Saturday, October 5, 2013

this Old, Caffeinated Soul

It's kind of amazing how much time you can spend in a coffee shop.

Now, it's a fair assessment to say that my own time spent in shops is a direct result of the fact that I work in one and have worked in the coffee world for almost four years now, but that report doesn't quite capture the love that I've developed for the quiet, coffee shop Office that has become so integral a part of my work.

Whether I'm writing a blog post, building process simulations in ASPEN or just reading a book, I tend to do it in a coffee shop. This is usually the one I work at, for many reasons: free coffee, people I know (and sometimes even like!), and a quiet, open space to do my work in.

 "Stock coffeeshop image."

The sounds have begun to really strike me. As I sit here at Cape Elizabeth, Maine's The Local Buzz, I listen to questions of "did you want that latte decaf?" and grinders running, milk steaming and banjos twanging from the sound system.  I can tell you exactly how a latte will look just by listening to the milk steam. The cat-like screech of what the barista is doing to the milk right now is horrid (they have one of those steamers where you put the pitcher down, walk away, and call it a "cappucino,") and causes me to squirm in my seat a bit. The quiet conversation that pervades the space makes me feel as though I'm home, even three hundred miles from my home in Massachusetts.

I have done the bulk of my greatest works (still an incomplete anthology) in a setting like this. Through all of the slavish engineering homework, repetitive assignments, creative bursts and depressive poetry the bouquet of coffee and caramelized milk has remained strong and true. My office is wherever I am, but my spirit will always reside in the shop.

I look down now at my hands, suddenly filled with all the nostalgia and cognizance of who I am and where I'm from. My right pointer finger is tiger-striped with espresso grounds that have been ground into my skin right down to the bone. I think of the first shop I worked at, with its vinyl hanging all over the walls and the incessant classic rock music that gave reason and motif to what was otherwise a very low quality space. I think about how important my job, and the people I've met at my job, has become to my life and how I would not be the same writer, engineer, or human without it.

Respect and love your coffeeshop, especially if you're going to do your work there. I have seen entire theses written at my shop, but the space has its own microcosmic karmic system, and the work you do there will be limited by how you interact with the shop. Respect it, and it will respect you.

How's that for some hippie, spiritualist zen-as-fuck bullshit?