. As for the coffee, the trouble was almost worth that smell of home but then again I guess I can find a candle for that.

*d*

Electrified

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I had an interview last Monday. I went into it feeling very confident and relaxed which is something that, as I’ve said, never happens unless I don’t really want the job. Except I did. The fellow had called me the week before and we’d chatted for something like a half-hour on the phone. He was very easy to talk to and everything he was describing about the position seemed to be exactly what I was looking for; it was the missing piece to fill a void I’d been unsuccessfully trying to cram other jobs into. He said he was excited to meet with me the following Monday and I could hear in his voice that he was. I was giddy when I hung up the phone, like a thirteen year old girl who’d just talked to the boy she liked.

I have this bad habit of putting all my eggs in one basket, as they say, and I kept trying to rein myself in. It didn’t work and I went to the interview feeling like I’d already gotten the job. We talked and talked—for over two hours. It didn’t feel like two hours and I was shocked when I left and saw the time. In closing, he’d said he was still interested if I was and of course I agreed. I asked if he had others to interview and he said yes. I asked that he let me know about the job either way and he said he would.

I was making dinner the following night when he called. Somehow, all the confidence I’d been exuding melted away when I saw his number on the caller ID. At the same time I was thinking that he couldn’t possibly have interviewed that many more people in one day, I was also considering that he’d had time to think about my interview and decided I wasn’t a good fit. As he spoke, I felt myself getting electrified. He offered me the job. What was more flattering was that he said he didn’t interview anyone else after he spoke with me. I thought I might spontaneously combust when I hung up the phone. I still feel like a live wire.

I start tomorrow. I feel really good about my chances of doing big things from here out. For so long, I’ve been spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. I wouldn’t know where to go even if I’d had traction. Now, at least I have a direction to go in, a path to cut and shape where previously there wasn’t one.

the path untraveled

~L~

Learning to Live on the Island of Confidence

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I had an interview this past Thursday. I wouldn’t have applied for the job if I didn’t think I could do it and might have a slight chance of enjoying it. However, once I started talking to the gentlemen conducting the interview, I started to feel my sureness slipping. With every word they spoke, I drifted farther away from the Island of Confidence. By the end of the interview, I’d floated miles away, couldn’t even see the beach, and I felt bad for wasting their time. I also felt like an idiot because I knew what they’re probably thinking. Why did that girl even bother? Wow. What a waste of time.

This happens just about every time I go in for an interview. If it doesn’t, it’s because I really don’t want the job in the first place. The questions asked I approach calmly, coolly, and almost always get a job offer—an offer I always turn down. I know. I don’t make any sense to me either. I mean, I get why I nail those interviews where I’m relaxed and feeling like nothing important hangs in the balance. But why do I even apply if I know I don’t really want the job? Maybe it’s because I need the ego boost of knowing that someone still finds me employable, but more likely it’s that those jobs lie within my comfort zone. When I apply for something outside of my comfort zone, that’s when I flounder and sink, miles from shore with the Island of Confidence a mere dot on the horizon.

Unfortunately, I have a comfort zone that lies in the least lucrative positions. My bar is set low. But how do I get comfortable with bumping that bar higher? How do I build myself a house among the trees on the Island of Confidence and live there? Well, I’m doggy paddling through the waves, heading back toward land. It will take me a while to get there. I’m not a good swimmer. But I can see the beach and I know just where I’ll set up residence.

 
~L~