In the gaze of the other

"My mistress' eyes are nothing…"

Coffee College: Ten for Yesterday

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October 5, 2016

For a change, I am spending my gap time between the two classes I teach on Wednesdays, in a cafe. Usually I flop on the adjunct faculty room couch to grade essays or research for some writing project I’m working on.
 
But today the weather hints fall, a pinch of bite in the temperate weather that makes an overly air conditioned room inside an old brick building edgy-cool. It’s a cold-settling-in-the-bones sort of day, and not just from the weather.
 
I awoke too many times last night, went to bed too late with a question on my mind after a day that went awry. I like my days to hang straight, not all crooked and dangling. Yesterday wobbled and pitched. I thought today was about recovery.
 
And to a degree, it is. The job I thought I lost yesterday is won today. I suspect I undersold myself again. I have no perspective. I simply press ahead, demanding fees and contracts, due compensation. I just keep writing. Somehow I believe I will write myself into something good.
 
Maybe that’s why I craved a cafe today. Writers write in cafes, don’t they? Or is that just hackneyed ones? I write in bars. Same thing. Today’s cafe writing is meant merely to bear the weather, watch the caffeinated crowd rather than the distilled, lilting and tipsy crowd (which I prefer).
 
Coffee intellect collects in the corners of cafes–in game board challenges and earphone mufflers, round table-ettes with stiff aluminum chairs and their hard comforts. I am cool. I sip espresso and write stupid observant shit about the gathered students in Star Wars shirts and floral, short dresses absorbing smoke from the lone cigarette dangling between two fingers of the Vietnamese girl in lipstick and roses.
 
No one else smokes. No one else of the 10 or so, have dressed for a party. They–all but the girl in short dress, leggings and hijab–have dressed like college students, the jeans and tees uniform.
 
And me, the teacher behind the window watch the outside patio group, denim-clad, capped, gum-chewing students of varying interest and attention spans. And as they shoot a glance at me behind my glass shelter, silently speaking aloud, do they wonder a whit about me?

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